The Best Growth Hacking Tactics – Part 3

In this third part of growth hacking tactics, we’ll go on to cover ten more of those techniques that have worked for startups out there. These hacks are nothing out of this world but rather simple clever approaches to marketing for the sole purpose of growing those numbers.

We shall also be looking at case studies so you can fully understand how they work.

Transparency Hack

Neil Patel says “transparency is the new marketing.” As consumers become more perceptive of corporate marketing tricks, they grow more cynical. Therefore, honesty can serve the crucial role of building trust and credibility with your consumers.

Letting it all out goes a long way, especially for a startup that is trying to go up the ladder. It makes the customers feel valued and respected. In the end, that value and trust will most likely be reciprocated.

One company that’s always kept it transparency is Buffer. Back in 2013, they took it a notch higher and published the names and salaries of all their employees in a blog post. Besides just getting the media’s attention, this move doubled the number of people applying for open positions at Buffer.

Net Promoter Score Hack

The Net Promoter Score is a technique for conducting a survey that only involves two or three questions. First, you ask a user if they would be willing to recommend your product/services to another person. Make it such that they answer on a scale of 1-10.

Then, if the user answers the first question, you ask them why they gave you that particular score. Next, identify all users that gave a score of 8 and above and target them with an automated email. It could be something like “thank you for the score of 9. You really made our day! Would you be willing to spare just 30 seconds to give a quick review so that other people may discover the service as well? Here’s a link.”

The Net Promoter Score hack is very effective because, to begin with, it sneakily introduces questions gradually and reduces the number of steps that a customer must take before they get to the destination you had planned for them. Secondly, the user gets a sense of obligation to follow through the steps, now that they have already answered the first question. Thirdly, if the customer gives a high rating, they will most likely respond to the automated email request with an attractive review.

Aha! Moment Hack

Whenever a product seems to appeal less to the customers, most people will direct more investment toward marketing campaigns and promotions. This decision, however, isn’t always the best. Sometimes the problem lies with the product rather than the consumer.

One ‘aha moment’ story that has been told over and over again is that of Twitter. In 2009, the social platform was receiving a lot of buzz from the media and the public but their user base wasn’t growing as fast. Most people were signing up and disappearing after just a few tweets or even before posting anything.

Rather than directing more resources toward marketing, Twitter decided to investigate their site’s DNA. After conducting extensive tests on their user experience, they realized that those who followed at least 10 Twitter accounts after signing up were more likely to stay and become long-term users. This was the ‘aha moment’ that made them restructure the platform such that users had an easier time finding people to follow from the time they joined.

Linkydink Hack

This link-sharing tool for teams enables members to receive a daily email update with the day’s link from group contributors. And, Ryan Hoover of Product Hunt saw an untapped potential here.

When he first thought of the Product Hunt concept, he went straight to LinkyDink to create a Product Hunt group instead of getting down to coding. He got almost 200 subscribers within two weeks. Soon, he had a user base that was large enough to serve as a green light for making investments. Product Hunt hosts a community of product lovers, featuring new products every day.

Blogging Hack

So you know that blogging plays a vital role in generating traffic to your site. But do you have a nuanced understanding of your blog? Try this:

Create a crawler on Import.io. The crawler should be able to search through your blog and find every potential data and metadata. Export this data to Excel or Google sheet and upload it to SharedCount, which will then measure the social impact of each post. Now, combine the SharedCount data with the rest of your blog’s data on VLOOKUP.

This process should yield a lot of valuable insight – like the optimal publishing time, the most popular authors, and the most shared topics.

Instagram Hack

While trying to gain Instagram followers, Austin Allred, the co-founder of Grasswire made an easy but clever discovery. He simply requests visitors on his blog to go to the most recent section for a hashtag they chose to target and then select the top picture. They then have to follow that account, check out their photos, and hit the like button on three of their most recent images. Allred refers to it as the “follow like like like” hack. This approach increased his follow-back rate to 25%. He got over 10,000 followers after implementing the hack for just one week.

Twitter Hack

Again, Austin Allred thought of this easy technique for finding potential customers on Twitter. For example, if you sell nail polish, you might choose to navigate to a competitor’s account and follow their followers. However, a majority of these accounts will not be useful to your business. You might also decide to simply search Twitter for “nail polish” but again, the results will burden you with idle talk and posts that will take forever to sift through.

Allred hacks this in a ridiculously simple way that targets specific individuals who might buy your product. Your search words should be something like “looking for nail polish” or “need beard oil.” By making your search this specific, the results will be populated with conversations and posts from people who might actually purchase your product.

Landing Page Hack

There are obvious elements for attracting customers that a good landing page should have – such as consistent design, catchy headlines, trust markers, and a concise CTA. However, these features are never enough. You should consider building a landing page that adapts to the customer’s awareness level.

