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The ultimate growth hacking guide

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TL; DR - summary

Growth hacking is by no means a collection of supposedly original marketing tricks. It is an agile business process, similar to Scrum. This process should help to find and use opportunities quickly and cheaply. It's an interdisciplinary mix

  1. marketing
  2. data-driven experiments
  3. Automation (growth hackers are naturally lazy)

Growth hacking differs from traditional marketing in that

  • the entire customer journey is examined for opportunities
  • People with different areas of expertise work together towards a common goal - so no silos
  • product development is involved (because the product is of course part of the customer journey)
  • data-based mini-campaigns and experiments (lasting two to four weeks) are intended to replace long-term, expensive and possibly inefficient campaigns

The only goal of growth hacking is to grow a business. The process can help you at every stage of the customer journey: from customer acquisition to sales growth to recommendation.

Introduction to growth hacking

What is growth marketing or growth marketing?

John Wanamaker was a very successful businessman and politician with the main focus of his business in Philadelphia. He opened one of the first department store chains (which would later become Macy’s) and was later allowed to fill the post of American Post Minister. Wanamaker was aware of the dilemma that he had to advertise his department stores to be successful, but that advertising is also so untargeted that it doesn't just reach his potential buyers.

Wannamker made the well-known saying that half of the money spent on advertising was thrown out and unfortunately he just didn't know which half it was.

Every marketer is still faced with this challenge today. But in 2020 that will simply no longer be allowed.

And growth hacking is proof of that. Because this discipline arose out of the plight of young companies that couldn't afford to waste half their budget. Because the little money that these companies can use should primarily flow into product development. In the eyes of many founders and product developers, advertising is a necessary evil.

Growth hacking is not a revolution, it is an evolution. And the starting point is already over 50 years old. Even if it is people with different skills and a slightly different mindset who call themselves growth hackers, in the end it is marketing, in the classic sense.

Is growth hacking "old wine in new bottles"?

Sean Ellis coined the term growth hacker in 2010 to refer to data-driven, tech-savvy people who focus their work on helping a product or company grow.

Why did that cause a stir?

Because it contrasts with today's personification of a marketer. Marketing managers are mostly people with a lot of charm and great PowerPoint skills, who throw around with English technical terms both internally (in meetings with their own colleagues) and externally (at elegant cocktail parties).

With a lot of energy and enthusiasm, they ensure that original ideas become award-winning campaigns with TV spots and posters, the meaningful depth of which they can venture into in interviews with specialist media such as »Horizont« or »W&V«.

It is mostly good, talented people who can get their colleagues carried away and inspire them, who do their job excellently. But their job isn't marketing, it's advertising.

In most companies, the primary job of the marketing department is to make sure that the creative, media and specialty agencies they work with don't get into each other's hair, but work (more or less) professionally with each other, with no agency will miss an opportunity to get something from the budget of the other agencies. As part of this collaboration, marketing managers, provided they have received the competence from the management, are allowed to make one or two decisions about how and where the money will be spent this year.

From this point of view, marketing managers are interfaces with budget responsibility. And there is nothing wrong with that either, because this task is not easy, but necessary. But usually it is an illusion to believe that they are doing more than advertising. And advertising doesn't imply growth. It's just one of many possible ways to get there.

Marketing is much more than just advertising. Anyone who was allowed to enjoy even a single lecture in marketing was introduced to the 4P concept:
Product, Price, Place, Promotion.

According to the 4P concept, marketing consists of product, price, place (= distribution) and promotion (= communication).

This definition of marketing is much broader than the job most marketing managers do. Because marketing is more than just communication policy, and it is precisely this aspect that is an important part of growth hacking.

Because growth hacking does not only consider a company's communication measures as a possible growth channel, but also every point of contact along the customer journey. And so it just follows the classic marketing concept, which also includes product, price and distribution policy.

Viewed in this way, growth hacking could even be understood as a return to classic values, added to the possibilities that a globally networked world and a comprehensive toolbox of marketing tools offer us.

And what about the focus on data-driven marketing? Is this new? Yes and no. Marketing controlling is an established area of ​​responsibility in corporations, but mostly focuses on comparing costs and income so that at least the "Return on Advertising Spent" (ROAS) can be calculated. However, the topic is i. d. Usually not broken down into the individual channels and if so, then only in terms of costs.

