You might have heard entrepreneurs, business consultants, and online marketers mention the term growth hacking and praise the benefits of the marketing tool. Contrary to the misconception, the tool isn’t a new one. In its early start-up stage, now-successful brands like Airbnb and Dropbox have used hacks like tapping the existing traffic of a 3rd party platform and launching a referral program. The strategy has seen a usage spurt with start-up companies replacing digital marketing with growth hacking in recent times. However, the concept remains vague to most people. While some feel growth ‘hacking’ is an unethical practice, others struggle to find the perfect “growth hack” to get the desired traction.

If you are still standing on the unsure ground and aren’t too confident about using growth hacking, I am here to help you. In what follows, you will know what growth hacking is and how to be a growth hacker. Let us dive in then!

What is Growth Hacking? Definition and Sales Funnel

Coined by Sean Ellis, the term growth hacking was a tool specially designed as a start-up marketing tool. Growth hacking involves using different marketing channels as hacks to add traction to your start-up and take it from level zero to numero uno. There is no definite secret tool when it comes to growth hacking. The onus lies on the hacker to develop an exclusive marketing hack after several trials and brainstorming sessions.

To help you understand the concept better, let me break down the growth hacking funnel for you. The growth hacking funnel consists of 5 elements or steps, which are:

  1. Awareness/Acquisition: In this stage, you will have to bring the product or service in question to the forefront using the most cost-effective solution to scale up your business in significantly less time.
  2. Activation: Once your targeted audience has seen the product, you will have to determine what will drive them to try out your product or buy it. This step is all about conversion.
  3. Retention: Once you have converted targeted people to consumers, you will have to work on the element of your product or service that will compel them to stay in touch with your company.
  4. Referral: Growth hacking is about networking, where you introduce referral programs for your existing customers to invite more customers and grow your product base.
  5. Revenue: The final step would be to use the above steps to build a constant revenue stream that will help your company sustain and thrive in the long run.

That was all about the definition of growth hacking and the funnel. Next up, I will share what a growth hacking strategy is and how to build an efficient one.

What is a Growth Hacking Strategy? 5 Steps to Follow

As mentioned earlier, growth hacking is a strategy that will only reap you benefits when you implement a hack after considering a few things about your newly launched start-up. You cannot just go haywire and use all sorts of marketing at the same time. That is only going to mess it up even more. So, you must have a plan in place. 

To help you out, I have enlisted the entire process of hacking business’s growth in a few steps. Are you ready? Let’s go!

 Step 1: Understand your target audience 

Most start-ups do not get the desired outcome from growth hacking because they rush into it without analysing the who their target audience is. It will be your biggest mistake if you think the entire world is your audience or you want to cater to one and all. Here are some things that you can do to understand the demography of your audience:

Conduct polls and surveys

To find your target audience, spend time conducting online surveys. You can use tools like to record the feedback given by people from different demographics. You might have seen so many established brands already doing this – the (mildly annoying) survey ads in between YouTube videos. If you don’t want to spend too much money, you can use social media platforms for polling. 

Talk to people in real time

While online polls are good enough, nothing can beat the personal experience of talking to read people out there. So, turn away from your laptop screen, get out of the building and talk to people on the road. Use the data from the online polls to roughly understand who your target audience is. Say your target audience is students. In that case, visit universities and hangouts, and ask them questions about your business idea to understand what they really want.

Step 2: Understand user intent and habits

Once you know who your audience is, try to understand their daily routine of going about things. Find out whether they are millennials or Gen Z, whether they are active on Facebook or Instagram. This step is all about A/B testing. So, experiment your way around to find the best fit. Send them pop-up ads and see how they respond to it. You can also try handing out flyers in the locations where your targeted audience hangs out. 

Step 3: Ascertain which marketing channels to use

Once you have figured out the required stuffy about your audience, it is time to select the relevant marketing channels as per their preferences. For example, if you target teenagers, you should include Snapchat and Instagram in your social marketing strategy. Having figured out the marketing channels, your next step would be to find out the hacks about that particular marketing channel. You can conduct in-depth research online and read blogs and check out tutorials. Only then will you be able to find out the best ways of exploiting that marketing channel.

Step 4: Optimise your marketing strategy

Growth hacking tactics aren’t evergreen. Since growth hacking is more of a cornucopia of other marketing strategies, the tactics are continually evolving. Unless you optimise and update your strategy, it isn’t going to do you any good. So, make sure to monitor the changes in the marketing channels you are using. Also, always keep a second alternative to use when the first option doesn’t perform as planned. Keep your plan as flexible as possible, so that you can discontinue the marketing stunt that did not go down with your audience. 

Step 5: Monitor the progress using a tracker 

The ultimate purpose of growth hacking is to increase your ROI by attracting more consumers and converting leads to sales. Since growth hacking is experimental, you will only be wasting time in the wrong strategy if you do not track how it is doing. So, you must iterate your marketing strategy multiple times to know what works for sure and gets you the desired ROI to measure this progress, maintain a simple tracker sheet on Excel to record marketing metrics like CTR, lead ratio and website traffic.

While the strategy may seem simple while reading, it can be a tangle of tricky things if you are a lone wolf with little marketing experience. In that case, I have something to make this seemingly impossible task a lot simpler for you. Read on to find out!

How to become a Good Growth Hacker? All the Resources You’ll Need

As an entrepreneur, you already have a lot on your plate. Now, if you want to save time and effort, here are some tools that you can use for growth hacking:

  • Search engine optimisation
  • Search engine marketing
  • Content marketing (social media marketing, blogs etc.)
  • Email marketing
  • Offline marketing and word of mouth
  • Private advertising


All your efforts towards growth hacking can fall flat if you do not identify your target audience and learn their preferences. So, make sure to spend ample time researching and collecting data before you set your plan afoot. Identify the most preferred marketing channels and optimise them to get the most out of it. All the best!