Step by Step Guide to Become a Growth Hacker

Before we look into the rulebook and guidelines of how to become a successful growth hacker, let’s start with gaining some familiarity with the concept:

What is Growth Hacking?

Growth Hacking is a process where critical thought is applied across several marketing channels to identify and optimize on the most effective and efficient ways to uphold and expand the user base of a product/service/ business.

How is a Growth Hacker different from a Traditional Marketer?

The term ‘Growth Hacking’ was coined by Sean Ellis, the co-founder of Dropbox. A growth hacker has to be abreast with the market trends in order to come up with spontaneous out –of – the – box ideas that can be executed in an online ecosystem like the social media, blogs, email, web analytics etc. Unlike a traditional marketer, a growth hacker does not have the luxury to spend the 11th rupee when he has only 10 bucks in hand. In other words, given a low budget, the onus lies on him to optimize on the exposure by expanding the customer base with the existing resources instead of spending lakhs of rupees on the conventional media like Television and newspaper advertisements or radio slots.

Why are Growth Hackers sometimes considered unethical?

It is said that their prime focus is to improve the mileage of the product’s market performance and not what means they use for it. So need not really worry if something you’ve opted for is ethical or not! There are a lot of unethical growth hacking stories on the web, and for instance, AirBnB and GoDaddy took the same path to sustain themselves until they shot to fame.

Qualities a Growth Hacker has to possess

Be comfortable with big data:
In order to prepare a growth hacking plan, you should be able to put yourself at ease with the big data techniques. And only when you can understand and analyze the current data, future trends can be predicted and risks can be minimized.

Let the decisions not be entirely data driven:
Although data driven decisions are logical, at times it is not very advisable and instead case-driven decisions yield better results.

Understand the end user:
It is very essential for a growth hacker to think like an end user and keep his needs and preferences in mind.

Be analytical in approach:
Say, Question about the product > Build a working Hypothesis > Evaluate the product in detail > Make a decision, could be some of the useful steps in your approach towards demystifying the sciences involved.

Be multi-talented:
It’s good to master a skill, but it is also important to be a jack of many arts when you aspire to be a growth hacker. Learn coding, marketing, and maybe writing?!

Imagine more to innovate better:
Newer the approach, better the outcomes.

Possess an entrepreneurial mindset:
Make it your own, in order to bring it to newer heights.

15 Guidelines to follow if you’re a Growth hacker aspirant

1. Analyze your product in depth

From the engineering to design, to the content and other aspects, a growth hacker must identify and analyze his product in and out. Consider asking yourself these questions:

  • Are you thinking from the end user standpoint?
  • Whether the product/service is being able to solve any prevailing issue?
  • How different is it from its market competitors?
  • How well is the product’s current performance in the market?
  • What can you do to change the market trends in the favor of your product?

2. Set an actionable goal

Before you set a working goal, make a blueprint and be clear of what you are planning to achieve and how you are planning to do so. For example, if you want to improve on your page hits of your startup homepage, then go step by step. Firstly, decide upon how many hits are you expecting (Fix a number, say 100k or 200k). Two, plan for a Google AdWords or a social media campaign and route your blog posts through it to increase visibility. And finally, decide upon how many posts per day, week or month are hitting the web and channelize the content accordingly. Dos and Don’ts:

  • Work on the analytics aspect before fixing up a goal
  • Keep tracking your goals and your moves for it
  • Break your goals down as much as possible. Zero down to the specificities
  • Do not set too many goals and end up not achieving even one

3. Test your plans accordingly (A /B testing)

It’s always good to have a Plan B and if possible, a Plan C too, just in case your main Plan A fails. When you’re ready for the upcoming risks and obstacles and if you are fully shielded with your intellectual faculties, there will not be a need to look back or come up with new ideas under such a pressure. And this is the most important aspect of growth hacking! Data analytics, behavioral psychology, design and user involvement are key aspects to performing and implementing an online experiment effectively. A/B Testing is nothing but comparing both the A and B versions from the end user’s viewpoint, only to later settle down with the version that is effective, both cost and performance wise. Little tweaks like checking the font and impact of your heading, button colors, email subject line, landing pages or any other logo, is how A/B Testing is practiced. You may also check for various influences such as pricing structures on your website or free promotions.

4. 3 things to keep in mind: Title, Timing and Execution

If you’re targeting to go viral, then these three hacks are a must. Title (What is it) has to be appealing to the user for him to click and open. Time (When is it) is a very important factor because when you push your campaign or strategy makes a lot of difference. Say you’re running an Independence day campaign and you do it in March. Doesn’t make sense, does it? Finally, execution (How you do it), by following your blueprint, because ideas may seem rosy but if not executed well, they only backfire!

5. User Retention is very important

The simplest trick to retain a customer is to keep them happy. Tailor your products or services according to their needs. Customizations are the key! Only once you’re relieved that your existing user base is well maintained, only then you can work on targeting potential customers.

6. Master the art of Copywriting

Writing an appealing copy makes miracles happen. If you fail to captivate your user at the first glance of your product/ service, then you’ve lost him. Brevity and Innovation have to be brewed together to have the words do their magic!

7. Look beyond the trend

Be amongst the ones who set trends and not follow them. And see for yourself where your ideas take you to!

8. Using the right tool matters the most

A tool is like a positive catalyst in a chemical reaction. It adds on to your efforts to make it easier. For example, a tool like Topsy (shut down now) was used to gauge the twitterati’s likes, influences and trends.

9. Be extra careful

When it comes to your product/ service, never ever miss an eye on the smallest of details, which, you never know, might bring you the biggest of losses.

10. Use the analytics to the fullest

Understanding the growth rate without analytics is next to impossible. Keep watching the data and statistics to identify some potential breakthroughs to take your product/ service to the next level.

11. Talk to people, both within your organization and outside

Talking to people in a defined hierarchy helps you with the difference in perspective at multiple levels, which further benefits you in making a ration and an informed decision.

12. Redefine the product/ service/ distribution strategy, if needed

It is important to tailor ourselves according to the market trends and the consumer needs and purchase behavior. Get back to your product/ service and to upgrade it from time to time to fit the user’s needs and requirements. Follow the same with your distribution strategy to engage more people. For example, remember how Burbn was redefined as Instagram?

13.Compare performance, improve and repeat

Gauge your past and present performances, and make the needed tweaks and upgrades. Set new goals and fine-tune your market strategies and distribution methods, and be on repeat unless required.

14. Network, and network more

This is the most important thing that a growth hacker must work on. Start working with people from similar backgrounds and thought processes to get some valuable feedback and suggestions from them as you work on your product. Improve your intellectual standards and get your hands on some real- time learning. Engaging yourself in the network you build, will take you a long way!

15. Old isn’t always gold; change with time

Sure, your older strategies and techniques helped you in reaping gold. But no, you cannot stick to it for your entire lifetime! Remember, there is nothing universal in any field. Keep experimenting to unlock new milestones in your journey as a Growth Hacker! So, these are little things to keep in mind as you hack your own growth as a Growth Hacker! Please share your feedback in the comments section.

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