My Approach to Growth Hacking

My approach to Growth Hacking

Here is my take on the system that I have found works very well, both for execution and for planning. It complements Inbound Marketing with Growth Hacking, creating a system with the most up-to-date tools:

  • to promote a company’s product / service;
  • acquire customers;
  • scale the company’s growth;
  • keep up with Digital Marketing and Marketing evolution.

In this post I will explain the benefits I’ve experienced from Growth Hacking and how I put it in practice, and what are Growth Hacking results so far.

You can learn more about Inbound Marketing here.


 

So after I finished my MBA degree, I shifted my career from Software Developer to Digital Marketer.

In the beginning of my Digital Marketing career, I wanted to develop a system that would be up-to-date while maintaining all the must-haves from Marketing best-practices.

I wanted to quickly hit the ground running, easily shifting from Strategy to Execution and vice-versa.

 

Why all the hype with Growth Hacking?

So by this time, everybody in the digital marketing space surely has stumbled upon the term Growth Hacking.

Some may have investigated to understand better what it is. Others ignored it for being another hipster fad. Others may have been lucky enough to hear it from the founder himself, which as you may have guessed, was my case.

I was lucky enough to listen to an hour presentation of what is Growth Hacking by the person who coined the term, none other than Sean Ellis. (In case you don’t follow his blog on startup marketing, I highly recommend you start doing so).

If you are anywhere like me, you have done a lot of research online and found awesome resources about growth hacking, such as the one by Neil Patel (Neil Patel’s guide to growth hacking) or Sean Ellis’ Growthhackers.com.

I want to help demystify the idea that Growth Hacking is a collection of growth tactics that you can apply to your online business and scale it to infinity.

After some years of practicing the Growth Hacking methodology, I wanted to contribute to the community with my view, one that has helped companies scale with a system that anyone can use, and follows Sean Ellis framework.

So, what are the goals of Growth Hacking

Growth Hacking is a framework that encompasses several departments inside a company: marketing, product management, engineering, data science.

Growth Team
Company areas that a growth team intersects

The main goal of growth hacking is to find the core value that a company delivers, shorten the time necessary for a customer to experience it, and afterwards scale that value delivery.

Do you have a clear picture on your mind on why will your product / service be killer when released to the market? Will customers be disappointed if you remove that product / service from the market? Have you achieved product-market fit, where you see customers’ are looking for the solution you are providing?

If you answered yes to all three questions above, perfect. Growth Hacking will be the system that will you want to deploy to deliver your solution’s core value as many times as you can, maximizing the value created to your customers. It will cover all aspects of growth, from customer acquisition, all the way to revenue generation and customer retention.

Think of it as a framework that will make you move forward constantly, finding more and more areas to fine tune (hack) to make the path to revenue as frictionless as it can be.

If you did not answer yes to all questions, then you are still struggling with product-market fit, which is a topic of another blog post.

Ok, so how to put Growth Hacking into practice?

So here are the basics of the Growth Hacking methodology:

1- Start with AARRR metrics

AARRR metrics, also known as Pirate Metrics, will serve as the base for growth metrics that we will want to collect and improve upon. It covers the entire customer journey, from stranger to evangelist. These are the metrics that will steer you away from toying with vanity metrics, and focus on those that drive value creation.

Acquisition

This is the Top of the Funnel, where you focus on acquiring visitors to your site and other lead generation assets (blog, email). How do potential customers know about our product / service? What are the channels you are using to promote your product / service?

Activation

The a-ha! moment, where the potential customer understands what your product / service is about and gets the first taste of the core value that you deliver. This is the step of the funnel where you convert visitors into users of your product.

Retention

This one is pretty intuitive. Keep your potential customers coming back to get additional value from your product / service.

Revenue

This is the stage where you monetize your customers, collecting the benefits from the value you have created.

Referral

Customer-gets-customer. This the step of the funnel that will build a feedback loop, feeding the top of your funnel, i.e. the acquisition stage.

 

2- Measure everything

Here is where tools like Google Analytics and the analytics section of the Social Media Channels you’re in, come into place and shine.

