Growth Hacking 101 definition and examples

The ever more popular marketing buzzword “growth hacking” was coined by startup entrepreneur Sean Ellis of Qualaroo, who actually spared us a proper definition (“Everything they do is scrutinized by its potential impact on scalable growth”). Andrew Chen (who just recently joined Uber’s supply growth team) explained it a bit better by demonstrating growth hacking with the example of Airbnb’s Craigslist integration. Andrew said provocatively “Growth Hacker is the new VP Marketing”!!!

Well, well, well…

First of all: growth hacking is not a marketing technique but a promotion technique. Growth hackers concentrate on user acquisition, on-boarding, monetization, retention, and virility. And they rely on a low budget. That’s why growth hacking is so popular with the startup crowd.

Enough criticism! Growth hacking is a very hands-on and practical set of tools and its not important for you where it’s located in your marketing toolbox. The real problem with growth hacking is that you need to know some technical stuff.

Andrews comment was aimed at the fact, that the tapping of Airbnb into Craigslist user base without the use of an API was something that a marketer can hardly pull off because it requires some technical insights that can only be found in people who know coding. And I agree! Having basic coding skills was even necessary to understand the Airbnb example.

So growth hacking is part of marketing, advertising and promotion – my humble opinion. But more important is what it means to us marketers: we need to learn technical stuff to keep our marketing skills up to date in the digital age!

So what is it that you need to understand an learn? Here is your list:

  • Blogging and SEO
  • Automated User Acquisition
  • API programming
  • Dynamic Web Page Programming
  • Cross Platform Development

All these sound more like developer stuff. They are! Relax: you do not have to become a developer, but compare yourself to the car industry.

More and more in a car is software controlled, the car can be hooked up to the internet and Google, Apple and Microsoft are working on innovations for cars. The car industry started to understand that they need to tap much more into digital technology to avoid Silicon Valley to take over from them. The car industry struggles but is moving already.

And for us marketers, its just the same. We do not want that nice guy from IT to tell us how to get more opt-ins. Or do you?

So you do not have to become a developer and know all stuff included in the list above (which is definitely not complete). But you need to learn a little more of how things work today.

Here is an easy way to start: I have put a 5-Minute-Coding-Tutorial on Check it out, invest 5 minutes and you will see: it’s not that hard and if you like to learn more, I will send you links to more resources. You know, even the President did his “one hour of code”.


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