Growth Hacking

In moving from execution to optimization, you have to think like a data scientist. Experiment and test: evaluate whether or not your methods are succeeding.


As you put marketing messages in your marketing channels, invariably you’re going to see at least one or two tactics bear fruit. But how do you know if it’s successful? That question is the crux of the bottom right corner which is measurement. Good measurement is so critical. And the great news for you is that there are so many tools out there to help you that are free. And most tactics that you look at online have free services to help you measure your progress.

In order to scale your business, you’re going to have to think less like a marketer and more like a data scientist. Because what’s required is really structured experimentation and trying to understand what techniques and tools are working to drive growth. We want to move from execution to optimization. And the goal here is to transform your business into a customer acquisition machine. And the term that’s often used to describe this is growth hacking. And it’s one of the most exciting things to happen in marketing in a long time. Growth hacking was really born out of necessity. Entrepreneurs just like yourself who had a great idea but didn’t have the huge dollars to spend on an advertising budget. They developed techniques to help drive consumer adoption relatively quickly. And ironically the prerequisites for growth hacking are to do a lot of things we’ve already described during the series; identifying a product that truly solves a customer need, documenting your objectives, having a well‑thought‑out content marketing plan. I cannot stress how important that is. Looking at your product and testing and experimenting in various marketing channels to see which ones actually bear fruit and then measuring progress. After you’ve done those activities you’re ready to start growth hacking.

I want to talk about two important features of growth hacking that will help your business tremendously. Let’s start with structured experimentation. So how do you run an experiment? Basically there’s just a couple of things. First, you identify a change that you want to improve. Second, create a hypothesis. Third, run the test. Fourth, make sure to see if anything changed or not. If it did and it improved your business, then adopt it. If not, run another test and do it over and over and over again. Rinse and repeat.

Let me give you an example of an experiment that I recently ran. The organization was really worried that they weren’t developing compelling content that was relevant to their users. So they created a landing page strategy to help them do experiments. The company basically took a very simple paid ad campaign, they spent about $100. They divided their users into a test group and a control group. And what they did is they drove half of their traffic to their website and another half to a landing page that had more detailed content. And what they found in terms of results was quite surprising. The landing page that had more content did much better than their website. And what they learned after talking to some of their customers was a lot of their prospects had no idea what they did. And so providing more information about what their product did and the key benefits helped improve their conversion rate by seven‑to‑one. To be effective in this technique you have to be prepared to run 15 to 20 tests and expect one to two that will actually bear fruit.

Another key aspect of growth hacking is integrating and implementing viral loops to get customers to keep coming back to your product or service or your website or social channel. Think about it in your own lives. Every time you are on Twitter you get a notification via text or email when someone’s actually mentioned you. And what do you do? You go back to Twitter. Not only are notifications important in terms of improving continued usage, but also it helps with loyalty. The best example or the most famous is Dropbox. Every time you refer someone and they actually sign up for Dropbox you get more storage, which is awesome. Or Living Social, they do a great job of giving you referral links. And if three of your pals sign up for a deal, you get the deal for free.

So as you begin to run experiments, you’ll find these little nuggets, these specific aha moments that help you understand specific levers for growth. For Twitter, after running lots of experiments what they realized is if they could get someone to follow 30 people they would be an engaged user for life. When Facebook started they realized that if they could get you to follow seven friends in ten days, that you’re much more likely to use the service.

Now all of the things we talked about in terms of growth hacking and running experiments and creating these viral hooks really isn’t hard, I promise. It just takes time. The currency is not big budgets or money, it’s sweat equity and patience and perseverance. And the great thing about that is that is exactly what makes you great as an entrepreneur. So if you apply that energy and effort in this kind of area, I promise you you’re going to see great success and your business will prosper as a result. 

Suggested Readings

Founders School || Entrepreneurial Marketing || Growth Hacking || Impact Guide (PDF).

Mattan Griffel. Slideshare. Growth Hacking.

Sandi MacPherson via interview with Andrew Chen. Rational Growth: An introduction to growing user signups via data and analytical thinking.

Questions for You

How can I design tests to help determine where I’m falling short?

How can I create viral loops?

What are my strategies for getting, and, more importantly, keeping customers?

Tools and exercises

Qualaroo: Beginners Guide to Revenue Generation.