Hacking Growth - Deepstash
Hacking Growth

Hacking Growth

Sean Ellis, Morgan Brown


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Building Growth Teams

Building Growth Teams

The Growth team is responsible for growing a company’s revenue and acquiring new customers. Members of a growth team have cross-functional expertise. They come from marketing, product design, and data analysis. These groups of people compliment each other.

Growth teams should have a leader who actively participates in idea generation and experimentation. One of the key responsibilities for the growth lead is to choose core focus areas and objectives. They also must ensure that the metrics that the team has chosen to measure and work to improve are appropriate to the growth goals established.


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Organizational Arrangements for Growth Teams

  • Product-led (functional) models that report to a product manager
  • A stand-alone team that reports to the leader of the growth team.


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The Must-Have Product

Creating a must-have product is the baseline requirement for rapid and sustainable growth. 

To know whether a product has made it to a must-have category, create a survey asking the following question: How disappointed would you be if the product no longer existed tomorrow? If at least 40% of the respondents answered very disappointed, then it is a must-have.

You can also measure and see if a product has reached a must-have status with the retention rate. When the retention rate is stable over time, then the company can push for more growth.


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“Achieving stable retention should not be viewed as a benchmark that once passed can be assumed has been accomplished and that the team is done with; teams must expect to continue to work on sustaining retention.”



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“Learning more by learning faster is also the goal—and the great benefit—of the high-tempo growth hacking process. The companies that grow the fastest are the ones that learn the fastest.”



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The Hacking Process

The hacking process has the following steps:

  • Analyze: look out for what features customers use, what screens they use to visit the app, how often they open the app, and what other apps they use.
  • Ideate: members need to submit as many ideas as possible
  • Prioritize: Prioritizing means scoring ideas (and deciding on which ideas to pursue and which not to)
  • Test: testing is done with the goal of identifying which ideas have practical value.


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Hacking Acquisition

Once you’ve put together your growth team, determined your key growth levers, and done sufficient testing to establish that your product is a must-have, you’re ready to start hacking the first stage of the growth funnel: acquiring customers.

The first message a potential customer sees about your product must tell them what they hope to gain. The smallest changes in language can have the most outsize impact in bringing new customers. So start small.


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Channels that Bring Customers

There are two ways to discover which marketing channels bring the most customers: discovery and optimization.

You can rank channels based on the following six factors:

  • CostHow much do you expect to expand on a particular channel compared to others?
  • TargetingHow easy is it to reach your intended audience?
  • ControlHow likely is it for you to change an experiment that’s running?
  • Input timeHow much time will it take to launch the experiment?
  • Output timeHow long will it take to get results from the experiment?
  • ScaleHow large an audience can you reach with the experiment?


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Hacking Activation

The first step in hacking activation is to identify all the steps that a customer makes to realize your product is a must-have. Any of the steps might need improvement.

The next step is to calculate the conversion rates for each of the steps on the way to the aha moment. The goal of the growth team is to identify problems in the activation process and eliminate friction.

Desire – Friction = Conversion Rate

Ways of reducing friction include simplifying the sign-up process or allowing users to start enjoying a product before signing them up.


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Hacking Retention

The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer. The main strategy of retaining customers is to provide a product or a service that is of high quality and that continuously addresses a need of theirs.

Retention has 3 phases:

  • The initial retention period: a new user becomes convinced that using a product or a service is beneficial to them
  • The medium retention period: the interest in a product novelty fades. The mission of the growth team is to make using the product a habit
  • The long-term retention. The role of growth teams is to ensure that the product keeps offering more value.


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“It should go without saying that the longer you retain customers, the more opportunity you have to earn more revenue from them, whether that’s from selling them more items or services, from ongoing subscription renewals, or from bringing in more advertising revenue due to advertisers wanting to target your large and loyal customer base.”



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Hacking Monetization

Products are created so that they can be monetized. So the goal of everything including retention and growth is to find ways to earn more money.

The ideal situation is to increase the lifetime value of a customer (LTV). Different business models have different ways of increasing LTV.

For example: Retailers are concerned with making sure that their customers buy more of what they sell. While a SaaS company might be more concerned with getting customers to renew their subscriptions.


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