Alex Schultz talks about the way he started doing SEO; at first is was dead easy to be on top of Altavista's first page; just by putting a footer in your page with a lot of words repeated it would do the trick.
Then Google and Page Rank appeared and you needed to have backlinks to your site. At that moment that mean a single link from Yahoo directory and DUMP! you were on the top result page. Then AdWorks appeared and the started buying adds of Google and reselling them in eBay for a small profit.
The most imporant thing about growth is retention. Its important to know about new signups but you want to know how many people sticks with the product, as Adora Cheung explained to us in the Lecture 4, you need to know why your users are leaving and trying to fix this problems, increasing the retention of new users and improving the overall product.
About retention, he tells us that we can extrapolate this from public information; the number he throws are like 20-30% for eComerces and about an 80% for social media. It will be different depending on the vertical you are working but the question you have to ask yourself is:
am I anywhere close to what real success looks like in this vertical?
A really good metric is to track the retention on the long term, and see if the users keep using your product or not. If they don't why they are leaving is a question that must be answered.
About applying growth techniques on startups, Alex thinks you shouldn't have specialized people to do it; the whole company must be the growth team.
If you are on social media, focus on the right metrics such as active users, if you are on messaging business, track the messages sent. If you are renting flats talk about 'nights booked'. So what a CEO must do is to set the right metric and make everybody follow it. When you are managing a large number of people you cannot control everybody. It's all influence. With this perspective is really important to let know everybody what is more important for the company this way all the efforts are focused on the same goals. That means that if somebody is having a conversation discussing what is the best way of doing something the main vision of the company will be taken into account and everybody will be working to improve the metrics the CEO finds important, not the one you think is correct.
This happens when you first do something in a platform, like, sign up at facebook and see one of your friends at the first moment. That is a magic moment. At Airbnb, to find a place you can stay that is awesome and you really like. At twitter find people you are interested on following and reading twits about them. This is on the side of the consumer, but if you are a provider of Airbnb the magic moment will be when you receive the money of the first booking you have had.
If you do it right and you capture this magic moments you'll have a greater acceptance and retention rate and is what make people stick to your site.
Also, when you are worring about growth you need to focus on optimizing your product for the marginal people who use your product; those that don't receive any notification in a day, month or year. The people that is already using your product are not the ones you have to worry about when talking about growth.
Then Alex talks about virality and how it works. It has three main points:
First, is payload - so how many people can you hit with any given viral blast. Second, is conversion rate, and third is frequency. This gives you a fundamental idea of how viral a product is. Hotmail is the canonical example of brilliant viral marketing. Back when Hotmail launched, there were a bunch of mail companies that had been funded and were throwing huge amounts of money at traditional advertising. Back in that time, people couldn't get free email clients; they had to be tied to their ISP. Hotmail and a couple other companies launched, and their clients were available wherever you went. [...] The Hotmail team didn't have much funding as they did, so they had to scramble around to figure out how to do it. What they did was add that little link at the bottom of every email that said, 'Sent from Hotmail. Get your free email here.'
Payload (number of words used): really low. The frequency was really high: everybody that sent an email had this extra footer there. The conversion rate was really high also bacause at that time is was a big deal to have a free email service.
My personal feeling about this talk is that is one of the things you don't like to bother about; growth hacking, virality, ads, see how can you get more retetion... but if a thing you want to do right because your company will depend on it. Again, go and watch the lecture yourself if you liked it!