To improve their growth rates, some up-and-coming companies are turning to a pursuit known as growth hacking. Growth hacking brings together the ideas of hacking big data and driving business growth. By one common definition, growth hacking is a process that drives rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most effective, efficient ways to grow a business.
Growth hacking often leverages customer data in the experimentation process, in the form of A/B testing. The goal is to use big data to gain a better understand of the customer, via a complete view across every touch point of the organization, in order to enable an optimal customer experience. Growth hackers—who can be anyone from marketing professionals to product manager and engineers—are seeking insights to help optimize marketing campaigns across channels, increase customer loyalty and retention, and enhance the customer experience.
While it is a fairly new pursuit, growth hacking already has a lot of momentum. This momentum is apparent in a Google trends analysis, which shows growing interest in growth hacking and declining interest in marketing:
Although they don’t necessarily use the term, many tech-savvy organizations are actively using the techniques of growth hacking to capitalize on cross-channel data and drive business growth.
Here are a few examples:
- Online matchmaker eHarmony offers a better customer experience through smarter recommendations. This enhanced experience is enabled by a Hadoop-based analytics platform running a recommendation engine that generates compatibility matches. Case study[Office1]
- Caesars Entertainment uses a Hadoop-based big data environment to increase customer loyalty and retention by connecting and optimizing the customer experience across its venues. Case study
- Yellow Pages, which connects millions of businesses to their prospects and customers, is using a Hadoop-based big data solution for campaign optimization. Webinar
As these examples show, the requirements for capitalizing on multi-channel customer data begin with a data lake that brings together structured, unstructured, and semi-structured data for analysis. Hadoop is ideally suited for this role. An enterprise data hub (EDH) based on Hadoop provides a centralized platform for organizations that want to consolidate data to create the 360-degree customer profiles that are key to growth hacking.
The EDH also enables the growth hacker to analyze data and derive insights that can be put into production. Growth hackers strive to constantly learn and quickly deploy new use cases in order to growth hack, and an EDH provides this flexibility without requiring additional significant purchases. With this versatility, an EDH based on Hadoop is like a Swiss army knife—a single tool that meets multiple requirements.
Another important consideration is security. While growth hacking provides massive opportunities, it also introduces massive business risks. These risks are inherent when many people within the organization are accessing and interacting with sensitive customer data.
The security risks point to the need for good governance backed by data encryption and role-based access controls to meet compliance regulations— so that people can access only the data they need to see for the work they do. If you don’t have these safeguards in place and a breach happens, the costs can be extremely high—not only costly from a monetary perspective but also from a customer-trust perspective.
Companies that fail to protect the privacy of customer data often pay extremely high prices for their breaches. The average cost paid for each lost or stolen record containing sensitive and confidential information hit $154 in 2015, up 6 percent from the previous year, according to the Ponemon Institute’s 2015 Cost of Data Breach Study. The average total cost of a data breach for the companies in the Ponemon study was $3.79 million.
While it brings many challenges, big data is now one of keys to driving business growth and maintaining a competitive edge—and growth hacking helps companies get there sooner.
For a deeper dive into this topic, check out the case studies accessible via the Cloudera customer insights page.
T.J. Laher is a senior solutions marketing manager for Cloudera.
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