How to Build your Growth Machine – Part 2: Hiring your Growth Team

Graph With Stacks Of Coins
Graph With Stacks Of Coins

Have you read How to Build your Growth Machine – Part 1: Introduction yet?

Hiring your Growth Team 

There are two crucial questions you should focus on when attacking the first “P”:

  • How do you hire, build, and structure a Growth team for your business?
  • What does the ideal Growth wizard’s resume look like, and what skills and personal qualities should they possess?

This section will guide you in assembling a team of Growth wizards who practice a philosophy of constant, unrelenting improvement, as well as a commitment to understanding why experiments succeed or fail.


8 Qualities of World Class Growth Hacking Teams 

1) Possess Data-Driven Thinking
Everyone on the Growth team respects and understands numbers. Analytics data, pivot tables, and user satisfaction surveys will always guide strategy and trump gut assumptions. Beyond a healthy respect for data, Growth Hackers are masters at identifying big and small trends and subsequently translating them into actionable insights.

2) Fast Learner of Dynamically Changing Marketing Channels and Growth Platforms
The Growth team had wide and deep understanding of rapidly moving paid and unpaid marketing channels in terms of what they do, how they work, and the opportunity each holds for the marketer’s specific company and industry. Knowledge of marketing is critical – understanding target markets and users, as well as the means of reaching them. SEO, search marketing, mobile, remarketing, social media, virality, analytics, email marketing, inbound marketing and software platforms for channel automation and experiments, are all within the Growth Hacker’s purview.

3) Understand Growth Process
The process by which growth occurs is one of constant testing and analysis. Tests and optimizations resulting in performance improvements lead to more tests and further brainstorming. Findings from tests are collected and systemized for incorporation into future experiments. Most importantly, test data is translated into real learnings about a company’s market, product, business, and industry. Growth Hackers know that tests are useless if the results don’t lead to better products, an improvement in ROI, and key insights into business operations.

4) Are Highly Product-Savvy
There are many tools in the Growth Hacker’s toolkit. Beyond a deep understanding of marketing channels and the networks that serve them, third-party products and tools are used to gain and maintain a competitive edge. Proficiency in the myriad product solutions for A/B and multivariate testing, user analytics, conversion rate optimization, competitive surveillance, on-site retention and user surveys provides added insight and achieves enhanced functionality for testing. Additional must-knows include: How to measure retention, churn, and cohort analyses.

5) Have a Hustle Mindset
Most important of all, Growth Hackers think differently. They think ‘outside of the box’, often eschewing common approaches and even best practices if they feel there’s a better way to do it. They practice process innovation by breaking problems down and solving them via a highly organized system of controlled experimentation. They foster a culture of growth – infecting others with the mindset of fiercely logical and creative thinking. These are personality traits on which the Growth Hacker places a premium, as they serve to facilitate the kind of smart and scrappy strategy, tactics, and actions that drive success in the highly competitive and complex world of digital marketing

6.) Possess a Cross-Disciplinary Skillset
Growth Hackers are able to apply their expertise of Growth platforms and products across multiple disciplines. Relying on a large group of people (each with specific expertise in a single, confined area) — who must collaborate in order to extract even the most basic insight from a test — is suboptimal. Growth Hackers have enough knowledge in each area to extract valuable insights without having to rely on the ‘specialist’ in a particular area to produce the information for them. For example, SEO person needs to understand SEM for cross-pollination opportunities. The Mixpanel analytics team member needs to understand product, competition, and channel-specific performance to draw actionable intelligence, and should be able to suggest cross-channel budget distribution based on the performance of a particular customer segment.

7.) Connect Marketing to Product Development
Although somewhat counter-intuitive to product developers, Growth Hackers believe that marketing insights should inform product development. Marketers typically don’t have input into the products they’re marketing, which can create the somewhat predictable possibility of building products that nobody wants. Growth Hackers value the more practical approach of using reliable market research to inform product evolution, ensuring development is in line with the wants and needs of the market it strives to serve.

8.) Possess Technical Acumen
Growth Hackers are competent in these seven core technical areas:

  • Statistics – While an absolute mastery isn’t required, understanding the basics in a few areas goes a long way toward effective data analysis. Confidence levels and significance inform A/B tests. Regression- and smoothing-based models inform growth patterns, etc. (Statistics and logical structuring are also musts for SQL insight mining.)
  • Programming – Growth Hackers know the basics of coding. A bit of knowledge goes a long way when it is time to make a small change to customize Optimizely or repair broken code on Google Analytics without having the time to wait forty-eight hours for a response from the developer. Being able to make small changes to code on the fly can save massive amounts of time and energy across teams and make the marketer independent in running rapid experiments.
  • Growth Analytics & Data Visualization –Growth Analytics is the Growth team’s command central. Analytics data serves as the foundation for marketing strategy, tactics, testing, and implementation of findings. While free tools like Google Analytics provide an enormous amount of information, there are many analytics solutions on the market, each providing unique features and benefits. A solid proficiency across multiple analytics solutions enables marketers to choose the right tool for the job. Data Visualization with Tableau is a gem of a skill for producing actionable intelligence and identifying trends. A ‘live’ dashboard that tracks real time data across each business unit allows for an early detection system, fast responses to threats and opportunities, and it also keeps the team goal focused.
  • Advanced Excel/Data Analysis: Advanced Excel Skills with Pivot tables, advanced formulas, macros and Data Analysis means knowing how to make a case with data. LTV vs CAC analysis, Churn & retention analyses, Cohort analyses, Financial Modeling, Virality and Viral math, Multichannel attribution, Attribution modeling (Programmatic vs. Rule based), and understanding attribution problems are all essential weapons in the Growth Hacker’s arsenal.
  • Database Querying / SQL – Not all information is contained in analytics software. It’s sometimes necessary to reach into internal databases for advanced insights. SQL allows marketers to query these databases to obtain information.
  • A/B & Multivariate Testing – Beyond understanding the value of testing, Growth Hackers know enough about this process (which tools to use, how to set them up) to create their own small tests without the need to reach out to developers and designers. They also know what to do with the data. After running tests in Optimizely or Google Website Optimizer, the findings are stored and incorporated into future experiments.
  • Web Scraping – Finally, Growth Hackers know how to find the data they need. Web scraping involves collecting and organizing large amounts data from multiple sources around the web via tools like and Excel. It’s an extremely powerful hack for marketers who want to increase their lead list, make informed decisions about content creation, and follow their competition more effectively.

Consider these questions for your organization:

  • Given your Growth plan, what are your own strengths and weaknesses around the first ‘P’?
  • How would you go about customizing this profile to your company’s unique needs? What would you add or take out?

You want to learn more about managing company blogs? Samir will be speaking at the HEUREKA Conference on 5 May 2015 in Berlin.