You have probably heard about the term “growth hacking” but you are probably not sure what it is as well it is commonly misunderstood as simply as a branding marketing strategy but in reality, it is much more than only that. Also, you are probably wondering what is even the difference between Growth Hacking and Traditional Marketing? Before we get into how they’re both different from each other, let’s first try to understand what growth hacking and traditional marketing are.

What is Growth Hacking?

To put it simply Growth hacking is a set of marketing techniques that are primarily focused on low-cost strategies to help businesses acquire and accelerate customers. There are four basic growth strategies that growth hacker scans employ to expand your business: market penetration, product development, market expansion, and diversification. It begins right from the early product development stages and goes on even once the product has been launched. Be it guerilla marketing, UX, search engine optimization (SEO), or email marketing, growth hacking uses it all. Budgets and timelines don’t limit growth hacking. The only true goal is to take the products and brands to the next level. It also involves creating a strong and active presence on social media to engage with your target audience where they are the most engaged. The customer acquisition strategy in growth hacking involves SEO and content marketing. In addition, A/B testing of landing pages.

Examples of Growth Hacking

1. Airbnb

Airbnb is probably the most famous example of growth hacking. They used a very unique growth hacking strategy to grow their business. They found loopholes on Craigslist, a website where you can advertise almost anything. Whenever anyone listed their rooms on Airbnb, they gave them the option to list them on Craigslist too. Craigslist didn’t allow any integration through a public API. However, Airbnb’s engineers were quick to reverse engineer the forms on Craigslist without any access to their code. Through this method, they got lots of inbound traffic from Craigslist without having to invest in any traditional modes of marketing. In addition, Airbnb listings stood out from the crowd as they were more personalized with better descriptions and pictures. This instantly made them favorites for those who were looking for places to stay during their vacations. They reached out to those users who wanted such services and instantly got more customers. While Craigslist did figure out these vulnerabilities at a later stage, Airbnb had already taken advantage of the loopholes. In fact, Airbnb had about$200millionin in revenue in 2013. This number increased to about $500 million in 2014 and subsequently to $900 million in 2015.

2. Dropbox

Another great example, Dropbox, used their product as the distribution channel in their growth hacking strategy. They created a referral program in which their customers could earn more storage for recommending the brand to others. Every Dropbox Basic account holder could get 500 MB for every referral, up to 16 GB. On the other hand, Dropbox Plus and Professional account holders could earn 1 GB for every successful person they referred to Dropbox, up to a maximum of 32 GB. This growth hacking strategy helped Dropbox grow rapidly from 100k users to over 4million users in just 15 months. They were able to double their users every 3 months this way. Additionally, they managed to save on the traditional ad spend that they would have incurred to get customers.

3. YouTube

YouTube was the first business to leverage growth hacking to their advantage. They did so before the term growth Hacking was even coined. This growth hack was nothing but their embed video option. Whenever anyone wanted to add a YouTube video to their website, all they had to do was to paste the video embed code. This way, the video would play on their website without any effort. This was important during those days because uploading videos was a chore and time-consuming. YouTube simplified this entire process and made it easy for anyone to upload or embed a video. This helped them become the household name that they are today.

What is Traditional Marketing?

Traditional marketing is completely focused on selling your products and services as it is just an extension of your sales. The biggest difference is that traditional Marketing is used when the product is done. The only goal of Traditional marketing is to increase the sales of products or services. While the methods used to do so are similar to the ones that are there used in growth hacking, the goals are vastly different. Let’s now try to understand how a growth hacker differs from a marketer.

Growth Hackers vs. Marketers

The first big difference is the budget. A growth hacker is mainly focused with the growth of the brand, and the budget is always secondary for them. This is why they are always trying to find low-cost strategies. But a marketer paces the growth of the business based on the budget that’s allotted for marketing. This way, marketers are always constrained by budgets, while growth hackers are not. Additionally, a growth hacker is somewhat of a cross between a marketer and a coder. They don’t need to rely on engineers to implement APIs or even fetch data from the database. But marketers usually need the help of engineers to do these tasks. A growth hacker is typically skilled in online marketing activities such as creating landing pages, A/B testing, etc. But marketers may not have that level of exposure to such activities. Growth hackers use rapid experimentation and measure everything that they do to ensure that they are able to optimize output. They rely on data and then turn that data into actionable insights to help the business grow.

Final Thoughts

Growth hacking and traditional marketing may overlap, but they are vastly different from each other. While growth hacking involves looking for low-cost strategies to quickly grow your company, traditional marketing often requires a much larger budget which a lot of companies can’t afford additionally, traditional marketing involves the promotion of finished products. On the other hand, growth hacking involves the development and promotion of products based on customer feedback. Growth hackers are often involved in the product development stages and usually have some technical knowledge as well. But marketers have the sole goal of increasing sales. Growth hacking will just continue to grow and grow since a lot of the traditional marketing strategies are being replaced and the focus is switching to minimal budgets for maximization of results. It is important to stay creative and finding new ways on how to promote your brand, using the loopholes in other platforms, utilizing community marketing, social media marketing and as well guerrilla with the same goal in mind –hyper-acceleration of your results

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Dino Serdar
My name is Dino and I am highly passionate about Marketing, Native marketing, Performance marketing, Digital Marketing, New Technologies, Mobile Content, SMO, SEO ... It's a long list! As a digital marketer, I have the exciting opportunity to see new technologies rising and making an impact on our lives! The future is now!

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