Top Growth Hacking Lessons from Naven Pillai

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When someone gets the fantastic experience of talking to and interviewing some of the most respected and best growth hackers around, he/she will surely get a ton of lessons.

Growth hackers like Ivan Kirigin who helped Dropbox grow 120%, Josh Elman who is responsible for Twitter’s massive growth, Neil Patel of KissMetrics, and Elliot Shmukler who helped LinkedIn expand hugely, will surely tell you on how growth hacking has helped them achieve growth . If you have chance meeting them, it will definitely be worthful

Attending Growth Marketing Conferences helped me in meeting some of the top growth hackers. Networking with people creates new opportunities and you become who you associate with.

My passion for growth hacking encouraged me to model successful growth hackers to improve my own knowledge and skills.

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned, and I’m taking this opportunity to share them with you:


Retention Wins Over Acquisition

It is common for marketers like us to focus more on customer acquisition rather than putting our priority in retaining existing customers. It’s not wrong putting your marketing efforts in acquiring new customers, but your existing customers will help you in identifying the loopholes you might have with your marketing and sales funnels.

In another context, we are always relaxed after acquiring first set of visitors with a hope they will remain with us forever. Brands with great exposure and brand image often retain their customers easily without any efforts because they are the top within their industry. But for small and medium businesses it will not work. It is easy for your customers to choose your competitors over you.

You need to keep in touch with your existing customers. Offer them incentives for being loyal customers. Ask feedback for product and service improvement. Existing customers will become your brand ambassadors and get your name out to others if you provide them the value and the attention they need.

If you fail retaining your existing customers and focus on just acquiring new ones, your business has great chance to fail. Acquiring new customers without retaining the existing one is like pouring water onto a leaking pot.


Customer Development is Unethical

Customer development is cheating!

Its simply asking people what they want and develop products and services according to their desire. If you want to make difference with your products and services is not about fulfilling people’s desire but to make them desire for the solution you want to provide.

I’m a huge fan of Steve Jobs. The Apple’s founder and former CEO is known to dislike asking customers what they want. During one of his interview, he mentioned that people usually don’t really know what they actually want. It’s better to show them what they want. He also added that it is better to innovate on something that people will actually like.

Apple only makes a new product if they can do it better. And you can see that they are the most valuable brand in the world with brand value of $154.1b.


Deep Growth can’t be copied

Any marketer can do the fundamentals of growth hacking to acquire and retain customers. These techniques only work at the surface level. It is impossible to hack the deep growth of any product or service.

No matter how transparent a company can be with their growth strategy, there is always something buried deep in their growth. That’s what makes them stand out from other competitors.

Just take a moment and think about Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Their growth can’t be hacked. There is something deeper and untraceable about their growth.


There is always One Metric That Matters the Most

Growth hacking strategies often used by startups to scale their growth with limited resources. There are hundreds of analytics tool available today. But for any startup, there is always one metric that matters the most compared to others.

That one metric makes the difference on how the startups will grow in near future. Different startups have different single metric that they should be focusing on. Usually, the most important metric can be identified during the development stage.

You need to identify that metric before applying any growth strategy. Moreover, you can’t afford to waste your resources focusing on least important metrics.

You can check the following resources to reveal that one metric that matters for your startup:

Lean Analytics by Alistair Croll and Ben Yoskovitz

Y Combinator and The One Metric that Matters by Mattan Griffel


Growth is For Everyone

Many of us think that growth is for startups and companies backed by top VCs. But the truth is everyone can grow.

Growth hacking is for everyone.

If you’re not from South East Asia, I’m sure you’re not familiar with Nasi Lemak. Nasi Lemak is a signature dish of Malaysia which consist of fragrant rice cooked with coconut milk and pandan leaf, anchovies, peanuts, boiled or fried egg, cucumber and traditional chili paste.

You can easily see people selling them by the roadside almost every corner of the country. I’ve been observing a small stall selling nasi lemak for the past 6 months.

The stall was always crowded. After 6 months, they opened a restaurant specializing in selling nasi lemak to accommodate their huge number of customers.

When I did a simple research on them, they have used Facebook Ads to grow their business. From a stall to a restaurant within 6 months was impressive.

