15 Best Growth Hacking Books to Read in 2021

Home » Books » Growth Hacking BooksUpdated: December 01, 2021

You found our list of top growth hacking books.

Growth hacking books are guides that teach marketers and entrepreneurs low-cost strategies to attract and retain customers. These books share tips and tricks about building social media followings and customer bases, branding, and efficient organizational operation. The purpose of these books is to help entrepreneurs scale rapidly and sustainably.

These works are a subset of business strategy books, marketing books and books on advertising.

This article includes:

  • guides to growth hacking
  • books on growth hacking
  • books on startup growth
  • growth marketing books

Here is the list!

List of growth hacking books

From bestsellers to new releases, here is a list of playbooks for growth hacking.

1. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

contagious book cover

Contagious is a masterclass in the art of coming up with irresistible ideas. The book studies the factors that influence people to share concepts via word of mouth or email, and the science behind viral content. Jonah Berger identifies six components that contribute towards a campaign’s contagiousness, such as emotion and practical value. Each section contains interesting case studies from various industries and organizations, as well as practical tips marketers can use to replicate these sensations. Beyond being a fascinating read, Contagious is a scientific study of the factors that cause ideas to spread like wildfire.

Notable Quote: “Making things more observable makes them easier to imitate, which makes them more likely to become popular.”

Buy Contagious.

2. Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising by Ryan Holiday

Growth Hacker Marketing book cover

Growth Hacker Marketing is one of the most popular guides to growth hacking. Marketing guru Ryan Holiday explains how to achieve explosive growth by following a set of simple steps. Chapters explore topics such as determining market fit, designing viral hits, and retaining clientele. Each concept is backed by the author’s firsthand experience or anecdotes of revolutionary disrupters like Instagram or Airbnb. Growth Hacker Marketing is an easy-to-understand introduction to the practice that lays out the fundamentals in simple terms.

Notable Quote: “The end goal of every growth hacker is to build a self-perpetuating marketing machine that reaches millions by itself.”

Buy Growth Hacker Marketing.

3. Hacking Growth: How Today’s Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success by Sean Ellis

hacking growth book cover

Hacking Growth is one of the bestselling growth hacking books. This guide presents a framework for transforming an organization from a humble startup to an industry dominator in a short timeframe. The book examines the journeys of companies like Uber, Pinterest, Facebook, and Airbnb, and dissects the behaviors that made these ventures a success. Chapters center around subjects such as growth-levers, fast-paced testing, monetization, and cycles of expansion. This handy guide breaks down the process of supercharging business growth and moving from nothing to household name. Hacking Growth is the ultimate guide to making a mark on the market and is a useful reference for entrepreneurs in all stages of development.

Notable Quote: “One of the cardinal rules of growth hacking is that you must not move into the high-tempo growth experimentation push until you know your product is must-have, why it’s must-have, and to whom it is a must-have: in other words, what is its core value, to which customers, and why.”

Buy Hacking Growth.

4. High Growth Handbook by Elad Gil

High growth handbook book cover

Rather than focus on marketing strategies, High Growth Handbook centers on the leadership traits that enable rapid scaling. The book shows CEOs and entrepreneurs how to optimize every action for quick and sustainable growth. Sections cover job facets such as recruiting talent and selecting the right executives, collaborating with the board, and product management. There are also chapters devoted to securing financing and navigating mergers and acquisitions. Elad Gil also includes interviews with business leaders to help illustrate the points made in the chapters with firsthand experience. High Growth Handbook is a valuable playbook full of moves that result in swift entrepreneurial evolution.

Notable Quote: “In fact, the general model for successful tech companies, contrary to myth and legend, is that they become distribution-centric rather than product-centric. They become a distribution channel, so they can get to the world. And then they put many new products through that distribution channel.”

Buy High Growth Handbook, and check out more books for CEOs.

5. One Million Followers, Updated Edition: How I Built a Massive Social Following in 30 Days by Brendan Kane

One Million followers book cover

One Million Followers revolves around growth hacking in the social media landscape. As the title suggests, the book traces the author’s journey of gaining a million followers in just under a month. This work also includes insights from renowned influencers and marketing experts. The book tackles topics such as creating engaging content, targeting an audience while crafting messages that appeal to the masses, fast-tracking follower growth, experimenting, and forging strategic alliances. One Million Followers provides a playbook for building large, tuned-in audiences on any major social platform.

Notable Quote: “Shareability is the most important metric when looking to grow quickly on any social platform. It assures you that your content is resonating with your audience. Getting people to share is the best way to organically spread your message and stand out from the noise. Regularly sharing a range of quality content keeps you thriving and increases your chances of going viral.”

