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Growth Hacking: 
A Crash Course 
@davelocity
Let’s start with a story
The year is 2008…
There’s a new product 
It’s a product that tries to solve a problem a lot of people have
It’s gotten some traction 
They consistently get users and they feel they’re at product-market fit
It’s time to go bigger 
Time to scale up. Problem: the founders have zero marketing experience
So what’s next? 
So they do what they think they’re “supposed to do” …
So what’s next? 
Get PR coverage!
So what’s next? 
Get PR coverage! 
Buy ads!
So what’s next? 
Get PR coverage! 
Post on social media! 
Buy ads!
So what’s next? 
Get PR coverage! 
Post on social media! 
Buy ads! 
Hire an SEM guru!
So what’s next? 
Get PR coverage! 
Post on social media! 
Buy ads! 
Hire an SEM guru! 
And you know what, it worked.
So what’s next? 
Hire an SEM guru! BUT 
Get PR coverage! 
Post on social media! 
Buy ads!
So what’s next? 
Customer acquisition FAIL 
Get PR coverage! 
Post on social media! 
Buy ads! 
Hire an SEM guru! 
It worke...
So what’s next? 
Customer acquisition FAIL 
Get PR coverage! 
e.g. ads 
CPA = $388, LTV = $99 
Post on social media! 
Buy ...
“Okay, let’s regroup. 
How about we…” 
Back to the drawing board; otherwise they would’ve used up all their funding
“Okay, let’s regroup. 
How about we…” 
Hey, look at this data I found 
Suddenly, a wild usage-data insight appears
“Okay, let’s regroup. 
How about we…” 
Our customers LOVE telling their 
friends about us
“Okay, let’s regroup. 
How about we…” 
Is there a way we can help them 
do that?
“Okay, let’s regroup. 
How about we…” 
How about a referral program? 
Instead of paying for users, could they just amplify...
“Okay, Good let’s idea regroup. 
How about we…” 
J 
Is there a way we can help them 
do that?
“Okay, Good let’s idea regroup. 
How about we…” 
J 
• 35% of signups came from referral program 
Is there a way we can he...
“Okay, Good let’s idea regroup. 
How about we…” 
J 
• 35% of signups came from referral program 
• Customer base grew 40X...
“Okay, Good let’s idea regroup. 
How about we…” 
J 
• 35% of signups came from referral program 
• Customer base grew 40X...
True story 
Source: “Startup Lessons Learned” by @drewhouston
Dropbox
Dropbox 
(2008: 100K users)
Dropbox 
(2014: 275M users)
How did they do that?
How did they do that? 
They stumbled on a Growth Hack
How did they do that? 
They stumbled on a Growth Hack 
A fancy way to describe a tactic for 
getting more customers by usi...
How did they do that? 
They stumbled on a Growth Hack 
A fancy way to describe a tactic for 
getting more customers by usi...
Skills Needed To Find Growth Hacks 
We can deconstruct what they did. There were 3 skills at play:
Skills Needed To Find Growth Hacks 
MARKETING 
Stats, measurement, copywriting, creative, channel analysis, etc
Skills Needed To Find Growth Hacks 
MARKETING PRODUCT 
Understanding user behavior, roadmap planning, managing resources
Skills Needed To Find Growth Hacks 
MARKETING PRODUCT 
TECH 
Ability to create repeatable processes, engineering mindset (...
Skills Needed To Find Growth Hacks 
MARKETING PRODUCT 
Growth hacker 
TECH 
Growth hacks can be found at the intersection ...
Growth Hackers 
are people who have 
all 3 skillsets
Growth Hackers 
are people who have 
all 3 skillsets
Growth Hackers 
are people who have 
all 3 skillsets 
Growth Hacking 
is the act of finding opportunities 
using these 3 s...
How Growth Hacking Works
FIRST Your product has to be 
ready for growth
FIRST Your product has to be 
ready for growth 
x = ✖ 
If you just launched, or biz model not defined, just stop. 
You’re ...
FIRST Your product has to be 
ready for growth 
x = ✖ 
x = ✔ 
But, if you have a small fire – you have traction, customers...
Use data. Use the 
Pirate Metrics framework 
to visualize your funnel 
SECOND 
This is one of many frameworks you can use....
