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Hacking Growth: How Today's Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success

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The definitive playbook by the pioneers of Growth Hacking, one of the hottest business methodologies in Silicon Valley and beyond.

It seems hard to believe today, but there was a time when Airbnb was the best-kept secret of travel hackers and couch surfers, Pinterest was a niche web site frequented only by bakers and crafters, LinkedIn was an exclusive network for C-suite executives and top-level recruiters, Facebook was MySpace's sorry step-brother, and Uber was a scrappy upstart that didn't stand a chance against the Goliath that was New York City Yellow Cabs.

So how did these companies grow from these humble beginnings into the powerhouses they are today? Contrary to popular belief, they didn't explode to massive worldwide popularity simply by building a great product then crossing their fingers and hoping it would catch on. There was a studied, carefully implemented methodology behind these companies' extraordinary rise. That methodology is called Growth Hacking, and it's practitioners include not just today's hottest start-ups, but also companies like IBM, Walmart, and Microsoft as well as the millions of entrepreneurs, marketers, managers and executives who make up the community of GrowthHackers.com.

Think of the Growth Hacking methodology as doing for market-share growth what Lean Start-Up did for product development, and Scrum did for productivity. It involves cross-functional teams and rapid-tempo testing and iteration that focuses customers attaining them, retaining them, engaging them, and motivating them to come back and buy more.

An accessible and practical toolkit that teams and companies in all industries can use to increase their customer base and market share, this book walks readers through the process of creating and executing their own custom-made growth hacking strategy. It is a must read for any marketer, entrepreneur, innovator or manger looking to replace wasteful big bets and "spaghetti-on-the-wall" approaches with more consistent, replicable, cost-effective, and data-driven results.

320 pages, Hardcover

First published April 25, 2017

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About the author

Sean Ellis

1 book139 followers
Sean Ellis is CEO and cofounder of GrowthHackers.com, the number one online community built for growth hackers, with 1.8 million global users and over 350,000 new monthly visitors. Sean coined the term "growth hacker" in 2010, and is the producer of the Growth Hackers Conference. He regularly speaks to start-ups and Fortune 100s and has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, WIRED, Fast Company, Inc.com, and TechCrunch.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 317 reviews
Profile Image for Shavon.
Author 8 books21 followers
March 11, 2017
Most online marketing is uninformed; entrepreneurs are just copying other successful methods and hoping for the same results. Hacking Growth puts purpose and direction around marketing efforts. It teaches us to use the valuable data from our clients, website visitors, and prospects to develop effective interaction with our intended audience. Yes, it is trial and error, but it is educated trial and error, and that information on which the trials are based saves time and puts the focus on what your audience wants rather than on what the audience of another company, perhaps in a different industry, wants.
Profile Image for WhatIReallyRead.
725 reviews506 followers
June 20, 2020
This book was a great and useful read. To be more specific:

1. Hacking Growth had a clear, logical structure and covered a comprehensive list of topics.

2. It started at the beginning: building a growth team. Why do you need one in the first place? Who should be in it? Who should lead it? etc.

3. While covering the Growth Hacking method and then each part of AARR, the author provided real cases. There was also a fictional growth team working on a fictional product to illustrate the approaches and modes of thinking to employ.

4. Reading this book sparked a lot of ideas for research and testing in my own workplace - which is the best thing of all. The book is close to what I'm working on, so it was very applicable.

Bottom line: it's a comprehensive overview if you're new to the topic, well written and to the point.
Profile Image for Joseph Newell.
60 reviews8 followers
March 23, 2019
As a fan of structured exercises to propel work, Hacking Growth walks the delicate line between theory and practice in a way that educates, motivates, and illuminates the way forward. Excellent frameworks and theory regarding how to grow products using small, data-driven experiments.
Profile Image for Rick Wilson.
700 reviews260 followers
September 7, 2023
One of the better versions of this book. Growth Hacking was a super trendy term a few years back, and still sort of became a catchall for random nonsense that companies do to grow. Blitzscaling probably being the penultimate version of it.

In typical Silicon Valley fashion it’s an attempt to sex up boring ass stuff like marketing and operations. So they throw “hacking” onto the end of another generic term.

That said, this book runs you through kind of the court tenants here. Iterate quickly, listen to your customers, all stuff that most people have been doing it know, but often forget.