Is Growth Hacking a Digital Marketing Discipline?

No, growth hacking encompasses every touchpoint along the customer journey. Many of them are online and digital - but not all. In the “Diversity of Channels” section in this chapter you will learn that there are many offline channels that may not be in vogue, but can still be used efficiently for more growth.

Why is digital marketing becoming more and more important?

  • Its effect can be measured much better than z. B. Billboards
  • The financial entry barriers for digital marketing are often lower than for traditional media and are therefore attractive for start-ups
  • The business model of many young companies follows a digital business model (e.g. SaaS products)
  • The digital distribution of physical products is becoming increasingly important

Can growth hacking also be used for B2B?

Definitely. Because no matter who your customer is and in which company he or she works: It's always about people. And managing directors of medium-sized mechanical engineering companies occasionally sit on the couch and surf on Facebook.

Instead of B2C or B2B, your business model should be based on P2P: People to People. We don't do business with companies, we always do business with people.

We asked Erik Stenberg about this topic. He is a senior consultant at Avaus, a Finnish consultancy specializing in growth hacking in large companies. One of their customers is the conglomerate Wärtsilä, which among others. Build ships.

He says that “even if you may not be able to convert anonymous web traffic into paying customers in one click in the B2B world, that doesn't mean you can't use the same mindset and way of working to drive traffic To identify leads and accelerate a sales process that has taken years. "

Can you save money with growth hacking?

That growth hacking is a free marketing method is one of the biggest growth hacking myths out there. Firstly, growth hacking is not a marketing method, but a holistic growth process and causes effort and thus at least personnel costs. Companies are often dependent on external consultants, have to purchase new software or adapt their digital product and organization to the growth hacking process based on the results. This results in costs that should not be underestimated.

But growth hacking can certainly save money. The greatest potential lies in the switch to agile development processes and growth teams. Thanks to the agile way of working, the teams work more efficiently, and the risk that you spend a lot of time planning and designing products that nobody will buy is correspondingly lower.

The second reason is that Orientation towards sustainable growth. By optimizing the conversion rates, churn rate, etc., acquisition costs are reduced significantly in most cases.

Growth hacking also enables growth opportunities for start-ups that do not have a large marketing budget. The automation of digital processes should create so-called retention or referral loops, which will bring customers back again and again or lead them to recommend you to others.

The Growth Hacking Circles

Traditional marketers have their skills primarily in marketing and distribution.
The know-how of a growth hacker goes far beyond these areas:

  1. In addition to marketing, he takes care of the user experience
  2. Is close to product development
  3. Conduct experiments
  4. Analyzes and optimizes success across the entire customer journey
  5. In doing so, he pursues a central goal: growth

Of course, traditional marketers also pursue growth goals, but not with the same emphasis. This focus on growth has spawned new methods of increasing traffic and optimizing conversions. The Growth Hacker combines a wide variety of disciplines and tools to achieve growth goals.

The Growth Hacking Circle

It's about pushing the limits of today's possibilities with creative solution ideas and not just relying on common paths.

A typical marketer at a large company uses e.g. B. a lot of money to build his Facebook pages and social media profiles. To do this, he uses the tried and tested solutions, which is of course not wrong, but can hardly lead to innovation.

A growth hacker therefore chooses other approaches:

  • He experiments with the functions that are offered to him
  • He tests new tools and concepts
  • He tries to implement old ideas in new ways
  • He is a master of creativity techniques and always finds new ways to increase growth.

So one could argue that this is just a particularly creative online marketer. That would be correct if the growth hacker didn't have skills in other areas.

On the one hand, he lives the famous philosophy of Steve Jobs: “Design is not just what it looks like. Design is how it works. ”This means that the entire user experience is important to him.

He not only relies on his gut feeling, he uses the possibilities of web analysis to optimize his creative concepts. And so that he can test his creative, user-centered ideas on a real audience as quickly as possible, he relies on his technical skills. Process automation is particularly important to him and enables him to generate more growth faster than a conventional marketer could ever have achieved.

What does this have to do with hacking?

