The rise of the Growth Hacker


Fads arrive fast, and disappear faster. However a few stick, and become household names. Many would like to place growth hacking in the former category, claiming it’s the emperors new clothes. However they are wrong. Growth hacking is the new emperor. Especially for entrepreneurs and startups that need rapid sustainable growth.

Growth hacking is not going away anytime soon, because it works. It boasts the success of companies like Facebook, Dropbox, AirBnB and Spotify. Today you will find that growth hackers, and growth teams, are in high demand. They are highly appreciated for their new ways of thinking and doing, but primarily for delivering desired results.

The good news is that you don’t need to be a startup to use growth hacking. It can help to grow the tribe of any e-book, podcast, blog, or online service.


“Build and they will come” is a popular lie that many entrepreneurs tell themselves. In a time when everyone competes for attention, this has never been less true. What it comes down to is that innovative products need users too.

Growth hackers do not market products, they build products that market themselves.  Tweet this

At their best, growth hackers accelerate the growth of products that people already love. Growth hacking is an ongoing process aimed at improving customer experience, and leveraging it for further growth. The more people enjoy a product, the more likely they will return, the more likely they are to refer, and the more likely they are to pay. The superior experience of a product cannot be detached from it’s growth.

Growth hackers excel at doing more with less, and do not require the budgets of traditional brand awareness campaigns. They will often use inexpensive tactics and channels involving social media, blogging, e-books, mailing lists, search engine optimization, and features within the product itself.


Growth hackers do their uttermost to engineer self-perpetuating growth machines. It’s not run as a campaign, or one-off gimmick, but rather an iterative learning loop. Growth hackers use data to inform a hypothesis about growth, that is validated through experiments.

These experiments are sometimes referred to as ”hacks” and can range from engaging tribal influencers, to changing the messaging and design of landing pages, to identifying and activating ambassadors to spread the word. Unsuccessful hacks are simply discarded, but the ones that work fine-tune the growth machine.

Growth hackers prioritize hacks that they believe can make a big impact, with a minimal effort. However, not only short term, but over time. Another important criteria is that hacks have to be measurable, scalable and repeatable.

Growth hacking is an iterative metrics driven approach that reduces luck and minimizes risk.


Growth hacking is often described as marketing, which is only half true. Growth hackers do not simply market products, but help to build products that market themselves. Some of the world’s most effective growth hacks have not originated from a marketing activity, but from a feature within the product itself. Hotmail grew to millions of users thanks to a “P.S. I love you. Get your free email at Hotmail” at the bottom of every e-mail, and Airbnb grew by cross-posting classifieds to Craigslist, and Spotify launched with an invite-only gate.

Growth hackers also care about customer development, far beyond awareness and acquisition. They strive to build customer experiences that drive retention, referral and sales. The bottom line is that growth hacking is the synthesis of many skills spanning marketing, product development, and sales. You will also find that many growth hackers are well versed in coding and psychology.


Data is the digital oil for growth hackers, and they require digital tools to collect and analyze it. At this point there is no single tool to rule them all. The tools available are so many, that each growth hacker assembles their own stack. Staying on top of new tools requires constant experimentation and practice.

The most interesting data originates from human behavior. Growth hackers let data guide their work from start to finish. It helps them track their performance, as well as shape new hypothesis and experiments they can run.

One concrete example is the ability to generate a heatmap based on how users move their cursor across the page. Analyzing a heatmap can help to discover bottlenecks in the design that jam desired user behavior.


The bottom line is that growth hacking is here to stay. Whether the name sticks 10 years from now is irrelevant. The mind and skill set of the growth hacker will impact the way entrepreneurs build and grow their products for years to come. Growth hacking is not the emperor’s new clothes. It is the new emperor for projects that need to grow fast and steady.


What do you think?  Is growth hacking here to stay?


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