I respect the authors for coming up with unique examples and personal experiences that I haven’t heard before. Although it is a little Airbnb heavy, which has soured me a bit on it, as you see where that’s gotten their platform. There’s a sort of delicate balance between drugs hacking being fun and cheeky way to punch above your weight class and actually having the platform and product to back it up. You see a guy like Billy what’s his face from Fyre festival, who was all growth hacking and no substance on one end of the spectrum. And then you have your local mom and pop HVAC company who wouldn’t know how to run an ad if their life savings depended upon it. Lucky for us the economy holds all types.
Profile Image for Ahmad Abugosh.
Author 1 book23 followers
December 29, 2018
I definitely expected more from the person who coined the term "Growth Hacking", although I was probably not the intended audience for the book (being more of a practitioner). This book is mainly just a collection of case studies, and theory into how growth hacking works. I would say its audience is more people that don't work in marketing that would need to hire a "growth" person or someone new to digital marketing, and not really for someone who's looking to hack growth at a startup (unless you're brand new to the field). This book was way too repetitive (I can't count how many times he said you need to test to find the best solution) and I don't mean to be mean, but this to me was one of those books that could have been a blog post.
Profile Image for Brian Daniel.
60 reviews6 followers
July 4, 2017
Repetitive — but that's not a bad thing. Hacking Growth includes lots of case studies which means less analysis and more application. The writers do a great job of sticking to their goal until the last quarter of the book where it looks like they may be trying to get their word count to a specific place. All that being said, this along with Story Wars are the only two books you need to advance your thinking and effective use of resources when it comes to growing your business and market share footprint. As this genre goes, I thought it was very dynamic content packaged in a way that lends itself to adoption. Like most books like this, it's great for generating new ways to approach your business. It's strength lies in its new language and applicable case studies. Weakness is that it, perhaps, isn't introducing completely new ideas — just new ways of approaching growth (which is always helpful, in my opinion). I certainly recommend it.
Profile Image for Đinh Anh Phương.
103 reviews25 followers
July 18, 2021
Một cuốn sách rất hữu ích mà không khô khan với kiến thức cập nhật, có giá trị tham khảo và nghiền ngẫm cao trong quá trình nghiên cứu, xây dựng và phát triển các sản phẩm digital (website, mobile app,...). Nếu nói Growth Hacking là sách marketing, sách data, hay sách business thì cũng vừa đúng mà cũng vừa sai; vì bản chất của team tăng trưởng đột phá của mỗi sản phẩm/ công ty digital là một sự hợp tác, phối kết hợp hài hoà giữa nhiều cái đầu từ nhiều department, đào sâu và khai thác nhiều khía cạnh khác nhau của sản phẩm.

"... 72% CEO đã đồng ý với tuyên bố rằng các nhà marketing "luôn đòi hỏi tiền nhưng hiếm khi có thể giải thích số tiền này sẽ tạo ra doanh thu tăng bao nhiêu."

Marketing thì thật ra rất là rộng và gần như có mặt xuyên suốt quá trình phát triển sản phẩm. Làm một thời gian liên quan tới digital product marketing thì mình có thấy câu trên không hẳn là ứng với toàn bộ các mảng của MKT (ví dụ với ngành hàng mobile apps thì mảng User Acquisition trực tiếp thông qua paid traffics thì vẫn có khá nhiều cơ sở dữ liệu để "bán tương lai", để dự đoán được rằng khoản đầu tư này dự kiến sẽ mang lại doanh thu thế nào; tuy nhiên sẽ có các mảng khác như Branding thì việc đo đạc hiệu quả sẽ khó khăn hơn nhiều - làm thương hiệu thì đầu tư bao nhiêu cho đủ?); tuy nhiên đây đúng thật là một chuyện rất đáng trăn trở cho những người làm business.

Giải pháp nào (bên cạnh việc chi nhiều tiền cho marketing & branding) để scale up business? Các "biệt đội" Growth Hacking được sinh ra (và hiện tồn tại ở hầu như tất cả các tech giants: FB, GG, LinkedIn, Amazon,....), với sứ mệnh phân tích và sử dụng dữ liệu của sản phẩm một cách toàn diện (marketing metrics & product metrics), đặt ra những giả thuyết về các giải pháp để giải quyết vấn đề, bứt tốc performance cho sản phẩm, liên tục testing (!!) để tìm ra giải pháp tốt nhất, and repeat. Với sự tham gia của specialist từ nhiều phòng ban (vd: 1 team Growth Hacking có thể bao gồm developer, marketer, data scientist, UI-UX specialist, artist,...), các growth hacking squad sẽ liên tục thực hiện cycle này. Nhiều giải pháp được tạo ra (và thành công rực rỡ) gần như không tốn một xu nào (vd: đổi headlines, trình tự nút bấm,...).