First, you have to understand what a hacker actually is. Most people associate a hacker with malicious cyberattacks and computer viruses, but that is not the origin of the actual "hacking". As early as the late 1950s, a group of people keen to experiment got together to explore the limits of what was possible. Wau Holland, German journalist and computer activist, later coined the phrase:

»A hacker is someone trying to find a way to make toast using a coffee maker

Wau Holland //Founder of the CCC

Maybe the term is yours Life hack known. A life hack refers to strategies to make everyday activities easier in an unusual way. In that way, most of us could even call our mothers hackers. Remove rust with vinegar and oil, fight wine stains on your favorite shirt with salt or remove dog hair from the sofa with rubber gloves. Mothers have had the greatest hacks up their sleeves for decades. Even fathers like to use cable ties at first when their daughters complain about their dexterity when tying the bun.

So hacking is about much more than just breaking into other computers and networks. There are many in the hacker culture who see hacking as an opportunity to make the world a better place. So-called “hacktivists” see themselves as a kind of digital vigilante group.

Even if, historically, the hackers were not just pure computer experts, in our culture we understand a hacker above all to be someone who uses the possibilities of digital technology with great expertise. And that is exactly what the growth hacker tries to do.

When is a hack a hack?

For Ben Harmanus, Principal Marketing Manager EMEA at Hubspot, a growth hacker is someone who can actually develop and write scripts. He would refer to online marketers and product managers who make strategic decisions about growth measures without actually using hacks as a growth lead, growth master, or growth manager.

In this sense, a true growth hack would be as rare as a unicorn, because it only deserves this name if it has pushed open a new door for the very first time. As soon as this hack is adopted by other companies, it is best practice.

So the question is what is called a real growth hack? Does the hack have to be unique and innovative? Or does a product really have to spread automatically and virally in order for it to be a real growth hack?

Or is it enough for you to experiment and find creative solutions to increase growth on your websites, blogs and social media pages?

Is a growth hack always directed towards the outside world, or can a measure that saves your own sales staff hours of work also be called a growth hack?

The main difference is the combination of the three growth hacking disciplines, the experimental approach and the complete focus on scalable growth. So as soon as the growth changes significantly after performing one of your iterations, you have created a real growth hack.

In our opinion, it doesn't matter whether this hack has existed or not. However, Harmanus mentions one more essential thing that a growth hacker has in common with a growth manager: He thinks like an entrepreneur. He means that both have a burning desire to connect the target group with the must-have product.

How can growth marketing help?

Growth Marketing offers a number of advantages over traditional marketing:

  1. Growth marketing leads to results faster. The campaign times are shorter, the focus is on execution and less on planning. That makes it more pragmatic and easier to understand and use even for non-marketers.
  2. The motivation is higher because you see results faster
  3. Communication is easier because you work based on the jointly defined goals and KPIs. This applies not only to the team, but also to colleagues and managers. The focus on data quickly invalidates arguments such as “we've always done it this way”
  4. Faster learning leads to competitive advantages that rely on classic marketing
  5. It's more fun

Why is growth marketing important right now?

»Marketing has never been as complex as it is today - and never will be this easy again.«

Tomas Herzberger // Co-Founder Hello Growth

Marketing is always a child of its time. That means good marketing exists depending on the people, media and technologies of the respective time.

And it is precisely these four factors that are more relevant in 2020 than ever before.

Automation and AI are not only relevant for the development of digital products, but can now also be found in marketing and sales. The magic word is API: most modern apps and programs are designed to adapt to the existing technical infrastructure and to be combined with other tools. The trend is towards a marketing stack that brings together many tools, each with exactly one purpose.

2. People stop watching television

The second important reason is the change in media consumption, especially among the under 30-year-olds, a particularly attractive target group for the advertising industry.If you could be sure for decades that you could reach a large part of your target group with a well-planned advertising campaign on television, on posters and in magazines, this is no longer necessarily the case.

Young people now spend more time consuming media on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram than watching television.


Because these media not only allow passive consumption, but also the active production of your own content. We live in the age of Prosumers, that means we are consumers and producers of content at the same time. Every minute I watch a friend's video on Instagram TV is one minute less that I could consume TV commercials.

3. People don't like advertising

In addition, this young target group, which is attractive for advertisers, is increasingly turning to ad blocking software and is therefore no longer accessible via traditional advertising on the Internet such as banners or pre-roll ads. In Germany, almost 30% of users already use an ad blocker. The growth rates of on-demand streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime also ensure that users consume more media, but avoid advertising - a problem for every marketer.

