Growth hacking, the new reality of digital marketing ?
Until a few months ago, the term growth hacking was unknown to most people on this side of the Atlantic. But it is clear that there is a growing interest in this discipline in France. As a proof of this, I want to mention the number of articles, videos and even Meetups that appear every day and that deal with this subject. You only have to go on Google Trends to realize that, since 2013, Growth hacking has the wind in its sails. It should be in the DNA of all start-ups.
Definition of Growth hacking
Growth hacking was introduced by Sean Ellis, a former employee of Dropbox, who defines it as follows: in short, a growth hacker is a person whose sole and unique objective is growth. Every decision, every tactic, every strategy he undertakes is motivated by this one and only goal. To achieve this, the Growth Hacker must systematically connect your target audience with your product or service.
It is clear from these definitions that the role of the Growth hacker is significantly different from the role of a marketing professional, who may have Brand Awareness or the communication of values as an objective. The Growth hacker will implement tactics (“hacks”) which have the particularity of being free (or very cheap), and which aim to drastically increase the turnover growth curve. To achieve this, the growth hacker will ask himself the following questions:
- How can I acquire more users of my product?
- How do I make my users more active?
- How can I compensate for my loss of subscribers?
- How do I get my customers to spend more?
This rather opportunistic notion of the discipline means that the Growth hacker is very popular with start-ups, who generally seek to boost their user base with inexpensive techniques and tricks because their limited resources prevent them from investing in expensive strategies.
Some illustrious cases of successful growth hacking
The most famous example, which for some is the first documented case of growth hacking, can be attributed to Hotmail in 1996. At the time, the famous messaging service that we know today was only in its infancy and was experiencing relatively low growth. Realizing that 80% of new users of the email service had signed up through word-of-mouth from friends, Hotmail co-founder Tim Draper decided to insert a message at the end of every email sent from Hotmail:
“PS: I love you. Get your free e-mail at Hotmail.”
The impact was instantaneous, resulting in a “snowball” effect that boosted the number of users of the messaging service to 3,000 per day. In 6 months, Hotmail generated 1 million subscribers. In 18 months, the number exploded to 12 million and was bought by Microsoft for $400 million.
This textbook case has been imitated with varying degrees of success by other companies. For example, the “sent from my iPhone” message found today at the bottom of messages sent from an Apple device follows the same logic.
Dropbox is also known to have successfully developed many Growth hacking techniques to explode its usage rate. In particular, it has used its “early adopters” as a means of distributing its service by offering them additional storage space in exchange for a recommendation.
Digital marketing = Growth Hacking ?
Although the term is relatively new and is making the buzz at the moment, Growth hacking is more a state of mind than a new profession in its own right. For many years, clever start-ups have been trying to maximize their growth without going through a traditional marketing approach. In fact, when you think about it for a moment, growth hacking is nothing more than marketing adapted to its environment and new tools. With the evolution of new technologies and the field of new realities they bring, digital marketing and growth hacking are two concepts that will increasingly rub shoulders until they become complementary.
In any case, growth hacking is a truly exciting discipline that deserves our attention. Many growth hacking techniques can be exploited as part of a digital strategy and we at WAKUSA are convinced that they can bring interesting results for many of our clients. If you want to go further, feel free to visit our growth consulting page!