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Created on 02.12.2021

Growth hacking: little tricks to achieve big growth

Does “growth hacking” ring any bells? This marketing technique was developed to help start-ups achieve rapid growth. Here’s what it’s all about.

Growth Hacking

What is growth hacking?

Growth hacking has a key goal: the idea is to increase a company’s customer base exponentially as quickly as possible, and to do so with limited resources. This marketing technique focuses on digital channels (such as websites, apps or social media), and was originally designed for start-ups whose survival really does depend on rapid growth, both in terms of users and revenue.

What is the idea behind growth hacking?

Using creative and innovative methods, growth hacking attempts to generate a rapid increase in the number of visits, recommendations and purchases made via digital channels. Why? Because the more, the better. If, for instance, more people visit your company website, the chance of them buying something and/or recommending your company to others increases as well. A growth hacker uses agile, customer-centric methods and quick thinking. If an idea doesn’t work, it will quickly be discarded, and the next one considered. How to come up with hacks – simple but effective ways of boosting growth. In addition to creativity, this task also requires curiosity and analytical thinking.

What do growth hackers focus on?

Growth hacking isn’t about developing a brand or image, but instead focuses “solely” on how to attract and retain customers. As such, growth hackers – i.e. the people responsible for growth in a company – concentrate on the following five questions:

  • Acquisition: How do you attract people to digital channels?
  • Activation: How do you persuade visitors to register?
  • Retention: How do you get users you’ve already acquired to stay loyal?
  • Monetization: How do you get your users to actually buy something and generate revenue for you?
  • Recommendation: How can active users be motivated to recommend the company to others?

Three examples of growth hacking done well

Example 1:  In its early days, Airbnb had entries from its website posted automatically on Craigslist, a very popular online marketplace in the USA for small ads. The link in the Craigslist ads would lead directly to the Airbnb website. In other words, Airbnb was using an already well-established platform to boost its recognition quickly. This meant the emergent Airbnb was able to reach customers where they essentially were anyway. And things really just took off from there!

Example 2:  Back when it was in its infancy, the e-mail service provider formerly known as Hotmail took advantage of its e-mails sent to recipients who weren’t yet customers. At the end of each e-mail Hotmail sent, they added a hyperlink in the P.S. line to try and persuade the recipient to register for a free Hotmail account. This was along the lines of: “This e-mail was sent with Hotmail. Get your free e-mail account now.” This clever little growth hack helped Hotmail gain millions of new accounts in a short space of time.

Example 3:  During its start-up phase, Dropbox rewarded customers with additional, free-of-charge storage space if they recommended the service to others. This led to a dramatic increase in the number of Dropbox users in just a few months.  

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