When writing my TechCrunch series on growth hacking, I was very fortunate enough to chat with one of the legends on growth, Greg Tseng. Greg is the founder of Tagged, a social network for meeting new people. He has advised or worked at HomeRun, Flixster, Hi5, and LinkedIn. He has led numerous apps to over a million users.
Here is what Greg had to say about growth hacking.
What is growth hacking to you?
Growth hacking is a non-traditional approach to user acquisition, where you’re not focused on buying ads or other typical methods of marketing, but you’re instead examining ways to leverage your product and its technology to attract users.
How and where did you develop these skills?
During my junior year in college my co-founder Johann and I launched our first Web business, a price-comparison shopping engine for Harvard textbooks. During these days there wasn’t a lot of information available about user acquisition so we just learned as we went — and as two math-minded entrepreneurs, “growth hacking” came pretty naturally.
What type of questions would you ask yourself to determine if you are a growth hacker? (used)
Are you good with both sides of the brain (left with analytical, right with creative)? If you only have creative, you’ll never know how good your ideas are. If you only have analytical, then you’ll know precisely how bad your ideas are!
What are some of your favorite “tools” for growth hacking?
Each product/team requires a unique set of tools — and it usually makes the most sense to combine off-the-shelf external tools (e.g., Google Analytics, Web Site Optimizer, Kissmetrics, Kontagent and Mixpanel) with internal tools/data to get a deep understanding of what your users are doing.
Are growth hackers needed at all stages of a startup?
No. You need to find product-market fit before you try to grow. Early on, it’s good to think about how you could grow down the line, but first and foremost you should focus on the product. If you’re lucky, you might even discover natural viral elements within your product during this early stage.
How is growth hacking different from normal marketing? (used)
Traditionally, marketing has focused on external methods to attract users and gain momentum around a product. Growth hacking takes a more internal approach by merging creative and technical abilities to create user-growth mechanisms within the product itself.
How much technical chops do you think a growth hacker needs?
You need to have a strong technical understanding, but it’s more important that you’re well-rounded than being a renowned engineer. And if you don’t have access to a generalist “growth hacker,” form a team of people that make up the various attributes of tech, creative, analytics and product.
How would a growth hacker interact within a company?
They would be involved with anything that touches the product — working very closely with product, design, engineering and so on.