Nov 17, 2015

How We Use Growth Hacking As An Agency

Nov 17th, 2015 - 4 mins read

What is growth hacking?

As an agency we have always felt our viewpoint for digital comes from the intersection of data, product and marketing  – and now thanks to Sean Ellis we have a term for it – Growth Hacking. Ellis introduced us to the role of growth hacker in a 2010 post, “Find a Growth Hacker for Your Startup.”


Definition – “Do things only ever focused around growth. Fail fast. Learn. Iterate.”


Sounds good right? Why isn’t everyone doing this!?


Whilst some may roll their eyes at the Silicon Valley’d descriptor, we’re now seeing it more frequently on LinkedIn profiles. Regardless, Growth Hacking’s methodology or process is what’s important, and something we’ve used now for a while at Harkable in our work with clients. In a sentence, growth hacking is a process where every action is driven towards growth. This mentality works across our process, from brainstorming & planning, through to delivery and execution.

Growth hacking mentality


Media budgets are more scrutinised now than ever before, and with the proliferation of social technology, APIs, and social mechanics, we put an emphasis on maximising the organic growth potential through the user experience. And not just relying on the ‘great creative idea’ to do all the work, but instead how do we use data & technology to facilitate the sharing of the idea but the right people? As a small agency we have the benefit of being able to have all our minds in the same room, whenever we work on a project. This ensures that everyone is bought in from the start, can contribute ideas and questions, and share their expertise.


Internal projects also encourage creativity. Hack days are a great facilitator of creativity and working on rapid prototyping to build something new, fresh, exciting, and with unfamiliar technologies. Questions get answered quickly and everyone learns something. These practises area important part of our culture and team mindset.


Questions we often ask may include:
Is this feature necessary or is it just a distraction?
What’s the best way for a user to share this on Facebook?
Why not test several copy lines instead of going with one we think is the best?
If this was our business, what would we do straight away?


What are 3 examples of growth hacking?


To illustrate, here are three ‘classic’ examples of a growth hack that help a business scale quickly.


Facebook used email notifications to notify people that a person had ‘tagged’ them in a photo. With click-through rates of ~75%, this provided a brilliant retention tool for making people return to the site again and again.
Airbnb’s traffic went through the roof by integrating their platform with Craigslist, allowing its user-base to easily reach an establish audience.
Dropbox generated viral growth through its ‘Refer a Friend’ scheme. It rewarded both parties with free storage space, facilitating recommendations of the service through a discounted offer.

Growth hacking as a process

As Aaron Ginn writes “The essential characteristic of a growth hacker is creativity” and this is how we approach any client brief or problem. Creativity and innovation avoids making the same mistakes over and over. It also brings out the best in both agency and client, through natural energy and positivity. Speed is key also, to maintain momentum. Growth hacking is not a 12month project.
This openness to collaboration and honesty is what today’s clients are looking for, and the quicker their ‘guns for hire’ can determine the recipe for success, the better. It sometimes hurts, and egos need to be left at the door.


Growth hacking within startups involves a lot of testing and measurement, so within a digital agency we adopt this too. The project doesn’t end upon delivery of the website or campaign. In some cases, it really only begins once it’s live. Once we have users, data, information we can make changes, decisions, optimisations all based around growth.

How to embrace it as an agency


A huge part of the growth-hacking mentality for agencies also involves client education. Saying no to a bad idea, or a feature which doesn’t support growth is not always easy. Egos and personalities and politics can de-rail or sidetrack the team, so project management is a highly valuable skill in the growth hacking agency.


With the right mix technologists, analysts, and marketers within the agency team, growth hacking breeds an exciting and progressive culture in our agency. It’s supported through us being lean, agile, responsive & ultimately effective.


Agencies in 2015 can learn a lot from Valley mentality and culture. And if your demonstrating growth for your clients, that above all else will keep them coming back time and again for more.


Get in touch if you want to hear how we growth hack your business.

… and remember, “constraint forces creativity” (Brian Solis)

Nov 17th, 2015 - 4 mins read