Hacking Growth
Hacking Growth summary

Hacking Growth

Rating: 8.5/10

Author: Sean Ellis/Morgan Brown Read More on Amazon

High-Level Thoughts

Wonder how companies like Snapchat, Pinterest, Uber, Stripe, and Instagram became billion-dollar companies in less than a decade? The answer is "Growth Hacking" and in the book, Ellis walks you through step by step how you can apply these techniques to your business or company. Growing a company this fast was unheard before the age of the internet, it usually took generations for companies to become well-established powerhouses but now almost any individual can do it. If you're looking to take your product and customer base to the next level this is a must-read.

Hacking Growth Summary

  • Engineers, data scientists, and marketers all have to work together to make exponential growth happen.
  • A ton of tests and data analysis to see whats working and whats not.


  • Uproar beat behemoths such as Sony by embedding free playable widgets on websites.
  • Youtube did the same thing.
  • Paid ads were too expensive, LinkedIn and paypal examples: "growth was achieved not with traditional advertising, but rather with a dash of programming smarts and on a shoestring budget".
  • Building marketing into the programs themselves
  • Dropbox referral program for more storage, paypal $10 referral program
  • growth hacking allows companies to efficiently marry powerful data nalysis and technical know-how with marketing savy, to quickly devise more promising ways to fuel growth.

Part 1: The Method

  • BitTorrent making the most out of the customers they had
  • Pg 38 "All growth leads require a basic set of skills: fluency in data analysis; expertise or fluency in product management (meaning the process of developing and launching a product) and an understanding of how to design and run experiments. → Usually the founder
  • A good product product manager is the CEO of the product
  • Cycle growth teams should use:
  1. data analysis and insight gathering
  2. idea generation
  3. experiment prioritzation
  4. running the experiments and then circles back to the analyze step to review results and decide the next steps.
  • Mark Zuck growth > revenue

Ch 2 Determining if your product is a must have

  • Airbnb growth team "love creates growth, not the other way around"
  • Branchout exploded with growth but there product was trash, so they lost all there users.
  • Yelp pivot from asking friends for recommendations to review platform
  • Can you identify an aha moment users love? If u can ur ready to push for growth
  • The must have survey
  • Measure retention on how they use app on a weekly or daily basis, average mobile apps retain 10% of users with good ones retaining over 60%
  • Tinder focused on a small group or sorities and fraternities and bcz of this blew up
  • Etsy focused on a small group of sellers and they shared and blew up
  • click is a poor indicatior bcz customer might just be enticed by the headline and not be a lasting customer
  • New User Experience critical to success (NUX)

Ch 3 Identifying your growth levers

  • average freemium conversion rate = 1%
  • everpix kept adding features instead of focussing on subscribing user numbers → dont focus on just growth but on the right levers of growth
  • Creating an aha moment and driving more ppl to it is the starting point for hacking growth, next step is to determine ur growth strategy
  • The north star metric, airbnb = nights booked, ebay number of items listed, whatsapp = number of messages sent
  • Rob Sobers dating tracking/analyzing step list
  • constant visibility to the numbers posi

Ch 4 Testing at High Tempo

  • Learning more by learning faster is the goal of growth hacking
  • a 5% increase in retention leads to an increase in profits of between 25 and 95%, over a year this is compounded retention percent is 80%, which halves the cost of acquiring each customer.
  • Maximize the # of experiments run each week

Ch 5 Hacking Acquisition

  • language market fit = how well the way you describe the benefits of your product resonates with your target audience.
  • channel/product fit = how effective the marketing channels are that you've selected.
  • How is the thing your showing me gonna improve my life?
  • Upworthy creates 25 different possible headlines which then get filtered. A/B test
  • Ranking channels by these 6 channels: Cost, Targeting, Control, Input time, Output time, and scale
  • Hubspot offering free tools such as a website grader
  • building a community, or being the first one to build a hot new product like snapchat
  • acquistion, to activation and then on to retention.
  • virality of any product is controlled by 3 factors: payload, conversion rate and frequency.
  • Virality = payload x conversion rate x frequency
  • payload = # of people to whom each user will likely send the promotion to.
  • frequency the number of times your doing this
  • optimize these three variables to create a viral loop
  • Learning how your customers use your product and where potential and where potential loops can be created and optimized, will save you a lot of bad trials.
  • product/incentive fit

CH 6 Hacking Activation

  • mobile apps lose 80% of their users within three days.
  • Remove friction, desire - friction = conversion rate, eliminating friction is low hanging fruit.
  • New User Experience must: communicate relevance, show the value of the porduct and provide a clear call to action.
  • Not all friction is bad, for example getting people to take little commitments in a game will get them hooked.
  • Questionaires, in the NUX is good, "asking customers about their inteerests or about the porblems they are seeking solutions for immediately creates a form of commitment"
  • Gamification should be thought of as a toolkit of options to choose from rather, rather than a predefined set of tactics that work for all businesses.
  • Triggers to try out follow these rules :
  • Reciprocity
  • Commitment and consistency
  • Social proof
  • Authority
  • Liking
  • Scarcity

Ch 7 Hacking Retention

  • High acquisition costs and low retention leads to rapid demise.
  • The longer users stay with your product, the more opportunities they;ll have to talk about it and show it to their friends.
  • One to may to one-one
  • Long term retention - 1) optimizing the current set of product features, notifications, and subsequent rewards from repeated use; 2) Introducting a steady stream of new features over a long period of time.

Ch 8 Hacking Monetization

  • Jaccard similarity coefficient - determines how similar two products are
  • Getting a personalization wrong can dramatically hurt revenue
  • MIT study with web only, print edition and web-print edition where because of the middle addition people were able to compare the value of the wep-print edition and chose that option 84% compared to 16% when the middle option was not present.
  • Adding picture of person (friend) to referral saw a 300% increase per day in sign ups and nights book from friend referrals to Airbnb.

Ch 9 A Virtuous Growth Cycle

  • Breakout companies that sustain their success are those who constantly push for more.
  • Double down on whats working
  • They become complacent, look what happened to skype
  • Mine deeper for data gold

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