Book Review: Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown

Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown define growth hacking and describe its successful application in their 2017 book, Hacking Growth. When it comes to customer acquisition and retention, growth hacking focuses on the customer experience.

Interdisciplinary groups need to work together to test and implement growth hacking activities. This strategy has been used successfully by many large international companies, resulting in sustained, steady expansion. If your company wants to expand, Hacking Growth shows you how to do it.

You may be wondering if you should read the book. This book review will tell you what important lessons you can learn from this book so you can decide if it is worth your time.

At the end of this book review, I’ll also tell you the best way to get rich by reading and writing

Without further ado, let’s get started.

Lesson 1: High-speed growth requires your product to become a must-have.

Making your product an absolute necessity is essential to maintaining a rapid growth rate over the long term. While this is one factor, it is not the only one that contributes to the development of hacking. Despite the superiority of the product and the enthusiasm of the target audience, it will fail if the expansion plans are misguided.

After identifying your must-have products, come up with a strategy to expand your business. You need a clear plan to drive business growth before you can begin testing your ideas and concepts on a large scale.

You need to be methodical and scientific in your approach to determine which growth levers are necessary for the expansion you are seeking. As you begin to develop your growth strategy, you should agree on a well-structured experimental design that will help you identify the key growth levers that will get you where you want to go.

Rather than randomly throwing ideas around and hoping one of them will work, growth hacking requires you to conduct rapid experiments to identify and optimize the best opportunities. The results of meaningful testing can help produce more favorable outcomes.

The first step is to find the right metrics to track the evolution of a product. The next step is to establish a basic growth equation that includes all the variables that contribute to expansion.

Selecting a key performance indicator and aligning all growth efforts with that indicator can help you focus on what’s important and optimize your growth equation.

To be effective, this metric must communicate the essential value of your products to customers. The growth team needs data on customer behavior, product performance, and experimentation to apply the essential metric and growth equation.

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Lesson 2: The growth hacking process goes through four stages.

The pace and scope of a growth team’s experimentation depends on both the size of the organization and the availability of testing resources.

Growth hacking consists of four phases: Analysis, Ideation, Prioritization, and Testing. In this phase, the data analyst and growth team leader examine information collected from early adopters of the product to identify different types of customers and learn more about their preferences, habits, and other distinguishing characteristics.

In the ideation phase, the growth team generates numerous ideas to increase the likelihood that promising ideas will be discovered. Each proposal needs a title, summary, working hypothesis, and growth indicators. We then use the Impact, Confidence, and Ease system (ICE) to rank the ideas in order of importance.

The top-ranked ideas are considered for testing. Growth team members should collaborate with each other and with staff from other departments involved in the experiments to prepare and conduct them, after ranking the ideas and deciding which experiments to conduct.

The results of these experiments must be analyzed by the growth team leader or data analyst and then shared with the rest of the growth team. The expansion leader is responsible for compiling a report of the good and bad results. The analysis phase of the development cycle is then repeated.

Lesson 3: Attracting new customers is crucial to a company’s success.

The success of a business is in direct proportion to the number of customers it can attract. However, the cost of attracting new customers should not exceed the revenue they generate.

All businesses would benefit from lowering the cost of attracting new customers. The goal of growth hacking is to optimize existing processes to attract and retain more customers at a lower overall cost.

To begin maximizing customer acquisition, you must first determine your language/market fit, which is the impact of your product description on your customer base, and your channel/product fit, which is the effectiveness of the various channels you use to promote your product (such as organic search engine optimization and paid advertising).

Finding the right words to describe your product in a way that resonates with your target audience is essential to a successful language/market fit. Compelling language that speaks to people’s deepest motivations is key to maintaining their attention. Customer acquisition can be greatly aided by subtle language adjustments.

To find answers to questions that might affect your language/market fit, experiments that allow you to quickly test many linguistic options are often most effective.

When trying to find the right channel for your product, spreading your resources too thin is counterproductive. Instead, focus on selecting the few most effective channels from the available options.

There are two phases in identifying the best channels: discovery, where a large number of channels are studied before a small number are selected for testing, and optimization, where the reach and effectiveness of the selected channels are improved.

In the next stage, channels are ranked according to the following criteria: Cost, Target Audience, Trial Design, Trial Execution, Data Analysis, and Trial Size. The relative value of a given channel on each criterion changes as one moves from one company and one product to another.

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Lesson 4: After customer acquisition, activation is the process of enabling them to use your product.

After a customer is acquired, the next step is activation, which is actually using your product. Accelerating the “Aha!” moment for new customers is a key factor in increasing customer activation. When more people realise that your product has the features that make it indispensable, you can expect an increase in sales and repeat business.

