Growth hacking is one of those hyper-jargony phrases that make those who have been involved with digital marketing and Web business development (in pretty much any capacity) for any significant amount of time somewhat leery, cautious, and well, sometimes just plain nauseous at its mere mention.
The practice itself is defined on Wikipedia as one of "rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most effective, efficient ways to grow a business" - can that explanation be any more vague and obtuse? I don't think so.
Growth hackers fill a variety of roles within enterprises today including marketers, engineers, product managers, etc., but their reason for being there (raison d'etre if you will) is almost always the same - building and engaging the user base of a business to incite growth (however that growth might be defined).
The actual practice/process of growth hacking also takes on a variety of forms as well - for some it means the development of software features or service capabilities at an enterprise or within its platform that can be used to accelerate growth (users or revenue), while for others it will mean the strategic implementation of an outlandish yet clear and compelling program that fosters social sharing. There are many ways to approach growth hacking, but one area of marketing practice is being neglected by growth hackers - search engine optimization.
The reason is likely that, unlike creating a flashy new widget or something similar, SEO is almost always reliant on significant amounts of content and strong relationships that manifest themselves in the digital realm in the form of inbound links/citations.
Most self-defined growth hackers don't often rely on SEO because of the required commitment and extended time horizon- but growth that happens slowly is as valuable (in the long term) as growth that happens overnight and it may be more beneficial for the enterprise on the whole and in general.
One of the ways that growth hackers can take advantage of the well-document SEO best practices is to dedicate at least some time and resources to the development of content about their initiatives - detailing how new systems, processes or capabilities work and then distributing that content to influencers of the highest regard that might be interested.
Say for example that you're the growth hacker for a hoverboard company - yes, the same hover boards that have been exploding and catching on fire over the last few months/years. Always the outrageously confident marketer, your strategy might be to create a competition for users to send entertaining videos of themselves on their hover board, so you send an email (maybe even direct mail) with an invitation to the competition. Not only could you write a few posts or articles about some ideas that will capture the judges attention (e.g., "5 Fun Things You Can Do With Your Hoverboard) but that's exactly the type of approach that is sure to capture attention and encourage influencers and those willing and able to bestow a link to do so.
There's an infinite number of ways a growth hacker can accelerate their enterprise's success - but relying on tried, true and tested methods to accomplish that is the surest way to short and long-term success.
Digital marketing executive with proven experience in all aspects of search engine optimization (SEO), performance-based advertising, consumer-generated/social media, email marketing, lead generation, Web design, usability, and analytics. - 20-year Internet marketing veteran, currently serving as the Digital Marketing Campaign Manager at Antenna Group (formerly Chicago Digital). - Former Editor-In-Chief of Website Magazine, and a regular speaker on Web technology digital marketing strategy - Author of several books on digital marketing Including Web 360: The Fundamentals of Web Success; Affiliate 360: The Fundamentals of Performance Marketing; Domains 360: The Fundamentals of Buying & Selling Domain Names, and SEO 360: The Fundamentals of Search Engine Optimization.