As the management guru Peter Drucker said:

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”.

You need to collect metrics that offer a clear view about the state of Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Revenue and Referral. Besides being proxies to the health of each of these areas, they are also the mechanism that when well sequenced, will give you an analytical view of how your funnel is behaving.

By measuring the AARRR areas, you can check where the bottlenecks are on your funnel, where you should focus to improve and what areas are running properly. Also calculate the conversion ratios from one step of the funnel to the other, since those conversion ratios will be another driver for growth optimisation.

Here are examples of metrics for each stage:

Pirate Metrics examples
Pirate Metrics examples

3- Collect experiments to hack each stage of the growth funnel

This is part of the growth hacking framework that might be familiar to people. Here is where we collect growth tactics that aim to increase the AARRR metrics. Example given is Airbnb’s cross posting their room booking in their platform and in Craigslist. This is the event that bootstrapped their customer acquisition and allowed them to take off with their startup.

A great place to keep up with growth experiments is Sean Ellis own Growthhackers.com.

Experiments can be as small as highlighting the recommended plan in the pricing page, to slightly bigger experiments, such as creating an on-boarding process for your app.

Each experiment should focus on improving a specific metric from the AARRR funnel, and it has to be handled as a scientific experiment:

  • pose your hypothesis for what is expected, once you roll out the experiment;
  • what metric will improve;
  • and by how much,
  • Set a duration for the experiment to run.

You’ll jump in to analyse the results after that time frame as expired and check against your initial expectations.

You’ll easily understand if the experiment succeeded and it should be kept live or if it failed and it should be rolled-back. Either way, spend some time to understand the underlying reason for success or failure, since it will make your next experiments more effective. These are the insights you want to share at the Weekly Growth Meetings.

4- Weekly Growth Meetings

So now that have identified what functions of your product / service fit in each stage of the AARRR metrics, which metrics to collect, and how to collect them, how to keep all the pieces moving forward?

The answer is weekly growth meetings. The structure for these meetings is in all similar to a scrum meeting. The goal is to have weekly get-togethers where all the members involved in the growth hacking process will:

  • share the results over the experiments they own;
  • share the insights that you extracted from the metrics, adding to the knowledge base;
  • reach a consensus over which experiments to roll out next and set experiment owners.

Growth meetings are conducted by a growth master, the one that drives the growth process. He collects insights, steers the debate and has the main focus of keeping the process moving forward, making sure the growth team never runs out of experiments to try, that time frames are respected, and that each experiment owner is keeping track of their experiments.

Meetings should have the duration of one hour and the typical structure is:

Weekly growth meeting agenda
Weekly growth meeting agenda

5- Keep up the pace

Sean Ellis has identified that the growth rate of high growth companies is closely correlated with the amount of experiments that are done weekly. This means that is more important to keep a constant stream of experiments being rolled out, than to try to figure what will be the silver bullet.

Testing Drives Growth
Testing Drives Growth

 

My recommendation is to start with the quick wins, to set the process in place, make sure all the pieces are in place, and develop the habit of rolling out experiments, measuring their impact and collecting new ones to roll out.

You’ll quickly understand the rhythm that your growth team is capable of putting out and in the first months keep that same rhythm constant. When the good results start appearing, you can increase the size of the team and with that increase the pace.

Subscribe to keep up with Growth Hacking experiments

So in summary, here’s how I’ve adapted the Growth Hacking framework to keep growth a constant effort, instead of being activities that you do once in a while:

  1. Start with AARRR metrics – map out the buying journey with relevant KPIs that will show you how are things flowing from costumer acquisition, all the way to revenue.
  2. Measure everything at least monthly.
  3. Collect experiments to hack each stage of the AARRR metrics funnel
  4. Run Weekly Growth Meetings to check the progress, decide what experiments to roll next, and set ownership.
  5. Finally, keep up the pace, making growth hacking a priority that has to constantly move forward.

 

As a final bonus, here is inventor of the term Growth Hacking, explaining it himself: