LinkedIn’s audience has grown from zero to over 500 million registered users. Instagram’s growth has hit 700 million users. Uber now operates in 570 cities worldwide. All of these companies have one thing in common – tremendous and rapid growth.
Thanks to their success, growth hacking has become a popular topic. Plenty of information about growth hacking is available on the Internet.
Every marketer has access to any type of growth hack, but despite this fact, 90% of startups fail every year, according to Neil Patel, marketing guru and Forbes contributor.
In this article we will reveal why growth hacking might not be working for your company.
Let’s begin with the basics.
What is Growth Hacking and Who Are Growth Hackers?
Wikipedia says that “growth hacking is a process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most effective, efficient ways to grow a business.”
The term “growth hacker” first appeared in 2010. It was coined by Sean Ellis, the first marketing consultant at Dropbox. He wrote:
“A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth. Everything they do is scrutinized by its potential impact on scalable growth.”
Other people then began to complete the definition by adding to a growth hacker’s responsibilities.
We’ve taken the description of growth hackers given by Neil Patel – together with Bronson Taylor – in the article “The definitive guide to growth hacking”.
Growth hackers are extremely analytical
They process a huge amount of information and analyze it to find correlations between a company’s processes and results. They also predict what the competition will do, how the market will change, and how a company should behave according to the changes, in order to achieve the best possible results.
Any company will benefit greatly by having growth hackers with these types of skills who can help correct business strategies and plans, improve working processes, minimize costs, and find the best way to develop business.
Growth hackers are proficient in a number of disciplines, and experts in a number of others
Good growth hackers are erudite. They usually know a little bit about psychology, a lot about sales, much more about marketing, and at the same time, they should be experts at least in one additional sphere.
They need to know a lot in different spheres because successful growth hacking works by crossing sciences and fields such as analytics, marketing, PR, sales, and business development.
Growth hackers who are comfortable working in different spheres can help companies catch market changes and meet the accompanying demands. Such professionals should also be able to predict future trends and help adopt them faster than their competitors.
Growth hackers should be creative and curious, think up original ideas, and try new things
Growth hackers should be brave enough to not only come up with new ideas but also to express and implement them. It is almost impossible to create something original when you are afraid of risk. As they say, “no guts, no glory.”
To cut through the competition, growth hackers need to be able to invent something new, when it seems that everything has already been invented.
Growth hackers are obsessive about growth
They need to attempt to find solutions by trying a variety of tactics, the majority of which may be unsuccessful. They should be able to persist until they find the tactics that will work, and continue to build upon minor successes as they move their product forward.
Why is Growth Hacking so Popular?
The aim of growth hacking is huge growth and success. Companies believe that growth hacking will help them increase their revenue and improve their position in the market.
According to the GEM Global Report,100 million businesses are launched every year. And almost every founder wants his/her company to be at the top.
Let’s look at some of the best examples of growth hacking that you can implement with your business.
What Famous Growth Hacks Blew Up the Internet?
It’s best to consider growth hacks using the examples of successful companies that have achieved tremendous growth thanks to brilliant strategies.
Twitter is one of the companies that hacked the growth. The company was launched in July of 2006, and the service rapidly gained worldwide popularity. In 2012, more than 100 million users posted 340 million tweets a day, and the service handled an average of 1.6 billion search queries per day, according to Wikipedia.
Twitter boosted their services by providing users with recommended followers. Twitter’s analysts discovered that if people follow 5-10 accounts the first day they register, then they are much more likely to continue to use Twitter in the future.
Twitter decided to add a recommendations block that showed who you would be likely to follow based on the information in your account (age, gender, interests, people you already follow, etc.).
From Twitter’s success story we know that user experience matters. You should analyze your audience to know how they behave and what they like to find a growth hack that will attract the attention of your target audience.
Dropbox is a file hosting service that gained popularity thanks to their referral program.
Dropbox offered free storage space for those who shared the service with friends, and that contributed to a fast-growing success that resulted in over 200 million users in the first four years of service.
If you have an interesting product that people like, provide some incentives to encourage your customers to tell others about it. That will create a buzz around your product. Word-of-mouth can then spread the information about your product across the Internet once you start the process.
