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What is Growth Hacking and how to apply it to your startup

Written by Alana Team
on November 05, 2020

The term Growth Hacking has been used a lot in the last decade to refer to growth strategies since continuous business progress is the dream of any entrepreneur and ‘startupper’.

Over the years, the market has discovered that there is no magic formula for exponential growth, but a lot of work and testing to validate methods. In 2010, business growth expert Sean Ellis coined the term Growth Hacking to summarize and group strategies for business progress.

In free translation, growth hacking is the act of making changes in systems. That is, Growth Hacking can be considered as the practice of making changes and tests to generate growth.

Notice that it is not about having an extraordinary idea but about checking if certain hypotheses achieve relevant results.

In this article you will understand:

  • How is the process of Growth Hacking
  • Which areas are involved in the strategy
  • The importance of Growth Hacking for a startup

How is the Growth Hacking process?

Some confuse Growth Hacking with digital marketing, but the disciplines have differences, and in reality, they are complementary.

According to Kotler, digital marketing - or 4.0 marketing - is the evolution of the traditional "social and managerial social process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and desire through the creation, offer, and exchange of valuable products with others." That is, digital marketing must consider the internet and technology as the primary resources.

Growth Hacking can then be classified as leveraging marketing strategies through innovation and the use of specific tools.

Notice that Growth Hacking is not limited to marketing; it is a discipline that can be applied in all areas of a company (if necessary).

The process can be carried out as follows:

  1. Investigate the main problems and complementary resources of the company
  2. List improvements to issues and resources
  3. Prioritize the best ideas
  4. Create a model of how to test the idea
  5. Apply the model
  6. Evaluate mistakes and successes
  7. Create new tests based on primary results

It is not a complicated thing, but it requires dedication and discipline from the professionals, besides executives' commitment to the freedom to explore granted to the team.

Growth Hacking Principles

For the process to flow in the best way, it is essential to guarantee the three basic principles of the growth strategy: growth, conducting experiments, and monitoring metrics.

Growth must be sustainable for the good of the business!

So it is essential to have a multidisciplinary team with skills and knowledge that guarantee the quality of all processes in the customer experience cycle, with the mutual objective of increasing the customer lifetime value (CLV).

 

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According to a survey conducted by PWC, 89% of respondents in Brazil say that the experience offered is a key factor in the purchase decision. And it is worth emphasizing that the customer experience involves much more than just the beginning of the relationship with the company and the steps before closing a deal (B2B) or selling a product (B2C). 

It is also essential to take care of the post-sale, profitability, retention, and create opportunities to generate referrals from new customers, according to the flow followed by experts in growth Hacking in the world, which is the pirate funnel, created by Dave McClure.

Another critical factor is testing the heart of Growth Hacking either to optimize existing processes or validate new ideas.

All experiments need to have a clear focus, and metrics tracking exists to ensure that resources are used where there is a return.

What does a growth team do and what are the areas involved?

Sean Ellis' propagation of the Growth Hacking concept was the result of an analysis he made, in which it was noted that several companies with accelerated growth had three main characteristics:

  • A diverse team dedicated to the growth
  • Data-driven mentality and analysis (data-driven)
  • Freedom to innovate in marketing strategies

There was a different culture in these companies, not only of carrying out everyday activities and already proven in the market but also of growing in a healthy, sustainable, and always based on improvements.

Profile of growth professionals

Among the skills and characteristics of those who make up the growth team are:

  • Project management 
  • Product development, 
  • Programming, 
  • Marketing, 
  • Data, 
  • Design 
  • among other knowledge, depending on the project.

The person who wants to work directly in a team focused on growth needs to be restless and want to learn continuously and be organized, curious, and like to follow data to the letter.

Data analysis

Data verification and conclusions are essential for companies with a data-driven mindset, making strategic decisions based on data analysis and interpretation.

The growth team is responsible for collecting and organizing data and analyzing and generating improvement reports.

The old saying "against facts there are no arguments" could easily be the slogan of the practice of growth, since a test should only be carried out if there is the ability to analyze and generate reports based on real situations.

Search for innovation

Innovating can be the act of creating something new or altering an existing one in a way that brings better results.

Depending on the type of experiment, brainstorming between the entire team can be valuable, as different perspectives can add to an idea and even help prevent setbacks.

According to the 2018 GE Global Innovation Barometer report, on average, 40% of innovations created during the previous five years positively impacted business.

The importance of Growth Hacking for a startup

Any company can create a growth team and invest in this mindset; understand how it fits into the structure and specify their role.

However, it is a more common practice among companies with a high degree of innovation and who are involved in volatile businesses, such as startups. For this medium, since they are usually technological, innovative companies that must grow exponentially and quickly, growth hacking has become essential.

The most exciting thing is that, despite being widely applied in marketing strategies, growth hacking has a primary role in finding flaws or loopholes that can be improved to impact the business's results as a whole.

The impact of growth hacking on sales and product

There is no single solution for all the company's challenges, and each area has specificities that must be analyzed individually.

As a result, a successful growth strategy seeks loopholes that impact sales processes, and that can be added to the product team to improve product adoption, usability, and product roadmap.

If you want to know more about how to scale the business through technology, check out the web series Customer Care = Human + Machines.

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