Why? Because describing something to a customer who already knows it might prove boring and cause them to lose interest. On the other hand, describing your product’s benefits to a visitor with a low awareness level might be ineffective if you haven’t first explained what your product is. Using this hack, you want to ensure that a visitor with a low level of awareness sees a different landing page from the ones who have a high awareness level.

Establish the number of new and returning users, which keywords they use, the pages they bounce from, and how long they stay. You could use Google Analytics to do that.

Next, you want to employ Heat & Scroll Maps tools such as ClickTale or CrazyEgg to visualize the parts of your landing page that are most and least engaging. How and where are your audiences spending their time?

If you have all the data at hand, you can then go on to draw conclusions. It could be that most of the visitors reaching your page via a particular ad are new users, look at the headlines but ignore the content or have high bounce rates. Using this information, you could conclude that visitors from the site where you posted your ad have low levels of awareness.

To optimize your pages for those who don’t know much about your product, you could try simplifying the copy, using a more informational headline, and include keywords that are more relevant. Here are some tools for creating a landing page that changes according to the visitor’s origin:

  • Google AdWords’ WordStream
  • Unbounce’s Dynamic Text Replacement
  • HubSpot’s landing page builder

Reminder Hack

Now, your business might be what everything you do revolves around but to a customer, your business is simply one of many. For this reason, you need to remind your consumers who you are and what you stand for. An email would do just fine.

Random Act of Kindness Hack

Not so random, the random act of kindness technique involves giving people something rather than just selling stuff at discounts. For instance, Squarespace sometimes offers users an extension on their free trial, no strings attached. Dropbox surprises users with free storage space every once in a while. Another company, HostelWorld, puts some money in your account.

The Best Growth Hacking Tactics – Part 2

Growth hacking is creating a lot of fuss today. Some will make it even sound like a closely guarded secret that startups use to grow overnight. Well, I’m not sure about the “secret” part but I can say confidently that growth hacking is how startups like Tinder acquired over 10,000 users in a day and how Facebook became, well, Facebook. So, just what exactly are some of these techniques that worked wonders for other startups? In this part two of the best growth hacking tactics, we explore ten hacks that have been used before.

Fake it till you Hack it

“You must be the person you have never had the courage to be. Gradually, you will discover that you are that person, but until you can see this clearly, you must pretend and invent,” says Paulo Coelho. The ‘fake it till you make it’ approach is effective in pretty much every line of business.

Consider Pipetop, a Danish Startup, they bought a bunch of phone numbers and displayed them on their homepage. The media, investors, and customers got the impression that they were dealing with a big company when actually it was just a small startup.

Lyft, a transportation company, faked it by hiring a lot of drivers and paying them for every hour they wait around for passengers. Now that people realized there were so many drivers available, the number of customers escalated.

Exclusivity Hack

Again, taking advantage of human nature – the desire for what you can’t have – gives us another best growth hacking tactic. It’s the things that seem to be just out of our reach that we reach out for the most. And, there are many companies that use this trick. For one, the personal publishing platform CargoCollective only allows you access after an application. Quibb, a social network for sharing professional work, only takes in 41% of applicants. As for Ello, an ad-free social platform, you only get to join after being invited by an existing user.

Acquisition Hack

Some say “when you can’t beat them, join them” but a growth hacker prefers to just buy them. Buffer, a social sharing tool is one startup that went down this road. Rather than getting wrapped up in traditional approaches such as advertising, they simply took advantage of another successful company – Digg Digg.

Digg Digg was an already established floating share bar so they simply added a Buffer button to Digg Digg’s widget. Users were now less hesitant to click on Buffer because they already trusted Digg. Now they have their user numbers in the millions.

Reverse Engineering Hack

In this hack, rather than looking at your competitors as an obstacle, you take them for an educational tool. You learn from them and then go ahead to beat them. Did they get skyrocketing traffic after they began a particular campaign? How about their sales after a Reddit AMA? And, when they reconstructed their UI, how did the bounce rate change? Basically, you investigate what worked or didn’t for your competitors so that you don’t have to beat around the bush with you A/B tests.

Luckily there are lots of “spy” software that you can use to zoom in on whatever is going on in other companies:

  • Google Advanced Search Operators: know where your competitor’s backlinks are coming from.
  • Email Insights: examine their email blasts.
  • SimilarWeb: analyze their website’s traffic statistics.
  • MOAT: identify the ads your competitors are posting out there.

Integration Hack

Akin to the acquisition hack, the integration hack is whereby you assimilate another product or service into your own. This is usually a good way to leverage an established user base and take advantage of their credibility to build some for yourself.

Take an example from Facebook. By availing their login API to developers, Facebook got integrated into many platforms. Besides empowering the websites with legitimacy, this move increases Facebook’s traffic.

