DEV Community

Eduard Klein
Eduard Klein

Posted on

How to transform from developer to growth hacker

In his wildly famous article from 2012, Andrew Chen shed light on the importance of coding and developing skills to become a great marketer. He defined a growth hacker as a marketer and coder in one.

What Chen explained nearly a decade ago has today become a revolution in the business world. Growth hacking is among the hottest skillsets and a highly desired profile in aspiring startups and big enterprises alike.

So, if you’re wondering how you can transition from a developer to a successful growth hacker, this blog has the entire roadmap chalked out for you.

What is growth hacking?

Growth hacking is a complete spectrum of strategies and techniques aimed at rapidly enhancing a company’s growth. The concept focuses on using tried-and-tested methods at a lower cost to acquire new clients and quickly retain existing ones.

The growth hacking model is rooted in innovation and experimentation.

Take LinkedIn’s growth hack as an example. The platform acquired its first few users, gained significant traction, and established itself as a networking website through:

  1. Localized targeting: focused on the Silicon Valley professionals.

  2. Double viral loop: only successful people invited first and spread the word.

  3. Email marketing: used contact importing to reach new audiences.

  4. Delayed monetization: waited over a year to launch revenue streams (jobs, ads, and subscriptions).

LinkedIn’s story shows the impact a growth hacker can have in accelerating a company’s success. So, if you’re looking to replicate LinkedIn’s success story as your growth hacking skills, then here’s everything you need to know.

Does a growth hacker need coding skills?

TL; DR version—yes, a growth hacker needs coding skills to experiment, test, and create a better product/market fit.

A growth hacker essentially combines the two diverse skills of marketing and coding. The role demands extensive data analysis and experimentation, product iterations and testing, marketing automation, and optimization.

For startups with limited resources, an individual who can potentially perform all these responsibilities is a catch.

Marketing and Engineering

As a developer, you can use your coding skills primarily for:

  1. Analyzing data to understand the trends and measure key metrics.

  2. Automating workflows and mundane processes to minimize manual effort.

  3. Testing and iterating the product itself to make it a better market fit.

How to transform from developer to growth hacker

Understand the skills you need

The best place to start your transition from a developer to a growth hacker is to acquire the desired skill set.

Growth hacking is a blend of marketing, testing, and metrics. A growth hacker experiments and builds AB tests to evaluate these experiments to drive traction and conversion.

Growth hacking skills

Source: growwithward.com

You have to be a T-shaped marketer and possess multifaceted expertise to secure the best results for your efforts. With the balanced knowledge of all these domains, you can even outsource some work to freelancers and monitor their progress.

T-Shaped Marketer

Source: growwithward.com

Build landing pages

A landing page focuses on a single goal to take advantage of all the traffic you fetch. This goal can be getting more sign-ups, securing more subscribers, or increasing sales for a discount offer.

As a growth hacker, you have to build and optimize landing pages to secure leads and drive the conversion rate. Here’s how you can do that:

Capture the user’s search data and add elements of personalization

Create a compelling copy—learn from Groove’s customer-centric strategy.

  • Use a strong and unique call to action.

  • Add social proof to increase conversions.

Build websites

A website is the face of any company. Businesses can direct all traffic to and increase sales through an optimized website. This is where a growth hacker brings their expertise. From placing the content to deciding the CTAs for every button, you are responsible for converting a website into a sales magnet!

Design and understand colors, fonts, and branding

Another key must-have for a growth hacker is—good design sense. When 92% of users make their shopping decisions influenced by color, you can see the importance of branding details in marketing a brand. Understand the brand’s visual appeal and voice to create the best growth hacking campaigns.

Run ads on channels like AdWords, Facebook, and LinkedIn

A huge part of growth hacking success comes through lucrative ads. Learn the art of making persuasive ad copies alongside the technicalities of measuring the results. Ads work best in the awareness and interest stage of the buyer’s journey.

Basic HTML and CSS

To achieve the perfect product-market fit, a growth hacker has to work with the development team and make changes in the product itself. As a developer, you should be proficient in HTML and CSS to understand the product’s backend and suggest changes in the code.

Implement tracking tools like Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics, and Hotjar

When you have a vast pool of data at your fingertips, it’s important to learn how to leverage it. Use an analytics tool to track user behavior, segment them into multiple categories, analyze their actions, and use your analysis to make decisions.

Tools like Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics, and Hotjar allow you to monitor your leads and clients in every stage of the funnel.

More technical skills

A growth hacking role combines your creative and technical expertise. Along with the skills mentioned above, you have to learn many other concepts to secure better results. Here are a few techniques you should master:

  • Conversion rate optimization

  • Web scraping

  • A/B testing

  • Excel modeling

  • Artificial intelligence

Learn digital marketing

Growth hacking works on the same foundational principles as digital marketing—creative experimentation and analysis.

