As mentioned in our definition, growth hacking has a holistic impact on an organisation. It stems from the organisational culture, gets re-enforced by the company’s vision and goals, is actualised by concrete, hands-on activities, and drives business results and revenue. Growth hacking is both a mindset and a proven way of conducting performance-driven business. Essentially, it brings about monetary (direct) and non-monetary (indirect) business outcomes. All actions are guided by higher-level business goals that all growth team members acknowledge and strive to fulfil in practice.
Growth hacking places the customer at the center of all work. By doing so, growth hacking is a powerful way of seeking revenue growth — either through acquiring new customers or strengthening the relationship with existing customers. Herein, a multitude of tactics can be employed depending on the client stage, including A/B testing, search engine marketing (SEM), social media marketing (SMM), or marketing automation (MA). Refer back to our growth hacking model for marketing for further details on the optimisation of the growth hacking funnel.
A growth owner is a process-driven, analytical, creative, T-shaped individual with soft skills. The role of a growth owner is to identify new business opportunities, guide and continuously prioritise growth ideas (a list of items called the backlog), and ensure that all stakeholders are heard along the way.
Especially in the context of ecommerce, the extended role of a growth owner involves talking with development, design (UI/UX, visuals), content, marketing, and other teams: bringing all separate streams together to form a a single entity, where everybody speaks the same language and works towards a shared goal.
Thus, a growth owner not only strives to identify bottlenecks for digital sales, but also works on increasing collaboration throughout the entire sales funnel. Moreover, a growth owner ensures that fast-paced, customer-oriented, data-driven growth hacking methods and a minimum viable product approach (MVP) are followed in order to gather instant feedback and eventually bring about rapid growth in sales.
As growth hacking strives to produce both tactical and strategic results, it should be considered as an integral part of the entire organisation and other functions. These functions, to name a few, may be IT, marketing, and business development. Essentially, a growth owner should be the glue holding the different units together — and even better, converges different business units to avoid a siloed approach altogether.
Equipped with data, a growth owner can make or provide justified recommendations and business insights to top management.
When should I get a growth owner?
The pursuit for growth becomes central to a company, when a product-market-fit has been established. In other words, there’s a fine line in getting into growth hacking mode too early in the development process of a new service or start-up. Whereas a growth mindset should be prevalent from the very first stages of service development, actual growth hacking activities and its fruits are best to be reaped only after proven initial customer validation and market traction.
Growth hacking introduces a systematic, cross-functional way of working and enabling growth. It involves looking at an identified problem or bottleneck from various viewpoints, gathering feedback, and iterations in order to find the best possible way forward. Fundamentally, building, measuring, and learning through small growth experiments or “sprints” becomes a common way of conducting business. Typically, this type of approach is needed, when a company faces challenges, such as the launch of a new product, service, channel, or market, stagnancy in sales, increased sales targets, lack or ambiguity of growth means, and the need to rapidly justify growth opportunities or change daily working practices.
Growth hacking allows for rapid reaction times, feedback, decisions, and results. It can help the company overcome certain struggles, such as IT, marketing, business unit-specific, or process and IT architecture related challenges. Growth hacking — in the best case — provides answers to some of the very fundamental questions and problems undermining a company’s growth, such as release cycles, DevOps, new software, control, budget, commercialisation, customer lifetime value, and core operations.
What are the benefits of having a growth owner?
The role of a growth owner involves overseeing actual growth hacking activities and collaborating with a range of stakeholders (internal and external) in order to create the best foundation for success. In the best-case scenario, a growth owner ensures that the sales funnel is optimised both from a strategic, technical, and design perspective, relevant webshop and marketing technologies and tactics are utilised, and growth hacking is understood and fully recognised as the key business driver in upper management. This involves seeking to either change or foster the organisational structures, culture and attitudes — or ‘ways of doing business.’
It is paramount that the growth team is placed in a central position in the company, and its efforts should be valued. This means that the growth team — involving the growth owner — should have both the mandate to act as well as have budget to fulfil those actions. Without one or the other, growth efforts are likely to go to waste. The removal of all friction between departments and unnecessary hierarchy is needed for growth hacking efforts to be truly actualised and its benefits to be greatly realised.
Moreover, in an optimal scenario, the growth team should consist of multiple roles and disciplines, thus being cross-functional at heart. Besides having key people from its own company being part of the growth team, the team may — and should — be extended to include key members from all vendors and other partner organisations. Thus, in addition to the core growth team, the growth team might rather become a growth network, where expertise can be leveraged to the fullest.
When executed with the help of a dedicated team and a passionate, driven growth owner, growth hacking can lead to an efficient and flexible way of conducting business: identification, validation, and execution of growth opportunities in a very short timeframe. Growth hacking helps to understand a company’s growth potential, growth trajectory, customer experience, and ecommerce and website possibilities better. It should applied for building the capabilities of digital sales both in-house and with partners in the context of a larger growth network.
Growth hacking that is conducted in an ongoing manner instead of a single stint can enable an even more steady growth operating model and culture (“the bedrock”) and bring more focus to the ways of working. While being guided by company strategy and vision (“the North Star”), growth hacking introduces increasingly more data-driven, lean experimentation methods to daily work with the purpose of improving digital sales. Essentially, it involves learning by doing and understanding real customer needs. Growth hacking introduces or re-enforces a strong growth culture, tools, and ways of working. It allows for better marketing ROI, overall measurability of actions, increase in ecommerce sales, and more successful customer retention.
No growth owner, no growth
Business growth should be a collaborative effort of various parties. Without growth hacking practices or a growth owner in place, an organisation is likely to miss out on profitable business opportunities that otherwise go unnoticed. In other words, taking on a full-time growth hacking team and a growth owner, the company can safeguard itself against stagnant, non-innovative, instinct-driven behaviour and decision-making. Having a growth owner ensures that you’re alert to changes in the business environment and are continuously evaluating all possible venues of revenue.
Oftentimes, it is exactly the cumulative small wins that make a bigger impact. Constantly optimising your ecommerce sales based on data and analytics as well as monitoring and further improving the digital sales channels based on customer expectations and towards improved customer experience. Massive breakthroughs, such as industry dominance, don’t typically occur overnight. Rather, they require blood, sweat and tears: hard dedication and an on-going growth path instead of pursuing quick wins in the hopes of breaking through big time.
By starting investing in growth hacking now, small victories can be reaped already tomorrow. Like the saying goes, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey. Taking the first step is always the hardest but most certainly rewarding. The impact of growth hacking is multifaceted, and its results last for a long, long time.
Originally published at www.columbiaroad.com.