Community Hack

Successful sustainable growth is not only about communicating with customers but also engaging them. By allowing customers to connect with peers and brand representatives, you make them part of the evolution process of your product and this makes them integrate it into their daily routine. That’s how they become long-term customers.

Effective customer engagement means you have to build a community around your product and services. For instance, Unbounce, an application for A/B testing your landing page, developed the Unbounce Community, a forum that allows digital marketers to connect with each other. Rather than just being a tool, now Unbounce is also a place for marketers to hang out.

Pretargeting Hack

Some people prefer to be taken on a date before getting to first base, hence the pretargeting hack. Instead of just trying to sell to individuals on your extensive email list, what you want to do is warm them up to the idea first. That way, you won’t scare them away.

Both Twitter and Facebook allow you to pretarget your potentials in a very clever way. In Facebook, go to the “Custom Audiences” section while Twitter lets you do this under “Tailored Audiences.” You simply need to upload your list of emails and the platform will populate each account with ads for your product. After seeing you around social media, more of your prospects will be ready for that first email.

Viral Sign-Up Form Hack

For a growth hacker, the term “more” is always the order of the day – more traffic, more views, more users, more conversions, more customers, more everything. The viral sign-up form hack is all about this “more” thing.

If you want to encourage more users to fill in your form, you should incentivize the sign-up process. That way, you can attract multiple sign-ups at once. One technique you can use is making it such that users receive a reward when they share your landing page with a specified number of friends. It could be making the cut for your launch list, moving up on the waitlist, a discount on your product or even a sneak peek at the new features.

Double-Sided Referral Hack

This approach is similar to the viral sign-up, only you go a step further and ask “what will motivate the referees to join?” And the answer is that you give them a little something as well. Case study, Dropbox. They give more free storage when you refer a friend successfully but they help you achieve this by offering some free space to anyone who signs up to Dropbox through referral. And, hacked!

Try it Yourself Hack

Let’s just skip to the example for this one. UserLike, the live chat software company, wanted to release a bunch of features and benefits to their customers but were concerned that users would be overwhelmed by all that information. So they went on to build a “Try It Yourself” widget at the bottom of their homepage. If you pasted any URL, UserLike would simulate how its software functions on that website. They discovered that visitors who tried the widget spend 40% more time on the site and had a 24% higher chance of signing up.

The Best Growth Hacking Tactics – Part 1

A lot of people will tell you that growth hacking is Marketing. But that’s just another misperception. However, it can be looked at as a way of describing how marketing is carried out at a startup. It is a term that best describes the techniques that many startups have been using to extend their reach for a long time now. In this content, you are going to learn 20 different ways of employing growth hacking tactics and automation in startup marketing. But first, how does growth hacking differ from marketing?

  • There is a major focus on the use of technology. A technical growth hacker will always be looking for ways of automating the process. A non-technical growth hacker will always be asking the technical team “is this possible?”
  • Some growth hacking tactics adhere very loosely to the boundaries of ethics and legality. A big company would not get away with them but a startup that is still small and scrappy is easily overlooked or forgiven.

Automate Your Distribution

Find a way to retrofit other already established markets with your site such that users find it beneficial. Take an example from what Airbnb did with Craigslist. Now that Airbnb has grown as well, Craigslist actively prohibits this tactic. See, big companies can’t get away with this sort of thing. But if you’re just getting started, you can.

The Best Growth Hacking Tactics - Part 1

Blog

No list of methods for getting more users is complete without the mention of blogging. Ensure you create shareable content that is useful to your customers. Use lists and pictures. Use tools for social searching and Google trend to hack yourself a regular list of viral topics to cover.

The Best Growth Hacking Tactics - Part 1

Guest Post

Reach out to tech blogs. They are always ready to accept good new content. And, if you can find one where there is a market overlap, you’re in luck. You could start by writing great content and offering it to a blog. If you get turned down, move on to another. In the worst case, you’ll still have content to put up on your own blog.

The Best Growth Hacking Tactics - Part 1

Share Your Content

Don’t just post on your blog and wait for people to find it. Sell yourself out there. Post in social media platforms and link back to your blog. Be active in Q & A forums such as Quora and comment on feeds of related blog posts belonging to others.

Built-in Sharing

Allow your users to like, share, recommend or embed your content. Build sharing into the user journey by providing sharing buttons. If you have to ask, keep it brief and polite.

The Best Growth Hacking Tactics - Part 1

Seed Supply

The good old saying goes like “fake it till you make it.” If you’re running a market or UGC site, seed it with as much content as you can. Visitors won’t stay loyal to an empty site. Reddit is one company that we know created fake profiles in its early days. But don’t do it for too long – you’ll be surprised how much more real customers pay than fake ones!

