What is Growth Hacking and Why It Could Transform Marketing as We Know It

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Growth hacking has built billion dollar brands for new companies using a fraction of traditional marketing techniques. Growth hacking is credited for growing companies like Twitter, Dropbox and Facebook. While growth hacking is most famous for creating many tech companies that are now household names, it only started there because of the sheer number of startups coming up from nothing and the concentration of tech geniuses who put big data to use to develop growth hacking in the first place. Let’s look at the ways growth hacking could transform marketing as we know it.

The New Standard in Data Driven Decisions

Growth hacking relies on testable, trackable and scalable methods. You don’t just send out marketing emails but perform A/B marketing tests to email lists based on customer demographics and then shift the marketing message to that entire market segment based on what the data says works.

You don’t just rely on online advertising but run a variety of pay per click ads on different websites and key search terms and analyze which combinations result in the most paying customers for the price of the ad campaign. Instead of pasting links in as many places as possible, link building services analyze which domains bring you the highest quality traffic and provide the greatest domain authority and place links where it helps your SEO profile and customer conversion rates. You have to make the right marketing decisions early to identify the small minority who get the most out of your product and move past the first 15% to the bigger market.

One of the biggest ways growth hacking has revolutionized marketing is the sheer number of tools available to non-tech companies now for customer relationship management, email marketing and studying the results from various advertising channels.

Different Methods than Traditional Marketers

Traditional marketing relies on print ads, TV commercials and endorsements. Too many web companies rely on variations of these themes. Growth hackers rely on inexpensive, creative and innovative ways to grow the company exponentially. This is why growth hackers are turning viral videos into an art form and raising influencers to the level of near-celebrities.

One way growth hacking is similar to traditional marketing is the reliance on word-of-mouth advertising. Think about the apps or websites that suggest sending an invitation to everyone in your address book. Look at Groupon’s built-in share feature that lets paying customers invite friends to join in deals, hooking them on the service and generating an ever-increasing customer base. Study the crowdsourcing platforms that ask you to invite everyone in your address book and tell all your friends and reward you for doing so or online survey sites that reward you for referring friends. That’s growth hacking.

Leveraging Existing Platforms

Growth hacking has regularly leveraged existing platforms to keep costs low and grow as fast as possible. PayPal started with eBay and then grew enough that it stood on its own. AirBnB hacked Craigslist to get its first exposure and free advertising, too. It is cheaper and easier to leverage existing platforms than building your own from scratch.

The most successful growth hacking examples are ultimately scalable services and products. eBay, Etsy and PayPal didn’t have to do anything but attract people to their platform to buy and sell products. AirBnB lets people rent out a spare bedroom or entire house  but it doesn’t have to do anything except sign up people offering the service and connect them with customers. Uber and Lyft only have to sign up willing drivers and connect them with customers. In these cases, they are leveraging existing products, services and the people willing to provide them. This gives them an incredible cost advantage over hotels that have to invest in facilities to reach new markets.


Growth hacking relies on data driven marketing decisions to find the marketing and advertising combinations that have the highest return on investment. Growth hacking is changing marketing by relying on low cost and high potential advertising methods, whether asking people to refer all their friends or encouraging the social side of the service. Growth hacking is most likely to succeed when the product, service or site is infinitely scalable and works best when the business can leverage existing platforms. And growth hacking’s greatest impact is allowing many companies to go from zero to brand name status quickly by utilizing low cost, fast growth marketing methods that many firms can imitate.

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