Growth Hacking: What It Is and How It Works

The digital world is a battleground where marketers fight every day for competitive advantage. There may be uncompromising goals, limiting budgets, limited resources and a surplus of competitors in a context of advancing tools and platforms. A conventional approach to marketing is no longer enough. The only way to survive is to adapt.

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

Growth hacking is a generic term for business strategies focused exclusively on growth . It is usually used in relation to early stage startups that need massive growth in a short time, with limited budgets available.

The goal of growth hacking strategies is generally to acquire as many users or customers as possible, spending as little as possible.

You can potentially do growth hacking even offline. One example is McDonald’s, which appeared on all interstate highway exits of the 1950s as growth hacking. They realized that interstate highways would be large, so they showed up where they knew customers would be in large quantities.

Still, this fairly new concept applies primarily to the world of startups who need to find cheaper ways to market themselves.

Traditional marketing involves print ads, television advertisements, telephone marketing, direct mail, etc. These tactics are useful for large companies, but not so useful for smaller, Internet-based ones. Not only are traditional marketing methods expensive, they aren’t exactly the best way to reach people around the world who could benefit from a product or service.

Startups need a very scalable product at the start.

What is a growth hacker ? He is a person who uses low cost creative strategies to help companies acquire and retain customers.

As a growth hacker, every strategy you execute, every tool you implement and every technique you develop must be driven by your desire for growth.

They hypothesize, set priorities and test innovative growth strategies; they perform analyzes and tests to see what works and what doesn’t.

The ideal growth hacker knows how to set growth priorities, identify channels for customer acquisition, measure success and outperform the competition.

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So how does growth hacking work? For each company, it’s about understanding why it grows and looking for strategies to make it happen in the best possible way.


Many startups use Dave McClure’s pirate funnel as a recipe for growth. These are acquisition (acquisition), activation (activation), retention (retention), reference (referral) and revenue (revenue) ( AARRR ).

Others include awareness raising as a key to successful growth hacking.

Either way, the point is to get traffic and visitors, turn visitors into users and keep those users as satisfied customers.

Behind every effective growth hacking activity there is a rigorous and structured process which is based on iteration and scalability. Whether you are a startup or a large organization, B2B or B2C, this process can be customized and integrated into a successful growth strategy.


Refine your product: analyze the needs and preferences of your target market and use this data to improve your product. Growth hackers call it the “market-friendly product”. It’s important to make sure your offer is as strong as possible before using it as a catalyst for growth.

Set measurable goals: the success of a growth hacker is to define precise and feasible goals that will feed the overall goal of growth. This will limit the temptation to broaden your attention and maximize the time you can devote to testing and perfecting your approach.

Test your approach: growth hacking is supported by creativity and experimentation. Tests are essential to assess what will or will not work for you. Keep your tests slim and simple and record your data so you can implement the best combinations to improve your growth.

Analyze performance: analysis is essential to stay in line with your goals. As you track your progress, this data can also be used to adjust and adapt other areas of the process accordingly, from your product to your goals.

Optimize: if this implies the implementation of a completely new approach or the refinement of a previous effort, there is a value in the concept of “learning by chance”. Success, like most things, will be accompanied by a little patience and practice.

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