Growth Hacks – A reality check from a Growth Hacker

Don’t just tell me the growth hacks are crucial for business success. How do I come up with a right growth hack, what process are most likely to generate the essential growth hack? Should we invest energy in investing those hacks or follow them blindly? Do we need to build a new team to find growth hacks or can we train existing team?

There has been enough written and said about Growth hacks – how they are the way forward and why everyone is supposed to follow it religiously.

This is an attempt to remove misconceptions about growth hacking and bring forward some reality checks.

There are 3 ways to plan and win any game –

  1. Play by rule
  2. Find a way, skip stages through cheat codes
  3. Hack it and win it

Everyone knows how to play by the rules but only a few know how not to and still win it.

It’s not any different while doing business.

Founders, VCs hungry for growth more often tend to explore uncharted territories in pursuit of growth, which at times deviate them from sustainable growth.

Following are hard realities (good and bad) about growth hacking:

1. Growth hacks are not sustainable solutions; they are nitro boosts

Growth hacks are always almost inferior to consistent investment in the right marketing channel and tactics for your strength and your audience.

Growth hacks for any business are supposed to give an instant boost of increase/decrease in numbers based on the objective.

2. Growth hacks have to be invented; they cannot be discovered

What you discover is already available. It’s just that you were unaware of it, the industry may be following it in secret for many years.

Do you really think, what Airbnb achieved through craigslist hack was not been thought of by anyone before? I believe lots of them would have tried but only Airbnb succeeded in scaling it up to 1 million.

Growth hack has to be something that has not been imagined and practiced before, or if it has, it could have been secretly done but as it is a hack no one would openly talk about it.

3. You may never know the “Growth hacks” unless they make it public.

Why would anyone reveal their secret of growth?

It may come out after someone/competition found about it or practitioners revealed it by themselves.

Businesses will only reveal their hacks after they know 98% of times it won’t work after trying and testing it in multiple formats in every possible situation.

Do you think Dropbox talked about their Referral program on day 1? As sson as we all were done with it they started talking about it. They openly admitted that it does not work the same way in different geographies.

4. Growth hacks may not be necessarily cost-effective solutions.

If the hack involves any technical adaption or entering into someone else’s database or a secret cross-integration, it will never be easy on pockets.

5. Do not mistake optimization strategies for growth hacks.

You may teach a cat to bark but that does not make it a dog!

Decreasing CPA from X to Y will be conversion optimization through ad platform or LP optimization, it cannot be a hack. There may be cheat codes available here but no hacks.

Increasing CTR for organic results is also not a growth hack. It’s just helpin Search Engine Optimiser for better SEO.

6. You may find a hack if you have your basics clear

Many entrepreneurs search for quick fixes without having their basics clear.

Optimisation (could be looked at as cheat codes) can only be practiced if you have a strong foundation.

Optimization and continuous experimentation may trigger a thought which can lead you to a growth hack if you can connect dots easily.

Referral scheme is not a hack; its nothing but an adoption of chain messaging.

People at Dropbox could’ve thought about it because they tried and tested different ways of acquisitions and finally were able to connect the dots together to arrive at a referral scheme idea.

7. Growth hacks could be categorized as black hat

Many people may not agree with it, but being in a community of growth practitioners I can confirm this.

Growth hacks and black hats share a very thin line of separation.

Some black hats can be growth hacks but you can differentiate the majority of them into unique or individual growth hacks and black hats.

If an outsider cannot guess or find signs of how an X company is achieving exponential growth when they aren’t practicing traditional/mainstream/known channels, generally the last resort is Blackhat tactics.

Final thoughts –

Innovative ideas always emerge in a half-baked, partially formed condition. They subsequently go through a shaping process that transforms them into the fully fleshed-out business plan. complete with strategy, that is required to win the game.

It is easy to get fooled early and start categorizing anything and everything which brings in growth as a hack.

Hacks are not easy and will never be.

Hacks are not easy

You need to have a mindset of a growth hacker and hackers ethics to be a growth hacker.

To have a real growth hackers life you need to do relentless experimentation, never dying hunger for optimization and T-shaped skills is what you need .

I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew that one thing I might regret is not trying. – Jeff Bezos, 2016

Growth hacking is about acquiring as many customers as possible, while spending as little as possible, in a short span of time. It is an umbrella term for strategies focused solely on growth, mostly for young startups that need to scale up quickly in order to survive. There is no one-size-fits-all growth hacking strategy, every company will have its own course and tools that are specific to them. You need to find out what makes customers return to you or purchase from you – what makes them stick – and find a way to repeat that over and over so that you acquire more customers. There are many tools you can employ for this purpose, from content marketing to product marketing to advertising/paid promotions.

Growth hacking is an umbrella term for strategies that are focused purely on growth. Growth hacking meaning is something that confounds many, but we’ll try to break it down for you. It is about acquiring as many customers as possible, while spending as little as possible, over a short period of time. It concerns itself with out-of-the-box marketing strategies that are used to get maximum users with minimal spends. Startups are the biggest followers of growth hacking strategies, since they are forced to use innovative marketing techniques because tight budgets prevent the use of traditional marketing strategies. Growth hacking is about experimenting, testing and pushing the envelope when it comes to unconventional acquisition strategies.

Growth hackers are people whose “true North is growth.” This is the definition put in place by the original growth hacker, Silicon Valley consultant Sean Ellis. A growth hacker is someone who uses creative, low-cost strategies to help businesses acquire and retain customers. They can also be called growth marketers, but what is important to note is that growth hackers are more than just marketers. They focus on strategies pertaining to ONLY growth, and hypothesize, prioritize and test out innovative strategies to see what works best and what will move the business forward. They know how to set growth priorities, identify channels for customer acquisition, measure success and scale growth.

Growth hacking marketing is a relatively new field in online marketing solely focused on growth. The goal of growth hacking strategies is generally to acquire as many customers as possible while spending as little as possible. Traditional marketers have to consider budgets, expenses, conversions and the like, but a growth hacker is someone who is focused solely on growth in the fastest way possible. It is an umbrella term for strategies that are focused solely on growth, often for early-stage startups that need massive growth in a short period of time on relatively small budgets. How does it work? It’s different for each company. You need to first figure out why you grow – what is it that makes your company tick with customers and boost conversions? Once you know this, the trick is to make that happen on purpose, over and over again. Put into practice what you learn and growth will surely follow!

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