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What is growth hacking? Process and examples


Jan 22, 2018
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We live in a fast-paced world. Everyone wants instant gratification. These challenges can either be assets or challenges for your Knowledge Commerce business.

If you’re anything like the Kajabi team, you want them to become assets.

It’s true that customer service, product development, and marketing are long-term games. However, that doesn’t mean you have to sit back and wait for good things to happen.

That’s where growth hacking comes in.

What if you didn’t have to wait for long-term results? What if you could experiment faster, keep your costs leaner, and get ahead of the competition?

Sounds good, right?

If you want your business to thrive, you might want to consider growth hacking for your marketing and development processes. Knowledge Commerce professionals have to work hard to make themselves visible, and a growth-oriented mindset can help you achieve that goal.

But what is growth hacking and how does it work? We’re going to answer those two questions and more in this article.

What Is Growth Hacking?

Growth hacking is the process of rapidly experimenting with different marketing and product-development techniques with the goal of quickly pivoting based on quick results and potentially lucrative opportunities.

There are no rules when it comes to growth hacking, nor do you need a specific set of tools or guidelines. Instead, you make the rules and figure out how to best serve your audience and potential customer base.

Growth hackers focus on experimenting with the latest marketing and product-development trends so they can steal customers from their competitors and become more of an authority online.

You can growth hack any business. It just so happens that this particular approach to marketing and product development proves particularly useful in Knowledge Commerce.

Why? Because your product is virtual and your greatest asset is your mind. Nobody else can replicate the knowledge that you share with your audience or your unique brand of instruction.

Anyone can knock off a physical product, give it a few tweaks, and bring it to market. Nobody, though, can knock off you.

How Does Growth Hacking Work?

As mentioned above, there isn’t a foolproof checklist for growth hacking that you can follow to achieve success. Growth hacking depends on your ability to rapidly scale up your marketing and product-development processes to generate results.

Some growth-hacking campaigns work flawlessly. Others fail. You have to feel comfortable with the prospect of spending lots of time on an initiative that won’t pay off.

However, as a Knowledge Commerce professional, you already know that failure is part of business. We try new things, fail, and try again.

In fact, nobody in business escapes from the corporate world unscathed by failure. Everyone makes mistakes and miscalculations. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes so you don’t repeat them.

And growth hacking is perfect for training your business mind to accept failure, rapidly pivot, and try something new.

Growth hacking works by focusing on growth as the primary metric. In other words, you concentrate exclusively (or almost exclusively) on scaling up your business as quickly as you can through virality, customer acquisition and retention, web traffic, and social media activity.

Why Is Growth Hacking Important? 

Many entrepreneurs, including those in the Knowledge Commerce sector, don’t always have the money to invest in paid social and paid search, endless marketing tools, and other cost-prohibitive measures. Growth hacking eliminates the need to spend a lot of money.

Think about your own bottom line. You probably don’t have the deep pockets that major corporations can reach into when they want to reach and acquire new customers.

Consequently, you have to use innovation and creativity as your primary tools to scale your business. Growth hacking takes the place of cash.

In many cases, the smallest changes yield the most impressive results.

You’ve heard of lead magnets, right? They’re pieces of content that you use to convince people to subscribe to your email list. And they often work well.

MyCopyBlogger, however, decided to switch up the game. Instead of offering a traditional lead magnet, they decided to offer free access to content that normally resides behind a paywall.

According to CoSchedule, this small but significant adjustment to the traditional opt-in model yielded an increase in perceived value of 400 percent and $300,000 worth of revenue.

MyCopyBlogger didn’t have to spend any money to implement this solution. The content behind the paywall already existed.

They simply turned a familiar marketing tactic on its head and reaped the benefits.

Let’s look at a few other significant benefits of growth backing.

Market Disruption 

When market disruption occurs, consumers experience a change in how they think, resolve problems, buy products, and behave. A company can disrupt the market by introducing consumers to a new way of doing things. In other words, the company builds a better mouse trap.

Consider Uber, for instance. Consumers have used taxi and car services for decades, but Uber introduced a new way for people to make money (by driving their own cars to shuttle people from place to place) and a new way for consumers to gain easy transportation.

This is a huge example of market disruption. When millions of people reserve Uber rides on their smartphones instead of hailing cabs, a paradigm shift takes place.