SECOND Use data. Use the 
Pirate Metrics framework 
to visualize your funnel 
AARRR! 
Based on “Startup Metrics for Pirate...
Acquisition 
Note that each stage means different things to different companies
Acquisition 
Activation 
Everyone’s definition of Activation, Retention, etc is different. 
The point is to define the met...
Acquisition 
Activation 
Retention
Acquisition 
Activation 
Retention 
Referral
Acquisition 
Activation 
Retention 
Referral 
Revenue
Growth Hackers use their skills to 
grow the number of people 
at each stage 
Acquisition 
Activation 
Retention 
Referral...
Growth Hackers use their skills to 
grow the number of people 
at each stage 
Acquisition 
Activation 
Retention 
Referral...
1. Acquisition
Acquisition 
M 
P 
T 
What channels are most effective? 
What attracts people to our product? 
How can we make it scalable...
Acquisition 
M 
P 
T 
Use analytics to rank channels 
What attracts people to our product? 
How can we make it scalable? 
...
Acquisition 
M 
P 
T 
Use analytics to rank channels 
Study customer behavior for insights 
How can we make it scalable?
Acquisition 
M 
P 
T 
Use analytics to rank channels 
Study customer behavior for insights 
Use available tech to make it ...
Acquisition 
Hotmail 
“P.S. I love you. Get Hotmail.” 
M = “what channels can we use?” P = “how can we hook into product?”...
Acquisition 
Airbnb 
Post to Craigslist 
Via http://bit.ly/11wtYR4
2. Activation
Activation 
M 
P 
T 
What messaging is most effective? 
What factors have the most impact? 
How can we implement? 
At this...
Activation 
M 
P 
T 
Measure and compare campaigns 
What factors have the most impact? 
How can we implement? 
You have th...
Activation 
M 
P 
T 
Measure and compare campaigns 
Understand what levers you have 
How can we implement? 
What assets do...
Activation 
M 
P 
T 
Measure and compare campaigns 
Understand what levers you have 
Use A/B testing tools 
How can you us...
Activation 
LinkedIn 
Gamified profiles 
LinkedIn hooks you by getting you committed to filling out your profile
Activation 
A B 
Ecommerce 
A/B test product photos 
How can you increase the # of people who browse multiple pages on you...
3. Retention
Retention 
M 
P 
T 
How can we stay top of mind? 
What causes customers to churn? 
What can we automate? 
What MPT questio...
Retention 
M 
P 
T 
Audit available channels 
What causes customers to churn? 
What can we automate? 
And here’s a small s...
Retention 
M 
P 
T 
Audit available channels 
Mine usage data for insights 
What can we automate?
Retention 
M 
P 
T 
Audit available channels 
Mine usage data for insights 
Create processes or tools
Retention 
Quora 
Digest emails w/ cool content 
Quora gets you to come back by teasing you with content 
they know you’re...
Retention 
Zynga 
Email to churning players 
Social games know they can make you come back by offering 
you valuable in-ga...
4. Referral 
At this point, you should have communicated your value so clearly that 
referrals feel natural
Referral 
M 
P 
T 
What copy will provide the right nudge? 
What incentives can we align? 
What does the process look like...
Referral 
M 
P 
T 
Create campaigns to build awareness 
What incentives can we align? 
What does the process look like? 
H...
Referral 
M 
P 
T 
Create campaigns to build awareness 
Build referral loop into usage 
What does the process look like? 
...
Referral 
M 
P 
T 
Create campaigns to build awareness 
Build referral loop into usage 
Remove steps from the process 
How...
Referral 
Dropbox 
Refer a friend and get 500 mb 
The poster child of referral programs: you’d be stupid not to refer a fr...
Referral 
Facebook 
Import your contacts 
Value-based messaging: “find friends” and “add personal contacts” 
Not “import y...
5. Revenue 
How do we grow the # of people who make it to the bottom of the funnel?
Revenue 
M 
P 
T 
What message will trigger purchases? 
What can we offer to increase orders? 
How do we implement? 
Again...
Revenue 
M 
P 
T 
Design to address friction points 
What can we offer to increase orders? 
How do we implement? 
And thes...
Revenue 
M 
P 
T 
Design to address friction points 
Play with limits of product offering 
How do we implement?
