“Purity is something that cannot be attained except by piling effort upon effort.”
― Tsunetomo Yamamoto, Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai

In May 2016, I joined 500 Startups / 500 Nordics Distro Dojo to help post-seed, pre-A companies find traction and scale growth. Here are the teams I’ve worked with: Pacemaker, Bitrefill, Goo Technologies, Content Central, Saffron, Flic.

“Along with talks on topics such as email marketing, pricing and positioning, AdWords, A/B testing, SEO, and marketing toolsets, we had a number of sessions with incredible mentors including: Claus Verner from Amazon Web Services (AWS), Alex Grechanowski from Marketing Sutra, and Jessica Nilsson from Northzone.” ~ 500nordics, Distro Dojo

Let's talk traction and growth hacking strategies.

In 2015, as a consultant I’ve worked with a number of tech startups, SaaS and ecommerce businesses helping them with digital strategy and execution: from website development and Facebook Ads to SEO and user on-boarding. My recent focus has been on ‘Growth Hacking’ – a term that is overused and misused in business media, startup blogs and conferences. Another one was ‘Hustler’ or sometimes ‘Growth Hustler’ but let’s stick to the former for now. I tend to shy away from the shiny new objects and so consider ‘growth hacking’ as an umbrella term for overall marketing efforts made by the entire team – CEO, developers, designers, product folks and marketeers – not a single person.

Thanks to my clients, it was a year of new markets, fancy tools, Slack (luckily not Skype) and Websummit in Dublin.

Catching up with some smart folks at Google before tomorrow’s #websummit kick off

A photo posted by Alex Grechanowski, Consultant (@marketingsutra) on

My List of Useful Growth Hacking Articles and Insights

I’m an avid RSS feed reader. It’s old school I know, but this is how I keep up with what’s happening in the marketing world. 2015 ushered in many gems on digital marketing (aka growth hacking) that captured my attention and required tons of hours to digest. Interesting to look back at the most insightful things that I’ve liked, saved and shared in 2015.

Growth hacking is bullshit by Intercom
“Growth Hacking is the continual promise of silver bullets: red buttons increase signups 80%, headlines with font sizes of “33px” increase revenue 30%, cutting prices decreases churn 27%. But growth doesn’t come from silver bullets. Growth comes from winning a thousand tiny battles: 0.5% here, 1% there. Real growth needs a whole load of lead bullets. Real growth originates from the very first line of code, from a great product, and from the work of an entire team.”

This 1 User Acquisition Hack” That Took Us from 150K users to 2 MILLLION in 170 Countries in 5 Months

The Story of Etsy’s Crafty Growth to IPO and a $2 Billion Valuation

2015: The Modern Marketing Year in Review by Jeff Cohen.
“It might have been the year that mobile finally overtook desktop computing, but it was also the year video exploded on social networks, and with their own, you guessed it, mobile apps. Companies got more efficient, more focused on their customers, and better able to address metrics that matter.”

Pitch, Please: 14 Must-Read Pitch Lessons Every Startup Founder Should Know by 500 Startups
“Building a great business is more important than a great pitch, but if you don’t know how to tell your story, you probably don’t understand what is most interesting about your business. This problem affects more than just fundraising. The hardest part about pitching is that it’s not about you. It’s a delicate balance between being authentically who you are, but more so focusing on what is important to your audience. This is what I help founders understand.”

Why Small Ideas Can Matter More Than Big Ideas by Scott Berkun
“Rather than worrying about the size of an idea, which most people do, it’s more productive to think about the possible leverage an idea has. To do this requires thinking not only about the idea itself, but how it will be used. An idea can have a different amount of leverage depending on where, when and how carefully it is applied. One old idea from one team in your company, reused in the right way on another team unfamiliar with it, might just have transformative effects.”

15 Early Traction Growth Hacking Strategies For Startups by Stuart McKeown
“Getting early adopters, customers and feedback is crucial to the ongoing development of your product.”

