Growth Hacking - What exactly does the term mean?
Is the term “Growth Hacking” just two more buzzwords designed to pitch digital marketing and/or lean business development strategies, services and solutions?
Well … according to Wikipedia, Growth Hacking involves rapid multi-channel experimentation in the search for business growth ...
“Growth hacking is a process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most efficient ways to grow a business. Growth Hacking is more of Mindset than Toolset. Growth hacking refers to a set of both conventional and unconventional marketing experiments that lead to the growth of a business. Growth hackers are marketers, engineers and product managers that specifically focus on building and engaging the user base of a business.”
There are several shortcomings with this definition.
Growth Hacking is not only about “multi-channel” approaches
Firstly, Growth Hacking is not only about “multi-channel” approaches, but it also focusses to a very large degree on the users, the user journeys and user scenarios. And it doesn’t stop there either. In order to truly adopt a Growth Hacking approach, we need to consider not just the UX implications and requirements (User Experience) but also the specific sales cycles that relate to the products and services we are seeking to develop and promote.
“Growth hacking refers to a set of both conventional and unconventional marketing experiments …”
Growth Hacking is not at all about “conventional” and “unconventional” marketing experiments
What does that even mean? What should or can we consider to be “conventional” or “unconventional” in today’s digital age? What does the word “conventional” mean?
Here is a definition from dictionary.com:
1. conforming or adhering to accepted standards, as of conduct or taste: conventional behaviour.
2. pertaining to convention or general agreement; established by general consent or accepted usage; arbitrarily determined: conventional symbols.
The fact is that those (very few) true Growth Hackers out there know what Growth Hacking really means, so in the Growth Hacking community, the marketing experiments we conduct are tried, tested, and, in our area of expertise, “conventional”. Admittedly, If we refer to organisations that have no website, no social networks, and no digital marketing strategies, then Growth Hacking is to them, unconventional, I suppose.
There is a very well defined structure to any Growth Hack, and each and every step that is mapped out in a project is based on solid strategies, that are tested, tweaked and optimised in an extremely methodical manner.
Growth Hacking is (and should be) about “growing a business” … but most of the time it’s not … yet … unfortunately
The reference to the “most efficient ways to grow a business” is, in my opinion, way too vague to be accurately applied to Growth Hacking as it stands today. Although, admittedly, all our marketing and business development strategies ultimately aim to contribute to the growth of our businesses, the very sense of Growth Hacking implies that we zoom into very specific areas, prioritise, experiment, test, gather data, and optimise continuously.
In today’s world, the vast majority of aspiring Growth Hackers only refer to very basic tactics that often only relate to web and social network marketing activities or “tricks”. There is also a very significant difference between “Growth Hacks” and actually “Growth Hacking”.
“... Growth hackers often focus on low-cost alternatives to traditional marketing, e.g. using social media, viral marketing or targeted advertising instead of buying advertising through more traditional media such as radio, newspaper, and television.”
Growth Hacking is not at all about “low cost” alternatives to traditional marketing. This is misleading and implies that you can implement growth hacking strategies on a shoestring budget, which is not at all the case.
Firstly, we need to have the resources required to actually get started with our digital marketing strategy before we can consider growth hacking. This means we will need a strategy, a team, and money to fund our campaigns. In order to define an effective strategy, we will need to first distinguish between true “Growth Hackers” and those proposing a series of cut and paste “Hacks”.
If you don’t have a team and don’t have the financial resources to build your own in-house team, there are growth hacking strategies that focus specifically on optimising your HR capabilities, which can start with building “low commitment” (not “low cost”) relationships with outsourced talent. In this context, remote working as HR solutions becomes very relevant to the growth hacking concept.
How Growth Hacking is distinguishable from a standard Digital Marketing Strategy?
If you intend to go to market with your product or service and decide to focus the scope of your Growth Hacking activities to the context of ROI generating marketing, to conclude, let’s look at how Growth Hacking is distinguishable from a standard Digital Marketing Strategy?
Growth Hacking is about specific tactics, experimentation, and optimisation that will focus on generating a continued increase in acquisition, activation, revenue, referral and retention of visitors to your Landing pages and through your inbound funnels.
The difference between digital marketing and growth hacking is in the degree of detail, with multiple chains of specific goals with specific time frames. How many ways are there to get more landing page visitors to do more of what you want them to do? The possibilities are endless, so you will need to prioritise.
Digital Marketing is a multi-channel approach that is focussed on top line growth, for example, how many Facebook likes, visits, views etc. you generate. In a landing page inbound funnel Growth Hack I look for continued growth, growth on growth so to speak and I look closer and in more detail throughout the page and the funnel behind it.
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In my training and coaching, I demonstrate that granularity is a key element. A staged approach, testing, measuring, comparing and quickly arriving at the highest possible level of data-driven performance per single detail, and then continuing to strive to find more ways to increase even more single details that make such a difference.
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