The world is changing, and the rules of marketing are changing with it. The rise of growth hacking should serve as a wake up call to marketers. The skills required to effectively and efficiently grow a company’s customer base are different than they were a decade ago.
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Many marketing people don't really like growth hackers.
There are a number of reasons for this, but one of them is that we tend to produce really annoying headlines.
If you do a couple searches on growth hacking you’re going to see some pretty questionable things. Many of the claims going around are simply fantastic.
“How We Increased Our CTR by 267% on Facebook with this Simple Trick”
“How we gathered 2,7K emails & 6,2K pageviews in 72hrs with only $150”
“How we grew our traffic from 200 hits to 20k hits in 3 months with $0 budget”
You might read these headlines and think “Holy cow! How did they do that?!” [click]
More likely, you will read them and think “Why is there so much bull$#*t on the internet these days?” ...and then go back to watching cat videos. (we know you like cat videos)
Unfortunately, growth hacking has been sensationalized to the point where lots of what you see is just clickbait. You have growth hackers out there trying to hack their own click rates with these titles and undermining their own legitimacy in the process.
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Even when the headlines are true, it’s unfortunate that these exceptional success stories dominate the public discourse because the substance of growth hacking (the extensive measurement, testing and analyzing) often remains misunderstood.
The truth is growth hacking is not a magic formula.
It is not some simple shortcut for bypassing all the hard work marketing people are accustomed to. The fact it's sold that way is annoying for marketers… Hell, it’s annoying to us.
This tweet sums up a lot of the feelings pretty well:
So Then What Is The Substance of Growth Hacking?
Maybe you have read some of our previous posts like The 7 Pillars of Growth Hacking, or Growth Hacking vs Traditional Marketing. These posts will give you a pretty complete picture of what it’s really all about. But they might also leave you wondering:
Is growth hacking the future of marketing?
The world is changing. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air...
Sorry, I’m a big Lord of the Rings fan.
The world is changing. And the rules of marketing are changing with it. Growth hacking is a product of the technological advancements that have materialized over the last decade. It is a fusion of creative marketing, data science and computer programming.
It is now easier than ever for businesses to track and measure everything they do--and everything their customers do--allowing them to base all their decisions on validated data and focus their efforts on what is proven to work.
The time for guesswork is over.
Growth hacking involves a process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels, constant adjustments to products and value propositions, and an unending quest to effectively engage a company’s user base by carefully tailoring offers to what customers are already asking for.
While growth hackers do sometimes discover and utilize innovative, unconventional and often very technical new techniques (or “hacks” as we call them), most of what they do comes down to optimizing products, processes and channels until they find exactly what works.
Growth hackers approach their work more like scientists than artists.
In a nutshell, their goal is to achieve exponential growth through collecting, analyzing and utilizing rich data until they have figured out the most effective and efficient ways of gaining and retaining high-value customers.
How do they do it?
Growth hackers use things like A/B testing, landing page optimization, data analytics, SEO, SEM, marketing automation, CRO, copywriting psychology, link building, retargeting, web scraping and much more.
Of course, no single (human) growth hacker is an expert in every one of these things. That is why they prefer to work in teams.
Because there is so much involved, it is essential that a growth team has members who know how to leverage each other’s strengths and talents.
The typical RockBoost growth hacker has a broad range of skills including a general understanding of the above topics, and deep knowledge in a few. Together, our combined skillset fully covers the fields of marketing, data science and computer programming.
The function of growth hacker also spans traditional departmental boundaries in an organization.
In today’s world, it simply doesn’t make sense anymore for product developers and marketers to work separately.
The most effective growth hackers are deeply involved in product management, feeding the rich insights they gain through testing back into the development process.
Should Marketers Be Afraid?
As you can see, growth hacking involves marketing, but it goes a few steps beyond. Through the use of technology and analytics, it streamlines the process of gaining high-value customers by focusing efforts only on what the data dictates.
Marketers should not fret, however. In our experience, the most successful growth hacking implementations involved working alongside our client’s existing marketing departments.
Every company should have a solid marketing strategy in place--that’s a no-brainer. Growth hacking is not out to supplant marketing. Rather, it is there to supplement, strengthen and make marketing efforts more effective.
The Failures You Don’t Hear About
Another annoying consequence of the clickbait headlines going around is that they give the impression that growth hacks just work. For anyone, at any time in any situation. All you have to do is do it.
Just flip a switch and then sit back with your legs up. Enjoy a cigar and some VSOP while you watch the sales roll in. At RockBoost, that’s all we do each day.
Growth hacking is hard work. Behind every success story is a series of failed attempts, frustrating results and things that just didn’t work as hoped.
Achieving exponential growth takes persistence and dedication. It takes constant experimentation and analysis. Often a growth hacker will try 20 iterations before making a breakthrough. And even then, it requires constant fine tuning and optimization.
The principles and techniques work well, there is no doubt about that. But it takes effort. Silver bullets are rare, and when they do happen, you can be sure that they were preceded by failures.
The Bottom Line
The misconceptions about growth hacking being a collection of magic tricks that aim to replace the field of marketing is unfounded.
However, the rise of growth hacking should serve as a wake up call to marketers. It is 2016, and the skills required to effectively and efficiently grow a company’s customer base are different than they were a decade ago.
Big, expensive marketing campaigns that aim for maximum awareness but are hard to track won’t cut it anymore. There is no longer room for intuition or assumption.
The companies that successfully learn to harness the power of data are the ones that will grow and thrive in the future.
So, in a sense, yes, growth hacking is the future of marketing.
Sooner or later it will be taken for granted that all marketers are familiar with the skills, mindset and techniques growth hackers use. Whether marketers choose to update their job titles is up to them ;)
Until that day comes, though, growth hackers will continue to pioneer the way forward.
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