Common Growth Hacking Myths (and How Growth Actually Works)

Growth hacking is something Silicon Valley start-ups, as well as all early-stage projects in my country, are thinking about all the time. So, what is it? How should you set up your company and employees for fast growth?

Myth: Growth hacking is something beyond your comprehension, only the chosen ones who are let into some important secret can do it!

Truth: Growth hacking has rules and principles that can be learned.

Myth: There’s just one person who does growth hacking, and this person has unique special knowledge.

Truth: It’s a team of experts from different fields who do growth hacking. As a rule, a team consists of: a marketing expert, a product manager, an analyst and a team leader who makes the final decisions. A creative team that works on content may consist of various professionals: a designer, a copywriter, a videographer, etc.

Myth: The goal of growth hacking is to make the project grow exponentially: if it happens, the team’s mission is accomplished and the team’s members become the company’s heroes and get bonuses and honors from the bosses.

Truth: Growth hacking is about continuous work on looking for hypotheses and holding and analyzing the experiments that allow them to increase business performance significantly.

Myth: Growth hacking is based on good luck. A team just tries different ideas and waits for one of them to be successful.

Truth: Growth hacking uses the same principles as performance marketing — it doesn’t make any sense to launch a communication or check a hypothesis unless you can measure the results and express them in numbers!

Myth: Growth hacking has strict rules which you should follow.

Truth: In reality, a team has complete freedom of action.

Myth: A team has to meet deadlines and reach a certain KPI level.

Truth: A team doesn’t use KPI because everything that it tries is being tried for the first time. Also, a team should try to perform as many tests as possible during a certain period of time.

The goal of growth hacking is not to make your project grow exponentially just once and then just let things be; the main point is to understand what the growth is based on, what parts your success consists of, as well as how to automate these parts and provide the company’s departments with them — the team itself should continue working on new hypotheses to hack the product’s growth again.

You should use growth hacking techniques following certain rules. To date, you can access books and hundreds of articles about famous growth hacks used in projects by companies such as Hotmail, PayPal, Airbnb, etc. Each of them talks about some trick that worked great in that particular company’s own case. For example, when Hotmail added “PS: I Love You. Get Your Free Email at Hotmail” to each letter sent, information about the project went viral.

The company’s dynamics after the hack were implemented:

Unfortunately, few people try to understand what made a specific company use specific techniques. Most people don’t understand that success can’t be based on growth hacks alone. Yes, these techniques were successful, but the results are also based on proper growth culture. These companies truly believed that their main goal was growth and it was true, not just for one person working in the company, but for every single employee. Most likely, using these techniques will fail if the idea of growth isn’t cultivated and the growth itself isn’t one of the main values for that company. In other words, if people don’t share the mindset of the true growth hackers, hacks are very unlikely to work out.

Good Luck!

Marketing expert