As markets continue to be disrupted, marketing costs soar, and consumer/customer attention is as fleeting as ever, it is critical to hack into new ways of achieving growth. When it came time to choose our next book to read as a team, reading Hacking Growth: How Today’s Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown was a no brainer as this is a strategic priority for us as a company and the clients we work with.
“Every kind of company must today be implementing the growth hacking method, from the scrappiest startups to the most established firms. If they don’t they risk being disrupted by a competitor who has.”
Sean first coined the term “growth hacking” in 2010” after using it to drive growth for Dropbox. He found that the solution of rapid, continuous growth involved out-of-the-box thinking, cross-company collaboration, real time market testing, and a commitment to quickly acting on the results. And as they explain in the book, growth hacking isn’t just a tool for marketers; it can be applied to new product innovation and to the continuous improvement of products, as well as to growing an existing customer base.
In Hacking Growth, Sean and Morgan explain what needs to be true for teams to activate growth hacking and provide examples of how different companies activated different principles through their growth challenges. Here are two (of many) company examples:
DROPBOX: When Dropbox reached out to Sean Ellis in 2010, the one-year-old startup had established a strong group of early adopters, but had not driven widespread adoption. Sean first determined, via what is now coined the “Must Have Survey”, that these early adopters would be extremely disappointed if Dropbox was no longer available to them, which signaled high potential for growth, but they needed to determine how to tap into it. From diving into user data, Sean uncovered a prime opportunity: harness word of mouth. They developed and launched a referral program and rapidly continued to optimize it, which spurred 2.8 billion user invites per month.
BITTORRENT: In 2012, this 50-person company was organized into traditional silos with no collaboration across teams while making the product. A product marketing manager on the marketing team requested that she can work with the product team to drive growth through the entire funnel. Through customer research, she quickly determined that the path toward growth was to focus on making the most of their current customers and presented her findings to the product team. After a few experiments to test and prove this hypothesis, resulting in a huge boost in installs, more engineers came to her to drive similar collaboration, exemplifying a key principle of growth hacking: cross-functional collaboration and problem solving.
“Certain species of sharks must always keep moving to survive; if they stop swimming, they literally die.” – Hacking Growth