These five Things Show That Your Start-up
Is Growth Hacking, Effectively

Written By: Dominic Sepenu
Aug 3, 2020

According to the Better Africa Report; 5 out of every 10 start-ups failed in Africa over the past 10 years

and apart from some launching the wrong products; most of the stories on why start-ups fail are around growth. Of course, if your start-up is not growing, it will fail.
To be a bit more specific, I would like to explain the situation in a typical tech business context, as those are the areas I have most experience. When tech companies launch their products; which in most cases are mobile apps and B2B SaaS platforms, it becomes obvious from the beginning that they would not make any revenue from these platforms for quite some time.

These start-ups would begin to have costs that need to be covered such as salaries, internet, business development, marketing, and even legal costs. In the start-up world, these costs are mostly taken care of by angel investors or Venture Capitalists who invest a good amount of cash into these companies to provide some runway for growth. Therefore, in other words these investors just want you to improve your traction and have a good outlook towards revenue and profit in the end. It may take a start-up about 5–10 years to break even and during these periods, they go through a series of fundraising activities to help the business survive. Now before you can get the next round of funding from investors, you need to have a promising growth trajectory that shows that you are going to be successful.

If growth still sounds a big vague to you, these are the things they are simply indicated by; how many users do you have, how many new users do you get in a day/month, how many of them actively use your platform on a daily basis, and how much are you likely to make from the active users. This could vary depending on the type of tech business in question; however, these are the basic metrics for checking growth. I hate to be a bummer, but let us be frank to ourselves that if the many signed up users are not actively using your platform, then you shouldn’t get too excited.

I thought I should say this because some of you are busily pumping cash into programmatic advertising to get more downloads (which may not really be working), while you have a backlog of 1 million users who hardly use your platform.

Let me give you one of my popular examples of what this problem looks like; let’s say you run a payment platform business that allows users to send money easily and make purchases online. Now, your marketing team has worked hard to build a strong brand image for your product and drive new user acquisitions bringing 500,000 downloads or sign ups to your platform and about 10,000 daily users. There is a problem when 490,000 people in your CRM or wherever they might be, do not use your platform on a daily basis. Of course, you cannot get all of them to use your platform everyday but Jimmy; you can do better than 10,000 since you know that at $1 per transaction, you will only make $10,000 daily, I am sure you get my point now.

Let us get to the matter; are you growth hacking effectively? Well nobody made me judge over your business, but you need these 5 things going on to believe you are getting somewhere with growth and please don’t assume you know these already. You have never seen something here.

A Growth Strategy with a North Star Metric

Growth marketing just like any other marketing activity should definitely have a strategy. Yeah, I know you don’t have the time to work on a strategy and you are a start-up so a few OKRs here and they are good enough to start out with, but a properly laid out road map for what growth should look like and how to do it, is more beneficial. A growth strategy is the road map to how you would acquire and retain users for your platform. For your company to be effective at Growth Hacking there needs to be a general metric called the North Star Metric, which everyone on your team works towards to measure growth. For example if Airbnb’s objective is to improve the number of daily active users as its key growth driver, a North Star Metric would simply be; Number of nights booked. This is because when nights are booked, they make money and that is the entire reason why they want to have users.

Ideas Backlog

Let us leave the boring strategy stuff to the Head of Growth and the strategy team; here is where all the fun happens when we are growth hacking. If you are really doing growth, this should be very familiar to you. Growth Marketing works with ideas and you will need a solid team of problem solvers around to gather a ton of ideas that fulfills your objectives, into a backlog.

A more stringent way to go about ideas is to be able to form a hypothesis around these ideas (solutions) you carved from the problem being solved. Which means, your team is only effective when everyone is on the same page with three things;

1. The problem you are solving

2. The suggested solutions

3. The predicted outcomes of these solutions after experimenting

This helps your team determine whether the ideas tested have been successful. Normally, the entire start-up team led by Head of Growth or a Growth Consultant would review and get on a one or two hour meeting to brainstorm on ideas way ahead of experiments, where there is a dedicated growth team, there may not be a need to pull the entire team in for this assignment.

Optimized Landing Pages

Growth Experiments are tracked on landing pages. Landing pages are simple one-page sites with specific Call to Actions for their visitors. If you are really growth hacking, you should have well optimized landing pages drive conversions. On a typical growth team, a front- end engineer with his UI/UX accomplice to produce personalized landing pages that can drive growth does this. These landing pages are actually used for multivariate testing to see which ideas worked at the end of the experiment.

Experiment Tools

There are a good number of tools and applications for running these experiments. In growth hacking, the game is all about experimenting ideas to see which one would solve the problem best and how to optimize those ideas. Experiment platforms such as XP Growth from Growth Hackers Inc., have made growth hacking experiments easier by automating the entire experimentation process and even has features for hosting meetings.

Data Analytics

Finally, we are running these experiments because we want to derive some learnings and see which ideas worked out well. If your team is not documenting these learnings and analyzing the data from the experiments, to match performance against the metrics that have been established, you are likely not doing growth effectively. To make measurement simple, tools like Google Analytics, Webmaster tools, Optimizely, unbounce and Moz are integrated to landing pages to track the outcomes of these experiments.

Growth Marketing is a game of ideas and experiments and for every tech platform whose growth you admire, this is how they made it. They never stopped experimenting because the more you test, the more learning you derive.

Let’s grab some coffee:

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