Can Internet Growth Hacks Be A/B Tested?




  • by Michael Wight January 29, 2016
    January 29, 2016

    AB testing with peanut butter and jelly on two peices of bread


    Creating a checklist is good and one of the most followed ways for growth; however, reality suggests otherwise. When it comes to ‘Growth Hacking,’ this coined phrase has a different meaning for different products and companies. If your product is unique and new, you will employ a hack, also called a clever strategy. Other times, growth hacking can simply mean the better use of marketing strategies to deliver generous results. Between these two zones stands a gray area.


    So, the question is, “Can a growth hack be A/B tested?” The answer is a straight NO. A growth hack will remain what it really is – a hack. It cannot be A/B tested because A/B testing requires you to make comparison and to do that, you need to bound yourself to a set of two sequences of activities that should be distinctly linked and clearly stated. You have absolutely nothing to equate your hack against.


    One of the best examples of growth hacking comes from Airbnb. They used a hack by teaming up with Craigslist. Remember, Craigslist has tens of millions of users and Airbnb just united with the platform to facilitate users to share good experiences with their Airbnb listing. Their hack worked because it was germane and handy to the company.


    My personal opinion is that a more conventional, yet effective, example of growth hack comes from Dropbox. They introduced demonstration videos that were first used by Ycombinator. According to Dropbox, it was the file milestone achieved in their growth plan. It is pertinent to mention here that their private beta version of demo video got 75,000 new users immediately after being published on Digg.


    When it comes to LinkedIn, they counted on influential users. They started by seeding the product with tech savvy influencers, and that resulted in a cult-like following and inspiring brand. Quora is currently replicating this hack.


    Finally, in the B2B sector, Dudamobile employed a very effective growth hack by partnering with tech giants like Google, Yahoo, GoDaddy and others to get preliminary grip.


    So, to put it in simple words, you cannot compare your hack with anything else. It will either succeed or fail. However, you can use A/B test alternatives to check how you are doing and how you can improve it. Other companies can also learn from the examples discussed above and replicate them for their products; some would get great results while others may not.

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