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Whenever somebody mentions the term Growth Hacking in Serbia, most people think it means to find an ultimate hack that will bring them a huge growth over night. What brought to such an opinion is a pile of texts that talk only about successful tactics of companies such as Uber, AirBnB and Dropbox.

It is completely wrong to think that a growth can occur over night and what you should actually think about is the process that can be tested, measured and scaled.



What is Growth Hacking?

Growth Hacking is process implementation which is based on testing, measuring and optimization of results in order to get a stable and long-term growth.

The term Growth Hacker was first introduced by Sean Ellis, the founder of website and an ex VP Growth in big companies such as Dropbox and Eventbrite.

Sean became famous in the Sillicon Valley as a „Machine for Growth“, because he would implement his systems and processes in companies which hired him, and then look for somebody to take over the keys of the Machine.

When he was looking for somebody to replace him, standard marketing experts were applying who did not have relevant knowledge for what he needed. In order to solve this problem, he changed the title of the ad into „Looking for a Growth Hacker“ and the term was born.


Advantages of Growth Hacking Methodology

 Everybody who deals with and invests in growth of their project already performs certain processes of Growth Hacking. What a majority of startups does not do is measuring and analysing processes which should be their guidelines towards developing futher strategy of the project.

Problem examples:

- Many startups „burns“ money or time by investing in more canals for visit, and what they should actually do is find and focus on the one they will optimize.

- A lot of startups add new features on their own, thinking that it will improve their product, while they should actually optimize the existing products and listen to what their users want.

- Most startups consider the job done once they find a canal that brings them positive ROI, and in fact they are in danger in long term, since they do not measure retention and churn of users.


These are just some of the problems that startups encounter and that cause failure. They can be solved by Growth Hacking methodology implementation.

In this article I would like to share with you the process which our team in KickAssGrowth uses when we provide Growth Hacking services for our clients.


Growth Hacking Preparation:




In order to start the Growth Hacking process, it is necessary that you define the key areas of your project, or, in other words, the most important areas that directly influence growth and with whose improvement you can contribute to growth. To define the key areas in the best way, for the beginning it is the best to go through the whole process from users’ point of view.

As an example we will take the process for e-commerce website:

  • Bring the customer to the website (Customer Acquisition)
  • The customer finds the product (Customer Engagement)
  • The customer buys the product + regostration (Customer Activation)
  • The customer returns and buys again (Retention)


These are the starting points for almost every e-commerce website, and you can subsequently divide each of these areas into several smaller ones. For instance, retention can be only first week, or second, or third week…



After you have defined the key areas, it is necessary to set the goal for the area which currently has the biggest impact on growth and progress of the project.

One of the most important goals is always retention. You should always be more focused on how to retain and return the existing users, rather than on bringing new users. There are many reasons for that, some of them being:

» LTV enhancement (Life-Time Value)

» CAC reduction (Customer Acquisition Cost)

Let’s take as an example that the current retention percent for the first month is 40%. During the second month it is 20%, throughout the third it is 5% and after the fourth we have already completely lost our users from the first month. Such retention fail is a frequent cause of startup failures. From this example we will take that our goal is to increase the retention of the first month.


We set the goals in the following way:

  • The aim: to improve retention of the first month
  • Time period: 30 days
  • KR1: In 10% (the aim which will succeed in 90% of cases)
  • KR2: In 20% (the aim which will succeed in 50% of cases)
  • KR3: In 30% (the aim which will succeed in 10% of cases)

More about Objective and Key Result system.



In order to improve retention, we have to search deep into the current data, explain them and find the ones that influence them. We will do that in the following way:



We will segment users depending on the source of visit, geo-location, age, sex, interests, ways of payment, how much money they spent, the product they bought, etc. According to that data we will make different profiles and types of users, measure the retention at those segments and conclude what can make influence on whether the user is back or not.



We will compare the data of those who churned after the first month and those who returned and bought again. For instance, how many churned users came back to the website after the first shopping and did not buy again, or how many of them bought a certain category of product and then did not return, etc. This process will help us identify differences between users who buy again and those who do not do that.



