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MEMOIRE DE RECHERCHE APPLIQUEE
Présenté et soutenu par
Mattias Le Cren
WHAT IS GROWTH HACKING AND HOW TO IMPLEMENT IT OUTS...
Acknowledgements
I would like to give a special thank you to my thesis director, Christelle Lecomte for her
guidance and a...
Table of Content
Introduction................................................................................................
1.7.4. Black hat vs white hat**.........................................................................................25...
1
Introduction
Growth hacking has become an essential part of the startup world.
Startups need to achieve high levels of g...
2
2
The goal of this thesis is to provide an explanation and overview of what growth hacking
is, how it differs from and h...
3
1. What is Growth Hacking?
One of the challenges of this memoire is to put a definition on the term growth hacking.
Sinc...
4
July 26th 2010, and created the position that was about to become a revolution in marketing for
startups.
In this first ...
5
After the first few articles, growth hacking started spreading through the startups
worldwide, but still emphasized in t...
6
add value to the product(s) or service(s) they already provide. But good content, is also content
that gets shared, so b...
7
1.2. The Definition of Growth Hacking
Growth hacking does not have a definition by consensus. Some influencers attempt t...
8
A hacker can therefore be considered as a driven individual looking to push a system to
its limits, and potentially expa...
9
1.3. Growth Hacking Ecosystem
Since growth hacking takes its roots from the lean startup, which is dedicated to high
tec...
10
Activation is the second step, and consists of converting those new users into active
users, making them come back mult...
11
interface is “a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. An API
expresses a software c...
12
generated free advertisement for every sent e-mail from the already twenty thousand users. By
December 1997, Hotmail ha...
13
one shares the higher in the list one gets. This enables viral sharing, but works only if the
product fulfills a specif...
14
1.5. The Growth Hacking Process
There is no single true growth hacking process, rather, growth hacker develop their own...
15
According to Balfour, a good process should have some key elements:
1. Set high goals on the right growth channels
2. A...
16
● KR1: measurable Goal 1 (Hit 90% of the time)
● KR2: measurable Goal 1 (Hit 50% of the time)
● KR3: measurable Goal 1 ...
17
different elements; Ellis recommends using and ICE score which is the mean of three individual
scores given to each ide...
18
where there is a lack of knowledge, and search for answers that will generate new ideas for that
specific area.
Associa...
19
1.5.4.4. Step four: Analyzing
The fourth step is to analyze the results of the experiment. Three aspects should be
emph...
20
The accuracy is also reviewed. Are the hypotheses getting more accurate over time?
This step should be particularly don...
21
to require specific Technology and Analytical Methods for its transformation into Value"22
. Big
data enables, through ...
22
1.6.5. Marketing Research
Though taking decisions based on data is not new in marketing. Marketing research
have been a...
23
1.7. The characteristics of Growth Hackers
Growth hackers can come from various backgrounds, whether that’s marketing,
...
24
will highlight trends that will help make prediction and therefore better strategic decisions,
whether they are based o...
25
necessary because the field of marketing is too broad, channels are too complex for one person
to be an expert in all o...
26
Many growth hacking techniques could be considered on the line between white and
black hat, between ethical and unethic...
27
1.8.2. Leadership model
Because growth hacking require failure in order to progress, old traditional leadership
models ...
28
must encourage risk taking from growth hacker in order to try experiments that are innovative
and therefore risky. Some...
29
resident growth hacker.’ I am just going to do it. Because that’s what you do in this new world.
You move fast and ask ...
30
1.10. Limits of Growth Hacking
Growth hacking is not perfect, and has its limits. We will elaborate on the main limits
...
31
2.1. Hypotheses
Five hypotheses have been formulated to guide the qualitative study. They concern
growth hacking defini...
32
2.2. Process of the study
In order to answer the question “What is growth hacking, and how to successfully
implement it...
33
2.3.1. What is Growth Hacking
In order to define growth hacking, we have asked our interviewees their definition of
gro...
34
as behavioral economics: “Many growth hacks are set up knowing information about the
audience. I think predictive analy...
35
and learn cycle with the advent of 3D printing. So you will actually see a growth in growth
hacking because of disrupti...
36
share this insight: “I think growth hacking can be implemented into any kind of business size. I
think it is easier to ...
37
It’s difficult to make your voiced heard because there is more at stake, more risk, and people
are trying to protect th...
38
is measuring, testing, optimizing. And you need to test things in order to measure them but often
the other teams have ...
39
to implement the features.” Colon agrees that growth hacking can impact the whole organization:
“Growth hacking is not ...
40
experts. But we can add that encouraging communication between growth hacker can also be
beneficial.
3. Recommendations...
41
important step will be to make everyone responsible for growth, so that they will take a look at
their own jobs from a ...
What is Growth Hacking and how to implement it outside the high tech startup ecosystem?
What is Growth Hacking and how to implement it outside the high tech startup ecosystem?
What is Growth Hacking and how to implement it outside the high tech startup ecosystem?
What is Growth Hacking and how to implement it outside the high tech startup ecosystem?
What is Growth Hacking and how to implement it outside the high tech startup ecosystem?
What is Growth Hacking and how to implement it outside the high tech startup ecosystem?
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What is Growth Hacking and how to implement it outside the high tech startup ecosystem?

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This thesis attempts to clarify and define the term « growth hacking » and what it implies in the world of marketing today. It also attempts to present the growth hacking process and mindset as it is used by successful high-tech startups. This thesis then tries to identify what are the keys to successfully implementing growth hacking in any organization, outside of the high tech startup ecosystem, where the movement was born. A qualitative study was conducted interviewing growth hacking experts to provide elements that are part of the growth hacking movement and that can help implement in organizations. Our findings led to defining growth hacking as a new organizational culture that can potentially disrupt traditional marketing by introducing marketing into every aspect of organizations. Growth hacking is also an essential element for healthy competition in industries thanks to its product and customer centricity and low cost and fast implementation with rapid and effective effects on growth.

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What is Growth Hacking and how to implement it outside the high tech startup ecosystem?

  1. 1. MEMOIRE DE RECHERCHE APPLIQUEE Présenté et soutenu par Mattias Le Cren WHAT IS GROWTH HACKING AND HOW TO IMPLEMENT IT OUTSIDE OF THE HIGH TECH STARTUP ECOSYSTEM? Master Marketing, Communication et Stratégies Commerciales Nom de l’entreprise : Azendoo Tuteur de Stage : Frédérique Castagnac Directeur de Mémoire : Christelle Lecomte
  2. 2. Acknowledgements I would like to give a special thank you to my thesis director, Christelle Lecomte for her guidance and advices throughout the completion of this thesis. I would like to thank Azendoo for giving me the opportunity to discover the startup world from the inside and learn about growth hacking at the first place. I would like to thank Lauran Schaefer, Edouard Breine and Geoffrey Colon for taking the time to answer my questions and help my study. I would like to thank the growth hacking community for sharing all their tips and experiences freely accessible online, allowing me to benefit from these publications.
  3. 3. Table of Content Introduction..........................................................................................................................................1 1. What is Growth Hacking? ...........................................................................................................3 1.1. History of Growth Hacking .................................................................................................3 1.1.1. Birth of the term Growth Hacking ..........................................................................3 1.1.2. Developments ............................................................................................................4 1.1.3. Current Trends.........................................................................................................5 1.2. The Definition of Growth Hacking......................................................................................7 1.2.1. Natural Definition.....................................................................................................7 1.2.2. Controversy...............................................................................................................7 1.3. Growth Hacking Ecosystem.................................................................................................9 1.3.1. Startup Ecosystem ....................................................................................................9 1.3.2. Technological Ecosystem..........................................................................................9 1.4. Case Studies ........................................................................................................................11 1.4.1. Iconic case studies...................................................................................................11 1.4.2. Other examples .......................................................................................................12 1.5. The Growth Hacking Process ............................................................................................14 1.5.1. Key Elements...........................................................................................................14 1.5.2. Goal Setting.............................................................................................................15 1.5.3. Documentation........................................................................................................16 1.5.4. The 5 steps of the Growth Hacking process..........................................................17 1.5.4.1. Step one: Brainstorming ........................................................................................17 1.5.4.2. Step two: Prioritizing..............................................................................................18 1.5.4.3. Step three: Designing and testing ..........................................................................18 1.5.4.4. Step four: Analyzing...............................................................................................19 1.5.4.5. Step five: Systemizing.............................................................................................19 1.5.5. Repeat & iteration ..................................................................................................19 1.6. Growth Hacking relationship with other disciplines .......................................................20 1.6.1. Analytics..................................................................................................................20 1.6.2. Big Data...................................................................................................................20 1.6.3. Marketing................................................................................................................21 1.6.4. Product Development .............................................................................................21 1.6.5. Marketing Research ...............................................................................................22 1.7. The characteristics of Growth Hackers ............................................................................23 1.7.1. The Growth Hacking Mindset ...............................................................................23 1.7.2. Growth hackers should be T-shaped.....................................................................24 1.7.3. Failure is an option.................................................................................................25
  4. 4. 1.7.4. Black hat vs white hat**.........................................................................................25 1.8. Managerial Implications ....................................................................................................26 1.8.1. Organizational structure........................................................................................26 1.8.2. Leadership model....................................................................................................27 1.8.3. Empowerment and freedom...................................................................................27 1.8.4. Risk ..........................................................................................................................27 1.9. Expanding Growth Hacking beyond high tech-startups .................................................28 1.10. Limits of Growth Hacking .................................................................................................30 2. Qualitative study of Growth Hacking from experts interviews ..............................................30 2.1. Hypotheses ..........................................................................................................................31 2.1.1. Growth Hacking definition/principles...................................................................31 2.1.2. Growth Hacking and Big Data ..............................................................................31 2.1.3. Growth Hacking and Marketing Research...........................................................31 2.1.4. Growth Hacking outside startups and tech ..........................................................31 2.1.5. Implementing Growth Hacking.............................................................................31 2.2. Process of the study ............................................................................................................32 2.2.1. Reasons for this study.............................................................................................32 2.2.2. Experts interviewed ................................................................................................32 2.3. Analysis and learnings from the study..............................................................................32 2.3.1. What is Growth Hacking........................................................................................33 2.3.2. Growth Hacking and Big Data ..............................................................................33 2.3.3. Growth Hacking and Marketing Research...........................................................34 2.3.4. Growth Hacking outside startups and tech ..........................................................35 2.3.5. Implementing Growth Hacking.............................................................................36 3. Recommendations ......................................................................................................................40 3.1. Successfully implementing the mindset.............................................................................40 3.2. Building a team...................................................................................................................41 3.3. Successfully implementing a process.................................................................................42 3.4. Optimize based on learnings..............................................................................................42 3.5. Limits of this study and additional research ....................................................................43 3.6. Conclusion...........................................................................................................................44
  5. 5. 1 Introduction Growth hacking has become an essential part of the startup world. Startups need to achieve high levels of growth quickly in order to develop into genuine businesses. As Growth hacking has become an increasingly important element of successful startups, it has developed as a discipline of its own. It generated experts in this field, driven by the obsession of growth. It differentiated itself from traditional marketing by the fact that the techniques employed were unorthodox and generally low cost. The research of virality also characterizes Growth hacking. A startup is a company in its early stage of operations, that usually require funding rounds and that provides innovative product or service, generally in an untapped market. Steve Blank defines a startup as an “organization formed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model”1 . Startup usually need to grow quickly by going into market, adjusting their product for the best fit, and expanding to become sustainable by being profitable. Growth Hacking refers to the activity or process of reaching continuous growth by using untraditional techniques and tactics. Growth hacking as now become more and more popular, especially in the technology industry, where new startups born and die every day around the globe. Growth hacking as spread as a necessary form of marketing to increase either user base, brand recognition, revenues or any other valuable metric depending on the market and product/service provided, at the lowest price possible. Here are the results from Google Trends that shows the birth and spread of the term growth hacking from end 2011 until today (July 2015): 1 Extracted from Steve Blank,. (2010). What's A Startup? First Principles.