This has never happened before in the history of mankind - each of us can reach a large part of the entire human race with nothing more than our smartphone and an internet connection!

Anyone can be a media company.

And every media company is interested in increasing its circulation. So not only are the media subject to unprecedented change, they are also more fragmented and democratized than ever.

Put simply, every Instagram user is both a passive consumer and an active publisher. And if he is ambitious as a publisher and wants more reach, he enters into direct competition with established advertising companies.

4. Anyone can advertise

The classic entry hurdles into the advertising market, such as large media budgets, tools for media planning, contacts to marketers and publishers, are not only lower on these new media, they have fallen.

Anyone can set up an advertising campaign on Facebook and start it on a budget. Therefore, there are more and more advertising companies and entrepreneurs, which increases the demand for efficient and smart marketing methods.

Reach and branding still play a major role for large corporations. But even companies like Adidas, Unilever or BMW are trying today to plan their marketing activities as data-heavy as possible, i.e. efficiently and purposefully. Nobody can afford high wastage any more. GRowth hacking is therefore not only interesting for start-ups.

Who is growth marketing for?

Growth marketing is suitable for a wide variety of companies, regardless of size and industry, regardless of B2C and B2B. Nevertheless, there are a few factors that can favor or disadvantage the success of growth marketing:

Growth hacking is particularly good for:

1. SaaS companies

Companies that offer "Software as a Service", i.e. whose customer journey takes place entirely online. Growth marketing is “made” for such companies.

2. Companies with product / market fit

Product / Market-Fit describes the moment when there is noticeable demand for a product and the company has identified the “right” target group. These companies (especially if they have a digital business model) can really step on the gas and scale. This is why these companies are also referred to as “scale-ups”.

If your company is a startup and has not yet achieved a PMF, growth marketing methods can at least help you to quickly find the critical target group of "early adopters".

3. Agile companies

If your company uses agile methods like design thinking to develop user-centric products, growth marketing is the next logical step. Just like Scrum and Design Thinking, Growth Marketing is an agile process that is based on the results of experiments (= user feedback).

 4. Companies with “State of the Art” personnel concepts

In growth marketing, we don't believe in silos, but in the power of heterogeneous teams. When experts with different professional backgrounds work towards the same goal, the results are usually better than in teams of homogeneous specialists.

On the other hand, there are also companies that will find it difficult to use growth marketing even in part. That has nothing to do with the industry or the size of the company, but often with the culture.

Growth hacking isn't good for:

1. Companies with long decision-making paths

If managers find it difficult to give up responsibility and let their employees make their own decisions about strategies and measures, this will inevitably lead to long decision-making paths. And these long decision-making paths contradict the fast, agile approach in growth marketing

2. Companies with low error acceptance

If you want to learn something new, mistakes are inevitable. Both in skiing, learning Spanish and in growth marketing. The aim of this process is to ensure that errors occur as early as possible and that as few resources (time, money, energy) as possible are burned. The corporate culture must be able to "endure" this.

This also includes a certain flexibility in external communication: The growth team must be able to quickly create new landing pages, advertising materials or videos. If these measures have to be checked internally for days or weeks, the necessary dynamism is quickly lost and frustration sets in.

3. Companies with traditional sales structures

If the success of the company depends primarily on the skill of salespeople in personal contact and there are virtually no digital touchpoints, the possibilities for growth marketing measures are manageable. This applies in particular to B2B2B companies, such as suppliers to mechanical engineering companies.

The five pillars of growth marketing

Growth is a way, not a goal. Even if one or the other ad hoc action can ensure short-term growth, the actual goal is to establish a long-term process.

Because the more frequently and regularly you test growth hypotheses, the faster you will be able to find a good combination of channel (e.g. Facebook) and resources (e.g. group posts) and grow.

In addition, every growth hack is "mortal." Even a change in the algorithm of the platform being played on (e.g. reddit) can put a barely successful channel to the grave from one day to the next. The following »pillars of growth hacking« ensure that you and your team are always at the forefront when it comes to analyzing the latest channels and platforms for their possibilities and weaknesses.

