Growth hacking has been used loosely in the startup ecosystem. Every digital marketing person/product is a self-proclaimed growth hacker. But is all about a team, not an individual.
Few words about what is growth hacking
Growth hacking is a marketing strategy when the company can significantly improve its performance indicators by the continuous process of experimenting with innovative, non-standard and usually free decisions.
The methodology offers a constant team hypothesis generation with reason argumentation why they can be effective. The main key requirement is calculability. It has to be proved by metrics, so after experimenting, you would be able to estimate it in figures how successful it was.
If you want to start working using growth hacking system, you need to create a special growth team in your startup. Every team member has their special functions. Every day a growth team proposes implements and analyses several experiments, which test and endorse some parts of the product/project. If an experiment has a positive result, it scales on the whole project.
How should you form and who should you include in your team
Talking about a startup, its work can be built entirely on the growth hacking strategy as the team is not usually that big. Indeed, a startup itself is aiming at the intensive growth, and each team member of such project aims at the search of the different ways of growing. I such a way, in this situation, growth hacking will just become an individual work system for the startup team.
Talking about growth team formation in the scale of a successful business project, it is advisable to create a separate team, which will work using this strategy for an extended period.
On the surface it seems that you can create an additional responsibility for the already working people: suggest them to think out hypothesis, conduct experiments and after that if needed, scale on the whole project. However, it is more likely, that it will have no impact as in the first place workers will do their direct duties. There will be little time for the hypotheses, needless to say about experiment analysis.
Growth team members will dedicate their work time to the experiments based on the data, which was gathered previously in the company on the example of a concrete product or service. Would be perfect to have 10 to 12 team members with different skills sets. However, taking into account the fact that most of the projects, particularly startups, have a little number of participants, they cannot afford to have teams with so many people. This is why 1 team member can perform several functions in the growth team.
All standard roles of the growth team:
- Leader. He or she communicates with other company departments and inspires the team to experiment.
- Growth Master. Organises and leads the events: growth-meeting, everyday meeting and others. Also, does the hypothesis separation and monitors their correct formulation.
- Product Manager. His job is to test the hypotheses in a product and to monitor the hypothesis fulfillment by the developer.
- Data analyst. They do the analytics: measure the experiment results and do researches.
- Traffic-manager. They are testing an information-sharing hypothesis. Works in PR offices of Facebook, Adwords, Direct, LinkedIn, Twitter, myTarget, etc.
- UX-designer. She or hе do researches, analyses and optimize users’ experience and behavioral analytics.
- Layout designer. He can create a new landing page and edit the existing one.
- Full-Stack Developer. Realizes quick changes in the product without involving developers team.
- Interviewer. Holds special interviews which are aimed to detect influence spots on the client’s behaviour.
- Engineer. Technically supports experiments without programming.
- Designer. They are able to create some piece of art/infographics for the promo campaign, a promotional offer, a letter or a landing page.
- Content Marketing Manager. They write texts for sale to involve, interest and hold users.
In the frame of one project, a team member can perform the role of leader, growth-master and product manager. This also concerns other roles in the growth-team — they can be optimised or combined.
Methods and principle of growth team’s work
It is a must to have short daily meetings, besides frequent communication in the team, as well as a weekly growth-meetings.
The daily briefing is a short, 5–10 minutes long meeting about planned on this day experiments as well as discussion of problems and issues.
Growth meetings are different from the daily problem and hypothesis discussions, as they are more precise and detailed. On these meetings, you will be analyzing the results of all tested hypothesis per sprint, discuss new hypotheses and content of the next sprint depending on the team’s voting results.
During the growth meeting, you will also make a retrospective of a sprint. A process when you are analyzing the quantity of conducted experiments, advantages and disadvantages of this or that sprint or which and why some of the planned experiments weren’t carried out.
Work of the growth team is based on the next key principles:
- Constant research and room for mistake. When you are working in the state of constant hypothesis formation and experiment conduction, you need to understand that most of the hypothesis will be erroneous; among other things because of the wrong method of result assessment, data collection, etc. A mistake is a normal phenomenon; however, it has to be processed and understood to make a hypothesis and conduct experiments more professionally.