  6. 6. 2 2 The goal of this thesis is to provide an explanation and overview of what growth hacking is, how it differs from and how it effects traditional marketing, and how growth hacking can be successfully implemented outside of the high tech startups ecosystem. In order to answer these questions, in the most thorough and complete manner, a deep research has been conducted. Unfortunately, the topic being relatively recent and utilized in a fast paced environment that is the startup ecosystem, no academic studies have been published about the topic. Our research has been conducted by reuniting the different views from influential people in the growth hacking world. To complete this research a study has been conducted. We have interviewed professional growth hackers through semi directive interviews, as well as conducted a quantitative analysis to answer these questions, gathering data from topic experts and online marketers. A qualitative study has been conducted through semi-directive interviews of growth hackers experts, which was necessary to understand what growth hacking is, how it relates to other disciplines, and how to implement growth hacking in organizations. Finally a recommendation is provided based on research findings and qualitative study analysis, as well as our own thoughts. 2 Extracted from Google Trends – Key words : Growth hacking & Growth hacker. Period December 2011 to July 2015
  7. 7. 3 1. What is Growth Hacking? One of the challenges of this memoire is to put a definition on the term growth hacking. Since its first mention, the term has been under great controversy about whether it was an actual disruptive movement that was going to last, or about who growth hackers are. We will attempt to clarify the subject with the following research and findings. 1.1. History of Growth Hacking The history of growth hacking is rather short since the term has been invented in 2010, but earlier marketing actions have been called growth hacks as early as mid-1990s. We will review the birth, development and the current trends about growth hacking. 1.1.1. Birth of the term Growth Hacking Growth hacking principles are very much based on the Lean Startup principles, introduced to the world by Eric Ries, in his book titled “The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses” published in 2010. The Lean Startup takes its root from the lean manufacturing method, a derived of the Toyota Production System, developed during the mid-twentieth century. The lean startup principle is an adaptation of the lean management principles to the tech startup ecosystem. Ries first wrote about the lean startup principles on his own blog, on post called “The lean startup” in 2008. The term Growth hacker was first introduced by Sean Ellis in 2010. Ellis helped many startups to reach high level of growth and become sustainable and even successful, two of them reaching IPOs3 , including Dropbox. He was deeply focused on accelerating growth for these startups, and managed to reach his goals before moving on to another startup. But when he had to find a replacement for his position, he faced only finding regular marketing candidates that were not relevant to what the position required. This is when he asked for “growth hackers”. He posted the very first blog article called “Find a Growth Hacker for Your Startup” published 3 IPO: (initial public offering) is the first sale of a company's shares to the public, leading to a stock market listing.
  8. 8. 4 July 26th 2010, and created the position that was about to become a revolution in marketing for startups. In this first blog post, Ellis defined a growth hacker as being “a person whose true north is growth”4 . Required skills are to have entrepreneurial drive, to be creative, discipline and a mind for analytics, with single purpose of achieving sustainable growth. Another important point he raises is the importance of creating a community of Growth hacker so that they can exchange thoughts and ideas. He eventually fulfilled this wish in October 2013 creating GrowthHackers.com, an online community of growth hackers. 1.1.2. Developments But it was Andrew Chen’s blog post titled “Growth Hacker is the new VP Marketing” that really started to spread Growth Hacking into the Marketing world, beyond the startup ecosystem. Andrew Chen described a Growth Hacker as an “hybrid of marketer and coder,[…] who looks at the question of ‘how do I get customers for my products?’ and answers with A/B tests, landing pages, viral factor, email deliverability, and Open Graph.”5 But Chen noticed and wrote about the “disruption” of the whole marketing team. Growth hacking was not just a job title anymore, it was a new way to do marketing. It was an answer to market new kind of products: digital products. This was a big mind shift in the industry because that would mean that traditional marketing was not wanted or needed anymore, but rather that they should be replaced by growth hackers “engineers leading teams of engineers”. He went on explaining that marketing, product and engineering lines were blurred and that they all related directly to the product. Growth hacking was the result of a new kind of products, that were found, bought and used online and on mobile. The number of people with internet access exploded in the recent years to reach over 2 billion, and new communication systems, based on virality and sharing that are the social media, and other chat applications, increased the potential for quick growth at a low price. 4 Extracted from Sean Ellis. (2010). Find a Growth Hacker for Your Startup. Startup-marketing.com. 5 Extracted from Andrew Chen. (2012). Growth Hacker is the new VP Marketing. andrewchen.co
  9. 9. 5 After the first few articles, growth hacking started spreading through the startups worldwide, but still emphasized in the Silicon Valley, its birth place. Growth hacking is now a must for all startups in the technological industry, simply because it has become the norm. The first who were doing it had an advantage over the others, so they had to adapt by adopting growth hacking too. 1.1.3. Current Trends As growth hacking became essential, and that startups usually have low resources, growth “hacks” have become products. There is now an astonishing number of tools that can be used for growth hacking techniques in a wide number of fields. Tools, or products, have been created for landing pages, content marketing, analytics, tracking, customer feedback, SEO, graphics, marketing automation, A/B testing and so on. Some saw that there was a need for such tools, because startups have to focus on product first, so they usually lack resources to build their own tools for growth hacking. Other parallel trends emerged as well, such as content marketing, inbound marketing, or marketing automation. Marketing automation is also trending, and is related to growth hacking. We will see later that successful hacks should be automated whenever possible. Marketo6 defines Marketing automation as: “a category of technology that allows companies to streamline, automate, and measure marketing tasks and workflows, so they can increase operational efficiency and grow revenue faster.” 7 According to IDC8 , the marketing automation market represents around $4.8 billion in 2015. Marketing automation is related to many different areas of marketing; such as email marketing, social marketing, analytics, customer relationship management, lead management, and more. It allows to dedicate human resources to other more important, non- repeatable tasks. One of the other big trend in marketing is content marketing. Content marketing has become necessary for brands, whether they are startups of not. Content is created by brands to 6 Marketo Inc. makes marketing automation software for companies. In 2012, Marketo was ranked 78th on the Inc. 500, #7 among software companies, and #1 among marketing software companies. 7 Extracted from What is Marketing Automation by marketo.com. 8 International Data Corporation (IDC), an American market research, analysis and advisory firm, specializes in information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology.
  10. 10. 6 add value to the product(s) or service(s) they already provide. But good content, is also content that gets shared, so brands adapt their content to their target market and try to provide content that will be shared to gain maximum exposure at minimum cost. Marketing content can take a written form such as blogs, eBooks, guides and whitepapers, but can also be audio and video such as podcasts, videos, webinars, and other formats: infographics, events, presentations, side apps (projects), and much more. Blogs can be a great way to deliver information and other types of content to customers, as well as potential customers. Growth hacks that have been developed around were principally made to increase traffic to blog articles and to increase the number of blog newsletter subscribers. Common hacks are to have popup windows calling to subscribe to the newsletter when you read an article, but the most recent and that have spread across many blogs in tech, is the popup that appears when the visitor is about to leave the page. The webpage tracks the mouse movements and when it gets close to the top bar to change tab for example, it will automatically show a popup with a call to action to make visitors subscribe to the newsletter. Content marketing and specifically blogging also is an SEO tactic, to increase natural referencing and drive traffic to your blog, site and product or service. The use of key words, backlinks, and other techniques Blogging can also be a great way to gain legitimacy towards your audience, by inviting or interviewing guests that are thought leaders in the specific industry or field. This will bring valuable information and increase awareness as well as legitimacy to the blog, the brand, and ultimately the product. Using thought leaders influence can also be used in other media, podcasts and videos are great, although videos require more time and resources than blogging or podcasting. But content marketing is just the means to drive attention and traffic towards the brand and product. It is a component of inbound marketing, or “pull” marketing. Inbound marketing is every marketing activity that, “involves getting found by customers rather than pushing messages out to them. It involves content marketing, search engine optimization, and social- media marketing.”9 Inbound or “pull” marketing has become a norm as well, but not only in the startup ecosystem or tech industry. All brands are embracing it. 9 Extracted from Inbound marketing: The customer finds you, by Dev Basu.