Pillar 1: The growth mindset

What you can learn from the "inventor" of the light bulb

Everyone knows Thomas Alva Edison as one of the most important inventors of mankind, because we associate his name with the invention of the incandescent lamp and the electrification of the world.

What few people know: shortly after the opening of his famous "Menlo Park" laboratory, Thomas Edison invented and sold a doll that could "sing" short songs to children. The doll was a commercial disaster. It was heavy, broke quickly, and the songs played were of such cruel quality that they were likely to give the children nightmares. The product was a flop.

Did that bother Edison? Yes.

Did it stop him from believing in his abilities and moving on? Obviously not.

“I did not fail. I now know 1,000 ways not to build a lightbulb. "

Thomas Alva Edison

Contrary to popular belief, Thomas Alva Edison was by no means the inventor of the incandescent lamp in the true sense of the word. But Edison improved the previously known methods with regard to the creation of a vacuum in a glass bulb and the material of the glow wire.

Edison was a very good inventor, but so were many of his contemporaries.

What Edison had ahead of them was his extrovert demeanor, business acumen and growth mindset. He secured one of the first patents on the light bulb and marketed "his" product extremely successfully in the years that followed.

From the steam engine to the airplane to the self-landing rocket: like all important inventions in human history, the invention of electric light was by no means a single "Eureka" moment of a brilliant mind, but the result of countless successive experiments.

What is the growth mindset?

"The master has failed more times than the beginner has ever tried."

Stephen McCranie // Author of "Mel & Chad"

Carol S. Dweck is Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. In her bestseller "The Growth Mindset" she describes two different mentalities: the "Fixed Mindset" and (who would have guessed) the "Growth Mindset".

In essence, it is about people with the fixed mindset believing that things are "set in stone". You're either good at sports or you're not. You're either smart or you're not. You are either a good leader or you are not. Everything is talent, talent and disposition.

It becomes problematic when people with this mindset can no longer meet expectations - be it the expectations of others or their own. Because if you fail despite your high talent, you are in a dead end.

For people with a growth mindset, they believe that they can change at any time, that they can grow. No matter how good or bad you are at something, through learning and hard work you can get a little better every day.

You don't say, "I can't do it!" But "I can do it still Not!"

Your only opponent is yesterday's me - and as long as you can overcome yesterday's me, you win. If I want to learn to ski and fell ten times on a slope yesterday, if I only fall eight times today, it will be a success.

In many studies, Dr. Dweck proved that there are not only people with one or the other mindset, but that we keep switching between the two mentalities - depending on the situation.

Maybe we have a growth mindset when it comes to entrepreneurship and distinguish ourselves as outstanding leaders who give top priority to the personal development of their employees. But as soon as it comes to raising children, we fall into the fixed mindset and praise the good grades (= read: the few mistakes) of our children instead of the learning process.

"Really, failure is just a form of feedback." 

Brian P. Moran // Author of "The 12 Week Year"

Growth hacking starts in the mind. It starts with a willingness not only to accept failure, but to see it as a success. The primary goal is learning. And anyone who has ever had the pleasure of watching a young child learn to walk will understand that falling is part of it and that there is usually no shortcut to the learning process - except of course this book.

It is important to note that you must not equate the success of your product with yourself! If your product fails, it says nothing about you as a person - and vice versa. People with a growth mindset can mentally manage this separation between their product and themselves very well. While these people are also afraid of failure, they are even more afraid of not having tried.

When it comes to technical progress, too, the trial and error method is usually more successful than stubbornly following a certain plan: I can't prove it, but I'll bet Elon Musk was also very nervous when his first SpaceX rocket launched (and Seconds later it exploded.

Sometimes it's real mistakes that lead to huge breakthroughs. The Scottish bacteriologist Alexander Fleming only discovered penicillin in 1928 because he hadn't properly cleaned his laboratory bowl before inoculating it with bacteria. The result was a mold that spread in it. Instead of throwing everything away, however, Fleming realized that the mold had killed the bacteria and thus discovered the basis for penicillin.

So take a step back and awaken the objective, curious researcher in you who knows that success is only the end of a long period of experimentation. But just as Edison knew what he was getting at (electric light in a lightbulb), you too need a goal.

In addition to curiosity and the willingness to learn through experiments, the growth mindset also includes a certain stubbornness. It takes people who are not intimidated by a no, who set themselves ambitious goals and take risks outside of their comfort zone.

