Here's a listing of the 10 growth hackers with the most impressive track records - people who have found success time and again in different industries and with different companies.
And more importantly for our purposes, these 10 growth hackers are the most active. These are the guys who continue to write, podcast, consult and speak to help other businesses find the same success they have.
These are also the growth hackers who are the most responsive to intelligent, well-formulated and professional outreach - if you play your cards right they'll answer a question. And with their knowledge, that answer might just change the way you run your business.
I've also included their elevator pitch, expertise (so you know what they know), a valuable quote and link my favorite piece of growth hacking content from each growth hacking thought leader.
Check out the top 10 active growth hackers...
1. Sean Ellis - growthhackers.com
Sean Ellis is CEO at GrowthHackers.com. He previously CEO at Qualaroo and key early growth/marketing exec at Dropbox, Eventbrite, Lookout, LogMeIn (IPO), and Uproar (IPO).
Look to Sean if you're searching for a well-rounded growth hacking and marketing guy. In particular, he has a lot to say about how marketers can start growth hacking. I'd also recommend Sean's Twitter as his shares are some of the most genuinely valuable out there. It really feels like he puts time into sharing quality content, rather than just sharing titles or the content of friends.
"Once product market fit [is] validated, I would dig deeply to understand why early users consider it a "must have." I'd ask things like "what is the main benefit you get from the product, why is that benefit important to you, what would you use if the product weren't available?" I would then try to develop a relevant/appealing promise statement based on the must have benefit. From there I would start optimizing an onboarding flow. This may require me to spend some money on Google Adwords to generate enough user flow in the short term. I wouldn't obsess on my ROI from that spend, as the goal is to generate enough traffic to quickly optimize conversions - not to scale marketing. Finally, once I had product/market fit and effective onboarding/sales process, I would start testing customer acquisition channels."
What to Read:
2. Noah Kagan - sumome.com
Noah Kagan is "Chief Sumo" at SumoMe.com. He was previously at Intel, Noah was also #30 in at Facebook and #4 in at Mint. He's now a growth consultant and lifehacker.
Noah uses his blog at OkDork in a different way than many of the other growth hackers and marketers on this list. You'll find book reviews, Seth Godin-esque musings and (arguably most valuably for startup and growth hackers) some of the best resource-posts out there. He also has some incredibly engaged comment sections where he's an active participant. Check it out.
"I want to collaborate with the WISDOM of DORKS! That's you, btw. I'm going to share my fav tools [...]:
- SumoMe - Best way to grow a website. Install it.
- Buffer - Easy way to add new things to share to all my social media
- Quibb - Exclusive network to find great articles about all things business and technology related.
- BuiltWith - See what tools, hosts and more every site is using
- SocialAnalytics - See how many social shares an article has gotten
- Colorzilla - Makes it able to copy any specific color from a screen
- SimilarWeb - See the popularity of a website, where it gets its traffic from and more"
What to Read:
The most comprehensive guide to staying organized I've ever read is Noah's "My Organization System." For any growth hackers out there in need of a bit of structure, it's well worth a read.
3. Nir Eyal - nirandfar.com
Nir Eyal is the author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products and has taught at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Design School. Since 2003 he's sold two technology companies and now helps teams design more engaging products.
Nir is an expert in "behavioral design" - a topic which encompasses user experience, behavioral economics, and a dash of neuroscience. His articles and thought-leadership for growth center around understanding your prospective customers and designing products and marketing strategies based on that understanding.
"Every start-up hoping to be a big business someday needs growth, engagement, and market potential. All three are necessary but not sufficient. For example, a high-growth startup with poor user engagement is a leaky bucket. Meanwhile, a product with high user engagement but with limited market potential will get stuck serving too small a niche to get big. And finally, a company serving a huge potential market but with no way to capture the opportunity by growing and engaging customers, is just a team in waiting."
What to Read:
An excellent guide to implementing Nir's "hook" strategy is his article "4 Ways to Use Psychology to Win Your Competition's Customers."
4. Lincoln Murphy - sixteenventures.com
Since 2006, Lincoln Murphy has helped 400+ SaaS companies accelerate their growth by optimizing the Customer Lifecycle, from customer acquisition to retention to account expansion and advocacy.
