Growth hacking is a term that’s been thrown around quite a lot the last few years. While some businesses have jumped on the bandwagon, many others do a double take and shy away before really learning what growth hacking is. After all, we don’t really make positive associations with the word “hacking” and associating it with a growing business seems like a risky venture.
But growth hacking is actually a great thing for new startups, especially given the fact that the percentage of new businesses that make it all the way into their 5th year can be as low as 3%. It takes a lot for a new business to gain traction and succeed, and growth hacking can be the trick that makes the difference between massive growth and a virtual sign that reads “closed for business”.
MarketMotive offers a Masters in Digital Marketing Program that includes a five-course pathway to certification.
What Is Growth Hacking?
Growth hacking is a heavily loaded term, but maybe we can break it down into something that’s more intuitive and easy to understand by referring to it as growth marketing. This all starts with a basic understanding of how growth hacking differs from the traditional marketing strategies that new businesses often employ.
In the simplest terms, growth hacking is a phrase used to define a process narrowly focused on producing exponential growth. Growth hacking has nothing to do with slow and steady tactics that build an audience and revenue naturally over time.
Many small businesses don’t have the time or budget to wait around for results. Think about the small business that doesn’t break even for the first 5 years compared to the one that’s turning a massive profit by the end of year one. Growth hacking is what makes the difference.
A challenge that many new businesses face is that they’re limited in ways to reach the targeted audiences that are needed to grow a business. In the past, businesses relied on costly marketing and advertising strategies that may have reached a broad audience but failed to really focus in on those with the potential to turn into high-quality leads. This was a huge expense with minimal impact – two things that no startup needs.
Today, we have digital avenues of reaching past traditional marketing, bypassing the unnecessary clutter and focusing in on huge growth. This is what growth hacking marketing is all about – intent, purpose, and fast results that grow new businesses fast while protecting their bottom line.
How Is Growth Hacking Different from Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing is important for businesses, no matter where they are in their journey to success. But, marketing has a broad approach. There are multiple strategies that are implemented to reach audiences and encourage growth organically. In many ways, digital marketing is like planting a garden.
Let’s say you buy the seeds and sow the ground with the intent of nurturing the seedlings to the point that they produce fruit. Growing a garden is a lot of work. You need to know what each type of seed needs to grow and produce, and it needs tending to regularly. But, at the end of the season, you’ll have a bounty to show for your efforts, so it’s all worth it.
But, what if a small, new business is worried about having the resources to make it through the growth season, or they’re hungry now and don’t have the time to wait? Growth hacking is about tapping into the resources of growth and getting the bounty on your table today, without waiting to nurture it along.
Growth hacking strategies are directed specifically toward growth and nothing else. Digital marketing might share some of the same strategies but is generally much broader in the approach. Digital marketing also works towards wider targets like brand awareness, reputation and risk assessment.
It isn’t that a growth hacker doesn’t care about these aspects of your business but instead comes at it with an approach that these can all be addressed – often effortlessly – once you’ve already achieved massive success. While the end goal is the same, growth hacking forces the needle to move in the right direction.
Here are a few differences in approach between digital marketing and growth hacking 101:
- Marketing strategies are aimed at making people want you’re selling Vs. creating a product or service that they want automatically.
- Marketing is aimed at creating brand awareness and leveraging other vanity metrics to measure success Vs. growth hacking that works with a clearly defined funnel leading to growth.
- Digital marketing uses a variety of free and paid advertising methods Vs the free or low-cost distribution channels optimized through growth hacking.
Benefits of Growth Hacking
The obvious benefit of growth hacking is of course fast growth. Businesses expect to see the results in their bottom line, but many of them don’t realize just how far reaching the benefits of growth hacking are. The truth is business often achieve the exact same goals of traditional digital marketing, but with exponentially richer results.
Take building a brand identity for example. Uber is a company that often comes up when talking about growth hacking, and with good reason. When Uber first launched they were looking to fill a need and do so in a way that was competently innovative.
Recognizing the transportation difficulties of exploding urban areas, they saw the potential to try something new. Public transportation came with scheduling issues and the unpleasantness of sharing a ride crowded with complete strangers. Taxis were an option, but unreliable. People wanted comfortable, safe transportation that was available whenever they needed it.
Instead of creating yet another taxi company and then try to sell people on the idea, they came up with a concept that was new, but almost too simple. Not only were people excited about this, but Uber created a concept that minimized their own cost. Drivers used their own vehicles, passengers scheduled rides through an app and all Uber really needed to do was sit back and collect profits.
But the real genius here is that now you rarely hear someone say, “let’s get a cab”. Instead, it’s “let’s get an Uber”. Through growth hacking, they’ve made their brand a household name.
There are other major benefits as well, like the fact that most growth hacking strategies play directly into SEO, bring in higher quality leads and compliment whatever marketing campaigns you might already be using.
Growth Hacking Tools for Startups
So, growth hacking is the current buzzword for startups. This means that so many new businesses are looking to optimize growth that the current mindset is grow fast, grow now or go home. What’s a startup with little to no experience in growth hacking to do?
Well, it’s a smart idea to hire a professional that’s focused specifically on growth. But even those professionals are going to use growth hacking tools to get the job done, and honestly, there’s no reason that you can’t use some of them yourself – no matter how limited your experience.
Here are a few of our favorite growth hacking tools for new startups.
Consumer Barometer with Google – To experience exponential growth you need to know about the trends and behaviors that influence how people around the world use the internet. Consumer Barometer is an e-commerce growth tool that provides analytics, insights and research that helps you build a funnel leading directly to growth.
Hotjar – In today’s e-commerce world, more startups are focused on services rather than just products. This means that the quality of their user experience is more important than ever. Hotjar offers software that combines multiple UX tools into one and helps you uncover the hotspots of growth in your new company.
LeadCrunch – This lead generating tool leverages AI to dig in and analyze consumer data. This makes it a great growth hacking tool because it reveals the customers that are most likely to invest in your company, allowing you to bypass the markets that would be slow or hesitant to commit.
The Future of Growth Hacking
As more businesses enter the digital landscape, it becomes even more crucial for new businesses to think innovatively about their growth strategies. Growth hacking isn’t just a buzzword, it’s the future of success for startups.
At MarketMotive, we’re expecting opportunities for growth hacking jobs to continually rise. We offer a variety of professional level courses that can help you learn about growth hacking as a career or for building your own business. Whatever your need, we can help with the solution.