In English there are the beautiful wordshustleandgrind, both of which describe the ambition required of a good growth hacker.

I preferChutzpah

Chutzpah is a Yiddish word for which there is no German equivalent. It describes a mixture of purposeful, intelligent insolence, charming penetrance and irresistible audacity - so perfect for determined people with a growth mindset.

Dare to go unconventional ways sometimes! Provoke, entertain and do not live up to expectations! Set your own goals! Orientate yourself to your vision and not to the vision of society. When in doubt, apologize rather than ask permission beforehand.

Pillar 2: "One Metric That Matters" and "North Star Metric"

In their excellent book "Lean Analytics", Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz describe the One Metric That Matters (OMTM) - a goal towards which all measures are geared.

Sean Ellis calls it that North Star Metric.

It is the metric you have hanging above your desk that every measure must be measured against. For WhatsApp, OMTM is the number of messages sent, for Airbnb it is the number of nights booked and for Amazon it is the number of orders. All measures are intended to contribute to the growth of this one metric.

This goal is defined depending on the phase your company is currently in and its business model. So OMTM will change, if only in the long term. And similar to how a persona helps to align all communication with one segment, an OMTM helps align all growth hacks with this goal. Like the magnetic pole, it gives you and your team the direction in which you are moving.

Pillar 3: facts before opinions

The blessing and curse of companies with digital business models and digital marketing is the ability to measure just about anything. It is a curse to those who prefer convenience to ignorance to measurable truth. Because these people trust solely in their experience and their gut feeling. Often times, they do not make a decision because the solution is the best, but because they can simply do it based on their status in the company hierarchy.

True to the motto: "I'm boss so I'm right!«

In your first impulse you may judge these people because of this attitude, but they have something ahead of you: an established business model that brings them regular sales and puts them in the comfort described above. Because “never change a winning team”, and why shake something that works?

Instead of preferring dates, these people will often say:

  • "We have always done it that way"
  • "We have never done that before" or
  • "Where are we going?" 

This ignorance, downright fear of unknown territory ("new territory") ensures that many healthy companies with established processes and loyal regular customers do not exhaust their potential and are quickly threatened by changed market conditions.

In 2013 we conducted an opinion poll among those responsible for marketing in medium-sized companies in a B2B sector. We wanted to know the goals with which they participated in a trade fair (which is associated with considerable financial and time expenditure) and how they measure the achievement of these goals.

What surprised us was not so much the goals themselves. Rather, it was the fact that many companies had no goals at all, let alone measured their achievement.

Answers were often given such as

  • "We are always here"
  • »Customers expect it from us« or
  • “Because our competitor is here”.

Hardly any company bothered to count the new leads, let alone analyze their trade fair presence and communication in the environment accordingly, with the result that these companies use more or less the same trade fair presence and the same communication every year.

As a result, these companies will never find out what caused their success or failure. And if you don't know the causes, you can't turn the appropriate screws.

We live in a world in which you can not only measure a lot, but in which there is also a tool for almost every measurement. The generated data is the starting point for understanding and analyzing the customer journey.

Pillar 4: Understanding the customer

The primary reason startups fail is trying to sell a product that nobody wants.

“Build it and they will come” is the mantra of many visionaries, but very few actually know the wishes of customers and build products that satisfy these wishes.

Very few of us are visionaries like Elon Musk or Steve Jobs, whose products like the Tesla Model X or the iPhone were so revolutionary that they first aroused customer needs and first created a market segment.

But for one Elon Musk there are thousands of people who failed with their vision (of which they were no less convinced) because they did not know their market or had misjudged it, and whose names no one knows because of that.

If you recognize early on that there is no market for your product and you therefore pivot and steer the company in a different direction, you will save an enormous amount of time, effort and frustration. But it's not easy. Because the more passion a product has been created, the more difficult it is for the maker to let go of it and admit his supposed defeat.

How can you avoid that?

By not looking for a market for your product, but by creating a product for an existing market. To do this, you need to understand where your customer's pain lies. Is this pain acute ("I urgently need a solution now") or chronic ("That annoys me again and again")? How does he deal with this pain? Which tools and methods does he use to make this pain bearable (more)? What does he think at the moment before he is supposed to use your product?

