The introductory guide with definition and examples

For many people, the growth hacking may seem like a trending word. It remains quite opaque whatever happens.

We constantly hear about growth hacking strategies and techniquesand the word itself is becoming more and more popular over time.

But is it just a buzzword?

Rumors say that through growth hacking, Facebook reached 500 million users very quickly. LinkedIn grew from 2 million to 200 million users by implementing a technique that allowed users to create public profiles. He helped Airbnb become a billion dollar company!

In this article, you will learn how use growth hacking in your start-up.


  1. What is growth hacking or growth marketing?
  2. Growth hacking: what’s innovative about the approach?
  3. How does growth hacking work?
  4. Understanding Growth Hacking – Wrap up

What is growth hacking or growth marketing?

Growth hacking, a term that can be translated as growth hacking in French, is a concept from the United States and theorized by Sean Ellis.

Growth hacking is a marketing strategy widely used in start-ups. It must allow, thanks to a mastery of a set of marketing techniques, a rapid growth of its activity. Unlike the inbound marketing strategy, where customer acquisition is done over the long term, growth hacking is the short-term search for an increase in turnover.

A growth hacker is someone whose main goal is to generate growth.

One cannot understand “growth hacking” without a good understanding of the word “hacker”.

We inherently viewed hackers as “outlaws” who break regulations and gain unauthorized access to data. However, this is a false (and unfair) description.

In a broader sense, a hacker is someone who knows a process very well and who is able to find a shortcut to get things done faster.

This means that piracy is not a criminal activity. Hacking is a smart approach to goals, and in most cases it’s also an innovative way of doing things.

So what is growth hacking?

It is an innovative approach to growth. A growth hacker is a hacker whose goal is to increase the number of customers and bring more revenue to a company.

Growth hacking: what’s innovative about the approach?

Isn’t the marketing team responsible for the same? Why does the growth hacking team need this fancy name?

Well, a growth hacker is a hybrid between a marketer and a coder who, based on data and testing, uses different marketing and product approaches to grow a business quickly.

“Quickly” is key.

It optimizes the value of each user at every stage of the user’s journey. (the acquisition funnel)

While so-called traditional digital marketing is focused on achieving steady growth through traditional acquisition channels, the goal of the growth hacker is to generate exponential growth through unconventional means.

This is what sustainable growth looks like:

growth hacking
Classic Growth Chart

And here is a growth chart generated by a growth hacker :

growth hacking curve
growth curve growth

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Now, when we know what growth hacking is, it’s time to understand how growth hacking works.

If you want to start developing a successful growth hacking strategy, you need to hire a T-shaped marketer, in other words, the perfect hybrid between a developer and a marketer.

The real question is: What does a T-shaped marketer look like?

This is someone who has knowledge covering a wide range of digital marketing topics and has in-depth knowledge in 1 or 2 specific areas.

growth hacking

Source: Growth Tribe

This gives them the ability to understand the digital world and marketing strategies, but at the same time to be experts.

For example, this T-shaped marketer is going to know a lot about digital marketing, but his specialties are SEO and data analysis.

And that’s how a growth hacking team works. A team composed of talents each specialized in several different fields is essential to create a homogeneous and effective team.

  • Define a growth objective / Respond to a specific problem (cf: AARRR funnel)
  • Generate ideas (anything that can help increase growth)
  • Organization (estimate of potential impact and resources required)
  • Testing (working in rapid iterations, testing everything possible)
  • Analyze (compare results to assumptions and ask “why”)
  • Optimize (use learnings to correct processes)
  • Repeat or Stop the operation

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Growth Hacking and Pirate Metrics

There are many ways to measure the success of a business, we suggest that you develop your growth actions around the so-called classic growth hacking metrics. The famous AARRR funnel!

growth hacking hacker metrics
The growth hacking funnel

A good growth hacker should ask an important question at each of these stages.

If you’re wondering how these questions can help you drive growth, here are some examples of growth that worked.

One of the most famous growth hacks was done by Airbnb, a marketplace for people who want to list or rent short-term accommodation. Now it’s a huge website, but back then they struggled to get attention and visitors to their website.

A well-known strategy for growth hacking that the company decided to implement is to have adverts that were on Airbnb posted directly on Craiglist.

As a result, they have made themselves known to thousands of Internet users by benefiting from the fame and success of Craiglist.

Since this hack is obviously no longer possible.

Pirate Metrics Activation: Do users have a good first experience?

At first, when Twitter was just a small social platform, they struggled with traffic quality.

Their problem was that although they had a lot of new users, they weren’t engaged enough to keep coming back.
So they had a lot of account creation but only few real users.

How did the company solve this problem?

Twitter has slightly changed its onboarding process.

They decided to force people to engage on their platform, so every time a new user logs in for the first time, they have to follow ten accounts.

In the end, this idea gave the expected results. People were more engaged and more eager to connect for the second time.

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Pirate Metrics Retention: Are Users Coming Back?

Do you remember the PokemonGo craze?

The creators of this game made people ready to come back and gave extra XP to every user who logged in for a few days in a row.

Retention can be influenced by many different factors such as email automation in particular.

One of the most remarkable growth stories was written by Spotify.

In just six years, the company is valued at over $10 billion and has over 50 million users, 12.5 million of whom pay for the service.

There were a few growth hacking strategies that helped them grow so fast, but when it comes to revenue, there’s a simple technique: they make money from both premium and free users.

Premium users pay for a monthly subscription, free users listen to advertisements. Which gave a real cash machine.

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Pirate Metrics Referral: Are Users Telling Others?

The history of DropBox is also well known.

Indeed, one of the most well-known hacks is the one that made DropBox go viral.
DropBox offered an additional 500MB of storage for each referred friend.

The Referral has increased Dropbox signups by 60%.

If you are looking for other known examples of growth hacks, you can read about them here. (in English)

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Understanding growth hacking – Wrap up

People who don’t understand growth hacking very often think it’s part of the marketing strategy. This is partly true because all marketing efforts are geared towards growth.

However, growth hackers are neither part of the marketing team nor the product team, but rather a close relative. separate department.

Indeed, a growth hacker must influence marketing, product, support, sales, he must be in constant contact with all departments.

A growth hacker is a real free electron in the company.

A main difference is based on the analytical skills of a growth hacker, which understands not only the marketing/product side but also the technical side of a problem.

With this, they can see more opportunities to generate growth and test new solutions that could increase conversions.

Techniques growth marketers can use include:

  • viral acquisition
  • paid acquisition (Adwords, Bing ads, Facebook Ads, etc.)
  • content marketing,
  • email marketing,
  • SEO technique for search engines
  • A/B testing.

If you want to start working on growth hacking, don’t forget: the development possibilities are endless. It’s just up to you which lever you want to start working on.