Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown ｜Book Review｜
Hello Readers! We’re starting off the month of April with a review of Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown!
This book is intended to be a step-by-step guide to implementing growth strategies.
Here is my book review!
Essentially, conversion rates are the percentage of people who take a desired action. Depending on your business model and goals the desired actions will differ. Perhaps you consider someone subscribing to your YouTube channel a conversion, or perhaps someone buying a product from your website is a conversion. Regardless, Ellis and Brown share a simple formula that clarifies the underlying concept of conversion rates.
Conversion Rate = Desire – Friction
Desire is quantified by how much a product/service is wanted by a potential customer. In contrast, friction is anything that causes the potential customer to ask themselves “is it worth it? Should I follow through with this?” In an ideal world we would maximize desire and minimize friction. However, maximizing desire is easier said than done, especially if you’re in a competitive market. In contrast, as friction is often overlooked by business, there are most likely multiple opportunities to minimize friction.
Ellis and Brown highlight that we often focus on increasing customer desire and neglect opportunities to minimize friction. If you aren’t sure reducing friction is important, let’s talk about Amazon. Many products that are offered on Amazon, are widely available through other retailers. However, Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon) has masterfully implemented concepts such as “One-click purchasing”, which is a prime example of reducing friction.
Through the click of a button, an order can be placed, without the need to review your order or enter any additional information. This saves the consumer time and largely eliminates the thought of “Is it worth it?” Generally, business focus on creating a desirable product, but once we’ve established desire, we have to make it as easy as possible for customers to act on their desire.
What’s gamification you ask? It’s the offering of rewards, perks, and/or benefits that users obtain based on their actions. According to Ellis and Brown, there are three factors that are important when trying to implement gamification:
- Meaningful rewards – the rewards should complement the product or program you offer.
- Surprise & Delight – keep the customer on their toes, everyone loves a surprise!
- Instant Gratification – Don’t make them wait! With today’s technology, we can reward our customers instantaneously.
Although you may not have heard of gamification before, you are most likely participating in a program based on these principles. A clear example of gamification is Starbucks rewards stars. They incentivize people to purchase drinks and snacks at Starbucks in order to earn more stars (form of Starbucks currency) and use this currency to receive “free” drinks . There are so many examples of rewards and benefit programs that offer similar features, that we as consumers come to expect these types of features when we frequently use a specific company.
However, there are also less overt examples of gamification being utilized. For example, LinkedIn uses gamification principles to encourage users to complete their profile. While creating your profile there is a bar on the side of the screen that represents your progress through a percentage. Ultimately you want to have completed 100%. Although LinkedIn is not offering you discounts, or monetary reward, they are creating a psychological reward in the form of having a completed profile. The progress bar that’s tracking what you’re doing acts as a way of incentivizing and encouraging the user to complete their profile.
One major positive that I love about this book is that it highlights relevant examples from today’s business world to clarify the point that Ellis and Brown are trying to make. It shows how Facebook, Airbnb, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram implement growth hacking techniques into their business. This adds credibility to the techniques and suggestions and makes for a more engaging read. If these practices are effective for Facebook and Twitter, I’m sure there is something worth taking note of for a startup with major aspirations.
The only negative is that I found Ellis and Brown to discuss certain aspects in too much detail. The breakdown and detailed analysis of what should be discussed at your next team meeting seemed to go into unnecessary detail. Sticking to the general ideas and relating them to current real-world examples would have been enough in my opinion.
Who should read this book?
Startups and tech companies, this book is for you! I say this because the strategies and ideas are targeted towards the types of products and services that you’re developing. The ideas are extremely relevant to startups because you learn that business growth can be achieved on a limited budget and simply throwing money into inefficient marketing campaigns can have dire consequences.