  11. 11. 7 1.2. The Definition of Growth Hacking Growth hacking does not have a definition by consensus. Some influencers attempt to define it but people are still divided on what growth hacking actually means. We will attempt to clarify what growth hacking is and what are the main topics that divides. 1.2.1. Natural Definition To define growth hacking, we should first define the two words that compose the term. Growth is defined by dictionary.com as: “the act or process, or a manner of growing; development; gradual increase.” Wikipedia defines growth as follows: “Growth refers to a positive change in size, often over a period of time. Growth can occur as a stage of maturation or a process toward fullness or fulfillment. It can also perpetuate endlessly.” Now let’s define the family of terms hacking, hack or hacker. Dictionary.com defines hack as: “to modify (a computer program or electronic device) or write (a program) in a skillful or clever way: Developers have hacked the app” and “to circumvent security and break into (a network, computer, file, etc.), usually with malicious intent.” At this point, a possible definition could then be: “modifying in a skillful or clever way, the act or process of development and gradual increase.” That definition comes close to what growth hacking is, but lacks certain aspects of what the term implies. 1.2.2. Controversy The term hacker is much more complicated, and is subject to controversy. Hacker also refers to a subculture that emerged in the 1960s in universities such as MIT. A hacker is “one who enjoys the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming and circumventing limitations of programming systems and who tries to extend their capabilities”10 . Richard Stallman11 defined hacking as follows: “Hacking entails some form of excellence, for example exploring the limits of what is possible”12 . 10 Gehring, Verna (2004). The Internet In Public Life. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 43–56. 11 Richard Stallman is an iconic software freedom activist, founder of the Free Software Foundation, and computer programmer. 12 Extracted from Stallman.org. (2015). On Hacking
  12. 12. 8 A hacker can therefore be considered as a driven individual looking to push a system to its limits, and potentially expanding its capabilities, through creativity. But the term hacker can also refer to what the previously hacker subculture call a “cracker”. It refers to the computer criminals that are “able to subvert computer security; if doing so for malicious purposes”13 . This can is also commonly referred to as “black hat” hacking, as opposed to “white hat” hacking. Growth hacking is also controversial. It is a new way to do marketing, and growth hacker push the limits of the channels that drives the most growth, but can also do “black hat” growth hacking. Some growth hackers will be on the lookout for system weaknesses that they can exploit to their benefit. Other growth hacker will try to drive growth on others back. Aaron Ginn 14 defines a growth hacker as: “one whose passion and focus is pushing a metric through use of a testable and scalable methodology”.15 Technopedia defines a growth hacker as: “an IT professional who uses elements of marketing and market research, along with technology and technical strategies, to provide marketing solutions to clients or employers”. The simple fact is that there is no fixed definition of what growth hacking really is, and many influencers and thought leaders share their vision and definition of what growth hacking is or what a growth hacker is. There is no consensus and therefore some diverted views arose. For some people, a growth hacker must have coding skills, while other people prone that growth hacking is more of a mindset than a set of skills. Most agree that growth hacking is at the cross roads between product, marketing and data science. But some people think that it’s just a buzz word that does not mean or changes anything from more traditional marketing, especially digital marketing. 13 Extracted from Wikipedia. (2015). Hacker (term) 14 Aaron Ginn held growth positions including StumbleUpon and Mitt Romney’s election campaign. 15 Extraced from Aaron Ginn (2015). What is a growth hacker?
  13. 13. 9 1.3. Growth Hacking Ecosystem Since growth hacking takes its roots from the lean startup, which is dedicated to high tech startups, growth hacking also is deeply tied to this ecosystem. We will analyze why and how growth hacking is a part of the startup ecosystem and of the technological ecosystem. 1.3.1. Startup Ecosystem Growth Hacking was born in startups, because of their needs to develop quickly in order to survive. Now startups have embraced growth hacking. Startups need to implement growth hacking techniques in order to not only grow, but differentiate from the competition. They need to access market quickly and to grow their user base. Depending on the kind of funding, and on their own objectives, startups can focus either on growing their user base, or attempt to become profitable as early as possible. But growth hacking does have a prerequisite: the product market fit. When a startup as attained product market fit, then it can start using growth hacking to attract and retain users. “Product/market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market” according to Marc Andreessen, who first introduced the term. Startups and growth hacking share many values. For example, they share risk taking. Both rely on innovative ways to address a specific issue or need. They also share the “fail fast” mindset under which it is better to make tests and be ready to fail fast so other tests can be implemented, and so on, until something positive eventually come out of it. 1.3.2. Technological Ecosystem Growth hacking’s goal is to optimize the sales funnel, which for high tech startups is referred to as pirate metrics: AARRR, which stands for the Acquisition, Activation (sometimes Adoption), Retention, Referral, and Revenue. Acquisition, which is the process of driving traffic to your website, and getting those visitors to sign up for your product, often in form of free trial. In order to drive traffic and encourage signup, many tactics can be developed, including SEO (search Engine Optimization), Public Relations (through press releases), SMO (Social Media Optimization), Content Marketing, Business Development, Newsletters, Guest posts, Referrals, Free trial etc…
  14. 14. 10 Activation is the second step, and consists of converting those new users into active users, making them come back multiple times and make them understand the added value. Techniques to boost activation are on-boarding, which is a crucial step, which explains how to use the application at the first sign in. It will help users to identify the added value brought by the application and can determine whether or not a user will use the app actively or not. It can take the form of a video or of a guide, but is most effective when takes the form of in-app actions to be done by the visitor to interact directly with the application. Activation can also be increased by newsletters, content marketing, screencasts, lead nurturing, blank states, and social. Retention is the state where users have adopted the product, and eventually consider using your product after the free trial period is over, therefore purchasing it. This step must be qualified, and can achieved by the same techniques than activation, because the goal is the same: make users come back to use your product. Referral is crucial in order to develop organic growth and can lead to exponential growth when perfected. We will see example later on. In this step, users use and love the product, and want to share the benefits with their peers. Techniques to push referral are incentives and loyalty programs, making the product easy to share, embeds and hyperlinks for better shared content. Revenue is the ultimate step to the AARRR pirate metrics, and consists of turning users into paying users. They become customers. This step can be achieved by offering discounts, annual plans, up-sells and cross-sells, offering guarantees and support, as well as pushing scarcity, via limited time offers, or limited time signups. Each step of the AARRR must be based on visitors/users/customers actions. Therefore, each key actions must be tracked in order to qualify each lead, follow performances, and therefore making adjustments that would add value to the funnel. Those actions can differ depending on many elements, such as the type of product, the product itself, the targeted users, and much more. The growth hacking sales funnel is actually a cycle, where startups need to constantly tweak and fine tune each step of the process to maximize results, and growth. Once users are turned into customers, a new challenge begins, making them stay your customers. Tools to track these AARRR metrics have multiplied over the last few years. Another point that characterizes growth hacking as tailored for the technological ecosystem is that growth hacks have been built upon APIs. An API or application programming
  15. 15. 11 interface is “a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. An API expresses a software component in terms of its operations, inputs, outputs, and underlying types.”16 In other words, APIs, and especially public APIs, allow external programs to interact or communicate with the original application. Most popular API integrations are from the social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, which both opened their APIs so that other applications could interact with them directly. The Spotify and Facebook hack is a great example. Spotify used Facebook API to push publications to users’ profile, sharing what music they were listening to. It was also used to push notifications from Facebook into Spotify. APIs are a great way to connect with other applications and provide significant growth when used in social media. But can become dangerous as APIs are subject to changes, if a product is too heavily reliant on a specific API, it could become fatal, as it happened with Twitter. Companies were building products on Twitter APIs and when the API changed to reduce the amount of communications allowed, the companies died out.17 1.4. Case Studies In order to illustrate what growth hacking is, how it is done, and the potential results from implementing it into organizations, we will now present some case studies. First we will mention a few of the iconic case studies, which are known by every growth hacker, then we will illustrate how growth hacking is tied to the pirate metrics with less notorious case studies for each stage of the funnel. 1.4.1. Iconic case studies The first iconic case study we are going to review is the first growth hack - though the term did not exist yet. Back in 1996, Hotmail was one of the first companies to provide free email service, but it was not the only one at the time. But Hotmail did something that is now qualified as a growth hack, to go from 20,000 users after one month after launching to one million users within six months. One of the investors of Hotmail, Tim Draper, suggested to add a tagline at the end of each sent email: “P.S.: I love you. Get free e-mail at Hotmail”. That 16 Wikipedia,. (2015). Application programming interface. 17 Neil Patel & Bronson (2015). The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking.
