21 Habits of Highly Successful Growth Hackers

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

Traditional marketing has its place.

But traditional marketing is not what is driving the most growth in 2015.

For a business to grow in our modern technical age, you must work with the modern technical tools.

For many markers used to print ads and direct mail, this new world is tough to understand.

Growth hackers, on the other hand, thrive in our new marketing environment.

These hackers know not only how to maximize the impact of online tools, but how to use those tools to grow a business – often exceptionally.

What makes a growth hacker so successful? Many things.

Growth Hackers

Growth Hackers

  1. A growth hacker understands how hacking is different from marketing

Unlike marketing which is a collection of advertising strategies in most companies, growth hacking is a wider mindset propelling companies into a new dimension of growth and customer acquisition.

Growth hacking isn’t a collection of tools. It’s a mindset blending both sides of the brain – creativity and analytics. In short it’s a technical art form.

Elements of marketing and advertising are very much part of growth hacking, but true hacking goes well beyond SEO, print advertising and landing pages. Those are very small pieces of a much bigger adventure.

  1. A growth hacker knows retention is more important than acquisition.
Retention

Retention

Bringing in new customers is pointless if you can’t keep them around.

Growth hacking doesn’t just reach new customers, it works at the base level to find what appeals to those customers and what makes them want to stick around for the long term.

Hackers work hard to learn their current and future customers as well as they know their own products and services. You have to know who you’re selling to in order to tap into their psyche and actually close the deal. But after the deal is closed, keeping that customers happy and in the fold is even more important for long term growth.

  1. A growth hacker leaves his options open.

Just because a growth solution worked last week doesn’t mean it will work this week. And it may be that the first workable solution isn’t the best.

Keeping options opens means looking for the ideal steps and solutions constantly – there is never a stopping point in the exploration.

Emotions can’t affect the decisions of the growth hacker. If his favorite software or solution isn’t working, he doesn’t get defensive and sullen, he cuts it off, figures out the next step and presses forward. Growth hacking is artistic and creative, but not a maelstrom of emotions.

  1. A growth hacker knows to talk to people rather than machines.
Data

Data

Data is a driving force in growth hacking. Without data, a growth hacker will never know how successful his or her ideas are.

But communicating with data all day isn’t effective in the long run. The good growth hacker communicates with former, current and future customers to dissect their wants, wishes and thoughts. They did deeper than the data can go.

Armed with customer input, the growth hacker can easily find the gaps in the market and steer his company offerings right into those holes, filling needs customers often didn’t even realize they had.

  1. A growth hacker understands growth hacking is just the first step in deep marketing.

Truly deep growth can’t be achieved by growth hacking alone. The websites that are part of our mainstream culture today like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter didn’t become a part of our daily lives through marketing alone.

The good growth hacker knows that deep growth takes over where growth hacking leaves off.

  1. A growth hacker simplify things for all audiences.

The technical geniuses who create new products often overlook the rest of the world’s frustration with multiple steps and complexities.

Simplify

Simplify

Consider the success of Apple products. They are almost insulting in their simplicity, but the fact that a toddler can work an iPhone has created mass appeal for the millions of individuals cautious or frankly terrified of technology with more than a few buttons and pictures.

  1. A growth hacker knows language is the world’s oldest growth tool.

Words. It’s the words we use that motivate and inform others, and growth hackers know this well.

Design is hugely important, of course, but the words on the page make the most impact, so good growth hackers know how to test, play with and rearrange the words to their maximum benefit.

The love affair with words never stops either. Messages change, phases develop. Time marches on and the need for new artful language is always very real and necessary.

  1. A growth hacker lets his data inform, but not drive.

Data is not the engine of your growth machine. It may be the gas, but the growth hacker doesn’t like data power through decisions without him. The data is important, but it is only one piece of the whole puzzle.

The creative knows that without data he will never know how good his idea is. But the data analyst knows that without the creative ideas and solutions that give data a real purpose, he will never know just how bad his ideas can be. It is very much a combined effort between two very unique skill sets.

  1. A growth hacker knows only certain products and ideas are worth his time.

Even the best growth hacker has limited resources.

He finds the products and services in tune with the marketplace – the best of the bunch – and focuses his efforts there. A bad product won’t appeal to customers, regardless of effectively it is marketed. The growth hacker picks only the best to work with, or works with a company to make a product the best before bringing that product to the customers who should be waiting for it.

