✨ Growth hacking is part-art and part-science

We have all seen the following successful marketing aimed at growing users, making current users loyal, increasing revenue, etc.

  • PS: I love you.
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  • Get up to 16gb free space by inviting your friends to Dropbox
  • Reach thousands of people, instantly by re-posting your Airbnb listing to craigslist
  • John is listening to “adventure of a lifetime” by Coldplay on Apple Music
  • Give Zara feedback to get 10% off a future order

Growth Hacking

There is abundant content on the internet, explaining the importance of growth hacking for user growth and how it differs from traditional marketing. You will find inspiring blogs and captivating stories about how different companies growth-hacked their way to success. You will find books on growth hacking that — true to the topic — have successfully growth-hacked their way to high ratings on Amazon as well.

The content points out the various strategies, past experiences and successful growth hacks that have worked for a particular product, company or service. The authors recognize that the detailed hacks may not verbatim apply to your unique product.

Growth Hackers have a Herculean task

Growth hackers have a very demanding job that when done right can make a product successful.

In his most quoted blog, Sean Ellis made an insightful statement emphasizing the magnitude of responsibility on the shoulders of a Growth Hacker, “Everything they do, is scrutinized by its potential impact on scalable growth.”

Growth Hackers have a very narrow, exceedingly critical, singular and obsessive focus. The focus of growing the users of a website, mobile app running on a smartphone, smart display or wearable. They are masters of product and distribution and attempt to unearth tweaks and hacks to acquire new users, convert them into retained users and finally develop them into loyal users so they can be effectively monetized.

Growth Hacking is Art

The art is the need to try approaches to find out what works. It includes creativity and adopting a different kind of mindset based on constant experimentation, testing, and data.

Growth Hacks are very similar to throwing darts at a dartboard with outcomes ranging from hitting the bullseye, hitting an outer circle, hitting the board but not long enough, to not even make a dent on the dart board. Some growth hacks may be outright ineffective, and some may have a very short lifespan and a few may be successful and a select few fruitful and repeatable.

Growth Hacking is Science

The science is the insights, data-science and intelligence available to a Growth Hacker, which provides confidence in every decision, strategy, campaign, experiment, and approach undertaken. The science also reveals the success and lifespan of that hack and lastly, gives an indication on when to pull the plug on a growth hack that has outlived it’s lifespan or failed to deliver optimal user growth results.

Growth Hacking is data science at your fingertips

Growth hacks are always masterminded, and their success is heavily dependent on the growth hackers’ patience and creativity on one hand, and the relevancy and accuracy of the data intelligence on the other. A visionary data-driven mindset and the ability to try many approaches quickly using analytics tools and real-time intelligence are what differentiates successful growth hackers from others.

For instance, how many of my app users have moderate to high attrition risk and had higher than average In-App Purchases in the last 28 days.

You want such answers in sub-seconds rather than running massive map-reduce jobs or exporting the data to another service and running expensive big queries requiring multiple resources.

Growth Hacks may not be portable

Is your service Mobile-only? Mobile-first? WatchOS-only? Web-first? Growth hacking methods, best practices, and techniques that worked well for your website may not necessarily work verbatim for your mobile apps, your wearable app or your smart TV app.

A mobile growth hacker is mindful of the differences in platforms and user patterns on these platforms. Even user behaviors and patterns of users using multiple devices (e.g. tablet and smartphone) are significantly different and specific to the device they are using. The behavior of the same app by the same user may be characteristically different on iPhone and iPad. It is not uncommon to develop growth hacking strategies that are different for different platforms.

Growth Hacking is experimentation

Growth hacking is a lot of experimentation to find out what works and what does not. You do not want to wait for your tools to catch up with your thinking. Some Analytical tools require the Growth Hackers to manually analyze data, at times paired with data scientists, instead of focusing on growing hacking the product. Mobile growth hacking mechanisms with shorter lifespans and longer analysis times make current tools frustratingly difficult to use.

Growth Hacking relies on segmentation at scale

Facebook ended 2015 with 1.6 billion monthly active users with 87% on mobile. Mary Meeker reported mobile is growing 12x web. So, is 10 Million users the new 1 Million users? Chris Dixon and Dave McClure agree for the web.

There are 250 million more mobile devices than desktops/laptops, and the difference is growing every day. It is certainly possible for a mobile app to have 10 million and much more users. It is, however, impossible to effectively segment and analyze users using traditional segmentation techniques.

Growth Hacking is a Strategy but not regular Marketing

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), App Store Optimization (ASO), Social Marketing, Acquisition Marketing, Remarketing, Resurrection Marketing, Re-acquisition marketing is not Growth Hacking.

Growth Hacking is part of the overall strategy to market and convert both existing and new users.

Growth Hackers who rely on Intelligence Tools are far more successful