Growth hacking is a relatively new field in marketing focused on growth. It started in relation to early-stage startups who need massive growth in a short time on small budgets, but has since then also reached bigger corporate companies. The goal of growth hacking strategies is generally to acquire as many users or customers as possible while spending as little as possible. A growth hacking team is made up of marketers, developers, engineers and product managers that specifically focus on building and engaging the user base of a business.
The typical growth hacker often focuses on finding smarter, low-cost alternatives to traditional marketing, e.g. using social media, viral marketing or targeted advertising instead of buying advertising through more traditional media such as radio, newspaper, and television.
Growth hacking is particularly prevalent with startups, when the goal is finding product/market-fit or achieving rapid growth in the early-stages of launching a new product or service to market. Growth hacking may focus on lowering cost per customer acquisition, or it may focus on long-term sustainability. “The goal of any marketing should be long-term sustainable growth, not just a short-term gain. Growth hacking is about optimization as well as lead generation. Imagine your business is a bucket and your leads are water. You do not want to pour water into a leaky bucket; it is a waste of money. That is why a true growth hacker would care about customer retention.”
Those who specialize in growth hacking use various types of marketing and product iterations to rapidly test persuasive copy, email marketing, SEO and viral strategies, among other tools and techniques, with a goal of increasing conversion rates and achieving rapid growth of the user base. Some consider growth hacking a part of the online marketing ecosystem, as in many cases growth hackers are using techniques such as search engine optimization, website analytics, content marketing and A/B testing. On the other hand, not all marketers have all the data and technical skills required by a growth hacker, therefore a separate name for this field is applicable.
Product development is also heavily influenced by the growth hacker mindset. Instead of long development cycles followed by user testing. Growth hackers start user testing with wireframes and sketches; validating ideas at every stage. A growth hacker in a product development role would start user testing in a coffee shop instead of a corporate usability lab.