As his elevator pitch states clearly, Lincoln is all about the customer lifecycle. His articles on onboarding, user experience, driving loyalty and mitigating churn are the best out there.
"The first in-app experience your customer has with your product sets the tone for your relationship, and if it's confusing, overwhelming, or otherwise puts up barriers to achieving success (or at least recognizing the value potential in your product), you're in trouble.
As I say all the time, the seeds of churn are planted early, and those seeds are planted deep if your onboarding experience for new customers or your prospects during a free trial is terrible.
[...]Regardless of whether it's a high-touch or low-touch scenario, 100% of the time, the problem is that the SaaS vendor either doesn't know what the customer or prospect's desired outcome is... or forgot that solving for that is the most important thing."
What to Read:
Lincoln's article "The Secret to Successful Customer Onboarding" is an excellent place to start if you're looking to understand his growth philosophy.
5. Karol Pokojowczyk - colibri.io
Karol is CEO and founder of Colibri, a social media and growth-tool in San Francisco. With more than 20 years of coding and 12 years of growth hacking experience, Karol brings software development to business growth more than any other growth hacker.
Karol's is another great all-rounder. He isn't picky about growth strategies and is a proponent of anything which works to grow a business. That said, a lot of his content does have that "dev" flavor for growth. But there's nothing wrong with that.
You can conduct A/B tests on almost everything. Testing layouts for your landing page, logos, content, headlines and every other part of your online presence. It is indeed a very important part of growth hacking. Although it seems harmless or even effortless, it takes your time and resources. Choose wisely and always give it time to make sure the conclusions are valid. Don't get easily discouraged. Majority of the tests usually end with no success but this is how you gain expertise and experience."
What to Read:
One of the best resources I've found to introduce marketers to growth hacking is Karol's "Growth Hacking Tips - Improving Your Sales Funnel." It does an awesome job of communicating complicated ideas succinctly and well.
6. Andrew Chen - andrewchen.co
Andrew Chen works at Uber on their Growth team. He is an advisor/investor for tech startups including AngelList, Barkbox, Dropbox, Tinder, Wanelo, and Gusto.
Previously, he was an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Mohr Davidow Ventures, a Silicon Valley-based firm with $2B under management.
He's the real deal.
Andrew is a Silicon Valley-focused growth hacker so he's all about building and growing startups. His content revolves around taking something small and with limited budget and making it explode. He doesn't play favorites though. He knows and champions anything that works - from social networks to advertising, online games and more.
"Growth hackers are a hybrid of marketer and coder, one who looks at the traditional question of "How do I get customers for my product?" and answers with A/B tests, landing pages, viral factor, email deliverability, and Open Graph. On top of this, they layer the discipline of direct marketing, with its emphasis on quantitative measurement, scenario modeling via spreadsheets, and a lot of database queries. If a startup is pre-product/market fit, growth hackers can make sure virality is embedded at the core of a product. After product/market fit, they can help run up the score on what's already working."
What to Read:
One of the first, and most formative, articles on growth hacking is Andrew's "Growth Hacker is the new VP Marketing." It's well worth a read if you're looking for the difference between a growth hacker and a marketer, and the AirBNB case study only makes the definition clearer.
7. Sujan Patel - sujanpatel.com
Sujan Patel is the co-founder of Web Profits, a growth marketing agency helping companies leverage the latest and greatest marketing strategy to fuel their businesses. Sujan has over 13 years of internet marketing experience and has led the digital marketing strategy for companies like SalesForce, Mint, Intuit and many other Fortune 500-caliber companies.
Sujan is big on relationships. He has some great thoughts on influencer marketing alongside an impressive breadth of growth hacking know-how.
"One of the biggest reasons businesses struggle with growth is that they get caught up in "glimmer."
[Imagine] You're standing at the wheel of a ship out at sea with nothing but an expanse of ocean all around you. Desperate to reach a destination, any destination, you spot a glimmer from land far off in the distance.
So you spin the wheel around, and everyone gets excited.
Not long after that, you (or someone on your crew) spots a glimmer in another direction - maybe it looks closer. Looking between the two, you agree it looks more attainable, so you give the wheel another spin and head that way.
Businesses repeat this process a lot. Trying to jump from one thing to the next in the hopes of gaining ground never really gets you anywhere."
