How to become a growth hacking ninja?

I first read the word “growth hacking” in an email sent by a coworker in which he told me that we had to organise a conference about “growth hacking” and that “it was going to be huge !”. At that time I didn’t know anything about growth hacking. After a few days of research, I am beginning to know a little better what we are talking about. In this series of articles, you will follow my discovery, my self-training and my attempt to become a growth hacker.

Related: Resource hub for growing your business

What is growth hacking?

A lot of definitions of growth hacking can be found on the internet. Each definition giving a special version of this notion, some focusing only on one side of it and many criticising the emulation around what others consider as “just another buzzword”. So let’s try to make things clearer: growth hacking refers to all the techniques situated in the grey zone between web marketing and engineering which aim at making a startup grow.

Is it not clearer? Does it sound like another buzzword? Well, maybe it is just because growth hacking is not about definitions but examples. Growth hacking covers a lot of techniques ranging from emailing, community management to A/B testing, SEO optimisation, content creation and so many others which have only one goal: making your activity grow.

Whether you have your own startup and you are trying to get new users or increase your conversion rate or your even a blogger seeking a new audience: all the free or cheap techniques that you have used or that you will use to make your activity grow: that’s growth hacking.

Who are the growth hackers?

There are many articles on the internet trying to figure out who the typical growth hacker is. Questions like “do I need to know how to code to growth hack?” or “do I need to know about traditional marketing to call myself a growth hacker?” appear everywhere on the web. After a few weeks focusing on the topic and tens of articles read, I built myself my own answer. Basically, I think that anyone who works in a startup can be called a growth hacker. It is more a state of mind and an attitude than a daily task.

Any engineer with a marketing focus on his business who has the wish to draw more users to his website and to increase his conversion rate is a growth hacker. Any business-oriented startuper interested in the engineering part of his business who is willing to change his website, test new versions of a feature and re-think his homepage every morning is a growth hacker.

There seems to be only a few “conditions” to be called a growth hacker:

  • Everything that you do has one single goal: making your activity grow
  • You are willing to iterate, to test, to measure and to adjust your value proposition until you find the best way to reach your goal
  • You want to find creative and innovative ways to grow, without using the regular tools (ad-words, Facebook ads, PR, etc.), in a word: you think outside the box
  • You can make decisions and stop doing something if you can’t prove it makes your activity grow (is spending time writing your weekly blog post really useful to improve your conversion rate?)

How to learn (about) growth hacking?

Many resources can be found online. My first reflex was searching #growthhacking on Twitter. And I was not disappointed: there is one new article published every two seconds.  Many Facebook groups also exist full of people sharing their ideas, experience and articles. I have signed up on growthhacker.com and read as many articles as I could to define growth hacking in my own way. I registered on growthhackingfrance.com to receive monthly news about the issue. Many conferences are also organised in every big city within a startup ecosystem. Most of them are free, and a great majority are a series of case studies on very particular issues, and if you can’t attend them, they are very often live streamed or broadcasted on YouTube the next day.