I recently started to get more into growth marketing. The term for this marketing technique is actually growth hacking, and was coined by Sean Ellis (here's the link to the original blog post). However, I prefer to replace the word 'hacking' with 'marketing'. Perhaps it is because I have a business and not an engineering background. But anyway, in the end these are details and don't really matter. It is the idea behind growth marketing that is fascinating.
First of all, growth marketing is a mindset and not a toolset, and it is particularly geared towards startup companies that have limited resources and depend on rapid growth for survival. The goal is to foster growth by developing ideas for new marketing channels, constantly running experiments, and making intensive use of metrics to test hypotheses. A growth marketer needs to be creative and analytical at the same, and should be able to think outside of traditional marketing concepts such as the 4Ps.
The tactics used are actually similar to online marketing. For example, both use paid acquisition, search engine optimization, content marketing, and/or email campaigns to optimize the conversion funnel and reduce friction. However, growth marketing is closer to product development as it involves, for example, viral in-product features or product design. Therefore, growth marketers quite often have an engineering instead of a business background, so the term growth hackers makes sense.
There are many good examples of companies that have successfully implemented innovative growth strategies. I want to mention three of the most well-known:
- Hotmail put at the bottom of each email a simple "PS: I love you. Get your free e-mail at Hotmail."
- Dropbox used an in-product referral program that provided both the referee and referrer a really enticing incentive: more storage (at very low marginal cost).
- Airbnb developed an easy-to-use Craigslist integration to post Airbnb listings to a platform with millions of existing users and massive traction.