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A growth hacker’s dictionary




We’re living in an era where digital newcomers can disrupt a whole sector in less than no time. A generation of companies like Uber and AirBnB has grown without doing the classical things traditional marketers are good at. Growth hacking is the marketing religion of this new generation of companies. And Sean Ellis is their prophet. 

There is a revolution taking place in the world of startup growth and I wanted to understand this phenomenon. And I want you to understand it too. I believe that people who capture this growth mindset will have a competitive advantage that is hard to overstate. And that is exactly what I experienced during my first weeks at The Growth Revolution – Belgium’s first growth hacking agency.

As Aaron Ginn puts it: ‘A growth hacker lives at the intersection of data, product and marketing. A growth hacker lives within the product team and has a technical vocabulary to implement what he or she wants. 

To help you get started and acquire the essential technical vocabulary, I’ve written down the ultimate growth hacker’s dictionary.



It all began with pirates. Pirate metrics is a helpful customer-lifecycle framework invented by super angel investor and entrepreneur Dave McClure. It will help you to focus on optimising your digital marketing strategy, marketing funnel & to make the most of your scarcest resource, namely your time. This framework has been celebrated and for good reason. But growth hackers wouldn’t be growth hackers if they didn’t find a shortcut to it. McClure’s acronym AAARRR stands for awareness, acquisition, activation, revenue, retention and referral.

Here’s why I prefer a simplified funnel as opposed to McClure’s version:

  1. It’s simpler, but doesn’t lose any of the organisational power or depth of insight.
  2. The words visitor, member and user refer to a person’s state at different parts of the funnel. 
  3. Referral (the first R in McClure’s framework) is really just another way of getting traffic or visitors.
  4. Revenue (the second R in McClure’s framework) is really just a kind of activation, it doesn’t need to be another step in the process.
  5. It will therefore help us think about activation tactics in reference to revenue more easily. 


A/B testing

Testing is the only way to know whether one marketing effort is better or worse than the other. Monitored experiments are the best way to get specific and measurable feedback on whatever you are doing. And that is where A/B split testing comes in. Growth hacking is about constantly renewing yourself and never-ending experimentation. In a way, we can therefore call A/B testing the sacred cow among growth hacking techniques. It is a process of comparing two versions of a web page to see which one performs better. The one that gives you a better conversion rate, wins!


Activation is when your passive visitor turns into an engaged user, placing them one step further in the growth hacking funnel. Activation is when they do something that you’ve decided beforehand that would contribute to your goals. Whether it involves buying a product, signing up for something, or leaving a comment.


AHA moment

This is the moment when your potential customer realises just how awesome your product is. This is the moment when you’re synchronising your Dropbox on your tablet and ‘pling’ your document is available. This is the moment Dropbox will ask you to upgrade to a premium account. As you’ve just discovered how awesome Dropbox actually is, you’ll be more likely to upgrade your account.



These are links on other websites that refer users back to your website. Backlinks are not only important to attract visitors, they are also very important for search engine optimisation (SEO, see below).



A call to action (CTA) is part of a persuasive message. It calls for a particular action to be taken, such as subscribing to a newsletter, downloading a white paper or buying a product. It often takes the form of a button, such as ‘give me more information’ or ‘contact us’.


Conversion rate

This is the percentage of your clicks that generate sales or leads. This number is given by dividing the number of sales/leads by the number of clicks you send to the offer. For example: if 100 clicks generated 100 visitors to your site, and they generate 5 sales/leads, then your conversion rate would be 20%.


Conversion rate optimisation

Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is simply the practice of optimising your website and landing pages to increase your conversion rate. This is often done by improving design, copy, the clarity of your value proposition and the overall user experience.



A fancy term for writing text that will appear in advertising or other forms of marketing. The product, called copy, is written content that aims to increase brand awareness and ultimately persuade a person or group to take a particular action.


Customer acquisition cost

This is the cost to convince a customer to buy a product or service. If you run a paid advertisement that costs €100 and results in 5 new customers, your customer acquisition cost (CAC) for that particular campaign would be €20. Obviously, it plays a major role in calculating the value of the customer to the company and the resulting return on investment (ROI).


Key performance indicator

A type of performance measurement. An enterprise’s strategy is translated into different long-term goals. These long-term goals are then translated into short term goals, which are more operational in nature. A key performance indicator (KPI) is used to monitor whether the performance of the company is in line with a set of (operational) objectives.


