Growth Hacking
Header image featuring woman eating, sleeping, and working out

Topics covered

I cover every advanced topic for acquiring and converting customers.

I get right to the point in every section. There's zero rambling.

Scroll further down to read this guide's intro — if you're new to growth marketing.

Intro

The advanced guide to user acquisition.

This guide is written by someone who runs growth for a dozen Y Combinator startups. It's modern as of early 2018.

This growth hacking handbook provides an agency-level proficiency in user acquisition and conversion optimization. It is widely recommended within Silicon Valley.

It covers everything you need to realistically acquire users and increase on-site conversion.

It does not waste your time with marketing clichés or generic advice.

About Julian

My day job is running the growth agency, Bell Curve. Before that, I built an open source animation engine, Velocity.js, and grew that into one of the biggest front-end libraries.

As for the guide you're reading now: In my free time, I spend hundreds of hours researching topics to write concise, book-quality handbooks. I publish them for free.

Come say hello on Twitter.

How to use this handbook

This handbook isn't going to be exciting, but it will be very insightful. And it'll leave you in the best position you've ever been in to grow a company.

This knowledge is applicable to companies of all sizes and verticals. I cover a range of introductory and advanced B2B and B2C tactics, making this appropriate for growth marketers of every skill level.

If you're researching a startup ideaExpand

It’s important you read this handbook before choosing which startup idea you work on.

You need to know whether your prospective idea is well-suited for user acquisition. If you can’t envision this handbook's strategies being appropriate for your startup idea, you’re going to have an extremely hard time building a high-growth business.

This handbook will help you save months or years going down the wrong path. 

If your company has achieved product-market fitExpand

Scalable, positive ROI marketing begins once you’ve proven your product is loved by its customers and that there's sufficient market demand. 

When you achieve this validation, you are said to have product-market fit.

If you preemptively scale paid user acquisition before product-market fit, you’re failing to develop infrastructure required for sustained, cost-efficient growth. 

A weak product-market fit also means your customers won't stay customers for long, so they'll generate less revenue over time, which means you can't afford to spend as much acquiring them. Not a good situation.

So I want you to think of growth as pouring fuel on an already-raging fire — not as a Band-aid for your problems.

With that warning out of the way: If your company has achieved product-market fit, you will get the most immediate value out of this handbook. Everything you need to know to pour fuel on the fire is here. 

And I walk you step-by-step through everything — leaving no questions unanswered.

If you're a managerExpand

It's critical executives know what growth entails so they can facilitate it.

Don't treat growth like a black box that engineers and marketers are responsible for. Growth is tightly coupled to most other business functions.

Not only will this handbook make you a better growth-oriented manager, it'll shed light on a growth marketer's skill set so you can better assess potential hires.

You’d be surprised how many companies hire “growth experts” who are actually brand marketers (people who focus on designing brand voice and generating buzz) with middling knowledge of user acquisition and conversion optimization.

This handbook will help you avoid unintentionally hiring these people.

Growth hacking

Growth hacking is a silly term. I'm only using it because it'll help with the SEO exposure of this handbook :) In reality, growth is not a series of "hacks." It's a rigorous methodology founded upon experimentation, data collection, and human psychology.

It also goes by the names performance marketing and growth marketing.

I don't know what growth hacking isExpand

Growth is the act of maximizing of revenue. This handbook focuses on growing companies who sell their products and services online.

"Online" is what distinguishes growth marketing from traditional marketing: Growth doesn’t concern itself with billboards, radio ads, conference sponsorships, and other weakly optimizable and weakly measurable customer acquisition channels.

Growth marketing also differs from brand marketing in that growth is concerned about immediately measurable and profitable outcomes; growth isn't concerned with "getting the word out" by "generating buzz" and "becoming thought leaders" through "brand voice."

Instead, growth marketing leverages the scale and immediacy of the Internet to start small and discover where customer acquisition is possible. It does this through iteratively distributing ad spend, tracking initial results, and optimizing every component of the customer lifecycle.

This holistic approach involves the marketing, engineering, and product teams:

A growth marketer at an early-stage startup must have all these skills. Every discipline is tightly coupled to the next.

At a mid-sized company, a growth marketer still requires these skills but can delegate so long as he or she has low-friction access to the heads of all these departments. 

If you're new to growth marketing, I suggest listening to my interview.

What makes a good growth marketer

To competently manage these disciplines, a growth marketer must be:

Let’s dive into that last point: resourcefulness. A growth marketer must be aggressively proactive when optimizing their marketing budgets:

The growth funnel

The growth funnel is the lifetime journey your customer experiences when interacting with your company. It's actually just a cute name for the customer acquisition pipeline:

Growth marketers know how these funnel steps interrelate:

Acquisition

Conversion

Engagement

Revenue

Referral

If you don’t have processes for optimizing each of these steps, you're not fully implementing growth marketing. And you’ll especially benefit from this handbook.

Funnel prioritization

To spend your marketing budget efficiently, prioritize your optimization of the growth funnel's steps in reverse: When Engagement performs better, every dollar spent on Acquisition goes further.

Continue to growth hacking advice

This handbook is very insightful — but very dry. So read pages as they become immediately relevant to you. Bookmark this guide for when the rest become relevant.

If you enjoy it, please consider upvoting it on Product Hunt. I spent 400 hours on this.

Next page →
Julian Shapiro headshot

My other guides

To read drafts of future handbooks before they're published, subscribe below.

I'm now writing how to play pianowrite fiction, and speak Chinese.

Enter your email below: