What You Actually Need in Order to Hack Growth

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growthhacking2Each week, DailyTekk connects you with leading experts on a given topic as part of our Understanding series. This week we are focusing on explaining growth hacking. Yesterday the experts explained real examples of growth hacking in action and today you’ll learn what it actually takes to hack growth. Stay tuned; tomorrow we’ll wrap the series by discussing the future of growth hacking. Last week we focused on Gamification.

Josh Elman: The short answer is you can’t really “hack” growth. Any attempts at artificially creating growth patterns such as spamming friends on Facebook or Twitter, or hacking App Store download charts may result in spiky numbers, but rarely adds retained users. It’s kind of like eating empty calories. Instead, you have to search through your data from your more active and passionate users and discover the deep core patterns that encouraged those users to become active. And then you have to build sustainable features that help attract users on a continuous basis such as good viral flows or great SEO landing pages, and then an experience that helps users quickly understand and become active within your product.

Paul Rosania: Measurement, prioritization and speed. Growth hacking is about learning, and in order to do that, you have to measure.  Defining the right metric to optimize is a critical first step. Optimizing that metric is about experimentation, and growth hackers quickly learn not to trust their intuition. In that regard, a robust A/B testing framework is a growth hacker’s best friend. (Unfortunately, none of the off-the-shelf tools are that great.) Once you know what you’re measuring and have the right tools in place, the next step is to brainstorm ideas. I like to get generative with team members, in a “no idea’s a bad idea” environment. Later, I’ll go back and guess at which ideas are the best places to start. I try to balance development time against potential impact, which is a combination of the percent of customers the idea would impact, and the potential increase I expect. When in doubt, I pick the ideas I can execute fastest.

Sean Ellis: The number one requirement for effective, sustainable growth hacking is to start with a “must have” product experience. Then an ideal growth hacker has the following characteristics:

  • Creative
  • Understands the potential of networks
  • Understands human motivation and psychology
  • Tenacity (relentless testing)
  • Disciplined process oriented
  • Analytical

To drive authentic growth, a growth hacker should be passionate about spreading the “must have” product experience to the right target users. If they have the six characteristics listed above, they are likely to generate a long list of creative network-driven ideas for driving growth and then will prioritize the testing order. If they have creativity and tenacity, eventually they will come up with effective growth programs.

Aaron Ginn: The essential strategy for all successful growth strategies (or hacks) is a solid testing and prioritization framework. Growth is a lot more about process than tactics or best practices. This one reason why most growth people believe that growth cannot be tacked on to a product. Growth is a symphony of core product and optimized growth features working together. Growth is baked in. You have to believe in the process, not the iteration.Typically, your first idea is wrong.

Dan Martell: The way I look at it is, you need to find where you potential spend time. What do they read? What things do they care about. Then you need to figure out how you can insert yourself into that conversation in a way that creates value for everyone involved. Growth Hacking requires some level of technical abilities to truly understand what can be built, and how to measure the impact.

Ken Zi Wang: There is no silver bullet when it comes growth hacking.  Each and every company is unique in their growth where they require very different strategies. What may work for one company may not work for others. For the most part, growth hacking can broken down into two. First part is finding a unique way to acquire users. Usually this part is very creative. The second part is measuring the influx and acquisition of users. This is two pieces are a part of a never-ending cycle that is the bread and butter of growth hacking.

Meet The Growth Hacking Experts

  • Sean Ellis (@seanellis) coined the term “Growth Hacker” and is the founder and CEO of Qualaroo, a company focused on making it easy for marketers to improve website visitor engagement without help from the dev team.
  • Josh Elman (@joshelman) is an investor at Greylock Partners. Previously he led user growth at Twitter, and worked at Facebook, Zazzle and LinkedIn.
  • Aaron Ginn (@aginnt) is the Head of Growth at StumbleUpon and former growth hacker for Mitt Romney.
  • Dan Martell (@danmartell) is the co-founder of Clarity a marketplace that connects entrepreneurs to get great business advice. Previously he co-founded Flowtown.com.
  • Paul Rosania (@ptr) is a Product Manager for Growth at Twitter, and was previously a growth hacker at a stealth startup running a Top 100 Facebook app.
  • Ken Zi Wang (@kenziwang) is the founder and growth engineer of Fandrop, an innovative and interactive way for users to find, collect and share trending media.

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