How Companies Create Growth with the Internet
Times Change and so does the World of Marketing!
Gone are the days when a double-page spread in a newspaper attracted great attention, gone are the days when advertising on billboards or expensive TV spots reached thousands of people, of whom only a small fraction belonged to the desired target group.
Why has the marketing world changed so rapidly in the last few decades?
Sure the internet was invented, but the answer is not that simple!
The Creation of a New Job Title
It is not just the existence and establishment of the internet that is the cause of groundbreaking marketing successes; it is the people who have understood how to use this new environment for their purposes and who know how to think innovatively in order to discover and develop new marketing strategies.
This is where the term growth hacking comes into the picture. Those who work in the marketing department of a start-up have certainly come across this term before. In fact, the term was created by Sean Ellis, who first used it to describe a job posting in 2010 as he was looking for suitable successors.
New Circumstances Need New Solutions…!
Sean recognised this back then. As a growth advisor, his creative ideas and technical skills have helped many start-ups, as well as well-known companies such as Dropbox, to achieve ground-breaking growth rates. When looking for successors, Sean realised that traditional marketers applying for the job didn’t bring the necessary know-how for start-ups, so he invented a new job title; Growth Hacker.
Why as is necessary to invent a comrplete new job opportunity? Should marketers with Why professional experience or excellent university degrees not be the perfect match for that job? After all, they develop strategic plans, manage external affairs and influence sales? But this is exactly where the problem lies; Marketers’ focus is broad and start-ups’ budgets usually the opposite. To avoid going under before they could even start properly, start-ups must first follow one single goal and that is to create growth.
In fact, growth plays a big role in every phase of a business, but depending on the stage, either traditional marketer or growth hacker skills are more appropriate.
So what skills make a Growth Hacker special?
In fact, growth hackers have some overlap with marketers. They understand the psychology of potential customers, they know where they are, what interests them and how best to approach them. They also stand out for their creativity and know how to deal with design.
Of course, marketers possess even broader skills and they have adapted to the digital evolution of the online environment, but growth hackers stand out for their interdisciplinary way of thinking.
They have in-depth knowledge in programming and data analysis, they understand technical correlations and how to automate processes. Growth hackers also use their knowledge of online data analysis to test, measure and improve these operations.
But why do these skills play such a big role?
The development of the online infrastructure has opened up new ways and means that were previously unthinkable. When you talk about products, you might think of tangible items, or perhaps service offerings. But the spectrum of intangible products has reached a new dimension through the Internet. Social media accounts, storage space, data collection, these are some elements or distribution possibilities that have been added or modified by the Internet. The opportunities available to marketers are endless and so far they have not been fully captured.
How do growth hackers use these tools to generate growth?
So far, the focus has been very much on the theoretical part, but growth hacking is all a matter of putting things into practice quickly. It should also be clear that growth hacking is not about setting rules that everyone can follow. Rather, it is about paving new paths.
Here are some Examples of Growth Hacking:
Facebook: Facebook achieved breakthrough growth through embeddable badges and widgets that the social media platform gave away to users when they generated new visitors by linking to their profiles on their websites and blogs.
Youtube: Embed codes that the platform makes available to post on other blogs and websites helped the company become the second largest search engine after Google.
Dropbox: By inviting friends to Dropbox, users received free gigabytes for online storage. Thanks to this tactic, Dropbox experienced a boost in growth.
As you can see, there are many ways to increase growth. From today’s perspective, these approaches seem obvious, but their discoverers and pioneers were able to profit enormously from them. In particular, linking between platforms is now ubiquitously known as a means to increase views, which is why it has become the most important element of search engine optimisation (SEO).
Once again, growth hacking is primarily about finding your own solutions from all the undiscovered opportunities. However, using solutions that have already been identified can still help your own growth.
The Growth Hacking Success Story of Airbnb
Here is an example of how a company achieved huge success thanks to the application of different growth hacking skills.
Once upon a time there were two inventors of a website for cheap accommodation in private homes, called Airbnb. The two inventors created a user-friendly website with professional photos. They used traditional marketing strategies and conducted target group analyses. When there was more demand for accommodation than hotel rooms due to an event, they were the ones who met that demand through their platform. Nevertheless, the number of their views was stagnating.
A new strategy had to be discovered, and they quickly discovered it. They found out that their target group – young people who were looking for cheap accommodation and were willing to sleep in private flats – were looking for this on the Craiglist platform.
This new insight is great, but for traditional marketers this path would have ended in a dead end. Why?
Because in order to connect the Airbnb website to the Craiglist platform, it would have needed an interface called an API. However, the platform did not provide a public API. Moreover, it would probably not have been in Craiglist’s interest to enable its platform to link competitors’ listings through it.
Therefore, Airbnb operators looked for vulnerabilities to publish their offers on the platforms software. Airbnb found such a flaw and before Craiglist could fix the issue, Airbnb had already published its own offers on the platform, and gained enough attention by linking to their site to generate users without Craiglist in the future.
Every Story has Two Sites…
It is stories like Airbnb that have led to growth hacking being criticised and sometimes called unethical. Entrepreneurs should always consider how far they want to go for potential success. It should also be clear that growth hacking is not magic. It often consists of finding ways to make the old methods more efficient. The most important thing, is not to be fooled by overnight success stories like Facebook, Dropbox and Airbnb. Growth hacking is no guarantee of success and can also cost a company a lot of money. Therefore, each company should determine for itself which strategy, whether traditional marketing or growth hacking, is best for them.
To sum It all up
Growth hacking can lead to breakthrough success. New products and sales opportunities could emerge through the internet. Some of these opportunities have yet to be discovered, but once a growth hacker has identified them, they promise great success in the future. As a start up, however, you should not be blinded by the past successes of growth hacking. Important marketing decisions must always be carefully considered in order to preserve the reputation of your company, but also not to overstretch your budget.