  1. A growth hacker sets long-term goals.

When you start growth hacking, the hacking should fit within a bigger umbrella of goals for the company. Every website or company should have long term goals. Otherwise what is all the work for?

While your company has stages of growth, the long-term goals should be the guiding star for those stages. Navigate in time to the goal, and as you approach the goal, consider revising it. After all, five years in business can change almost everything. A long term goal that doesn’t allow you to truly grow isn’t a goal at all.

  1. A growth hacker develops the new ideas.
Idea

Idea

Growth hacking isn’t recycling old marketing ideas. It’s coming up with the ideas that nobody has thought of before, or refining old ideas to better suit consumers.

  1. A growth hacker adds an element of fun.

Customers have a wide range of choices. They will always choose the product or service they view as more fun. After all – why choose the basic one when a fun one is available?

If your growth is tapering off or not even taking off, consider revamping to make things more fun and enjoyable for the customers.

  1. A growth hacker knows time is his most important asset.
Time

Time

There are only so many hours in a day, and growth hacking is a long-term endeavor which means you must sleep, and sleep well.

With such limited time, it’s important to outsource the smaller details and less important aspects of a project so that the growth hacker can focus on the big picture and more important elements.

  1. A growth hacker realizes solving people’s problems is huge.

One of the biggest keys to real growth is to fill a need that customers want filled.

Airbnb was stagnant until they realized they could help the many people trying to come to Denver for the Democratic National Convention in 2008. The start-up connected tourists with rooms outside of the sold-out hotels and a new service exploded.

  1. A growth hacker knows gathering data is critical.

The explosion of good fortune for Airbnb would have been meaningless if the company couldn’t continue to growth and utilize the same technique over time. This is where gathering data and analytics is critical.

There is no ending to growth hacking, there is only gathering data, learning and more growth down the road.

  1. A growth hacker understands exactly where his company is at all times.

There are many phases of business and solutions that worked in one phase may not work in the next. A good growth hacker has his finger on the pulse of the company and the company’s industry to stay abreast of company and industry growth and changes.

  1. A growth hacker knows growth hacking is a mindset – not a toolbox.
Mindset

Mindset

Growth hacking is an art. This means some tools are useful all of the time, but how to wield those tools can change in an instant. Every company, every product, every customers is different, so applying a step-by-step growth plan is never going to be an ideal solution.

Instead, focus on the end goal and learn the ins and outs of the customers and the product to bring the two closer together.

  1. A growth hacker is creative and curious.

A growth hacker is naturally curious. He is also dripping with creativity. The hacker is the one creating new ideas, new outreaches, and new solutions to problems nobody else realized existed.

He is curious about how the internet works, how customers work and how the product can be changed and improved to be the best fit with both.

Curious

Curious

The growth hacker is not just analytical and he’s not just creative. He is the ideal mix of both, using both sides of his brain at all times to sort through ideas, find the best, and then work with the data to determine just how effective the idea was in the short and long term.

  1. A growth hacker knows enough technology to be effective.

While there are plenty of visionaries who deal with ideas, not keyboards, in the world of growth hacking, you must have a vision, creativity and relatively advanced technology skills.

If you can’t work with the software, it’s a challenge to make the software perform up to your expectations – especially with the myriad of possibilities through social media and organic marketing online.

  1. A growth hacker understands what his product or service offers customers.

The most critical connection for a growth hacker is the thread that connects the product and the customers. Why are customers buying into the product idea? Why will they keep coming back to use the product again and again?

The best products fill a customer need. In fact, the ideas that fill the biggest needs will need almost no advertising at all to grow exponentially.

  1. A growth hacker utilizes online techniques and skills.
Social

Social

It starts with a big idea, but quickly escalates to online analytics and accounts. The internet is a wild world of new ideas and growth possibilities. The growth hacker knows he doesn’t know everything and is always in tune with the online techniques and skills developing in stride with his own efforts.

He uses those tools when effective, often being on the pioneers into new markets using developing tools and ideas thanks to his diligent efforts to find them first.

Companies are realizing that growth hacking goes well beyond what traditional advertising and marketing can ever hope to accomplish. These companies are seeking individuals with the unique blend of vision and talents to make growth hacking a reality for their company.

