What on Earth is Growth Hacking?

What on Earth is Growth Hacking?

May 8, 2018


The digital marketing world loves to throw new terms at you - SEO, bounce rates, news feed algorithms, PPC, etc. It's easy to feel lost in the middle of all these new phrases, and today we're throwing yet another marketing term at you - "growth hacking."


What does growth hacking even mean? Is it referring to somebody who hacks into other people's computers or databases? Is it talking about your neighbor whose garden is growing exponentially faster than yours this spring?


We're going to try our best to help you understand what growth hacking is and how you can apply it to your business goals!


So what exactly is "growth hacking"?


We'll start by breaking the term in half. You're probably familiar with the word "growth" when referring to your business. You aim to grow your customer base, email list, website traffic, social media following, and most importantly, your profits!


Most people's confusion lies in the term "hacking." Does hacking insinuate cheating or doing something unethical? Not in the world of growth hacking! We define growth hacking as utilizing analytics and creative problem-solving to significantly increase the growth of a specific marketing or business goal.


You don't need to be a senior web developer or data analyst to apply growth hacking techniques to your business either. You just have to understand the ins and outs of your business as well as the growth hacking approach.


Hmm..I'm still confused..what's the first step in growth hacking?


The first step in growth hacking is taking a look at your digital marketing funnel from a bird's eye view. Your digital marketing funnel should comprise of three main parts - awareness, consideration, and conversion. You can (and should) break each of these sections down into actionable goals. Here's an example of what a goal-oriented marketing funnel looks like:


Okay, I identified my marketing funnel goals, now what?


Now that you have goals defined, it's time to measure your current results! Google Analytics is an excellent free tool for analyzing the success (or lack of) at each point in your marketing funnel. Make a list of areas where you are performing well along with where you could use some major improvement.


Let's say you get 500 website visitors a day, but only 2% submit a lead capture form. You would certainly want to focus on increasing that 2% lead acquisition rate. Or maybe your landing page has a 30% conversion rate, but only receives five visitors a day. It would be in your best interest to utilize SEO, paid search ads, and social media to drive more website traffic!


Alright, I measured my current results. What next?


Now that you have an idea of where you currently stand, you'll want to set specific objectives for improving your goal metrics. One of the critical aspects of growth hacking is matching your company's unique strengths with potential growth opportunities in your marketing funnel.


Do you have a large Facebook following? That could be a great place to engage with potential customers drive website traffic. Do you have an extensive email database? That could be a great way to facilitate traffic to specific product landing pages or retain customers with loyalty discount offers. The best growth hackers are incredibly creative when matching their company's strengths with growth opportunities.


Pro Tip: Look for the "weakest link" in your funnel. Think of your marketing funnel as a ten-person assembly line. Nine of the workers can be breaking their back all day, but if worker number ten is asleep at his/her station, productivity will come to a screeching (or snoring) halt. Devoting time and resources to the weakest links in your funnel keeps things moving, and your bank account will thank you later.


I set specific objectives for my goal metrics, how do I actually reach these objectives?


We've reached the tricky part of growth hacking which involves some trial and error. You'll want to develop a hypothesis strategy that you think will grow one of your funnel metrics. "A/B" testing is widely used by growth hackers during this stage. 


Here's an example for you:


Let's say you've been sending out a monthly newsletter email that discusses company updates and links to your featured product. You see that once customers arrive at the product landing page, their conversion rate is a whopping 27%. That's awesome! The only problem is that only five people click through to that product page each month from your email.


You decide to write a monthly blog article highlighting useful information involving your featured product and linking that blog in your monthly email, rather than the direct product link. "A/B testing" would involve splitting your email list in half, sending one "control" group the normal email that links directly to the product page. The other "experiment" half of your email list would receive the newsletter that links to your blog.


You can then measure the results side-by-side and see if your hypothesis led to any growth! You can apply this technique to virtually any point in your marketing funnel process.


I tried an "A/B test" and my hypothesis failed...did I just waste my time and money?


The short answer is no; you didn't waste your time or money. In a perfect world, all of our hypotheses would result in substantial growth. Too bad we don't live in a perfect world. Scientists test thousands of hypotheses before reaching a scientific theory, and the marketing world isn't too differnt (you probably don't need to run "thousands" of A/B tests, but you get our point).


Many of your experiment tests will fail, and that's alright. The essential part of growth hacking is that you analyze your results and learn from each experiment.


Each test you run will provide you with valuable data that you can use to optimize future marketing campaigns/strategies. It's important to note that you shouldn't spend too much money on any specific hypothesis test; just enough money to provide adequate data. 


Eventually, you will find a few "tricks" that lead to an abundant amount of growth. Now it's time to throw some money (or time, resources, etc.) on the table! You know that your money will be well spent using this newly discovered strategy, so you might as well invest in this area!


Just make sure that you keep analyzing your results, trying new approaches, and making sure you don't get too complacent in your funnel optimization. The marketing world moves fast, and if you're not running with it, you'll end up left in the dust.




Growth hacking is a new term for many people and can be a tough concept to grasp at first. What works for one company usually doesn't work for another, so it's all about matching your unique strengths with potential growth strategies. Hopefully, we helped clarify the idea of growth hacking for you and you can start testing different strategies for your business!


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