Marketing Expert and Labs Member Tufan Gok Explains the Basics of Growth Hacking

When you’re trying to grow you user base and do it fast, the concept of growth hacking can sound like a pretty good option. And it can be, but only if you do it right. Paris Labs member Tufan Gok, lead marketer and founder of 4x4 Marketing, held a Labs session all about growth hacking, from what it is to the biggest mistakes startups make when they try to do it.

What makes someone a growth hacker?

The most important thing to understand about growth hackers is that they’re not the same as digital marketers, says Gok. “Digital marketers bring the client to the door of the business, and the rest of the work is the business’ problem,” he says. “But today, that’s not enough. It’s all about the acquisition, activation, and retention. The difference between growth hackers and digital marketers is that growth hackers take the whole funnel as one thing and try to improve it.”

“The ear of Mad Men is dead,” Gok says. “Since hard data is much more reachable, we can't just make some beautiful ads and call it a good marketing. In these days, everything is about ROI (return-on-investment) and hard data. Let your competitors run beautiful ads and design for them for weeks while you do daily tests, execute and scale the winners! Don't forget it's all about execution! Test, execute, analyze and repeat!"

What does a “growth hacker” need to be able to do?

“A growth hacker should have a lot of skills, but they don’t have to know all of those skills very well,” Gok says. (Check out the chart below.) “The idea is that they neave a bit of information on things like programming and then they know things like A/B testing, funnel marketing a bit deeper, and then they know a couple of things very deeply. For me it's social media marketing and behavioural psychology; for another it can be search engine marketing and landing page optimization.”

The first stage: Finding product-market fit

“Growth hacking has three stages,” Gok says. “And the first stage is understanding product-market fit. Product-market fit means having a must-have product in a market that you can scale. You have to figure this out first because if you don’t, no matter how good your growth team is, growth hacking won’t work for you.”

The second stage: Following the five-second rule

“When someone goes to your ad or your website, the first features that they see and use are the most important thing,” Gok says. In other words, if they don’t enjoy the first five seconds they spend with your product, they won’t come back. “You need to give them value as fast as possible,” Gok says. “People’s attention spans are low. There are a lot of other apps and services being pushed to them.”

“As James Currier once said, every business should spend 50 percent of their resources on the first user experience,” Gok says. “He said it doesn’t matter if your developers and graphic designers are busy--the first five seconds is important. Because no matter how amazing your product’s last steps are, if people don’t get there, it doesn’t matter.”

The third stage: The growth-hacking cycle

Gok says that when people hear he’s a growth hacker, they ask for quick tips they can use to get thousands of users. “But that’s not how it works,” he says. “It’s a cycle where you’re constantly trying and testing new ideas to see what works.” And it’s important that you have a lot of ideas to try. Put them on a spreadsheet, or organize them however you want. Prioritize the ones that can bring fast and good results. Test them and analyze the results. Did an idea work? If it did, why? And then you go back to the list again and prioritize, test and analyze.”

So how do you prioritize the ideas? Try the points system that Gok shared, below. “I use the BRASS framework for my business and my clients,” he says. “B is for Blink. It's all about how you feel about this idea in the first 5 seconds, what you guy says about this hack? R is for relevance. Do your people hangout on this platform you want to test? Do they read this type of content if it's a blog post? It's all about how this idea is related to your audience. A is for availability. Can you do it? Is it easy? Will it take your devs or graphic designers' time? See if you can justify this test. S is for scalability. If everything goes right and the hack works, can you scale it? You don't want to spend three days on a hack that can't scale. Our last S is Score, the point you get after multiplying all these scores from 1 to 5 you gave. " Ideas with the highest number of points should be prioritized.

Growth hacking has to happen fast

“Growth hacking is all about speed,” Gok says. “It’s not about sitting with your developers and preparing your plan for one month. It’s about finding an opportunity and executing on it as fast as possible so you’re the first ones on the market.”

“Plan something quickly, execute it, and then see if you need to improve,” Gok says. “Sometimes you make a very simple landing page just to test, give it twenty four hours, see that it works amazingly, and you can say to yourself that it works. So you tell your developer to make something really beautiful to build on that. The idea is to be fast and execute.”

Don’t over-hire for your growth hacking initiatives

“The biggest problem I see for start-ups trying to growth hack is that they hire three people. That’s a huge mistake,” Gok says. “Afterwards they realize they didn’t need that many people, but they have to pay for them. You want to have a core team, but focus on your very first critical hire, which is the Head of Growth. You need somebody smart, somebody who knows where to advertise, and somebody who fits that T-shape of skills. It’s hard to find these people, and they’re expensive, but they’re very important. You want someone who’s smarter than you, and someone you’d want to go work for.”

Always test when you’re growth hacking

One of the key tenets of growth hacking is running tests, and not doing that is another big mistake Gok sees startups making. “When they see that something works, they think they’re done,” Gok says. “But they need to understand that there’s always a better way. If you’re getting a 90 percent conversion rate, that’s amazing, but maybe you could be getting 95. Startups don’t run enough tests to see if that’s possible, even if it’s something small like changing the placement of a button.”

How long these tests should run can vary widely, “but usually speaking, one week,” Gok says. “One week is often the perfect time but sometimes it can be one or two days. It truly depends. Sometimes you could just change a button for one weekend and see how it performs, but other times you’re changing a huge factor that you’d want to test for two weeks.” Gok says that at Amazon, they run at least 120 different tests per month. You don’t need to run that many when you’re early-stage, but “The idea is that you’re testing a lot to see how well it’s going to perform and how you can make it better to attract the most users.”

Learn more about growth hacking and digital marketing as an early-stage startup.

This post is based on content from a WeWork Labs programming session.

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