But let’s look at an example from the Knowledge Commerce world.

Duolingo, a free mobile app, has transformed the way in which people learn new languages. Instead of buying an expensive program, such as Rosetta Stone, eager learners can download the app and start learning right away.

How did Duolingo disrupt the language-learning market? It gamified the experience. Users can earn “lingots,” or points, each time they complete a level and increase their language vocabulary.

Need For Speed & Agility 

When you take too long to bring a product to market, you risk other Knowledge Commerce professionals beating you to the punch. That's bad for business and bad for your reputation.

Speed and agility remain crucial for entrepreneurs who want to corner the market in their particular industries or niches. Growth hacking allows you to move quickly on potentially profitable campaigns, but it doesn't restrict your ability to visit if your hypothesis doesn't pan out.

Imagine, for example, that you drop $10,000 on an advertising campaign because you want to convert as many customers as possible on your new online course quickly.

You might discover that the advertising medium you chose doesn't resonate with your target audience. In that case, you just lost thousands of dollars.

Growth hacking eliminates the need to bind yourself to a particular marketing strategy and it prevents you from spending money unnecessarily.


Today's businesses thrive on data. From social media engagements to web traffic, you want to stay on top of your metrics every single day.

Why does data matter so much? Because data provides the foundation upon which you make decisions for your business.

Maybe you discover that your target market doesn't spend much time on Facebook. With that data in hand, you can withdraw from Facebook entirely or shift your approach to social medial.

You won't waste any money or time because you've made decisions based on hard facts.Growth hacking lets you gather data faster without having to blow your marketing budget.

Some data takes time to accumulate. You shouldn't withdraw your social media presence on Facebook, for example, based on two weeks' worth of data. However, you might realize quickly that you need to share different types of content or relate to your followers in a different way.

When Should You Try Growth Hacking in Knowledge Commerce?

In the Knowledge Commerce market, growth is everything. In fact, that can be said of any online business.

A business that isn't scalable can't produce a reliable profit or allow the entrepreneur to pursue future goals. Through growth hacking, you can scale your business faster based on reliable data and produce new Knowledge Commerce products at a quicker pace.

Think of growth hacking as a shortcut on your route to success. It doesn't replace other types of marketing, advertising, and product development, but it can make all those things more effective in the short-term as well as the long-term.

You might assume that you shouldn't try growth hacking if you have just launched your first Knowledge Commerce business. In some cases, that's correct.

When you don't have much data to pull from and you are familiar with your target audience, certain growth-hacking strategies can derail your business instead of keep it afloat.

However, that doesn't mean that you should put growth hacking on the back burner.

In fact, growth hacking was built for startups. It combines marketing and coding to help new businesses scale up quickly and compete more effectively with established companies.

Does that mean you need to be a coder to participate in growth hacking? Absolutely not.

Many tools exist to help you better understand the data, test new marketing campaigns with your audience, and reach your ideal customers more quickly. For instance, Kajabi offers built-in analytics to help you track each of your marketing efforts.

You can also conduct A/B testing, try different versions of landing pages, experiment with webinars and video, and more.

The right time to start growth hacking is when you are ready to scale up your business and make quick changes based on the tactics you try.

Does Growth Hacking Replace Digital Marketing?

Many entrepreneurs mistakenly believe that growth hacking is a replacement for digital marketing. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Growth hackers are marketers, but marketers aren’t necessarily growth hackers. A growth hacker is a marketer who might have a coding or programming background and who has one goal in mind: Growth.

Marketers have lots of KPIs they track, while growth hackers focus only on metrics that lead to growth: more web traffic, more social media engagements, and — most importantly — more sales.

Businesses need digital marketing, too, though. They need to take a long-term approach to certain marketing tactics, such as SEO and audience building, while they scale up quickly.

If you don’t have both a growth hacker and a marketer on your team, don’t worry. You can fill both shoes until you business is big enough to warrant adding new members to your team.

Skills and Qualities of a Growth Hacker

A growth hacker needs several skills and natural abilities to succeed. If you don’t possess those qualities, you might want to bring someone on your team to help you scale quickly.

For one thing, you need a growth mindset. If you’re fearful of growth — or if you don’t know how to scale your business — you’ll find yourself at a disadvantage.

