What is growth hacking and why has it caught on so much?

When you look at the term growth hacking, it is quite a difficult topic to get a grasp on. In fact, when doing a Google or Bing search on the topic “growth hacking,” you will be given results that are a bit ambiguous at best. However, if you read through the articles, you will find that the term growth hacking relates to any technique or strategy which “hacks” the traditional marketing strategies. The methodology of the practice is to bypass the time-consuming and more stringent practices of marketing to quickly and efficiently drive traffic to a business.

IS GROWTH HACKING REALLY “HACKING”?
The word hack typically has negative implications to the word. Pictures of a programmer or a college kid in a basement trying to get into a secured network quickly come to mind. However, this is not necessarily what growth hacking means (though I am sure that there is a small minority which has taken less than ideal methods in their marketing strategy). Growth hacking focuses on building up a customer base and following of a product or service through creative and inventive methods. Realistically, it should be called reconditioned growth or innovative growth.

WHO BENEFITS THE MOST FROM GROWTH HACKING?
Growth hacking is primarily used by those whose business is largely online if not completely online. As such, small businesses and entrepreneurs profit the most from the practices. Larger companies may use social media and online marketing strategies, but honestly, their budgets allot them the time and finances not to cut corners or bypass traditional marketing practices. On the other hand, the business that only has a few thousand dollars (if that) for their marketing strategy would need to optimize their marketing strategies to reach the most people with the least amount of time and finances dedicated to an individual campaign.

THE PHILOSOPHY OF GROWTH HACKING
If you look at traditional marketing as it relates to growth hacking, they present two entirely different philosophies to gaining clients. The traditional marketing focuses on gaining a customer who will then share the product’s success with others. Growth hacking focuses on getting visitors who will then become loyal customers and users of the site. Where this may appear at first glance as being similar, they are not. The best imagery I can think of would be that traditional marketing uses a precision rifle on a target, hitting a specific location and points. Growth Hacking is the equivalent of using a shotgun on that target. Yes, you will hit certain points, but it is more spread out and less targeted to an individual place.

THE GROWTH HACKER’S TOOLBOX
So, if growth hacking is not traditional marketing what it is? What means of do growth hackers use to bring in visitors, get active members, and retain users? The answer is anything that is on the internet can be used to grow the user base. There are a few things which are a bit standard in the hacker’s toolbox. These are:

  • Email Campaigns
    These are a science and art in themselves. Use something that is not visually appealing and the call to action will not be taken, if certain words are over used it goes into the spam. Yet, it is a great tool if you can create a visually appealing email that gets the point across and calls the user to action effectively.
  • Organic Content
    Organic content is the building of discussions, comments, and such directly from viewers. As the content is from the visitors, the search engines see this as an interesting site, and your SERPs are reflected in it.
  • Content that is shareable and can go viral
    While there are many ways in which the Growth hacker can go about getting content to be shared, the most typical is to make a creative video that engages the viewer. This does not have to be an instructional video (contrary to some beliefs that the only successful videos are instructional), but rather has to be memorable. Think of the video of the cat playing Chopsticks. There is no educational or informative information present, but the video went viral because it was sharable and likeable. Those seeking to have a viral video should keep in mind that the video has to be engaging. The more engaging the video the more likely it is to go viral.I implement growth hacking and viral strategies for my customers on a regular basis, with ad costs for under $0.00001/action (!), a massive increase in ranking, visibility and thus sales.
Facebook Growth Hacking
MY 2 DAYS VIRAL STRATEGY RESULTING IN AN ORGANIC REACH OF 7,735,923 VIEWS, 36000 COMMENTS, AND 62275 SHARES. COST: ONLY $17 (!)

THE COMMON SENSE FACTOR TO GROWTH HACKING
Growth Hacking is the quick way to bring people to your brand. It is the jumpstart to your product or service. That being stated, those who are really focused on building their product awareness and their branding should not neglect the research and other marketing strategies of traditional marketing to solidify further and make their brand iconic.

A cautionary note: cutting corners and being creative is great for getting the brand out there. However, you should not try to actually hack the SEO algorithms of a search engine or cheat the search engines with fake content. This will negatively affect your business. Just as J.C. Penny.

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