As a growth hacker your job is to find the shortest path to growth, reflected in the number of new users, decrease in churn or boost in revenues. You may be a complete beginner, a programmer who wants to learn more about analytics and marketing or a digital marketer thinking about transition to the mystical growth hacking.
Whatever your background is you need a wide skill set involving Technology, Analytics and Marketing. In this piece I will present you the most essential skills you need to survive and do your job well.
Remember, this is only the starting point. As a growth hacker you never stop learning new skills and getting expertise in the ones you already know!
In data we trust. As a growth hacker you have to make data-informed decisions. Statistics is the language of data. It helps you ignore the noise and focus on the signal. You must understand concepts like statistical significance to run effective A/B tests. Understand the difference between average and median while describing data. Use regression or smoothing to extrapolate the trends. Understand some basic distributions – like normal or Poisson. Make propositions about entire population based on the sample.
2. A/B Testing
Also called a split testing, A/B testing is a method of comparing performance of two versions of webpage, app, advertisement, messaging, buttons, interfaces and whatever you can imagine. The awesome thing about A/B tests is that they help you measure and therefore – understand – how a specific change in product or promotion affects your users. A/B test provides an isolated environment similar to the science lab, in which all variables remains the same, beside the one that you want to analyse. Without A/B tests you are not likely to understand the exact impact of your change, because there are two many different factors involved – and many of them keep evolving over time.
A/B testing guide on Optimizely
A/B testing guide on VWO
A/B testing introduction by Kissmetrics
The Ultimate Guide to A/B testing by Smashing Magazine
Basic A/B testing calculator from Kissmetrics
3. Digital Analytics
Web and mobile app analytics is very specific. It has its own terms – like unique users, sessions, pageviews, bounce rate, conversion – and tools – like Google Analytics, Kissmetrics, Mixpanel plus specialised analytics on nearly every ad platform like FB, Twitter, Adwords and many more. You must be fluent in both – understand the concepts, be able to dig deeper into data (using segments, cohorts and funnels) using the right tools and match data between different channels and platforms into one holistic picture.
If done right, they can replace you data warehouse, dashboard software, scheduling tool and many more (at least temporarily!). A spreadsheet is the most basic tool to collect and process data to get some valuable insights. Pivot tables are very useful in exploring data from various perspectives. They are many formulas that can help you gain information you need – like vlookups. There are some ready plugins that can allow you to run some more sophisticated analyses and scripts to automate data collection from different sources.
5. Basic Coding
You do not have to be an expert in programming, but solid foundation in this area is very helpful. At this stage you do not necessary have to be able to build your own SaaS – rather write a simple script to automate your work or edit the code that you encounter on the website or landing page. Knowing basics of programming also helps you in communication with developers, which can make things much easier!
6. Web Data Extraction
Also called web scraping or web harvesting allows you to automatically collect data from different sources across the web. Sometimes you do it through official APIs. Sometimes through scraping the relevant content. You may collect data in database or spreadsheet and process it to identify trending topics, keywords or products.
Sometimes it is enough to look at the data provided in dashboard on Tabluea, Google Analytics or Kissmetrics. But sometimes you need more details or slightly different perspective. In such situation you should be able to run your own ad hoc analysis, which will start with pulling data directly from database. It requires you to know how to write queries. SELECT, FROM, WHERE, JOIN, MERGE and so on…
8. Digital Marketing
Digital Marketing is a wide term for marketing of products and services using digital technology. As a growth hacker you must know what are the marketing activities that can possibly bring you more users or increase retention. Digital Marketing includes: search engine optimisation (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), display advertisement, email marketing, mobile marketing, social media marketing and many more. You should know them all, be aware of their pros and cons, as well as the context in which they can work effectively.
Copywriting is an art and science of writing copy that convinces users to take a desired action. As a growth hacker you must be able to write at least the initial copy for landing page or email campaign. It also helps you assess the quality of work of other copywriters. Writing in the Internet is completely different from writing an essay on your English classes. You must keep in mind who is your target audience to use the right language, what matters for them the most – to highlight key benefits, use the right keywords, include links and call-to-actions. Ultimately it is all about the result, not becoming the next Dostoevsky.
Finally, you must have at least green or blue belt in design to quickly create compelling and effective email or landing page, or prepare a mockup for professional designers. Good design skills also help you with communication. Instead of blocks of texts in your presentation you may use visuals to clearly deliver your key message.
For those who prefer a bit more visual and compact form:
The next steps
Ready to make the first step on your way to become a growth hacker? You cannot learn everything in one weekend. Be patient. Learn one thing at a time and practice as much as possible.
Can you see the question marks left on the board? They reflect many more skills that are helpful in this profession. I will share some of them with you soon!