Growth Hacking has been increasingly talked about in recent years: start-ups and companies are using it to accelerate their business growth and achieve goals faster. Here we explain what it consists of, why it is different from traditional marketing, and what the benefits are.

You're always between a rock and a hard place: on the one hand, you live in a fast-paced world, where everyone is rushing here and there to grab more customers, more sales, more revenue; on the other hand, marketing is a long-term challenge, so the results sometimes take a while to come (after all, that's the way it is if you want to do things right).

But.

What if I told you that you don't necessarily always have to wait patiently for a certain period of time to see the fruits of your actions?

What if you could experiment faster, keeping costs down and outperforming your competitors?

Oh yeah, that definitely sounds good!

If you are wondering how this is all possible...

The answer lies in two little words: Growth Hacking.

Okay, okay, if you've never heard of it, it may be that it seems like really complicated stuff-or you've already found it around, but you've never understood much about it.

Don't worry, you are definitely not the only one!

Growth Hacking has become particularly "famous" in recent years, especially in the context of all those start-ups that need to make their way in the market as quickly as possible, but with a very small budget.

We are generally talking about situations where the main objective is to acquire the maximum number of customers at minimum cost, quickly and effectively, and where a method of growth specific.

Here, then, are consultants, marketers and entrepreneurs who have begun to see Growth Hacking as the best way to ensure the success of a business, regardless of the size or resources available to the company-some even call it "the future of marketing."...

How come?

Simple: because everyone wants to grow as fast as possible, finding customers and increasing their earnings.

But what exactly is meant by Growth Hacking?

In this first article I want to give you some clarity: here is everything you need to know about it, explained in a simple way.

Happy reading!

What is Growth Hacking

Let me take a guess: when you first came across this concept, you were immediately reminded of those nerdy simpletons who exploit their computer skills to steal secret data online: the much-feared hacker. 

Yes, the etymology is the same, but here we are talking about something slightly different. "Hack," in informal English, also means "trick" or "gimmick": so think of thehacking as to "shortcuts" that make your life easier.

So what exactly is Growth Hacking?

It is an expression coined in 2010 by Sean Ellis, an entrepreneur who has helped various companies, including. Dropbox, to achieve accelerated growth.

We can define it as a process, a way of marketing and development that aims to accelerate a company's growth quickly and at minimal cost. It includes a range of innovative, creative, cost-effective and efficient strategies aimed at increasing one's customer base. 

How?

Through three main elements: digital marketing (I will also explain why they are not the same thing in a moment), product development, and l'data analysis.

growth hacking

The key word in Growth Hacking is. experimentation: works by focusing on growth as the main metric, but by doing experiments based on data collection. In other words, it focuses exclusively (or nearly so) on expanding the business as quickly as possible through acquisition and customer loyalty, web traffic and social media activity.

As I mentioned, it is a process most commonly associated with start-ups and small businesses that do not have a lot of resources to deploy but need to get results quickly. However, it is a concept applicable to any online business seeking to maintain its growth and retention of an active user base.

What does a Growth Hacker do?

Thus, as this new growth-focused process spread, a new professional figure was born to deal specifically with it: the growth hacker.

Who is he and what exactly does he do?

A growth hacker is someone who observes market trends and then identifies how and what tools to use for a single purpose: to achieve the company's growth-oriented goals. Every decision, tactic and strategy he or she makes is aimed at one rapid development Of the business.

A growth hacker designs, implements, and oversees marketing strategies that enable increased sales and customer engagement; conducts market research, performs A/B testing, schedules, analyzes data, and makes plans.

He is a professional with technical skills and soft skills specifications: basic, has a creative, open and analytical mind, with an excellent ability to adapt to change. 

But let's look in detail at what the skills of a growth hacker are:

  • growth mindset: knows how to scale a business and is able to manage induced changes;
  • work ethic: knows how to organize his time and tasks as effectively as possible, launching new products and campaigns quickly, as well as monitoring them closely to modify them on the fly if necessary;
  • curiosity and creativity: follows the results of a campaign with interest and knows how to take proven marketing tactics and turn them into something new and interesting;
  • data analysis: knows how to understand data, but is also able to apply the information derived from it;
  • understanding of the market: keeps up with changing trends, identifies potential investors, and understands product strengths or weaknesses.

As you can see, a growth hacker possesses a broad skill set: data knowledge is the starting point, to find a possible problem and its cause; then comes creativity to find a solution; and, finally, technical skills to bring that solution to reality.

In order to achieve sustainable growth and improve the results of future campaigns, the growth hacker must in fact understand not only what works well, but also why. Only later, through data and experiments, does it automate that process and is thus ready to repeat it in the future. 

The difference between growth hacking and traditional marketing

Many people believe that growth hacking replaces the web marketing Or that they are practically the same thing. Well, they are wrong!

On the one hand, it is true: Growth Hacking and traditional marketing can overlap, in the sense that, round and round, for both, the goal is still to direct more people to your offer-and thus make you earn more.

