Who / What Is A Growth Hacker?

A growth hacker is someone whose true focus is growth” – Sean Ellis

How does a growth hacker work?

Cross-functional between departments

If a classic marketer’s job mainly involves the marketing department, then a growth hacker works more cross-functionally across the organization and covers a wider part of the marketing funnel. With that said, a growth hacker often involves other departments such as marketing, sales, IT, operations and product development, and even management level as well. This is because growth hackers should be able to understand and navigate across departments to improve the marketing funnel. If it turns out that a bottleneck for growth exists in a website’s conversion rate, then it’s the growth hackers job to inform the developers that they might need to rebuild the website. Essentially, you do not change the market to suit the product, you adapt the product to suit the market.

Measure, test, track, scale-up

During a growth hacking process, all experiments must be measurable and all strategic decisions are made based on data collected from these experiments.


A growth hacker is someone who has thrown out the playbook of traditional marketing and replaced it with only what is testable, trackable, and scalable. Their tools are e-mails, pay-per-click ads, blogs, and platform APIs instead of commercials, publicity, and money” – Ryan Holiday, author to the book “Growth Hacker Marketing”

Who is a growth hacker?

Often someone with technical background

Surprisingly, growth hackers usually do not come from a traditional marketing background but more from a technical background, which is needed to understand today’s technology-oriented products and services. It is also crucial for a growth hacker to be interested in data-driven analysis and the plethora of tools that are helpful for a modern marketer.


Regardless of whether they used to be an engineer, behavioral scientist, or marketer, the strength of a growth hacker often lies in the fact that they are equipped with a so-called T-shaped skillset. The T-shaped skillset (often used at Swedish universities to describe the engineering specialization of Industrial Economics) looks like the following:

By having basic knowledge in all areas, a growth hacker will go a long way, or at least know what they need to order from a specialist. Additionally, by Pareto’s law, the so-called 80/20 rule is a central essence of being a growth hacker. Growth hackers should then always have one or a couple of specialist areas that they are absolutely proficient in, such as in marketing, programming, UX or design, but still fully adequate in other areas as well.


More specifically, a growth hacker has a unique combination of marketing skills, technical expertise, a penchant for numbers, and curiosity to understand the underlying causes of events. A growth hacker are often described as follows:

  • Someone with a broad skillset
  • Often an engineer, or somewhat of an engineer
  • Always curious
  • Technically competent
  • Interested in human psychology
  • A good communicator
  • Business-minded
  • A doer – with an 80/20 attitude
  • Besatt av att förbättra saker
  • Obsessed with improving things
  • Detailed
  • Data-obsessed
  • Creative
  • Excellent at prioritizing and take risks

Since the required skillset of a growth hacker is quite specific, it’s truly rare for someone to become a very competent growth hacker.

Further reading

Previous articles in the “Why you need to know about growth hacking” series.



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