Find Out What is Growth Hacking: Our Guide

Find Out What is Growth Hacking: Our Guide

By Henri Gisclard-Biondi
Published: 19/01/2021

Growth hacking. A revolutionary concept for some, just another digital marketing buzzword for others. But no one can deny viral marketing campaigns have proven just how fast technology can drive business growth.

These success stories have started a race to find the magic formula for growth hacking. Are you asking yourself: What is growth hacking? Why, and more importantly, how to hack my growth? Follow our guide for the best tips, tools and examples.

The Growth Hacking Process


Growth hacking is the art of using the different marketing channels for growth. Growth hacking tactics subvert and combine tools to achieve rapid growth with a limited marketing budget.

  • Growth is usually measured with the number of active users or customers
  • Hacking means that growth marketing strategies might be legally or ethically questionable

Marketing vs Growth Hacking

Both share the same tools and objectives. However, their respective approach is quite different.

  • Traditional marketers target long-term growth. They make sure to respect the brand’s image and positioning.
  • Growth hackers experiment with marketing. They operate in the shadows.
MarketingGrowth Hacking
Medium/Long term objectives

Short term actions

Positioning, brand imageWorks behind the scenes
Steady and progressive growthRapid and aggressive growth
Focuses on brand awareness and customer acquisitonFocuses on conversion rates, activation, retention rates, referrals and revenue
Use of marketing knowledgeExperimenting

Marketing and growth hacking complement each other. Hacks should be coordinated with traditional marketing activities.

Why you should try growth hacking

Growth hackers target all the touchpoints of the conversion funnel.

While most of traditional marketing is dedicated to raising brand awareness and acquiring customers, growth hackers enhance the customer journey.

They think in terms of the AARRR framework:

  • Acquisition
  • Activation
  • Retention
  • Referral
  • Revenue

Getting started with growth hacking

How to spot a growth hacker

Doing growth hacking requires specific skills. A good growth hacker is hard to come by: they should have both marketing skills and a data-driven mindset.

Analytical skills and a good understanding of your business are key. To guide the customer, hackers need to understand them on a deep level. Their efficiency resides in their ability to track measurable metrics.

The best growth hackers are result-oriented, creative and adaptable individuals.

Infography© Medium

Just like computer hackers, there are three types of growth hackers:

  • White hats, who are bound by ethics and the rule of law
  • Grey hats, who exploit openings without infringing on the law and use automation with reason
  • Black hats, who aren’t afraid to cross the line and will go to any lengths to reach their goals

Where to start?

You have limited resources and can’t experiment with every aspect of your marketing strategy at the same time? Use the PIE framework to prioritise tasks.

  • Potential: prioritise underperforming areas. Spot the bottlenecks in your conversion funnel with Google Analytics.
  • Importance: conduct experiments on the pages with high-volume traffic and low pay-per-click costs
  • Ease: focus on actions that can be easily implemented for more agile campaigns
Potential Importance Ease© Practical ecommerce

6 growth hacking techniques

Direct-email campaigns

Cold emailing campaigns is an outbound marketing strategy. It consists in sending emails to prospects whom you have never contacted before.

This technique is widely used, as it is a major lead generation tool. Its opening rates are superior to other types of email marketing.

“Cold emails have an average opening rate of 64,4%, with 36,7% of positive responses.”

  • Sidetrade

🛠️  An efficient emailing campaign requires specific tools, such as:

  • Woodpecker
  • Snov
  • Lemlist
  • Klentyping

Data scraping

Data scraping is the automatic collection of data from the web. You can leverage scraping tools to collect contact information from relevant leads. Data can be acquired from LinkedIn or other professional websites.

🛠️  Scraping tools you can use:

  • Scrapinghub
  • Webscaper
  • Scrapebox
  • Scrapingbee

Qualified leads databases

You can buy email lists containing qualified prospects. This can be a real time-saver, but be sure to check these email addresses are still active. Otherwise, your emails could be flagged as spam due to high rejection rates.

🛠️  Email search providers

  • Datananas
  • Hunter
  • Dropcontact

🛠️  Email database cleaning tools

  • Hunter
  • Nojunk
  • Mailboxlayer

Automated SMO

Social media are one of the most common tools used by growth marketers. They are a great way to find and engage leads, but social media marketing can be time-consuming.