Landing page

Also known as a ‘lead capture page’ or a ‘lander’ or a ‘destination page’, is a single web page that appears in response to clicking on a search engine optimised search result or an online advertisement. Landing pages are used for lead generation.


Lead generation

Lead generation refers to finding out interests of potential customers. Over the past few years, companies have realised that they can sell by learning their prospects something. More and more money is therefore spent on white paper marketing. 


Lean marketing

Lean marketing is a method for developing businesses and products. Lean marketing takes an entirely different perspective on knowledge transfer. It is not the perspective of educating the customer, it is from the perspective of learning from the customer: understanding how your customer uses and benefits from your product or service.


Marketing automation

Marketing automation is a category of software that streamlines, automates, and measures marketing tasks and workflows. Obviously, the aim here is to increase operational efficiency and grow revenue faster.


Minimum viable product

This is an early prototype version of a product that determines whether that product is profitable. A minimum viable product (MVP) comes with as little effort as possible to learn as much from users as possible. Developers use an MVP especially to determine whether there is potential in it. By providing the product only with the necessary functions, the team can quickly determine whether the basis of their product is liked.


Referral marketing

Referral marketing is a method of promoting products or services to new customers through referrals, usually word of mouth. Such referrals often happen spontaneously, but businesses can influence this using appropriate strategies.



The holy grail of the SEA experts among us. The official definition by Google: ‘Remarketing can help you reach people who previously visited specific pages on your website while visiting other sites on the Google Display Network’. In concrete terms, this means that you are going to retarget people in Google’s Display Network who have already visited your page.


Search engine optimisation

Search engine optimisation (SEO) provides better visibility of web pages in organic search results. The score of a website in the search results depends mainly on two factors: authority and copywriting. Search engines measure that ‘authority’ based on the number of incoming links from other websites. The ranking in search engine results is thus largely dependent on the website performance. 


Search engine advertising

Search engine advertising (SEA) provides more website visitors through advertisements. With SEA, everything is about targeted campaigns. With the right search terms and the right budget, you can reach the right audience.


Tech stack

A combination of programming languages and software products used to create a web or mobile application. We know two software components: client-side and server-side (also known as front-end and back-end).



When it comes to the skills possessed by a growth hacker, they need to be shaped like a capital T. The flat horizontal part at the top of the T represents all the various skills and disciplines that a growth hacker needs to be familiar with. You need to know at least something about many different things. You need to know about viral marketing. You need to know about psychology. You need to know about all of it. But that’s not enough. You also need to have a few skills that create the vertical line of the T. These are the skills where you dominate. You are the expert in these areas. You go deep. If you can take any piece of the funnel and make it drastically more efficient then you have something to begin building your growth around. You need a few things that you’re awesome at to even have a chance at scaling.


The Growth Revolution mindset

No 200-paged marketing strategy in PDF, but hands-on solutions. Ask. Have a hypothesis. Make a prediction. Test. Analyse. Iterate. Just do it. Execution is key. Our process is a continuous cycle comprising four key steps: data analysis and insight gathering, idea generation, experiment prioritisation, and running the experiments. By continuing to move through this process, we compound wins big and small over time. Creating a virtuous cycle of continuously improving results. 


Traction is a sign that your company is taking off. It can mean that your website is getting traffic, users are converting, or customers are starting to buy. It is what every growth hacker is aiming for.


Traction channels

These are marketing and distribution channels through which your startup can get traction. Weinberg and Mares identified nineteen of them. Examples are content marketing, search engine marketing, affiliate programs, existing platforms, etc.


Viral loops

These days, your business isn’t getting anywhere without viral marketing, and especially not without using social media. Getting your customers to visit your site, feed off the information and then share it with their friends is key to growth hacking. The idea behind viral loops is that a company will have a core loop that is repeated so many times over different generations of users, that it causes a tailspin out into boundless popularity.


Web scraping

This is a technique employed to extract large amounts of data from websites whereby the data is extracted and saved to a file in a table (spreadsheet) format. No coding necessary.


Please reach out if you want us to inspire you and help you prepare for the new era of marketing. If you’re really into future marketing and everything that has to do with growth, you definitely have to check out our other blogposts. We got loads of cool insights and love to share our knowledge.

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Have fun growing your business!