Growth Hacking Your SaaS Startup – a Guide by Matthew Barby

We’ve Lost Nearly Half Our Social Referral Traffic in the Last 12 Months By Kevan Lee
“Whether it’s a highly-filtered feed with an algorithm at its core or an overflowing feed full of anything and everything, it’s getting harder and harder for traditional social media marketing to keep a foothold with its audience.”

Great SEO Starts with Your Brand by Ruth Burr Reedy.
“Building a great brand will also help with some of the usage signals that are likely contributing to Google’s machine learning about what makes a good SERP. Having a recognizable brand presence will contribute to increased click-through rate from SERPs, foster visitor engagement and loyalty, and may also help Google better understand the entity relationships between your business and the products and services you provide.”

Why great User Onboarding can increase Conversions 300% by Paul Boyce
“Let’s help each and every user become successful in achieving their goals by using our product.”

17 Killer Strategies For Establishing Audience Loyalty
“To establish audience loyalty, you need to build a reputation of credibility and integrity. Do so by giving your audience a consistent, authentic experience. People want to feel important. Show that you genuinely care about them and they’ll return the favor to you and your brand. It’s amazing what kind of audience growth you’ll see when you focus on building trust.”

Facebook Ads Testing: The Keys to Finding Success by Jon Loomer.
“Don’t rely on the experiences of others to guide you. Don’t be afraid of failure. There is no failure when it comes to running Facebook ads — only lessons learned.”

The Ultimate Guide To Creating The Perfect Social Media Calendar By Sandrine Sahakians
“A social media calendar can help you visualize all your planned posts for the next weeks or months ahead. And on top of that, it will help you craft your posts in advance so that you always have something ready to share.”

13 Amazing Abandoned Cart Emails (And What You Can Learn From Them)
“It’s remarkably effective as a sales recovery tactic. According to SaleCycle, nearly half of all abandoned cart emails are opened and over a third of clicks lead to purchases back on site. You have to understand that customers often abandon their carts without meaning to do so, for example because the website crashed, because the process was complicated, or because the site timed out.”

The Content Marketing Campaign Playbook – Guaranteeing Success in 2016 by Simon Penson.
“You should set clear and realistic KPIs against any of these relevant to the campaign.”

How To Launch a Mac App and Become #1 Top Paid App Globally by Denys Zhadanov
“It was crucial to see what other people are doing in this market. So I spent a decent amount of time learning and analyzing how people do business.”

The Ultimate Copy Checklist: 51 Questions to Optimize Every Element of Your Online Copy by Aaron Orendorff
“Why does your copy need to compel your audience to keep reading? Because if it ain’t read, it’s dead. Period.”

10 Content Marketing Goals Worth Pursuing by Sonia Simone
“Content marketing is a meaningless exercise without business goals. Then you can create content that serves those goals, instead of just giving your audience something to pass the time… Search engines are looking for content that’s valuable to their users. If you create that type of content, your SEO battle is 9/10 done.”

Digital Sharecropping: The Most Dangerous Threat to Your Content Marketing Strategy by Sonia Simone
“If you’re relying on Facebook or Google to bring in all of your new customers, you’re sharecropping. You’re hoping the landlord will continue to like you and support your business, but the fact is, the landlord has no idea who you are and doesn’t actually care.”

How to Write a Content Marketing Strategy Step-by-Step (w/ Strategy Template) By Jeffrey Kranz
“A strong content marketing strategy should give you focus, not lock you into less-than-awesome ideas! The key to a great content marketing strategy is being able to tweak, break, and chuck parts of it as you learn more about what works and what doesn’t.”

State of Content Marketing 2016: The Tipping Point Written by Shane Snow
“2016 will be the start of the omni-channel publishing era.”

Using the New Cohort Analysis in Google Analytics by Sayf Sharif
“Cohort Analysis is looking at these groups of people, over time, and seeing how their behavior differs. Think about it this way. If you send out an email to 100 people, some may buy your product on day 1, less on day 2, even fewer on day 3, etc. But if you then send another email out to 100 people weeks later, they’ll be buying your product on their “day 0” while the other email had days prior. A Cohort Analysis can help you compare these people by the way/time they were acquired, in order to make comparisons on their behavior.”

