Contrary to popular belief, growth hacking is not a new concept, it’s just a newly coined term. If you’ve ever used SEO to increase your ranking in Google, you’ve already been exposed to growth hacking.
Look at SEO as the hack for your growth and the person who determined the strategy as the growth hacker. The definition of growth hacking seems to differ greatly among industry giants, but for the sake of simplicity and understanding, we will touch on the areas of similarity.
In this white paper we’ll go over the differences between marketing and growth hacking, the benefits of using growth hacking and how it’s applied differently for start-ups and small businesses.
What Makes Growth Hacking Different from Marketing?
“Growth hackers are a hybrid of marketer and coder, one who looks at the traditional question of “How do I get customers for my product?” and answers with A/B tests, landing pages, viral factor, email deliverability, and Open Graph.
On top of this, they layer the discipline of direct marketing, with its emphasis on quantitative measurement, scenario modeling via spreadsheets, and a lot of database queries. If a startup is pre-product/market fit, growth hackers can make sure virality is embedded at the core of a product. After product/market fit, they can help run up the score on what’s already working.”
— Andrew Chen
Growth Hacking is a Quick Acceleration Tool
Before going into the many benefits of using growth hacking; it’s important to note that growth hacking is a means for accelerated growth , but not the means for continuous growth and improvement. In a way, that’s one of the major differences between growth hacking and other forms of marketing.
Other forms of marketing can be used for the long term to help the start-up or small business see continuous growth, but growth hacking really isn’t used for that purpose. Other forms of marketing will need to be employed at some point within the start-up or small business’s growth to meet changes in the industry or brand.
Think of growth hacking as an elevator; and other forms of marketing as escalators. Once growth hacking takes you to the platform you need to arrive at, you can jump on an escalator for continuous acceleration.
Growth Hacking Focuses on Your Strong Points for a Quick Launch
Marketing strategies that are used to launch small businesses and start-ups, don’t normally focus in on a small niche, but rather a larger pool of consumers. This is one way that growth hacking greatly differs from ‘traditional’ marketing.
The ‘hack’ (trick) in growth hacking works best by focusing on the business’s area of expertise and utilizing hacks to saturate that consumer-base.
An example of this is taken from the business social network Linkedin. They used growth hacking to create an appeal within the professional field. Instead of being another Facebook, they decided to only network with business professionals, making them more of a corporate network.
Focusing in this way, helped the founder of LinkedIn Mr. Reid Hoffman bolster to success in a very short amount of time. By focusing on the professional minority, word spread quickly to other professionals and social circles; thus making LinkedIn an overnight success.
Growth Hacking Utilizes Coding
Although certain forms of marketing share the same A/B Testing sentiments that growth hacking does, only growth hacking delves into the coding side of things.
This is one of the reasons that growth hacking seems to ‘launch’ start-ups and small businesses into success so quickly. It insures that the growth hacker understands and utilizes coding, quantitative analytics and viralty.
This is because they are, as Andrew Chen rightly said, able to “make sure vitality is embedded at the core of the product.” (It is important to note here, that not all growth hackers are coders, but having a coding/engineering background certain helps with the more technical side of things).
The Effectiveness of Growth Hacking: Why Use Growth Hacking over other Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business?
Growth hacking utilizes many hacks to help bolster a small business or start-up into corporate growth territory. Some of these tactics include:
- Paid Acquisition – Uses paid tools such as Google Adwords, digital ads and Facebook Ads to draw attention to a business or start-up’s products.
- Viral Acquisition – Encourages customers to spread the word about a business’s products. The customer is usually offered incentives for sharing. (Think referral bonuses, product discounts or gift cards.)
- A/B testing and Analytics – By utilizing A/B testing and analytics small business’s and start-ups are able to improve their conversion rates.
The above hacks point to the main benefit of utilizing growth hacking over other forms of marketing, and that is — accelerated growth through a surge in interest among consumers. Growth hackers utilize a combination of the above strategies as well as SEO, e-mail and content marketing strategies to accelerate consumer interest and sales.
This is why growth hacking boosts a start-up’s sales right away. Using SEO alone can increase the business’s online presence, but it can’t guarantee sales or even boost the sales of a small business. A/B Testing and analytics helps in this regard. Paid and viral acquisitions works to solidify brand awareness and boosts the popularity of the brand.
As you can see, the above strategies are used as a recipe for rapid growth, instead of focusing in on one of these ingredients and perfecting it alone.
(More Cake Analogies)
Think of the growth hacker as a chef who’s trying to get their product out there quickly. He wants the product to work, he wants it to be the best thing the consumer has ever tasted. He finds out what the consumers want, he bakes the cake, he markets it in every possible way and incorporates results from A/B testing.
After drones of people express interest in the cakes, and even more people post reviews of how delicious it is, the brand has a duty to keep them coming back for more.
Marketers come in and use research and feedback to make improvements where needed, and quickly tweaks the recipe. Consumers are happy with the changes and growth continues.
When Using Growth Hacking, Be Aware of the Different Needs of a Small Business and a Start-up
The main difference between growth hacking in a small business and a start-up is the timing of the hack. The timing differs because the needs of a start-up and a small, already established business are very different.
Small businesses are already aware of their customer-base and what their customers want. The owner may have tried many forms of marketing to push the business, but they may fall flat.
Growth hackers come in and effectively ‘re-wire’ the business’s marketing strategies and implement testing to see what the issues may be. From here, they are able to fix whatever issues are stunting growth.
Startup owners are unaware of their marketing potential, and in most cases they’re unaware of what their potential customers will respond to (or if they will respond at all). A growth hacker implements a mixture of acquisitions, optimization strategies and testing to sort out the technical details. These details are morphed into strategies and executed for astronomical growth.
As you can see from the above information, growth hacking is the missing link between small businesses, start-ups and quick success. To make things very clear, a growth hacker is NOT a marketer, but has marketing capabilities.
He is a technical whizkid with a thirst for marketing and growth. He is results driven and can drive up results for both small businesses and start-ups with rapid speed.