Buy One Million Followers.

6. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

Hooked

Hooked is one of the most useful books on growth hacking. This guide is a deep-dive into the qualities that drive consumers to obsess over products. Nir Eyal lays out a four step process, called “The Hook Model,” that companies can use to turn curious observers into repeat customers. The book explores the science behind habit-forming and suggests ways to test the addictiveness of an idea. Chapters explore psychological concepts such as triggers and variable awards, and also present case studies. Hooked explains how companies can grow quickly by offering irresistible products and services.

Notable Quote: “The ultimate goal of a habit-forming product is to solve the user’s pain by creating an association so that the user identifies the company’s product or service as the source of relief.”

Buy Hooked.

7. Explosive Growth: A Few Things I Learned While Growing to 100 Million Users and Losing $78 Million: Ultimate Startup Playbook in Entrepreneurship, Business Strategy, Online Marketing, Leadership & PR by Cliff Lerner

explosive growth book cover

Explosive Growth offers an inside look into the experience of running a high-growth startup. Cliff Lerner recounts lessons and anecdotes from his company SNAP Interactive, which developed the successful AreYouInterested dating app. The book charts the app’s journey from obscurity to massive popularity and highlights notable pitfalls and victories along the way. Explosive Growth gives advice about how to gain users, boost revenue, innovate, and survive in competitive markets. The book is a masterclass in how to make an organization into the next sensation, as well as how to navigate the challenges that come with the sudden spotlight.

Notable Quote: “A few fanatical customer advocates are worth more than hundreds or even thousands of casual signups. Fanatical users will supply word-of-mouth growth, while providing the necessary feedback to iterate on the product. Do you have at least twenty fanatical users or a plan to get them?”

Buy Explosive Growth.

8. Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares

Traction Book Cover

Traction is one of the best books on startup growth. This guide explains how to quickly and steadily build a customer base or user base you can leverage to gain partnerships, garner press coverage, and attract talent. The authors explain that by proving that there is interest in the product and company, leaders can obtain buy-in from industry influencers, and grow even faster. The book suggests over a dozen channels entrepreneurs can use to find fans-to-be, and recommends strategies for using the best approach in each area. Traction shows startups how to best deliver ideas and products to the masses and move out of survival mode and into growth mode.

Notable Quote: “The faster you run high quality experiments, the more likely you’ll find scalable, effective growth tactics. Determining the success of a customer acquisition idea is dependent on an effective tracking and reporting system, so don’t start testing until your tracking/reporting system has been implemented.”

Buy Traction.

9. Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success by Shane Snow

Smartcuts book cover

Smartcuts explores the moves trailblazers make to fast track success. Shane Snow sets out to bust the myths of what steps lead to explosive expansion, urging aspiring entrepreneurs to break conventions and take risks in lieu of following formulas and rules. The book champions lateral thinking, the practice of solving problems in creative and unexpected ways. Chapters include stories and examples from industry dominators and explore the ways these revolutionaries “hacked” the market to achieve unprecedented success. Smartcuts uses anecdotes to point out behavioral patterns of the most skilled growth hackers.

Notable Quote: “There are a lot of great inventors and improvers in the world. But those who hack world-class success tend to be the ones who can focus relentlessly on a tiny number of things. In other words, to soar, we need to simplify”

Buy Smartcuts.

10. The 1-Page Marketing Plan: Get New Customers, Make More Money, And Stand Out From The Crowd by Allan Dib

The one page marketing plan book cover

The 1-Page Marketing Plan is one of the top growth marketing books. The book streamlines marketing strategy into a system that uses one page and nine squares to map out the path to rapid growth. This work explains how to attract new leads and generate more business from existing customers, close deals, and overtake competitors. The 1-Page Marketing Plan is a roadmap for drifting a promotional plan that earns attention and yields high returns on investment.

Notable Quote: “When you turn your ads into direct response ads, they become lead generating tools rather than just name recognition tools.”

Buy The 1-Page Marketing Plan.

11. Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies by by Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh

Blitzscaling book cover

Blitzscaling is a growth hacking guide for the most ambitious entrepreneurs. The book lays out methods for scaling companies and creating billion dollar empires on a supercharged timeline. By examining success stories and breaking down the process into clear parts, Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh provide instructions for dominating industries and making instant and sustained impact on chosen markets. Blitzscaling is the ultimate cheat sheet for outlasting competition and skyrocketing to the top of the world.

Notable Quote: “When a start-up matures to the point where it has a killer product, a clear and sizable market, and a robust distribution channel, it has the opportunity to become a “scale-up,” which is a world-changing company that touches millions or even billions of lives. Often, the fastest and most direct path from start-up to scale-up is the hypergrowth produced by blitzscaling.”

