Shutterstock / Everett Collection

Growth hacking. It’s a term that’s becoming more and more popular – especially in the start up and technology world. But, what exactly is it? Essentially, growth hacking is a new twist on digital marketing that is more applicable and more effective in today’s overwhelmingly digital age.

Growth hacking is basically a way that very small or brand-new companies use analytical tools to analyze who is using their product, and how, and then relentlessly pursue growth for their businesses.

The ultimate outcome of growth hacking is that your marketing work will get a lot of users, those users will spread word about your product or company to more users, those users will spread the word to more users, and so on.

So, where did growth hacking begin? Its origins are usually traced back to the small technology start up that began popping up in the early 2000s, when companies became less focused on creating an appealing brand or image to sell their company, but rather sought to spread its popularity by simply getting people talking about it and getting big numbers of users.

What’s ingenious about growth hackers’ work is that the tools to market and build the company are often built right into the programs or websites they’re developing so that once the product is created, the users do the work themselves – for instance, how Pinterest requires users to share the product with other prospective users before they can actually use the site.

Growth hackers often take any road to finding more customers, whether it’s clearly “legit” or not – for example, Airbnb hacking Craigslist to get email addresses of potential users.

Growth hacking is definitely the marketing tactic of the future, particularly when social media is everyone’s main source of news, entertainment and social interaction. Are you interested in learning more about what growth hacking is, how it works, what growth hackers are like, and how to become one or work with one? Then, check out the list below.

These 20 sites are great resources for anyone looking to grow their company virally or understand how other companies did.

General Growth Hacking Information

These sites contain some really helpful information about the basics of growth hacking: how it began, how it works, and how you might approach becoming a growth hacker or deciding to work with one.

1. How Growth Hacking Came To Be

This article about the origins of growth hacking, written by expert Aaron Ginn, explains the history of the digital marketing scheme and how it came into existence. Ginn’s story makes the emergence of growth hacking make sense in the context of the rise of social media and Internet marketing.

2. Sixteen Ventures

Successful growth hacker Lincoln Murphy has a blog that is full of useful tips about marketing your SAAS business. Yeah, he is technically the competition but he writes good posts and knows his stuff so we think its worth your while checking out his blog.

3. Startup Marketing

Sean Ellis, the brain behind Startup Marketing, is often considered the godfather of growth hacking; in fact, he coined the term. Startup Marketing contains useful marketing tips for any start up, and it separates all of its posts into categories, so you can check out marketing resources that are most applicable to your company without having to parse through every post.

4. Mashable – The 5 Phases of Growth Hacking

Mashable is a site with tons of diverse content. This page contains a useful guide to the different phases involved in growth hacking. It gives a clear outline so users can understand the basics behind creating a page or product and getting it to the viral stage.

5. The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking

The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking was written by Neil Patel, a digital marketing consultant and expert on growth hacking. Patel founded successful analytics companies KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg. The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking is a long, comprehensive examination of growth hacking, including information about the growth-hacking process, what growth hackers are like, and different tactics to get and retain users and members.

6. Defining a Growth Hacker

Ever wondered what makes a growth hacker different from a marketer or very enthusiastic start up employee? This page, written by expert Aaron Ginn, outlines many myths people believe about growth hackers – and then debunks them.

7. Growth Hacker Is the New VP Marketing

Andrew Chen is often credited with making the term growth hacker popular. In this article, Chen explains the place of growth hackers in a company and how they work within a business.

8. The 6 Best Growth Hacks to Get Customers Without Having to Pay for Them

Great analytics site KISSmetrics explains some easy growth hacks for companies. This site is a terrific basic start for anyone who wants to head down the road to virality.

9. Become a Growth Hacker

Are you interested in becoming a growth hacker? Then, check out this site that reviews Growth Hacker TV, a service that teaches growth hacking skills and provides instruction and interviews about growth-hacking techniques. This overview can help you decide what route you want to take to learn growth-hacking skills.

10. The Difference Between Growth Hacking and Marketing

Want to get a better understanding of how growth hacking actually differs from regular marketing schemes? Check out this article on It’s a clear list of how the strategies, staff and ultimate outcomes of hacking and marketing are different.

Real-World Growth Hackers And Growth Hacking Stories 

So, now you have a better understanding of how growth hacking works and how it came to be. But are you curious about how it works in the real world – and whether it really works? If so, check out these real-life growth-hacking stories. They are proof of the strategy’s success, when you get it right.

11. Meet the Growth Hacking Wizard Behind Facebook, Twitter and Quora’s Astonishing Success

This profile of Andy Johns in Forbes outlines how he helped successful sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Quora seemingly exploded in popularity overnight. It’s an inspiring story that can make you believe in the power of growth hacking.

12. Real Examples of Growth Hacking in Action includes stories of real-life growth-hacking success in this article about growth hacking in action. It has firsthand accounts from people like Josh Elman of Twitter and Aaron Ginn of StumbleUpon.

13. 5 Classic Examples of Growth Hacking

This page contains some more real-world, classic examples of how growth hacking works. It’s a great resource to understand how sites like Airbnb, YouTube and Hotmail got so popular so quickly.

14. 19 Growth Hacker Quotes

Want to hear more straight from the mouths of growth-hacking experts? This slideshow from SlideShare contains 19 quotes from growth hackers that give a little insight into their philosophies on marketing and expanding businesses.

15. BuzzFeed’s Brazen, Nutty, Growth Plan

BuzzFeed is one of the most popular sites on the Internet today. In this article, you can learn more about its nontraditional marketing tactics, and how it has developed a way to translate its pages within hours, making it a globally viral site.

Hiring A Growth Hacker 

Are you interested in hiring a growth hacker for your company? These links include information about what knowledge and qualities a growth hacker should have. They are also useful resources for developing a viral marketing strategy of your own.

16. How to Find a Growth Hacker

Want to find a growth hacker who can take over marketing your website? This article has some helpful information about where to look for experts and what qualifications they should have.

17. So, You Want to Hire a Growth Hacker?

If you’re looking to hire someone to manage your growth hacking, this article is a definite must-read. It outlines some very important, specific qualities growth hackers should have in order to attract the most customers and work well at a tech company.

18. Hire a Growth Hacker, Not a Marketer

This article out of the UK explains multiple reasons that a company hoping to go viral with a program or website should follow a growth hacking trajectory and not a traditional marketing strategy.

19. How to Hire a Growth Hacker

This step-by-step guide to hiring a growth hacker is written by Aaron Ginn, one of the world’s leading growth-hacking experts and the growth hacker behind companies like StumbleUpon.

Growth Hacking Products

20. Hacker Bundle

Lots of growth hacks are built into programs and sites, so that they work inherently as the product works. However, if you’re interested in growing your already-existing product virally, this hacker bundle includes a bunch of really useful marketing tools at a very affordable price.