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Guide to Growth Hacking

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By Barbara Beauregard   |    November 7, 2016   |    10:41 AM

One of the most widely discussed terms in the startup world, growth hacking is all about employing unconventional strategies to gain market traction and grow faster. To learn how you can use this concept to spur your business forward, learn some of the more effective growth hacking strategies.

What Is Growth Hacking?

Coined by entrepreneur, startup adviser and angel investor, Sean Ellis, growth hacking is a process of accelerated experimentation to identify optimal ways to grow a company. Usually centered on marketing and product development, this concept asks engineers, marketers and product managers to build and engage a business's user base, using low-cost alternatives to traditional marketing.

An Effective Strategy for Startups

Startups live or die based on their abilities to drive customer acquisition growth. Unfortunately, many are doomed to failure even when they have proven products and fertile markets. This is usually because they can't gain market traction quick enough before their capital runs dry. To give your startup the best possible chance for success, try applying some of the following growth hacking tactics.

Try to create a scalable business model. Successful growth hacking often depends on the ability to shrink or stretch according to demand. Take, for example, DropBox, a cloud storage company which basically offers nothing more than disk space, accessible via the internet. When demand increases, the company simply buys or rents more servers.

Understand your data. Don't just rely on Google Analytics for aggregate data. Dip deeper by utilizing analytics platforms that interpret your information in actionable ways. There are a number of services like Kissmetrics, Buzzumo and that will streamline customer information, acquisition data and content performance, so you can target what works and what doesn’t.

Get feedback. Don't sit in your basement developing something for six months. Find out if the product or service will really be in demand by getting feedback through polls, surveys and social networks. This can also help cultivate an existing customer base long before your product hits the market. For instance, Crazy Egg used this strategy to create a waiting list of 10,000 people before it launched.

Engage in grassroots marketing. Don't blow your capital on traditional media marketing, such as radio, newspaper and television. Start from the ground up by focusing your efforts on smaller groups that can spread your message to larger audiences. Utilize viral marketing, social media and targeted advertising, and don't be shy about going out on the streets to engage people one-on-one.

Quicker Results, Lasting Success

For startups which lack resources and established relationships, growth hacking offers an opportunity for rapid market traction. It's also a good way to promote lasting success, since it depends on more personal types of engagement, which can help build a solid and loyal customer pool.

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