Growth Hacking… The Future Of Marketing?

Traditional marketing, or interruption marketing is so last season. We are exposed to thousands of messages every day and we have unsurprisingly become desensitised to them.

I love the example that if you are driving in your car and see a billboard advertisement, that’s advert is essentially asking you to risk an accident to receive its message. How absurd is that? 

Consumers are empowered and somewhat due to this, they are no longer paying much attention. Traditional marketing tactics, of mass one-size-fits-all tactics just aren’t relevant in todays buyer decision journey. Consumers gather their own information in ways, which they choose, through word-of-mouth- and customer reviews, and in in places such as social networks and online communities. They hold more power than ever before.

New breeds of marketers are today asking themselves ‘just how digitally mature is my marketing strategy?’ and many forward thinking organisations are realising the power of the new marketing paradigm altogether: Experience Marketing.

The bottom line is that there is a more effective way to get consumers attention and often applied by tech start-ups as an alternative to run of the mill social media advertising, to attain rapid growth, many are adopting growth hacking tactics.

Growth hacking is the new process where organisations create a product in such a way that encourages users to evangelise the product. It is the secret sauce behind the launches of some of the world’s biggest and hottest companies. This blog post will highlight just some of these examples from the tech world.

Loyalty and Growth Hacking

According to Alexander Jutkowitz of Group SJR, article, loyalty is what really drives success and they suggest de-emphasising traditional marketing and focusing on loyalty instead.

Customer loyalty is usually measured in repurchase and lifetime customer value metrics. Customers who are loyal are those who purchase frequently and who often purchase more when they do. However, how about focusing on ‘outcomes?’ All consumers are trying to achieve their desired outcome as part of their buyer journey – whether that is an answer to their question or the right spare part for their product. As a business, the focus should be on providing the means – through interactions with your organisation – for customers to achieve their desired outcomes, and subsequently a feeling of satisfaction, which in turn leads to loyalty.   

There is also a category of loyal customers who are loyal purely because they have no other choice, which leads me to some examples of growth hacking… 


 Dropbox is a good example of both growth hacking and gamification. The user is given free storage when they sign up. Dropbox then rewards the user with additional storage when they install it on multiple devices. Even more storage is then provided if the user shares on social media. Sharing is made easy, which encourages people to share more and is effective in getting its users to market the product for them! Getting more storage is made motivating, fun and rewarding and as you get more storage, you become more invested in the service. Quite clever huh!


 One of the best-known examples of growth hacking was employed by Airbnb. At start-up stage, Airbnb allowed users to cross-post their properties to Craigslist. Craigslist don't have an API, so the developers from Airbnb used reverse engineering to automate the process. Taking advantage of Craigslist’s well-established user base not only allowed Airbnb to get its name in front of as many new users as possible, but it also helped to ensure that the properties they listed for rent were booked more often, making listing with them more lucrative for users. 


 Many social networks have used growth hacks in one form or another and in the early days, Twitter had a bit of a retention problem. Many people were signing up, but very few actually engaged with the site and became active users.

With some research Twitter learnt that following at least five to 10 accounts resulted in a much higher probability of engagement so instead of investing in the standard retargeting ads or email newsletters, they rebuilt a new user experience to encourage following others. The positive impact on its retention was dramatic and instant. 


 Pinterest also used growth hacking, with their invitation only launch. Pinterest allowed you to request an invitation, after which you were sent an email saying that you were on the waiting list and you would soon be granted access. This generates a huge buzz around the launch and built mystique – it essentially made Pinterest seem that much more desirable to early users.


By allowing cross posting to other Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare, Instagram took growth hacking to a new level. This was undeniably good for users, who struggled to post mobile photos to Facebook in those early days, and it was also good for Instagram, whose distinct-looking photos started popping up across various social platforms, serving as a free advertisement for the app.

Adding Value

With a quick Google search, there are many growth hacking success stories to be found, not just within the tech industries. Growth hacking can not only help your company, but your customers too – they learn about your companies product or service from people they trust – in a way that creates value for them at that time.

The evidence is clear, growth hacking works, however, it is not a magic bullet and you could have the best growth hack strategy in the world but if you don’t have the goods to back it up, you may achieve a temporary spike in new customers, but you wont achieve sustainable, authentic growth.

Likewise, the term growth hacking can imply short term gains and it can actually create a psychological bias against investing in long terms marketing strategies as Rand Fishkin explains in his presentation: 5 Growth Hacks: Sustainable Web Marketing Tactics. In this presentation, Rand explains the best 5 Inbound Marketing Strategies he has learned throughout his 10-year journey at Moz.


Are you using growth hacking as part of your marketing strategy? Or have you launched a product with growth hacking? We’d love to hear about your experiences – let us know via the comments below or on Twitter or our Facebook page.