Nhìn chung là một cuốn sách hay, tuy thiệt sự là học phải đi đôi với hành - cứ làm đi rồi mới reflect lại rồi lại làm tiếp. Thi thoảng sẽ cần dở lại đọc, rùi áp dụng. Các kinh nghiệm được tác giả đúc kết từ mấy chục năm lăn lộn trong ngành nên thấm một phát hết luôn là cũng khó. Cứ phải learn unlearn rồi relearn suốt thôi!
Profile Image for Nir Altmark.
28 reviews6 followers
February 19, 2022
The book reflects the importance of establishing a Growth team within any organization, the struggles that such a team would face, and suggest ways to tackle them. Whether you already have a growth team or not, read it. It will accelerate the growth process and provide clarity on its importance. While it focuses on the growth team, all groups need to read it. Reading it would create empathy between the growth team and the organization and reduce tension and misunderstanding.
In addition, the book contains tons of examples from known companies that experience massive growth thanks to the establishment of growth teams and growth processes. Those examples are something to learn from. Either they will help with innovation, finding the path for growth, or they simply will work again; there is no need to reinvent the wheel.
Profile Image for Alexey.
168 reviews1 follower
March 9, 2019
I genuinely liked the book. I've read it when the growth hacking hype has passed – I was surprised to find that the book is still relevant and can help add momentum to the organization. Definitely recommended for project/company leaders.
Profile Image for Daniel Marques.
27 reviews
July 18, 2023
Livro excepcional! Uma imersão no tema de Growth que trouxe insights poderosos que já são aplicados dentro do meu negócio e de clientes. Fantástico!
Profile Image for Angela Lam.
330 reviews18 followers
November 30, 2020
Loved this book. Clear and practical, with enough details to help anyone dive into growth strategies and implementation. Growth Hacking is about using a robust method to analyze-ideate-prioritize-test growth opportunities across the entire marketing funnel (acquisition, activation, retention, monetization). The book covers exactly how to do that, including the pre-requisites needed before you're truly ready to grow (growth teams + must-have product + growth levers).

Context: I had zero background on technology and entrepreneurship (corporate lady for the bulk of my career and had to blunder my way through business in the initial years). About 80% of what I know about building a digital business came from books, and then internalizing/honing the insights though real-life application. By now, I've learned about the lean approach, agile, product and user testing, marketing funnel, scoreboards but it's still not easy to integrate everything in real-life. This book did that for me...everything just kinda clicked in place after reading the book to give me enough clarity to move into the next phase of my growth strategy planning and implementation (which I had been stuck on for several months).

The only thing that I struggled with was with the way the points were presented in the book...Each part of the book made sense but it took a while for me to dissect and join the pieces together to mentally see how the components link together to facilitate execution. Still, this is definitely one of those anchor books that'll refer back to over and over for business development/growth.

Book summary at: https://readingraphics.com/book-summa...
Profile Image for Desmond.
56 reviews18 followers
April 10, 2017
Regardless of the size of your business, this book provides an overabundance of information on ramping up customers and revenue. It is extra useful for startups looking to grow rapidly in early stages.

The book lays the foundation with “Part 1: The Method” where it breaks down the process of Growth Hacking and the best ways to prepare its implementation. “Part 2: The Growth Hacking Playbook” is where the tactics come into play. I liked that the authors don’t just throw information at you and expect you to believe it. Everything presented is backed up with examples where that specific strategy was used successfully by companies in the past.

The only negative thing you could really say about Hacking Growth is that there is TOO MUCH information at times. But is that really a bad thing?
Profile Image for Vassilena.
275 reviews91 followers
August 20, 2017
Reading marketing books can be a very disappointing activity. The time it takes a title to travel all the way from the author’s head to the reader’s hands is often longer than the half-life of marketing trends. Digital marketing changes by the second and books just can’t keep up.

But still, sometimes an author does their job well and describes something long-term. That’s what Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown have done in Hacking Growth.

I recommend Hacking Growth and I suggest you don’t postpone and read it now. Not because it’ll be less relevant in a couple of months, but because you need to start experimenting as early as possible.

Here's my full review: http://bit.ly/2uUJjyj
Profile Image for Frederik Christiansen.
17 reviews8 followers
May 18, 2018
A must read for all marketing managers.