Second, you need a strong work ethic. It takes time to quickly push out new products and roll out new marketing campaigns. Plus, you have to monitor those campaigns and products carefully, watching the data and making adjustments on the fly.

The best growth hackers are both curious and creative. They’re legitimately interested in the outcome of a campaign, whether they’re aiming for increased web traffic or higher revenues. They know how to take tried-and-true marketing tactics and turn them into something new and interesting.

Yes, you need to understand data. But you also need to be able to apply that data creatively. Innovation is built into a growth hacker’s mindset.

How to Growth Hack

The growth-hacking process differs depending on your goal. It’s true that all growth hackers view growth as the most important metric, but what does growth mean to you?

Ultimately, you want to increase your revenue as quickly and ethically as possible. Some growth hackers use black-hat strategies, which might result in short-term benefits. However, once consumers figure out the deception, they’ll evaporate like mist in the summer sun.

Growth hacking means figuring out one specific goal, then tackling it with all cylinders firing. How can you reach your goal quickly and effectively? What marketing tactics will make your vision come true?

Start by deciding what you want to accomplish. For instance, let’s say that you want to increase website traffic by 300 percent.

That’s a lofty goal. It’s also achievable. Set a deadline for yourself, such as three months, so you have an active end game for your strategy.

During this growth-hacking experiment, brainstorm ways in which to increase your web traffic. Can you write more in-depth content for your blog? Might you benefit from posting more frequently to social media and automating those posts?

The goal is to get to your goal as quickly and cheaply as possible. You can use paid solutions, such as SEM, but if you don’t have the budget, invest sweat equity, instead.

As you work toward your goal, track your process carefully. If one strategy doesn’t work, pivot and try something else. You’re looking for virality here: something that causes a rapid shift in your growth.

Setting Up a Growth Hacker Funnel 

We’ve talked before about funnels here on the Kajabi website, but the traditional sales funnel isn’t the only methodology you can follow to generate quick growth. The growth hacker sales funnel focuses exclusively on reaching your growth goals.

Earlier, we talked about setting goals for your business. Do you want to increase traffic? Produce more conversions? Enjoy more sales?

Based on that goal, you create a custom funnel.

For instance, if you want more email subscriptions, you need a conversion funnel that produces maximum growth. Produce the best lead magnet possible. Update your email autoresponders to include more valuable content. Track signups, open rates, and click-through rates to measure your success.

Growth Hacking Examples 

It helps to better understand how other companies have been successful at growth hacking so you can replicate their success. Many companies have embraced growth hacking, especially during the startup phase.

For one thing, you have more to lose the longer you’re in business. At the beginning, you’re working with a dream and a set of skills. The sky’s the limit.

As you start to acquire customers, your priorities shift. It’s no longer about what you want, but about what your customers want.

Let’s be clear: The customer’s user experience is always important. However, during the startup phase, you’re in a better position to shift your business in a direction that fuels your passion, as well.

So how have companies successfully growth-hacked their way to the top?


Hotmail, one of the first webmail services, launched in 1996. To accrue members quickly, the company added a single line to the end of every message its users sent: “This email sent from Hotmail. Get your free account at P.S. I love you.”

It sounds simple, right? But it provided one of the earliest examples of social proof on the Internet.

People who saw that message knew that the sender used Hotmail. Whether the sender was a colleague, a family member, or a friend, the message came through loud and clear: “I use Hotmail and you should, too.”

That was how Hotmail accrued nearly 9 million subscribers before Microsoft bought the company in 1997.

Adding that single message to the ends of users’ emails didn’t cost Hotmail a dime. But it did launch the service and render the company a success story in the eyes of marketers everywhere.


When LinkedIn first launched, many business professionals thought it would never work. At the time, social media was for teenagers and young adults who wanted to swap photos and stories on the Internet.

LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman saw an opportunity, though, to lower the barriers between small businesses and enterprises and to give job seekers a new way to connect with potential employers.

According to, LinkedIn growth-hacked its way to the top by testing everything and leaving nothing to chance. It didn’t try to monetize the site until much later; instead, it focused on gaining new users as quickly as possible.

The plan worked. LinkedIn has become the go-to social network for professionals, and LinkedIn Premium has provided a lucrative monetization strategy.


