Many articles, books, podcasts and videos will tell you how to start to hack your growth after famous examples such as Airbnb, Dropbox or PayPal. But only a few tell you why you should really focus on it instead of doing “classic” marketing (I say it with a capital Love to all the marketers that are doing a great job–no offense intended). If you have ever seen a video of the British-American author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek, you know how important it is to start with why. And if you haven’t, I highly recommend you check out his TEDx video. It’s very inspiring.
(Featured Image: Nessim Medjoub, Founder & CEO of Clickbye / Image Credit: Serge Deuces)
- It’s the SMART thing to do
Whether you’re a startuper, an entrepreneur (a startuper is an entrepreneur but an entrepreneur is not necessarily a startuper, but let’s hold that debate for another article) or an employee, you know how important growth is. Isn’t that why in most companies we define SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely)? And this in order to make sure we can grow our revenue, margins, leads, efficiency and our ROI?
Growth is a necessity, and you already know that. But as a startup, it is the essence of who you are (as we will see in the next paragraph). It is growth that testifies to the world that your product interests people, that you have reached the important “Product/Market fit” milestone, and that you are “sexy enough” (VC words) for investors. We (as a startup community) are thus searching for this famous traction that Business Angels and VCs talk so much about, just as people used to search for gold a century ago. You can have the best product in the world, but if nobody knows about it, you are simply one (very beautiful) star in the universe, sparkling but unnamed. As a startup, we had to find the best way to make Clickbye shine brighter than most others with the few resources we have.
“As a startup, you need to grow to enter a market, to challenge the status quo, to become big enough to survive.”
- To survive
Growing is not only a startup issue. For many companies, growing is surviving. There’s nothing really new about it because it’s in our DNA as human beings. Humankind has been doing it for thousands of years to survive and evolve, and we will still be doing it in the coming centuries. Startups are species too, and they need evolution.
Paul Graham, founder of Y Combinator (the US acceleration program where Airbnb, Dropbox and Stripe took-off) wrote a reference article in 2012 called “Startup = growth,” in which he explains the difference between a startup and a regular company, and why it’s all about growth. As a startup, you need to grow to enter a market, to challenge the status quo, to become big enough to survive. As a well-established company, you have to stay alert to make sure someone is not taking the market from under you because you are too lazy to improve yourself (Uber and taxis). It’s hard to climb to the top, but it’s also hard to stay there. To survive you have to stay alert to your ecosystem. That’s why growth can be internal as well as external.
“Making sure your users are happy and that they are more than happy to recommend you is a part of growth and therefore, an important part of growth hacking.”
- To build a community
We all still have in our memory the huge acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp to Facebook in the past years. Facebook was not buying the technology because they already had it with Slingshot (it’s normal if you didn’t hear much about it) and Messenger. They were after Instagram and WhatsApp’s brand and most of all their user database. Instagram and WhatsApp had many loyal users and active newbies. The dream of any startup! Too often people confuse Growth with Customer Acquisition. How you retain your current users/clients and push them to refer you is just as important as how you acquire new users.
Everybody knows the importance of building a community. However, with daily operations, more “urgent” matters, and short-terms goals, it’s not easy to keep growth in mind. As an entrepreneur or a leader, you are looking for people to spread the word, such as ambassadors, sponsors, beta testers, influencers or anyone that is ready to testify and vouch for your product or service.
Not convinced? How did you learn about Airbnb? And about Uber? “I don’t remember but I think it was a friend who told me about it”. Exactly! That’s why community is important. Making sure your users are happy and that they are more than happy to recommend you is a part of growth and therefore, an important part of growth hacking.
“We decided to follow the AARRR framework developed by Dave McClure. AARRR stands for Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral and Revenue.”
- To be ROI Efficient
Despite popular opinion, growth hacking is not magic. I didn’t hire an anti-social geek that did his mojo by himself. Growth hacking is a mindset in which my team and I hypothesize, experiment, perform, measure and repeat, repeat, repeat! (I know it sounds a bit like a sport’s coach). Of course, marketing is part of it, but not the whole. Product optimization is as important as marketing. If you have great marketing but an “ok” product, it’s like putting water in bucket with holes (you might have already heard this example). Same thing for the product, you can have the best product in the world, but if nobody knows about you, it’s useless (cue the star example I gave in the part 1).
That’s why we decided to follow the AARRR framework developed by Dave McClure. AARRR stands for Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral and Revenue. Keeping these 5 main pillars in mind when you are looking to grow and experiment will shape your business approach to keep your competitive advantage or to win it from your competitors optimizing the resources you have. Money can bring laziness while lack of money or human resources inspires creativity—you just don’t have the choice. Your survival depends on it.
“Growth Hacking gives you the opportunity to fix SMART goals, as it’s all about measurement and metrics, to make sure you keep in mind your goals, so you learn and succeed.”
- To stay (or become) agile and resilient
Having this experimental approach on your marketing or your product development team will help you save money and grow efficiently. Twitter is a perfect example, as shown on the image below. Once they went from 1 test every 2 weeks to 10 tests per week, their growth changed significantly.
If you can’t measure the impact of your experimentation, it’s not growth hacking. And that’s how we make sure our experimentations are in line with your goals. And once you find the right hack that works for you (unfortunately it’s different for most of startups), your growth will change, and your Customer Acquisition Cost significantly decrease. However, Growth hacking is not finding only one single hack, it’s an ongoing process. You keep finding hacks that work, and sometimes you find hacks that don’t.
Clickbye is a travel startup in a very competitive travel ecosystem, it was (and it still is) important that we find the best way (at our humble scale) to compete without spending hundreds of thousands of euros (that we don’t have any way) in Facebook Ads and Google AdWords. Efficiency and experimentation are key. Growth Hacking gives you the opportunity to fix SMART goals, as it’s all about measurement and metrics, to make sure you keep in mind your goals, so you learn and succeed. As Michael Jordan once said, “To learn to succeed, you must first learn to fail.”