You get a good understanding of the epic AARRR framework

Referral (lacking this one)

I suggest you google "The pirate framework: AARRR" as well
Profile Image for د.أمجد الجنباز.
Author 3 books773 followers
July 22, 2018
من الكتب الهامة للغاية في التسويق للمشاريع الناشئة
يضع منهجية وخطوات عملية لتنفيذ خطة التسويق ومتابعتها
الكتاب غير تقليدي
Profile Image for Barack Liu.
480 reviews17 followers
August 17, 2020

261-Hacking Growth-Sean Ellis-Business-2017

"Hacking Growth" was first published in the United States in 2017. Business books. It mainly explores the concept of "growth hackers".

Sean Ellis. Born in Newport Beach, California, USA. He graduated from the University of California, Davis in 1994. He served as the marketing director of LogMeIn and Uproar. Served as a marketer for Dropbox, Lookout, and Xobni. Representative works: "Hacking Growth", "Startup Growth Engines", etc.

Part of the catalog
1. Chapter One: Building Growth Teams
2. Chapter Two: Determining If Your Product Is Must-Have
3. Chapter Three: Identifying Your Growth Levers
4. Chapter Four: Testing at High Tempo
5. Chapter Five: Hacking Acquisition
6. Chapter Six: Hacking Activation
7. Chapter Seven: Hacking Retention
8. Chapter Eight: Hacking Monetization
9. Chapter Nine: A Virtuous Growth Cycle

The author wrote this book based on his own experience and success stories. To provide advice to others, one needs to have at least two successful experiences. One success can be said to be out of luck. But if a person can achieve at least two successes, then his advice is worth listening to.

These successful people have carried out some form of innovation. But if readers want to follow the text, it is difficult to get results. Once a method is used extensively, its efficiency will be greatly reduced. This also means that we have to try innovative methods in the actual problems we encounter. Instead of just copying existing paths that others have already researched. Of course, the existing methods may still work. But it may not be the most cost-effective anymore.

Those entrepreneurs who have achieved success are rarely hit. They have often made multiple attempts. Before he achieved the most brilliant achievements, he often had many attempts. These attempts may be successful or failed. Previous attempts may be similar products, or they may be in completely different directions. But if we look from the back to the front, all these experiences will eventually become one of the indispensable cornerstones to the destination.

The resources that startups have are limited. If you want to find a way to break the game, you must seek the most cost-effective strategy. The problems encountered by startups are not the same as those encountered by large companies. A problem that is easy for large companies, but for small companies, it becomes a big problem due to the limited resources available. But on the other hand, because of its flexibility, small companies are sometimes more agile than large companies. This is where the small company wins.

These innovative methods may become the norm in the industry in the future. Not all methods are extraordinary or unimaginable. There are some methods that, once explained, are fairly simple. But even simple methods can be quite useful sometimes.

Sean summarized the successful method in his practice as Growth hacking and further applied this theory in future practice. This is the process of when people perceive things, from special examples to general rules, and then use general rules to solve more individual special events in the future.

In the Internet entrepreneurial paradigm, I found that there is often such a combination law. That is a person who is good at engineering, combined with a person who is good at product and market. If there is only the former, he may not be able to attract enough users. If there is only the latter, he may not be able to put his ideas into practice.

The first edition of this book was in 2017. The marketing method Sean mentioned was adopted by many companies in the industry as early as 2017. If an idea has been repeatedly proven in practice and written into a book, in a sense, it is no longer an innovative method. It may still work, but the effect it can achieve may be far less than before. Therefore, rather than learning specific methods, we should learn how the author thinks about breaking the game when facing problems.

Increasing the number of users is important, but I think the core is still to provide users with valuable services and products. What are our services and products? What can we bring to users? This is the most important thing.

For almost any product, expanding the user base is an important issue. I think a good product is a must, but it is far from enough. People don't always recommend things that he thinks are good for friends. There must be some kind of incentive mechanism to make people willing to recommend. Once one person is willing to recommend to two or more people, a chain reaction occurs.

Sean also cited some examples of the rapid development of large companies. All large companies have developed from small companies. There is a certain threshold in the development of the company. When the company breaks that threshold, it can grow rapidly. And form an extremely powerful barrier, but if he can't break through that threshold, then his fate may be short-lived or be acquired.

Growth hacking means not to achieve linear growth by increasing manpower. Rather, it is hoped that through engineering methods, users can actively share, so that each user becomes his salesman.

Except for a few lucky ones, they may be able to succeed in the first attempt. For most people, the effective method is gradually revealed after many explorations.

We are looking for new growth methods that are driven by data and tested by the market.

Hacking is a word used a lot in the computer field. Applying it to the market field means trying to break the barrier between marketing and engineering. Use engineering methods to solve growth problems.

For every company, user growth is a very important thing. This includes two levels of issues. One is to add new users. One is to retain old users.

