“Growth hacking” has become ubiquitous in marketing circles in the last several years. If you’ve spent any time at all working in the corporate space, you’ve likely come across the term.
One of the main reasons that “growth hacking” has achieved such popularity as a self-contained marketing discipline is because it fills a genuine need. In particular, startups require a proven set of techniques and strategies that will enable them to achieve fast, consistent growth over a relatively short period.
Marketers with growth hacking experience and knowledge are often more attractive to employers, especially startups and growth-oriented enterprises.
What Is Growth Hacking?
The term “growth hacking” is often misunderstood. Many marketers incorrectly understand it as a kind of guerilla or unconventional marketing style designed to achieve short-term growth for little or no cost. This definition, however, is at best incomplete and at worst entirely wrong.
On a basic level, growth hacking refers to a set of marketing strategies that businesses, especially startups, can leverage to achieve a high level of growth within the constraints of a limited budget.
But this isn’t the whole picture. Growth hacking also incorporates a broader strategy of testing and data tracking. Growth hackers will try multiple techniques in rapid succession and hone in on the top performers.
At the same time, they will gather data across various metrics – potentially including lead generation, customer activation, sales value, referral value, engagement and so on – to track the comparative success (or lack thereof) of these strategies.
Ultimately, growth hackers are interested in tracking what the originator of the phrase, Sean Ellis, calls a “North Star metric”. A North Star Metric is a single measurement that best signifies a company’s growth and success. Examples include average order value (AOV), customer lifetime value (CLV) and repeat transaction average, among others.
So, what methods do growth hackers employ to achieve results? Here are five essential techniques that all marketers should master if they want to advance in their careers.
1. Content Marketing and SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Content marketing is the use of differed types of content, including written, visual and interactive media, to generate customers.
It is a type of inbound marketing strategy, rather than an outbound or interruption-based one, that attempts to help customers remedy problems for which they are actively seeking solutions. Common examples of content marketing include blog posts, videos on popular sites like YouTube, blogger and journalist outreach and guest posts, viral content like quizzes and more.
In essence, content marketing relies on creating high-quality content that builds trust, provides value and that people are likely to share. Companies can then advertise their products or services alongside this content.
Search engine optimization, the process of ranking content pages in search engines, is included here because it is one of the primary methods marketers use to promote content and generate a sustainable return on investment.
2. Email Marketing and Referral Marketing
Email and referral marketing are both favored by growth hackers because they provide exceptional value for money and consistently rank among the highest ROI marketing strategies. Research shows that every $1 spent on email advertising generates $40 in business.
Referral marketing, which is closely aligned to email marketing, is also a popular strategy among growth hackers because it costs relatively little and can deliver high growth levels. Many startups have seen significant success with referral marketing, such as Dropbox, which achieved a growth rate of 3900% over three years.
Growth hackers will often focus on building their company’s email list through a range of techniques, such as opt-in landing page optimization, the use of high-quality lead magnets, and organic and paid promotions on social media.
3. Analytics and Data Tracking
Growth hacking relies heavily on data and marketers should be familiar with several core analytics skills. Growth hackers will often be called upon to build multi-faceted tracking infrastructures to aggregate data from several sources. They will then use this data to measure overall performance by tracking their North Star metric or One Metric That Matters (OMTM).
Skilled growth hackers will usually be highly proficient at using Google Analytics, with a complete understanding of all primary and secondary features. They will also have experience with the advanced functionality of common data tools like Excel spreadsheets, Google Tag Manager, SQL databases and popular customer relationship management (CRM) platforms.
4. Conversion and User Experience (UX) Optimization
Because startups often have to work within very tight budget constraints, growth hackers are tasked with limiting lead drop-off by “sealing up” a company’s sales funnel.
Growth-oriented businesses need to convert as many leads as possible. That’s why conversion and user experience (UX) optimization are highly valued skills, with substantial returns on investment (ROIs) when implemented in the right way.
Various proficiencies underpin the fields of conversion and UX optimization, including A/B and multivariate testing, behavioral psychology, website design and data analysis. Growth hackers will also usually be required to plan and manage large-scale experiments geared towards boosting a company’s overall conversion rate.
5. Technical and Automation Skills
Growth hackers rely on extensive technology stacks to execute campaigns that are often complex and wide-ranging. Running an assortment of apps requires a certain level of technical understanding, and it’s this knowledge that differentiates growth hackers from more traditional marketers. As growth hackers also usually work with only a small team, automation skills are essential for maximizing efficiency.
Growth hackers tend to be familiar with a broad array of software tools. They will often have learned HTML, CSS and sometimes a third programming language, allowing them to build landing pages, modify website page designs and edit content with ease.
Excited by the Prospect of a Career in Marketing?
Are you excited about pursuing a career as a marketer? Perhaps you would like to run growth hacking campaigns for startups and fast-growing companies. Alternatively, you might envision yourself at the head of your own business.
Whatever your reasons for considering a career in marketing, EU Business School can provide you with all the skills, knowledge and practical experience you need to thrive in your chosen field.
We offer a range of Bachelor’s, Master’s and MBA degrees, including our BA (Hons) in Business Management (Marketing), Master in Marketing and MBA in International Marketing which has been ranked in the top 100 worldwide by QS in their 2021 Career Specialization Rankings.