It's just that Growth Hacking was born among those small companies that didn't have that much budget to spend. That's why it combines marketing strategies, optimization and development know-how to achieve growth goals.

In general, digital marketing and Growth Hacking share the same online channels and tools, but Growth Hacking does so with a more agile, creative, and experimental mindset. It therefore follows that growth hackers are marketers, but marketers are not necessarily growth hackers.

However, if you're wondering what the practical differences are between the two, here they are:

Approach and objectives 

Marketing focuses its efforts on the early stages of the sales funnel, especially on brand positioning and brand awareness to increase sales. Growth Hacking takes a more operational approach, aiming directly at business growth-an ideal method in all strategic phases, but one that can make a difference especially in those of activation, retention, revenue and referral (Don't worry, in the next article I will explain everything about it). Growth Hacking has as its sole objective the company growth; for marketing, however, growth is only one of many goals to be pursued.

Product and method

Marketing manages the promotion and sale of a done and finished product or service; Growth Hacking goes beyond that, as it helps companies improve their offerings to meet customer expectations. It starts from a creative phase, applies rapid testing logic and implements the best performing solutions. Traditional marketing starts with the product, while Growth Hacking starts with understanding its user base to develop products that are easier to sell.

Budget

That it tends to be smaller we have already mentioned: growth hacking involves limited resources and seeks to make the most of them by using innovative tactics, tools and channels. Traditional marketing often operates with larger investments and can afford paid promotional techniques. In fact, the difference between the two is understood not only as quantity, but also as the way resources are distributed. Traditional marketing allocates a budget for each campaign; Growth Hacking, on the other hand, divides it among several ideas to be tested quickly and based on the results of the tests, will then increase the investment in the most promising areas.

Experimentation and data analysis

Traditional marketing usually works on larger, longer-term projects, keeping track of a whole series of KPI; Growth Hacking always starts with an experimental approach, to see which directions work best or show the most potential, and focuses only on the metrics that lead to growth: web traffic, social media and, most importantly, sales. A growth hacker always works from data, which is not always the case in most marketing departments.

Benefits of Growth Hacking

Why is Growth Hacking beneficial?

Think about it: you yourself have probably found yourself lacking a large amount of resources to invest in reaching and acquiring new customers.

Consequently, you must use innovation and creativity as your primary tools to scale your business.

By its very nature, then, Growth Hacking is designed to use all the resources you have in the most economical way possible: it allows you to expand your audience and increase your revenue, even if you cannot afford expensive marketing tactics.

But this approach is also useful for larger companies: it enables them to win new audience segments, improve the ROI And increase customer loyalty.

Its low cost and impressive results are just a few of the many ways in which Growth Hacking can positively affect the growth of a business-let's go into detail and see what all the major benefits of this approach are.

Innovation 

Growth Hacking helps you propose something completely new to consumers, changing the way they think, solve problems, buy products, and behave-it can disrupt the market, introducing audiences to new ways of using and consuming the offering. 

Think, for example, of Uber, the innovative "collaborative" transportation service.The fact that millions of people are booking Uber rides on their smartphones instead of hailing a cab is proof that a real paradigm shift has taken place in the industry.

Speed and agility 

When it takes you too long to bring a product to market, you risk your competitors beating you to the punch-that's why speed and agility remain crucial to winning your space in particular industries or niches. Growth Hacking allows you to move quickly on potentially profitable campaigns, without tying yourself to a particular marketing strategy and experimenting based on the data you collect.

Conscious decisions

Data collection and processing is critical to thriving in your market: from the impressions at CPM, all metrics related to social networks, web traffic, email marketing etc. are key to making better decisions.

Data analysis is a massive component of the Growth Hacking process: acting on measurable, hard facts saves you time, energy and resources - as well as ensuring greater success in the future.

Demonstrable results

Being data-driven, Growth Hacking allows you to experiment and measure your performance, thus having a complete picture of the effectiveness of each technique you apply. By using data to weigh each decision you make and carefully monitoring your actions, you can easily see which ones are working as you hoped and which ones are not.

This factual information allows you to demonstrate the results of the strategies applied.

Product development

This is also an important component of Growth Hacking: testing different options, to learn more about your audience, their demands, preferences and interests, gives you the right ideas on how to improve your product or service.

Conclusion

So what do you think?

Are you a little clearer in your mind?

The most important thing you need to remember about Growth Hacking is that it is not a fixed tactic or strategy: it is an approach and a mentality.

It is a continuous process that, ideally, never ends: to achieve exponential and sustainable growth over time, the key is to continuously experiment and measure the results before taking any action.

Of course, it may seem easier said than done....

So you may be wondering. How this applies in a practical way.

Don't worry, in the next article we will delve into this very aspect and I will show you some examples of Growth Hacking strategies that you can apply to your business.

Ps. In the meantime, discover my interview with Raffaele Gaito, Italy's most famous growth hacker: find it here.