What is Growth hacking?
It is is a form of marketing that focuses on the end result rather than the process of getting there. It involves experimentation and constant evolution, in order to grow a company as quickly as possible. Although the term itself makes the process sound illegal, growth hackers operate fully within the realm of legality. The hacking refers to the strategy of the process more than anything else. It is almost like finding shortcuts to grow a businesses’ customer base, membership, or profits. There is no specific route to growth, but by hypothesising and testing different methods, a growth hacker can find the best way to expand a company in the quickest possible way. It applies more to startups and smaller businesses, because a corporation does not have to worry about growth once it is large and successful.
The term was coined by Sean Ellis in 2010, who struggled to find a replacement for himself and therefore came up with a definition for the type of marketing work he was doing. It is perfect for a business that does not have a high marketing budget, or that has a quality product but not a large enough customer base.
The age of startups
This is an age of startups, and growth hackers are the fuel for these small pop-up businesses that are becoming the norm. These now major companies all utilised growth hacking techniques to grow their companies drastically:
LinkedIn biggest growth hack involved making the profiles public. Previously, a Google search on a person’s name would usually yield tons of obscure results that would be no help to a company considering a potential employee. LinkedIn’s public profiles are now almost always the first result that comes up. This is beneficial for workers and companies alike, and is one of the main reasons LinkedIn rose to the level it is at today.
Twitter initially was very popular and many people signed up, but most would not return to the website after their first visit. The founders saw this, and realised they had to do something to keep people active on the site. The solution was simple: people were much more likely to return if they followed at least five other accounts on the day that they created theirs. They started providing suggested accounts for people to subscribe to when they first signed up, and this made people feel more invested in their profiles. Activity increased dramatically, and Twitter had cleverly solved their problem.
Not many people know this, but YouTube is actually a search engine. Not only that, but it is second only to Google. Youtube’s growth hack is simple yet genius. When you watch any video, there is an option to share it with a simple embed link that can be put on any website, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Even if you choose not to share the video, you are provided with a list of videos you may want to watch based on the current video. This creates what is called a “viral loop,” which keeps users on the site and steadily raises Youtube’s overall view count. Thanks to hacks like these, the simple idea of a video sharing platform transformed into one of the most successful websites of all time.