What is growth hacking and how to apply it to your business?

A guide to help you improve your digital performance!

growth hacking - image of web pages, a loudspeaker, a magnet ans other stuff

A lot of experts already consider growth hacking the future of digital marketing. For that reason, companies, especially those that were born with digital DNA, are seeking to fully grasp this concept and put it into practice.

Most entrepreneurs are not sure if it is necessary to hire a whole team of experts to apply growth hacking or if the best solution is to try to do it on their own and apply all that methodology they learned on the last marketing event.

What about you? Have you ever heard of that term? Do you know what growth hacking is used for?

By the end of this post, you will learn the basics about growth hacking and will be ready to apply some of its strategies to your business.

Read on!

What is growth hacking?

Growth hacking is a digital strategy that involves a thorough understanding of behavior, trends and habits.

It’s basically a way to work on the growth of your business, based on the empirical-based construction of best practices, through hypotheses and experiments.

In growth hacking, persuasive messages should be included, and their presence is seen as natural in common places, as in social media feed, emails or even on other products that already exist and are widely used by your target audience.

Actually, the line of thought in growth hacking is very simple:

  • Focus your efforts on the company’s main problem or resource;
  • Find a solution for this problem or to improve a specific resource and prioritize the best ideas;
  • Create a simple way to test and implement this new idea;
  • Ensure that something was learned from both the successes and failures;
  • Use this learning to generate new ideas and new tests.

Notice that there’s nothing new or too complicated, the greatest difficulty is to maintain discipline during the implementation of the strategy.

How did it start?

Sean Ellis is the creator of the term growth hacking and founder of growthhackers.com.

He became known as a specialist in the fast growth of startups, providing consulting services to digital market giants, such as Dropbox.

His knowledge on the topic made him highly sought after by companies of different sizes that were in search of a rapid growth in the digital market.

After being hired, Sean delivered the expected results and put into practice procedures that could be used by the company itself after he was finished.

Today, there are 3 areas of knowledge that are considered essential to the work of growth hacking:

  1. Consumer Psychology : aims to understand customers, through experiments using scientific methods;
  2. Marketing Technology: a way to make it easier for the experiments to be carried out;
  3. Process: makes it possible for the steps of an experiment to be structured and for the activities to be measured and escalated.

The main difference between the marketing professional and the growth hacker is the fact that the latter looks for different ways to achieve growth goals. This technique uses creativity to find innovative solutions without compromising financial resources.

Why take up Growth hacking?

One of the benefits of the”methodology” is that it can get small and medium-sized businesses to compete with large, established companies.

This happens because large companies have lots of bureaucracy to make any sudden changes in planning.

This is where smaller companies should be aware of the numbers and market trends, because, by not having to deal with all the bureaucracy, they have more autonomy to perform tests and promote changes in procedures

(To learn more about market trends, read our post that teaches how to use Google Trends.)

Another advantage is that it takes inexpensive tools to use growth hacking strategies (many of them are free). That way, this strategy becomes accessible for most entrepreneurs.

It is also worth saying that, with growth hacking, the entrepreneur can make decisions that may broaden the vision of the business, due to the volume of research and testing that shows the path for new business opportunities.

Who should use growth hacking?

Growth hacking is a strategy that works for all the types of marketing professionals. It can first and foremost work in the benefit of the following businesses:

1. Startups

At first, you should focus your efforts on creating a great first impression, that way customers will be prone to trusting your brand.

Once they feel like you are trustworthy, they will buy your product or service and, of course, recommend your company to other people.

Growth hacking will help you create the exact first impression your business needs.

2. B2B marketing

According to Hubspot, about 68% of B2B organizations haven’t implemented a sales funnel yet.

If you want to sell products/services to other companies using growth hacking, you can structure your client’s journey, which is fundamental to understand what is the best content to offer at every step of the process.

3. B2C marketing

Many digital market professionals fit in this category, which is when you sell products and services to the general public.

For these professionals, growth hacking makes it easier to find an ideal client, also known as buyer persona, convert leads into customers and offer a more complete experience, back to back

4. Content Producers

If you believe that content is key and trust articles, posts, ebooks , podcasts, videos, and infographics to direct traffic to your digital business and nurture a relationship with your potential customers, Growth Hacking will increase your flow of potential customers.

5. Social networking experts

According to HubSpot statistics, more than 50% of marketing professionals use social media for at least six hours a week. That activity is difficult and demanding

Growth hacking can undeniably help them by mitigating uncertainty of the efforts and converting the generated leads on these channels to customers.

What is not growth hacking?

Now that you understand a little bit about what growth hacking is, it is important to understand what it is not.

We’ll now talk about some myths that surround this methodology.

Is Growth hacking magic?

