Growth Hacking is not the Devil

Although I studied Computer Science, I’ve been involved with Digital Marketing my entire life. Around two (2) years ago, I actively entered the era of Growth Hacking, which is nothing more that the evolution of Digital Marketing. Actually, the formula is pretty straight forward:

GH = DM + HTE + CFA + Implementation + KPIs

Or

Growth Hacking = Digital Marketing + Agile (High Tempo Experimentation) + Cross Funnel Activities + Metrics / Measurements

That’s all! No magic here.

I’m 44 years old and I’ve lived through the era of Java vs. dotnet, Apple vs. Compatibles, iPhone vs. Android, bots vs. mobile apps, Batman vs. Superman (ok, that was actually the worst one :-) and sooooo many dilemmas where I would have to select between two technologies or approaches that would change my life. Well, Growth Hacking vs. Digital Marketing is NOT one of them.

The important word in Growth Hacking IS Growth, NOT Hacking. It’s simply about doing everything you can, across digital channels to bring growth to your company, your product, your venture or your customer.

Nobody said (definitely not Sean Ellis) that it’s all about selecting better button color, or A/B testing or green bullets that will make you a billionaire. These, simply do not exist. Growth is a set of small percentages we consider when measuring conversions from one stage of the funnel to the next one.

For some people, Growth Hacking means having a strategic focus on growth as a company. However, outside of mom-and-pop shops, don’t all companies want this? No, they don’t! Most marketers focus on their narrow “baby topic” i.e. their Social Media strategy or their Inbound Marketing tactics. Most marketers approach Digital Marketing in silos rather than holistically. If they do then yes, they care about growth in total. That makes them great marketers with a great focus. Period. Most customers, recruit one agency for PPC (Performance Marketing), another one for SEO and somebody else is developing their website with no Marketing knowhow. Does that sound like a focus on growth?

Let’s analyse the formula:

Digital Marketing

Nothing to analyze here. Just pick a marketing book from your university years and the theory is there. Another nice book is called: “traction” and will drive you through all the channels of the Digital arena.

Implementation

Ask any recently graduated marketer or one working in a mature company or a startup if they know sh*t about marketing implementation. Don’t ask them if they know what retargeting is, BUT if they know how to implement a pixel, use a set of pixel(s) for building audiences and drive sales, how to implement a feed for dynamic remarketing (for things like cart abandonment), set the pixel via Tag Manager, track on page events, create custom events in Google Analytics. Do they know how to implement a new digital property on various platforms? How about integrating various platforms through different tools to automate an inbound process at the maximum level possible, for example? Do they know how to Implement an inbound stack and process? An outbound one? Web scraping to build an audience, thoughtful processes on how to discover relevant audiences? When it comes to PPC, do they know about implementing a complex campaign, implement A/B tests, analyzing and optimizing CTRs and scorings? Do they know anything about UX and CRO trends? Do they have any idea about thin pages and content depth? Do they know about NAP and the changes in Google’s algorithms and Pagerank and how to benefit from them? To put things simply, how many hours, days, nights, weekends did they spend reading and testing sh*t? If they have, respect. They do have the Implementation badge!

Cross Funnel Activities

Well, working down the funnel means you should bother in improving all stages of the funnel. It is about caring for all parts of your Growth plan. Most marketers focus on bringing tons of traffic to a web property, traffic of bad quality, traffic that doesn’t convert and then, they believe it’s somebody else’s job to activate this traffic, to get feedback from those users and convince them to buy.

Down the funnel is nothing more than giving a sh*t about all aspects of your company and not only those aspects that are of high visibility or high impact. Marketing life is a funnel and that funnel works top-down but gets implemented bottom-up. And for that you need a plan. A Growth plan. For detailed information on how to build your custom Growth plan, you can refer to our blog post on building your Growth plan.

Do you really care about all aspects of your growth? From acquiring the user and pushing the hell out of them, to bringing in as much revenue as possible, until they refer you to a new user?

High Tempo Experimentation

High Tempo Experimentation is a very strict and painful process that enables you to run as many Digital Marketing (I’m not going to call them growth hacking) experiments as possible in a given period of time. Why should you bother with it? Because it’s the only way to discover the hero channel for you. Hero is the channel that can bring most of the traffic in terms of quantity but also in terms of quality.

HTE is a team job. All teams have to share specific traits for an HTE approach to succeed. It’s like a 4X100 sprint. You shouldn’t get tired before passing the lead to the next athlete.

So, for a HTE process to succeed, you need to embrace the following ideas:

  • Get rid of your perfectionism :-)
  • Stop being a bottleneck by wanting to have an opinion on every single detail.
  • Be ready to accept some risks as some customers may be affected by an experiment.
  • Be aware that HTE is about measuring everything and gathering feedback, moving towards data-driven marketing.
  • Be aware that the most important element of HTE is the high tempo in which it runs, thus the significance lies on the velocity of running experiments.
  • Be aware that we call them experiments because they ARE experiments. Meaning that they may fail with noise. Still, we will have learned a lot from the entire process.

Do work that way as well? Have you done that for more than a month? Then congrats. The HTE badge is all yours!

KPIs

It’s about Metrics, Metrics, Metrics… Period.

Marketers, typically, do not like numbers. When it comes to numbers they just see the high-level figures and not the detailed ones. Running or growing a startup has to do a hell lot with metrics. From MRRs to Net MRRs or Conversion rates and from churn rates to happy churn or pause rates. And then it’s how you interconnect these metrics altogether, how you select the most important ones (you should be addressing maximum two every time) and how you visualize them. Well, different job descriptions one would reply. Not exactly. You need to be a data analyst in order to be able to work efficiently with data, to decide how to capture data and how to combine everything together. From Stripe, to Taxamo, to Baremetrics, to Google Data studio. All-in-one and all segmented to get valuable insights. From the conceptualization of a new metric to deploying it and reporting it to your investors.

If the diagram below sounds like Greek to you, well, welcome to the data analysis world.

Image for post
Image for post
This Chart shows us all outliers within our customers in terms of all 3 variables R= Recency, F= Frequency, M= Monetary

R= Recency (the days past since customer’s last purchase),
F= Frequency (no. of purchases a customer has done)
M= Monetary (the amount of money spent by each customer)

Conclusion

You can call it whatever you like. It doesn’t matter. But do execute. In the end, it’s all that counts. Execution, not names or titles.

If the above is your job description or your daily routine, you are awesome, whatever your name is: Hero Marketer, Best Marketer in Town, Bad Ass Marketer, Digital Marketer, Growth Master or Growth Hacker, you are one of us….

Written by

Theodore has a 15+ years experience in running successful and profitable software products. Currently, he is the Group CEO of Viral-loops and GrowthRocks

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