The Best Growth Hacking Tactics - Part 1

Forced Virality

Find a way of forcing users to bring in more users. For instance, if it’s a game, you could make it such that players have to invite another person at some point for them to progress. It doesn’t piss off as many people as you would think.

Automate Your CRM

Automate your techniques for customer engagement and loyalty. Add a drip-campaign or autoresponder for each customer after signup. Encourage interaction. You could also use email triggers to check user behaviors such as an abandoned cart, dormancy or successful purchase. In that order, remind them, poke them or try getting a feedback.

The Best Growth Hacking Tactics - Part 1

Capitalize on Organic Search

Try to figure out a way of turning every model in your database into public-facing content. Ensure that sitemap.xml is being generated grammatically and submitted properly to search engines. Don’t forget to include a CTA.

Landing Page Tests

Don’t just optimize, test to ensure it’s working. Obviously, there are tools for that. Test your design, language/value proposition, and CTA. Ensure visitors don’t leave your landing page before they give up their email address voluntarily. Test your landing page regularly because optimizations do not last forever.

The Best Growth Hacking Tactics - Part 1

Use Influencers

They work like magic. If you can, recruit some trend-setting (possibly non-celebrity) bloggers. You could invite them to an interview or online debate. Make use of incentivized blog coverage via VIP events and coupons. You could go on and sweeten the deal with widgets for their blogs.

The Best Growth Hacking Tactics - Part 1

Remarket/ Retargeting

Advertise to individuals who have already been to your site. They could help increase your CTR and that makes you look like a larger company. Following users around the web enables you to convert those who left without filling out a form, making a purchase, or signing up for newsletters as well as a free trial and so on.

The Best Growth Hacking Tactics - Part 1

Partner Up

Partners, especially when incentivized or benefiting mutually, can send you high-quality prospects. You could offer to build them something or give data for free.

Complimentary businesses that don’t compete with yours but have a similar client base make great partners. You could create joint offers where there is an overlap in the client base.

The Best Growth Hacking Tactics - Part 1

Member Get Member

Use incentives such as coupons, free shipment, free accounts to motivate members to bring other users. Take an example from how Dropbox gives additional space when you refer a friend or share on social media.

The Best Growth Hacking Tactics - Part 1

Endorsements

Finding famous people or companies to endorse your product works wonders. It leads to re-blogs, conversations, and virality. For instance, a celebrity could write for the public to see that they support you and this causes another lesser well-known figure to check out your site, and if they like it, write organically about how they liked whatever it is you’re doing. This chain reaction results in more buzz around the internet about your product and that’s exactly what you need, especially if you know you have something nice to offer.

The Best Growth Hacking Tactics - Part 1

Get on Hacker News/ Reddit

You don’t have to sweat over this but if you could get on HN OR Reddit, you’ll be sure to receive more traffic. Try writing awesome content for geeks, creating something open source or just asking for genuine feedback on some of your data.

The Best Growth Hacking Tactics - Part 1

Paid Search

Not the best, but paid search will always bring more traffic to your site. Just be sure not to spend too much money on advertising when you can use other lesser expensive methods for generating traffic.

Use keyword tools and the Ad Group Idea feature to quickly test various keyword groups and learn the language of your customers as much as possible. Even if you don’t have the capital for the paid search you could use Google Adwords for a short while to validate your ideas and learn what your customers are looking for.

Build a Fast Site

Most visitors don’t have the patient to wait for a slow page. The speed of your website affects your conversion a great deal, making site speed one of the most basic parameters. Combine all your assets into as few files as possible, making them small, and serve them form a CDN. Your framework should do this.

Find the AHA! Moment

For example, when Twitter found out that users who followed at least 30 people were more likely to be lifetime members, it was their AHA! Moment. They built their product around this factor, enabling their users to follow as many people as possible from the time they signed up.

Find your AHA! moment and optimize around getting users to reach that goal, even if it means making decisions for them (like how Pinterest has auto-follow) or making it as smooth and easy as possible.

Talk to the Press

The good news is that the press is always searching to know what you’re up to, so this shouldn’t be difficult. Send emails to journalists/ publishers. There are many points at which you might want to talk to the press in your company’s lifetime – like when launching, releasing an amazing new feature, raising funding, partnering with a big company or during acquisition.

There you go! 20 actionable growth hacking techniques you can use in your startup in combination with what you already think will work.

 

The 7-Step Growth Hacking Framework

Of late, the internet has been crowded with dozens of growth strategies and tactics like Fake It Hack, Exclusively Hack, and The Aha Moment Hack. Never heard of them? Don’t worry. Growth is more of a process than one or two tactics. It doesn’t mean you should not use the few tricks you have up your sleeve but rather that you should understand how to make it a scalable and repeatable process.

In this article, instead of talking about all the numerous growth hacks that you can apply to your Startup, we are going to focus on how to use them. Whichever growth approach you choose to take, you’ll need to know how to implement it in an organized manner and create a rhythm that will allow your team to conduct experiments effectively for the maximum impact. Here’s a 7-step process that you’ll find very useful.

