Dropbox offering 500 mB of storage space to users who recommend its service? Now you’re talking. Hotmail adding ‘PS: I love you. Get your free email at Hotmail’ at the end of each email? Relentless. Airbnb succeeding in redirecting traffic from Craigslist to its own site? Pure genius! Everything in growth hacking seems irresistible… even the legend of its creation.
Let’s take a step back to the 2000s. At the time, Sean Ellis was still working at Dropbox but was looking for someone who could replace him. The profile? A person with broad and atypical skills, able to put his or her creativity and intelligence at the service of the growth of the company … Unable to find a corresponding job title, he decided to invent one. The growth hacker!
The storytelling that surrounds growth hacking is a big part of why it is in every article, every conversation. However, protests Lamine Taguine, Head of Growth at WeDigitalGarden, ‘this term is just one buzzword among many others!’ And it would be difficult to define it without hesitation. In this article, our expert will explain to you why we urgently need to stop using it!
The observation: ‘The notion of growth has been part of entrepreneurial history since the Industrial Revolution.’
1. Growth curve
Provocative? This inviting idea is undoubtedly so. Especially when we know how vital the notion of growth is for companies. Without growth, it is difficult to measure and ensure their success and profitability. In addition, we have not yet found a better ‘tool’ than growth to get employees on board and therefore, ultimately, to expand customer service capacities and improve the quality of the offered offer. ‘The notion of growth,’ Lamine observes, ‘has been part of entrepreneurial history since the Industrial Revolution’. The latter, which emerged around 1770 in England, marks an important stage. A world hitherto dominated by cyclical movements is now succeeded by a process of cumulative expansion. Disruption, therefore, does not date from yesterday. ‘We didn’t wait for Silicon Valley startup hacks to discover the importance of growth!’
Worse, by emphasising these little tips and tricks that boost the acquisition of leads or new users, the growth hacker cuts growth from its long-term dimension. ‘It may be suitable for startups looking for super fast growth. But, not all companies can afford it and most of them are unsustainable.’ And that’s not all! ‘The notion of “hacking”’, notes Lamine, ‘is too barbed’. Just hearing it, clients get scared. They are quick to respond with “But I don’t do hacking!” even though that’s not what we’re offering them at all …’
Of course, the General Data Protection Regulation is also now in place. Goodbye, therefore, to techniques which somewhat approached spamming, and bordered on legality. In this sense, the General Data Protection Regulation has contributed to demonising growth hacking and … greatly reduced its effectiveness! This is the price of success: by democratising things, growth hacking has in fact lost its attractiveness. Or rather, it no longer has a monopoly on ingenuity.
Definition: ‘Growth marketing is intimately linked to business generation.’
2. The end justifies the means?
So, Lamine sums up, ‘let’s get rid of this ultra-overused term and turn, instread, to growth marketing!’ A change of vocabulary but no real difference? Not exactly. ‘Unlike a growth hacker’, our expert defends himself, ‘we are not here to only do “hacking”’. Our objective is much more to understand the consumption intentions of Internet users.’ How? By carrying out a number of market studies and interviews, to understand their expectations and needs as closely as possible. But the analysis does not stop there. The results thus obtained are then coupled with studies of search intent, keywords or SEO. ‘It is only thanks to these different tools that we will then have an idea of the product or service that must be created.’
Nothing to do with the spectacular, almost magical side of growth hacking. There is something comprehensive about growth marketing that reassures all those who wish to develop their business. ‘Of course, all of our clients have a website, follow KPIs, deploy a content strategy. But few are really equipped to effectively exploit these levers with the objective of attracting prospects or generating leads.’ What they are looking for is therefore not only technical skills, but ‘teams capable of supporting them throughout the transformation of their business.’ Growth marketing, in fact, is not obsessed with technology or digital. ‘It is closely linked to business generation and adapts to all issues, whatever the market.’ Another point of differentiation? The preference is given to recognition rather than virality. A very useful strategy when it comes to building sustainable growth. ‘In short,’ summarises Lamine, ‘no need to get bogged down with a definition.’ The only thing we’ve retained from growth hacking is that we, too, empower ourselves to do clever things!’
The key tool of a well-equipped growth marketer? Patience!
