What is Growth hacking

Nader Sabry

Dec 3, 2018 · 5 min read

As a startup, one of your central challenges will be growth. When you’re first starting, it can seem like an insurmountable accomplishment to compete with established brands and companies. With so much competition, how can you make your mark?

While there are plenty of thoughts on the matter, one idea that has been gaining steam is growth hacking. Today we want to dive deep into growth hacking — what it is, how it works, and why you need it.

What is Growth Hacking?

The critical elements of this process include:

· An overarching focus on growth

· Utilizing innovative tools and methods

· Building an audience quickly

· Growing on a tight budget

When utilized correctly, growth hacking can maximize your startup’s potential without breaking the bank.

A Focus on Growth

As a startup, you don’t have the time or the resources to spend years slowly building an audience. You need to expand quickly so that you can start becoming profitable. Otherwise, you’ll be left in the dust while a competitor steals your spotlight.

Thus, one of the fundamental elements of growth hacking is focusing all of your attention on building and expanding your audience. It’s not enough to tell people what you do — you want to get them engaged so that they will be inclined to buy from you. Creating a growth strategy is all about lead conversion.

Innovative Solutions

When you’re first starting, you don’t have many resources at your disposal. Money’s tight, you have a lean development team, and time is against you. Thus, you have to get creative with your growth strategies.

Growth hacking is coming up with new solutions for the same old problems. Experimentation is an integral part of the growth hacking process.

Fast Growth

Growth hacking is all about gaining as many followers as quickly as possible.

How to do this will depend on a variety of factors, but the bottom line is that you want your focus to be speed and efficiency above all else. Even if you’re still working out the kinks for your product or overarching business strategy, it’s much easier to correct course when you already have an audience than it is to try and do it slowly and methodically.

Growing on a Budget

As a startup, you don’t have unlimited resources. However, with the right creative approach, you can find new solutions to the same old problems (namely, acquiring new customers). Once you start to build buzz, you can monetize your product and grow from there.

What Growth Hacking is NOT

Although discussing the various elements of growth hacking is helpful, we want to be sure that you also understand what it isn’t. Growth hacking is not based on traditional marketing.

This is not to say that a growth hacker is better or worse than a marketer. Both people share the same goal (the success of your company), but they go about it in different ways.

A growth hacker is singularly focused on one thing — growth. Thus, every strategy is deployed to build your business and increase your following. No matter the method used, the result is always the same.

Different Approaches to Growth Hacking

When broken down, there are three approaches you can use to build your brand.

· Content Marketing — creating content that attracts new users

· Advertising — using ad space to target your customers

· Product Marketing — using your product to build your customer base

When looking at each method, there are a few elements you should be paying attention to, which are called Pirate Metrics. The term was coined by growth hacking guru Dave McClure, who was part of the founding team at PayPal.

· Acquisition — bringing new people to your brand

· Activation — having leads try or use your product

· Retention — keeping users around for as long as possible (usually with an excellent experience)

· Revenue — making money from your audience

· Referral — letting your users promote your business to acquire new customers

When all of these elements are aligned, you should have a funnel that builds upon itself. Getting users to refer your product will work better than any traditional marketing campaign.

How to Choose the Right Approach for Your Brand

Here are some things to consider before creating a growth hacking campaign.

1. Do People Want Your Product?

You want to validate your product before you start trying to acquire new users. Here are some excellent ways to do that.

2. Find Your Ideal Customer.

It would be best if you have a precise idea of who will benefit the most from using your product. Get Feedback. Are some aspects of your product falling flat? If so, get rid of them. See what people like and remove anything that they don’t.

Sell it. One surefire way to validate your product is to ask people to pay for it. If no one wants to, then chances are you have a dud on your hands.

3. Is Your Product Scalable?

Because growth is your primary focus, you have to be sure that you can keep up with demand. If you can’t, then you’ll suffer from a lack of consumer confidence, and your brand can die as quickly as it formed.

Let’s look at some examples of companies that utilized growth hacking to see scalability in action.

Dropbox — as the company expanded its user base, it could simply buy more server space to accommodate them.

Uber — with over 260 million cars in the US alone, coupled with the fact that anyone could download the app, meant that the company could expand rapidly without much infrastructure.

Airbnb — as with Uber, this product could be utilized by a ton of people in a short period. The company didn’t have to build properties, and it just had to create a product that connected renters with hosts.

Overall, you have to keep up with the demand to ensure that you’ll experience long-term success.

4. Is Your Product Easy to Use and Understand?

Sometimes, a brand will be way ahead of the curve with a particular concept. When that happens, you have to educate your users on how to utilize your product.

This is where feedback during development can come in handy. By talking with consumers during the development phase, you can find out if some of your product elements are too confusing or hard to use, and streamline them to make it more accessible to everyone.

Bottom Line — Are You Ready for Growth Hacking?

Now that you understand the various elements of this concept, is your startup ready to take charge? If you’re not, don’t worry, you can still correct course and make your mark in your respective industry. As long as you focus on:

· Creative Experimentation

· Rapid Growth Strategies

· User Acquisition and Retention

You should be able to grow quickly in no time. Growth hacking is not super complicated — all it takes is perseverance, ingenuity, and, above all, a killer product.


Strategist entrepreneur & innovator in space tech, government, & health/wellness. Has raised $20m directly /+$100m indirectly for startups. www.nadersabry.com