Growth Hacking: What Is It? General

In recent years, the so-called growth hacking and growth hackers movements have increased in popularity, mainly because of the start-up boom. However, many people don’t know what growth hacking is. As with many other marketing trends, it doesn’t have a particularly precise definition; it’s more of an ideology that mixes digital, traditional, and guerrilla marketing.

Companies like Twitter, Facebook, DropBox, Pinterest, YouTube, Groupon, and Instagram have used and will continue to use growth hacking. Some companies have already hired employees with the title of growth hacker. According to Andrew Chew, the growth hacker is or should be the new VP of a company’s marketing efforts.

Growth hacking emphasises the use of scalable (marketing) activities to grow the company. In practice, this mainly refers to digital marketing, where the focus is to test different activities and measure their performance. A/B testing, web analytics, search engine optimization (SEO), and paid acquisition are commonplace practices for growth hackers. The efficiencies of the various activities are based on data – not just gut feelings. The importance of branding does not discredit the notion of growth hacking, but customer growth can be seen as the main objective, especially during the initial stages of a company. When a company is a bit more solidified its market position, it can concentrate on branding as well.

To ensure that things are not too simple, growth hacking can’t be generalized as marketing activities aimed at the growth or acquisition of new customers. As with other marketing trends, this also refers to a holistic view. Growth hacking is already involved, for example, in the planning and testing of the product, ensuring that the product is in a condition that it can be published to the market. Growth hacking also takes into account how well the product is able to retain its customers. If the product is unable to retain customers, new customer acquisition is pretty futile – rather as sensible as adding water to a bucket that’s full of holes. Initially, the product or service needs to be in a condition to retain customers, after which user acquisition can be more profitable and faster.Bucket with holes

Virality is also an important part of growth hacking and must be taken into account when designing and developing products. Virality in this context doesn’t mean making a fun YouTube video and hoping that it will spread. The most important things are creating a product or service that people want to recommend to others and thinking about the factors that would trigger users to recommend the product or service to others.

I predict that growth hacking will initially face a lot of resistance in Finland, as marketing professionals will say that it is not a new development, but only a new trend/buzzword trying to distinguish itself. I predict that advertising agencies in particular will initially be negative  to the principle and against the ideology. After a few years, however, many agencies will tout on their websites how proficient they are in growth hacking and how they can take advantage of growth hacking to plan and design specialised campaigns.

Do you believe that growth hacking will become popular in Finland? Or is it a term/ideology that is only for start-up companies? I believe that, within a few years, growth hacking will become more popular in Finland in much the same way as SEO and content marketing.

Below is a framework of growth hacking by Donald Donckers.Growth hacking framework

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