What it Takes to Be a Growth Hacker
This article is included in Entrepreneur Voices on Growth Hacking, a new book containing insights from more than 20 contributors, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders.
For companies looking to grow, a solid growth hacker can easily be mistaken for a superhero.
With new traction channels through social media, video and content popping up all the time, “hacking growth” has become a much more complicated process than it was a few years ago. The game has definitely gotten harder, but the rewards have also gotten bigger. If you have a knack for marketing and love makings things go viral, there’s never been a better time to become a growth hacker.
To help give you a better understanding of what it takes to be a true growth hacker, here's what you need to get you started:
1. A feel for an audience.
The internet is packed with options that help improve conversion rates and build loyal followings. From social media pages, advertising platforms and emails, as a hacker, you have plenty of ways to cultivate a community of customers. It’s your job to discover which customer segment is the most viable for your business and how you can find a way for that segment's involvement with your company to go viral.
Get started by having a feel for who your audience is and your ideal buyer personas. This understanding will be a good place to start, especially as you work to find out which channels your core customers will most likely be found on. Segment your audience into three to six different personas based on who you want to target first and who you want to put on the backburner.
Remember, one of the easiest ways to hack growth is to master the marketing funnel of a small niche group, then replicate it. If you look at most tech companies that have achieved virality (Facebook, Uber, Airbnb), they all follow that same mentality to some degree.
This will allow you to dissect the groups most inclined to your brand. A deeper insight into customers' interests, values and occupations are will help you to tailor your message directly to them, making it much easier to get conversions.
2. A measurement obsession.
Today, marketers use analytics tools because they have to. Simply put, if you are aren’t analytics driven, you aren’t a real growth hacker. Data-driven marketing tools encourage not only growth hackers but the entire organization to plan ahead and think about their results and goals in defined, measurable metrics.
Without measurement tools, marketers quickly fall victim to making decisions based on vanity metrics. Planning ahead and using solid data and management tools will help you decide which metrics are right and allow you to take action faster, smarter and more effectively. It’ll also improve the output of your team as well as give very clear definitions of the deliverables and goals you need to hit.
But before you go on a marketing tool buffet, it's important that you spend most of your time understanding what is the the right data for your measurement model. To start, identify your business objectives, your goals for your objectives, your key performance indicators for each goal and finally the segment audience for each objective.
The mindset behind gathering this information stems from a need to keep a focus on business goals as opposed to just one aspect of your business, like your website. As your site grows, the allure of vanity metrics can lead you away from the reason behind building your site in the first place. Your best approach to staying up to date on all of these important aspects is keeping an equal eye on your entire marketing funnel and then pinpointing which part of the funnel is the bottleneck to getting virality for your company.
3. A mind for data-driven decisions.
The number one thing on every growth hacker’s mind has to always be metrics. As a hacker, you will have to make decisions backed by hard data. The old fogeys of the marketing world dodge necessary analytics tools and make decisions based on gut feelings. They overlook the fact that in today’s ever-changing digital age, gut feelings don’t accurately reflect the actual moving parts behind your business’s performance.
They rely on what they see instead of what is actually happening. On the contrary, good growth hackers understand that data-driven information will lead to a true understanding of the effectiveness of their spend. The best growth marketers understand that the best decisions and projects ride on the support of solid data.
Always have hard data to back your decisions. Start by becoming a pro at Google Analytics and work your way to new platforms from there. Growth hacking, in reality, is more a mentality than an actual skillset. If you’re obsessed with growth and a bit of a data nerd, you’re already well on your way to becoming a true growth hacker.