  16. 16. 12 generated free advertisement for every sent e-mail from the already twenty thousand users. By December 1997, Hotmail had 10 million users and was acquired by Microsoft for $400 million. Another iconic case study is the YouTube and Myspace embed hack. MySpace was in 2005 the most popular social networking platform. YouTube decided to focus their efforts on that audience and network power. They developed the capability to embed YouTube videos to MySpace, making them easier to share and to view. This gave a massive boost to YouTube, which then got acquired by Google. Dropbox’s referral program is also an iconic hack all growth hackers know about. Dropbox launched its referral program in 2010, when Sean Ellis, the creator of the term growth hacker was head of growth. The hack was to give free storage space for each friends invited to use Dropbox. Not only was it cheaper to provide extra storage than to pay for advertisement, but referral is also much better at converting than paid ads, mainly because of the trustworthiness. The results of this hack are impressive. In 15 months they went from one hundred thousand users to 4 million. The last iconic growth hack we will list here is the AirBnB and Craigslist hack. AirBnB made it possible for hosts to post their apartments on Craigslist, which had a much larger user base. This had two effects, it made the service more popular because it gained visibility, and made properties booked more often, therefore making the service better for users. Those iconic hacks are the most popular growth hacks. Even though they are focused on acquisition, growth hacking can, and should, take place at every stage of the sales funnel, or AARRR pirate metrics. 1.4.2. Other examples Here we will list one growth hack for every stages of the sales funnel. Those growth hacks are not as well-known as the iconic growth hacks previously mentioned, but have their value and can provide good example of out of the box thinking for each pirate metric. Acquisition stage: A simple trick to grow a launch list 18 is to make the launch list accessible only after sharing the application with other people. To push even further, the more 18 An email database of potential customers before product is launched.
  17. 17. 13 one shares the higher in the list one gets. This enables viral sharing, but works only if the product fulfills a specific need and is targeted to the right customer. Activation stage: In order to activate users, it is crucial to have an onboarding stage, which is used to educate new users to the application and how to use it. But, when users sign up for an app, they do not necessarily want to read lots of text and explanation, they usually want to play around with the application. Setting a progress bar can show them how long the onboarding process is, and when short can make them more patient than they would be without the reassurance that they can play around with the application shortly. Another great activation stage hack was Dropbox, which gave away free storage to each user that went through the whole onboarding process. Retention stage: Recently most startups and already established technological companies started rolling out their NPS. NPS stands for Net promoter Score, and consist of asking users whether they would recommend the product to their friends or colleagues, providing a ten point scale from extremely likely to not likely at all. But this is where it become interesting. It allows app makers to reach out to users who filled out the form, with specific messages depending on the answer (the score given). For example if one user scored a seven, as likely to recommend the product, a good way to retain that user would be to ask him which extra features they would like to see implemented. Referral stage: The referral stage is critical in order to achieve natural growth. A clear and rewarding referral program should be developed and implemented. But another way to user referral is through influencers - more particularly bloggers. Offering free plans to bloggers can be an incentive for them to write a review of a product or service. Bloggers that belong to a niche close to the targeted customer is essential. For example, HitTail, provided free plans to bloggers who wrote a review of their app. Revenue stage: Revenue is the most important stage. It is where users become customers, and start paying for the product or service provided. A way to increase revenue is to provide different types of plans or prices. The service or product should be adapted for each plan, but making a plan stick out as most valuable could bring more revenue to the business.
  18. 18. 14 1.5. The Growth Hacking Process There is no single true growth hacking process, rather, growth hacker develop their own processes and fine-tuned them with time and experience. As Ryan Holiday states in his book: “As I interviewed and read about the dozens of growth hackers whose many insights […], I noticed that each one had used an almost entirely different set of tactics than the others. Some had relied on viral features; others leaned more heavily on product and optimization. Some were expert e-mail marketers, while others knew how to use platforms and APIs to reach equally large amounts of people.” 19 The following growth hacking process is the highly inspired by presentations by Brian Balfour and Sean Ellis at 500 Startup conferences. Balfour is VP of growth at HubSpot, and his growth hacking process is not only performant – HubSpot had an IPO for the NYSE in 2014 – but also aligns perfectly with the growth hacking mindset. 1.5.1. Key Elements Growth hacking is a process. This process is built to make growth hacking a continuous effort towards the goal of achieving growth. Brian Balfour wrote a blogpost 20 and made a speech at a growth conference about how Hubspot built their “growth machine”. Balfour recommends growth hackers to “stop looking for tactics first, and start focusing on establishing a growth process”. His reasons why building a process first are that growth is a sum of small actions, and that there is no miracle “hack” that will bring exponential growth right away. Also changes happen much faster than ever before, and in the digital world, that is confirmed with Google and Facebook algorithms changes that can have drastic effects on businesses, by the constant apparition of new channels and extinction of others. Finally Balfour states that you cannot simply copy other companies successful “hacks” or tactics because every business is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. In order to be successful, the growth process should be scalable, predictable, and repeatable. It should be accepted by all and followed thoroughly in order to become effective over time. 19 Ryan Holiday (2014). Growth Hacker Marketing 20 Balfour, B. (2014). The First Step To Building A Growth Machine.
  19. 19. 15 According to Balfour, a good process should have some key elements: 1. Set high goals on the right growth channels 2. A structure to generate ideas and experiments 3. Prioritize the ideas and experiments 4. Design these ideas and experiments efficiently 5. Analyze every experiment 6. Share learnings across teams and implementing them back into the experiments lists. The first goal of this process is to set a rhythm, in order to establish a cadence of experiments to keep failing and making small wins that will drive growth into the business. The second goal is continuous learning of the product, the customers and the channels from the results of experiments in order to stimulate idea generation, and eventually finding successful experiments and tactics toward growth. The third goal is autonomy, so that individuals decide which experiments they work on and how they execute it. The fourth and final goal is accountability. Each team member should be accountable to learn and improve overtime in order to become more successful as the team builds collective intelligence. 1.5.2. Goal Setting The first step of the building the process is to establish a set of goals. Balfour explains that his team at Hubspot uses the OKR framework21 , which stands for Objectives and Key Results to establish goals that will bring the most immediate and biggest impact on growth. The objective should be a qualitative statement, and have a timeframe between: 30 to 90 days. Then three key results, which are quantitative measurements, are set and structured by order of difficulty, such as follows: 21 This framework was first introduced at Intel. Made mainstream and popular by being used all across Google. Loved by many tech and mainstream companies from startups and SMEs to Fortune 500. OKR users include Twitter, Sears, LinkedIn, Oracle, Zynga and many others.
  20. 20. 16 ● KR1: measurable Goal 1 (Hit 90% of the time) ● KR2: measurable Goal 1 (Hit 50% of the time) ● KR3: measurable Goal 1 (Hit 10% of the time) Achieving too many key results three can mean that objectives are not set aggressively enough while achieving too little key results one can mean the opposite. They are a good way to adjust objective setting across goals. Sean Ellis’ approach to goal setting was based on the number of experiments performed each week. His presentation around high tempo testing revolved around the fact that the more you test, the more you can accomplish. The second step of building the process is the actual process. Which consists of the following steps: 1.5.3. Documentation A critical point of making this process successful is to build and maintain documentation around key steps of the process: A backlog should be kept to structure all of the ideas of experiments and to prioritize them. This document should be available to everyone working on the product in order to have generate ideas from all areas of the team. Ideally the document enables to score ideas based on
  21. 21. 17 different elements; Ellis recommends using and ICE score which is the mean of three individual scores given to each idea over a scale of ten based on the Impact the experiment could provide, the Confidence of positive results, and Ease of implementation. A pipeline is a log of the all previously ran experiments with their highlighted results, as well as the experiments currently running. This is a great document team members can refer to see the evolution of growth through these experiments. The experiment document is generated for each ran experiment which refers the objectives, hypothesis, design, results, analysis and learnings from a specific experiment. This will allow to think about all elements of the experiment beforehand and to refer to for iteration if successful. The playbooks documents are step by step guides that states how successful experiments should be implemented and repeated. 1.5.4. The 5 steps of the Growth Hacking process Brian Balfour’s presentation of the growth hacking process at HubSpot was composed of six different steps, while Sean Ellis’ was composed of four steps. Both processes included weekly team meeting where team members would share the results of their experiments and learn from each other that way. We feel that five steps are better to explain and implement. 1.5.4.1. Step one: Brainstorming The first step of the growth hacking process is brainstorming. In order to facilitate brainstorming, it is important to brainstorm on the inputs instead of the outputs. This means that if a team wants to increase a specific part of their sales funnel, they should break that part down into smaller parts and brainstorm on those to have more successful idea generation. The Innovators solution recommends four ways to generate ideas. The first is to observe. Observation of specific part of the sales funnel of other non-similar products to get inspiration from and adapt. Another way to brainstorm effectively is through questioning: brainstorm as many questions as possible - why, what, what ifs, what abouts etc… This allows to reveal the areas
  22. 22. 18 where there is a lack of knowledge, and search for answers that will generate new ideas for that specific area. Association can provide good brainstormed ideas. This consists of connecting dots between unrelated things. Finally, in order to generate ideas, networking is extremely useful. Exchanging ideas and thoughts with growth minded people can bring new perspectives. Other ways to generated ideas can also be used, such as making everyone accountable for growth in the organization and encourage and rewarding idea generation. Ideas can be scored as previously mentioned to for easier prioritizing; 1.5.4.2. Step two: Prioritizing The second step after brainstorming is to prioritize the experiments. Prioritizing should take three elements into consideration: the probability of success, the impact of implementation if successful and the amount of resources needed for experiment and implementation. The impact is the most important element, and should be hypothesized as such: “If successful, (variable) will increase by (impact), because (assumptions)”. In order to justify assumptions, previous data can be examined such as the quantitative (previous experiments, funnel data, etc), qualitative (surveys, support, user testing, etc) and secondary data (networking, blogs, competitors, etc.). Balfour explains that at Hubspot, they tend to take decisions according to the required amount of resources, by doing the experiments with low needs of resources first in order to make more experiments, and build on the generated growth. Ellis shared that they try to balance experiments that require many resources and experiments that requires little resources. 1.5.4.3. Step three: Designing and testing The third step of the process is to test the experiment. A minimum viable test should be designed, and experiment document written to understand and get data around the hypothesis. This step is crucial in managing resources. If changes are implemented on the incentives that affects behaviors rather than changing a whole process or part of the product or funnel, that makes the test implementation and execution is much faster and easier to analyze. Then the minimum viable test should be implemented.