What to Read:
Sujan's article "Why Your Company Isn't Growing (And The Key to Finding Sustainable Growth)" is a good example of his style: it's long form and comprehensive as any other thought-leader. But more than that - and here's what I like most - he's extremely confident. His content reads like a definitive guide. Do this. Don't do that. It's refreshing and appealing to new businesses looking for concrete guidance.
8. Hiten Shah - hitenism.com
Hiten Shah is an entrepreneur and startup advisor. He is the cofounder and president of the analytics companies KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg.
Hiten is a SaaS marketer to his core. He's a quiet marketer (at least compared to his colorful business partner Neil Patel) who casually and confidently goes about building multi-million dollar companies from nothing. His expertise is wide, but his writings focus most frequently on brand building and taking a startup from garage to success.
"In the early days building a brand means that you start getting direct, unattributed visitors coming to your site. These are people who are visiting your site for no reason other than that you've carved out a little piece of their brains. They had a thought, and that triggered them to make a beeline to your site.
In the long term, this means that your brand spreads. Because you have space in people's heads, people are thinking about you, and that means they'll talk about you and tell their friends.
That's why building your brand is so important. It's what gets you off the treadmill of "doing things that don't scale" and gets you toward real growth.
To build your brand from nothing, you need two things: novelty and repetition..."
What to Read:
Hiten's recent article "Copycat Your Competitors to Take the Market is a good example of his style of writing and his strategies for growth. In the article he analyzes the strategies behind a real-world business maneuver, discusses the strengths of the strategy and then (in a selfless and super valuable maneuver himself) offers relevant content on the subject from other, well-respected thought-leaders.
9. Neil Patel - neilpatel.com
Neil Patel is the co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar and KISSmetrics. He helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom grow their revenue. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, Forbes says he's one of the top 10 online marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies in the world.
Neil Patel has written with authority on every growth hacking-related subject, and doesn't seem to know the word "sleep." Check out his hugely valuable content on SEO, CRO, advertising, content marketing and more.
His content often features case studies, well-analyzed data and transparency. Everything he writes is backed up impressively.
Neil is also the master of pushing the limits on site optimization. I often go to NeilPatel.com just to see what's new in digital monetization.
"Every decision that a growth hacker makes is informed by growth. Every strategy, every tactic, and every initiative, is attempted in the hopes of growing. Growth is the sun that a growth hacker revolves around. Of course, traditional marketers care about growth too, but not to the same extent. Remember, the power of a growth hacker is in their obsessive focus on a singular goal. By ignoring almost everything, they can achieve the one task that matters most early on."
What to Read:
Neil's "The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking is just one example of the value he gives his readers and fans. It's an enviable example of interlinked, high SEO, 10x content.
10. Brian Dean - backlinko.com
Brian Dean is an internationally-recognized entrepreneur and SEO expert.
Brian specializes in providing marketing professionals and entrepreneurs practical strategies they can use to get more search engine traffic.
Brian Dean is the SEO guru we've been waiting for. His content revolves around a few central strategies for traffic growth through SEO and each of them is comprehensively broken down with screenshots, step-by-step walkthroughs, tool recommendations and case studies.
He's also impressively active on his somewhat ridiculous article comments (about 900 comments on average). Check out his content and feel free to ask a question. He'll get back to you.
Oh, and his strategies work. Seriously work.
"Here are the 3-steps that make up The Skyscraper Technique:
- Step 1: Find link-worthy content
- Step 2: Make something even better
- Step 3: Reach out to the right people
Here's why this technique works so well (and what it has to do with a skyscraper):
Have you ever walked by a really tall building and said to yourself:
"Wow, that's amazing! I wonder how big the 8th tallest building in the world is."
Of course not.
It's human nature to be attracted to the best.
And what you're doing here is finding the tallest "skyscraper" in your space...and slapping 20 stories to the top of it.
All of a sudden YOU have the content that everyone wants to talk about (and link to)."
What to Read:
Brian's article, "Link Building Case Study: How I Increased My Search Traffic by 110% in 14 Days" is a good place to start with his content. It gives a good all-around idea of how his strategies work and the results you can get with them. And, in true Brian Dean style, there's a complete step-by-step walkthrough as well.