Growth Hacking: What Is It & How Does It Work?

Growth hacking has been one of the most popular buzzwords in recent years, and it will continue to be so in 2021, which is why so many people are asking, “What is Growth Hacking?”

Growth hacking is a term that consultants, marketers, and entrepreneurs use to describe the most effective way to grow a business, and some even refer to it as the ‘future of marketing,’ but what does it really mean?

In this article, we’ll define growth hacking and explain how it works. 

The Definition

Growth Hacking is a growing field solely focused on growth, utilizing a data-driven, experiment-based approach.

By optimizing the product, a growth hacker systematically looks for new growth opportunities at any customer journey stage, from awareness to marketing to brand ambassadors.

Growth hacking dates all the way back to 2010 when Sean Ellis coined the term and has primarily been popular among startups, owing to their limited budgets and resources. Since then, an increasing number of people have taken up the mantle of a growth hacker, growth marketer, technical marketeer, data-driven marketer, or head of growth.

Since then, it has seen a dramatic increase in popularity among scale-ups and larger, more established businesses.

Difference Between Growth Hacking vs Marketing

We have to admit that the difference isn’t always that significant. To my mind, there are too many differences in job descriptions between growth hackers and traditional marketers to lump them together, which is why growth hacking deserves its own term.

As a result, many people, particularly in enterprise business, use the term ‘Growth Marketing’ to keep things simple (and avoid the negative connotations associated with the term ‘hacking’).

Six differences between marketing and growth hacking:

  • A growth hacker is focused on future growth opportunities, whereas marketers are frequently overburdened with current marketing and branding.
  • While most marketers focus on Awareness and Acquisition, a growth hacker considers the entire funnel, including Retention and Referral.
  • Whereas a marketer frequently works on larger, long-term projects, a growth hacker conducts small experiments to determine which directions work best/have the most potential.
  • A growth hacker is data-driven, whereas the majority of marketing departments are not.
  • A growth hacker possesses additional technical abilities, including programming, tooling, and automation.
  • A growth hacker is involved in the product because, among other things, he is responsible for active customer retention.