What is Growth Hacking

There is a relatively new term cropping up in software companies called, Growth Hacking. Some organizations are hiring a Growth Hacking team. But, what does this team or person do and why should you care?

Growth Hacking is a relatively new concept of building a very lean team (sometimes it’s a team of one), that is focused on experimentation and rapid iteration to improve the weakest link in a sales/UX/marketing funnel. These teams usually have a Product-esque person, a strong Marketing-esque person and at least one Data Scientist/Analyst, and sometimes even an Engineer. Usually a single person is not enough to fill this role, but it’s possible in a pinch (it’s never a great idea to say a single person team will be successful). Here is what those roles are really charged with doing:

Product-esque person is looking at product engagement metrics, for a consumer app, that may be registration rate, time in app, % to purchase or upgrade, churn rate, etc. For a business-focused app, it is the reduction of time in app, net promoter scores, customer support requests, etc.

The Marketing-esque person is looking at the funnel(s). They are analyzing the ad campaigns, the install rates, the success rate on converting from a white paper, etc. They need to be reviewing every marketing effort and understanding what is valuable and what is costly noise.

The Data Scientist/Analyst is looking at the trends in an app, they are helping refine personas (based on the data they see), they are helping showcase app usage metrics (perhaps from Google Tag Manager, or Mixpanel), they are working to ensure everyone is looking at the same key metrics and they are helping identify which key metrics to focus on next, while proving insight into how the current tests are performing.

The Engineer is the one who can help prototype and rapidly iterate through changes. They are usually tweaking and refining small aspects of the product, helping build experiments that have measurable results and are the enabler of the team.

The real responsibility of the growth hacking team is to review every aspect of your user acquisition funnel  – first contact with a user to the final “conversion,” whatever your company deems the success criteria. This team is in charge of making changes throughout the entire process to quickly and dramatically drive improvements. They should be spending just a couple weeks refining and prototyping these solutions, and relaying feedback back to the respective owners on how to make a “long term” implementation, if they don’t do it themselves (you often don’t want this team rolling out changes that will live forever… they are probably using tools like Optimizely to “hack” in tests). They are analyzing the data of what is working in the workflow and what is not, and they are focusing solely on the weakest link in that experience. They should be quantifying the impact of the improvements they hope to make and setting ambitious goals (start with industry standards if you are not on par with those yet) that will move the needle.

Ultimately, you need these people – you need this function in your business. Even if you cannot hire a dedicated team, you need people covering these roles in some form or fashion. If you can have a team focused on Growth Hacking as part of a normal sprint, or a normal marketing cycle, you will dramatically improve your product in a way that keeps you ahead of the competition.

Check out the post that talks about how to make quantitative product decisions, it dovetails nicely with this :)

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