Are You Missing Something Vital from Your Growth Hacking Strategy?

04/15/2015 07:27 pm ET | Updated Jun 15, 2015

While growth hacking is attracting a tremendous amount of attention today, it is frequently misunderstood. Often associated with the acquisition of users through viral means, "going viral" is really only one aspect of a comprehensive growth hacking strategy.

If you have heard about growth hacking, but you are still not really sure what it's all about, growth hacking is based on the use of processes that are designed to help you build a successful business that can be sustained over the long term in a quicker manner. To be certain, the acquisition of new users or customers is certainly important to growth hacking, but it also encompasses the full user cycle, starting with acquisition and including everything from monetization to retention.

Why the Acquisition of New Users Is Not the Only Facet to Successful Growth Hacking

Growth hacking strategies that focus solely on acquisition are likely to be limited in terms of capability and could even set your business up for future failure. A key element of growth hacking often involves getting creative in order to identify new ways in which to acquire users. Even so, it is also important to look at ways in which you can retain those users once you have acquired them. After all, it does not really matter if you are able to drive thousands of new users to your brand, if only a small percentage of those users actually stick around.

If you see that users are leaving your brand, regardless of how successful your growth hacking strategy is in terms of driving new users, there are likely imperfections in your service or product. It is vital that brands continually address every element of the customer experience rather than just how to attract users.

Retention in Growth Hacking

So, what can you do if you notice that your growth hacking strategy is successful in driving users, but they simply are not sticking around? The best approach to troubleshooting a poor user retention rate is often to begin at the source, which means that you must interview your users to determine why exactly it is that they are choosing not to return. From there, you can determine what you need to do to re-engage your users and avoid losing more that you've already spent time, effort, and money to acquire. A great tool for "surveying" your users is Qualaroo. Remember, analytics tells you what your users are doing, but what you really want to know is why they are doing it.

The most common mistake that many brands make when they see they are losing users is to simply step up their approach and pitch even harder. Unfortunately, this strategy usually fails because it does not take into account the user's needs and wants. If your growth hacking strategy does not have market feedback built in, there is a good chance that you will see a rapid exit of users. This is why your initial goal should not be user acquisition, but Product Market Fit. Once you have that, you're acquisition and retention initiatives will inherently become more successful and accelerate your growth.

Bear in mind that it is not just new users that you need to worry about when soliciting feedback. Successful growth hacking means focusing on current users as well as those users that have already left. The process of continually soliciting new users can be time-consuming and expensive. Among the benefits of a successful growth hacking strategy is that you are able to reduce churn, which means that you can maximize the users you're acquiring and retain a higher percentage of them. In order to reach that goal; however, you need to focus on retention strategies. Otherwise, you will have wasted the resources you expended to attract them in the first place and face the waste of future resources required to replace those users by attracting new ones. This can turn into a vicious cycle that will ultimately eat away at your business's resources and prevent your brand from attaining the growth you desire.

Upselling for Sustainability

Along with retention, you also need to ensure that your growth hacking strategy includes a focus on the opportunity to upsell to the customers that your brand has retained. Remember that one of the goals of a successful growth hacking strategy is to build a business that is not only successful but also sustainable. New customers are great, but in the end, it is far better to have a smaller number of loyal customers who have a greater long-term value.

Rather than focusing on continually chasing new users, an expensive process, it is better to develop an understanding of your current users and the value that your products or services deliver to those users. This makes it possible to develop features and benefits that can assist you in retaining those users instead of simply expanding more of your advertising dollars. This is precisely why growth hacking has been touted as such profound method for taking your brand to the top; it allows you to grow your brand while expending the least amount of marketing spend possible. Decisions are made based on user behavior and customer feedback rather than often mislead assumptions by management. Product Market Fit.