What is a Growth Hacker? Do you need one?


What is a Growth Hacker?

A Growth Hacker is a specialist in achieving growth for businesses. There are many definitions of the term ‘Growth Hacking’ or ‘Growth Marketing‘, So here goes our summary!

A Growth Hacker’s job is to create and nurture growth opportunities through various Digital Marketing and product approaches. They are focused on using data and analytics to laser target growth opportunities, along with experimenting through the whole funnel.

A Growth Hacker can use a variety of software, tools, and coding to scale a business. Sometimes, in SaaS environments, a growth hacker and product engineering work together to create growth through product engineering. This is a  reason many startups and small businesses seek a Growth Hacker, as they use lean methods and lower costs (through multi-disciplined skillsets).

The term was first labeled by Sean Ellis, who was head of growth at Dropbox and Founder of GrowthHackers.com. He put quite elegantly and simply as-

‘A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth.’

Is Growth Hacking the same as Growth Marketing?

Growth Hacking has been a buzzword in the past due to the popularity and effectiveness that the profession has had in startups and small business.

The term ‘Hacking’ is sometimes seen with a negative connotation, and Growth Hackers have seen some reluctant adopters over the years. It is important to remember, not all hacking is bad, a hacker is someone who understands a system or process thoroughly and can find shortcuts or use methods that makes your life a little easier. So to counter the negative attitude, the term ‘Growth Marketing’ was created.

Basically, they are the same thing! Both growth-obsessed and highly focused on achieving amazing results for businesses who had limited funding and needed rapid results.

Growth Hacker vs Digital Marketer?

A digital Marketer usually has many focused responsibilities and constraints while a Growth Hacker has the ability to cross many disciplines and cover various Digital Marketing terrain.

Growth Hackers can use Coding, Analytics and Digital Marketing methods to achieve growth. Their focus is growth and experimentation which allows flexibility and rapid results. 

As a Digital Marketer does, they can use Paid acquisition, sales funnel strategies, content and email marketing, SEO, A/B testing and Viral Marketing methods.

What type of Metrics or Data does a Growth Hacker follow?

As Sean Ellis stated, Growth is the key metric. The term ‘North Star’ is usually the most common description for finding the businesses ultimate growth metric.

Another well-known metric is known as “pirate metrics” or “AARRR” metrics:

  • Acquisition
  • Activation
  • Retention
  • Referrals
  • Revenue

north star metric

Some examples of the best Growth Hacking at work-


One of the most famous examples out there. In earlier days of Airbnb, they found that many people who were looking for accommodation often searched Craigslist as well as seeing many accommodation providers listing on the platform, so the team at AirBnB offered an option for accommodation providers to transfer their Craiglist listing in one click, verify the information and post. This gained exposure for AirBnB to a larger amount of users. This increased user base and customer base rapidly.


Facebook is another Titan who used some brilliant strategies. They encouraged active users to add their contacts to increase their personal social network. Along with sending out emails directly to those contacts who were mentioned or tagged on facebook, This sparked curiosity and many members signed up to see what the mention or tag was about.


Quora used Behavioural testing to understand the attitude of users on their platform. They then engineered the platform around this behavioral analytics and results. This created immediate user growth and improved the user experience.

Interesting side fact- Growth Hacker, Andy Johns, who engineered many successful changes at Quora also worked for Facebook and Twitter focusing on growth.

Does your business need a Growth Hacker?

I will be biased and say yes! Growth Hacking has seen many successful results for our clients as well as Startups around the world. Without the bias, the real question to ask your Management team or discuss with your colleagues is surrounding the goals and direction of your business currently. Many businesses may not be at that stage in their business life cycle or marketing plans, it might be more important to focus on the retention of customers or optimizing systems within the business. 


If you still are a little unsure if a Growth Hacker or Growth Marketing is suitable for your business, send us a quick email and let’s throw some ideas around!


David Taylor-Smith Growth Hacker

Written by- David Taylor-Smith

David is a Growth Hacker and Digital Marketing Specialist in Sydney, Australia. He has an extensive knowledge in Growth Marketing strategies and techniques, ranging from PPC, SEO, SEM, Coding, HTML, Chatbots, Analytics and much more! David is a successful entrepreneur (having founded 2 SMB's), as well as being a former professional athlete and Coach.