  23. 23. 19 1.5.4.4. Step four: Analyzing The fourth step is to analyze the results of the experiment. Three aspects should be emphasized: the impact, the accuracy and the reasons why. The impact of the experiment is the data extracted from the implementation. The accuracy is how close the actual results were compared to the hypothesized results. The reasons why is the most important aspect of the analysis, it helps understand things about customers, channel, funnel and product. It leads to iteration and new ideas. Those results and learnings should be integrated in the experiment document along with the action items. 1.5.4.5. Step five: Systemizing The fifth step is to systematize. Once an experiment as proven successful, productize as much as possible with technology and engineering, so that it becomes an automated process. When it cannot be automated, create a playbook as a step by step guide to make these process repeatable with minimum effort. 1.5.5. Repeat & iteration After the process is finished, repeat the whole process, from brainstorming to systematizing, over and over, accumulating knowledge and constantly feeding the backlog for new experiments, and constantly brainstorming new ideas. After the OKR period is over, an analysis over the results of experiments that have been performed during that time period should be conducted. Taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture is necessary to find where is the next focus, to then dive back into that OKR. This allows the team to focus on one aspect of the product or funnel for a period of time so that everyone to focus on one goal. Macro optimization is conducted quarterly at HubSpot, and looks at three things: the batting average, the accuracy and the throughput. The batting average is a ratio of successes over failures. This allows to see if the ratio is improving over time.
  24. 24. 20 The accuracy is also reviewed. Are the hypotheses getting more accurate over time? This step should be particularly done when working on your most important channels. Throughput is looking at the process output - how many experiments - and how it can be improved. Three ways to improve the throughput is to improve the process, to improve the team or improve the tools and instrumentation. 1.6. Growth Hacking relationship with other disciplines Growth hacking is a new discipline that is at the cross roads between product, marketing and data science. We are now going to analyze the similarities and differences between growth hacking and analytics, big data, marketing, product development, and marketing research. 1.6.1. Analytics Growth hacking is deeply tied to analytics, whether that’s nosiness analytics, web analytics, or predictive analytics. Growth hacking uses analytics in order to take decisions, increase learning, conduct tests and experimentations, as well as optimizing efforts and budget for maximum desired effects. Not all growth hacker are analytical experts, but all growth hacker must know how to analyze data in the way that fits their goals, usually growing the user base. Brian Balfour, VP of Growth hat HubSpot, and a growth hacking influencer, recommends growth hacker to read Lean analytics by Alistair Croll and Ben Yoskovitz, who describe their book as follows: “The core idea behind Lean Analytics is this: by knowing the kind of business you are, and the stage you’re at, you can track and optimize the One Metric That Matters to your startup right now.” 1.6.2. Big Data Analytics and big data are intrinsically linked together. Big data analytics is the process of applying analytics to big data, allowing companies to analyze structured and unstructured data in order to find valuable information and insights for business decision making. "Big Data represents the Information assets characterized by such a High Volume, Velocity and Variety
  25. 25. 21 to require specific Technology and Analytical Methods for its transformation into Value"22 . Big data enables, through complex process, to make predictions based on past data, as well as deep learning. Predictive analytics can provide useful to growth hackers, but is very complex, and is very much a discipline of itself, that is based on modeling, machine learning and data mining techniques, and therefore is not applied in growth hacking. The main difference is, where big data and predictive analytics rely on a large amount of data, growth hacking relies on small amounts of data. Experiments must be performed at a fast pace and do not last long enough to have big amounts of data. However, the multiplication of experiments at a fast pace can become a large amount of data, but will be very diverse, and therefore hard to exploit. 1.6.3. Marketing Growth hacking is marketing by definition because its goal is to increase growth, which is marketing related. Growth hacking also encompasses many marketing techniques to achieve its goal: social media marketing, customer behavior, content marketing, copywriting, digital marketing, marketing affiliation, sales, and other marketing techniques and disciplines. Growth hacking is a sub-discipline of marketing, and its analytical and experimentation approach makes it a good decision making tool for marketing. 1.6.4. Product Development Growth hacking is also linked with product development because it directly affects the product. Part of growth hacking is developing and optimizing all marketing actions that affect product activation, retention, revenue generation and social referral, within the product. The ultimate goal is that the product distribute itself, known as organic growth. In order to do that, growth hacker need to be product focused, experiment on the product and implement successful tests. This is partly why some believe that growth hacker need to have coding skills, in order to fully understand the product and make experimentations on their own, but that is only viable for digital product such as web and mobile applications. 22 De Mauro, Andrea; Greco, Marco; Grimaldi, Michele (2015). "What is big data? A consensual definition and a review of key research topics". AIP Conference Proceedings 1644: 97–104
  26. 26. 22 1.6.5. Marketing Research Though taking decisions based on data is not new in marketing. Marketing research have been a good decision making tool for marketing executives in many aspects. Marketing research is "the process or set of processes that links the consumers, customers, and end users to the marketer through information — information used to identify and define marketing opportunities and problems; generate, refine, and evaluate marketing actions; monitor marketing performance; and improve understanding of marketing as a process. Marketing research specifies the information required to address these issues, designs the method for collecting information, manages and implements the data collection process, analyzes the results, and communicates the findings and their implications.” It generally gathers either quantitative or qualitative data that are then analyzed for decision making process. Market analysis are also used in traditional marketing to monitor performances, and improve performance. Merchandising in retail stores is a good example; it uses previous performance of all products in a given shelf, in form of data. This data is processed in a multitude of calculations based on many elements including quantitative objectives for this given shelf. This newly generated data is then analyze to make assumptions and try experiments based on those assumptions. The results are then analyzed and the cycle goes on. This process is similar than the growth hacking process, except that it is spread out through time in order to have value. Where the growth hacking mindset is disruptive, however, is that growth hacking will generate as much data as possible, from every aspect of the product, channels, customers, and all other external variables that are relevant. The accumulation of data and knowledge is key in order to make better assumptions, better tests and better results, achieving higher growth. Even though companies also accumulate data bases of past performance results from their previous tests, they generally are limited in the number of data that can be exploited because of the cost variation. The more data a study generated, the higher the cost. Companies are looking for cost efficient studies where only primarily and directly goal related data are gathered. Growth hacking on the opposite gathers as much data as possible from every aspects as possible in order to connect unrelated dots.
  27. 27. 23 1.7. The characteristics of Growth Hackers Growth hackers can come from various backgrounds, whether that’s marketing, technical or analytical backgrounds. But all growth hacker share a few characteristics. First, they all share the growth hacking mindset, they are T-shaped and specialize in one or two specific areas. They embrace failure and use failure to learn and aren’t afraid of trying unconventional techniques. Finally, growth hacker can be whitehat or blackhat, or a bit of both. 1.7.1. The Growth Hacking Mindset Ryan Holiday, author of Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising, dedicated his book to describe the Growth hacking mindset. He believes that Andrew Chen definition of growth hacking mindset is the best: “A tech startup doesn’t want awareness. It wants users, customers, clients. A growth hacker’s job is to hack that growth together, through any means possible: A/B tests, landing pages, viral factor, email and open graph.”23 Sean Ellis gives his own version of what the mindset is: “A growth hacker’s true North is growth. It’s a way of looking at your business that’s both creative and highly analytical to identify opportunities that will really move the needle.”24 To sum this up, growth hacking is the mindset of looking at growth from a new perspective, through an analytical lens, and in a creative way. Growth hacking has a clear emphasis on analytics. Neil Patel & Bronson wrote that “Analytics is the blood that flows through the veins of growth hacker.” That parallel accentuate the place that analytics hold in growth hacking. Growth hackers should track and analyze as many metrics as possible in order to orient their assumptions and to have a knowledge base for implementing tests and comparing results. Analytics allows growth hacker to make better decisions, based on actual data rather than gut feelings and emotions. It also allows to calculate ROI25 much more effectively. Ryan Holiday, author of Growth Hacker Marketing, states in his book: “Whereas marketing was once brand based, with growth hacking it becomes metric and ROI driven.” Another benefit of analytics is that it makes successes repeatable, and failures easily identified. Finally, analytics 23 Holiday, R. (2013). The 5 Phases of Growth Hacking. Mashable. 24 Ellis, S. (2013). Finding Growth By Changing Your Mindset. Entrepreneur. 25 ROI : Return on Investment is the benefit (return) of an investment is divided by the cost of the investment; the result is expressed as a percentage or a ratio.
  28. 28. 24 will highlight trends that will help make prediction and therefore better strategic decisions, whether they are based on product or market analytics. The new mindset that Growth Hacking has introduced is the data-driven mindset, applied to marketing. 1.7.2. Growth hackers should be T-shaped When the term was first introduced, growth hacking was referring to marketers with engineering skills, or engineers with marketing skills. The point was that these people could see marketing opportunities from the technical point of view and execute hacks to take advantage of those opportunities. Today, there is still debate about whether a growth hacker should have technical skills, especially since there are so many tools available, but the T-shape analogy is consistent. 26 The T-shape analogy refers to having a wide range of general knowledge – the top of the T – and a few skills of expertise. For Brian Balfour, a growth hacker should have a wide base knowledge layer, being familiar with many different aspects of growth hacking, a solid marketing foundation, and expertise on one or two specific channels. This specialization is 26 Image extracted from Balfour, B. (2013). How To Become A Customer Acquisition Expert.
