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APIs instead of MBAs: The new big marketing discipline is growth hacking

If you're looking for a new marketing boss again: Forget the classic résumé. What really matters:

It's no secret: our industry loves buzzwords. Whether clickbait, big data or native advertising - we are very flexible and only need something new every now and then. For some time now, one buzzword has come across us particularly often: growth hacking. More and more companies and especially startups are desperately looking for these so-called growth hackers. But what exactly do they do? And why is this marketing discipline all the hot shit? We have the answer!

The term growth hacker first hit the scene in 2010. Sean Ellis, who has since been considered the inventor of this discipline, described a growth hacker in a blog post as someone whose overarching and absolute goal is growth. Doesn't sound really spectacular at first, after all, we all want to grow somehow. So are we all growth hackers now? Of course not. Otherwise it wouldn't be anything special anymore.

What is the difference between a growth hacker and a classic marketer?

There is still no general or halfway official definition. But if you deal briefly with the topic and follow the well-known names in the scene, a clear picture emerges pretty quickly. Andrew Chen, for example, himself one of the most famous and high-profile growth hackers (also investor in numerous startups and companies such as Dropbox, AppSumo, Product Hunt and AngelList) describes himself and his work as a mixture of marketer and programmer. He also asks himself the classic marketing question “How do I get customers for my product?”, But answers it very technically with A / B tests, optimized landing pages, virality and a bunch of data. He says: "Projects like email deliverability, page-load times, and Facebook sign-in are no longer technical or design decisions - instead they are offensive weapons to win in the market."

In his opinion, a growth hacker must take the place of a classic marketing boss, who has a number of technically less skilled employees under him, who manages capable programmers, who is himself also very technically well-versed, but at the same time also meets all marketing standards controlled. This is the only way that new products can exist on the large platforms. Because that's where the decisive difference lies compared to a few years ago: Today, new products on Facebook & Co. can reach millions of people in just a short time. Andrew Chen says: “The fast way to spread your product is by distributing it on a platform using APIs, not MBAs. Business development is now API-centric, not people-centric. "

Airbnb and the integration on craigslist.org as an example of successful growth hacking

As an example, Chen cites the strategy of Airbnb, the brokerage portal for overnight stays. With the help of a self-built bot, the portal enabled a direct connection to craigslist.org, which is extremely popular in the USA and probably the largest advertising site in the world. The special thing about it: craiglist.org did not provide any API that would have made this possible. It was only due to a rather high technical effort on the part of Airbnb (explaining the technical details here would go too far, but Andrew Chen describes this measure very precisely in his blog entry) that the offer was proposed to every user who advertised an apartment to share on craigslist.org. As a result, traffic and user numbers went through the roof. Growth hacking in the truest sense of the word. Would a classic online marketer have thought of that? Hardly likely.

Thanks to the integration of Craigslist, the number of Airbnb users exploded.

You already notice: Growth hacking is a hot topic, which is guaranteed to occupy the industry for a long time and, as we believe, has a significant impact on the requirements for really good marketers. The portal growthhackers.com or this list with a selection of 100 top influencers and brands in the field of growth hacking offer a good overview with a wide variety of cases on the topic. Not least because of this steadily increasing relevance, we had already invited Neil Patel, growth hacking pioneer and legend, to the premiere of our New Platform Advertising conference in June this year (for example, he made techcrunch.com great). Unfortunately, due to a few unsightly problems at the airport in Las Vegas, he couldn't come after all - but is already firmly planned for our next big Online Marketing Rockstars Conference in February 2016. We are also working on one or two other professionals in this field. You can be curious.