1.   Define Your OKRs (Objectives and Key Results)

The OKR framework was created by Andy Grove to help define the company’s and team’s objectives in line with linked and measurable outcomes. It aims to provide a framework for critical thinking and discipline so that employees can work in harmony with a synergy that is focused on making measurable contributions in the right direction.

Objectives

Start by asking yourself what you wish to accomplish and form your objectives from the answers you get. Here are some pointers:

  • Do not be afraid to make them ambitious or even a little uncomfortable. Otherwise, what’s the point?
  • You also want to ensure that each objective you set is crystal clear enough for you to know with ease whether it has been achieved or not.
  • Start with three to five objectives. Too many, and you might be overwhelming your team; too little, and you’re not doing enough to grow.
  • Ensure you can see the end in sight. Make it as specific as possible. For instance, instead of saying “grow userbase” you want to go with something like “grow userbase by 30% in one year.”

Having a quantity and duration in mind is very crucial so that you don’t simply end up guessing your way to failure.

Here is an example of well-set objectives borrowed from Uber:

Objective: Increase number of drivers in the system

  • Increase driver base in each region by 20%
  • Increase the average driver session to 26 hours per week in all active regions

Objective: Increase Geographic Coverage

  • Increase coverage of SF to 100%
  • Increase coverage for all active cities to 75%
  • Decrease pickup time to <10 minutes in any coverage area during peak hours of usage

Objectives: Increase Driver Happiness

  • Define and measure driver happiness score
  • Increase driver happiness score to 75th

2.   Brainstorm Your Ideas

But you already know that. When planning for anything serious for your company, you need to take some time to brainstorm all possible ways of getting there, especially when it comes to setting and achieving objectives.

If your objective is “to increase paying users by 10%,” you could start by investigating how your competitors are motivating the conversion of free accounts into paid accounts. You could even research how others outside your line of business are increasing their revenue and see if their methods can apply to your company. Be sure to stay in contact with other growth teams so that you can learn what’s working for them and what’s not. The more information you garner, the more ideas you get.

Do not forget to keep a record of all those ideas as they come to mind lest you forget some of them by the time you get to the implementation part. Or even just for reference in the future.

3.   Prioritize

So you’ve done your brainstorming thing. You’ve even done it with your team, and you now have some excellent ideas you feel could work. The next thing you want to do is decide which of the ideas you will put first on the to-do list. Here are some guidelines to consider when setting the priorities:

  • What are the chances of this working? However clever the plan, it is no good if it can’t bring the results you are looking for. Categorize them according to low probability (20 %), medium probability (50%), and high probability (80%).
  • What is its potential impact? Take into account your plan’s long-lasting effects as well as the one-hit wonder effect. Which one would you rather have?
  • What resources will you need and how much of it will be required? Take into consideration the amount of time, money, and human power it will take. You don’t want to be too ambitious.

4.   Test

Do you have a hypothesis? You should formulate one. A good hypothesis will have an element that describes its viability, impact, as well as an assumption. It should read something like: If successful (viable), X will increase by Y (impact), because of (assumption).

You also want to make sure that you justify your assumption both quantitatively and qualitatively as well as through secondary information:

  • Quantitative: previous experiments, surrounding data, and funnel data.
  • Qualitative: Support emails, user testing, surveys, and recordings.
  • Secondary info: blogs, competitor observation, networking, and case studies.

5.   Implement

What’s left is to execute your plan. Conduct the experiment anywhere between 30 – 90 days. Measure and record the results on a regular basis. Each and every other week would do just fine.

6.   Analyze

What did you learn from your experiment? Answering the following questions will enable you to know exactly what you got out of the process:

  • What was the impact?
  • How accurately did your predictions come to pass?
  • What is the reason for the results you saw?

Be sure to document your findings and keep them safe for reference in the future.

7.   Systemize

So, did your experiment yield positive results? If yes, you need to document the step-by-step process you took and use it to form a repeatable process.

For example, Uber created a playbook for launching in new cities because they knew it was something they often do. You don’t have to go back to the drawing board every time.

 

Minimum Viable Product for Growth Hacking – Explained

When developing a product or startup, you want to do it as fast, easy, and cheap as possible. How do you achieve that? You begin with a minimum viable product.

An MVP is a product that you only equip with the core features necessary to deploy, and no more. You typically want to release the product to one or several small groups of your possible customers – such as the early adopters.

Minimum, Viable, and Minimum-Viable

When talking about MVP, it is important to address the differences so that you know exactly where the minimum viable product stands within the borders:

Minimum – the product is so bad that people will not want to use it.

Minimum-Viable – it is only minimum enough to solve problems that users have.

