"Growth hacking" is reaching into the mainstream mindset. Recently, Seth Godin wrote a post on the renewed focus of growth and cited one of my TechCrunch articles. As more and more companies are looking to recruit and form a growth team, it is essential to understand the needs of each company and to spend time on strategies that will have a significant impact on the numbers. Growth strategies fall into two meta-categories: pouring traffic into the funnel and optimizing the flow of traffic inside the funnel.
The most talked about element of growth is virality and new user acquisition. Both of these elements focus on thru-put in the funnel and less on the funnel itself.
Traffic comes into the top of the funnel (the curve represented above) and flows through. As time passes, users gradually drop off, due to product friction and user interest. The most common strategies to get people to the door is through open social networks, SEO, and user-to-user invites. Increasing the number of visitors coming to the front of the door has a direct impact on the bottom line.
The second meta-category relates to new user activation and retention. The focus is on bending the curve outward and creating a more efficient funnel.
As visitors pass through the funnel, a majority will leave. Optimizing landing pages, registration forms, and new user experiences improves the likelihood a visitor will covert or user will retain. This has a compound effect on growth. Successful iterations found inside the funnel translates into more users with the same amount of work.
Optimizing inside the funnel tends to have a lower bang for the buck than pouring more traffic into the funnel. Finding a new spicket for growth on the top of the funnel does run the risk of acquiring low quality new users, but at the very least you have a new user’s email. On the flip side, pouring traffic in the top typically lowers overall retention.
The goal of growth is to spread the word on a product and get out of the way of a user trying to fall in love with your product. Focusing on both pouring in more traffic and optimizing inside the funnel is very difficult. Sometimes a win in one camp translates into a loss in another camp. Focusing on the curve or the number of people flowing through the curve defines what a growth hacker or growth team will do day-to-day.