Growth hacking is not for everyone


Data-driven marketing reminds me of the Brothers Grimm story Hansel and Gretel. Instead of building the breadcrumb trail, you follow the small crumbs your website visitors leave behind and try to understand how they behave.

Where does that said trail lead you? Home? To the house of a cannibal who wants to stuff you with raw information just so she can roast you after?

I chatted with an ex-colleague who's worked in the marketing industry for over a decade. He had always considered himself a creative marketer and a storyteller. Today he is a growth marketer, and the creative spark is gone.

On an average workday, he would spend a lot of time manually importing information from different data sources to a spreadsheet and presenting that information to stakeholders.

I thought about telling him how he could use tools like Zapier to automate the data flow but instead opted to keep my mouth shut.

Looking back, I don't think his problem was technology, and while tools like Zapier have their use, they also complicate your tech stack.

My ex-colleague was following the data breadcrumb trail, and I could see he didn't enjoy it.

Data and creativity

I'm not arguing that data and creativity can't co-exist. I'm just saying they have a complex relationship, which is why all marketers should not become growth hackers.

I've seen how creatives have tried to jump the data-driven marketing train and failed because they focused on hacking the short-term metrics - clicks, views, likes, conversions - instead of understanding the bigger picture that drives businesses to succeed.

In the classic blog post Growth hacking is bullshit, Ben Mcdermond writes how “too often in addressing growth, actual problems are substituted with easily measurable problems.“

If you're not good with numbers, it's easy to fall for the “easily measurable” short-term metrics and try understanding growth with clicks and signups, which doesn't tell you how people feel about your brand and product.

Siloed data is another issue: product people look at product metrics, UX people look at UX metrics, marketing people look at marketing, and so on.

Short-term metrics primarily focus on people who convert. But what about the ones who don't sign up? Where was the friction? Why didn't they convert?

Data needs creativity and the ability to look past the numbers. Not every marketer should become a growth expert, but they should work closely with people who understand growth.

You can look at the numbers and metrics all you want, but the data still needs some human touch or poetry. David J Carr writes:

“But we should not be data-driven. Data needs poetry. Instead, we should be data-inspired, and know where the inspiration is coming from and what it is based upon. This way we can use data as an essential springboard to becoming ‘whole puzzle thinkers’ that look beyond the obvious.“

Data-driven or insight-led?

If you look at marketing-related job openings, you will see that some companies have absurd expectations. You have to be a graphic designer, a copywriter, a strategist, a growth hacker, and an SEO guru, all at the same time. If you're a professional photographer and can build animations with After Effects, this is also a plus.

I know many people, myself included, who have tried to be a jack-of-all-trades in marketing. I, for example, worked as a WordPress developer but eventually gave up when things got too complex for my skills.

I've been in the industry for +10 years, and I've never identified myself as a growth hacker. I'm a marketer and a storyteller, and that's good enough for me.

I joined Volument a year ago because, like my co-founder Tero, I thought web analytics was fundamentally flawed.

Web analytics should be more accessible to every website and business owner. Data should make sense to people even without a degree in data science.

This is why we are building insight-led web analytics. We look at your data, find meaningful moments and tell you what works and what doesn't.

We're also bringing new team features to web analytics, which help you dust off any data siloes: share insights, discuss, and build data-driven stories with anyone working on your website.

Don't worry if you're not a growth expert or a data-driven growth marketer. You can be insight-led and focus on building brands people love in a privacy-friendly way.

Join our waitlist and get ready for some insights.

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