  29. 29. 25 necessary because the field of marketing is too broad, channels are too complex for one person to be an expert in all of them, and changes too fast to keep up to date on too many of them. Of course, T-shaped growth hackers ideal when companies know which channels to focus on, and can therefore hire experts in those fields to have the highest impact. However, in early startup life, having more generalists growth hackers can be a better choice. One growth hacker could be enough, and have more variety of ideas. 1.7.3. Failure is an option Growth hacking is characterized by risk taking. This is because it roots from the startup ecosystem where new companies have to imperatively find growth very quickly, and therefore are ready to make mistakes, as long as they learn from them. The growth hacking process also allows for mistakes and failures, because failures are a very good way to learn what went wrong. Failures are a part of growth hacking, and iteration and perseveration will turn failures into successes. As Sean Ellis put it; “Since most growth ideas fail, it becomes critical to test a lot of them. The faster you can hack together an idea, the sooner you can start testing it for some signs of life.”27 1.7.4. Black hat vs white hat** The controversy around the term “hacker” is based on growth hackers’ activities. Two opposites can be identified, “black hat” and “white hat” growth hackers. This term is also applied to SEO techniques for example. Blackhat activities are activities that are considered illegal, unfair, or unethical. Blackhat growth hacking can take the form of spam emails or sms, fake reviews on app stores and other linking SEO tactics. As Sarah Perez put it: “Of course, the pursuit of viral growth is not a new thing – many of the best companies have worked to improve user engagement, user growth and search rankings, for years. But today’s startups are sometimes walking a fine line between this so-called ‘growth hacking,’ and just plain ol’ hacking, consequences be damned.” 27 Sean Ellis (2015). Growth Hacking is for Smart Marketers – Not Just Startups.
  30. 30. 26 Many growth hacking techniques could be considered on the line between white and black hat, between ethical and unethical. For example, AirBnB hack to fuel growth via Craigslist can be considered black hat, yet it allowed AirBnB to grow and become the multi- billion dollar company it is today. Other examples are what is called scraping websites. Growth hackers use their coding skills to find breaches into websites in order to extract information they deem valuable, such as email addresses. LinkedIn is particularly known for this vulnerability. Growth hacking in startups is likely to be borderline, whereas growth hacking for well established brands or companies would probably be less risky. 1.8. Managerial Implications Growth hacking is a disruptive discipline, at the intersection between multiple other disciplines, and therefore implies managerial implications. Organizational structure, leadership model, empowerment and freedom, as well as risk are elements to be considered before implementing growth hacking anywhere. 1.8.1. Organizational structure The organizational structure is probably one of the most impactful element on the implementation of growth hacking. Of course, the structure depends on the size of the organization, as well as its activity, industry and goals. Because there are so many different types of organizational structure, and that we cannot cover all of them, let’s focus on the structure around a single product, because growth hacking revolves around the product. As mentioned before growth hacking is the convergence of product development, marketing, and data science. In order to succeed, growth hacking must be in direct relation with the teams already working on these areas. Communication and collaboration between all parties are of the upmost importance in order to generate the greatest possible collective knowledge base and learn from each other. Sharing ideas is an integrated part of the process, and cannot happen if communication and collaboration are not encouraged.
  31. 31. 27 1.8.2. Leadership model Because growth hacking require failure in order to progress, old traditional leadership models that punish failure will not be efficient, and will even be counterproductive. This kind of leadership will since it will neutralize the will and ability to experiment novel ideas that might have positive impact. Leadership must fully understand and embrace the characteristics of growth hacking and encourage the whole organization to disrupt their point of view and to include a marketing aspect in their own day to day work. This is how growth hacking can become a culture, by encourage everyone in the organization to consider growing the user base, via sharing ideas and thoughts. But growth hacking is also mostly about getting results. Leadership should provide appropriate resources for goal achievement and monitor results. 1.8.3. Empowerment and freedom Growth hackers need to be empowered to have real influence on the product and the marketing, first in order to make tests and experimentations, and then for implementing the most performant ones. Not only do they have to be empowered, they have to feel empowered for them to feel more confident about their experimentations and to try the ideas that they would otherwise not dare experiment on. They need to be able to have significant impact on the product, when the changes drive the desired end result, growth. Freedom is also crucial, as a lot of growth hacking is based on creativity. Growth hackers need to be able to try and test even the most unconventional ideas to at least learn from them and feed their knowledge to allow iteration and optimization. 1.8.4. Risk Growth hacking implies taking risks. Because growth hacking originates from the startup ecosystem, it is in its core to take risks, as startup must do in order to survive. Managers must encourage risk taking from growth hacker in order to try experiments that are innovative and therefore risky. Some growth hacking techniques can be more risky than others, for example spammy growth hacking can harm rather than achieve growth. Growth hacking implies taking risks. Because growth hacking originates from the startup ecosystem, it is in its core to take risks, as startup must do in order to survive. Managers
  32. 32. 28 must encourage risk taking from growth hacker in order to try experiments that are innovative and therefore risky. Some growth hacking techniques can be more risky than others, for example spammy growth hacking can harm rather than achieve growth. 1.9. Expanding Growth Hacking beyond high tech-startups Growth hacking is a mindset and can therefore be applied outside of its birth place: the high-tech startups. Growth hacking can first expand beyond startups into other high tech organizations, and later expand to every other industry and organization. When Sean Ellis defined growth hacking, he added that growth hacking is an approach to marketing that can be used regardless of the organization: “A growth hacker’s true North is growth. It’s a way of looking at your business that’s both creative and highly analytical to identify opportunities that will really move the needle. This is why, regardless of the position you hold, your background, or the size of your company, with the right mindset and approach, you too can hack your business’s growth.”28 He also wrote: “Growth hacking was born out of startups, but it is something that every smart marketer should embrace”29 But while growth hacking remains heavily associated with startups and the technological industry, its principles can be used in other types of organizations and in other industries. IBM implemented growth hacking, by creating “a digital lab made up of the new hybrid marketer and only with […] marketers who understand UX, metrics and code and engineers who understand marketing” with the help of Geoffrey Colon. He goes on by explaining the process of implementing a small team: “That’s how Growth Hacking is going to be adopted in a larger company. Get a few rabid folks internally to use it, show the results and spread the message. It’s how any movement spreads.” with the help of Geoffrey Colon. His thinking is that implementing growth hacking in a non-startup company requires to start small and show the results, before implementing it organization wide: “My main goal now is to show what we’re doing or can do with this one product and then try to spread that to the whole company. It’s not easy and it requires a lot of education.” In this case, Colon is talking about implementing growth hacking at Microsoft, on his own initiative: "Microsoft didn’t hire me and say, ‘be the 28 Ellis, Sean (2013). Finding Growth By Changing Your Mindset. Entrepreneur. 29 Ellis, Sean (2015). Growth Hacking is for Smart Marketers – Not Just Startups. Startup-marketing.com.
  33. 33. 29 resident growth hacker.’ I am just going to do it. Because that’s what you do in this new world. You move fast and ask for forgiveness later. Especially if you’re not spending much or any money to drive amazing results." This teaches us that growth hacking will most likely be implemented by growth hackers without requesting approval. Of course, companies that identify the opportunity will be looking to implement growth hacking. But Colon believes that multinationals will be implementing growth hacking in the near future: “I think we’ll actually see more growth hacking now in traditional organizations like a P&G, Kraft or Coca-Cola. […]I do think Growth Hacking is on that point in the marketing ecosystem where if a Fortune 100 company like Microsoft is wanting to adopt the practice, it’s going to tip to many other larger orgs not in tech soon." But in order to successfully implement growth hacking, freedom is necessary: "I think growth hacking works best if the barriers are removed. If someone says, ‘we’re going to put all good ideas into action,’ you’re in a good place." Educating the people in charge of those companies is also crucial "What traditional orgs need to understand is that you make a case by experimenting, pivoting or persevering. Your plan is a template but one that is changing all the time […] That’s why the most agile corporations will do best to adopt it." Colon also shared his views on the future of growth hacking: "I see the Growth Hacker role really evolving to the point it is a hybrid role in the next 10 years. […] In 10 years we’ll only see Growth Hackers as the main marketers because there won’t be a need for traditional organizational marketers." An interesting point was raised by Colon, regarding the digitalization of all companies: "You’re not going to have ‘traditional marketing’ live much longer in my opinion because even mainstream product companies that produce soda or soap are digital. They sell through digital experiences.” In his opinion, all products will become digital, and that means that they will be able to drive growth from social networks, and other growth hacking focuses. But Colon thinks that growth hacking “works best when it’s in a social business or startup environment.” 30 30 Chris Conrey. (2014). Is Growth Hacking only for Startups? Not so fast….