So, growth hacking works for every business and not restricted to the startups backed by investors.

Like what Einstein said “Genius is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration.


Causation is Essential for Growth Hacking

Causation, or the act of causing something, is better than correlation. Don’t think they are just the same – correlation is the parallel response of two or more variables to a particular stimulus, and causation can be that stimulus that causes a variable to react. Correlation is when A and B increase (or decrease) at the same time when a parameter is changed, while causation is changing the parameter to increase (or decrease) the value of A or B.

Correlation is a tool that provides insight as to how things affect your metrics, but then you must also know the causal relation between things and your metrics.

It might sound a bit confusing, but as a growth hacker you should understand how causation and correlation could help you grow your business.


Growth Favors the Unbiased

There are million ways to skin a cat (it’s just an adage, I’m not that cruel in harming animals). As for growth, there are thousands of different ways to grow your business today.

Focusing on one single growth hacking method won’t be sufficient to grow your business in today’s competitive world. You need to try different growth hacking methods to find the best one works for your business. Without experimenting different methods and relying on one particular method, will affect your growth and performance.


Data Is Essential for Growth Hacking

Data is essential for companies looking into developing effective marketing strategy. However, analyzing the collected data may be complex and require expertise.

The common marketers don’t find any relation between growth hacking and data. Some of you may think the same.

The right interpretation of data help companies to improve their products and marketing strategies. It also helps them to avoid common pitfalls. Moreover, it will help the company to produce products and services that their target market eagerly looking for.

Growth hackers often use data to understand their entire funnel, from acquisition to revenue. For example, the collected data shows a specific product is converting at a higher rate with desktop users than mobile users. The money spent on mobile ads will be decreased and the focus will be more towards making the mobile users experience better.


Simplicity Is Growth Hacker’s Best Friend

It has been said that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. A complicated product or service is a dying entity.

In this digital age, many people allot just few seconds to judge the functionality of any products and that’s what makes them either fans or haters.

This is something closely related to cognitive overhead – where an individual uses more brain power to understand a particular thing. Successful growth hackers make their products and services to be easily understood and utilized.


Metrics Is All About Numbers

Different growth hackers look at metrics differently. Most of them define metrics as the measurement of performance. It doesn’t specifically tell you what to do. I do agree with them.

For example, A/B testing is used to identify the changes that generates more clicks to a specific website. But a conversion rate optimizing specialist is who makes the changes between A and B. He is who will later identify the relevancy and whether to follow the result or not.

Metrics are just numbers and it can only help you to scale to a certain extend. Don’t waste your valuable time to make those metrics look better. You should be spending your time to make your products and services irresistible.


Word Speaks Louder Too!

Actions often speak louder than words, but it doesn’t mean that words are powerless. In fact, word plays a big part on how growth hackers attract and retain customers.

You will use words and phrases to perform A/B testing with your product landing page. Or you might create a video about your products and services to appeal more to your potential customers.

Make words work for you. Use persuasive words to attract more customers.


The Product Is Your Business’ Life

Growth hacking is all about growing your business. But what matters the most is your product. You might use the best growth hacking methods or hire the best growth hacker to help you grow customer base.

It will not work if your product is bad. People will be purchasing your products and their user experience that matters the most to grow the business.

The growth of your business might look outstanding for the first few months with the implementation of growth hacking strategies, but it won’t last long.

Never take your growth for granted. Focus on developing products and services that will speak for themselves.


Form or Join Local Groups

Experience is the best teacher, but you don’t have to patiently wait to become experienced with growth hacking. If you have the opportunity to form a local growth hacking group, do it now!

If there are already local groups dedicated to growth hacking, join them. You will learn more by meeting experienced people. Don’t waste your time trying to do somethings that others have already done. Just learn from them.

Did you have chance meeting successful growth hackers? What did you learn from them?

I would love to hear from you. Share the lessons you’ve learned about growth hacking by commenting below.

Naven Pillai
Naven Pillai
Digital Marketing Analyst at Exposureville. You can find me online, tweeting about current trends in digital marketing industry, or playing Football Manager. Winners are not people who never fail, but people who never quit.

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