Viable – is the product you want to build; it is fast, optimal, and has a professional look.

In the chart above, we see that one can achieve a perfect balance between the minimum and viable to build a basic functional product which can then be used to test the waters in the market. Here is an example:

Problem – People are having trouble finding apartments.

Viable – A fast web platform with landlord user profiles, notifications, messaging, search, and so on.

Minimum Viable – A Google Docs free list that has been organized, manually showing offers from classified ads around the region in question, as well as apartment description, photos, and contact details.

Benefits of Building A Minimum Viable Product

1. Save on time and money and get a high ROI at low risk

Focusing on the main features of your product during its first stage of production saves your company time, cost, and effort needed to kick off. Rather than taking too much time in coming up with a. Final product that may not live to your expectations, you are better off speeding up the process by releasing a minimized version on the market.

If it becomes successful, the ROI will be rewarding, and you can invest in the final thing with confidence. And, if it doesn’t do well, the company can choose to improve the product or bury it without having to incur further losses in expenditure and time.

2. Find early adopters

These are the trendsetters for your product, and you need to identify them because they are the ones who will be eager to point out the problems so that you can make corrections.

They enable you to learn what features will become useful, validate your product assumptions, and form more effective marketing campaigns.

3. Learn what your customers want as soon as possible

Showing your product the potential customers as soon as you have some functional version of it helps you understand their needs better. You’ll get feedbacks quickly, be more equipped to define a marketing campaign, and your project will be easier to scale because you know who you’re targeting.

What’s more, when you go on to develop the final version, it will be something the market truly wants.

4. Speed up the learning curve for your team

A good growth hacker learns as fast as possible, and most of these lessons can’t be achieved through research and testing inside the company. You learn by testing the product under real market conditions, which means the faster, the better. Beginning with an MVP enables the team to get more conversant with the product and the market, and use feedback from the consumers to improve future versions.

Minimum Viable Product Case Studies

Dropbox

When it was founded back in 2007, DropBox had to go up against other file-sharing applications were already in the market. One loophole they identified was that the existing products could not run on different platforms, which was why they were not widely adopted. The company thought if they came up with a user-friendly app that could be adopted on many platforms, they would get many consumers.

To validate this assumption, they developed a demo and published it so they could attract interested users to sign up for product information. Thousands of users soon supported their proposition and they started building the real deal.

Pebble Watch

This company wanted to make an affordable smartwatch. But how do you compete against existing brands such as Apple and Google who have deep pockets? You crowdfund.

Before building the product, they shared their ideas with the crowd on Kickstarter in the form of videos and pictures of the watches. If anyone was interested, they could use the page as a pre-order form. They would deliver the watches within a specified period if their campaign goal of raising $100,000 was reached.

To their surprise, they got over $10M worth of pledges. Their first campaign was in 2012. In 2015, they did the same and doubled their funds this time (over 20M dollars). They hold the record for the most funded campaign on Kickstarter today.

The advantage of using such an approach is that you get to avoid getting in bed with venture capitalists who might rob you off most of the control of your product. One little advice though, make a point of clicking Kickended to see people who didn’t get anywhere on Kickstarter.

Learn about both the winners and losers before you start crowdfunding campaign and also be keen to deliver your promises.

Zappos

Nick Swinmurn started this online shoe store in 1999 with a classic MVP approach that Lean Startup Methodology calls the ‘wizard of Oz’. His online shoe store, which is among the very first, did not have any warehouse or any shoes in stock.

If a customer placed an order he would buy a pair from the local shoe store and send it by himself. This meant that his website was only there to make a good impression and attract customers. Presently, however, it is the largest online shoe store.

Bottom Line

There is no single sure way for coming with an MVP or for launching one. It highly depends on the nature of your business. The ideas can be as unique as your level of creativity. Remember, it’s not about building a useless version but rather one that focuses on what’s most important. And even after developing a minimum viable product, you still have to continue balancing priorities through the entire lifecycle of your business.

Top Ten Consumer Growth Hacks that Have Been Tested

If you are an entrepreneur, you probably aim to build on growth hacking tactics to increase your product’s reach for long-term growth. Unfortunately, a lot of content marketers sell growth hacking techniques that have hardly been tested in any given business set-up.

This article is about marketing strategies that gave various startups tremendous growth results, making them the internet giants that we know today. I’m not going to rank them because each one of these approaches worked wonders in their own unique way and may not necessarily apply to every type of business.

AirBnb’s Craigslist Integration

One growth hacking tactic that really works is finding a way to integrate into a big platform that already has millions of users. And that’s exactly what AirBnb went for with their Craigslist integration.

Craigslist already had tens of millions of users and relatively few automated tools. So AirBnb created a great UI that integrated in a simple but deep way into the product, allowing users to post directly to Craigslist.

