Growth hacking is one of the more recent buzz words in the world of online marketing. The good news is it’s not something completely new and foreign but more entails tapping skills you likely already have cultivated in part as an online marketer (SEO, web analytics, split testing, etc.) in order to more effectively market your product, service, website, or business without going through traditional methods or spending a lot of money. It’s smarter marketing using the information which you should have relatively easy access to. Let’s give it a better growth hacking definition to identify what is growth hacking.
What is Growth Hacking?
Growth hacking revolves around getting/tracking results via analytics and putting together a plan to optimize or grow whichever metric you’re looking at. It primarily applies to the online world of marketing because of the techniques which go into it. To better define what is growth hacking, let’s break it down to its two components: growth and hacking.
Growth: As the name suggests, growth hacking revolves around and exists with the express purpose of growth. This growth can be applied to many different things; whether you want more customers for your business, more subscribers to your email list, more social sharing, you name it, growth hacking is the answer, and the more targeted you can be in regards to the metric you want to grow, the better.
Hacking: Hacking is a relative term with a number of different meanings, but in this case, hacking refers to tapping into something to unleash its full potential. Seeing things which others might not see and taking full advantage of them to get what you need, in this case some sort of quantifiable growth.
Growth Hacking Example
Let’s say you’re a copywriter and you want to improve the click-throughs rate in the final email of an autoresponder you’ve put together. You split test a handful of versions of the same email but with different copy in each to track results. This is growth hacking; you’re growing the number of visitors you’re generating who are heading towards that sales page using the techniques of copywriting and split testing.
You go one step further and track conversions on your sales page once someone has come through one of your email versions. Just because you get more click-throughs in your email doesn’t mean it will result in more conversions on the other side.
A crude and extreme example would be if you offered a “free” product as your call to action in the email, you’ll likely get a lot of click-throughs in that email and will undoubtedly outperform most any other copy you could use, but once they got to your sales page and they learned that the product wasn’t free, you wouldn’t get many sales. Effective preselling can go a long way in an email, so while you may find that you’re enjoying a generous click-through rate because of your copy, it doesn’t matter how good the copy on the sales page is, that traffic will be worthless if you haven’t effectively using preselling.
In the first example I mentioned, we’re only talking about two conversion metrics to track: click-throughs via the email traffic source and then actual sales on the sales page, but you can already see how complicated it can be weighing the two against one another. Complicated as it is, it’s truly valuable once you get that balance just right, and you have used a form of growth hacking to optimize your click-through rate and ultimately your sales via email as the traffic medium.
Note that growth hacking isn’t exclusive to split testing. It really just involves tracking behaviors vs. results, and split testing is oftentimes an essential aspect of that.
If you’ve been scratching your head for any part of this, saying to yourself that this has been already around for years, you’re right. In truth, the techniques which go into growth hacking aren’t anything new for those who have employed them for years now, but they haven’t had a flashy tag to pin on the process until more recently.
This tag, trendy as it may be right now, has some serious weight to it in terms of the things which can be accomplished through effective growth hacking, and a skilled growth hacker will soon be an essential position on any marketing team or at the very least an extremely powerful tool to be able to pull out of your back pocket whenever you start up a new business or even website.