Since the quantitative data will pose a lot of new questions, it would be the best to make a system for taking feedback from users. That system can be on the website, or a targeted group e-mail that says something like „We have noticed that you visited our shop again, but you did not buy anything. Why is that so? Be brutally honest. Even there you can use simple tools such as Google Forms, and set for the answers reasons you consider to be relevant, such as: High price, There is no product I am looking for, I do not like the website, I did not like the last product, etc.




Before we start analyzing Growth Machine process, it is necessary to say that everything you do has to be documented. These are four key documents you need to use and you have can organize them in tools such as Trello or Mindmeister:


This document is a place where you note down all your ideas and tactics that you come up with related to growth. It is there so that you can throw all ideas from your head and you can subsequently return to them and consider whether to involve them in the process or not.

If you work with a team, this document should be available to everyone and the whole team should insert their ideas in it.



This is a document where you note down results of the experiments that have gone through the phase of Brainstorm Log and which you have already conducted, or that are still in progress. This way you will have the results of all the experiments you have ever implemented.



Every document of an experiment is separate and we write everything about that experiment such as the aim, process, time, prediction, resources, results, analyses, what has been learnt, and everything else relevant for the experiment.



We can automatize a majority of successful experiments connected with development, but there are also those for which it is not possible, for example: how and where to successfully promote a certain content. For the experiments we cannot automatize, we use step by step guide where we insert which way they were conducted. In this manner, anyone from our team could repeat them in future.



After we have defined the area we want to improve, set the goals and understood why our current retention is in fall, we start with the process of retention improvement with various experiments or so-called Growth Machine that consists of six processes:

  • Brainstorm
  • Priority
  • Test
  • Implementation
  • Analysis
  • Systematization



We are going back to the example of e-commerce and the retention increase of the first month. The first part of the process is brainstorm and what is important with this process is that we have to think about small points that should be done to come to the increase of retention, in this case. An example:

If our aim is to increase the retention of the first month, we will not brainstorm by posing the question „How to increase retention?“, but we will divide it into smaller points that increase it, such as email notifications, retargeting and loyalty card.

Then we take the point email notifications and also do not think about how to improve such a wide area with the question „How to increase email notification conversion?“, but we divide it into smaller processes such as: email thank-you cards, email notifications about similar products and email with information about discounts. Those are, actually, the cards that should be brainstormed. We should pose the right questions, such as: What the email of a thank-you card should be like, whether we should give discount to a user straightaway, what should call to action be like, what the text should be like, whether we should personalize according to sex, etc.



When we finish brainstorming on a point such as „What should call to action in an email thank-you card be like?“, we will receive many different ideas that should be inserted in the log. We will arrange those ideas according to priority and in this case where we can A/B test different calls to action in an email, we will pick three points on which the prediction is the biggest.



It is always the best to use the Lean methodologyand before the implementation we should first apply the MVT (Minimum Viable Test) and validate the experiment. In this case it will be A/B testing. The result that proves to be the best will be implemented.



There is nothing much to be said about the implementation; after the validated test the job should simply be done as soon as possible.



Growth Hacking is an endless process of learning. In order to understand why an experiment has succeeded or failed, we have to go into a deeper analysis and take morals. We note down all the analyses in an experiment document that will serve us later as the knowledge base.



In the last part of the process we are trying to automatize the experiment by using development resources or, if the automatization is not possible, we are making a detailed guide so that everybody in the team could easily repeat it.


This is just one of the ways of implementing Growth Hacking, but what is the most important is that you guide by data and metrics, to pose as many questions as possible and to try to test as many answers.

When you project succeeds after a couple of years of such a process, somebody will probably write that you have managed with the help of a Growth technique over night.

Stefan Lazarević

Stefan Lazarević

Stefan Lazarevic is founder of KickAssGrowth agency for Growth Hacking and online business development. He helps start-ups and companies achieve rapid and sustainable growth.
Stefan Lazarević

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