Skip to main content

What is Growth Hacking?

By May 13, 2014March 17th, 2016growth hacking

We are definitely not talking about using some kind of gene therapy to help your kids grow up to be great basketball players here.  According to Wikipedia, the definition of growth hacking is a marketing technique developed by technology startups which uses creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure.  But I have to disagree.  Growth hacking is a marketing technique any company could use to better engage with their customers in new and unique ways.

Growth Hacking is a Strategy

Growth hacking is not a replacement for your marketing.  It is a strategy you use to reach customers and attract customers in new ways that result in growth.  That growth metric is defined by you, but it is a measurable metric. That is the key to successful growth and it is the only thing a true growth hacker should be focused on.  For instance, traditional marketing is focused on building brand awareness. A growth hacker would be focused on the grow rate of the number of paying visitors.

A growth hacker is typically measured on product growth. So they are dedicated to watching the growth rate. Digital marketers are usually obsessed with improving conversion rates and engagement rates using conversion optimization and adaptive web design.  Of course these strategies are critical to online success.  A growth hacker will be monitoring overall growth numbers, growth rates by channel and focused on finding unique ways to get that growth.

Growth Hacking Tactics

Traditional marketers are typically not great at growth hacking.  But marketing technologists, those that understand both the world of programming and design as well as the psychology of marketing are well positioned to succeed here.  Growth hacking is not unethical.  It is not what you typically think of hackers breaking into your servers to steal and destroy.  The concept here is putting together different systems to have an unexpected output or using a system in an unexpected way that drives increasing engagement and product growth.

As mentioned, analytics is the key to everything.  It will reveal whether or not you are having an impact or simply guessing at what works.  Without good metrics, bosses in the corner office typically won’t let it fly for long anyway.  Analytics will tell you if you’re impacting customer churn rates in a positive way. They’ll tell you when to stop what you’re doing and when to put on the gas.

  1. The Key.  No matter how you approach growth hacking, the key tactic is measurement.
  2. Identify Goals.  Be sure your goals are focused and measurable.  Broad goals don’t help you focus.  Narrow your goals so that you can have more focused and meaningful tasks.
  3. Experiment! Create experiments  around those goals.  Be sure before executing that you document what you expect the results to be. This will help you learn and not cheat yourself.
  4. Get Ready. Get the resources you need to complete the experiments.
  5. Learn and Optimize.  If an experiment fails, you’ve still won, but keep moving forward.
  6. Begin Again.  You’ve learned what doesn’t work, so figure out why and begin again.

Growth Hacking Ideas to Drive 300% in New Sales

Well, I wish I had the big red button to tell you how to do this.  The problem is that growth hacking is very unique from one company to the next.  Heck, its unique from one experiment to the next.  As mentioned growth hacking is a strategy.  It isn’t something to be tried for a few months then discarded.  It is a new concept and I believe we will be seeing a lot of jobs in the near future with that title.  This is the wild west of marketing and technology combined together.  It has already created upstarts and amazing companies that are using these concepts we’ve touched upon here.

If you’d like to learn more about growth hacking, we have our own resident Growth Catalyst, Nathan R. Elson, who is helping us find unique was to grow our own products and those of our customers.  We’ll be exploring these ideas in email and on LinkedIn.

John Paul Mains

John Paul Mains is the Chief Marketing Scientist at Click Laboratory. He loves all things digital, but especially SEO and analytics. If you're interested in learning more, his LinkedIn profile is


Leave a Reply

Share This
  • download-now
    Step by Step SEO Conversion Checklist

    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

    Easy to Print for Daily Use