This is not something a traditional marketer would think about. Nevertheless, through reverse engineering the posting process for Craigslist, AirBnb was able to hack early growth to acquire their fair share of millions of users.

YouTube’s Loose Adherence to the DMCA Laws

In its early days, YouTube tried many tactics to gain the edge over existing video sharing platforms such as the flash player. They seemed to focus solely on growth. Using venture capital dollars, they put together a team that would make iterations faster than any of their competitors. They copied and experimented with their competitor’s UIs, and they avoided putting ads prematurely, so users found the experience very smooth.

But where the real hack comes in is when they decided to interpret the DMCA laws in a very liberal manner. They leveraged content to gain more viewership over the already-popular flash player and MySpace among others.

Whenever video sharing sites rejects a video as copyright, the uploader would simply take it to YouTube where they would be received with open arms. And they brought their viewers with them which would soon become users and attract even more viewers. YouTube then grew more exponentially!

Mint.com’s Content/SEO Strategy

There are many things Mint.com did to extend their reach. But one thing that really stood out was their content marketing.

They focused on building a personal finance blog that was not only unique but also rich in content and spoke to the young professionals, whom they felt were being neglected at the time. The blog became so famous in personal finance and their popular articles, as well as infographics, started making regular appearances on popular sites such as Reddit and Digg. What happened next is obvious; their app received more and more traffic.

Twitter

When Twitter began, going viral wasn’t a problem. The press, blogs, and the crowd made sure of that. But there was a problem – many people were signing up and not sticking around. Instead of trying to get them to come back through emails and newsletters, they decided to invest in the product itself.

Their statistics showed that if someone followed about 5-10 Twitter accounts on their first day, they were more likely to become long-term users. The Twitter team decided to remodel their entire user experience around this behavior. They kept on tweaking the features and optimizing the experience to help their users follow as many people as possible and their user retention rose every day.

Mailbox

Mailbox received a lot of Social Media chatter and attention from bloggers before they even released the app for the public to download. Within six weeks of announcing, they had over a million users signed up and anxiously waiting to start benefiting from the cool email management app. How did they achieve that?

They created a super-compelling launch video alongside a very attractive interface that allowed users to sign up to download the app when it gets released as well as check how many users were ahead in line on the waiting list.

The reservation system, besides acting as a powerful social proof, also allowed them to ensure they can provide quality user experience by not overloading the servers while trying to keep up with demand.

PayPal’s Referral Bounty

PayPal hacked their way into the financial market in a very clever and almost sure way. But first, let’s remember that they had a tremendous amount of money at their disposal before we go on. The lesson I’m trying to pass across here is that their technique worked, but you don’t have to go about giving away money that you don’t have. Now let’s see how it all went down.

Their first big challenge was customer acquisition. After trying and advertising BD deals with big banks and failing, they concluded that what PayPal needed was organic, viral growth. In short, they needed to entice people with something. And their choice was money.

Customers got $10 deposited into their account upon joining and $10 more when they referred someone. It was just so hard for the public to resist. As each new customer was trying to get more free money, PayPal’s growth was going exponential (7-10% growth each day).

Of course, at some point, they had to stop playing Santa and get down to business. This is not the best way to run a company, but it worked like magic, and that’s what counts.

Dropbox’s Motivated Referral

This approach is not so different from PayPal’s, only in this case you get free space instead of money when you refer someone.

As of September 2008, Dropbox had only 100,000 users. 15 months later, in 2010, they had grown to 4,000,000 users. Approximately 35% of their daily signups come from referrals while 20% is from shared folders and other viral features. Since launch, they have boasted over 15% month-over-month growth. Not so bad!

But some will argue that Dropbox’s growth is not the best for business because none of those referrals are likely to upgrade to a paid account. It would seem that so far, their biggest incomes come from businesses that run out of space on their own servers or PCs. There is no way their revenue is growing at a rate anywhere close to their user numbers. If you can find a faster method for converting users into paying customers, however, this would be a great growth hack for your startup.

Hotmail’s Tagline

We see a lot of startups increase their budget to pay for ads or hire experts to handle things. But Hotmail (now Outlook.com) chose the simple way – using what you already have.

And back in 1996, what they had was about 20,000 users. So they added a tagline at the end of each email sent by their users saying “Get Your Free Email at Hotmail”.

When recipients clicked on the tagline, they were taken to the signup page. Come to think of it, it was also some form of social proof. Hotmail’s user base went up to a million within just six months. Although the term for it did not come to life for another 14 years, growth hacking was in play.

Instagram’s Cross-Posting

By playing nice with giant Social Media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, Instagram, and Tumblr was able to hack their growth. They made it such that it was easy to cross-post to any of these sites. Users who were struggling to post photos on other platforms found this feature useful, and so did those who just loved putting their pictures out there.