But growth hackers aren’t just hired onto bigger companies. The smallest ideas, the least expensive start-ups can all reach the masses. It just takes the efforts of one visionary. One growth hacker.

Hey, am - the CEO and Founder of the Guest Crew Influencer Marketing Community and a full time Blogger. Follow me on Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook.


41 responses to “21 Habits of Highly Successful Growth Hackers”

  1. Sunday says:

    Hi Uttoran,
    I agree with @Justin on the second habit discussing retention and acquisition. Indeed, growth hackers’ placing more importance on retention than acquisition is well in place. The cost of losing a customer is often greater the cost of acquiring new.

    The understanding of what retains a customer gives us better insights on how to deliver value and succeed in our businesses.

    The habits of the typical growth hacker should be emulated and applied for success!

    I left the above comment in kingged.com as well.

    • You’re very correct Sunday,
      Customer retention is always more valuable than acquisition and like you rightly pointed out, the cost of losing a customer is often more higher than what it takes to acquire new ones.

      Thats is why growth hackers should always aim more on retention than aquisition.

      Thanks for coming.

      Theodore Nwangene
      Guest Crew community manager

  2. Roxana says:

    6: “A growth hacker simplify things for all audiences.”

    I may have to work on this a bit more, Uttoran. I think it may due to college habits or my technical language and statistics background, but I still suck at explaining in a language that everyone understands. 🙂

    What would be your advice here? maybe some exercises to keep it simple or some best practices.

    Either way, I really enjoyed your 21 habits piece. Thanks so much for posting this and sharing your insights with everyone.

    • Uttoran Sen says:

      Hey Roxana,

      welcome to Guest Crew and thanks for your comment,
      Yes, simplicity is important. I remember when GuestCrew itself was so hard to navigate, then we hired a team of UX / UI experts who changed our navigation and pretty much everything and made things easy to understand. Part of that design is still being coded and should be ready in a months time.

      Same goes for the text – I prefer content to be written in CopyWriting / Salesletter style, and most of it I outsource, but make sure to provide much detail on how exactly I like it to be. If you think you are stuck on a particular thing, get it outsourced by someone who can do it better. Saves time and you can focus on other things that you are good at.

      But generally, here’s some basics that you can follow. Get these pages on your site – “Start Here”, “How it Works”, “an infographic explanation presentation”, “a video explainer”, “a Faq page”, “a case studies page” etc. That will explain people what we are up to.

      thanks,
      Uttoran Sen,

  3. Gail Gardner
    Twitter:
    says:

    The reason many ecommerce sites are so reliant on Google search traffic is that they fail to focus on your #2: A growth hacker knows retention is more important than acquisition.

    When I encourage them to build relationships with their buyers, they point to statistics and say “we don’t get repeat sales”. Well, the reason they don’t is that they don’t connect with their buyers on a personal level.

    It isn’t that hard, but it is essential to growing a loyal following who will recommend you to their family, friends, co-workers – and possibly the world if they have a strong online presence!

    • Uttoran Sen says:

      Hi Gail,
      thank you for the comment,

      Yes, and that is a major reason why most business should hire growth hackers in their marketing team.

      I am a big fan of aggressive marketing and getting more leads and clients every month – but that adds little benefit if most of them just quit by next month. Retention really is the key and it applies to everything, including email lists as well. A good auto-responder, a welcome email to explain how and why they got here etc. helps a lot.

      Agreed completely with you, building a strong relation with the buyers will surely boost the Retention stats.

      thanks,
      Uttoran Sen,

  4. Kristi Hines says:

    These are valuable tips for everyone, regardless of whether they consider themselves a growth hacker. 🙂

    • Uttoran Sen says:

      Hey Kristi,

      Thanks for your comment, good to see you here,

      Glad to know that you liked the tips,
      Yeah, I guess these tips can be applied to anyone who wants to grow their business,

      thanks,
      Uttoran Sen,

  5. Tom Treanor says:

    Great post Uttoran. You have so many points that are spot but I really like the ones about keeping options open, keeping it fun and realizing the retention is critical. Sharing this!

    • Uttoran Sen says:

      Hey Tom,

      thank you for the comment, glad you liked the post,
      Keeping it fun does help a lot, humor and entertainment has its place.