Before Airbnb, you had only a few options when you wanted to get away for the weekend. You could book a hotel room or rent a vacation house.

Airbnb changed all that. It created a culture in which anyone could rent out all or part of his or her home at any time. Couch-surfers could find a place to crash for the night, while families on the way to a tropical destination could rent out a 10-bedroom beach house with all the creature comforts.

How did Airbnb rise to prominence so quickly? It capitalized on the Democratic National Convention of 2008. Large conferences, conventions, and other events often result in a lack of hotel rooms for would-be attendees. Airbnb offered the perfect solution: Stay in someone’s home, instead.

Better still, Airbnb has established a business model that benefits everyone involved. The property owner gets paid for the rental, Airbnb takes a cut, and the renter gets a comfortable place to stay.

How Can I Implement Growth Hacking in Knowledge Commerce?

LinkedIn, Airbnb, and Hotmail aren’t Knowledge Commerce businesses, but they demonstrate how easy it is to capitalize on growth, especially in the early stages of your business. So how do you translate these strategies to benefit your own entrepreneurial endeavor?

Perfect Your Product

You can growth-hack all you want. If your product doesn’t meet your target market’s needs, you won’t get anywhere with it.

Start by creating the best possible product. Invest time and energy into creating an online course, membership site, or other digital product that outpaces every competitor you can find.

This way, when you get ready to start growth hacking, you’ll have a solid product under your belt.

Set Measurable Goals 

Growth hacking is all about data. Without a way to measure your success, how do you know whether or not you’re growing?

You don’t.

Start by seating measurable goals that you can track over short- and long-term time frames. Your goals could include website traffic, email signups, sales, social mentions, followers, or anything else that you think will help you put your business on the map.

Test Your Approach

When some people describe growth hacking, the process sounds like a one-and-done deal. You give it your best shot and let the chips fall where they may.

Don’t fall into that trap. No business grows when it doesn’t pay attention to its strategies and results. If something doesn’t work, you need to change your approach.

Test your approach with a small market. You might create a mini course, for example, to figure out how your audience responds. Tweak your approach based on the results, then try again.

Analyze Performance 

Based on the measurable goals you set earlier, how is your campaign progressing? Are you on target to meet your goals? Can you see any areas where your hypotheses might prove incorrect?

Growth hacking is all about data and manipulation, so use Kajabi’s metrics to your advantage. Figure out where you might have gone wrong, then fix it as quickly as possible.


It’s not all doom and gloom. When you find something that works, do it more and do it better. Let’s say that people are responding to your lead magnet like crazy. You’re getting hundreds of new subscribers every week.

How can you sweeten the deal? And, more importantly, how can you turn that success into cash?

Maybe you can use a similar lead magnet to convince prospects to sign up for your courses. When something works, don’t turn away from it.

Use Kajabi to Turn Your Knowledge and Content Into Products You Can Sell

Kajabi isn’t just a platform from which to sell your Knowledge Commerce products. It’s also a growth-hacking machine, allowing you to gather and analyze data while you develop digital products and market them to your audience.

Take advantage of Kajabi’s many built-in tools, from webinar hosting to email marketing. You’ll thank yourself when the sales start pouring in.


There is no growth-hacking checklist or perfect strategy. Every growth hacker has to come up with something fresh and new if they want to stave off the competition and rapidly gather market share.

Start by understanding the definition of growth hacking. It’s a way to experience rapid, sustainable growth by marrying creativity with data analysis.

Growth hacking works because your decisions remain rooted in data while you still apply creativity and curiosity to every step of the marketing and product-development process.

Since it was build for startups, you can begin growth hacking right away. However, this mindset is also useful during other stages of your business’s life.

Just remember that growth hacking won’t replace digital marketing. It’s a part of your digital marketing campaign — not the whole thing.

Once you’ve understood growth hacking, you can begin to develop your skills, make a plan, build a growth hacker funnel, and apply what you’ve learned. Take pages from the books of other successful growth-hacked companies, such as Airbnb, LinkedIn, and Hotmail.

Before you know it, you’ll be growing your Knowledge Commerce business faster than any of your competitors.

Have you tried growth hacking? Why or why not? 

Use Kajabi To Start Your Growth Hacking

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