Growth-Hacking 101

What is Growth Hacking

Growth Hacking is a fairly modern term. It was coined by Shaun Ellis in a blog post. He defined a Growth Hacker as: 'A person who's true north is Growth. Everything they do is scrutinised by its potential impact on scalable growth.' - Sean Ellis 2010


Growth hacking has been happening for a long time before 2010, but we didn't have a succinct word for it. 


Definition - exploiting information, tech and market dynamics to generate impressive and often mind-boggling gains in traffic, revenue or users. 


At its core, Growth Hacking is about forgetting the rules of traditional marketing/business and hyper focusing on a core piece of your business. You'll only work with what is measurable and relentlessly pursue growth by making data driven decisions. 


Growth Hacking uses data to learn what is working and what is failing.


Growth Hacking is not a set of tools, but a mind-set. It is a commitment to not wait for ideal conditions but execute and make a win regardless of conditions. 


In my experience and research, successful growth hackers (or significant industry disruptors) have these three qualities in common;

Data - Growth hackers have a passion for tracking and moving a metric. A strong bias towards data drives a growth hacker away from vanity metrics towards metrics that will make or break the business.


Creativity - While driven by data and moving metrics, growth hackers are also creative problem solvers. A growth hacker has a vibrant mental dexterity to think of new ways to acquire and loop in users. Growth hackers do not stop at data but build into new and unknown frontiers to find growth.


Curiosity - A growth hacker has a fascination at why visitors choose to be users and engage and why some products fall flat on their face. You never stop as a growth hacker. Facebook still has a growth team and they have a billion users. Growth hackers are constantly curious and have an insatiable desire to learn. They look deeply into user behaviour and explore the edges of behavioural economics. A growth hacker does not so much care that growth occurs but desires to understand the user mind-set and product flow to replicate the method over and over.


The best way to understand growth hacking and what growth hackers do is to first understand what is meant by the term hacker. A hacker is someone who is more concerned with achieving an objective than following a prescribed process. In other words, hackers care more about what needs to get done than how it should get done. As a result, hackers often come up with innovative ways to get things done.