Growth Hacking 101: What Is A Growth Hacker?

The term growth hacker is becoming increasingly common in the modern workplace, but many people may not really be aware what this role actually looks like. Growth hackers most commonly work for startup businesses, where a product or service is new, and where the leadership team is looking for explosive growth. For these businesses, traditional marketers may simply not be effective. Traditional marketing relies on an established product, and growth targets are normally more modest. For a growth hacker, the target is always considerable growth over a short period of time. So what does the work of a growth hacker actually involve?

Analyzes new ideas and builds new models

Growth hackers are normally very analytical people. A growth hacker will enjoy the challenge of taking a comprehensive database and understanding what this actually means. As such, a significant part of the growth hacker’s role includes analyzing data and building models to help test different theories to drive growth. This could include analyzing how customers navigate a website. The model could focus on Twitter users. Growth hackers may test how customers interact between a website and a mobile app. The scenarios are almost limitless but the growth hacker’s strategy is consistent. He or she wants to use data to find out where the best growth opportunities exist and to then develop new ideas to test.

Changes the product or the marketing approach

The word ‘hacker’ infers that growth hackers change code and are expert programmers. This is not necessarily the case, but the expertise of a growth hacker means that he or she will be able to make changes to the product quickly and easily. Understanding the technical design of the product is crucial to this. Whether the hacker makes the changes in person, or oversees a team that makes the changes is probably not relevant. The ability to ensure that the business makes change quickly and in the right way is definitely part of the growth hacker’s accountabilities.

Tests and learns quickly

By using data modelling techniques, growth hackers may identify multiple potential growth opportunities. They must then robustly manage each of these opportunities in a way that allows the growth hacker to measure success (or failure) quickly. As such, growth hackers often act as project managers, implementing ideas and enabling ways to realise business benefit through specific tests. Pace is extremely important. For start up businesses, growth hackers must test and learn quickly so that they can move on to the next opportunity. A growth hacker will normally be working on multiple projects and refining those projects as he or she progresses.

Looks for opportunities in social media

Sites like Facebook and twitter are constantly refining the way in which they use data. They are also constantly updating the way in which developers may link to their sites through their applications programming interface (or API). Growth hackers must be aware of any changes as soon as they happen and, more importantly, they must immediately understand the opportunities that these changes present. In a competitive environment there may be a race to exploit new data or to exploit existing data in a new way. A growth hacker must therefore consistently study these sites.

Understands and analyzes the market

To be truly competitive a startup business needs to fundamentally understand the market it operates in. This includes a keen awareness of competitor activity. A growth hacker will constantly look for best practices and areas of opportunity to help drive profitable growth. There may, for example, be an opportunity to link customer data in a way that is different to the nearest competitor, refining a product feature in a way that customer feedback demonstrates is in high demand. This is seldom easy. Growth hackers must think carefully about how to differentiate and maintain the right customer value proposition.

The growth hacker’s role is hectic and can vary considerably according to the product he or she owns or the business he or she works for. The most important thing, however, is almost certainly how the growth hacker implements change. It is in this area that the growth hacker largely has a unique skill set and what differentiates this role from any other.