Ten Hidden Gems In Google Analytics: Do Smarter Web Data Analysis! by Avinash Kaushik

YouTube Ranking Factors: Getting Ranked In The Second Largest Search Engine by Tony Edward

The Secret To AdWords Success, Told By A Former Googler by Frederick Vallaeys

26 Beautiful Landing Page Designs Critiqued with A/B Testing Tips and 35 Beautiful Landing Page Design Examples to Drool Over [With Critiques] and Really Useful List of Landing Page and CRO Resources

13 Bright Ideas for Running Smarter Retargeting Campaigns by Siobhán McGinty

From $1M to $100M+ in AdSpend Managed in 24 months by Armando Biondi

How We Captured 3000+ Emails in 24 Hours (without advertising) by Justin Mares

TOP 10 proven growth hacking ideas for 2016 by Aladdin Happy.

Growth Hacking Tools and Services

Here’s a set of the handy tools I’ve used (or planning to use in 2016) for my digital marketing consulting services.

Competitor Research / Market intelligence:
similarweb.com – Get insights for any website or app.
sitealerts.com – Instant insights on any website.
whatrunswhere.com – See which ads work, keep track of your competition.
mention.com – Media monitoring made simple
quora.com – Possibly the best answer to marketing and startup question.

SEO / Ads Analytics:
monitorbacklinks.com – Check your bad links and your competitor’s good links.
semrush.com – Competitive Data for Digital Marketing Professionals.
keywordspy.com – Keyword Research & Tracking.
spyfu.com – Download Your Competitors’ Most Profitable Keywords and Ads For Paid and Organic Search.
adbeat.com – Instantly uncover any advertiser’s online strategy.

Content Marketing:
pitchbox.com – Influencer Outreach & Content Marketing Platform.
writeraccess.com – Small army of writers. Big resource in the cloud.
buzzsumo.com – Analyze what content performs best for any topic or competitor.
myblogu.com – Collaborate to Create and Promote Epic Content.
viralcontentbuzz.com – Social Media Sharing Made Easy.
linkcollider.com – Social SEO Booster Network.

Analytics / Website Performance
mixpanel.com – Learn how people use your app with the world’s most advanced mobile & web analytics.
crazyegg.com – Find out by seeing how users click and scroll through your website.
clicktale.com – Build a Better Online Customer Experience: Visualize Behavior & Optimize Experience.
Webvisor in Yandex.Metrica – It records users’ actions on your site and plays them back to you as a video.
pingdom.com – Everything you need for website monitoring.
Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
kissmetrics.com – Key insights and timely interactions to turn visitors into customers.
popcornmetrics.com – When customers use your website, track and send those actions to your marketing analytics tools.

Ad Management:
driftrock.com – Advanced targeting, automation and ad management to give you an unfair advantage.
adespresso.com – Optimize your Facebook Ads Easily, Like Morning Coffee.
Custom Audiences Enhancer – Empower your Facebook ads with ultra-targeted custom audiences.
adroll.com – Helps you reach customers intelligently across devices on Facebook, Twitter, Apple iAd, and millions of websites.

Conversion Rate Optimization:
https://qualaroo.com – Get Voice of Customer Insights for Smarter A/B Testing.
kickofflabs.com – Viral campaigns with pages and forms made easy.
unbounce.com – Build, Publish & A/B Test Landing Pages Without I.T.
optimizely.com – One easy-to-use A/B testing platform for the web and mobile apps.
getrooster.com – Convert abandoning visitors into leads, sales and signups.
leadpages.net – Create pages, convert customers & conquer the world.

Email Marketing:
mailchimp.com – Online email marketing solution to manage subscribers, send emails, and track results.
getresponse.com – email marketing for small business owners, bloggers, startups and agencies.
mail-tester.com – Test the Spammyness of your Emails.
bananatag.com – See what happens to your emails after you press send.
simplycast.com – Marketing Software & Autoresponder
customer.io – A platform for sending targeted messages.