Many people associate growth hacking with magical ideas like: we changed the color from red to blue and quadrupled the generation of leads.

Can that actually happen?

Of course, but no such relevant results are obtained in a matter of hours, much less without study and tested hypotheses.

Measures such as trying everything and see what works best  are the opposite of what growth hacking requires.

Growth hacking is, in fact, one of the more scientific ways to address the growth of a company, through tests and relevant hypotheses.

Is Growth Hacking Unethical?

Some people end up associating growth hacking to hackers and, when that occurs, it seems as though whoever uses this methodology is hacking the law or the competitors.

Of course it doesn’t work that way.

Strategies that undermine other people or circumvent a law, in fact, only hinder your marketing strategy.

The word hack, in this case, is loophole , in the sense of a shortcut. Growth hacking, then, is nothing more than finding shortcuts for fast growth.

Growth hacking requires programming knowledge?

Other misconception about the term hacking, is that it’s directly related to computers.

In some cases, putting experiments into practice may require some programming knowledge, but that doesn’t happen very often and there is no need for the growth hacker to do that on his or her own.

Companies that have growth teams usually have one or more programmers to put the experiments into practice.

It is important to have some knowledge of technology, Yes, but not necessarily know programming.

Tips for using growth hacking in your business:

The following are 9 essential growth hacking strategies:

1. Inbound marketing

Inbound marketing aims to provide useful and quality content, capable of generating an online audience and subsequently turning visitors into customers.

That can be done as a blog, podcast, videos, webinars, among other organic strategies that can attract new visitors to your pages.

2. Viral content

This is the kind of content that goes viral and carries your brand with it. It could be a meme, a video, a post, or other various viral content formats.

By doing that, DollarShaveClub.com was able to generate, in just 48 hours, 12 thousand customers.

But keep in mind that, for it to become viral, the content must have a clear, relevant goal and it needs to fit the audience’s profile.

3. SEO

Search engine optimization is an excellent strategy that usually brings a very positive outcome to your page’s traffic.

A good SEO strategy includes checking the programming of your webpages, developing quality content and consistent link building work to reinforce  your expertise in the area.

4. Email Marketing

The e-mail marketing is the perfect tool to connect to your leads, delivering quality content periodically at a low cost.

5. Guest posts

Posts written by guest authors are nothing more than an exchange of content with blogs that are read by your potential customers. That way, you can reach people who are interested in the themes you address in your blog and vice-versa.

It’s a good idea to find in social media profiles and pages that are the most influential in your niche and get in touch with them, offering their participation with some content relevant to these channels.

6. Paid Listings

Using Paid Ads to display a product or service from your company to your target audience is a very effective measure, whether it is Google Adwords, on social networks, on YouTube or on partner blogs (it depends on where your audience is).

It is important to mention that this strategy requires frequent investment and maintenance.

If your goal is to reach a target audience with offers, working with online ads is the best option because you can create more customized content and still measure the results of your publicizing efforts.

7. Online and offline communities

The creation of communities can be done online (with mailing lists, groups, social networks, forums, webinars) and on-site (with live events and lectures).

Both ways can make you become known as an online authority, that shares useful content and may also strengthen your brand.

But always remember that you don’t necessarily have to invest in all the possibilities. This could disrupt your focus, increase your expenditure and waste time.

The best channels used to develop a strategy vary from company to company. An action X will generate a result for a company focused on B2B and another for one focused on B2C.

Therefore, before setting a strategy based on growth hacking, you need to have the answer to a few questions:

  • What is the purpose of your company?
  • Who is your persona?
  • What kind of products or services does your company offer?

Rest assured that, with the answer to these questions in mind, you will have an idea of which channels are the most appropriate for your business and which can attract more customers with a smaller customer acquisition cost (CAC).

8. Public Relations

Public relations aims to manage and create communication strategies between an organization and the public, aligned with the press.

The goal of this strategy is to generate credibility and make your business well-known in the market. That way, your company will always have good results and will be in constant growth.

It is worth stressing that, to put it into practice, we must rely on professionals who have experience in the subject and can help you position yourself, even in times of crisis.

9. Participation in events

Trade shows put you in direct contact with potential customers.

So, whenever you can, attend fairs because that is where you’ll have great chances of making contact with potential customers or business partners.

Organize on-site events or join existing conferences. The important thing is that you are able to promote your brand face-to-face.

Social media events, business panels and webinars are usually doors that lead to great opportunities.

Be the growth hacker your business needs!

Although the concept is still not widely spread, you can be your own growth hacker in your business.

Is growing fast while maintaining quality part of your plans?

Then, define which strategies of growth hacking you will use, do tests and measure the results to see which of these techniques actually work for you.

Do you know what needs to be measured in order to extract the maximum of your business? Check out our post about the key metrics for a digital business .



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