We started a growth hacking initiative at Jimdo and had interesting discussions on what the scope of growth hacking actually is. I went through my related bookmarks and thought it might be useful
to aggregate the top 3 cornerstones of growth hacking.
growth hacker (noun) – one who’s passion and focus is growth through use of a testable and scalable methodology.
A growth hacker works within the parameters of a scalable and repeatable method for growth, driven by product and inspired by data. A growth hacker lives at the intersection of data, product, and marketing.
Now that we have a definition in place let's get started with the top 3 elements of growth hacking:
1. Passion for growth manifested in data and tests
What is common to all the relevant growth hacking definitions is the mentioning of testing, reproducibility and scalability. Designing and evaluating split-tests, to measure whether a specific action actually moved the needle, is an essential part of growth hacking. Without data there is no validated learning and not a single iteration through the build-measure-learn cycle. Interestingly, this scientific approach is also an important part of data science, as I have described here.
In this TechCrunch post Aaron Ginn describes that “growth hackers have a passion for tracking and moving a metric. Without metrics or data, a growth hacker can feel out of place and uncomfortably exposed. This strong bias towards data drives a growth hacker away from vanity metrics towards metrics that will make or break the business.”
Some believe that you should only call yourself a growth hacker once you achieved significant and proven growth. Apparently it’s easy to be called a growth hacker in a company with an awesome product that's already growing exponentially. The company will most likely grow no matter what you do. Being able to indicate through AB-Tests which part of growth is actually due to growth hacking efforts is key for sustainable growth.
2. Applying the AARRR-Funnel
The below embedded slide deck from Mattan Griffel for me is the most practical “tutorial” on growth hacking. I think Dave McClure’s AARRR-metrics (see video below) are really useful to map and identifiy a growth companies biggest potentials. Mattan Griffel references the AARRR-metrics a lot and emphasizes that “the growth hacker’s job is to figure out how to move users from one state to the next [within the AARRR-funnel].” It’s important to focus on the right step in the AARRR funnel, you shouldn’t work on optimizing user acquisition if your activation rate is 1%.
3. Push the limits, hack and stay lean
The hacking part already implies that a growth hacker shouldn’t be afraid to push existing limits within an organization in order to adhere to the lean-principle. A growth hacker might disregard what is seen as best practices regarding Design, UX or customer communication for the sake of getting facts and results faster. The key here is validated learning and shortening the build-measure-learn cycle.
Growth hacking also means to put a lot less weight on opinions and intuition and instead prioritize hypotheses testing. An unshakable focus on trying to generate numbers and facts instead of endless discussions is key. As Dan Martell says here, “growth hacking is a mindset more than a toolset”.
At Jimdo we had many debates whether we should have the option for users to login with their facebook account instead of having to sign up via email. So instead of having further, intuition-loaded debates about it the lean growth hacking approach was to put a fake Facebook-login button right into the sign up formular. There was no real Facebook login, since the implementation would have taken to much time, just the button to measure how much users would click on it. The hypothesis was that users want to login with Facebook instead of having to go through the tedious sign-up process via email. The result was that not many users clicked on the Facebook button. Hypothesis rejected and hours of engineering efforts and meetings saved.
The following step by step-process for growth hacking is what we currently work with at Jimdo:
1. Measure current status of AARRR funnel and Identify biggest potential (Acquisition? Activation? Retention?)
2. Formulate hypothesis and generate ideas how to test them
3. Design and implement test
4. Measure results, decide whether to accept or reject hypothesis and continue with step 1.
5. In case of acceptance of hypothesis evaluate exploitation, scale out solution (implement full feature, integrate into other channels).
Growth hacking is a buzzword and many different definitions exist. But for the growth hacking team at Jimdo it’s an efficient term to define the scope of what we are doing.