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Introduction to Growth Hacking

The term “growth hacking” was first coined in 2010 by Sean Ellis, a marketing expert who has helped numerous startups achieve accelerated growth, including Dropbox.

Ellis realized that more than traditional marketing methods were needed to drive rapid growth in the digital age. In response, he developed growth hacking.

Growth Hacking Definition

Growth hacking is a method for accelerating business growth that incorporates the creative use of technology, analytics, human resources, rapid testing, and economic value measurements that uncover the most straightforward paths to profit. It’s a framework used to answer the question of where the money is faster than the competition, which leads to business leadership.

The fuel of Growth Hacking starts with a deeper nontypical understanding of the market, the audience, the competition, achieving the must-have product/service market fit, and a willingness to evaluate the business void of bias with absolute truth. It also entails having the right people in the correct seats on the bus needed to achieve momentum and sustainability.

Nine Pillars of Effective Growth Hacking Marketing

1. Cultivate the Growth Hacking Mindset

The foundation of growth hacking lies in developing a growth mindset that adheres to the growth framework.

The growth hacking process is a framework for growth, i.e., a defined systematic approach, and trying to cut corners on this framework can quickly disable its effectiveness. Many companies that try growth hacking fail and say it doesn’t work due to this temptation.

The desire to go for it, to leap before you look, and an unwillingness to operate on absolute business truth is what has left many businesses floundering in the wind, unable to grasp that elusive rapid growth they so desire.

A growth mindset is needed to be successful at growth hacking.

2. Know Your North Star Metric – The Metric that Matters Most

The North Star Metric (NSM) is the king of key performance indicators and encompasses the totality of the core value a business delivers to its customers. It is the guiding light in the nighttime business sky, and all other KPIs support it.

The NSM exists whether a company has identified and taken control of it or not. If a company sees growth, the NSM is moving in a positive direction, whether intentionally or by random luck. If not, it is moving in a negative direction, usually due to a lack of clairvoyance around business environmental truths.

Understanding the NSM streamlines the decision-making processes and enhances team cohesion, enabling organizations to optimize resources and accelerate sustainable growth. By honing in on the north star metric, businesses can effectively evaluate the impact of their growth hacking on customer satisfaction and overall success.

Identifying and controlling the NSM is crucial to the growth hacking process. Growth hacking will only work well with understanding the North Star Metric.

3. Assemble A Strong Growth Team

Growth hacking involves a combination of skills brought together through the semblance of a growth team. The growth team should have a T-shaped knowledge base and a broad understanding of various topics, all of which are needed to discover absolute business truths.

Three primary areas of expertise are necessary for every growth hacking team;

      • Creative Marketing
      • Product & Engineering
      • Data Analysis & Testing

Building a growth team with a solid combination of skills is crucial for success, and it is the NSM that cements and unites this team around common goals and helps them effectively discover rapid testing criteria and uncover rapid growth opportunities that a company should pursue.

4. Follow Growth Hacking Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) enable the growth team, headed up by a Growth Master, to adhere to the growth framework and simplify the processes allowing things to get done more quickly, consistently, and with less energy.

SOPs help remove the thought process behind common activities, freeing up your team’s time and mental energy. This disciplined approach enhances business efficiency and fuels creativity by saving your cognitive energy for more critical tasks.

5.  Master the Art of Measurement and Economic Value

When it comes to growth hacking, relying on data is paramount, meaning everything you do must be measurable because if you can’t measure it, you can’t optimize it, and if you can’t optimize it, you can’t maximize the profit that comes from it.

But how do you know which test works best if you have multiple successful tests?

This is where measuring economic value per user comes into play. In other words, if you understand what each person a strategy drives is worth, you can then align your optimization priorities to those with the greatest profit potential.

Of course, expanding on all positive returns and optimizing them is a must. Still, some will produce more profit than others, and when it comes to rapid growth, identifying the most profitable strategies to focus on first is a crucial part of achieving that growth.

There is no room for assumptions in growth hacking; from the beginning to the end of a growth project, all decisions are data-driven and evaluated by economic value.

6. Understand the Customer Journey

Understanding the customer journey is a crucial aspect of growth hacking, as it helps growth teams identify opportunities to drive customer retention and acquisition.

To effectively analyze the customer journey, one must first map out each touchpoint that a customer interacts with – this includes digital channels, such as email marketing, social media, search engines, websites, and offline channels, like in-store experiences and customer service interactions.

By evaluating these touchpoints, businesses can gain valuable insights into customer behavior and preferences, ultimately allowing the growth team to identify and implement data-driven growth-hacking strategies that cater to their needs and pain points.

An exciting new development in customer journey mapping is Google Analytics 4 new advanced pathing reports. GA4’s new advanced pathing reports allow businesses to follow their users in ways we could only dream of in the past.

7) Achieve the Elusive Must-Have Product-Market Fit (PMF)

In today’s highly competitive business landscape, growth hacking has emerged as an essential strategy for companies seeking to grow rapidly.

However, the success of growth hacking is largely contingent on having a must-have product-market fit.

Growth hacking tactics, such as viral loops and referral programs, can only yield substantial results when a large enough target audience loves a company’s underlying product value. The closer a company is to the must-have product market fit, the faster that company will grow.

If a company is experiencing growth challenges, there’s a problem with the must-have fit, which could mean the product isn’t ready to go to market yet, but it could also mean other things.

For example, brand marketing may be off, or the target audience is to small or the wrong audience altogether. Problems could result from attempting to go head-to-head with a fierce competitor. Another common problem is hidden features that if understood by the audience would change everything. There are many reasons that you may not have the must-have product fit, but without it, rapid growth well be challenging.

Sean Ellis suggests that if at least 40% of your users express disappointment at not being able to utilize your product/service your product-market fit is likely good. In this case, if you are still experiencing difficulties, there may be other obstacles in your way that need to be uncovered.

8) Leverage the Right Tracking Channels

Selecting the proper traction channels is crucial for reaching and engaging your potential customers. There are many channels to choose from, and here are 14 to help you get the juices flowing;

    • Viral marketing
    • Public relations
    • Unconventional PR
    • Google Ads Paid Search Marketing
    • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
    • Social and Display Ads
    • Offline Ads
    • Content marketing
    • Email marketing
    • Affiliate marketing
    • Trade Shows
    • Offline events
    • Speaking engagements
    • Community building

9) Growth Hacking Done Right Produces Quick Win First

A quick win is essential in validating growth hacking strategies and tactics and ensuring resource allocation. By demonstrating tangible results in a relatively short period, quick wins help build confidence within the organization, fostering a culture of innovation and experimentation. Furthermore, these early successes can act as catalysts for long-term growth initiatives, ultimately contributing to the overall success of a business.

In summary, the importance of a quick win in growth hacking is undeniable, as it enables businesses to stay agile, adapt quickly, and remain ahead of the competition.

With some quick wins, growth hackers will likely get the required buy-in to get the team off the ground and enable longer-term growth goals.

That said, look for quick wins, i.e., low-hanging fruit, to ignite the team’s success and support the team’s longer-term goals.


Growth hacking is a robust framework used by companies of all sizes that want to uncover rapid growth opportunities in today’s competitive landscape. By understanding the core principles of growth hacking and sticking to the framework, growth hacking can propel your business to new heights, and those that master this way of growth will gain a competitive advantage over those they compete against.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]