Hacking Growth - Book Review

Hacking Growth – Book Review

Behind every successful marketing campaign or a launch, there are hundreds of experiments and growth hacks that paved the way to identify that one success element.

It might be as simple as a small sentence like

Get your free email at Hotmail

added to the signature of every email sent by the users of Hotmail. Whether it is official or personal, the recipient will definitely see this and check out the signup page. This was way back in 1996.

This book “Hacking Growth” by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown is the only playbook you need in your arsenal to kickstart growth hacking at your company.

Hacking Growth - Book Review

Every successful company today started as a humble startup and it required patient implementations of various growth hacking strategies before they became breakout successes.

This book dives deep into Growth Hacking methodologies and shares the best practices in the same. It is always interesting to read the ideas and execution of famous campaigns by well-known brands. But the major part of the book steers clear of the brands and serves as a toolkit for anyone to get started.

As I write this blog post, I receive an email from Tim Hortons.

Hacking Growth - Book Review

The subject line clearly conveys their goal. The body of the email visually shares my progress towards the goal. If I plan to take action, there is a call to action right there.

From a consumer’s perspective, this is just an email. From a brand’s perspective, this is one of the ways to engage with the customer as well as increase the revenue from them.

In this example, a Growth Hacker would be the one who would have arrived at the campaign, the subject line, idea to present the product and the user’s progress in a visual along with a call to action. All of it will be based on user data which is collected every time a customer takes action (inaction too).

Some of the questions answered by the book are

  1. How to come up with Growth Hacks?
  2. How to choose from the list of Growth Hacks available and prioritize the same?
  3. How to make use of data?
  4. What goes into Amazon’s  “Frequently bought together” column?
  5. How do the release dates of Netflix originals affect the revenue?
  6. How effective is the “Coming soon” message for brands?
  7. Role of Psychology in Growth Hacking

The entire journey of the Growth Hacking process starting from the acquisition to the engagement is explained using a generic example of Grocery Store Mobile App. This is a great move to stay clear of the brands and it allows the readers to come up with ideas without the influence of famous campaigns by brands.

(If you are planning to create an app for your grocery store, you are lucky)

Although the ideas suggested may be known to modern day marketers, the thought process and the style of execution of the ideas deserve a read.

Let us look at a few quotes from the book (Courtesy : Goodreads)

“Let’s say experiment A is testing a small change, such as the color of the sign-up button. As results start coming in, it becomes clear that the increase in the number of new visitors signing up is very small—garnering just 5 percent more sign-ups than the original button color. Besides the obvious assumption that changing the color of the sign-up button may not be the key factor holding back new users from signing up, it’s also an indication that you’ll have to let the experiment run quite a long time in order to have enough data to make a solid conclusion. As you can see from the chart above, to reach statistically significant results for this test, you’d need a whopping 72,300 visitors per variant—or, in other words, you’d have to wait 72 days to get conclusive results. As Johns put it in an interview with First Round Review, “That’s a lifetime when you’re a start-up!” In a case like this what a start-up really ought to do is abandon the experiment quickly and move on to a next, potentially higher-impact, one.”


“The more information people put into the product, the more their commitment increases, through a concept called stored value.”

What did I love about ‘Hacking Growth’?

  • Detailed read with no fluff.
  • Concentrates on the ‘how’ part of Growth Hacking
  • One generic example to take the readers through the process.
  • Examples of Growth Hacks by renowned brands.
  • Toolkit suggestions for various stages of Growth Hacking process.
  • Pricing Strategies (This was a bonus)

This book can be a good follow up to ‘Growth Hacker Marketing’ by Ryan Holiday that covers the basics. You can read its review here.

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