Instagram used the same type of hack. The social network became widespread thanks to sharing buttons. People can share their photos from Instagram on almost every other social network. When they share, they make an advertisement both for themselves and for Instagram.
Use all possible means and channels to promote your product. Make the process of sharing your information as simple as possible. This approach will attract new users to your product.
Why Doesn’t Growth Hacking Work for Your Company?
Sometimes it seems that you have tried every possible hack but nothing works. There are several reasons why this might be the case.
You have a weak and immature product
We don’t want to offend anybody, but what if you have a weak product?
If your product is at the startup stage, refine it. Develop it, test it, and only then look for appropriate growth hacks.
Look at what Andrew Chen, Uber’s growth hacker, tells us about startups:
“Startups don’t need growth hackers – at first. They need products that are really working in the market. This means users love it, that there’s lots of retention and engagement, even at small numbers.”
Until you have developed a good product that your customers will love, there is no need to think about growth hacking. It may simply be too early to grow because you do not yet have enough resources to cope with that type of growth.
So at first, focus on developing your product to meet the needs of your potential customers.
Ask potential customers if they would use your product. Find out what they like and what they dislike about it. Analyze what competitors do, find your competitive advantages, and focus on them.
When you see that your product is gaining popularity, move forward with growth hacking.
Your company cannot cope with growth
Another problem faced by early stage companies is immaturity. Without being mature there is no reason to try growth hacking techniques because the company will simply not be able to cope with them.
For example, if you have a very small sales team, your staff will probably not be able to handle a great product’s demand as the company rapidly grows.
Raad Mobrem is the CEO and co-founder of Lettuce:
“You can’t grow a company that has an underdeveloped product or does not yet solve the problem of your target customer.”
Before you consider growth hacking, make sure you have achieved product-market fit.
Will Caldwell, co-founder and CEO of Dizzle and SnapNHD, suggests taking three steps to achieve this:
1) Find out what your potential customers need and to find ways to meet those needs.
2) Then, focus on your product’s significant value proposition. Don’t go overboard with various features – just provide the things that make you better than your competitors.
3) It is great if you can build credibility by offering a story which may support your brand going forward. Communicate the benefits of your product to your customers.
When all of this has been done make sure that your staff is ready for growth: your salespersons are waiting for emails and calls and your developers and support are ready to fix any problem.
You have a single growth hacker
Sometimes growth hacking doesn’t work when a company only has one growth hacker.
Growth hacking is a long-term process which involves a lot of different business spheres. It has less chance of working when only one person is engaged in it, because one person can hardly manage marketing, sales, business development, etc., all at the same time.
Growth hacking should be a focus of the company as a whole. Everyone should focus all actions in order to achieve growth. And everyone should know where they are going.
Raad Mobrem is the CEO and co-founder of Lettuce:
“Growth is not the job of a single “hacker,” but should be the responsibility of the entire organization.”
Think holistically about growth, because it is a cross-functional endeavor. Engage the whole company in growth hacking. Communicate to your staff the importance of the aim to grow and to succeed. Ask them if they have any input that might help. You may get a fresh perspective and find some new growth hackers already working on your team.
Wrap It All Up
Growth hacking is a process of finding all of the possible strategies in order to develop a highly competitive product, identify the most effective and best ways to promote it across different marketing channels, and use the product to rapidly grow a business.
People who are engaged in growth hacking are called growth hackers.
According to Neil Patel’s description, they should be:
- extremely analytical
- proficient at a number of disciplines
- creative and curious
- obsessive about growth
To become a growth hacker, work to develop analytical skills combined with creativity and curiosity, or hire someone who meets those criteria.
If you have already tried some growth hacks that didn’t work for your company, check out the next points to potentially improve your situation:
- make sure that you have a product that people love. If not, improve it until your potential and existing customers are satisfied with it.
- make sure that your company can cope with growth. Do you have enough salespeople who will receive calls and emails when a lot of people suddenly want to buy your product?
- set growth hacking as the main strategy of your company. Growth hacking is not just the responsibility of a single growth hacker. It’s the goal of the whole company and every employee. Let your staff know which goals you set and ask them how they can help achieve them.
Is your company ready to become a giant like Twitter or LinkedIn? Like a true growth hacker, we hope that you don’t give up and continue to try new ways to grow.