All that you need to know about Growth Hacking
The concept of Growth Hacking is quite misunderstood as a result it becomes essential to discuss about it and increase awareness. It is basically a process of marketing across the channels and identifies the most effective way to do a business.
Sneak peak into the history of Growth Hacking
Like everything else there is an interesting history that can be associated with Growth Hacking. The originator of this concept would be Sean Ellis. He came up with this idea in 2010. He remarked that this was the phrase he would use to hire a replacement for himself. He was the man of the moment. He could all alone help companies achieve immense growth. Some of the companies he helped even had an IPO. He would provide services and ask for equity as his remuneration. Sean Ellis wanted someone who could be a replacement for him. He tried a lot to look for a person who could do the job as effectively as he was doing. He went through a lot of resumes but he did not get the man he was looking for.
The strategy that Sean Ellis used was unique and traditional marketers could not use them. Sean Ellis had one philosophy he believed that a start up needs only one thing and that is “growth”. He was initially looking for marketers and he got plenty of them only to realise that it was not what he wanted so he came up with a new term “Growth Hacker”. This is how the concept was born. Believe me the concept of Growth Hacking is as interesting as the history itself.
Growth Hacker is not a marketer and he neither is better than a marketer. The only aim of a Growth Hacking is to ensure growth.
The Growth Hacker will take a decision based on how much growth is he going to get from it. Marketers also aim at growth but they have other areas of concerns too but a Growth Hacker has no other aims. If you ignore everything else and focus only on growth you can start getting it from the very start of the business itself. This aim of achieving growth at all cost has given rise to many methods and ideas that were not part of traditional marketing at all.
What do you understand by a product?
Growth Hacking basically redefines the methods and ideas used in traditional marketing. We will first look at how Growth Hacking redefines “product”. When we say product in traditional marketing it would be a physical thing that one can see and feel. In modern world of internet where we are dealing with software and bits that are invisible is there any scope for traditional concept of products to even exist? Don’t you think Facebook is a product? Internet has created a new type of product that no one can hold, touch and feel but we all need it. So as the product has changed the methods used to market it must be changed too. If you use the traditional ways of marketing that you were using for products like shampoo, cars, etc you will not be able to succeed in the world of software products.
Let’s look at it from a different perspective. Does sharing a shampoo with your friends improve the experience you are getting by using the shampoo? The answer is definitely a “no”. However, sharing your Facebook account with friends will definitely help you connect better with your friends and make new friends as well as connections.
Sean Ellis had major role to play in the growth and success of Drop box. In Drop box what happens you get free could storage space if you get another friend to sign up with the Drop box. This will not happen with physical products like a sofa or a car right. In order to materialize on these growth scopes that software products have it is important to understand the concept of growth hacking. Look at the growth scheme in the enclosed image to understand what we are trying to say.
So Growth Hacking is nothing but making schemes that you can use for growing your business starting from day one. As a Growth hacker you must understand what potential the product that you are dealing with actually has and change this potential to a reality.
New meaning of distribution
We explained how product is defined in Growth Hacking we will now explain the concept of distribution. This again is not similar to what we know about distribution in traditional marketing. Product is essential but you cannot just keep thinking about the product. Distribution is equally important and critical for the growth of the business. If you do not distribute the product well even the best product may fail to succeed. This distribution is not about the product always you should also know how the people flow will be online in order to ensure that the start up gets the growth it is looking for.
One good example here would be Mc Donald’s. We are choosing this because it can help the readers understand the point we want to make. As soon as the highway system was launched in USA these guys came up with the concept of opening eateries in critical locations across the highways and the rest is history. If you think you will realise that internet is also like a highway more complex definitely because it can connect the whole world. It can give direction not only to people but also to data. Like Mc Donald open branches where ever it thought would be profitable similarly you can use the flow of the internet to understand how the distribution should be for your product.
It may sound a little complex so we will now explain how you can execute this idea:
In internet we have search engines that will give a path to the digital business. With the help of SEO you can control the search engines and learn how to improve your business online.
