What is Growth Hacking and how can it help SMEs?

You may have heard of Growth Hacking, a term hard to translate, which concerns the rapid growth of a business. Everyone connects this business vision and marketing strategy to the growth of a startup, a company with small budgets for communication or an entrepreneurial idea that shall be launched quickly to acquire immediately a good market share.

Nevertheless, the Growth Hacking strategies and techniques can help also SMEs, which are already operating, to face a challenge, such as the promotion of a new product, or to promote the business of a company that has not approached firmly the market through visibility on the web and digital tools for marketing and sales of products or services.

Hence, what is Growth Hacking and how can it equip SMEs with tools to tackle the challenges of the digital market? Let’s see it together.


What is Growth Hacking?

Growth Hacking is a process of rapid experimentation across marketing funnel, product development, sales segments, and other areas of the business to identify the most efficient ways to grow a business.

It seems curios, but Growth Hacking has no rules and does not require necessarily tools and guidelines. Actually, the most known cases of rapid growth, such as those linked to startups like Uber or AirBnB, allow identifying strategies and methods, nonetheless the space for movement is rather freer than that of the traditional marketing. Here the strategies count, but upstream of them it is necessary to have creativity and work on the product, in order that it fully meets the needs of the users. Hence the Growth Hackers are focused on the experimentation of the most recent marketing and product development trends to create a captivating business, which can obtain immediate results.

Does Growth hacking suit to every type of business?

Partially yes, it does. All the experts agree that this technique of growth is particularly appropriate to launch digital products – such as tools, applications and online services – nonetheless also a SME or a craft enterprise may adopt the same marketing and product development strategies.


How does Growth Hacking work?

As mentioned above, there not exist infallible indications and structured models. Of course, it imposes a change in mentality:

both cross-sectional and functional on the corporate departments

Sean Ellis affirms, the theorist of Growth Hacking, who coined the name in an article of 2010. Hence, you shall change the way how the company operates, no matter how big or small. Indeed, the rapid growth of your business depends on a deep cooperation of all the departments, to increase quickly your marketing and product development processes.


How to introduce Growth Hacking in your team?

Behind every effective Growth Hacking project there is a project based on interaction and scalability. Both you are managing a startup or a big organization, either it has a B2B or B2C market orientation, this process can be customized and integrated in a rapid growth strategy. You can organize the process according to the stages listed below:

  • Improve your product

Analyse needs and demand of your customers and reference market and use said data to improve your product. The Growth Hacking process is particularly effective in promoting a product built on the needs of the market, a market-fit product as Americans say. In order to obtain a rapid development of your business, it is important to ensure that your offer is stronger than that of your competitors before using it as catalyst for growth. Indeed, the Growth Hacker, otherwise than who is engaged in the traditional digital marketing, intervenes also in the product design stage to report the results of the investigation carried out by him/her on the users’ demand, in order that it is easily sellable


  • Set out measurable goals

The success of a Growth Hacking activity is in identifying achievable goals. In this way you can limit the temptation to get lost in respect of your goals and maximize the use of time that you can focus on testing and improving your approach. The manuals tell about a rather chaotic approach to results, affected by the ongoing experimentation of new marketing techniques, but if you want to have immediate confirmations, you need to focus on goals identified according to the SMART model, or rather Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and time bound


  • Test you marketing activities

Challenge your choices: Growth Hacking is characterized by creativity and experimentation. Tests are essential to assess which marketing channels and choices of promotional contents work better for your business. Have you ever heard about A/B test? An A/B test is an experiment, which is carried out by realizing two versions – indeed A and B – of the same content, such as a landing page or a CTA, but also a layout or an image  After posting online both versions, you shall measure the data to detect which one achieves the best results in terms of engagement and conversions. Then you can choose which content show and create the most successful combinations.


