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Growth Hacking explained to beginners

by Editorial Staff

Growth hacking is definitely in fashion right now. It seems that it will even be one of the 3 most sought-after jobs in digital in 2018 (I’m not saying it, it’s an Acsel / Ipsos survey). Far from me the idea of ​​offering you yet another putaclic article which explains “what growth hacking really is” (lol). Or to bring you out for the thousandth time the success stories of Hotmail, Airbnb or Dropbox (re-lol). It is rather a matter of sharing with you feedback after 3 years of turning the discipline around in all directions, for better or for worse.

Website Growth Hacking Explained

Although it has become my full-time job, being a growth hacker is above all adhering to a state of mind. Accept that we don’t know anything, that everything is only a hypothesis at the start. Experiment with several paths, accept to get lost, in order to hope one day to find the path to growth. Welcome to the fabulous world of growth hacking.

Some sort of digital marketing, really?

Sean Ellis, creator of the discipline, himself defines growth hacking as “a pro-growth evolution of marketing”. In other words, SEO, emailing, social networks or even online advertising are ultimately only TOOLS for the growth hacker. The added value of its actions lies above all in using them in a creative and often borderline way . However, replicating what has already been exploited hundreds of times does not, strictly speaking, represent growth hacking. Let me explain :

  • You have installed the Facebook Pixel on your site to better retarget your visitors, you do not do growth hacking
  • You scrape a database on the net to do cold emailing, you don’t do growth hacking
  • You use scripts to boost your community on social networks, you don’t do growth hacking

What really matters, at least in my opinion, is to think outside the box . Try out different approaches without hesitating to show your nerve, until you find HIS preferred acquisition channel (which, take my word for it, is not always where you think it is).

On the other hand, measuring the impact of our actions is essential here to validate (or not) our various hypotheses. Sorry for those who don’t like numbers, but data analysis (Google Analytics, Facebook insights, Mixpanel, etc.) is an integral part of the growth hacker business …

The user you will satisfy

More than 50% of Internet users consider that the advertisements disseminated by brands on social networks do not concern them. Why do you think? Well, because for too long, marketing has focused on the product, without worrying about the real needs of the consumer. Growth hacking, for its part, differentiates itself by putting the user at the center of its iterations through the famous “AARRR funnel”.

growth hacking-user experience

I would not offend you to explain to you in detail what this funnel is, the net being flooded with more or less interesting articles on the subject … But it should all the same be specified that one of the main missions of growth hacker is to optimize each phase of the customer’s lifecycle , from acquisition to revenue. Otherwise, growth may take a long time to come!

A regular, satisfied user will talk about you for sure. This is why in growth hacking, it is essential to constantly iterate on the activation-retention-recommendation loop, holy grail of all growth hackers in the world. This virtuous circle is indeed the basis of strong organic growth, which works for you in a organic way.

However, the first acquisition phase should not be neglected, the real challenge here being to repatriate visitors while spending as little as possible . The marketing budget is for later, once you know with more or less certainty where and how to captivate your target. Before, it’s the wild west: everything is only tests, measurements, deductions, failures / successes and reconstruction / optimization.

Not to mention the crucial monetization phase! Because do not forget that if we call on you and that you provide all these efforts, it is indeed for only one reason: to generate growth. And therefore business. This income phase is therefore, like all the others, subject to experiments by the growth hacker.

That being said, it is now time to answer THE central question of this article: when is the right time to do growth hacking?

No traction, no growth hacking

Your place in the market you will find

42% of startups believe they fail because they do not meet any need in the market (source: CB Insight).

Of course, there are many other causes of failure: lack of marketing budget, incompetent associates (yes, it happens more often than you think), too long time to market, too much competition… But what is 90 % of startups go out of business after 3 years, which is good because they have never reached their product / market fit .

Entering the traction phase roughly amounts to solving a problem with your target group, which is starting to really show interest in your offer (registration, purchase, recommendation, etc.). Everything here is only experimentation, in order to answer mainly 2 essential questions: what exactly is my target and for what need is the latter ready to take out the wallet?

lean startup-growth hacking

The real challenge at this stage is to stay as close as possible to your users , in order to collect their opinions on your product / service. And by opinion I do not mean filling out a questionnaire… It will indeed be necessary to engage in real discussions with your early adopters: contact them by email, by phone or even meet them physically during the focus group! This will obviously allow you to get to know them in detail: who they are, what they do, what they like / hate … But also and above all to identify a recurring need, which is not always the one we have. was considering at the start of the adventure.

Build, measure, learn from your actions to offer a product suited to the market: this is how to get into the traction phase. Networking, pitch contests, fundraising, all of that is great, but there’s still less time spent building your MVP. The more you are in the execution, the more likely you are to find your product / market fit quickly.

But what will really make the difference is above all your ability to comply with market expectations . There is indeed nothing worse than a stubborn entrepreneur, who persists in wanting to impose his vision of things on consumers. In the startup ecosystem, resilience is the mother of all virtues.

Now, it’s time to grow!

This is it, there you are. Your business is making revenue and orders are starting to pour in. There you have it: how do you go from a small artisanal company to a genuine multinational? With growth hacking of course!

growth hacking

If only in terms of acquisition, it is already immediately easier to boost your traffic if the interest in your offer is proven. You know where your target is and how to talk to them: then it’s time to set up those famous “hacks” that everyone is talking about. But beware: what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for the other. Community businesses will tend to focus on social networks, while all SaaS solutions or mobile applications will prefer SEO or emailing. But it could very well be the other way around too! It all depends on your offer, your target and your market.

