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What Could Marketers Learn From Growth Hacking?

What Could Marketers Learn From Growth Hacking?

Although growth hacking might initially seem like a simple marketing fad that would eventually become obsolete, its growing prominence as a marketing approach used by numerous businesses seems to state otherwise. For this reason it is in the best interest of marketers to learn more about the discipline and take advantage of the disruptive techniques it can bring.

Defining Growth Hacking

First marketer at Dropbox and considered as the inventor of the term growth-hacking, Sean Elis would describe a growth hacker as a marketer “whose true north is growth”. As we would all agree this concept seems fairly vague, and every marketer has its own definition.

You might argue that per se a company is focused on growing its business and thus this concept might not really offer anything new to experiences marketers. As with any new idea, we believe there are still some things that can be gaining from learning more about this concept. In fact, once marketers gain a deeper understanding of it, they will find that it is not the actual “discipline” that they could benefit from, but the mind-set that it advocates.

As a matter of fact, the important thing is to consider growth hacking as a mind-set rather than a discipline itself. A mind-set that could be characterized as a constant curiosity for process-optimization and new automated techniques… All backed up by metrics, that have fast scalablity opportunities and… are cost-effective!

Furthermore, the term “hacker” has a tremendous importance. This term does not necessarily carry a negative connotation. In fact, it merely pertains to an individual who is willing to continually work on and refine previously set conditions and adjust them in order to better cater to the changing needs of consumers. To the debate arguying if a growth hacker should be a coder, it would argue this does not have to be the case as long as the reasoning of the markters is technology-driven. Meaning they must understand technology very deeply and use technology-based solution to achieve their goals.

To sum up, growth hacking does not change the basics of marketing nor the need to craft a clear business strategy. It rather focus on putting the execution of your marketing plan on steroids. In this article, we will focus on the actual concepts experienced marketers could learn from growth hackers.

Lesson #1 – Be Lean!

The first principle that growth hackers advocate is to deliver information to consumers as swiftly as possible. Marketers should make the most of the technological developments to not only accumulate large amounts of data, but to send it out quickly as well and test it as soon as they can.

While experienced marketers might already be aware of the importance of dispensing a relevant message to a specific target audience, growth hackers take that step even further. Instead of waiting for a specific time period or setting a specific amount before delivering your data, growth hackingencourages you to immediate use it and apply a lean methology – (as described in the chart below).


By constantly conducting small scale experiments on your websites and online campaigns, you will actually have the opportunity to quickly tweak or even remove functions or aspects that are not serving to improve your marketing and promotion strategies. In this way, you will be able to streamline your website and efficiently make use of its capabilities to make your users act according to your wishes.

Marketers can definitely take advantage of the similarly immediate results that can be achieved by following the short-term, data-driven tactics employed by the growth hackers and minimizing the total time through the loop. If you’d like to have a concrete example, the example of A/B testing at Basecamp is really worth reading.

Lesson #2 – Experiment. Fail. Learn. Repeat.

Another principle that growth hackers advocate is being willing to take risks and possibly fail. While many traditional marketers would cringe at the thought of failure, growth hackers are actually less afraid of failing since they are enjoy repetition and trying again and again until they finally succeed. In their eyes, failure is actually something that can be constructive.

Nevertheless, this fear of failure does not mean that they never risk anything at all. In truth, a lot of experimentation is actually employed by marketers before they even release any marketing campaigns for public consumption. However, once the campaign is settled and released, marketers can become stubbornly inflexible and often refuse to alter either message or approach for the duration of the campaign period.

That aspect is where growth hackers can significantly differ from traditional marketers. Instead of waiting for the campaign period to pass before developing any new ideas, their impatience will drive them to make adjustments on any weaknesses that the campaign might have even after it has already been implemented. Although the move might seem like an exceedingly risky one, if it is done wisely and correctly, it could have a huge payout in the end for any CMO who is willing to try it out.

However, in order to ensure that your customers will have enough time to adjust to any changes that you make, you should stagger the changes that you make across different aspects of your website and campaigns. Likewise, after you make any changes, set aside ample time to note which of those adjustments actually work for the better and think of another way to improve those that do not. In this way, you will be able to optimize both your marketing strategy and campaign message as well as your growing skills as a growth hacker.

Lesson #3 – Segment To The Fullest and Focus On Referral

The final principle that growth hackers advocate is the importance of the concept of referral. Essentially, this means that instead of bombarding users with irrelevant content simply to get their attention, growth hackers actually make sure that they deliver campaigns and services that are both eye-catching and relevant but mostly have a referral potential. In this way, the message has a larger chance of having recall since the users can actually easily relate its core concept and that it has been shared by persons they can relate to.

The best and most-cited example is probably Dropbox’s case. According to its founder it has raised its signups by 60%. Their success lies in the facts that it was easy for users to refer. Moreover it was incentivized as users gained more storage capacities while referring. From the referral page:dropbox-growth-hacking-referral

Or from a direct link:



As a conclusion, the most vital thing that marketing executives should take away from the work of growth hackers is that while they should be open to change and immediate results, they should still not lose sight of the big picture or of their long term goals. After all, they should still make sure that they can actually execute the concept correctly so that they can achieve their desired results.

We’d love to hear your feedbacks about it! Any other growth-hacking lessons marketers could learned? Any questions?

As usual, do not hesitate  🙂


About Nicolas Finet

Nicolas is a web marketer with a solid technical knowledge and co-Founder at Sortlist. He is focused on growth, deploying talent and efforts to make it always faster. He stimulates Sortlist’s strategy in line with the strong market and business insights he possesses.