Let’s Re-define Growth Hacking
Growth Hacking is the latest buzz word for Entrepreneurs defined now by many bloggers, accelerators and other startup driven organizations. After Sean Ellis defined Growth Hacking first time in 2010, it has become very popular since then, especially after well-known bloggers like Andrew Chen announced the term in his blog in 2012. The initial momentum is led by the first successful Startup examples like Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb and Dropbox whose founders possess the technical skills along with marketing abilities.
According to the Growth Hacking experts, each of them has different stories and the common thing among them was the “hacking” part that increased the number of users of their product and services. Nowadays, various Growth Hacker positions have been posted to job sites as market-wise solutions to solve the growth problem. For this reason, they define Growth Hacking as the new “marketing” term, maybe just to market the term!
They usually claim Growth Hacking stands between Marketing and Developer referring the intersection of qualitative and quantitative analysis approach. They give the simple diagram to indicate the intersection.
But is that really true? Is the growth hacker both Marketer and Developer that becomes the “Growth Hacker” and solves the growth problem of the site, product or service.
While Technology evolves crazy fast, Marketing strategies are also shifted from traditional into social way. The perception of this movement is that their core actions put the traditional marketers behind the competition where the Growth Hackers are now the “cool” geeks along with marketing skills. Well I doubt that too for different reasons.
Firstly, Growth Hacking is a quite new phenomenon but essential for those startups who need to bootstrap their products. To start a startup you definitely need a growth hacking strategy. However, no matter how many times startups pivot their product, most of them end up with disappearing in the app marketplace or web platforms. That need made the Growth Hacking so damn popular but is that not normal with thousands of similar apps and services in the market?
Secondly, geeks had been always labeled as unsocial creatures who sit down in front of screens for hours and prefer to hack other systems rather than going out with a girlfriend. Now suddenly they are named as “super stars” or “marketing heroes” who are going to save the company. Well that sudden U turn from the pre-defined prototypes doesn’t sound very sincere, it even sounds very selfish because they still push the “marketing” terms in the center of the Universe.
Thirdly, why nobody compares Google Plus (Google+) to Growth Hacking standards from the growth-wise perspective. They had the power to increase their number of users in a very short amount of time and scared the giant social network Facebook at initial launch but they are now known as the ghost town with millions. If Growth Hacking is really about only the growth and sustain them, Google actually did that very smoothly. They still increase their number of users daily. The problem is that I never heard anybody who confesses their love about Google+, maybe the design is prettier, it even has the best usability among other social networks but hacking the souls with love of product, that is a different story! I heard great feedback for Google Hangout though but alone for Google+? Nope! Because Growth Hacking is about hacking the souls, triggering the curiosity, figuring out what drives people really to the product, finding a hole in the market where users really would love to go through, connecting their heart to the service and the ability to tell them “I am always be here for you, you are always welcome”. It is the emotional contribution of values where users market for them with word of mouth.
As great articles arise about all the details of Growth Hacking in the market, you will eventually agree on one point; Data, let’s say the Holy Data. It is very interesting that few people talk about Google+ when it comes to Growth Hacking. Google has the largest user data in the world but how come they could not interpret it very well? I guess they did the same mistake pointed out above, they put the marketing in front of everything and most importantly they were greedy and ambitious against Facebook. That emotional competence produced maybe a better product technical-wise but as I said, it was not what people really wanted. The users perceived it as the same style social network and didn’t replace their existing Facebook friends in Google+.
We have a Turkish saying “Evil hides in details” that means the most extraordinary lays underneath unseen things. User data is that kind of evil thing that needed to be interpreted by the soul master. At the core of the Growth Hacking, the geeks re-code it several times along with API (if needed), UX, UI and pivot the product from first hand by the help of other marketers. Instead of putting the marketers into competition, let’s work with them together and give the tools they need to market. Social Media, SEO, EBooks, Blogging, Podcast whatsoever they need might require innovative ways of distributions in such distribution platforms.
The confusion about growth hacking relies on the actions the growth hacker needs to take at first hand. The core developers build an entity for the marketer but it really varies according to the product and service. If carrier web site, the core entity is probably the ad. Likewise Airbnb used the same core entity “ad” using a home made custom Craiglist API form. For social network, the core entity is the feed or contact list where people attract others with their content or email list (FoF-Friend of Friend). The core entity is the item that the user is getting attracted for a reason. In Google+ example, people were attracted because of massive amount of marketing power, not the entity itself. It is not a surprise that they loved the Google Hangout though to have multiple live cam conferences at a time. They were attracted later to re-visit Google+ just to open their Google Hangout and talk with their friends. So the entity here is the easy way of conference call or let’s say just the “cam”.
Getting attracted to the product alone is not enough. Marketers need to support such entities with their marketing platforms. Instead of blogging traditionally “We have such a cam software with these features bla bla” they need to probably express it in a more diverged way to put people directly into viral action; “For the first 10 registered blogger users, we give free this bla bla and every registered user can refer other 10 users bla bla”.
The common mistake the marketers are doing is that they are pushing the products to the users which people don’t like at all. People love stories more than products. In that case, the product must be ready to handle incoming requests. Therefore, the most important process is that the core data team produces an automation backend of data flow so that marketers feel safe enough when attracting users to the service. If the user really loves the service and revisits the site or reuses the product, then the loyalty will attract other people too.
Having said all of that, let’s redefine the growth hacking;
Growth Hacking is the data driven automation process based on user/client data flow patterns interpreted by the marketing soul. – Mehmet Şen