I’ve recently become a serious adherent of Growth Hacking. Have you heard of it? Growth Hacking refers to a variety of marketing techniques that are designed to improve all aspects of the customer acquisition/retention funnel in today’s online world. Ask any app developer, or anyone whose provide or service depends on generation and maintenance of high numbers of active users, and they’re all over it.

In the old days we’d have referred to growth hacking as guerilla marketing. But the combination of traditional marketing techniques and today’s technologies, together with the ability to be extremely agile to test, develop, measure and improve very quickly, gives marketers a powerful tool to acquire, convert, and retain customers.

So how is this relevant to customer loyalty and customer feedback?

Customer loyalty tends to be measured in repurchase and lifetime customer value metrics. Customers who are loyal (Raving fans) purchase more often, and often purchase more when they do. Never mind the fact that there is a category of loyal customers who are loyal merely because they have no other choice! We’ll focus here on those who have a choice, and therefore can choose to repurchase or to go with a competitive solution.

In many circles loyalty is associated with a good customer experience, in particular with the emotions associated with a good customer experience. The Customer Experience consultancy Beyond Philosophy notes that while “there are many definitions of customer loyalty … each of them fails to realize that loyalty runs hand in hand with emotions.” They go on to say in the same post that “retaining customers is less expensive than acquiring new ones, and customer experience management is the most cost-effective way to drive customer satisfaction, customer retention and customer loyalty.”

Notwithstanding that the last sentence seems to have been written for search engines, they do have a point. Especially in the world in which growth hackers live, cost to retain is much lower than cost to acquire. So while acquisition of customers is critical in that world, their retention is critical as well.

And there are many techniques. In particular, growth hackers encourage businesses to discover the Aha Moment that, once customers achieve it, ensures that those customers will be active for life. Twitter discovered that once a user follows 30 or more people, they’ll remain active Twitter users.  Facebook’s aha moment is when a person gains 7 friends in the first 10 days on the platform. So the user experience both of these services deliver guides people to follow others and to connect with friends. Not only is this done online while using the service, but most offline activity – emails designed to get people back using the service – focuses on those aha targets.

It’s that high level of outbound customer engagement that creates those good user experiences that become emotive experiences that create a high degree of customer loyalty. On the inbound side be sure to ask users their likelihood to repurchase or return, and correlate that to other user metrics in order to discover your own aha moment, whether you’ve created a hot new app, or whether you sell a physical product.

Growth hacking techniques work well in both worlds, and they certainly have their place in engaging your customers to drive high loyalty.