      One needs to keep their options open at all times. Ages back in our previous startup, my primary target was Digg which used to work really well for my promotions since I had so many connection there. Hitting the front page was enough to get traffic, links from top media sources etc. – but then Digg changed and later got shut down completely. Fortunately there was Reddit which took its place.

      We have multiple options all the time, and if something does not work, the Plan B comes to the rescue. One Indeed needs to keep his options open.

      thanks,
      Uttoran Sen,

  6. Interesting Article Uttoran,
    All points are a must have for growth hacker.

    Especially #2: A growth hacker knows retention is more important than acquisition. and #21 A growth hacker utilizes online techniques and skills.

    • Hello Manish,
      Thanks for that awesome comment of yours. I also agree with that point, customer retention is really more important than customer acquisition and this is what everyone should always have in mind.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Theodore Nwangene
      Guest Crew community manager

  7. Hey there – great article. I love the point about “keeping options open.” While consistency is something that is very important to me, personally, that does not mean that we are married to one way of doing things. If we can keep an eye on ways to be creative, and even change, when necessary, that will keep us on the cutting edge. Thanks!

    • Couldn’t have agreed more Deborah,
      You really made some awesome points here. We should always be open to learning new things, consistency does not mean you should be stucked at doing one thing all time, it means you should’t give up on a particular task too soon.

      Change is what we should always look out for and if we find a better way of doing something, why not go for it?

      Thanks a lot for this brilliant comment of yours and also for the visit.

      Welcome to the community.

      Theodore Nwangene
      Guest Crew community manager.

  8. Priyanka says:

    @Uttoron

    These are profitable tips for everybody, paying little respect to whether they view themselves as a development programmer. You have such a variety of focuses that are spot yet I truly like the ones about keeping alternatives open, keeping it fun and understanding the maintenance is discriminating.

    Regards
    Priyanka

  9. Rachel says:

    Hey Uttoran,

    I am not selling anything at the moment, but will develop my product in the next six months, so this post comes in real handy.

    You make it sound like seeing and opportunity and acting on it immediately will have benefits.

    I think it is a bit of everything. Outsourcing when affordable and possible, utilising tools to reduce your work load and getting amongst your niche and talking to your people. Now that is not a bad strategy.

    Thanks for the post.

    Rachel.

  10. Bigwas says:

    Retention is more important than acquisition. I will always remember that one.

  11. Untemplater says:

    Nice list of habits! I wouldn’t classify myself as a growth hacker but they certainly have a lot of qualities I want to adopt and improve upon.

    – Sydney

  12. Basharath says:

    Hello Uttoran,
    So well explained all the strategies. I loved the way you presented the article.
    “A growth hacker knows retention is more important than acquisition.” is so good and right.

    Thank you for your informative article.

  13. Ryan Biddulph
    Twitter:
    says:

    #2 is huge Uttoran.

    Retention reigns supreme. Build relationships. Form bonds. Do what you need to do to create lasting business and in time you too will become a highly successful, prospering growth hacker.

    Thanks for the awesome post!

    Ryan

  14. Niraj says:

    Excellent article, Uttoran. Growth hacking is certainly a mindset, using tools is just a small part of it. The larger part of it depends on executing your ideas and strategies. Thanks, Niraj (Founder at hiverhq.com)

  15. Hi Uttoran,
    very nice explanation about growth hackers habits, i learnt many things from this post. thanks for taking your time to write this wonderful article.

  16. Joy Healey
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Uttoran,

    That’s an excellent post thanks. The area I know I must focus on most is not trying to do too many different things at once, because – yes – time is the one resource you can’t replace.

    On the other hand I will admit to a little glimmer of pride because my “oldest” customer has been with me almost 40 years, so I must be doing something right! (Obviously not Internet based, but in the technology arena).

    Joy
    Joy Healey recently posted…Premier Cashback Salustra Health ProductsMy Profile

    • Uttoran Sen says:

      Hi Joy,

      thank you for the comment,
      Glad you liked the article,

      WoW you have retained a client for over 40+ years! That is a huge retention rate considering I only turned 30 this year!!

      For any business, retention is always preferable then acquisition. I have to admit that my own retention rate isn’t so great on GuestCrew and there were several factors contributing to it. However, we are taking action now and have already made design and interface changes – hopefully once everything is ready, our retention rate will improve too.

      thanks,
      Uttoran Sen,

  17. Chetan Gupta says:

    Hi Uttoran

    After reading this complete article, I would must say that you rocked this article. 😀

    You had covered all the major things in this article and made it helpful.

