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Growth Hacking

integrated marketing for the digitally connected

To be honest, I don’t like this term, but it’s a buzzword in today’s tech climate… So. I guess a bit of an explanation is in order.

This concept of “growth hacking” is a recognition that when you focus on understanding your users and how they discover and adopt your products, you can build features that help you acquire and retain more users, rather than just spending marketing dollars.
- an excerpt from What is “Growth Hacking” really? by Josh Elman.

In short it’s integrated marketing for the digitally connected.

Email marketing is a dinosaur, a very hard to kill dinosaur. Companies and businesses can’t ignore the productivity (read “click throughs”) email marketing gives them for their dollar, but also can’t see that it’s just digitized junk mail. Yes — it works, but it’s costly.

What do I mean? Well, let’s see if I can’t make some sense of this…

Users are no longer just an address and a demographic — they are people #IRL whose digital footprint can be tracked, measured, and ranked. Forget Snowden… Facebook and Twitter API’s can give you more information on a person than George Orwell could ever imagine — friends, groups, likes, photos, videos and more. Which means, when a user signs into an app with Facebook Connect, Twitter or Google+, there is an opportunity to lead these new users through a product walk-through and user introduction. When a user sees others in their social network using the app, it instantly validates the app as one that is approved… A recommendation without the actual recommend.

So. Growth hacking is building the on-ramp to the destination, not designing a billboard a couple miles before the on-ramp. The difference is astounding. Marketing and product development working hand-in-hand to introduce the application, quickly moving from an introduction to session of Dutch bingo. This allows the added social connections to fill the app with content — thereby giving context — sparking immediate interaction.

The biggest differentiation is in the introduction. Email marketing, much like billboards and junk mail is a passive marketing strategy, marketers putting money on the curiosity of the potential customer. Hoping the sleekness of presentation will prompt the curious to see/opening/click on the advertisement or offer. Growth hacking still preys on the curious, but ensures a sticky initial experience. It’s not about click-throughs, it’s about education, interaction and integration with their current social network.

Knowing how to build and market great products have always been core attributes of successful companies. As marketing shifts from a “blanket the world with propaganda” strategy to a more focused approach, I think we will see many more companies utilizing growth hacking as a conduit for customer introduction and retention. Iterating different approaches to keep the customer using the product, and in effect introducing more people in their network to the application.