The What’s and Why’s of Growth Hacking

Your brand’s online. Which is good. You have a presence. Also good. But now what? Now you want the numbers to back it up. You want to see a measurable ROI. You want to improve.

And so you start to ask questions:
How do I increase my click through rate? How will I receive more readers on my emailer? How can I increase my sales?

The simple answer: through growth hacking.

What does growth hacking mean?

Growth hacking is pretty straight forward. It describes tactics and processes to help you increase your numbers. Growth hacking, at the moment, is a global trend in the conversion business that’s on everyone’s minds, and lips. Let’s unpack what it’s all about.

Firstly, growth hacking is not a one-size-fits-all solution

Hearing what someone else has done to triple their conversation rate sounds genius, but is most likely only genius for their specific case. Knowledge sharing of tips and tricks is useful, but often won’t be relevant to you. You need to figure out your fit for you industry, market, and budget. There are specific processes that you can follow to help you get the most bang for your buck.

1. Strategy is key (you see)

You need to start off with a good strategy. There’s a very clear process to build a powerful strategy: you need a clear framework and processes in order for clear and valuable business decisions to take place.

Taking a lesson from strategists

Taking a quick detour through strategy (promise this is going somewhere), the power of a clear strategy is not just a concise set of definitions, but also the framework and process for strategic analysis to create a strategy. In other words, strategy is a framework and process for informed decision making.

So instead of getting distracted by what you need to do, strategic analysis provides the framework and process to help identify future valuable competitive positioning. For example you can get started with strategic analysis by performing a SWOT, competitor and environmental analysis. Knowing the process, in conjunction with the right toolkit, results in more targeted, valuable insights, rather than trying to define your strategy up front.

The important thing to take from the strategists book is that the toolkit and process are the enablers to get you to a point where you can make decisions that bring value.

2. A Framework and Process for Growth Hacking

This is where things get more useful. Instead of trying to reverse engineer which growth hacking tactic will work best for you, applying a framework and process to growth hacking makes it possible to identify opportunities and then prioritise them in the most valuable manner. In other words there really is no point in spending many many hours setting up A/B testing, creating many different variations of landing pages, and getting a statistically significant number of users to test with if users on mobile can’t see your “buy now” button. So how do you get the most bang for your buck and see the most growth from the least effort?

3. Introducing Growth Optimisation

Growth Optimisation is a term and process I came across via Peep Laja. The lesson is that growth optimisation is NOT a set of tactics, but a process. The process is broken down into 2 main parts. The first is your Mindset, and the second is Growth Research. (Below is a very brief overview, if you wish to learn more visit conversionxl.com or contact me.)

Lesson 1 – The Mindset

The correct attitude and mindset is essential to find success in the conversion research process. Here are a few thoughts before you get going.

  • Growth is not about conversions. If you reduce your prices conversions will increase, but that is not growth.
  • You need to stop thinking what might be a good idea to change and instead find friction.
  • Accept that your opinion doesn’t matter, you are not your customer.
  • Accept that you do not know what will work. If people knew what worked, we’d all be billionaires.
  • There are no templates. Best practices only work in half of sites and you don’t know which half your site is in.
  • Process over tactics. If you can’t describe what you’re doing in a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.

Lesson 2 – Conversion Research

Just incase you’re not on board with the idea of your opinion does not matter yet, just ask yourself this: would you prefer a surgeon to operate on you from an opinion, or after careful examination and tests?

Now that we’ve established your opinion don’t matter, the data informed approach can begin.

Gathering data can cause analysis paralysis, so this is where the process comes in to help, allowing you to focus on analysing only the data you need to find the opportunities with the biggest impact from the smallest effort.

I put together this pyramid chart which plots the process of conversion optimisation. Because all good pyramids need a solid foundation, the process starts at the bottom and works its way up.

Growth Optimisation Pyramid

Disclaimer: I have added impact and effort on the x and y axis respectively, however this is an over simplification meant to reinforce the idea of the process. While you can say a process higher up the pyramid is easier than those below, having to re-do work lower down the pyramid will add unnecessary work and introduce extra effort. The point is meant to reinforce the overall idea of getting the biggest bang for your buck, and step 7 reinforces this by enabling you to prioritise tasks by category, effort and impact.

Don’t Get Carried Away

Growth optimisation goes much more in depth and this blog post is meant to be an introduction to a framework and process, not an extensive guide. I wanted to share this introduction because I believe growth optimisation helps simplify a complicated field, and will hopefully help to steer people away from trying to roll out advanced growth hacking tactics before getting their foundations right.

Final Thoughts on Growth Hacking

  • Growth hacking tactics are a distraction.
  • Don’t get ahead of yourself with A/B testing if you don’t have your basics sorted.
  • Nobody wants to know what you think might work – create a data informed assumption then form hypothesis statements which you can validate by testing.
  • Prioritise your what you do by most impactful with the least amount of effort to implement.
  • If you have questions or what to learn more contact me.
Nicholas Soper

About Nicholas

I am passionate about working in tech, travel, solving problems and helping people. I also love being active, surfing and being outside. From England and currently living in Cape Town, South Africa. Say hi! Learn more about Nick.

  • Pingback: Tips About Growth Hacking Your Startup From A Growth Hacker()

  • Pingback: Why Growth Hackers Should Operate Like Wayne Gretzky()

  • Hi Nick. Really enjoy your perspective, especially your insistence on knowing that you don’t know what’s going to happen. What do you think the effects of the use of semantic analytics are going to be for content marketing? We just rolled out an API that detects semantic patterns, and there are others in this space doing apps and SaaS. People use these tools. What is this going to do to the game theory? What’s content across the web on a given topic going to look like when everyone knows exactly what to say to be discoverable? Or are we close enough to that point already?