    From last few days, I had reading some of your articles and I found that you are putting more efforts in your articles and trying your best to serve better content.

    That’s really good for your blog. 😀

    I would also suggest you to focus on building genuine email subscribers on your blog. Try to add links to subcribe to your newsletter in the middle of your post.

    This will boost your email list.

    Either way, keep up the awesome work with your blog.

    Have a nice weekend. 😀
    Chetan Gupta recently posted…{Genuine} Bluehost Black Friday 2015 Deals – 70% DiscountMy Profile

  18. ehdf says:

    I believe a person should sound more genuine & what ever he should do, should do with honesty & should not animate himself to become a growth hacker because it will sound fake but yes like you suggest he should mould the personality to become a more positive person.

  19. Growth Hacking is a new phrase to me, but I like it! This was a very informative post. Thanks for the read!

  20. rahul uprety
    Twitter:
    says:

    hey theodore,

    thanks for such a great article you have covered almost everything the thing which i like about your blog is the dissection you do on which ever the topic you are writing you have always inspired me to write great articles thanks and keep blogging and i just posted an article about Top 10 things to do after installing wordpress

  21. Martina Cruz says:

    gr8 post.. u really studied hard to tell every one about hackers mind & their habits. Its good to read your article as it’s look quite informative & helpful. Looking for more updates from your side.. !!

  22. jessicaray4 says:

    Good day – incredible article. I cherish the point about “keeping choices open.” While consistency is something that is essential to me, by and by, that does not imply that we are hitched to restricted of doing things. In the event that we can watch out for approaches to be innovative, and even change, when fundamental, that will keep us on the front line. Much obliged!

  23. Linda says:

    HI,
    this is really incredible post i like the way you have write about Growth Hacking successful habit is very great..

    Regards
    Linda
    Linda recently posted…Emerald (Panna Stone) – Facts, Properties & BenefitsMy Profile

  24. JoeJack says:

    Very informative post, u really deserved a applaud as u studied very deeply hackers moods.

  25. Hey Uttoran,
    Pleasure to see you.. 🙂

    Sure, I agree with you that we must apply modern technical tools for growing and good establishment of our business. Often, one problem arises that acquiring a new customer is less than the losing customer. It only depends on ourselves that how we communicate and show our behavior to a customer.

    Here is the great valuable points but the point which I like most is – a growth hacker always prefers and understands that retention is more important than acquiring a new customer. For achieving the goals in business these all tips are important for everyone and forever. I must say that, these tip will bring great revolution among people.

    Each and every points are great and profitable for everyone. Such as keeping options open and many more.

    Thanks for making aware by sharing such wonderful post.
    Have a good day.

    – Ravi.

  26. Hi Uttoran sir,
    Glad to read your post!

    I must say it was well researched and beautifully planned post.

    It is true that change in trend always occur in every field and so is the marketing field. The Marketers must adapt to the new Marketing Environment otherwise they will not be able to drive customer for their product.

    Since 2010 when Sean coined the term “growth hacker” many definition has been set for growth hacker. Wikipedia defines growth hackers as-“Growth hackers are Marketers, Engineer and product Managers that specifically focuses on building and engaging the user base of a Business”.

    For an Early phase of business, where cost must be low Growth Hacking provides cheaper ways Such as Social Media, Viral Marketing and targeted marketing to expand and promote business, for achieving long term Goal.

    The traits of growth hacker you provided are amazing to read. Surely a marketer and Growth hacker is distinguished by these traits. This Post is like a guide to all the new growth hackers.
    Thanks for posting valuable and informative post.

    With regards,
    Saurav
    Saurav Kumar Nayak recently posted…44 Impressive Ways You Can Use Social Media to Grow Your Business OvernightMy Profile

  27. I would like to say an awesome blog post, you have shared really indepth information. Learned something new after reading this pro-long content. Thanks for sharing
    Muhammad Imran recently posted…DreamHost Review 2016: Everything You Need to KnowMy Profile

  28. Hey Uttoran,
    Nice to meet you.
    I may have to work on this a bit more, Uttoran. I think it may due to college habits or my technical language and statistics background, but I still suck at explaining in a language that everyone understands.

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