"Growth hacking" is an ideal that’s either incredibly inspiring or absolutely maddening for marketing professionals.
It often suggests of a shortcut, quick fix, or "low-hanging fruit" that if leveraged, will inspire the kind of hockey stick growth companies dream about.
In actuality, the term was born out of an approach made easier by technology that involved cross functional teams building, testing, and iterating acquisition initatives at a rapid tempo. An approach brought to the mainstream by companies like Facebook, Dropbox, Pinterest, Airbnb, and others.
When it comes to the approach, Airbnb holds the distinction for one of the earliest, and most talked about, “growth hacks.”
Around 2010, Airbnb implemented a now famous integration with Craigslist, wherein Airbnb users could syndicate their listings to Craigslist, piggybacking off of the incumbent website's already massive user base, even though there was no sanctioned way from Craigslist to do so.
This was huge for Airbnb, an app still vying for sustainable user growth at the time.
But high-growth companies doesn’t sustain off the back of one initiative like this.
Airbnb has grown successful not only due to its great product, but also from its recurrent approach to experimentation, born out of tests like the aforementioned Craigslist integration.
I got the chance to sit down with Lindsay Pettingill, a data scientist at Airbnb, for an episode of Louder Than Words to learn more about the culture of experimentation at Airbnb and how other people can transpose those ideas at their own companies.