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How Large Companies Can Start Growth Hacking

How Large Companies Can Start Growth Hacking
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When it comes to driving marketing results, there’s no shortage of advice out there. However, there is one technique that has been gaining traction: growth hacking. While growth hacking is often thought of as a buzzword or something that only start-ups do, it can benefit companies of any size.

What is Growth Hacking?

Growth hacking refers to a company’s ability to scale and achieve exponential growth, often through creative and analytical techniques. The term ‘growth hacking’ originated with Sean Ellis, an entrepreneur and marketer who has worked with Dropbox, Xobni, LogMeIn and Uproar, back in 2010. He was a driving force behind the accelerated growth of these companies. When he vacated his role at these companies he found that he needed someone other than a traditional marketer to fill his shoes. Thus, the job of growth hacker was born.

Here are some examples of start-ups that have used growth hacking to scale:

1. PayPal: The company grew its user base by paying users for each friend they referred to the platform. This effort cost the company around $60 million, but the strategy paid off over time.

2. Dropbox: Dropbox also rewarded users for signing up. Instead of paying them, Dropbox gave users and their friends additional storage space.

3. Airbnb: The booking platform leveraged a loophole in Craiglist’s code to cross-post its listings on the free online classified site. Airbnb was able to access Craiglist’s much larger user base in order to grow its own.

How to Start Experimenting with Growth Hacking

Growth hacking requires speed, something that can be hard for large companies. Here are five tips for getting started with experimenting with growth hacking

Make it okay to fail:

For growth hacking to work, large companies need to adjust their culture to embrace failure. Growth hacking relies on new ideas and there’s no way to guarantee their success. Employees need to know it’s okay to fail.

Start small:

Growth hacking may seem like a risky idea to large companies, so it’s ideal to start with controlled tests of small changes. This will get the company more comfortable with trying something beyond traditional marketing methods. It also makes failures easier to tolerate since they won’t have such a big impact.

Break down silos:

For growth marketing to be effective, it will require coordination across multiple departments. Large companies often consist of silos with each department having its own distinct responsibilities. However, good ideas can come from anywhere and growth hacking is more successful if engineers and marketers can collaborate.

Focus on digital:

Online marketing is one of the primary channels companies use to add users and customers. This focus on digital is ideal for growth hacking since digital platforms track and measure data such as demographic data, conversion rates, user feedback and more. Companies can analyze this data to make informed decisions to improve their growth hacking initiatives.

Iterate quickly:

The key to growth hacking is iterating with speed. To do this, companies need to publish an initial marketing campaign quickly, gather and analyze data and turn this information into continuous improvements and revisions.

Growth Hacking isn’t Just for Startups

These five steps are applicable to initiatives within large companies as well as in start-ups. If a company’s culture is resistant to the term “hacking,” just focus on growth and celebrate successes that come from the new strategy.

Workflow Podcast

The WorkFlow podcast is hosted by Steve Glaveski with a mission to help you unlock your potential to do more great work in far less time, whether you're working as part of a team or flying solo, and to set you up for a richer life.

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To help you avoid stepping into these all too common pitfalls, we’ve reflected on our five years as an organization working on corporate innovation programs across the globe, and have prepared 100 DOs and DON’Ts.

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Tom Chambers

Tom Chambers is the Innovation Consultant at Collective Campus.

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