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Is Growth Hacking the New Black?

Posted by Suzy De Line on May 21, 2015 10:31:00 PM

(or just the same old BS with some great new buzzwords?... read on!)

Sorry Piper, I know season 3 is going to be big, but in my time on the job...all I hear is growth hacking this and growth that. So I investigated - how should we think about this concept? Are there genuinely new ideas, is it just basic marketing principles, repackaged for an attention challenged new generation of marketers (and management)?


The term was coined by Sean Ellis in 2010. Sean was something of a go-to individual for startups, renowned for his approach to viral customer acquisition using few resources. While essentially a marketer, his approach was somewhat different from his peers.

growth hacking

In the startup world, things move extremely quickly. Your budget may literally be $0. You've got weeks (if not days) to bring in some revenue or else. The remarkable performance under pressure is what separates growth hackers from traditional marketing pros.

So, even if you have *plentiful*  budget and time... in today's environment it can be helpful to embrace many of the concepts in this practice. Here are several key habits of growth hacking that should have you envisioning a new way to approach tasks...

1. Get Data, Not Permission (or Budget)

The H3 (Horizon 3) Marketing Team at Intuit’s Accounting Professionals Division needed to better understand its audiences need around a new product offering but couldn’t get time with the company’s web services group to build landing pages.  No problem… they got permission from Intuit owned Homestead to create/host landing pages (from a professionally designed template) so that each marketing manager could test/learn without burning a lot of corporate overhead - or waiting a month or more.

2. Get comfy with analytics

Many marketers still have something of a reputation as a "not quantitative" group of professionals. However… how many organizations can afford to bring on marketing leadership that's not multi-talented, including expertise in analytical methodologies.

Fluency in analytical methods for leading growth hackers can start with competency in Google analytics or HubSpot, but it should also include staples like cost of customer acquisition calculations, A/B and multivariate testing methods, segmentation, and possibly even more.

3. Get clear on your organizations' strong suits.

Growth hackers have to have a keen focus on their offerings/org’s strengths. Take finance website Mint, whose meteoric rise to mainstream use came from creating landing pages. Creating tons, and tons, and tons of landing pages.

They created a landing page for the vast majority of common personal finance queries that their buyer persona (20-something professionals) were likely to Google. Their investment in organic search exposure worked, even though it wasn't coupled with an aggressive guest blogging strategy or hardcore social media promotion. (Other frequently used growth hacking strategies…)

4. Get curious & experimental

This burning desire to measure everything and test things that aren't obviously testable is a core component of growth hacking. The best hackers treat all marketing like an experiment, and launch campaigns with control groups, hypotheses, and defined key performance indicators.   Really - examine all the assumptions that your management gives you!

5. Get used to rolling with ambiguity

The hackers have to be whip sharp, fully-informed about many marketing disciplines. It's the only way they can comprehensively consider all of their options. However, the situations will come up when they know that they don’t know how to do something specific - and have to quickly become aware of what will best address the need (via contracting, crowdsourcing, or co-opting the needed resource!)

To Hack or Not to Hack?

Denise Broady, COO, Industry Cloud, SAP puts it well… “If growth hacking can work without resources, imagine what it can accomplish with them! The key to sustainable growth and innovation is to cultivate creativity - encouraging people to experiment and learn.”

Hacking might have something real to it… I’ll get back to you after I finish season 2!

Could Content Strategy / Inbound Marketing be two growth hacks that work for you?  Click below for a free 30 Second Consult.


Let's Talk about Growth


Topics: Content and blogging, how to generate leads for your business, Intro to Inbound