There are many misconceptions about the term “Growth Hacking”. Let’s start with the clear understanding of this term.
What others say about ‘Growth Hacking’ in Google
When I typed in “what is growth hacking”, Google’s query suggestion appeared at the top: “what is growth hacking really”, “what is growth hacking marketing”.
What is Growth Hacking, really?
According to Wikipedia, Growth Hacking is a ‘process’ to grow a business operated by Growth Hackers. This means that it’s a ‘method’ or ‘approach’ being utilized by professionals from marketing, engineering, and product development departments.
Sean Ellis coined the term ‘Growth Hacker’ in 2010, who is now known as a father of growth hackers (also he’s the one behind the success of Dropbox, Eventbrite, LogMeIn and Lookout, which are now billion-dollar startups). He described Growth Hacker as ‘a person whose true north is growth’ in his blog published in 2010.
The term Growth Hacking’s search volume started taking off since 2013 and it continued growing as you can see in the Google Trends chart below. It’s also the time that Sean Ellis started GrowthHackers along with Morgan Brown, Dylan La Com, and Everette Taylor.
Google Trends — “Growth Hacking” — on 9 Aug 2017
What is Growth Hacking Marketing?
Many people are still confused that Growth Hacking is a type of Marketing — this is not true. It’s a process unlocking the hybrid approaches cross-functionally — marketing, engineering, and product development — as long as its goal is heading towards growth.
Growth Hacking vs. Growth Marketing
What are the differences between Growth Hacking and Marketing then?
Growth Marketing has long been searched worldwide compare to Growth Hacking.
Google Trends —” Growth Hacking vs. Growth Marketing” — on 9 Aug 2017
I would say, Growth Hacking is a systematic approach that encompasses the role of marketing, engineering, and product development, whereas Growth Marketing is a horizontal approach that focuses on the brand by optimizing key audience, channel, sales conversion etc.
Growth Hacker: Marketing with an engineering spin. Should be able to do some coding and utilizing many different tools to get things done.
Growth Marketer: Marketing with a focus on growth. Would expect them to be well versed in conversion rate optimization and A/B testing, and many different marketing channels.
Obviously, Growth Hacker is not only a marketer. But I agree that it should be a person with an engineering spin.
Practically, Growth Hackers are people whose focus is more on the short-term goals (yes, get things done!). Their job is to iterate the idea list for execution and measure the performance scores on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Depending on the organization’s key business strategy, Growth Hackers could sit in the product team or the marketing team. In some cases, a standalone Growth team might be necessary.
If the company size is small, one Growth Hacker may need to act as a combination of the marketer, engineer, product manager etc. But if the company can afford a growth team, Growth Hacker can be either marketer with a technical knowledge, or a technical (product or engineering) person understands marketing. (I can elaborate more on the growth team structure in my another article.)
The term Growth Hacking’s great contribution is that it lowered barriers between team/departments. It’s designed to move faster by utilizing the expert’s knowledge efficiently within the organization.
Startups can go beyond success when it applies a well-planned growth hacking methodology, together with the strong growth marketing strategy.