Last updated on January 15, 2022, 11:22 PM
Through my years in the growth hacking scene, I was able to observe how the first agencies emerged and tried to carry the methods and the mindset into the corporate world and big companies. Most of the time it didn’t go so well and in my agency work as a Growth Hacking Consultant I also understood where the biggest stumbling blocks to establish and implement a growth hacking framework are. Here are my ideas and thoughts on how to properly bring and implement Growth Hacking into a company and establish it.
Growth Hacking / Growth Marketing needs to be explained first
Of course, it is often the case that the term first has to be explained long and wide. Depending on the “degree of further education” in digital marketing of the marketing bosses / managers / CMOs etc., there is a wide range of dangerous half-knowledge here.
In most cases, however, it is anchored in the heads that the Growth Hacker can create super duper Growth Hacks in a few hours / days, or immediately which skyrockets company results times 500 – 10,000% : )
And that is of course not the case, or only very very rarely possible. For me, it was actually almost always the case that there was no real seamless analytics setup in the company. And how can you as a data-driven growth marketer analyze properly if nothing is / was measured?
Here usually came the great astonishment when you explained that you first have to build up a proper analytics setup which will take a few weeks. Plus only then you can only collect data and after that you can only start to experiment properly.
Some agencies leave the whole topic out and simply propose wild experiments, because you have to be able to sell and show off something. An analytics setup over a few weeks is not particularly sexy. And through these somewhat wilder approaches, such as building a landing page for something and then selling it as a growth hack, the entire industry or buzzword quickly falls into disrepute (or has of course already happened over the years).
Back to the topic: -> I think it should always be clearly explained what Growth Hacking is -> in my opinion: Data-driven experimentation and fast agile testing of creative digital marketing approaches. And also clearly (as an agency) communicate what you need as prerequisites so that these processes can also be established = which is very often a proper Analytics System.
The analytics system must be set up correctly
As also mentioned above, a proper analytics system must be in place because growth hacking is a data-driven approach. Without data and measurement of KPIs, you can’t analyze much. Often companies measure only the most necessary, and the knowledge of how to actually measure channels, analyze across channels and even use conversion tracking correctly is often a bit poor.
This means that a lot needs to be explained and the general level of knowledge in the company needs to be raised. Employees in (digital) marketing should receive ongoing training on analytics systems and dashboard systems. And a basic knowledge of conversion tracking would of course also come in handy.
This is the only way to (halfway) understand what the wild digital marketing professionals can measure and, above all, why it takes so long to set up their measurement system correctly.
Once all this is in place, real growth marketing and a nice experimental setup can be built.
Don’t use an agency for growth hacking implementation but training and building of internal growth marketers
In my opinion, there is no way around it. It makes almost zero sense to let an external agency do growth hacks / growth marketing for a company.
If you observe the scene, you can clearly see that first internationally and now also in the DACH region, every growth hacking agency/operation has been switching to training instead of agency implementation for some time.
And the big reason for that is that it’s just incredibly complex to set up a proper growth hacking setup as an external agency in a company where maybe not even a halfway usable measurement system is there.
Therefore, it quickly became clear to the (good) agencies that there was not much to be gained here, because the customer would then probably be left dissatisfied with isolated solutions that were usually only successful by chance.
I don’t know if Sean Ellis after his time at Dropbox (with the famous “get cloud storage for free when you invite new users” hack) had an agency for implementation at all for a short time, or went straight into the training business with Growthhackers.com :). But in any case, you could see how Hendrick Lennarz in Germany quickly switched from the agency implementation business to training :) and that are just two famous examples for my theory.
So that’s my opinion, because it has always been confirmed during my Growth Hacking Consultant “assignments”. It takes a while to build up a good setup and therefore I have always tried to train as many people in the company as possible as a consultant/implementer. Much better and in the long run more useful for the companies is the training approach and building up knowledge in the company on the topic. Either you get a Growth Hacker as a full-time position in the company or you send your employees to good trainings (like for example: to Growth Tribe).
The Mindset Must Be Established – Growth Cycle and Agile Working
As the last piece of the puzzle, after the explanation of terms and making clear what is possible, and the knowledge building and analytics setup, it is still a matter of also consolidating the mindset and establishing a fixed process.
Once the setup is in place, a growth cycle must be established. This is easiest if agile working with sprints of a certain duration is already established. In many start-ups this has long been the case in the marketing departments. In somewhat older and larger companies then again not so.
It is important, however, to anchor this mindset. Growth hacking lives on experiments (tests) that have a fixed process. That means you think about x experiments that you want to run in the period of e.g.: the next 2-weeks. And this process is repeated again and again. It must be established quasi a system with that:
- experiments are planned and the KPIs to be measured are defined
- the experiments are possibly also evaluated in the team and priorities are determined
- the experiments are set up and then run for a defined period of time (ideally the length of the sprint, e.g. 2 weeks)
- and then at the end of the sprint the KPIs are looked at, whether the experiment (the growth hack) has brought an improvement (e.g.: conversion rate could be increased) or whether there was no improvement.
And after running through this “Cycle” you simply start over again with a new Cycle after discussing the results.
And also here it becomes clear that this is a bit difficult with an external agency that is supposed to carry out these experiments :)
In a nutshell: A lot of work is needed to establish Growth Hacking / Growth Marketing in the company in a future-proof way. In my opinion, the important building blocks are:
- Explain the concept correctly and in detail (with all the pros and cons and budget you need for it)
- Establish a complete gapless measurement system (and of course think about the right KPIs to measure)
- Don’t let an external agency implement growth hacks, but instead train in-house
- Establish the mindset and the growth cycle
This is the only way to make it work (IMHO) :)