Sean Ellis, a young marketing consultant at Dropbox in the early 2010s, famously coined the term ‘growth hacker’. He describes one as ‘a person whose true north is growth. Everything they do is scrutinized by its potential impact on scalable growth’¹. The term growth hacker was specific, encompassing the ideal of someone whose primary goal was to drive growth tangibly in a company.
Yet, over a decade on from this unique but accurate label of growth hacker, the role blurs the boundaries, reaching beyond marketing into product as well. A growth hacker encompasses the roaring and determined drive for someone who obsesses about the KPIs and the ways to test further to deliver growth. They have an eagle-eye for sales and marketing funnels and a tenacity to learn and harness high-impact, more unusual ways to do business.
So what does a growth hacker do?
Growth hacking is a circle of test and learn and test and learn. There isn’t a perfect guide to follow and growth hackers must find their way to think differently and be bold enough to experiment with untouched ground.
Growth hackers bring a deep understanding of hands-on data and analytics experience. They are the masters of setting up and running analytics tools and tracking results; they build funnels to drive businesses forward; and, they run experiments at scale, with a gleefulness and enthusiasm for the end results and insights.
They tend to have a deeper understanding and access into the product, exclusively focusing on the activities that can be directly attributed and linked to growth. With a research focused approach to building the marketing stack and funnel, a growth hacker is the individual who can work out what the value of the customer is, and then use digital channels to acquire them. A/B testing, virability and landing pages, and ways of thinking outside the parameters that most operate in, are all classic growth hacker quirks that elevate this role far beyond your average marketeer.
Why are they important in the world of tech startups?
The rise of the growth hacker has gone hand in hand with the exponential growth of digital startups in the last 10 years. Iconic growth hacker stories are like mythic legends, from companies such as Dropbox, Airbnb, Youtube, Tesla and Instagram. But how did these multibillion dollar companies ‘hack’ their way from low traction to huge scale successes at the top of their field, without spending multibillions?
They built their traction a different way.
Marketing has evolved, and no longer does a soft approach cut it. Growth hackers go further, unconventionally. They are engineers; the leading chargemen (or women) in battle, using the multi-faceted synergy between marketing, product and the end online result, as a weapon to win and come out on top.
The stakes have never been higher, with the Silicon Valley culture of hacking taking the internet by storm. The skillset of a growth hacker is invaluable in the tech world, as they have access to billions of consumers, all connected via the web, which can alter the trajectory of a new product or company entirely.
Why should you hire a growth hacker?
As soon as a startup begins ideation, or an established scaleup has got through their first hurdle of survival, heads turn pretty swiftly to the next big question – how do we get more customers? The market has an unprecedented number of potential consumers available to exploit and the hire of a growth hacker can help bring both strategic and executional skills to a company. Companies can fly from the very earliest stages of a company to major growth milestones, with creative, unorthodox methods which bloom in the inherent structure of the internet.
The future for growth hackers
Culturally accepted as the new norm, companies are realising the true value of having such a role in their team. Touchpoint has helped place a number of growth hackers and growth managers into fantastic tech companies across the world. If you want to chat about how a growth hacker can revolutionise your business, please get in touch.
The growth playbook has been thrown out of the window and a new edition written. The internet, with its data-rich potential and experimentation-ripe platforms has transformed what it means to grow as a business – and a growth hacker will lead the charge.