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Last updated on 3/7/22

Adopt the Growth Hacker Mindset

Hello, everyone, and welcome to this course.

Let's explore growth hacking! 😀

Find Out Where Growth Hacking Comes From

The Meaning of the Term

Notice the choice of words: hacking, as in hacking your way into a computer system. Growth hacking literally means how you can hack your way into growing your business.

Above all, it is a state of mind with a goal: to find and exploit hyper-rapid growth opportunities by all means and at a low cost.

There is a misconception that growth hacking is free (or almost free). It takes time and effort. The mechanism consists of shifting the budgets and resources that are usually allocated to traditional marketing towards growth hackers and their fees: the gray matter, it's people! It's the basis of a good digital strategy. And the impact can be much more impressive than three billboards in the metro!

The Origins of Growth Hacking

Growth hacking was born in the tech startup environment and is now much more widely used by various companies. In my opinion, it's more of a new marketing discipline. In fact, traditional marketing mechanisms didn't translate well in the digital universe.

Sean Ellis first introduced the term growth hacking in 2010 after he boosted companies like Dropbox, LogMeIn, and Eventbrite. In his opinion, a growth hacker is responsible for growth, and their entire resources are directed to improve it. Later, Andrew Chen, in charge of growth at Uber, wrote an article called "Growth Hacker is the new VP Marketing," which made the term more accessible by reaching a much wider audience.

Growth hacking is also associated with the AARRR framework (acquisition, activation, retention, revenue, referral). This framework lists your customer's life stage interactions with your company and illustrates the KPIs (key performance indicators) for these different stages.

The First Hack in History

In 1996, Hotmail was the first case of viral growth. The founders' wish was to have a mailbox that their employer couldn't read for privacy. In fact, at the time, the only way to get an email was through your employer or telephone operator.

The free service very quickly convinced 20,000 users of its value. But Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith, the two founders, thought they could do better. They discovered that their new users came from existing user recommendations. So they decided to insert the following automatic signature at the bottom of each email:

PS: I love you (to catch the eye). Get your email for free with Hotmail (value proposition)
PS: I love you (to catch the eye). Get your email for free with Hotmail (value proposition)

Hotmail users then become spokespeople for the Hotmail value proposition.

The results? They reached six million users in six months and two million the following month. In a year and a half, they reached 12 million users. Microsoft bought Hotmail for $400 million.

And all this without any marketing expenditure. Not bad, is it?

Many other hacks followed, and allowed companies such as Airbnb, Dropbox, and YouTube to be what they are today. These examples will be further discussed later in the course. 😀

Discover Why Growth Hacking Is Here To Stay

Before, marketing teams played a purely promotional role by describing their product as "the best, the pioneer." Their goal was to sell, and their responsibilities ended there. The sales teams then took over executing the sale. Also, the sales cycles were longer.

Today, with digital products, the cycles are shorter. Product comparisons are easily accessible, and marketing actions are tracked in real-time. The consumer, therefore, needs to be accompanied at every step toward the purchase. As the growth hacker is responsible for growth, they are involved throughout the entire sales cycle. 

The evolution of funnel marketing: before and after visual. Marketing used to take place before sales and now they are both at the same time.
The evolution of funnel marketing

Here is another concrete example to help you understand:

Have you heard of the abandoned basket in e-commerce? It refers to visitors who have filled their checkout basket but leave the site without placing an order. It's a huge failure to capitalize. They were ready to buy, and the company has their contact details. Maybe they found what they wanted at a lower price? Maybe there was a malfunction during payment? Perhaps they were trying to get in touch to ask questions about this product but can't? Maybe they only made a phone call or someone rang their door bell? There are so many possibilities!

Who acts upon this failure? The growth hacker.

Practice Adopting the Growth Hacker's Mindset

Why is growth hacking said to be a state of mind?

The hacker culture comes from hackers who are continuously learning and will spend hours on the internet to find solutions for their problems. And they will find them! The growth hacker documents, learns online, discusses mechanisms with others, finds faults in the system, immerses themselves in it, goes against the grain, and questions the status quo.

Ready to give it a try? Try this simple exercise: take a paper clip and find 20 new uses for it! 🧙‍♂️

Several paperclips lined up, including the last one, and illustrated like a light bulb, symbolizing an idea.
How many ideas did you write down?

Identify Growth Hacker's Skills

Ideally, as a growth hacker, you should know sociology, psychology, back-end and front-end development, design, UX-UI design, copywriting, SEO, social media, and more (this list is unlimited!).

It's difficult to create a relevant job title because no one has all of the skills listed above. At a minimum, you need the following soft and hard skills:

  • The ability to dissect figures and understand data.

  • An understanding of how the web works.

  • The ability to learn new things and experiment.

As a reminder, your responsibility is growth. It's not a natural phenomenon, but systematic and methodological work that, most importantly, should not be filled with certainties.

Creative marketing, experimentation and data analysis, automation and development
The three worlds of the growth hacker

Develop Growth Hacking Habits

To take your first steps as a growth hacker, you should adopt some professional automatic reflexes:

  • Do it yourself. You don't know how to do it? The Internet is your best friend: find the answers to your questions by searching for them on Google, forums, dedicated groups, etc.

  • Observation. Look at everything that's going on around you, how people react in situations, and collect and analyze this data gathered online and offline! See what other actors are doing in your market, see what your favorite brands are doing and how their community reacts.

  • Risk-taking and emotional intelligence. Go off the beaten track. It may seem risky, but you can gain a lot from it. Take your wildest ideas, and combine them with your business goals.

  • Imperfection tolerance. You must understand that your approach is not perfect. All of your deliverables and actions can be improved, but try them!

  • Resilience. You reach your objectives through wear and tear. You can't do it? Try again. Find new paths and persevere until you get what you want!

Let's Recap!

  • Growth hacking means how you can hack your way into growing your business.

  • Growth hacking is a state of mind with a goal: to find and exploit hyper-rapid growth opportunities by all means and at a low cost.

  • Today the timing of marketing and sales overlap.

  • Growth hackers need to be creative and comfortable with data and automation.

In the next chapter, we’ll cover the fundamentals of growth. Find out what lifecycle stage your project is in, and assess if you're ready for hypergrowth.

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Example of certificate of achievement
Example of certificate of achievement