Revenue 
M 
P 
T 
Design to address friction points 
Play with limits of product offering 
Use tools to help find opportun...
Revenue 
Ecommerce 
Cart abandonment emails 
Via http://bit.ly/1Ft65Zv
Revenue 
SaaS & Ecommerce 
A/B test pricing page 
Sometimes you’d be surprised what a simple copy change will do. 
Via htt...
Ok, this is really important:
The best growth hack
The best growth hack 
is to make your 
product AWESOME
The best growth hack 
is to make your 
product AWESOME 
you can’t save 
a crappy product
The best growth hack 
is to make your 
product AWESOME 
you can’t save 
a crappy product 
An amazing acquisition growth ha...
The best growth hack 
is to make your 
product AWESOME 
you can’t save 
a crappy product 
Same story here. Viddy hooked up...
Your Growth Hacking formula:
Your Growth Hacking formula: 
Traction 
x 
So much of growth hacking is based on usage data. 
If you have no data, or traf...
Your Growth Hacking formula: 
x x 
Traction GH skills 
The confluence of MPT skills allows you to come up with ideas 
that...
Your Growth Hacking formula: 
x x 
Traction GH skills Framework 
Use some kind of framework so that you have metrics to wa...
Start with these: 
Startup Metrics for Pirates 
Quick Sprout 
GrowthHackers.com 
Dave McClure’s pirate metrics is a great ...
Follow me 
@davelocity 
GrowthHero.net
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Growth Hacking: A Crash Course

A primer to growth hacking. Starts with the story of one of the web's most legendary growth hacks, then gets into what growth hacking is and how you can put it to work for your company. Originally presented at Growth Hacking Asia Singapore in Nov 2014

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Growth Hacking: A Crash Course

  1. 1. Growth Hacking: A Crash Course @davelocity
  2. 2. Let’s start with a story
  3. 3. The year is 2008…
  4. 4. There’s a new product It’s a product that tries to solve a problem a lot of people have
  5. 5. It’s gotten some traction They consistently get users and they feel they’re at product-market fit
  6. 6. It’s time to go bigger Time to scale up. Problem: the founders have zero marketing experience
  7. 7. So what’s next? So they do what they think they’re “supposed to do” …
  8. 8. So what’s next? Get PR coverage!
  9. 9. So what’s next? Get PR coverage! Buy ads!
  10. 10. So what’s next? Get PR coverage! Post on social media! Buy ads!
  11. 11. So what’s next? Get PR coverage! Post on social media! Buy ads! Hire an SEM guru!
  12. 12. So what’s next? Get PR coverage! Post on social media! Buy ads! Hire an SEM guru! And you know what, it worked.
  13. 13. So what’s next? Hire an SEM guru! BUT Get PR coverage! Post on social media! Buy ads!
  14. 14. So what’s next? Customer acquisition FAIL Get PR coverage! Post on social media! Buy ads! Hire an SEM guru! It worked, but the economics were totally broken. It’s possible to grow and fail.
  15. 15. So what’s next? Customer acquisition FAIL Get PR coverage! e.g. ads CPA = $388, LTV = $99 Post on social media! Buy ads! Hire an SEM guru!
  16. 16. “Okay, let’s regroup. How about we…” Back to the drawing board; otherwise they would’ve used up all their funding
  17. 17. “Okay, let’s regroup. How about we…” Hey, look at this data I found Suddenly, a wild usage-data insight appears
  18. 18. “Okay, let’s regroup. How about we…” Our customers LOVE telling their friends about us
  19. 19. “Okay, let’s regroup. How about we…” Is there a way we can help them do that?
  20. 20. “Okay, let’s regroup. How about we…” How about a referral program? Instead of paying for users, could they just amplify organic WOM behavior?
  21. 21. “Okay, Good let’s idea regroup. How about we…” J Is there a way we can help them do that?
  22. 22. “Okay, Good let’s idea regroup. How about we…” J • 35% of signups came from referral program Is there a way we can help them do that?
  23. 23. “Okay, Good let’s idea regroup. How about we…” J • 35% of signups came from referral program • Customer base grew 40X in 15 months Is there a way we can help them do that?
  24. 24. “Okay, Good let’s idea regroup. How about we…” J • 35% of signups came from referral program • Customer base grew 40X in 15 months • 15% MoM growth Is there a way we can help them do that?
