In this article, we are going to explain what is growth hacking, how do growth hackers work, success stories and how to get most out of it…
What is growth hacking?
Growth hacking can be defined as the set of actions, usually implemented in a digital environment, that are applied in a start-up, product or company with the aim of obtaining maximum growth with the lowest possible financial outlay. Growth hacking may seem like a new digital marketing technique, but it is much more than that. This new professional sector is a mix between marketing, analytics and business that aims to adapt the product of a company to the market so it ‘sells itself’.
This definition presents us very clearly the objective of a growth hacker, but leaves an important and differential aspect of growth hacking: scalability.
How do growth hackers work?
Growth hackers use techniques to publicize a product through a traditional way: ‘word of mouth’, making the same product participate in the conversation. In other words, Growth hackers create products capable of ‘communicating’ with the consumer to make them unconsciously send the product to other people.
A case of success (among others that you can learn about in the last section of this article ) that exemplifies what has been explained is Dropbox. The cloud storage company managed to register 100 million users in just four years thanks to a referral program that increased the storage capacity of each user who invited someone to use the platform.
Growth hacking: a new model for a new reality
If we go back a few decades, we find companies that, in an environment with rather low competition, advertised their products in the media of the moment (television, radio, newspapers) highlighting their characteristics and differential aspects. Over the years, the competition increased and companies had to innovate to create new actions focused on the brand to generate feelings in the consumer and succeed in selling their product.
Today, in a digital environment where users can consult thousands of sources of information before buying, the big brands want their products to generate user experiences. In this context, growth Hacking has understood that to promote a product you can no longer work only after creating it. That is precisely why growth hacking has the mission of intervening in the product creation phase to:
- Analyze the environment and understand the needs of the public
- Design the best possible product for users
- Automate an action or actions so that the product is able to generate publicity
- Grow and reach the maximum number of clients possible
This intervening in the design of a product that is going to go on sale may seem new, but it is not. In 1959 McDonald’s already used a technique similar to growth hacking by following this kind of a scheme. Specifically, McDonald detected that there was a demand for its product at the exits of the interstate highways and, based on this need, installed its premises on those highways along with its now iconic high arch with its M-shaped logo, so that any driver could know from his car where he could buy a hamburger.
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Growth hacking success stories
As we have seen before, Dropbox used a referral system to get more users. In addition to this platform, many other start-ups have also increased their number of clients using growth hacking techniques.
Here are 4 success stories:
One of the best known cases of growth hacking is that of Airbnb. This company created an innovative product (room rental) but ran into a downside: they didn’t have enough users to post rental offers. To solve the problem, Airbnb used a bot that copied all the offers that users made on its platform and published them on Craigslist, a website of classified ads by sections. With this measure, Airbnb managed to become known and multiply its number of users.
However, not everything stayed here. Airbnb found that, especially in the New York area, its offers were not registering many bookings. After analyzing the offers they had in the area, they realized that most of the photos were of low quality, a reason that influenced the number of reservations. To solve the problem, Airbnb decided to hire a photographer and go take photos in the properties that offered their rooms with poor quality photos. After replacing the images, Airbnb doubled its earnings in the area that month.
Surely in the last few days you have visited several web pages that contained a YouTube video, right? With an embed code, YouTube managed to get thousands of users to insert videos from its platform on their websites and in this way the platform became known on millions of web pages, which is why its number of followers increased.
Tinder is a good example that shows that not all growth hacking actions have to be digital. The dating app organized different college parties in which the only requirement to enter was to download their app. The use of this application went viral and, today, Tinder has almost 50 million users.
Hotmail managed to quickly multiply its number of customers with an action as simple as including a sentence at the end of each email inviting the user who received the email to download Hotmail for free. Specifically, the message that the email included was:
PS: I Love You. Get Your Free Email at Hotmail.
With this measure, Hotmail became the most used email at the time.