We use the Facebook and the twitter to socialise and post our opinions. You can get into a conversation in these social media platforms and ensure that you implicitly or explicitly impact the conversation as per your business requirement.
YouTube is a great browsing tool that you can use very intelligently in order to get attention to the product that you are selling.
For a business you need infrastructure. All the examples that we gave above are nothing but online infrastructure that you can use. These are the different opportunities that you have if you want to increase the growth and impact of your online business. However, like mc Donald’s studied how people will be moving on the highways and exactly at what intervals they may need a break similarly you will have to understand how the traffic will be moving in these channels and how you can use this traffic flow to your own advantage. This requires traditional marketing ideas no doubt but the Growth Hacker needs to understand the internet very well and use it for ensuring growth of the business that he or she is dealing with.
Types of Growth Hackers
- Software Hacker – A software hacker is generally a software engineer. A growth hacker might not be a software guy. He is basically a person who uses technology in order to attain growth for the business he is dealing with. The growth hackers can use any tool or software to achieve the goal they are pursuing. Yes a programmer might be able to use the tools and the software better but that is not essential. A growth hacker needs to understand programming to some extent so that he can help with writing the code. Mastering the technology is definitely essential for a successful growth hacker.
Illegal Hacker – Hacking is generally a term that is associated with a person who illegally gains access to a system. A growth hacker might not have to do anything illegal. Nonetheless, they might be required to do things out of the box and do something unexpected in order to achieve the growth desired. For example when a social media releases an API (application programming interface) the growth hacker may use this in order to get users before the API is actually closed. It is nothing but a system weakness that the growth hacker used for his own gain.
- Ingenious Hacker – A hacker has to be smart and he must know how to use all the resources that are available to him in order to find a solution that is not visible to others. A growth hacker has to find ways and ideas to ensure growth for the business he has been entrusted with. It sounds easy but a growth hacker has to be extremely creative in order to find ways to ensure growth and success.
An example of Growth Hacking
So far we have been talking a lot about the term Growth Hacking. It has been too much of theory given so far but Growth Hacking is not just a theoretical concept it is a practical implementation too. Unless we explain a practical implementation you will not be able to get the concept clearly.
Let’s pick up a case study here. AirBNB is the ideal example that we can think of. Many people do have spare bedrooms that they want to be rented out. Sounds like a great business idea but it would not have been possible without the concept of growth hacking. We will explain how.
Craigslist was a platform that was used by many to find accommodation. What AirBNB did was they used Craigslist in order to get a boarder user base. For example if you are a user who has logged in to AirBNB and filled the form it will give you an option of posting your requirement in Craigslist too. So what is happening is that you are creating inbound links for AirBNB which is relatively new in the business.
Why Craigslist was not used by others like AirBNB is a good question that anyone might ask. Craigslist did not have any API that companies like these could use. What AirBNB did is that they reversed engineered the forms of Craigslist which is not something easy to do. So how did AirBNB manage to do it?
- They did a deep integration with Craigslist which is not possible through marketing. It requires a deep knowledge of software and programming.
- Integration that AirBNB planned with Craigslist was a part of the app itself. This ensured that the traffic drove all by itself.
- What AirBNB did was they just hijacked the distribution mechanism of Craigslist.
- The idea was new and no one had used it before. They perhaps were not even sure if the idea will actually work.
Reverse engineering as we have already mentioned is not as easy as API is. Whoever did the growth hacking for AirBNB had a very good idea about coding and web products.
Craigslist did realise what was happening and they fixed the loopholes. This is a very important lesson here. The growth hackers must know that the strategy they are using will not go on for years they will have to capitalise on the loop holes as fast as they can and make the most of it. The temporary opportunity created by the growth hackers can actually give a big boost to the business.
The future of Growth Hacking
Growth Hacking is a very new concept and it is growing fast. It is true that Growth Hacking is now used by the companies that are just starting up but in the future it can be used by organisations that are well established and earning profits. Large companies will have more resources to support a concept like this. Growth is the lifeblood of business and that makes Growth Hacking all the more important.