“Growth hacking is a mindset, not a toolkit”

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This week we are exploring this idea of growth hacking. Growth hacking recognizes that when you focus on understanding your users and how they discover and adapt to your products, you can build features that help you acquire and retain more users, rather than just spending your company’s marketing dollars trying to reach out to a broader audience. In simple terms, most products don’t become overnight sensations, vitality come as a direct result of a lot of hard work and dedication. You can’t expect to build something and hope from that point on it will eventually go ‘viral’, you have to continue building and optimizing the product until it eventually meet the needs of each individual consumer. Unlike traditional marketing techniques which have been primarily applied after the product has been completed, growth hacking techniques continue to be applied after the products release because they never consider the product as fully completed. The role of a growth hacker is to “try out a lot of different ideas, ruthlessly optimizing success and quickly discarding deadens,” (Ryan Holiday).

One aspect of growth hacking that stood out a considerable amount was their philosophy of reaching out and learning from their current and dormant users, rather than spending excess amounts of money to reach out and focus all of their attention on obtaining potential users. The author of The 5 Phases of Growth Hacking explained that growth hackers must being to obsess over every tiny element of the customer experience in order to be able to improve the overall experience. They can achieve this knowledge by talking with, and learning from their current users. Running A/B tests, conducting in-depth interviews, and sending out surveys are just a few ways the growth hackers can learn about potential improvements that can be made. All of these efforts will play a small part in the larger picture, which is to build something that is engaging enough to current users to share your product, which will then help you acquire and retain more users.

Explained: The actual difference between growth hacking and marketing was an article written in May by The Next Web. It went into detail about the differences between traditional marketing and growth hacking. They explained that growth hacking is basically just marketing, but it also incorporated a few different goals and techniques. “Growth hackers utilize analytical thinking, product engineering and creativity to significantly increase their company’s core metric(s),” (Biyani).

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If you haven’t been able to notice, through my blogging experience this quarter I have recently discovered what infographics are, so here is yet another infographic to look at. I believe that this perfectly depicts what growth hacking truly entails. After completing the readings for this topic I have found that the ultimate goal of growth hackers is quite apparent, and that is growth. In their various attempts to achieving this goal, they are able to use both their analytic side as well as their creative side. Although they have the ability to utilize tactics such as adwords and SEO, ultimately they will have a chance to look beyond those tools, and begin building a team of creative brains whom can then create a product that people want to use. Once they have finally created a product that people want to use, growth can then be easily achieved due to word of mouth and sharing.

AirBnB is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world. Not only have they created a unique experience that is unlike any other, but more impressively they created this using a variety of different growth hacking tactics. I know you are all wondering how they did this… so let me explain:

1. AirBnB created a seamless integration with the already well established website Craigslist. Having this as an option made it easy to share your AirBnB listings directly on the Craigslist website, which allowed the ad to reach more potential renters. What makes this process so remarkable is that Craigslist didn’t offer an easy way to create this integration, so AirBnB had to reverse engineer how Craiglist’s forms work, and then make their product compatible, without ever having access to the Craigslist codebase.

2. Another way the company used growth hacking tactics was by creating an engaging and easy experience for first time users. Instead of treating first time users like well established users, AirBnB has created a step by step guide that teaches newbies how to navigate through the website like the pros. They offer a ‘tour’ option that keeps them engaged, by showing them the in’s and out’s of the website.

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