In a startup, growth hacking forms a subset of digital marketing. However, in a bigger organization, growth hacking and digital marketing form two independent domains. However, the underlying principles of both concepts remain the same.

Digital marketing skills

Source: growthtribe.io

So, your knowledge of digital marketing plays a pivotal role in your success as a growth hacker.

Find some online courses and learning platforms, learn the basics of digital marketing and hone your digital intelligence. Here are some crucial domains you should cover:

  1. Search engine optimization

  2. Email and social media marketing

  3. Pay-per-click advertising

  4. Data analysis

Have a growth hacking mindset

Aaron Ginn, famous for spreading the growth hacking movement in Silicon Valley, defined growth hacking as a mindset rather than a toolkit. The concept is essentially aimed at achieving rapid growth instead of chasing the long-drawn process of perfection.

Cultivating a growth hacking mindset is one of the best ways of ensuring your success as a growth hacker. If you’re wondering how, here are some tips.

1.Improvement is a constant: Keep striving for improvement—when you see little to no results and when you see great results.

  1. Curiosity trumps all challenges: Instead of being bogged down by the low success rate, seek answers to explain the same. Find solutions to do the same thing better.

  2. Defeat your assumptions: Innovation lies in out-of-the-box thinking. Challenge your assumptions and fuel your imagination to come up with innovative ideas.

Set up growth experiments

Jeff Bezos did not reinvent the wheel with Amazon—he just experimented with an inventive idea. Amazon’s phenomenal success only shows how experimentation may not always lead to invention, but it can certainly disrupt the present.

The essence of growth hacking lies in the same idea of experimentation. Beyond your skills as a developer, conduct these experiments to become a better growth hacker.

Essence of growth hacking

Source: rockboost.com

Create a blog and optimize it for SEO

There’s probably no better way to drive organic traffic and build authority for your website than ranking higher for the relevant keywords. So, build a strong SEO strategy to place yourself in the top search results and reach the right audience.

To get started, here's what a checklist:

  1. Choose the best web hosting service to create a well-optimized and cost-effective website.

  2. Define your target readers and understand their pain points.

  3. Create a blog section and plan your content.

  4. A detailed content marketing strategy will steer your content plans in the future.

Email marketing

Email marketing is one of the best ways to distribute content, engage with your audience, and convert them into new clients. Surveys suggest that marketers make $42 for every $1 they spend on email campaigns!

Set up your email subscription form and start building your mailing list. Segment your audience in terms of demographics, age, gender, and similar parameters to avoid running one-size-fits-all campaigns. You can also run A/B tests to optimize every email you share.

Make sales with LinkedIn

If growth starts with leads, then set up sales experiments on LinkedIn to increase the influx of leads.

Target your audience on LinkedIn using the advanced features available on Sales Navigator. Hit the bull’s eye in your outreach efforts and build relevant connections to increase inbound results.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Host online courses or webinars to build relationships with your clients before you start selling

Sales automation

Automate the mechanical workflows when you have to focus on generating and closing as many deals as possible. In fact, 61% of businesses with sales automation methods are known to exceed their revenue targets.

You can automate recurring sales tasks for:

  • Lead generation

  • Customer database

  • Forecasting

  • Personalization

  • Targeted outreach

Social media & YouTube marketing

Beyond email and blogs, you would also want to tap the massive potential of social media platforms.

You can use growth hacks and automation on Instagram—from strategically choosing the hashtags and creating an influencer marketing strategy to running ads and engaging with the right users, even on autopilot.

Besides, marketing on YouTube can also prove to be a growth goldmine for businesses. You can leverage YouTube with growth hacks like:

  • Video backlinks

  • Keywords in video titles

  • Embedding videos

  • Links in descriptions

  • Video collaborations

Analyze, learn, repeat

The ultimate lesson to complete your transition from a developer to a successful growth hacker is to keep track of what’s working best and then double down on it.

Not every growth hacker will be great at email marketing or excel in understanding buyer psychology. But your strength lies in the results and transformation you can help bring. So, experiment with as many processes and techniques as possible, measure the results, and make your own tried-and-tested strategy.

Growth hacking replaces gut feelings with data-driven decisions. So, build your hypotheses, test them, and make them stronger.

Conclusion

If you’re a developer with a hidden knack for marketing and creativity, then growth hacking is one of the best platforms to use your full potential. With a bit of coding, marketing, and analysis, growth hacking represents a multilayered spectrum of skills.

Use the five steps mentioned in this blog to start your transformation journey from a developer to a growth hacker.

Observe and explore the skills you need first. Acquaint yourself with digital marketing and create your growth experiments. And along the way, embrace a growth hacking mindset to focus your efforts in the right direction. Ultimately, you need to analyze all the methods you use and cash in on the ones that get you the best results.

Discussion (0)