Hacking Growth: How Today's Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success by Sean Ellis, Morgan Brown

Hacking Growth: How Today's Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success by Sean Ellis, Morgan Brown

The More Experiments You Run, The More You Learn

I underestimated this book. The earlier chapters lay the foundation for the hacking process, by concentrating on setting up “Growth Teams.”  Okay, good idea, but not particularly startling. 

The first part of HACKING GROWTH is a case study of amazing growth at BitTorrent. The authors show what happens with marketing teams up with product: “The team fundamentally altered the culture at BitTorrent from one constricted by traditional marketing and product silos, to an open and collaborative one.” 

As a result, the company experienced a giant blast-off of growth.

Before trying to make your product go viral, you have to first figure out if it is WORTH going viral. That is, is your product a “Must Have.”  If not, you’re not going to succeed:

“A pernicious misconception about growth hacking is that it is primarily about building virality into products. That is indeed one of the key tactics, but like other growth efforts, it must only be deployed after the product has been determined a must-have.”

To figure out the must-haveiness of your product, the authors provide a survey, which asks, “How disappointed would you be if this product no longer existed tomorrow?”

I found the numerous sections on setting up marketing experiments fascinating. At the early stages, design experiments that “will have the greatest impact on growth in the least amount of time.” 

When designing experiments, figure out the simplest experiment that delivers the metrics you need.  This is known as the “minimum viable test,” which is the “least costly experiment that can be run to adequately vet an idea.”

This also means that you have to clearly identify your “Growth Levers.”  This in turns requires that you figure out “which metrics matter most for your product’s growth.”   The authors recommend focusing on a single, key metric.

The last chapter of the book addresses tactics on monetizing your site. The author suggests segmenting your customers into different “cohorts” groups,  so you can better analyze your results. Start with segmenting “higher-profit versus lower-profit customers.”

One area of the book I thought could be improved:  Just as growth hackers want to see the results of their experiments as fast as possible, readers of non-fiction want to glean the information as quick as possible. By including “bullet points” at chapter endings, the reader can much more easily follow and appreciate the key points.

I thought this one phrase sums up the theme of the book:

“Big successes in growth hacking come from a series of small wins, compounded over time. Each bit of learning acquired leads to better performance and better ideas to test, which lead to more wins, ultimately turning small improvements into landslide competitive advantages.”

So all in all, I found HACKING GROWTH to be a practical book, with some really powerful ideas.  The suggestions and tactics from Sean Ellis and Philip Morgan Brown on experimentation are excellent. I have actually performed similar experiments that the authors suggest, and I appreciate their much greater insight and experience.

Advance Review Copy courtesy of the publisher
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