Tools exist to help you optimise your workflows and accomplish tasks automatically. They can:

  • Plan publications
  • Increase your number of followers
  • Generate relevant hashtags
  • Like, comment, share
  • Connect with leads via a chatbot

🛠️  Tools for Linkedin: Phantombuster, We-connect, Dux-soup, Linkedhelper

🛠️  Tools for Facebook: Jarvee, Manychat, Socialeezer, Sociograph

🛠️  Toos for Instagram: Jarvee, Instapy, Alfred, Followliker, Followadder, Autoinsta

🛠️  Tools for Twitter: Jarvee, Followliker, Buffer, Swello, Audiense, Rankybird

Marketing automation

Growth hackers can create automatic workflows. Repetitive tasks can be automated, regardless of which websites or APIs you’re using.

This gain of time can be a crucial competitive advantage.

“35% to 50% of sales are made by the first to reply to an opportunity!”

  • Insidesales

You could automate a wide range of actions, such as:

  • Automatically saving an email attachment in a specific folder
  • Adding a new contact to your CRM
  • Receiving a push notification whenever a specific client contacts you
  • Creating a task when you turn on email tracking
  • Posting a tweet whenever new products or services are available
  • Sending a personalised email using info provided by a contact form

🛠️ Automation tools

  • Zapier
  • Phantombuster

Data-driven analysis

Analyzing data for insights is an integral part of growth hacking. Growth hackers keep track of campaigns to react and adapt in real time. If a campaign is underperforming, it ought to be cancelled. Conversely, a campaign with good ROI should receive a more important budget.

Analyzing customer behaviour is the best way to take the best actions and reach high conversion rates.

🛠️  Analytics tools

  • Google Analytics
  • Hotjar
  • Mixpanel

8 growth hacks for the books


This case proves a simple action can have a great impact. The predecessor of Outlook had to run on a tight marketing budget at first. Investors suggested adding a promotional link as the default signature for emails.

“PS: I love you. Get your free email at Hotmail“ is the phrase that propelled hotmail to where it stands today.


Its questionable ethics didn’t stop this hack from becoming a legend. Airbnb scraped data from Craigslist to send an email to users posting rental listings. Later, they even developed a program to duplicate each new airbnb offer directly onto Craigslist search results.

Screenshot - Emailing campaign from Airbnb


Dropbox increased referrals significantly by gamifying their referral program.

Users could get more storage for free by accomplishing actions such as inviting friends or posting a comment. Referrals could have brought in more than 30% of dropbox users.

Screenshot - Gamification


Facebook is another example of the effectiveness of scraping tools. Zuckerberg scraped the email addresses of university students to invite them to join the network.

Whenever someone was tagged on a picture, they also received an invitation if they weren’t already using the platform.

Candy Crush

Candy Crush Saga© Candy Crush

This game was so addictive it was accused of hacking human psychology itself.

It has made a clever use of Facebook integration to engage users and their friends. Their scores and updates were visible to others, creating an enticing competition. Inviting people was also a way to retaure time credit.


Screenshot - Embed Code

The platform made it possible for everyone to integrate videos to their website. All you have to do is copy the embed code. This encouraged users to upload their videos to the site, as it provided an easy way to share it later. Word of mouth spread and the rest is history.


Shazam Music Recognition

Shazam’s hack resides in the service itself. Users tend to extend their hand towards the source of the sound for better recognition.

This gesture attracts attention to the mysterious blue-screen. Is this how you got to know Shazam too?


Proven is a job-posting website. It had the idea of implementing an internal point-based system. Each time a coworker optimised or shared an article of their blog, they were awarded a point. As a result, the website traffic went up 43%.

Our last tip: be creative!

Growth hacking can be a formidable opportunity to grow your business, large or small.

Keep in mind that the efficacy of a good hack depends on its ability to innovate.

  • People get used to novelty and it can lose traction quickly
  • Algorithms learn to recognise patterns, and get better at countering new growth hacking techniques
  • Laws can become more stringent and protect privacy

Most hacks become obsolete rapidly. More than the tools, creativity can make the difference!

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