If you are a professional, these are some alternative terms to use instead of Growth Hacking: User Acq, Growth Optimization, or just Growth.
The hacker term is a buzzword that can be safely ignored. It comes from the belief that people who are good at user acq somehow know a trick. They don’t. They just use data instead of gut feel to make decisions. They also work on marketing and product optimization at the same time instead of viewing those as separate disciplines.
“ Half of my advertising works, I just don’t know which half”
This quote pardons marketers for spending lots of money on things that can’t be measured. Growth Optimization is the opposite of this quote.
The growth approach is to only spend on channels where a profitable cost per acquisition can be calculated.
This is the equation:
When a growth optimizer is thinking about marketing, everything they do is in pursuit of balancing this equation.
The popularity of the growth hacker term comes from the belief that not only do they know how to acquire users, they know how to do it for free.
This This means that they have built a product in such a way that it achieves a viral coefficient.
This is the equation:
When thinking about product decisions, a growth optimizer is primarily concerned with ways to increase the two variables in this equation.
A growth optimizer uses data to fill in the two equations listed above. They make product and marketing changes at the same time to optimize the variables in the two equations. Take a look at an example from the first equation.
This equation doesn’t balance. We are spending $100 and the user is only making us $50. A growth optimizer would look at ways to change the two variables, cost per click and conversion rate. He could lower the cost per click in Adwords while increasing the conversion rate with product optimization. Either one is a lever in reducing the cost per acquisition.
That’s pretty much it. This may seem obvious in retrospect, but it’s a complete 180 from how most startups operate.
When I’m working on a user acquisition project, I use Optmizely to A/B test the email capture landing page. I always create a custom event that triggers when the user successfully submits an email. Unfortunately, Optmizely doesn’t have a proper API which makes doing this difficult without redirecting to a new page.
First create a regex function to validate an email
Next, create a function that fires when the user clicks the submit button
Put the entered email into a variable
Write an if statement that uses our ValidEmail function to test if the email is valid
If the email is valid, send the event to Optimizely
In the last line we are calling our event ‘email_submit’. You can change this to any event name that you want.
All together it looks like this:
In Optimizely create a new custom event goal. Set “Custom Event to track” to email_submit.
There is a lot of talk about how the iPad will be the savior of magazine publishing. The thought is that the iPad’s use as an eReader, combined with its accompanying content store, will revitalize the fading periodical industry. The implicit strategy is to get people to pay for online content. If periodicals can convince readers to buy subscriptions on the iPad, they can also require similar subscriptions on their website.
The music industry placed similar hopes in the hands of Apple with the iTunes store. It didn't work out for them and it's not going to work out for print. Instead of placing their hopes in a consumer electronics company, they need to look to a company that figured out the publishing industry’s business model years ago; LexisNexis.
Asking someone to decide between an online subscription to the New York Times and the Washington Post is an absurd choice. Years ago all news was pushed to readers by a single newspaper. People didn't need to read about the same story from two different papers, nor did they have the time. With the Internet, readers are pushed news by many sources (Twitter, Facebook, feed-reader, email), and they pull news from search engines and browsing. Given these various channels, choosing a content source to subscribe to becomes impossible. At any given moment a person can be sent an article from thousands of publications. Without p
rior knowledge of where they will receive their content from, how can they decide which publication they should subscribe to?
What happens when a story breaks in real-time on the Washington Post, but I subscribe to the New York Times? What happens when someone shares an article with me on a publication that I don't subscribe to? What happens when I do a search for a topic and the top result is for a magazine I don't pay to access? These are all common use cases and in each, the concept of paying for a single source of content breaks down. The only logical way to move forward is to charge people for a better quality experience than the one they are currently comfortable with. I’ve said this before; people are willing to pay for content, but it has to be instant, unlimited, comprehensive, and organized.
For the periodical industry, this means one-fee to access to all content across magazines and newspapers. LexisNexis has been offering this to libraries for years and now it's time to bring that service to consumers. The library is charged a single fee to access the digital version of thousands of publications. Doesn't that make more sense for everyone?
Apple will eventually offer this for both publishing and music, but nothing is stopping these industries from acting now. Maybe LexisNexis will step up to be publishing’s killer app.