Growth Hacking: Is it for real and can your business do it?

The world is moving at a faster pace than ever before. There’s same-day Amazon shipping and one hour or less alcohol delivery service. You can even get a chartered BLADE helicopter to the airport in NYC in under 20 minutes and hire a freelancer in seconds online.

Everyone is looking for new and innovative ways to be more efficient. To scale faster and smarter. To make more money and work less. In the past few years, growth hacking has arisen as a potential way to address all of those concerns.

What is growth hacking?

Growth hacking is an approach to grow a business as rapidly as possible by experimenting with conventional and unconventional marketing, development and other tactics. It is really a fancy way to say that you are scaling your company at an incredibly efficient and fast pace.

The term is relatively new. It was coined in 2010 by Sean Ellis, a growth hacker and entrepreneur that helped companies like Dropbox expand their user base. Every since then, the term has been grouped with a long list of buzzwords like native advertising and agile marketing.

Growth hacking is like throwing a bunch of stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks, but it is a little more organized than that. Hackers are extremely focused on one goal only--growth. They are not thinking about building customer loyalty, developing marketing strategy or product design and packaging. The idea being that without those other aspects to distract them, they can focus solely on reaching the end goal. Here is an outline of the primary benefits: 

● Less expensive than traditional advertising’

● Fast growth in followers on social media and other channels

● Can attract new customers

● Build credible and relevant email lists

To many, growth hacking sounds like a viable option worth exploring.

Who uses growth hacking?

Growth hackers often experiment with an exhaustive list of techniques, strategies and tools to figure out what works. They also tend to focus on less traditional marketing and advertising approaches and look for more cost-effective alternatives. For this reason, growth hacking has been widely popular with startups and small businesses.

Companies like Facebook, Dropbox, Linkedin, Reddit, Twitter, Evernote, Airbnb and thousands more, used it in the early days to build their user base and attract new clients and customers. Early stage startups are under immense pressure to scale much faster than large corporations. However, every business needs to worry about growing. A report by McKinsey & Company even declared companies, especially in online and digital spaces, will either“Grow fast or die slow”.

One downside to growth hacking is time, which is almost ironic. It can be time-consuming if you decide to do it on your own and you have no previous experience. There are hundreds to thousands of tools and tactics that you can use to experiment. Testing many different options and seeing what works can take a considerable amount of time--even though it can speed up your overall growth. Some busy founders and owners then look to growth hackers or marketers that have the experience and expertise.

Growth Hacking Tools You Can Test

Growth hackers differ from most marketers in that they are finely focused on one goal. They also use tactics and practices from product development, engineering, coding, marketing as well as other areas if it can help with growth. Marketers deal with many goals at once and tend to take a more holistic approach. However, marketers and businesses owners can employ growth hacking tactics as part of their overall strategy to build their company.

If you want to experiment with growth hacking, there are hundreds of tools at your disposal. Here are a few highly recommended tools to get started:


CrazyEgg is a heat mapping tool that tracks how visitors interact with your website. You can see where people are clicking and what they are spending time viewing. You can also segment different audience segments to see how their behavior differs. It is great for collecting insights of customer behavior, website performance and copy. You can try it free at the Crazy Egg website for up to 30 days. 


Unbounce has two incredible useful functions. You can build landing pages and manage the A/B test all in one without needing a ton of technical expertise, instead of relying on only analyzing your Google Analytics, you can compare effectiveness using Unbounce. If you plan to run promotions or want to build your subscriber or email lists, Unbounce can be a big help and timesaver. There’s a 30 day free trial.


Automated tools can be huge boosts to your productivity and to your company’s efficiency. Zapier is an automation tool that allows you to connect multiple apps and “zap” them to perform an action based on a trigger. If you want to transfer email contacts to your Google Sheet, add a meeting to your calendar from email or perform a number of other tedious tasks automate them. Depending on the number of zaps you plan to use, you can use it with the free version and switch to paid if you find you need more.


Gaining press attention and coverage can do wonders for your rate of growth. The more exposure, the more people that will get to see your company. JustReachOut is a platform to search for and reply to inquiries. You can pitch stories to journalists. However, one of the most impressive features is the ability to track Reddit and Quora thread. Journalist frequently post questions and ask for expert quotes and researc


LIstbuilder is a growth hacking app that has been around for a while. The tool allows you to create popup boxes that encourage users to subscribe to a newsletter or become users. The main goal is to acquire more contacts and emails for business development. A one-time visitor could potentially be a loyal, long-standing client. Another good part is--it’s free.

These five tools are valuable, even if you have no experience with growth hacking or technical expertise. You can also search for and browse hundreds of growth hacking tools by category here. Remember the tools don’t have to unconventional or innovative, but how you use them should be.

Is it for real?

Is growth hacking legitimate? Yes. Is it always successful? It can be, but keep your expectations realistic. It is not a be-all and end-all solution. It won’t solve all your problems or necessarily make you an overnight success. As part of a larger, long-term marketing plan, growth hacking can have real benefits and advantages.

If you really want to get the most out of your scaling efforts, you need to focus on sustaining that growth and momentum. What is the point of rapidly growing your user base to a million, if they never use your app or they disappear after a few weeks?

There is a time for growth hacking and there is a time for traditional marketing. However, remember that some processes are longer for a reason. Don’t cut corners on them. Whether you want to try growth hacking, marketing and other strategies to scale your business, our team can help. Reach out to 10twelve to learn more.