What’s the difference between Growth Hacking and Marketing?

What’s the difference between Growth Hacking and Marketing?

Growth hacking has become very popular, especially among startups and scale-ups that want to quickly find out which strategy will bring them the most profit. This is done through marketing-related experiments. It’s even been called the future of marketing, but is it right? And what are the differences between marketing and growth hacking?

What is growth hacking?

Growth hacking is nothing more than figuring out the most efficient way to grow the business. This process of experimentation follows a systematic approach and is much broader than the tasks of a traditional marketer.

What is the difference between growth hacking and marketing?

  • Full focus on growth: while marketers are busy with marketing campaigns and branding, the growth hacker has one goal: to find out how we can grow as quickly as possible.
  • Rapid experimentation is more important than perfection. A growth hacker must be able to set up quick experiments and draw conclusions from the data that comes from them. This also means that a growth hacker does not have the time (or knowledge) to set up a 100% perfect output, an output of 80% is enough.
  • Marketers mainly focus on branding and lead generation. Growth hackers also focus on customer retention (customer retention) and referral marketing (turning customers into ambassadors so that they bring in new customers). This makes them also heavily involved with the product as they want to keep current customers happy.
  • Growth hackers are data-driven and do short experiments, which also require technical knowledge and automation.

In a nutshell, marketers are often optimizing existing marketing activities using data, while growth hackers test a hypothesis using data. fast, out-of-the-box experiments and making direct choices based on the data.

If you look at the image below, you will see that marketers are mainly at the top of the funnel, while growth hackers operate throughout the funnel.

The two functions certainly have overlap. Sometimes there is also room in a marketing function for a bit of growth hacking, especially if you work as a marketer at a startup and it is not yet clear which strategy works well for the target group. It is therefore possible that a marketer with a broad function also carries out work for customer retention (retention) and customer success.

Characteristics of a growth hackers

Growth hackers are extremely versatile and need to be able to work independently to carry out their experiments quickly. They therefore have skills in the field of data, design, code and automation tools. Because growth hacking is more of a mindset than a defined function, it is difficult to give a job description. Therefore, we can better look at the qualities that they must possess. Here is an overview of skills that a growth hacker should know something about:

  • Data & analytics
  • Technical skills
  • Marketing automation
  • Behavioral Psychology
  • Customer development
  • User Experience & User Interface design
  • Conversion optimization (CRO)
  • copywriting
  • Onboarding customers
  • Customer retention and product ownership
  • Project management

Generalist vs. specialist

A growth hacker must know something about many fields and is therefore a real generalist, whereby 80% of the results must be achieved in 20% of the time. This also makes a growth hacker very affordable, because you don’t have to hire a whole team of specialists.

Nevertheless, it is a good idea to work with specialists when the growth hacker has concluded what works to grow the company, or if the growth hacker lacks knowledge in a specific area.

Examples of growth hacking

Example 1: The Dutch app ‘Ommetje’

A recent example of growth hacking is the Ommetje app, set up by the Hersenstichting (Dutch foundation) to promote daily walks. After a walk of at least 20 minutes you get a number of points. You can create a team with family, friends or colleagues, which creates a competition to see who is highest in the ranking.

There are two ways how growth hacking is used:

  • You can get more points by sharing your tour on social media or whatsapp (referral);
  • You get more points when you visit the Brain Foundation donation page.

Example 2: Dropbox

Another well-known example of growth hacking is the Dropbox referral program. (Image source: TrackandHack.com)

By inviting friends or acquaintances to Dropbox, both parties get more storage space. By linking Facebook and Twitter and placing an invitation here, you also get more storage space. This turned out to work: the referral program resulted in 60% more registrations.

Marketing and growth hacking therefore have a lot of overlap, but are two separate job roles  that you both need if you want to grow a company quickly.

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