If you ask CEO´s, marketers or sales persons in Europe there is a really good chance that they do not even know this term. This is true not only for traditional industries like manufacturing or financials but also for IT and high-tech related companies which are commonly regarded as more up to date. Marketing here in Europe is mainly still business as usual, there is a proper way of doing things and in many companies the traditional fairs, brochures, mailings and power point slides are still day-to-day business.
But what is growth hacking after all? According to Neil Patel, growth hacking is “… finding ingenious technology-based avenues for growth that push the boundaries of what is possible or expectable.”
This however, is based on the assumption that companies will reach their audiences online, which is definitely true for most well-developed countries worldwide.
If your audience is mainly offline you will have a hard time hacking your way to growth.
So, let´s look at the European landscape and at online behavior in European countries:
The European Landscape: Complex and Lucrative
The first surprise for US-based onlookers: The wealthy German-speaking DACH region (Deutschland, Austria, Switzerland) is heavily lagging behind in terms of social media use and mobile´s share of web traffic. According to the internet agency wearesocial.com ´s recently published compendium of global digital, social and mobile data Germany ranks between Vietnam and Egypt when it comes to mobile´s share of web traffic. France and Italy show an even worse performance. In social media use Germans also rank among the least active. Only 36% of Germans have a social media account (as compared to, say, Americans, where 59% are active in social networks). And things get even worse for Germans when you consider the fact that they use social media mostly for private purposes as a recent BITKOM study shows. By comparison the UK and Benelux as well as the Nordic countries have a more active professional online behavior.
These findings show: The European landscape is complex and growth hacking is not a copy paste routine. Europe in fact is very diversified. What works in the Netherlands might have a hard time in German-speaking countries. Marketing in Europe is still heavily relying on opinion leaders like the press or analysts. Simply shouting out your truth to the world will not make a big difference (unless you are GARTNER, IDG or a silicon.de editor). Europe has many offline hideaways. Networks mainly flourish without the support of online and social media. There are a lot of well-known global companies with a lot of buying potential where online activities play a minor role.
Add to this complex environment the many different languages and varying business traditions and you get an idea how complicated things can get.
The Human Factor and Offline Business
So, growth hacking in Europe is much more than finding technology-based avenues as Neil Patel puts it. The human factor and offline business still play a big role in customer acquisition.
So the big question is: what does it take to trigger growth?
The most comprehensive answer, which, however will not serve as an instant how-to tutorial is: A powerful team!
My best advice is to mix experienced marketing, PR and sales professionals with creative, technical and analytical growth hacking talent and let them find ways of luring their prospects to be more active online.
This also requires a good content strategy and customized messaging combined with a consultative attitude and good listening skills.
Finally it needs a lot of patience. But getting a foothold on the European markets is definitely worth the effort.
Have a good start in Europe!
Director Business Development at Conquering Europe