Buy Blitzscaling.

12. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

The tipping point book cover

The Tipping Point is one of the most fascinating indirect growth hacking books. This work is a series of essays and anecdotes that illustrate the components that help ideas catch on quickly. Malcolm Gladwell uses stories and case studies, for instance, the creation of Sesame Street and the sudden popularity of Hush Puppies shoes, to illustrate the factors that make a concept contagious. For instance, outsiders can act as connectors or mavens and help an idea gain and keep traction. Gladwell also shows that while viral idea spread is sometimes a matter of luck, creating a sensation can also be an intentional, experiment-based action. The Tipping Point is a fascinating read full of unexpected knowledge for growth hackers.

Notable Quote: “That is the paradox of the epidemic: that in order to create one contagious movement, you often have to create many small movements first”

Buy The Tipping Point.

13. Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers by Seth Godin

Permission marketing book cover

Permission Marketing describes an advertising strategy that encourages audiences to accept messaging without friction. In a loud and crowded landscape, viewers tend to either tune out ads or get frustrated at the constant interruptions. Permission marketing offers a more seamless alternative to chatter. This style of advertising targets consumers who consent to receive the information, and as a result are interested in or grateful for the ad instead of being annoyed by it. Seth Godin imparts techniques for gaining buy-in from customers and ensuring that the story gets heard by the right people. Though written over twenty years ago, the material remains relevant today. One of the main aims of growth hacking is to get a message to the masses, and Permission Marketing shows how to get consumers to tune in and buy in.

Notable Quote: “Frequency led to awareness, awareness to familiarity, and familiarity to trust. And trust, almost without exception, leads to profit”

Buy Permission Marketing.

14. Growth Hacking: Silicon Valley’s Best Kept Secret by Raymond Fong and Chad Riddersen

Growth hacking book cover

Growth Hacking: Silicon Valley’s Best Kept Secret dissects the art of growth hacking and breaks the practice down into basic best practices. The book studies success stories from companies like Dollar Shave Club, Dropbox, Paypal, and Apple, and explains which elements made legendary campaigns runaway hits. Raymond Fong and Chad Ridderson share a proprietary framework called The Automated Sales Process, or ASP, which helps marketers achieve extraordinary growth. Growth Hacking: Silicon Valley’s Best Kept Secret lays out a formula for sidestepping slow growth and making target audiences take note.

Notable Quote: “Demographics don’t buy products; people do.”

Buy Growth Hacking: Silicon Valley’s Best Kept Secret.

15. Viral Loop by Adam Penenberg

Virtual Loop book cover

Viral Loop describes a marketing tactic where customer bases grow as a result of frequent referrals. The prime example of this tactic is Tupperware parties, where potential customers gathered in homes for product demonstrations and were influenced to buy by social factors. While many growth hacking books spell out the procedures to swiftly earn customers and cement a buzzing reputation, Adam Penenberg tells stories of businesspeople skilled at the craft and lets readers draw their own conclusions. Viral Loop is an exhaustive exploration of how some of the most unlikely underdog organizations rose to fame and achieved longevity. The book is a masterclass in the art of stoking conversation and empowering customers to promote products.

Notable Quote: “Viral loops have emerged as perhaps the most significant accelerants to hit Silicon Valley since the search engine.”

Buy Viral Loop.

Final Thoughts

Growth hacking is more than a get rich quick scheme. In a crowded and competitive landscape, the practice is a method of survival. Marketers and entrepreneurs can use principles of human psychology and strategic tactics to acquire customers more quickly and at low expense, avoiding money bleed that spells dooms for many startups. Growth hacking is a means of gaining an advantage in a loud world. To practice this skill, leaders only need a willingness to experiment and an openness to new ideas.

For more reading, check out this list of startup books and these books on social media marketing.

FAQ: Growth hacking books

Here are answers to common questions about growth hacking books.

What is growth hacking?

Growth hacking is a term that describes the practice of finding inexpensive ways to spread brand awareness and build a following for a business. This technique is a way to supercharge the process of forming a customer base.

What are growth hacking books?

Growth hacking books are playbooks that outline successful strategies for garnering attention, gaining customers, building a reputation, and scaling quickly and at controlled cost.

What are some good growth hacking books for startups?

Some good growth hacking books for startups include Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares, One Million Followers by Brendan Kane, and High Growth Handbook by Elad Gil.

What are the best books on growth hacking?

The best books on growth hacking include Contagious by Jonah Berger, Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis, Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday, and Growth Hacking by Raymond Fong and Chad Riddersen.

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Author: Angela Robinson

Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

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