3. Enter the matrix
And, to achieve this, growth marketing is inspired, just like its best enemy, from the AARRR matrix. But, growth marketers reapply this with their own tools and a state of mind specific to them. For what results? Let’s check it out right away with our expert, going through each step:
1) Acquisition : ‘Today, we are acting on all acquisition levers, from SEO to paid, including social media actions, livestream campaigns and even podcasts! For one of our clients in the telephony sector, for example, we worked on the launch of prepaid cards abroad by thinking about the best way to develop acquisition strategies to bring new targets to their website. A tool like Google Optimize offers us the possibility of carrying out A/B testing at a lower cost, by checking which of two or three digital content or conversation tunnel formats has worked the best for our prospects. After that, the results are sifted through audience analysis tools. As for heatmaps, they do not escape the vigilance of solutions like Hotjar or Microsoft Clarity.’
2) Action: ‘The advantage of growth marketing compared to growth hacking? Go extremely far in customisation thanks to clustering. We can retrieve all the key actions of Internet users, develop tagging plans, then clusters to rank Internet users who have scrolled 70% of a landing page and clicked on such and such an option or set aside a particular article on a results page. . Thus, for each of the identified clusters, we will imagine a content adapted and optimised according to its profile of data consumption on the site. But, the aggregated data also allows UX/UI to improve the value offered on the site.’
3) Retention: ‘For this step, most of the actions are aimed at retaining the customer. But retention also involves nurturing, which can only work well if you fully understand the other levers. Take the case of a family ready-to-wear business, driven by attention to detail and a love for beautiful materials. Focusing your communication solely on promotions is of little interest. Yet the client stuck to this losing strategy. It caused him to lose between five and ten times in business compared to the previous year, when we had designed, for him and his prospects, stories around each product.’
‘The funnel approach is outdated. Now it is less a funnel than a continuous loop that we are dealing with.’
4) Recommendation: ‘Our painstaking work, these hours and hours of dissecting user behaviour, have allowed us to understand that the funnel approach is completely outdated. We are no longer working with a logic of ‘I think about a need, I find the right site, I look at the opinions on the web, I buy.’ Now, it is less a funnel than a continuous loop that we are dealing with. The exploratory and evaluation phases are influenced by the exposure phases, which change the situation quite a bit when we try to find relays of positive experiences.’
5) Revenue: ‘While we can no longer speak of a funnel, it is still a question of transforming the trial! For a large retail player in France, we have created a size simulator so that we can then offer the right product and size. This type of device aims to confirm the Internet user’s choice and therefore to generate revenue. But, we can also work on attribution models, by finding which generation model is best suited. The most important question? For every euro spent on an acquisition lever, how many euros in turnover can I expect? Revenue can only be effective if we understand the entire Internet user acquisition chain. This is why analysis is essential: at each stage, we carry out a whole battery of studies.’
It’s your turn!
- Acquisition: Act on all acquisition levers.
- Action: Think about customisation, and therefore clustering.
- Retention: Increase the engagement of your leads through nurturing.
- Recommendation: Ditch the funnel approach.
- Revenue: Find out which generation model is best suited.
4. Actions speak louder than words
This last sentence alone sums up the specificity of growth marketing. The latter pushes for analysis. The goal? To determine how effectively each area of the business contributes to overall growth. Because growth marketing is much more than a profession. ‘Clients come to us with the desire to improve their business, which requires them to intervene in ever more innovative markets and sometimes even to look at their production lines.’ Issues that go far beyond the strict framework of digital and which make growth marketing a real team sport. ‘The growth department,’ confirms Lamine, ‘does not work alone’ but hand in hand with specialists in UX/UI techniques, SEO strategy, analytical tools, or even design experience.
‘Our profession moves between two different paths! It gets involved in all areas’
‘In reality,’ continues Lamine, ‘our profession moves between two different paths! It gets involved in all areas.’ Thanks to their multidisciplinary profile, almost like a human Swiss Army knife, and thanks to their knowledge of many professions, growth experts are the perfect intermediaries for all the actors of a business entity. And companies need just such an interlocutor to coordinate the various areas of expertise internally. This is why they cannot do without it! Only the marketing growth synchronises all actions which, for enterprises, is the prerequisite for lasting and viable growth.
So turn the page to growth hacking and get to action!