I absolutely love digital marketing. I’ve written about it consistently for over 5 years now, with a heavy focus on social media. If you don’t know what a growth hacker is, check out this post by Andrew Chen. In it he describes the growth hacker:

The new job title of “Growth Hacker” is integrating itself into Silicon Valley’s culture, emphasizing that coding and technical chops are now an essential part of being a great marketer. Growth hackers are a hybrid of marketer and coder, one who looks at the traditional question of “How do I get customers for my product?” and answers with A/B tests, landing pages, viral factor, email deliverability, and Open Graph. On top of this, they layer the discipline of direct marketing, with its emphasis on quantitative measurement, scenario modeling via spreadsheets, and a lot of database queries. If a startup is pre-product/market fit, growth hackers can make sure virality is embedded at the core of a product. After product/market fit, they can help run up the score on what’s already working.
Here’s my problem with the growth hacker term. It’s premise is that traditional digital marketers suck. Andrew may be correct, if you are a digital marketer and you aren’t using open rates, A/B tests, landing pages, and other metrics to benchmark your performance you suck. You don’t deserve to call yourself a digital marketer if data is not ingrained in your existing practices. I don’t mean to be hard on you, but if you aren’t using data to help drive your campaigns, you are nothing more than an artist and/or sales person.

A Fake Marketer

Last week I was sitting in on a talk at the Content Marketing World conference. The woman, who apparently runs a marketing agency, was explaining how they were able to turn a single customer case study into a whopping 50 pieces of content.

Yet when I asked her how that content performed, she said, “I don’t know, we don’t track it. We ask the customer how it performed.” Nobody else in the room gasped, yet I walked back to my seat with a little grin on my face because I knew the speaker wasn’t truly a leading marketer. It is due to people like this woman that the term growth hacker has come into being.

What Growth Hacker Really Means

Where growth hacking/digital marketing has evolved to is a place where we can closely monitor every step of a product and/or marketing campaign. If you are a marketer and you aren’t keeping on top of the changes taking place, you aren’t doing your job.

I consider myself to be a growth hacker. I also consider myself to be a student of digital marketing, an industry that is continuously evolving. It’s that curiosity, that continuous education, that passion for improvement and continuously increasing the objectives that segments the weak from the strong.

The strong digital marketers who are always learning = growth hackers … there’s nothing more to it.