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Scale your Startup with Growth Hacking Techniques
2020-12-21 /

What is Growth Hacking?

What does Growth Hacking mean? This term has been relevant in recent years, mostly to rapidly grow a business. In this article, we’ll unpack what it is and the role of a growth hacker to skyrocket a startup’s growth.

With the ever-evolving digital landscape moving at breakneck speed, marketers are left asking, ‘How do I acquire more customers as quickly as possible?’

That’s a good question. If you’re working in a startup, then you’ll know that one of the biggest barriers to overcome is the limited budget. As a marketer, you want to grow your business quickly to compensate for the lack of resources.

Growth hacking is an intangible concept born from this specific need. Nowadays, more and more startups are looking for growth hackers. So, what does growth hacking mean for a startup? We’ll show you in the next section.

What is a Growth Hacking?

Growth hacking is a relatively new marketing strategy that rapidly experiments with ideas across different channels to decide which of them is effective at scaling up a business.

Sean Ellis, a serial investor, and CEO of Growthhackers was known to have coined this term in 2010. He used it to spur the rise of Dropbox, Eventbrite, Lookout, and LogMeIn.

Its aim is focused entirely on growth; thus, the term. Essentially, it involves acquiring more customers with as little money spent as possible. It uses rapid experimentations to accelerate the customer journey, clone ideas that work, and discontinue those that don’t before spending huge amounts of resources.

Hence, growth hacking is suitable for startups, as their budget is often limited. However, big companies use it as part of their business strategies, too.

More importantly, startups are likely to use growth hacking strategies to beat their big competitors in the market. So, we can say here that ‘hacking’ refers to finding a cheaper, better, and faster way to grow something.

Growth Hacking vs. Traditional Marketing?

While the concepts of growth hacking and marketing tend to overlap, they are not the same. Yes, there may be similarities, but their goals are different. Both growth hackers and traditional marketers want to gain and increase their customer base, but they differ in their approach, depending on the goals of their organization.

In traditional marketing, you are simply promoting the company’s products or services. On the other hand, growth hacking is more exhaustive in perspective. Growth hackers don’t just target sales, they also focus on a holistic strategy to speed up a business’s growth.

It employs unconventional marketing strategies to increase the number of customers with the least money spent. It replaces billboards, TV, or radio ads with unconventional alternatives.

It’s a given that modern marketers will at least have decent online marketing skills. In contrast, a growth hacker’s skillset may include programming, automation, product design, and data analytics.

Also, they may have a background in A/B testing, behavioral tracking, and building customized landing pages. They know the best tools available and use them effectively.   

What does a Growth Hacker do?

A growth hacker is someone who develops nontraditional solutions to gain new users. They use their skills and knowledge to build as much traction as they can, even if these solutions are only temporary.

Growth hackers are all about finding growth opportunities. So, the tools, techniques, and platforms are secondary to this goal. Also, a growth hacker must have skills in data analysis so they can easily understand the root problem and find ways to solve them.  

To achieve this goal, they may use several methods such as social media, viral marketing, SEO, content marketing, targeted advertising, and others.

Moreover, a growth hacking team consists of professionals with backgrounds in marketing, engineering, data analytics, and product development. Their collective focus is to find, increase, and engage their user base.

Best Examples of Growth Hacking

Here are some well-known examples of tech companies that hack their way to success.


Did you know that Airbnb once used Craigslist when it started? That’s right. Craigslist was then a popular site for people looking to rent rooms or houses. Of course, it would be a great place to find Airbnb’s target audience.

Back then, Airbnb would list their offers on Craigslist with a link back to their site. As a result, they were able to attract potential customers from Craigslist to visit their platform.

They initially promoted their listings manually, but later on, created a bot to automatically list offers that attract users from Craigslist to the Airbnb app.


People know YouTube as a video hosting site where people can watch, upload, and embed videos. In the early years, you need to convert videos into the right file format so you can upload them to a website. That alone requires more bandwidth, which can put a strain on the servers.

So, YouTube created a system where anyone can manage their videos without paying a fee to host them. Their hosting feature is free, which allowed them to amass millions of global users and more than 1 billion visits each month.


One of the earliest players in the online payment arena, PayPal began its rapid growth through a referral system. Instead of giving away free accounts, PayPal paid users just to sign up.

When a user refers their friends to PayPal, both of them receive $10 each. Consequently, they managed to have a daily growth of 10% and with over 100 million customer base.

Growth Hacking Techniques for Startups

If you’re convinced that growth hacking can benefit your startup, try to implement any of these techniques:

  • Guest Posting – If you’re looking to increase traffic to your site, writing a blog is not enough. Guest posting is a great way to hack your online traffic. Make sure to post high-quality content on reputable sites so you can reap that much-coveted visitor growth.
  • Referrals – Just like what PayPal has done, use a referral system where it’s a win-win for everyone. Both the referrer and the referred get their reward for signing up.
  • Email Marketing – While social media may be all the rage today, email remains to be the leading tool to generate leads. In fact, for every 1 dollar spent on email marketing, the company can expect a $42 average return on investment. It may be the oldest digital channel, but it’s still the best growth hacking tool out there.
  • User-generated Contests – Additionally, you can host a contest asking customers why they enjoy your product or service. It can be a video or photo contest together with a caption. Not only are contests perfect for creating some buzz, but they’re also great for re-sharing user content on other sites as testimonials.
  • Maximize your data – Whatever data you’ve gathered, make the most out of them. Use it to get some insight into your customers and their journey (be it their demographics, behavior, traffic, etc.)
  • Pay-per-Click Marketing (PPC) – Essentially, PPC is not just a way to drive conversions. You can utilize it to confirms ideas, experiment with keywords, and find out the products (services) that attract users’ attention.

Grow your Way to Success!

In today’s fast-paced economy, startups need growth hacking as a means to survive and be on top of the food chain. But it is by no means easier than the traditional way. As a growth hacker, it’s essential to get into the mindset of growth, plan out your strategies, and act on them immediately.

Since it is obviously growth-driven, things happen fast. Your aim here is to experiment with different techniques, regularly evaluate or get feedback from users, and move on immediately when things don’t work out.

The strategies should help you put your foot forward when it comes to growing your business. If you still need reinforcements with your startup marketing strategies, we can help.

Full Scale is a Kansas City-based offshore software development company that helps small startups to succeed even on a minimal budget. We provide recruitment and operational support to clients so they can focus on growing their startup idea.

Ready to be a growth hacker? Start by having your FREE consultation with us today.

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