To identify the most productive activation experiments, growth teams must follow a three-step process. First, identify all touchpoints along the customer’s journey to the “aha” moment. The second step is to calculate the rate of customers at each stage of the journey, also known as the conversion rate.

A funnel report is useful for measuring conversion rate because it shows how quickly customers move through the different stages of their product journey.

The third phase is about identifying the triggers for customer exit. In the final phase, the information gathered from surveys and in-depth interviews is used for creative experiments that activate the customer more effectively.

Either increasing customer desire or reducing friction (e.g., annoying ads or verification) is used to promote activation. Reduced complexity is a more effective growth tool than a more enticing product.

There are two main methods to eliminate friction. The first is to streamline the onboarding process of the product, such as streamlining the sign-up form on a website. Second, you can start with the “Aha!” moment itself.

Lesson 5: The objective of a company is to develop and retain customers.

The success of a company depends on expanding and maintaining its customer base. A high customer retention rate is essential for a successful business, as new customers are so easily lost.

A company’s bottom line can be strengthened by attracting and retaining loyal customers who buy more goods and services, continue to pay for subscriptions, and view advertising as a worthwhile investment.

There are three stages of customer retention. First-time customers are either persuaded to continue using the product or persuaded to stop using it during the retention phase. They then enter a phase called “medium retention.” In this second phase, users’ interest in the product begins to wane. To achieve a high retention rate, the growth team must work to make the product indispensable.

At the end is the process of long-term retention. This is where the growth team comes in, testing new ways to improve the product and provide more value to the consumer. It’s about making the consumer understand how indispensable the product is.

To retain customers over the long term, the product’s existing qualities must be refined as well as its capabilities continually expanded. To maximize the learning effect and customer retention, a healthy balance between these two aspects must be maintained.

Feature bloat occurs when a product gains too many new features in too short a time – a common mistake many companies make. This often results in the feature set becoming unwieldy and unnecessary.

After a certain amount of time has passed since a customer has interacted with a product, a revitalization flow should be implemented. The purpose of the revitalization flow is to win back inactive customers through interaction channels that reintroduce them to the “aha” moment and the essential value of the product.

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Lesson 6: Gaining more profit from customers is the process of increasing their lifetime value.

The primary goal of customer acquisition, activation and retention is profit maximization. The lifetime value of a customer increases when the company extracts an ever higher return from its customers.

To determine if a customer can be profitable, it is necessary to review the customer journey map developed at the beginning of the growth hacking process. The growth team should then analyze the phases that typically lead to the most profits in order to conduct experiments aimed at extracting even greater profits from these phases.

When trying to maximize profits, prices are often a stumbling block for companies. Prices that are too high could scare away potential buyers, while prices that are too low would result in lost sales.

A company’s growth team should work with its finance department to determine the optimal selling price for a product. To find out what price range is feasible, companies conduct surveys and other types of customer analysis.

The lure of generating higher sales and profits through lower prices is understandable. However, this is not always the case. It is possible that price cuts may not lead to the expected increases in profits, and may even hurt sales. It may even be that consumers who look for optimum value for money when making a purchase are put off by a price cut. Particularly in the case of high-tech goods and services, the majority of consumers will take price as a measure of quality.

About The Author

Sean Ellis coined the term “Growth Hacking” and is widely regarded as the founder of the international Growth Hacking movement. Using Ellis’ techniques, companies such as Dropbox and Eventbrite have experienced explosive growth. He is a successful entrepreneur who founded Qualaroo, a consumer intelligence firm. Ellis also serves as a co-host on the Breakout Growth Podcast.

Morgan Brown is Facebook’s product management director. Brown worked as a growth and product manager for several companies prior to joining Facebook. Brown is a speaker and author who focuses on digital product growth and adoption.

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Hacking Growth Quotes

“She took the insights she’d uncovered to the product team, thinking they could work together to find ways to improve the app. In doing so, she caught the product team a bit off guard; this was the first time a marketing person at the company had ever come to them with such input.”


“Often the best ideas come from this type of cross-functional collaboration, which, again, is why it’s a fundamental feature of the growth hacking process.”


“From speaking to our engineers this was because, besides the fact that we seemed to be having fun and enjoying each other so much, they saw us as ‘doing things right,’ being ‘data-driven.”


“Cross-functional teams not only smooth and accelerate collaboration between the product, engineering, data, and marketing groups, they motivate team members to appreciate and learn more about the perspectives of the others and the work they do.”


“The personnel they comprise should include many, if not all, of the following roles.”


“A key responsibility for the growth lead is choosing the core focus area and objectives for the team to work on and for what period of time.”

View our larger collection of the best Hacking Growth quotes

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