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Growth Hack: A Mantra For Growth Or A Gimmick?

Growth hackers always have something else up their sleeves and they pull out another card to play effectively

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Growth hacking is a fine marketing belief that involves the usage of analytical thinking, creativity, and social metrics to bring home a multitude of users and make them dedicated buyers of your product. Growth hacking is product of the Internet and the nature of Internet products.

An interesting term invented by Sean Ellis in 2011, it discards all conventional channels of marketing and resorts to unique & innovative methods which will drive incremental growth of a business. Growth hacking is about discovering a new way of announcing your business. It is using a product in a manner that fuels interest and drives maximum traffic to your business.

This new age term has been functional since 1996 much to the amazement of many. Remember Hotmail?

Launched in 1996, Hotmail started with a zero user base which zoomed to a million users in a short span of only six months! You may ask 'what was the hack?'

A simple, catchy post-script message that stated - 'P.S: I love you, get your free email at Hotmail.'

What does a growth hacker do?
* He is focused on his goal of growth. He stokes his obsession for growth with unconventional methods
* He chooses a cohesive approach of a combination of skills which represent the key facets of a business viz; product development, engineering and marketing.
* He understands the difference in the buying habits of online purchasers versus offline buyers and uses this to effect
* They resort to analytics as a major source of research and make important decisions pertaining to growth.
Growth hackers observe and study a range of metrics viz; existing subscribers, new users, leads to get an insight into the business growth. Growth Hackers are radical wizards of coding who dabble in incorporating new agents to promote a product. They are obsessed with data. Growth hackers target existing clientele with the uniqueness of their products to the extent that it drives them to share the same with their friends resulting in new, additional clients. Paid marketing does work to some extent especially if he resorts to credible their-party marketers. He does dabble at hiring back-end street-smart teams who create innumerable SEO-friendly pages for him. This is followed by content and email marketing. This results in successful viral acquisition.

The key steps of Growth Hacking:

* Getting audiences to visit your website or app. This is an early stage and people are exploring your offering and making comparisons with your contemporaries
* Conversion of visitors - This revolves activating your visitor by making them registered members of your website, instigating them towards purchases, getting their details and encouraging them to subscribe to your mailers
* Retention of users - This is the definitive goal of a growth hacker. Once you successfully retain them, they engage with your brand and eventually become your brand ambassadors.

Some of the biggest gainers of Growth Hack include Instagram, Facebook, Hotmail, PayPal, Twitter, Airbnb and Dropbox.

Dropbox e.g. refused to indulge in advertising spends. It took the 'word-of-mouth' path & offered incentives to grow its user base. All that an existing user had to do was to refer Dropbox to his/her friends and avail of a storage bonus for both the user and his friends. Enticing by all standards, Dropbox achieved miraculous results in a speedy manner.

Dropbox invested only in analytics which showcased the results of its growth hacking process.

This one hack brought Dropbox an incremental 60 per cent new users. Even today, its referral initiative still earns you extra space!
Lesson learnt from growth hack:

Expenses - ZERO
Growth - Explosive

When it comes to the social platform, Pinterest, growth hack is exemplary. A first-time visitor on Pinterest is given an option to sign via his Facebook which - a direct effort at targeting your Facebook friends and inviting them to join Pinterest.

Why Startups should indulge in Growth hacking

Today, start-ups are slightly fazed about their target audiences, their habits, their choices and how to convert audiences into dedicated customers. A growth hacker is this cool and confident dude who thinks differently, disregards 'old-school' norms and practices new methods of arriving at solutions. Growth hacking helps startups to grow a customer base faster and helps them understand the wants of their customers viz a viz the offering the startups make.

Growth hacking is anything but a gimmick as some perceive it to be. Sure, not every method resorted to by Growth hackers may give you stupendous results. Growth hackers always have something else up their sleeves and they pull out another card to play effectively.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Nayan Bheda

The author is founder - Edvantez, Indian School of eBusiness Serial Entrepreneur, Mentor and Advisor. He stepped into the world of entrepreneurship at a very early age and has been a highly successful entrepreneur. He has been instrumental in the building blocks of many a successful technology-enabled venture, both, in India and one each in the UK and Australia.

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