How to be a growth hacker

How to be a growth hacker
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Marketers should get a little nerd-ier. 

With the internet now pervading almost every business vertical, the titles on the old marketing organisation chart need to change. 

Startups, corporations and everyone in between are rolling out new business models every day and with web technology now often a primary driver of revenue, it appears that the best marketers are evolving to become the “growth hackers” of the future.

Coined by a Silicon Valley entrepreneur in 2010, “growth hacking” has emerged in response to the rapid rise of start-ups and businesses built entirely on the Internet that are seeking to connect with increasingly tech-savvy consumers. 

In an age where communication channels quickly rise and fall (take Pinterest and MySpace as examples) and the low costs of launching a start-up means for every new product there are four more vying for your customer’s attention, marketers need to better work with technologists to build their brand and stay ahead of the curve.  

So, how can marketers apply this “growth hacker” mentality to their brand? 

While marketing traditionally focuses on external channels to attract customers, growth hacking takes a more internal approach by combining marketing and technical abilities to create in-built user growth mechanisms within the product.  

For example, at Airtasker, we wanted to increase the number of positive reviews being left for our ‘runners’ who help people with their to-do lists around the home and office, so we tweaked the website to allow users to make reviews in just one click, which immediately led to a 100% increase in positive testimonials month on month. It wasn't that people didn't want to leave a review, we just had to make it easier for them.

To adopt a growth hacker approach, brands need to get back to the basics of creating a product that simply impresses consumers – and creating features within the product that enable customers to easily spread the word about it.

While word-of-mouth marketing isn’t a new concept, the accessibility of technology today has made it even easier for consumers to shout about the products they like – and ignore the products they don’t like.

Growth hacking also means having the discipline and patience to work on activities that might not necessarily result in a huge spike or uptake in your product today, so that you can build towards sustainable long-term growth. 

As improving website responsiveness is intangible, it’s not often high on a brand’s priority list, but with so many websites and apps available today, users have become highly impatient which means that every millisecond they spend waiting for a page to load could potentially result in lost conversion rates.

In the new age of web-based businesses, responding quickly to make changes to your product and user experience is key however marketers need to find a balance between responding with agility while planning for the long-term. 

It's easy to get caught up in looking for the next "spike" in traffic through quick email campaigns or landing pages, however marketers need to focus on real product improvement to drive long-term growth.  While marketers might not get as many little spikes, a 1 per cent increase in conversion or user happiness will pay dividends in the long run.

Finally, a growth hacker approach means ensuring every single user journey is a success before building scale.  Net Promoter Score (NPS), a global benchmark to help organisations measure, understand and improve customer experiences, should be a key metric for any early stage business.  

There's no point in paying big money to put up a billboard or spend huge amounts on display ads to drive traffic to your website, and then have a big chunk of your visitors either not convert or walk away unhappy.  Marketers need to focus on making those few customers that walk through the door really happy and then once you've got a formula for success, drive the marketing with better ROI.

Now, while a growth hacker approach places a high priority on product development, I’m not suggesting that brands stop marketing altogether (especially in our case at Airtasker, as building critical mass in the community is actually part of the product). 

However, focusing on satisfying what might be a small, but dedicated customer base is often going to a better investment for your brand in the long run.

Tim Fung is CEO of mobile market place Airtasker and a founding member of mobile start-up, Amaysim. 

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