Sean Ellis coined the phrase Growth Hacker in a blog post back in 2010. Prior to this, there was no real definition or description of the kind of people best-suited to being part of a successful start-up “before the early growth phase”.This term has works well to describe particular roles in the fast-evolving tech sector - particularly ambitious firms in Silicon Valley, where they need rapid growth in order to attract investment.What’s different about a Growth Hacker?They are instinctive, fast moving and looking for quick wins. From the point of view of a Growth Hacker, traditional marketers simply don’t have the required skills or mentality to ‘hack it’ in this area. Do they have a point? Maybe, but if they do, it’s limited and only extends to certain environments – like the aforementioned Silicon Valley.Why wouldn’t you use a Growth Hacker?As dynamic as it can be, it’s not necessarily a short cut to success for every business. The enthusiasm for rapid success can often be out of kilter with tried and tested best practice. If something has been done before and is proven to get results, then don’t ignore it just because it isn’t bright shiny and new.What’s this got to do with Conversion Rate Optimisation?Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is still pretty new on the scene, however it fits more comfortably in the marketers’ toolkit, as opposed to the Growth Hackers’. On the one hand, CRO provides an opportunity to uncover significant opportunities for improving business performance pretty quickly. On the flip side, the principles that are adhered to within the field of CRO are rigorous and take effort:

  • Spend time understanding your audience
  • Develop robust testing hypotheses
  • Run A/B tests against a control wherever you can
  • Make sure your sample sizes are statistically significant
The final plus point for CRO: These are tried and tested marketing principles that will work in a vast number of businesses, across a wide variety of sectors, at most stages of their lifecycle.To round this up, a great quote from Bryan Eisenberg when he spoke at Conversion XL 2015:

“CRO isn’t about short term growth hacking, but rather it is a focus on the customer and gaining an understanding of how your customer will evolve over the next 5/10 years.”