A Sept. 2nd, 2012 techcrunch post by Aaron Ginn (the first in a series of what should be must-read posts for online marketers) describes the new job title - growth hacker - that has recently become part of Silicon Valley’s culture.
Combining elements of Old World marketing with New World tech-savvy, growth hackers are a new breed of high tech storytellers who understand the dark arts of advertising and PR but also know all about social media and quantitative measurement (sometimes called metrics or analytics). Perhaps most importantly, growth hackers have a mindset, "a common attitude, internal investigation process, and mentality unique among technologists and marketers... [that] allows a growth hacker to accomplish the feet of growing a user base into the millions."
What makes a good growth hacker?
"Growth hackers have a passion for tracking and moving a metric. Without metrics or data, a growth hacker can feel out of place and uncomfortably exposed. This strong bias towards data drives a growth hacker away from vanity metrics towards metrics that will make or break the business. Data and metrics are paramount to the scientific way a growth hacker discovers a path to growth."
Why are growth hackers so valuable?
"[F]or the first time ever, superplatforms like Facebook and Apple uniquely provide access to 10s of millions of customers." And, as Sean Ellis wrote in a July 10th, 2010 post to startup-marketing.com post (that first introduced the term growth hacker): "Once startups are ready to scale, their biggest challenge is often hiring someone capable of leading the growth charge. A marketer with the right talents and approach [who] can kick some serious ass once product-market fit and an efficient conversion/monetization process have been proven." That's a growth hacker.
What are the habits of a successful growth hacker?
An effective growth hacker, according to Sean Ellis, "needs to be disciplined to follow a process of prioritizing ideas (their own and others in the company), testing the ideas, and being analytical enough to know which tested growth drivers to keep and which ones to cut. The faster this process can be repeated, the more likely they’ll find scalable, repeatable ways to grow the business."
And why are growth hackers so rare and highly-prized?
According to Aaron Ginn: "'The creative folks intuitively design what’s best for the user, while data folks provide great insights. The true unicorns are those who can go end-to-end designing, building, measuring, analyzing, and iterating with a combination of user intuition and deep analytics,' says Matt Humphrey, co-founder of HomeRun. [These are the] growth hackers [who] operate across disciplines and functions."