Growth hacking can be defined as the process of rapid experimentation across product development and marketing channels, to identify the most efficient and effective ways to grow a business. Just like with everything else, growth hacking too has its pros and cons. There are growth hacking teams all around the world that are doing some really incredible work. However, for every legitimate growth hacker, there are some masquerading as experts. Growth hacking basically looks to provide companies with a cheat code for scaling. But once the code expires, the companies go back to square one. Here are the top four pitfalls of growth hacking.
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It is common knowledge that marketing objectives should always align with revenue goals. Most growth hacking techniques measure outputs instead of outcomes. Let's say for example, you run a campaign to get free trial sign-ups for your product. Even if you get a 100 new free trial sign-ups, what are you going to do with them? How many of those 100 will convert into paying customers? Growth hacking focuses on how you can multiply something without explaining how it adds value.
Growth hackers are known to develop skills that they can execute on their own. When they take up a project, they only focus on delivering results pertaining to that particular project with little regard for auxiliary business units within the organization. For example, if they promise to help you gain 50,000 new followers, that's all they are going to focus on. They don't care to find out if the company has an operational team in place to handle the 50,000 new followers. Their tactics are flashy and they are anything but team players.
Growth hackers often bank on grey-area tools that are potential privacy and security risks. They make use of free tools that only require authorization with your Twitter token or your username. Since most growth hacks are basically exploits, it's only a matter of time before the platform you're exploiting cuts all ties with you. This is because if you're not paying for the product, then you are the product and the cost of using the 'free' tool is your data.
The reason so many founders resorting to growth hacking is because the process doesn't involve any long-term planning. It may be tempting to avoid creating a marketing plan and budget and instead upload your Twitter followers into a sketchy tool to generate hundreds of leads, but it is best to stay away from this practice as it is intellectually lazy and doesn't set your company up for sustainable growth.
The main goal of marketing should either be generation of high-quality leads or helping a company's sales team close deals faster. If your marketing goals aren't linked to your sales objectives, you're doing growth hacking wrong.