- Work visualization. Growth Hacking system implies constant experiment results analysis. As far as everything is tightened up on the teamwork, you need to make sure that every team member has all the information about which experiments are conducted today or this week, which of these experiments are successful and which are not. Moreover, every team member has to understand the main thing — why is all done for, what are the main project metrics. You need to create several mandatory documents: Growth Hacking Board, I.C.E Score — prioritization tool, sprint retrospective (these are described below).
- Experiment precedes scaling. A hypothesis can be implemented only after a successfully conducted experiment on some part of a project. You should experiment in a way that does not harm the whole project, in the case of failure. Only once the experiment performs successful results, you can scale the hypothesis for the entire project.
Growth team’s performance efficiency tracking
As it was mentioned before, every team member must understand the primary value of a product or a service so that the growth team would work effectively. Also, people have to know on what level of product improvement the project is now. In order to do so, when you are forming your growth team, you create a number of documents, which will help you to track team performance efficiency in general and of each separate experiment.
The fundamental document is Growth Hacking Board. This document contains hypothesis, their prioritization, experiments which are implemented to the projects, their metrics, success/failure criteria. This document can be made both in Excel and in a specialized app for project management.
I.C.E. Score prioritization tool which is used in the framework of the growth team. It is updated in the Excel/ Google Sheets/ another app. Each team member gives their evaluation to the hypothesis on the scale from 1 to 10 in three parameters:
Impact (I.) — how can hypothesis increase clientele or income.
Confidence (C.) — how much you trust in the success of this experiment.
Ease (E.) — how is it easy to realise the experiment.
The arithmetic mean is derived for each experiment grounding on the evaluation marks. Those with the highest evaluation marks are taken into the working process.
Another important for the analytics document is a Sprint Retrospective. Team members are pointing out the positive and negative moments of the finished sprint. In the same time, people are suggesting their ideas for work optimization. This document represents a history of process development in the team. It has an application function: based on data received by the retrospective, you create an improvement plan for the next sprint.
How to implement Growth Hacking? Yahoo case.
One of the Yahoo growth team members- Josh Schwarzapel, in his article, points out that before using a growth hacking strategy, startup owners/ managers have to answer to the following questions:
1. Is your product ready for growth? When you are ensured that your product has found a market place, only then you can start working on the growth.
2. Are you ready to experiment? Working with a growth hacking system assumes that the experimenting process will last continuously. Depending on your team size, you will carry out more than 10 experiments weekly. Some of them will be unusual, deviating from the corporate identity or the company’s previous marketing strategy. However, not all the experiments will be successful.
3. How will your growth team look like? For example, in the Yahoo growth team, key character trades of the team members were: open-mindedness, ability to think independently and to learn fast.
4. What will you do during the first 30 days of work with growth hacking system? In the first month, Josh Schwarzapel suggests defining the main value of your product, the essential metric, a.k.a North Star Metric. It’s the one that will be the basis of all further experiments, carried out in the future. Besides, it will be perfect if you pluck a low-hanging fruit. In other words, achieve fast and vivid victory: it will be a motivation for the team to continue work and achieve fruitful results.
Growth hacking is some kind of marketing’s answer back to the global trend of business development. The method is based on the continuous experimenting aimed at the exponential growth of the project.
Working with a growth hacking system, you have to form a special growth team, which is working in sprints with daily and weekly experiment analysis. Each team member has one or multiple functions and participates in a discussion, as well as, in the final voting on each of the proposed hypotheses.
A hypothesis can be implemented in the project only if the presented justifications are convincing to the majority of team members. A mandatory requirement for a hypothesis is calculability.
Growth team’s work visualizes in the number of documents — Growth Hacking Board, I.C.E Score prioritization tool, sprint retrospective. Thanks to these documents, each team member can constantly submit their ideas fo hypotheses/experiments, monitor the progress and effectiveness of the experiments. They can also participate in the hypotheses selection, which will be included in the next sprint.
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