Retention Marketing / User Feedback
totango.com – Make your customer engagement immediate, relevant, and automated.
optimove.com – Grow your business through your existing customers.
intercom.io – A fundamentally new way to communicate with your customers.
surveymonkey.com – Create Surveys, Get Answers.
google.com/forms – Collect and organize information big & small with Google Forms. For free.

CRM / Sales / Marketing Automation
mixrank.com – Customer Discovery Platform that helps B2B inside sales teams find new customers.
infusionsoft.com – Sales and marketing software For the modern small business.
marketo.com – Marketing automation solution for organizations of any size..

Presentations/Pitch Decks:
slidebean.com – Create beautiful slides in seconds.

Find a Designer 

Free Stock Photo Sites

Over to you

Have you had your own success with growth hacking in general or any particular tools? Please share your insights and tips in the comments below!


If you’re looking for a growth hacker and a marketing expert, let’s work together – hire me:


I’m delighted this article is being picked up extremely well on Twitter, with some tweets to 100K+ followers like this one:

Marketing has been my job and passion for ten years, and CONTENT– from ad creatives to a video on Vine – is always a king.

Even though I do content marketing for a living, it’s always just a part of my marketing acumen – the more I know the product and the audience, the better chances I’ll tell the right story in the right way. That’s the situation when CONTENT and CONTEXT work in sync.

It’s very hard to track time while creating content for clients. On October 13, 2004 – ten years ago – I posted my first press-release on PRWeb. To give you some perspective, it was the year when Facebook was founded and a year before Pete Cashmore founded Mashable. In 2010, Scott Berkun, the bestselling author, sent me a signed copy of Making Things Happen after I had found a typo on his website.

Since 2004, as a digital marketeer, I’ve managed to help more than 100 technology startups and small business owners get started in the market, create better products, find their voice and connect with fans – via content marketing, growth hacking, search marketing, AdWords and community management.

Visiting San Francisco

“Don’t try to visualize the great mass audience. There is no such audience—every reader is a different person.” ― William Zinsser, On Writing Well 

If you’re considering hiring me, in addition to my LinkedIn profile, here are some of my writing and content samples:


INTERVIEWS on DOU.ua (in Russian). The largest community of Ukrainian software developers, 75K+ members.

My social media accounts are always active, trusted, and ready to boost your content:

#ITeaTalks на ДОУ: Where Passion Meets Profession

by Alex Grechanowski on August 19, 2014

in PM in da haus

Я пришел в маркетинг технологических компаний в 2004 году. До этого работал на американские организации: IREX (доступ в Интернет) и American Councils (образование в США). Но до этого всего была эпоха тележурналистики – новости, спорт, еженедельная молодежная программа, кинофестивали и документальные фильмы.

Иногда возникает желание уйти из IT, например в шоу-бизнес, снимать кино про стартапы. Посещает идея податься в диджеи на Fullmoon Party на Самуи.

Понятно, что никуда из IT я уже не уйду, а вот вернуться к журналистским корням хочется.

Первая попытка скрестить IT, маркетинг и жанр интервью была успешно реализована в 2013 на этом блоге. Удалось побеседовать с Gabe Buck, Оксаной Жураваль (Prom.ua), Ann Smarty (IMN).

Talks on Marketing Sutra

В результате этих бесед стало понятно, что надо уходить от общих вопросов и перенести все в плоскость философии и психологии профессии айтишника, показать его lifestyle и отношение к окружающему миру. Иными словами, все должно выглядеть так, как будто мы вышли в курилку или на кухню, где неторопливо завязывается разговор о том, что действительно интересно и волнует, а потом подходят еще люди, слушают, задают вопросы.

Так и возник ITeaTalks на ДОУ, профессиональном сообществе разработчиков Украины. Спасибо Максу Ищенко и Вале Донченко за то, что сразу дали идее зеленый свет.

Пока я записал три эпизода.

Иногда бывает так, что вы годами сидите в компании, так и не разу не поговорив с умным человеком. Наши чаепития попытаются решить эту проблему 😉 More cool stuff to come, stay tuned!

UPDATE: Oct 11, 2014 – записаны новые эпизоды: