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Testing, testing, testing

This is my response to 500 Startups’ podcast Startup Founders Podcast – Special Growth Hacker Edition with Sean Percival.

As Sean mentions in his talk there is really nothing special about growth hacking. It’s just executing series of user acquisition techniques that are measurable and repeatable. I agree with him particularly on the point that a word ‘marketing’ is used too broadly nowadays and marketing means something like PR and brand building, but not always means growing user base. Being on TechCrunch can create pops at user growth rate, but it’s not sustainable. We don’t call this king of things growth hacking. We think it is part of marketing.

Growth hacking should be treated differently from marketing. Hence, skill set required for a growth hacker should be different from marketer in general. I think this is one of the reasons why senior marketers who were brought from large company sometimes don’t succeed at startup when they are asked to grow user base. Their skill set and techniques simply don’t apply to startups. What they think growth hacking isn’t really it. It’s considered as marketing.

Recently, I came across startup founders discussing about how an icon for new app that they were developing should look like. They had few design samples and kept discussing about which one of them would be appealing to users. Actually, that discussion occupied quite some time for the rest of entire discussion. I personally think this is huge waste of time.

My advise is always “Test it against real customers and stop discussing it internally.” How do we test which icon would be the best? Well, you can do classic A/B testing with actual app, conduct quick survey to existing customers using services like SurveyMonkey and ask them which one they like, or outsource it to professional survey company that has access to demographics of the audience you want to approach.

Important thing is to test it with as much as people rather than being biased. What you are doing is not measurable and repeatable nor contributing to growing user base, it’s NOT called growth hacking. Think of it as just a one time marketing effort.