Growth Hacking – A (Very) Beginners Guide

Written by - 15/03/2017

If you’re reading this blog post, then it’s not only clear that you’re a smart person (I’m flattered, by the way), but also that you have some interest in the idea of ‘Growth Hacking’, by way of ‘growth’ being a good thing, and the concept of ‘hacking’ being slightly less energy-consuming than just ‘doing’.

The key question here is exactly how does one hack growth? The key answer being only almost as disappointing as the answer to the fateful question of ‘how to mend a broken heart’. It takes time, effort, and ever-so-occasionally waking up in the middle of the night in a fit of confusion and rage, with an overwhelming urge to leave a half-sobbed voicemail in which you bear your very soul.

That last part is pretty rare though, so don’t panic.

Being a ‘Growth Hacker’ is far more than being a marketer. You need to be a marketer with a vision for continual, sustainable growth and have clear targets in place along the way to track ongoing success.

Whilst there are a large number of practices that come into achieving a singular, larger goal (SEO, blog optimisation, email strategy, site design – to name but a few), the key thing to keep in mind is the end result, and most of the time that end goal will be constantly shifting, continual, and sustainable growth of your online presence.

So how do you track whether or not your business is constantly growing? By concentrating primarily on five key metrics, you can learn to funnel the effectiveness of each of your ongoing marketing strategies.


Acquisition is about identifying where your customer comes from or how they find you. It’s also about identifying what type of customers you’re getting in and whether or not they are the most likely to convert. It’s all well and good getting website traffic, but we want to make sure that it’s the right sort of traffic to help you build your empire.


Once the traffic is present and accounted for, the next step is activation, otherwise known as making sure you’re converting those visitors into leads by, at the very least, gathering their contact information. As an online marketer, there is no more valuable currency (other than straightforward transactions) than contact details, and as far as growth is concerned, the more the better. Tracking activation can be as simple as making sure that your users have a positive initial user experience. The activation stage is inclusive of everything up to an initial action, defined by you, such as a newsletter subscription, signing up for a free trial, or purchasing a product in the first instance.


The age old question of ‘do your users come back?’ after their activation experience? If so, how many times are they coming back? What actions are they taking when they return? It is important that you put in place a strong retention model that stipulates exactly what you class as a repeat customer and how you can drive users from activation to retention.


Are your customers talking about you? Are they recommending your products to friends or family? Ensuring your business growth means that marketing doesn’t always have to be done by you. Word of mouth is, and always will be, one of the most useful tools at your disposal and so encouraging customers to shout about their experience on social media or leave a review on Google My Business is only going to serve you well in the long run.


How can you monetise the behaviour of your users? If you don’t run an ecommerce business, monetising your business model can be quite a hurdle. This needs to be overcome as early as possible, and so putting into place on-site advertising, paid subscriptions, in-app purchases, etc. is essential to ensuring you avoid putting a sell by date on your business.

Once you have identified that your business has the strength to live long and prosperously, you need to ensure that you’re meeting the goals that you set out for yourself by building on the foundations you have laid. Here are some tips that other businesses are using in order to build their audience as consistently as possible:

Referral Programmes

Referral programmes allow users to recommend a friend for addition rewards, either for them, or for both them and the friend they recommend. This can be as simple as offering monetary or percentage discounts, or longer term rewards such as a free month’s subscription for every friend they invite to use your service. Providing users with a unique referral link means that they then have the freedom and incentive to help you grow your audience with minimal input from yourselves. It’s what one would call a ‘win/win’ situation.

Discount/Coupon Promotions

This is the one you might be most familiar with, as it seems like nowadays you can’t turn a corner without discovering a voucher code crudely graffitied onto the wall of a backstreet somewhere.

The fact of the matter is that voucher codes are incredibly useful as a marketing tool, because they work, and they can be used to reward just about any kind of customer behaviour.

Sign up, get a voucher code. Buy something, get a voucher code. Refer a friend, get a voucher code. Come back, get a voucher code. Engage us in a humorous semi-political debate on Twitter, get a voucher code.

Domino’s Pizza are a Grade A example of how using discount codes can work beautifully to both capture, engage and build your audience. So much so that there’s now a portal where users can find a full list of voucher codes available for your local Domino’s store so that you can make the most of all of the dozens of available deals, (or at the least get a fairly cheap pizza whilst you think of ways to grow your own business audience).

Cross Promotion

Working with other influencers can often be the magical solution you’re looking for in order to reach an entirely new group of people that might never have known about your products or services otherwise. Getting other companies, bloggers, YouTubers or social media influencers to talk, tweet, blog or vlog about your products is all about creating a word of mouth marketing push that could help you canvas a far wider net of potential users.

Whilst getting Zoella to talk about your nationwide telecoms solutions might not often be the best of ideas, finding a platform that’s recognised for its reverence within your industry might help lend your business some integrity and get you a few new customers whilst you’re at it.

So there you have it. A beginner’s guide to Growth Hacking and helping make sure you stay on an upward trajectory for the foreseeable future. One key thing to remember is managing your own expectations:

What are you waiting for? Go get ‘em, tiger!