  34. 34. 30 1.10. Limits of Growth Hacking Growth hacking is not perfect, and has its limits. We will elaborate on the main limits of growth hacking identified, the research of virility and attaining sustainable growth. Growth hacking relies on organic growth to increase user base at a low cost. Organic growth comes from users talking about your product/service to other people. But growth hacking also tries to force virality, and to push referral techniques to make their market talk about their solution. One of the drawbacks of virality is that it does not provide long lasting growth. It does provide a high burst of growth that can last a few days. But all leads might not be of quality, and therefore this viral bubble will hurt conversion and retention numbers: “Sure, growth is good. But only if it’s real growth. If it’s a marketing campaign that goes viral and wins you a bunch of one-time “users,” it can actually do more harm than good.” 31 If the product is not able to convert, retain and turn into referrals those users, the boost from virality will be for nothing. The limits of growth hacking are the limits of the product. Only the product can sell itself better than any other marketing initiative. And growth hacking tend to be more and more about the product itself, rather than on turning leads into sales. “The problem right now is that many companies seem to be operating under the total misconception that growth fixes all […] rapidly acquire more customers through spammy viral techniques, but when those customers don’t engage, or — worse — have bad experiences and tell their friends about it, that growth curve crashes.”32 2. Qualitative study of Growth Hacking from experts interviews In order to complement this study of what growth hacking, a qualitative study has been performed. We have contacted experts in growth hacking, and particularly experts of implementing growth hacking outside of startups. 31 Justin Caldbeck (2014). To Succeed, Growth Hacking Has To Focus More On Product Development Than Marketing 32 Justin Caldbeck (2014). To Succeed, Growth Hacking Has To Focus More On Product Development Than Marketing
  35. 35. 31 2.1. Hypotheses Five hypotheses have been formulated to guide the qualitative study. They concern growth hacking definition or principles, how is growth hacking better performed, and whether it can be implemented outside of the startup ecosystem and outside of the technological industry. 2.1.1. Growth Hacking definition/principles Our first hypothesis is that growth hacking is a state of mind which is driven by a growth perspective and data analytics, and that it is better performed when structure in a flexible process and documented properly. 2.1.2. Growth Hacking and Big Data Our second hypothesis is that growth hacking and big data are complementary to make better decisions. 2.1.3. Growth Hacking and Marketing Research Our third hypothesis is that growth hacking and marketing research are similar in some aspect. When the product is not digital, the experimentations around the product are done via marketing research, while when it is digital, it is done through growth hacking. 2.1.4. Growth Hacking outside startups and tech Our fourth hypothesis is that growth hacking can be, and already is, used in companies outside of the startup eco-system and outside the technological industry. 2.1.5. Implementing Growth Hacking Our fifth and final hypothesis is that growth hacking can be successfully implemented anywhere when the mindset is embraced, and better executed in smaller teams that know the product well and with empowering management that allows risk taking.
  36. 36. 32 2.2. Process of the study In order to answer the question “What is growth hacking, and how to successfully implement it in non-startup companies?” and in order to confirm or infirm the hypotheses, three interviews have been conducted. We have chosen to interview people with different backgrounds. 2.2.1. Reasons for this study The reason we decided to interview growth hacking experts was because it offered the opportunity to reach out to people who have implemented growth hacking outside of startups in the past. Also we have decided to interview a growth hacker from startups in order to be able to differentiate and confront the answers to our questions. 2.2.2. Experts interviewed We have interviewed Lauren Schaefer, software engineer and international speaker at IBM, who was part of the initial growth hacking team for the product JazzHub. Her experience and point of view will give a better idea of how growth hacking was implemented in an enterprise. The interview was conducted via Skype. We have interviewed Edouard Breine, Growth manager at News Republic. His experience in startup growth hacking will give us a better idea of what growth hacking is and how it is done in startups. The interview was conducted face to face. Finally we interviewed Geoffrey Colon, Communications Designer and social data expert at Microsoft. He implemented growth hacking at IBM and Microsoft. His experience will give us a better idea of what growth hacking is, and how growth hacking is implemented in non-startup businesses. The interview was conducted via emails. 2.3. Analysis and learnings from the study After conducting and trancripting the interviews, a careful analysis was performed, in order to be able to make the answers of the interviewees confirm, complement, and sometimes contradict each other.
  37. 37. 33 2.3.1. What is Growth Hacking In order to define growth hacking, we have asked our interviewees their definition of growth hacking. Schaefer and Colon both cited user base growth, though Schaefer was the only one mentioning the low cost aspect: “I define growth hacking as working to rapidly grow your user base, through whatever means possible, with hardly any budget”. For Colon “the emphasis is strictly on user growth” rather than other business metrics. And he was the only one mentioning the mindset at this stage “Some think it’s about tactics, but it’s more a strategy and state of mind in marketing”. Schaefer qualified the mindset as to “work quickly and try to get users”. Breine had a much more complete definition of growth hacking, englobing most areas of the practice, thought calling the term “pompous” and saying that most techniques are “not new”: “I think it is a way to do marketing. Growth hacking is two things around your product: user acquisition […] and user engagement […]. Then you need to know your users, the different segments, so you know who you are talking to. But you need first to measure everything, then optimizing depending on your goal. […] A big part of growth hacking consist on analyzing where you can have the most impact, to see which channel has the most potential and which actions will have the bigger impact; prioritizing according to impacts.” This confirms the contradictions we mentioned in the research phase. Growth hacking is many things at once, a mindset, a process, tactics and techniques and is sometimes considered a buzz word for marketing actions that were already available. These answer confirm our first hypothesis, that growth hacking is a state of mind which is driven by a growth perspective and data analytics, but there was no mention as to the structure or documentation from our experts. 2.3.2. Growth Hacking and Big Data Our interviewees noticed a direct relationship between growth hacking and big data: “I think they definitely are related. I think they can overlap and work together”; “They align heavily”; “They complement each other”. Schaefer and Breine stated that one of their goals was to have access to as much data as possible “our goal to eventually get there we were tracking every little step that our users took.”; “As a growth hacker, the more data the better, and less you will have a limited vision”. Colon goes further by talking about predictive analytics, as well
  38. 38. 34 as behavioral economics: “Many growth hacks are set up knowing information about the audience. I think predictive analytics and growth hacking are tied at the hip. You build marketing into your products basically knowing how that audience behaves, misbehaves or responds. There is also alignment between growth hacking, big data and behavioral economics if you really want to go deep”. Growth hacking, because of its analytical nature, based on data collection and analysis, can benefit from big data, as well as predictive analysis and behavioral economics. This confirms our second hypothesis that growth hacking and big data are complementary to make better decisions. 2.3.3. Growth Hacking and Marketing Research Concerning the parallel between marketing research and growth hacking, Breine mentioned Lean Startup by Eric Ries: “In growth hacking you do your own marketing research. That’s the methodology of Eric Ries startups […] It is an ongoing iteration cycle and each time you measure […] you learn.” However he acknowledges that growth hacking, because it is so much focus on speed, can have its draw-backs: “the inconvenience is, because it is so fast, sometimes you don’t see things, you cannot really dig around. For example, your test is positive, and once implemented in the product, it doesn’t work. Then you realize there was a bias in your test. It happens often and it’s really difficult to make tests without biases, without having one element interfering, modifying the interpretation of your results of your test. Sometimes you step backward. You step forward, step backward, it’s all part of the game.” Interestingly, Colon disagrees about the presence of bias in growth hacking: “Traditional marketing research contains tons of bias because people make decisions that best fit their ego than what the product has to offer. Growth hacking looks at true usability based on the science of UX”. Where market research and growth hacking differ is that growth hacking measures changes made in the product directly in the market, whereas market studies are conducted via interviews and questionnaires. This has a significant impact on results, even though in both cases there are attempts to keep biases are at a minimum. Colon agrees with this statement: “I personally think growth hacking will disrupt all traditional market research because you can release a product into the ecosystem, have people test it in real time and ship new features based on that data feedback. Even consumer products will be able to take advantage of this test
  39. 39. 35 and learn cycle with the advent of 3D printing. So you will actually see a growth in growth hacking because of disruptions to traditional production line models.” Growth hacking can be associated with marketing research and studies, because they share similar aspects such as testing on populations, data generation, analytics, and decision making based on results and learning. Marketing research has proven its effectiveness over the years, and still applies to many industries today. But where growth hacking is more impactful is that tests are perfomed directly on the market, not on pre-selected samples that are more subject to be biased. However, other kinds of biases are present in growth hacking too. Our third hypothesis that growth hacking and marketing research are similar in some aspect is confirmed. However, even if there is no contradiction that when the product is not digital, the experimentations around the product are done via marketing research, and while when it is digital, it is done through growth hacking, this might change in the future with the development of technologies such as 3D printing. 2.3.4. Growth Hacking outside startups and tech When asked if growth hacking can expand beyond startups and technological industry, all interviewees agreed that growth hacking can and sometimes already is used in companies outside those ecosystems: “I think anyone can leverage these (growth hacking) techniques […] I think growth hacking can be implemented into any kind of business size”; “I see more growth hacking being used now by companies not in tech so yes, it definitely can be used especially as purchasing patterns become more digital and more mobile by design”; “Yes absolutely.[…] In theory it is applicable”. Schaefer used a parallel, saying that growth hacking was used during the Obama campaign: “Anybody can do it, that’s the government, not tech industry, and they probably didn’t call it growth hacking, they probably called it user research or marketing, but this is the same idea.” Colon suggests that there is a correlation between mobile internet access and social media use and growth hacking: “People share and their actions can be shared to many via social networks. As long as we have more people coming online via mobile devices and on social networks, growth hacking will only continue to grow for companies and non- profits of all shapes and sizes no matter where they are in the world.” However, even though growth hacking can be implemented anywhere: “In real life it is going to be more difficult to implement in a big company.” Says Breine, and Schaefer seem to