Then, until then, it is highly likely that you will do everything by hand. To increase productivity, it will indeed become essential to automate your acquisition, retention or recommendation processes . If you’re new to marketing automation and Zapier (one of the most popular platforms for growth hackers), now is the time to take a look. And seriously!

Growth Hacking – Who is it for?

  • To companies already established, with a problem of growth
  • to large groups.

We do not implement this type of strategy when the company is created.

50% of companies in France are really behind when it comes to digital (source of the Deloitte report on the digitalization of companies). We are working more and more with companies in a digital transition phase, which already have a policy and are in the process of evolving.

Growth Hacking - Who is it for?

In terms of the market today, it is divided into 2:

  • 50% of companies that sell products and as many that sell services.
  • B2B is relatively comfortable: you can send a newsletter to a database made up of people identified by their function. They have the possibility to unsubscribe directly from the email.
  • B2C is less simple because it is forbidden to send emails to prospects who have not created an account on my site.


You have questions but no certainties, we will test different channels. These are avenues that we are exploring. If we are wrong, we change tracks. It does not matter, we had the merit of exploring this one. We test several methods, we seek the one that best suits the achievement of the company’s objective:

  • Not all channels are relevant
  • Social networks are not necessarily suitable
  • Sometimes an SEO policy is not relevant, you have to look elsewhere. Especially when our keywords are the subject of few requests by Internet users.

So we look everywhere, for a small budget and a short period. The idea is to find the channel (s) that work.

Take the case of CRM software. The offers are numerous, the competitors too. The term “CRM” itself is very competitive. You have to be smart and creative, not to hesitate to get around the problem. In this case, the principle of the long tail is adapted: it is a question of adding elements to the keyword in order to be more precise and less generic. In our case: CRM + business activity.

Integration into a digital marketing strategy

Upstream, the market study determines the personas: Who are the customers, what are their purchasing behavior.

The strategy of the company and its offer, will allow the definition of MVP (Most Valuable Product), the 1st item that we put on the market because it is functional. It will serve as a test for the attractiveness of the product.

Reid Hoffman , co-founder of Linkedin, even claims that “If you weren’t embarrassed about the first version of your product, you launched too late.”

The added value of Growth hacking is measured secondly, when we have found our place in the market in terms of content, income and account activation.

This specialty is then used to hack its growth exponentially.

The different bricks of Growth Hacking

The main stake is the acquisition of new visitors to the site, who will turn into customers.

For this we will need qualified databases, made up from the channels that we want to work.

The Scraping allows to create files for massively contact a large number of users / followers / subscribers. The method to reach them may vary depending on the channel: email, tweet, promo…. . Everything is good to get them to come to the website. Our goal is to create and activate an account.

Then, when this is activated, the start of automation is started (process automation)  . this one can have several intentions to retain / capture the attention of our interlocutor.

  • Welcome message
  • Deposit of a tracking tool for later identification
  • Confirmation email
  • Basket validation or sending an email if the basket has not been validated by the Internet user
  • Proposal of similar products
  • Sending of promotional offers on anniversary date.

All these steps aim to optimize the retention phase, to encourage the customer to come back. Build loyalty through new features: Loyalty card, sponsorship, everything is tested.

And for good reason: it is about finding new and imaginative, original ideas which will hit the mark.

We can also draw a parallel between this profession and that of sales: the activation / retention / recommendation phases corresponding to the triptych Prospecting / breeding / loyalty.

What types of tools

Some tools that allow you to automate emails  :

  • Activ Campaign
  • Auto Pilot
  • Sending Blue.

The  Scraping can recover a lot of data from a website, with the aim to create one or more databases. There are chrome extensions for Linkedin for example: Linkedlead, clearbit, fullcontact.

In a Growth Hacking strategy, marketing automation becomes a real issue. The more the processes are automated (welcome e-mail, reminder for sending information, news, etc.) the more time is freed up to produce content. This content that will attract to promote acquisition.

Finally, Google Analytic s tools also play an important role in measuring the impact of our test campaigns.

Also Read: How to choose best SEO optimized web hosting

How to train in Growth Hacking

There are beginning to exist some training in this profession. Today many Growth Hacking specialists are self-taught, some of whom come from The Familly community (Paris). Often these are communication and marketing professionals, who have taken the digital turn and quickly gained skills in new tools. No initial training course, rather an evolution of professions and a real appetite for digital.

Growth hacking is a discipline that combines marketing, programming and automation. No acquisition campaign can improve steadily without careful analysis of per-share data. No retention can serve as a relevant model without understanding the causes of it.

Like a researcher, the growth hacker analyzes each experience and tries to draw conclusions that are useful to all members of the team. It amplifies growth 

In conclusion

Being a Growth hacker is the assurance of having an exciting job, and of constantly evolving. You have to be on standby, always on the lookout for new tools to test, and collaboration with different people.

Important downside to the new GDPR (Data Protection Regulation) which comes into force in May 2018. Indeed, this new regulation, which obliges companies to be more transparent with regard to stored data and gives the Internet user the possibility of having them deleted, will profoundly revolutionize the business of Growth hacker.

Web magician? Sorcerer of acquisition? Sorry, but the growth hacker is none of that… Because it will never be possible to find customers for an offer that does not interest anyone, regardless of the amount involved in your marketing actions. The Internet was an El Dorado 20 years ago, today it is a jungle . You might as well be aware of it from the start.

However, with a minimum of attractiveness, a real sense of customer relationship and a hint of mischief in your actions, growth hacking works.

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