  25. 25. True story Source: “Startup Lessons Learned” by @drewhouston
  26. 26. Dropbox
  27. 27. Dropbox (2008: 100K users)
  28. 28. Dropbox (2014: 275M users)
  29. 29. How did they do that?
  30. 30. How did they do that? They stumbled on a Growth Hack
  31. 31. How did they do that? They stumbled on a Growth Hack A fancy way to describe a tactic for getting more customers by using a certain combo of skills
  32. 32. How did they do that? They stumbled on a Growth Hack A fancy way to describe a tactic for getting more customers by using a certain combo of skills Growth with skills, not money
  33. 33. Skills Needed To Find Growth Hacks We can deconstruct what they did. There were 3 skills at play:
  34. 34. Skills Needed To Find Growth Hacks MARKETING Stats, measurement, copywriting, creative, channel analysis, etc
  35. 35. Skills Needed To Find Growth Hacks MARKETING PRODUCT Understanding user behavior, roadmap planning, managing resources
  36. 36. Skills Needed To Find Growth Hacks MARKETING PRODUCT TECH Ability to create repeatable processes, engineering mindset (not nec. coding)
  37. 37. Skills Needed To Find Growth Hacks MARKETING PRODUCT Growth hacker TECH Growth hacks can be found at the intersection of the 3 skillsets
  38. 38. Growth Hackers are people who have all 3 skillsets
  39. 39. Growth Hackers are people who have all 3 skillsets
  40. 40. Growth Hackers are people who have all 3 skillsets Growth Hacking is the act of finding opportunities using these 3 skillsets
  41. 41. How Growth Hacking Works
  42. 42. FIRST Your product has to be ready for growth
  43. 43. FIRST Your product has to be ready for growth x = ✖ If you just launched, or biz model not defined, just stop. You’re pouring gas on cold wood. Waste of resources. Start a fire first.
  44. 44. FIRST Your product has to be ready for growth x = ✖ x = ✔ But, if you have a small fire – you have traction, customers, revenue – go for it
  45. 45. Use data. Use the Pirate Metrics framework to visualize your funnel SECOND This is one of many frameworks you can use. I just find this to be the simplest
  46. 46. SECOND Use data. Use the Pirate Metrics framework to visualize your funnel AARRR! Based on “Startup Metrics for Pirates” by @dmc500hats
  47. 47. Acquisition Note that each stage means different things to different companies
  48. 48. Acquisition Activation Everyone’s definition of Activation, Retention, etc is different. The point is to define the metric and use GH skills to improve them
  49. 49. Acquisition Activation Retention
  50. 50. Acquisition Activation Retention Referral
  51. 51. Acquisition Activation Retention Referral Revenue
  52. 52. Growth Hackers use their skills to grow the number of people at each stage Acquisition Activation Retention Referral Revenue
  53. 53. Growth Hackers use their skills to grow the number of people at each stage Acquisition Activation Retention Referral Revenue
  54. 54. 1. Acquisition
  55. 55. Acquisition M P T What channels are most effective? What attracts people to our product? How can we make it scalable? How can each skill contribute to increasing the number of people at each stage?
  56. 56. Acquisition M P T Use analytics to rank channels What attracts people to our product? How can we make it scalable? (This is just a small sample of what you could do for each skill)
  57. 57. Acquisition M P T Use analytics to rank channels Study customer behavior for insights How can we make it scalable?
  58. 58. Acquisition M P T Use analytics to rank channels Study customer behavior for insights Use available tech to make it easy
  59. 59. Acquisition Hotmail “P.S. I love you. Get Hotmail.” M = “what channels can we use?” P = “how can we hook into product?” T = “how can we make it scalable?”
  60. 60. Acquisition Airbnb Post to Craigslist Via http://bit.ly/11wtYR4
  61. 61. 2. Activation
  62. 62. Activation M P T What messaging is most effective? What factors have the most impact? How can we implement? At this stage, you want people to engage with product in a meaningful way
  63. 63. Activation M P T Measure and compare campaigns What factors have the most impact? How can we implement? You have their attention; figure out what the best message is
  64. 64. Activation M P T Measure and compare campaigns Understand what levers you have How can we implement? What assets do you have that can help you hook them in?