  40. 40. 36 share this insight: “I think growth hacking can be implemented into any kind of business size. I think it is easier to implement in a smaller business that’s used to moving a little quicker, when employees feel a little more empowered to make decisions […] more willing to take risks, whereas enterprises are risk averse”. Growth hacking has been performed by governments before in some way. But this is questionable because of the difficulty of defining what growth hacking is, many previous successful marketing actions can be labeled as growth hacks. However, growth hacking can be performed outside the high tech and startup ecosystems because of its mindset, rooted in the lean startup principles of testing and iteration and optimization. The growth hacking mindset can be applied to any industry when used with creativity to drive growth. Our fourth hypothesis that growth hacking can be, and already is, used in companies outside of the startup eco-system and outside the technological industry is confirmed. However, implementation can be unequal between organizations. 2.3.5. Implementing Growth Hacking When it came to talk about how to successfully implement growth hacking, our interviewees had different and complementary views on the subject. Schaefer told us that, at IBM, the team was formed with people with various background: “There was me plus four guys in Sweden where our technical people are, and we had several business people; so we had the user experience person, the business person, marketing person, a manager, a business operations person. A decent size of a variety of backgrounds.” Colon recommended enterprises to mix different backgrounds as well: “Almost everything is moving toward small scrum teams of people who have creative, sociological, technical backgrounds”. Concerning the size of the growth hacking team, smaller teams seem to be more efficient and easier to work in: “working in small teams and being efficient and effective. Enterprise would be smart to combine its best digital and social marketers into a team with an expert in supply chain management and the product development team if it really wants to build the future organization” said Colon. Breine noticed that it also depends on the structure already in place: “When you are in a small company, you intervene directly in the product and marketing. However, when you are in a larger company, there is already a product department, a marketing department, and you are in the middle and have to sell your actions a lot more […]
  41. 41. 37 It’s difficult to make your voiced heard because there is more at stake, more risk, and people are trying to protect their own domains.” Schaeffer agrees that the smaller the team, the easier it is to implement: “I think growth hacking can be implemented into any kind of business size. I think it is easier to implement in a smaller business that’s used to moving a little quicker, when employees feel a little more empowered to make decisions, more willing to take risks, whereas enterprises are risk averse.” And that’s how she felt when she was in the growth hacking team: “I felt like we had more liberty to make small fast changes. I felt like we had more liberty to make small fast changes, but at the same time our regular development team was also trying to move quicker and trying to move his team with liberty. So I felt it, but it could have been a whole team (as both development and growth hacking) shifting to making lighter quicker changes.” Schaefer’s team at IBM was composed of 10 people. But communication within the team is vital: “The growth hacking team didn’t implement new features ourselves, our architects and user experience people they were coming up with those features and handed them out to the development team. But ideally they’ll be a lot more collaboration. We’ve got separate groups doing separate things. The growth hacking team didn’t talk a lot to the development.” And that lead to a mistake from her part: “There was one time where I made a mistake, we were doing A/B testing, and there was a consequence that I did not realize of my test later down the road. So the development team didn’t know that I implemented this they thought it was something they had broken, so it was all about knowing what everybody was doing, having that communication. So I could no longer just implement a test and push it out that same day, it had to go through days worth of testing and making sure everybody was comfortable with it. So that’s an example of being more risk averse.” Her testimonial proves that the organizational structure and risk factors also had affected her work. Colon thinks that “experimenting and risk” are the main factors for a successful growth hacking implementation: “With the amount of data now available it’s best for enterprise to realize you don’t have to launch a huge campaign and see it fail anymore. The lean startup methodology is all about testing things in small batches. Growth hacking is more effective in my opinion for enterprise than traditional marketing because it turns a majority of marketing money into a revenue generator measured in user growth.” His views confirm that bigger companies need to embrace risk at small scales. Breine shares that if it’s not risk stopping companies from experimenting, it can be resources, or faith in experimenting: “Growth hacking
  42. 42. 38 is measuring, testing, optimizing. And you need to test things in order to measure them but often the other teams have opposite views. They want to see that what they will develop will be beneficial, which you won’t know until they’ve developed it”. This becomes problematic in big organizations because every unit has different goals. However: “but in horizontal management style, where everyone is at the same level, I think this type of management enables growth hacking to be implemented much easier.” But it is very complicated to change a whole organization structure just to implement growth hacking. “To implement growth hacking you need to have the appropriate company’s structure, otherwise you will have to fight more and do more politics.” Colon has a different view, he believes that growth hacking will simply replace traditional marketing: “There is no need anymore for 100 person marketing departments. It’s basically killed linear marketing models (which never existed in the first place) and MBA actions. Value propositions, advertising, inbound marketing have all been disrupted from it. As time rolls on and they see less effectiveness from it, I see many abandoning their traditional marketing departments for more growth hacking which can be done by marketers with a technical background or engineers with a knack for human reactions.” But growth hacking is also a culture that the whole organization should embrace: “Growth hacking to me is a combination of culture jamming meets creativity backed by analytics to measure objectives” and work together toward a common goals says Breine: “In many companies, around 80% of employees don’t know what their goals are, which are the KPIs they need to reach, what are their objectives. So start by define your goals, objectives and KPIs, make people know them, make it visible, so that everyone know what you are working on and why”. When it came to implement the principles of growth hacking in Schaeffer’s team, there was no process, no external help from experts or anything such as: “So they just pulled a bunch of us together and said: ‘figure it out!’ We did have a manager, and a team lead, so we had people running our meetings and keeping us in track. It’s good to have a mix of technical people to implement things, business people who have a marketing experience, and people who are willing to think about the box.” But she thinks that the actions they undertook resonated outside her own team and empowered the rest of the product team: “It was nice that we had a team that was dedicated to growth hacking, so we could think through our experiments and we could figure it out, but at the end we were trying to keep that growth hacking team, but also, enable our developers, Our growth hacking team was in charge of figuring out how to implement those features as experiments, figuring out all the technical details, so the development team just had
  43. 43. 39 to implement the features.” Colon agrees that growth hacking can impact the whole organization: “Growth hacking is not a siloed discipline. Although it’s centered on growth, it still works with everyone in the organization to ensure its keeping pace with the overall business objectives.” Finally another interesting point raised by Breine, is that growth hackers need to feed off each other: “I think you need to exchange, because if you stay in your little company, you won’t learn as fast. You really need to communicate on what you do that is interesting. It’s a new job, nothing is carved into stone, all business are different, and there is so much to learn, that’s what makes it interesting.” Communities have been federated around the topic, from the most known ones like growthhackers.com to small private groups: “There are online groups of growth hackers, but some are private, and it’s not easy to get in.” Implementing growth hacking into organizations requires a lot of preparation. Management should be able to adopt the mindset throughout the organization, encouraging communication, implication and idea generation. The organizations should define their own process to give a structure to growth hacking for better results via high tempo testing, and set documentation norms to facilitate sharing of learnings from failure and successes alike. But even is growth hacking is risky, it is at the same time a way to reduce risk. It is the same than marketing studies, for example packaging testing would be similar than A/B testing a landing page. The risk become contained to the people who will be testing the new landing page. Based on the results, the most effective landing page will be implemented or not. The A/B testing just reduced the risk of just changing the landing page without any tests. Growth hacking also can be viewed as a culture where an organization makes everyone accountable for growth, which could in the future result in the disruption of marketing departments as we know them, because marketing will happen at every level of the organization. That confirms that growth hacking is deeply based on open information and creativity, which needs to be maintained by communities of growth hackers that share their experiences and learnings to drive together towards a higher quality products and services. Because that is what growth hacking is, enabling the best products and services to stand out as much as lesser products and services with higher marketing budgets would. Growth hacking redistributes the cards of competition within each and every industry. Our fifth and final hypothesis that growth hacking can be successfully implemented anywhere when the mindset is embraced, and better executed in smaller teams that know the product well and with empowering management that allows risk taking is confirmed by our
  44. 44. 40 experts. But we can add that encouraging communication between growth hacker can also be beneficial. 3. Recommendations Our recommendations are based on our initial research, our interviews from experts and the analysis that resulted from them, as well as our own belief on how growth hacking should be implemented in order to be successful and drive the most results. 3.1. Successfully implementing the mindset Successfully implementing the mindset heavily depends on leadership. The earlier the mindset is calibrated towards small changes, experimentation and quick actions, the better. This is going to be much more difficult to do in more broken down businesses, where communication between units is few and normalized. In order to facilitate this step, companies should open communication channels between units or departments, and encourage communication and idea sharing. Failures should be turned into lessons for all instead of becoming taboo subjects. Experimentation, innovations and risks should be accepted and encouraged to test on small populations. In parallel, companies should start relying more on data. Part of the growth hacking mindset is that data drives decision making. Data driven decision making should become the only kind of decision making. So companies should be able to generate as much data as possible, making it available to employees with tools that allows easy interpretation. Finally, companies should encourage perfectionism, because that’s what growth hacking is, you can always do better. Iteration cycle is another part of the growth hacking mindset, and should also be embraced by companies. Reaching new heights small changes at a time. The growth hacking mindset revolves around sharing a common goal with the entire organization so that marketing can happen at all levels. All should be held accountable for their share of the growth process, and idea generation should be encourage and even provide incentive, reward and celebrate idea generation. Growth hacking comes from startups, and startups today embraced the lean startup model, so implementing the growth hacking mindset should be much easier. The most
  45. 45. 41 important step will be to make everyone responsible for growth, so that they will take a look at their own jobs from a new point of view, and generate ideas. 3.2. Building a team Building a growth hacking team can happen at different levels. If the organization is very large, adopting IBM method of building one team per product is probably the best solution to achieve growth. The team should be composed of various profiles and expertizes. Individuals inside the team should be T-shaped, know a little about everything and be experts one or two domains. In order to have efficient team, organizations should first consider hiring internally because these individuals already know the product, the organization, the culture, the other teams, and that will facilitate implementation. However those individuals should have fully embraced the growth hacking mindset. It is best to consider having marketing specialists that have technical abilities, engineers that think marketing, and in the best cases data analysts that will make it easier to gather an analyze data at large scales. If organizations require external resources, they should consider hiring first. Because growth hacking is complex and related to all other areas of the business, going through an agency will not be the ideal solution. Hiring people with past results should be a priority, but they need to have and be able to share the growth hacking culture and mindset with others. They should be pragmatic and data driven. In order to facilitate growth hackers actions and experiments, organizations should give them, when possible, dedicated engineering resources, so that they can influence the product directly to make tests on small population directly in the market. Minimal viable tests and prototypes should be easier to manufacture at minimal required quantities with the development of 3D printing for concerned organizations. If the mindset is implemented with success and that the process allows for high tempo testing, then ideas will be too many to implement. That makes building your team much easier because the deficiencies will be easier to identify and finding people to fill those gaps will also be easier.

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