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What is Growth Hacking and How Can Businesses Benefit From It? Digital aggressiveness has turned out to be a boon for start-ups trying to reach their audience

By Rama Iyer

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"Growth Hacking' is a very popular term /jargon used in the start-up world.

Defining "Growth Hacking'

Let's break down this heavily loaded and very cryptic sounding term to something simpler to understand and where it all started. It seems the first person to have coined this phrase was Sean Ellis, who in his blog post defined "growth hacker' as a person dedicated fully to the cause of growth or create impact for business scale.

The simpler definition of "growth hacking' as I understand it is, "Identifying the most efficient and cost-effective channel to grow the business exponentially."

Digital Impressiveness

Let's dive little deeper into the definition. What the above definition means is, "how can small businesses or start-ups find ways to advertise or reach their potential customers without burning a big hole in their pockets."

Typically, businesses have had limited ways to reach their targeted audience or a broad array of consumer segment, based on what they did, which was typically Newspaper ad, television, hoardings, billboards, radio, give always etc. These methods are extremely consuming in terms of cost and time taken to reach the intended audience and hence the impact on the business scaling.

Today, given the digital impressiveness and almost everyone hooked onto some or most of the social media channels — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Yelp and others — it has turned out to the better or almost the first choice for many start-ups and enterprises to reach their audience.

Native Mediums Have Not Faded Away

Let me quote a few statistics to bolster my argument (which is widely accepted now), that digital and social media channels are growing rapidly and not really at the cost of traditional news mediums.

The native mediums have not faded away, but have tried to maintain their position and not yield any of their portions. But what has happened is, more money is being allocated to digital and social platforms at a much brisker pace. It's also interesting to note that the newspapers have still not gone away, per most predictions, but have continued to give us company with our morning coffee. The stats also show phenomenal growth of corporate, wanting to target mobile users or social media platforms that seem to be the favorite hot-spots.

Growth Hacking by DropBox

Let me show an example of the growth hacking which I personally like, employed by DropBox. Even though none of what they did was path breaking by any stretch of the imagination, but it was effective to the core and help them scale a lot.

The two things that I really liked what DropBox did was – Giveaway storage when you follow them on social media and when you refer a friend. These are so simple and basic stuff that most of the companies miss out on this.

The first one is just using the power of social media, get users to follow either your channel/ handle or have them put it out on their handle, both are pretty good. The second one is using a direct referral model, which has been proven to be most effective from a conversion standpoint because people typically tend to use/ buy when referred by someone whom they know or trust.

Hope this gives a simpler perspective on what "Growth Hacking' is and actually means to both the startup founders as well as to large corporates who are still figuring out ways to use the social channel to the hilt.

Rama Iyer

Chief Innovation Officer, T-Hub

Rama Iyer is the Senior Vice-President, Head,Innovation and Strategic Alliance, T-Hub. He leads corporate innovation and also serves as a mentor for many startups. 

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