  65. 65. Activation M P T Measure and compare campaigns Understand what levers you have Use A/B testing tools How can you use data to inform your decisions?
  66. 66. Activation LinkedIn Gamified profiles LinkedIn hooks you by getting you committed to filling out your profile
  67. 67. Activation A B Ecommerce A/B test product photos How can you increase the # of people who browse multiple pages on your site?
  68. 68. 3. Retention
  69. 69. Retention M P T How can we stay top of mind? What causes customers to churn? What can we automate? What MPT questions would you ask to increase # of ppl at this stage?
  70. 70. Retention M P T Audit available channels What causes customers to churn? What can we automate? And here’s a small set of the things you could do to answer those questions
  71. 71. Retention M P T Audit available channels Mine usage data for insights What can we automate?
  72. 72. Retention M P T Audit available channels Mine usage data for insights Create processes or tools
  73. 73. Retention Quora Digest emails w/ cool content Quora gets you to come back by teasing you with content they know you’re interested in
  74. 74. Retention Zynga Email to churning players Social games know they can make you come back by offering you valuable in-game items for free
  75. 75. 4. Referral At this point, you should have communicated your value so clearly that referrals feel natural
  76. 76. Referral M P T What copy will provide the right nudge? What incentives can we align? What does the process look like? Find growth hacks by thinking what MPT questions you can ask
  77. 77. Referral M P T Create campaigns to build awareness What incentives can we align? What does the process look like? How do you compose messaging such that referring friends has clear benefit to the user?
  78. 78. Referral M P T Create campaigns to build awareness Build referral loop into usage What does the process look like? Is there a way to make referrals add value to core product usage?
  79. 79. Referral M P T Create campaigns to build awareness Build referral loop into usage Remove steps from the process How do you make it as simple as possible?
  80. 80. Referral Dropbox Refer a friend and get 500 mb The poster child of referral programs: you’d be stupid not to refer a friend
  81. 81. Referral Facebook Import your contacts Value-based messaging: “find friends” and “add personal contacts” Not “import your address book” – which has no clear benefit
  82. 82. 5. Revenue How do we grow the # of people who make it to the bottom of the funnel?
  83. 83. Revenue M P T What message will trigger purchases? What can we offer to increase orders? How do we implement? Again, we combine MPT skills to come up with ideas
  84. 84. Revenue M P T Design to address friction points What can we offer to increase orders? How do we implement? And these are some of the activities we can do
  85. 85. Revenue M P T Design to address friction points Play with limits of product offering How do we implement?
  86. 86. Revenue M P T Design to address friction points Play with limits of product offering Use tools to help find opportunities
  87. 87. Revenue Ecommerce Cart abandonment emails Via http://bit.ly/1Ft65Zv
  88. 88. Revenue SaaS & Ecommerce A/B test pricing page Sometimes you’d be surprised what a simple copy change will do. Via http://bit.ly/1zxx2HE
  89. 89. Ok, this is really important:
  90. 90. The best growth hack
  91. 91. The best growth hack is to make your product AWESOME
  92. 92. The best growth hack is to make your product AWESOME you can’t save a crappy product
  93. 93. The best growth hack is to make your product AWESOME you can’t save a crappy product An amazing acquisition growth hack can’t save you if you can’t get people to stick
  94. 94. The best growth hack is to make your product AWESOME you can’t save a crappy product Same story here. Viddy hooked up to Facebook after some initial traction, but the product wasn’t good enough
  95. 95. Your Growth Hacking formula:
  96. 96. Your Growth Hacking formula: Traction x So much of growth hacking is based on usage data. If you have no data, or traffic, or traction, you can’t run experiments
  97. 97. Your Growth Hacking formula: x x Traction GH skills The confluence of MPT skills allows you to come up with ideas that you wouldn’t have found in isolation
  98. 98. Your Growth Hacking formula: x x Traction GH skills Framework Use some kind of framework so that you have metrics to watch and measure
  99. 99. Start with these: Startup Metrics for Pirates Quick Sprout GrowthHackers.com Dave McClure’s pirate metrics is a great start. Neil Patel’s Quick Sprout is great for anyone new to marketing. GrowthHackers.com if you’re intermediate.
  100. 100. Follow me @davelocity GrowthHero.net

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