I really don't like growth hacking

I’ve been helping a few clients build better websites, onboarding experiences and in general create a better environment for their customers.

The problem? Some of my customers call it ‘Growth Hacking’. This annoys me.

What is growth hacking?

You can find several definitions on the Internet, but using Wikipedia gives us the following quote:

Growth hacking is a marketing technique developed by technology startups which uses creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure.

The problem it tries to solve is that you don’t have enough money to do regular marketing and the presumption is that the only remaining solution is to hack growth, not buy it through advertising. So, the focus is low-cost, innovative marketing.

The problems with growth hacking

First, most growth hackers only talks about how to bring more users to your services. The measurement of “New Signups” is a success criteria to a growth hacker. But what if the 1000 people you signed up yesterday decide to cancel the service within the next week because they feel tricked?

Secondly, the wording throws me off. To me, Growth hacking sounds more like you’re trying to trick people into signing up for your services. I’m sure there are a great number of people out there who call themselves Growth Hackers, but in reality they don’t do much “hacking” at all. Hacking implies that you try new stuff all the time – which means that that the following actions are not growth hacking:

  • SEO
  • Adwords
  • Facebook ads
  • Viral posts with fake titles
  • Content marketing
  • Building an e-mail list

Third, it often focuses on short-term tricks to increase your customer base by trying something completely experimental. Compare that with building a loyal fanbase with proven techniques.

You don’t need 10 000 people if your product sucks

In the beginning while building your product or service you only need a few customers to tell if your software is working or not. If your small group of customers are not happy you probably don’t need 10 000 people telling you the same thing.

So, focus on building a great product and a strong audience before even consider googling for ‘Growth Hacking Techniques’.