What is Growth Hacking?

Toni Becker May 10, 2021

One of the latest buzz-terms of the past few years is “Growth Hacking.” And this methodology is gaming traction in 2021. Marketers, entrepreneurs and consultants have started investing heavily in this tactic and have even gone so far as to call it “the future of marketing.”

Below, we provide a definition of Growth Hacking and outline the benefits of this progressive business and marketing tactic.


What is Growth Hacking?

Growth Hacking is a data-driven and an experiment-based strategy designed for business growth. An individual who strategizes growth hacking will explore new opportunities for growth in all corners of the customer journey. This includes identifying opportunities from the awareness stage of the journey to customer nurturing and brand ambassadorship.

At its core, Growth Hacking uses both creative and unconventional means to get a lot of exposure for your products or service without breaking the bank. This is done by creatively utilizing search engine optimization, social marketing, analytics, and testing to quickly optimize and grow a businesses online presence. 

Growth Hacking first came to light in 2010 when Sean Ellis created the term and or process. Since it was first introduced to the public, it has become popular for startups with smaller budgets and limited resources. The tactic has proven so successful that more people are now referring to themselves as growth marketers or growth hackers within the business space. It is important to note that Growth Hacking is nor just for smaller startups. Well-established companies such as TikTok and Uber have even introduced their very own Head of Growth and Growth teams to their business model.

With many marketers now referring to themselves as Growth Hackers, the question everyone is asking is “what is the difference between marketing and growth hacking?” Let’s take a look.

The Difference Between Growth Hacking and Marketing

The truth is that there is a vast difference between marketing and growth hacking in 2021. In fact, according to growth hacking expert Growth with Ward, there are 6 key differences between the two.

  1. Growth hackers place importance on focusing on the next best growth opportunity, whereas marketers focus on existing day to day marketing and branding tactics.
  2. Growth hackers make use of the entire sales funnel, this includes retention and referral stages while marketers focus primarily on awareness and acquisition.
  3. We mentioned previously that growth hacking is an experiment-based approach. By that we mean that growth hackers will run small experiments and test which direction will work best for a business. Marketers, on the other hand, place their focus on long-term projects.
  4. Another element of growth hacking that we touched on is data. The process of growth hacking is data-driven and most marketers only focus on data after the fact whereas growth hackers are focused solely on data from start to finish.
  5. Marketers have less technical skills and programming abilities than growth hackers as growth hackers require these skills for data collection and experimentation purposes.
  6. Growth hackers play an active role in the product or service as they need to be attentive to the retention of customers.

Essentially, growth hackers have to think differently and take on new technologies and challenges on a daily basis. So, where do you begin on your Growth Hacking journey?

Getting Started with Growth Hacking

Growth hacking is about data-collection and the first place to begin is by testing your product or service to understand who wants your product and if people are willing to pay for it. By testing your product or service you are able to collect data on your consumer which will help you identify key buyer personas who you can target with strategic growth marketing tactics. 

With the above in mind, it is important that you update your product and service by getting customer feedback on a regular basis to ensure you are always on the right track. A/B testing and related conversion optimization tactics are vital for these processes. 

Once you have an understanding of your target audience it is time to put together your growth hacking strategy. 

Develop your Growth Hacking Strategy

Growth hacking strategies usually fall into two primary categories, these being:

  1. Content Marketing
  2. Product Marketing

1. Content Marketing for Growth Hacking

Content marketing is an important part of growth hacking as it provides a low-cost way to spread the word about your brand. Some of the most effective content marketing activities for growth hacking include:

  • Creating a shareable, informative and high quality blog
  • Working with guest bloggers who are experts in your particular industry
  • Creating and sharing informative and engaging social media content
  • Writing downloadable eBooks and white papers for lead generation
  • Running interactive and thought-leader webinars
  • Creating a podcast
  • Working with influencers who are aligned with your target audience
  • Joining the relevant forums and subreddits that will reach your audience
  • Improving search engine optimization
  • Being listen in relevant marketplaces and industry related websites

2. Product Marketing for Growth Hacking

Product marketing refers to making your product more appealing to your target audience. It includes these tactics:

  • Making the onboarding process enjoyable and engaging by offering rewards to clients
  • Creating an invite-only system (social media powerhouse Clubhouse is a great example of this)
  • Providing incentives for referrals that help both the current and new client
  • Affiliate marketing that includes content marketing tactics mentioned above

The above outlines some of the strategic steps growth hackers will take to help your business grow online. 

As touched on previously, many big businesses are investing in a growth hacking methodology and businesses can learn a lot from these strategic moves. 

Examples of Growth Hacking

Some of the most successful growth hacking campaigns of the past few years include:

  • AirBnb, that used Craigslist to find and market to individuals looking for affordable and trustworthy accommodation.
  • Dropbox, that rewards its current users for inviting new users by providing them with additional storage.
  • Tesla, that turned their customers into their marketers by leveraging off exclusivity, scarcity and referral programs.

The Wrap Up

Growth Hacking is the latest way to experience sustainable and rapid business growth. This is done by marrying data analysis and creative-thinking. Your growth hacking strategy will work if your decisions are rooted in data while still adding curiosity and creativity to the mix.

Since 2005, Nexa has been creating growth strategies for brands and businesses located around the globe and have a vast portfolio of clients, including homegrown businesses and large global corporations. If you want your business to flourish through growth hacking and marketing in 2021 - we are here to help. 

Contact Nexa for all your growth hacking and marketing needs. Start by completing the form on this page.