According to André Morys, one of the biggest obstacles to growth for companies is that they don't think in a customer-centric way. Ideally, a growth hacker needs to understand the customer's mindset better than the customer can, as most of the decisions are made subconsciously. That's why you should also deal with consumer psychology and that's why you also need personas that are based on personality types with personality preferences.

Pillar 5: Diversity of channels

Digital marketing is more than banners and google search ads. Good growth hackers are always the first to test advertising opportunities on a new channel, because then they can not only build up their own audience early on, but also benefit from the lack of competition from low prices. Especially on (new) social media platforms, we are looking for an exchange with familiar people and brands, and that's why it was the pioneers who quickly won most of the fans on MySpace, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat and built a new communication channel with their target group could.

Because the competition was still concentrating on the existing channels instead of discovering new opportunities.

That's the crux of growth hacking: If you read about a new platform, it may be too late - depending on the source - because the pioneers got ahead of you and have already staked out their "claim". You keep the really good hacks to yourself so that you can draw on the full as long as possible. That doesn't apply to us, because we want you to be successful.

There is another danger associated with this (especially for small businesses): Your day only has 24 hours. You cannot be represented on every platform with the same high level of commitment, otherwise you and your team would fall into pure actionism.

It would also be pointless, because your target group is not romping everywhere, but only on selected channels. Be where your customers are and test new channels when your customers try them out too.

Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares list 19 categories in their book "Traction" that you should consider for growth hacking measures:

  • Blogger Relations and Influencers
  • PR
  • Unconventional PR
  • Search engine marketing (SEM)
  • Social and Display Ads
  • Offline advertising
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Content marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Viral Marketing
  • Tool Based Marketing
  • Business development
  • Sales / Distribution
  • Affiliate programs
  • Existing platforms
  • measure up
  • Offline events
  • Speaking engagements
  • Community building
  • optimization

Blogger Relations and Influencers

Guest posting on established blogs can be one of the most efficient marketing channels. Noah Kagan gained 40,000 users for Mint before the company even went online. The currently hotly debated topic of influencer marketing also belongs in this area.

Publicity or classic PR

This is based on building a good relationship between you and journalists who write about you.


Often referred to as guerrilla marketing: an unusual, sensational campaign that first spreads virally and is then picked up by journalists.


Search engine marketing (SEM)

Very scalable and globally available, search engine marketing is a good tool to attract users who are already at the end of the customer journey and who know exactly what they are looking for. Due to its dominant market share, Google is the first choice here, but depending on the country there are alternatives such as the Bing and Yahoo networks, Yandex or Baidu.

Classic online banners on websites where your target audience is, or ads on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. How search engine marketing is very easy to implement, test and analyze.

Offline advertising or classic media

Denotes advertising that has in some cases worked for centuries: TV spots, print ads, posters or radio spots. Established companies still invest more in this mass media than in online advertising because (as the name suggests) they can reach an extremely large number of people and thus generate awareness for their new products. These channels are rarely used by start-ups because they usually have a high financial entry barrier. In times when offline advertising is also becoming more and more digital, classic channels can also be granulated better and better and thus “cheap” tests can be carried out. But of course the analysis of these advertising measures is more difficult than with digital advertising, because there is no possibility of interaction and you can rarely measure how many people saw your advertising and therefore carried out an action.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

If you look at the traffic sources of many successful sites and portals, you will find that the organic traffic from search engines usually makes up by far the largest share. The better the users find your site in their search for relevant terms, the more successful you will be. This channel is extremely important for any online business and particularly sustainable.


Content marketing describes the generation and distribution of content (typically blog articles or videos) that offer added value for your target group. Like search engine optimization, content marketing is a long-term project.

Email is regularly declared dead as a marketing channel, but it has been working well for over 30 years. As with content marketing, the challenge is to be relevant and to stand out from spam, which makes up over 80% of all emails, through high quality and high personalization. Because your advertising e-mails are in the same, intimate environment as the e-mails from friends, family members and acquaintances.


Viral marketing or digital word of mouth describes nothing more than personal recommendations from users of your product to their social environment. These referrals or invitations were the cornerstone of the growth of most social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. But of all nineteen alternatives, this channel is the most difficult to plan and implement.