Growth Hacking

Eliud Nduati
6 min readMar 5, 2022

An overview of Growth Hacking Concept.

Growth hacking is primarily about the lean approach to digital marketing and growth. It involves low consumption of resources and costs to retain an active user base, increase sales and gain traction. In this case, hacking is about taking shortcuts to maximize the growth of the business.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

It can be summarized as growing the customer base products or service while using as little resource as possible in the least time possible — a major requirement for startups.

Unlike traditional marketing, growth hacking focuses on spending as little budget as possible by combining marketing, optimization, and development. It relies more on tactics that reduce the overall costs for marketing.

The term growth hacking was coined by Sean Ellis, the founder, and CEO of, in 2010.


Growth hacking focuses on regular A/B testing, which focuses on improving the customer conversion journey by replicating and scaling ideas that work while abandoning those that do not work.

Growth hackers take on marketing differently by focusing on innovation scalability and user conversion. They build the product’s potential for growth from the get-go — including the acquisition, onboarding, and retention. Tech products build their marketing in the product rather than having a separate channel or infrastructure to help with marketing.

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However, growth hacking is not magic; it is about effective marketing. It won’t happen without effort, but it will be cost-effective and low on resource consumption when it happens. While there are different metrics that one can focus on with a product, growth hacking focuses on growth as the main metric and, by so doing, focus all aspects of product design on how they can achieve customer acquisition and overall growth of the product in the market.

Growth hacking is about understanding why you grow and replicating that to make it happen further.

New customers need to hear about the product from their networks. A growth hacker uses OPN (Other People’s Networks- covered in this talk) to build their customer base.

This is cheaper than building your network and onboarding the customers from that point. A good case is how Airbnb used craigslist’s network to get more customers by having posts on Airbnb shared on Craigslist. This way, anyone who needed a house and chose one on Craiglist would more likely be redirected to Airbnb once they selected a house.

Growth hacking focuses on optimizing the conversion funnel and improving the conversion rate of customers. Dave McClure’s “pirate funnel” is used for growth in most cases.

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This involves acquisition, activation, retention, referral, and revenue (AARRR). Raising awareness is also part of growth and can be an integral activity. It is a process of improving what you already have and communicating this with your team.

A Growth hacker

This is person who everything they do is geared towards scalable growth in the firm. They should be disciplined to follow a growth hacking process of prioritizing ideas from the company and their own, testing these ideas, and being analytical to determine which ones to cut and which ones to keep.

Growth hacking can be linked to A/B testing and optimization, making data an integral part of growth hacking. The hacks should be tested to determine what works and what doesn’t.

A/B testing involves changing one aspect of the product (webpage or application) to determine which one performs better with the customers. It involves two variants, A & B., also known as split or bucket testing.

Benefits of growth hacking.

  1. Provable ROI is easier to determine what works and what does not, using growth hacking and A/B testing. The data used can be used to track the performance of each hack/ strategy and decide what to explore and what to drop.
  2. Low costs — growth hacking is not resource-intensive. It utilizes the limited available resource sign tactic to ensure that the web pages and apps leverage the available best and cost-effective practices. It also involves extensive and iterative A/B testing.
  3. Low resources — growth hacking does not require a marketing team to execute.

Using a growth hacking strategy is all about having your products market themselves, such as improving the customers’ experience with every new customer for social media platforms. It also targets scalable products. But not just that, with every new level of growth, the users benefit from the experiences gained from new users.

Let’s take a hypothetical. If you’re offering a service that 100 people have subscribed to, you can use growth hacking to get more customers by understanding the needs of these 100 customers and using this to scale your product. It’s the same as creating a persona from the already available customers and using this persona to onboard more customers. The experience will grow with every new customer, which means that the more customers you get, the easier it is to get more customers on board.

Photo by Daniel Öberg on Unsplash

Customer awareness and Data

A product that people want can grow rapidly, but it also needs to be pushed for people to know about it and acquire it and use it. This is where the power of data comes in. Using clients’ data, you can understand their needs, what works for them and what doesn’t, and use these insights to scale and improve your product.

The whole idea is to ensure that you learn from what you already have to make the experience of the new customers even better for them to stay; retention means growth.

How to get started with growth hacking.

I assume that you already have a product, and people are willing to pay for it. You learn from the existing customers and use this knowledge to gain more customers. In the process, you have gathered data to understand the buyers. Using this data, you can build personas to help with focused targets of growth marketing tactics on varied personas. Data from feedback to know if you are on the right track, continuous update on the products while testing is also important. Testing should be based on the data collected, which helps foster continued growth.

Some certain steps and activities help build a framework for growth hacking.

  • Build an experimentation process — the scientific approach. The processes should be scalable, predictable, and repeatable.
  • Set measurable goals/ objectives. Understand and layout the overall goal and its constituent parts, e.g., if your goal is to grow revenue, the minor goals involve getting more leads, raising the conversion rate & A/B testing.
  • Encourage the generation of ideas through brainstorming. Build an experimentation culture in your team.
  • Prioritize the ideas and choose what to implement first. You can use HubSpot’s PIE (Priority, Importance & Ease) approach.
  • Analyze data from the experiments. Go deeper in your analysis to understand how the experiment was performed and learn from the data collected during the experiment.

Examples of growth hacking cases

  • Airbnb is cross-posting all new listings on craigslist for free. found here
  • Dropbox incentivized referral tactics to get new users. found here