Growth hacking is the new marketing in the big data age

The term ‘growth hacker’ has recently gained popularity in Silicon Valley circles  with many people blogging about it online. It represents a shift from traditional marketing to a more empirical data-driven approach in the online business world.

Although I usually do strategy or digital transformation projects for bigger companies and rarely startups, i absolutely find the term growth hacker portraying how I try to realize growth for clients through market research, analytics, financial modeling, strategy development and implementation road maps. Using an empirical approach which I feel is often lacking in the advertising or creative space where ‘oh lets build a fun app’ can still be seen happening too often. It’s my previous experience in digital marketing and the necessary level of knowledge about SEO, analytics, usability, e-commerce, platforms and technology (also for a big part because of blogging) that help me to understand platform strategies and how big established companies can realize growth by designing or improving their digital initiatives.

“The rise of the Growth Hacker
The new job title of “Growth Hacker” is integrating itself into Silicon Valley’s culture, emphasizing that coding and technical chops are now an essential part of being a great marketer. 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.

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Using Excel like a pro: Keyboard shortcuts

There is this old story about junior bankers that they don’t get a mouse with their laptop during their first weeks, forcing them to learn all the Excel keyboard shortcuts. Whether this story is true or not, it might be a pretty good way for you remember all the shortcuts and speed up your Excel skills.

Here is an example of three keyboard shortcuts I often use in Excel. Especially the paste special > values shortcut is a useful one to know.

Head over to macabacus for the full list of useful Excel shortcuts. The website includes a pdf file with a list of the most important Excel shortcuts to have on hand. The website also includes some macros and custom tool bars, but they seem mainly aimed people working in finance making financial models. You are welcome to share macros and other Excel resources in the comments below.

Spss tutorial guide for students

This guide presents a full walk-trough tutorial from how to load your survey data into SPSS, to preparing the data, validity and reliability testing and finally theory testing with correlation and regression analysis. The guide is a collection of SPSS  instructions from the Research Seminar course at the VU university. Goodluck with your quantitative thesis or research!

How to get ThesisTools questionnaire data into SPSS

Thesistools is a free survey/questionnaire website that most of the Dutch students use to create their questionaires. Importing your Thesistools data into Spss can be done by following these steps.

1.       Go to the ThesisTools website > Modify Questionnaire. Login, click ‘Results’ and download the data as an Excel file.

2.       Open the Excel file (if you get a warning, just click ‘Yes’) . Delete the Page, Title and Legend rows. Continue reading

The five levels of delegation for managers

As we get closer to the end of the academic year many of the master students prepare for the next big step in their life. Meanwhile the recruitment frenzy has begun with companies searching for talents and students looking for traineeships. With this next step in mind it would be a good idea to learn from the experience of other starters. One interesting story I came across was that of the five levels of delegation on Michael Hyatt’s blog. This is an important concept to understand when tasks are delegated to you by project managers or when you find yourself in a management position.

As a leader, whenever you delegate a task, you need to make it clear what level of authority you are conferring to others:

  • Level 1: Do exactly what I have asked you to do. Don’t deviate from myinstructions. I have already researched the options and determined what I want you to do.
  • Level 2: Research the topic and report back. We will discuss it, and then I will make the decision and tell you what I want you to do.

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Managing M&A experience and potential synergies pre-formation

For our MBA course on Alliances, Mergers and Networks we held 12 interviews (of which I did 2) with M&A managers, M&A consultants and founders of acquired firms. This resulted in 6 papers focused on the pre-formation process of acquisitions. My paper looks at the acquisition experience in the pre-formation process and combines theory with methods found during the interviews which experienced firms use to leverage their acquisition experience.  Acquisition experience in the pre-formation process is found to have a positive influence on potential synergy realization and is moderated by target similarity. Based on the 12 interviews a management matrix is developed that can be used to by managers to reap the benefits of acquisition experience.

I really enjoyed the process of the research as preparation for the final master thesis. The field of M&A presented to be a fascinating world! Enjoy the read or skip to the management matrix to find how you can best manage acquisition experience in the pre-formation given your level of current acquisition experience. Continue reading

Leveraging Social Media with mashups and website integration

Social media icons on the frontpage of a brand’s website are often an indication of the level of social media integration within the company. While this seems like a small step many brand haven’t even reached this point, where social media is an integrated part of their online strategy. The next step for these brands is to fully leverage social media by integrating it as part of their website.

Brands should start to use social mashups to leverage social media beyond just participating in conversations on external social networks. Integrating conversation mashups surrounding a brand on the website  can create trust like reviews do for products. Mashups can bring the conversation to the website and give fans a voice or stimulate them to participate in the conversation. Creative campaign types of mashups -that are useful for the customers- can also function to increase traffic. Continue reading