  • Let data guide you

One of the secrets of digital marketing concerns the data analysis, essential to correct mistakes and achieve your goals. While you keep track of your progresses, said data can be used also to optimize accordingly other areas of the process, from your product to your goals. Data shall increasingly become your guide. You shall analyse them to orient your business to your customers’ demand and obtain more visibility for your contents.


  • Work on optimization

This aspect entails the skill to work out new approaches or to improve actions set out before. Change an offer by integrating it with a bundle product, propose an up selling that shows an added value for the customer or carry out co-marketing initiatives require creativity and ability to analyse the results of marketing actions to change them quickly, trying to intercept as best as possible the demand. There is a value in the concept of learning by doing, never like in the Growth Hacking case this activity shall be performed on an ongoing basis to choose new strategies or improve the existing implementations.


Why Growth Hacking can be really useful for SMEs

A lot of entrepreneurs, managing small businesses, operating in every field, have not always available a budget to invest on Paid Search Marketing, through the advertising on browser engines and social networks, automation marketing and other expensive tools. One of the main characteristics of Growth Hacking is to introduce a creative marketing and low budget, led by innovation and experimentation. Here there are three elements that you should take into consideration:

  1. Try to cause a Market Disruption

The concept seems hard to translate, but you have to create a disruptive product compared to the reference market. The consumers really love the products that change in a substantial way the market. Think about Uber, for instance. The users who for decades have used the taxi service, have discovered a new way to be carried from one place to another in a cheapest way, while other people caught the opportunity to make money by driving their own vehicles to carry people. This is a clear example of market disruption: million people book Uber routes in their smartphone instead of calling a taxi.
For a SME wishing to grow quickly, which produces goods, not services manageable by an app, is harder to create disruptive products, but it is not always like this. The important thing is to acquire the mindset that shall lead to wonder how much your projects and market offers really meet the consumers’ expectations.


  1. Growth Hacking requires Speed and Agility

You cannot take too much time to bring a product to the market, because you run the risk that other competitors arrive before you. Speed and agility are crucial for entrepreneurs who want to address the market in particular sectors or niches. Growth Hacking, in this respect, becomes a really revolutionary method for small and medium companies, because it deeply affects the creation of the product, the marketing strategies and the internal organization


  1. The data are behind Growth Hackings

The attention to data is typical of Growth Hacking, which is based in a solid base of measurable and analysable elements. Also this attention to data is something that the SMEs can learn from the rapid growth. The big companies are increasingly led by data, and your SME? Learn to monitor the results of the activity on the social media and the web traffic, to be everyday updated about your reference metrics. Why are data so important for your business? Because they provide you with sure elements whereon you can base your decisions and strategies. By analysing data, you can discover that your target users do not spend a lot of time in Facebook. Hence, you can decide whether move your marketing to other social media, for instance. You will not waste time and money because your decision will be based on concrete elements. Some data require time to offer specific directions. For instance, you should not condition your presence on Facebook by relying on data of three weeks, but wait for a longer time. Nonetheless, you can understand quickly which types of contents are more appreciated by your audience and choose to interact with your followers in a different way.


Does Growth Hacking replace Digital Marketing?

Finally, a consideration: a lot of entrepreneurs wrongly believe that Growth Hacking fully replaces Digital marketing. It is not true. The Growth Hackers are actually Marketers, but Marketers are not inevitably Growth Hackers. A Growth Hacker is a digital marketing expert with expertise of data analysis and programming, who has in mind only one goal: the rapid growth. The Digital Marketers trace a lot of KPIs, while the Growth Hackers are focused only on metrics leading to growth: more web traffic, more engagement on social media and, above all, more conversions.

The SMEs keep needing for digital marketing, which entails a longer-term approach for some marketing strategies, ranging from the SEO to the Lead Generation. If you do not have a Growth Hacker in your team, don’t worry. You can try to do digital marketing and Growth Hacking until your business will be solid enough to justify the integration of new professionals. You will learn to move in marketing with curiosity and creativity and you will get anyway satisfactions also with a limited budget.


18 April 2019

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