Both large and small companies need to consider growth issues. The changes in this era are rapid. No one can guarantee that the dominance of a company will never be challenged. A company must make continuous progress. Even companies like Microsoft must make major adjustments every few years to meet the needs of the times. Even a giant python must shed its skin.

It is because of the rapid changes in this era. We not only need to find the answer through a lot of trial and error but also need to find the answer as soon as possible. Otherwise, even if you find the correct answer, you may miss the opportunity and not get the best opportunity for development.
Profile Image for Saran Sivashanmugam.
34 reviews5 followers
January 12, 2022
This book is the "Crossing the Chasm" of the digital B2C. Sean and Morgan explain the science behind the data to unlock the potential in today's digital businesses. If you're not exposed to digital marketing, this will be a big surprise to see the discipline's transformation into an entirely data-driven entity.

Coming from a pure engineering perspective, this enlightens the importance of gathering, ingesting, processing data to expand the market segments.

The authors also touch on the "shady" part of digital data gathering and pricing. It made me cringe when reading those sections on how businesses can manipulate behavior and pricing based on data (For example, adding decoy pricing to sell higher-priced bundles).

In future versions, I'd recommend that the authors also address the ethical boundaries of manipulating customer behavior/pricing.
Profile Image for Jozef Michalovčik.
58 reviews1 follower
January 25, 2021
Perhaps because I had a very high expectation, I give only 4*. Something was missing in there. It started and ended very good, but middle part i found quite theoretical and bit boring. While beginning and end is more about examples of different companies, their products and growth hacking campaigns which help them succeed. That part was really interesting, educational and inspirational. I would welcome a book just solely based on collections of all different strategies and methodologies supported by real business examples and number. Brands we know.

Let me know if there is anything close to that!
Profile Image for Amr Swalha.
105 reviews1 follower
September 21, 2019
Some startups think it's about how much you spend on advertising. Guess what it's what experience you deliver to the user and how you can engage him with your website or app. Must read for every startup out there.
Profile Image for Tiffany Guthrie.
296 reviews5 followers
April 20, 2017
More and more companies have become digital, and businesses continue to change their ways of doing things. This book would be important to anyone starting out a business.
Profile Image for Outdoors Nerd.
351 reviews6 followers
February 24, 2018
A rare book that I didn't just consume, I dined slowly. Simply awesome; a book to return to again and again.
Profile Image for Eddie Chen.
14 reviews4 followers
July 2, 2020
a must-read for any aspiring data scientist or career practitioner in product analytics. full of applicable nuggets. highly recommended.
Profile Image for AV.
84 reviews9 followers
July 23, 2020
An insightful book on things ranging from how to setup a growth team to how to go about the process of growth hacking to deciding on growth measures to pursue to measuring results. The books outlines some great examples of the different kinds of Growth Hacks that the authors have either applied in their own organizations or have seen being applied elsewhere.

But as someone pointed out in the reviews, I too probably expected a little more from someone who coined the term "Growth Hacking". I hoped to find Growth frameworks that I could readily take and apply in practice, which was a bit of a downer.

I also felt that the author, effectively, wants to talk in the sense that, "Here are the many Growth Hacking examples from a few companies, and that's how you should go about Growth Hacking." I might be wrong but that's what I felt.

But overall, it was a good primer on the nuances of Growth Hacking!!
Profile Image for Avishek Das.
74 reviews11 followers
December 5, 2020
Did help me ti adjust my strategy to accelerate my growth and with smarter tech solutions
Profile Image for Ramil.
49 reviews7 followers
January 26, 2021
Definitely worth reading and still persists its content in line with today's expectations
Profile Image for Tulika.
52 reviews1 follower
October 21, 2021
A great playbook with useful implementable content around activation, acquisition, retention, monetization. I keep coming back to it every once in a while to find my answers.
32 reviews3 followers
June 21, 2021
This book was a 3.7 for me. Not a 3, not a 4, but better than 3.5. It was very well thought-out and organized and inspired several ideas for my work. However, there was wordiness in instructions and examples that could have removed for brevity. This is a solid book and probably the only book someone needs to read to get started on growth tactics.
Profile Image for Nathaniel Rayestu.
29 reviews21 followers
August 24, 2017
Must read book for anyone interested in the subject matter. The author(s) lay out a very thorough yet concise picture of what growth hacking involves and a step by step method on how to do it. They convincingly show that growth hacking methods or mindset can and should apply for you whether you work for a startup or a large company.
177 reviews6 followers
April 10, 2020
Lots of food for thought regardless of where you are in the business world
Displaying 1 - 30 of 317 reviews

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