Soon, their distinctive images began to show up everywhere on popular Social Media platforms, and this became a free advertisement for the app. The cross-posting feature most certainly led to accelerated growth during Instagram’s early days.

Pinterest’s Auto-Follow

It is really helpful how you automatically start following a particular group of high-quality users when you sign up on Pinterest. Instead of feeling like a novice visitor clicking around in search of boards and people to follow, your feed is immediately presented with a sample of high-quality content to get you started.

That’s not all the hack Pinterest used, though. In its earliest days, the social bookmarking site was invite-only. Although anyone was free to request an invitation, they would usually send you an email notification saying that there was a long waiting list but your turn would come as soon as possible. Maybe this was true; maybe it wasn’t.

Either way, people like limited things and dislike being left out. So, this tactic generated a lot of buzz and made Pinterest quite desirable.

Some of these growth hacks may seem easy and other may seem that they require some sort of magic but what you need to understand is that they are not all that led to the success of those companies. There is so much more to attaining sustainable growth the a single growth hack.

For one, your product has to be great. The undisputed common denominator, however, is that successful growth hacking is always a small tweak thought outside the box.

What is NOT Growth Hacking: Myths vs. Facts

Growth hacking has become a regular topic among start-ups today as more and more companies seek the easiest route to exponential growth. It is no surprise that the term has spawned a wide range of myths from individuals who are either misinformed or just trying to pass their services as shortcuts for rocketing growth.

If left unchecked, misconceptions can poison perception and attitudes to the extent that an important concept such as growth hacking is reduced to just another empty buzzword. This article is about setting six of the most common growth hacking fallacies apart from the facts.

MYTH #1: Growth Hacking is A Cheat Sheet for Growth

FACT: It’s more of a mindset than cheating.

Some evangelists of growth hacking have sold the idea as magical dust over hard work, making it seem like a secret recipe for delivering unbelievable, inevitable, and raving growth for a startup. As expected, most of them are usually trying to sell training programs and tools by making it sound like they have a super-secret formula that will help you garner lightning-speed results.

Truth is, there is absolutely no magical formula or backdoor to growth hacking. The only secret lies in developing a mindset that focuses on what others fail to see as important for growing the business in the long run.

With an endless list of directions that a product can take in the market, growth features often tend to get under-optimized until the time when they matter the most. For a growth hacker, however, growing is the main consideration every step of the way.

Jesse Farmer, the founder of DevBootcamp, says his ideas are always like basic product marketing because there’s never a specific trick. 500 startups’ founder Dave McClure pointed out that most founders put a lot of emphasis on building the product when actually a startup faces the most risk when it gets to the distribution part.

MYTH #2: Growth Hacking is Another Term for Marketing

FACT: The goals of marketers and growth hackers often overlap but the tactics are different.

Growth hacking most certainly acknowledges marketing goals (among others) but goes beyond just that. Growth comes from a carefully executed data-driven strategy rather than a marketing strategy. However, growth hackers are basically involved in everything concerning the product – from design and engineering to marketing and user feedback.

A growth hacker stimulates growth through refinement of the product experience, user-focused design, exploring growth surfaces, and any other means that result in true growth. They try to get as much product engagement and “virality” as possible from users. It should never be mistaken for the classical inbound and outbound marketing strategies.

MYTH 3: Growth Hacking is A Quick Fix for Your Product’s Problems

FACT: Growth hacking involves anything but a quick fix. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Remember?

You cannot use growth hacking techniques to solve systemic product issues overnight. Growth is more of an iterative process that requires a lot of hard work and careful planning.

What’s more, you cannot use the strategies for one startup to create viral-type growth for another.

Growth hackers look past conventional assumptions to identify unique growth opportunities that have the potential to deliver outstanding results. It could involve making changes to the current products or processes, which is not usually a simple or instantaneous decision. As a growth hacker, you want to combine a series of modest improvements that will result in user retention and growth in the long run.

There will be a lot of testing but if you are searching for a growth hacker to hire, don’t accept someone just because they can do A/B tests and focus on the local maxima. What will bring you success is a person who can ask the deeper questions and establish a growth path for your product that is sustainable in the long run.

It’s by asking and answering those deeper questions as well as focusing on moving metrics and making fast iterations that you’ll be able to steepen the learning curve as a growth hacker. In essence, it is like a cycle of learning, iterating, and testing until you find techniques that work for your specific line of business. The growth aspect is not going to be fast, but the learning has to be.

A former member of the growth team at Dropbox – Ivan Kirgin – once compared it to making investments in the stock market. He said, “if there was a formula, those who knew it won’t share. I think all these growth hacking strategies are about creating a process that enable you to learn as much as possible, as fast as you can to increase the likelihood of winning.”

MYTH #4: Growth Hackers are Simply DIY Coders

FACT: A lot of growth hackers understand code, but many others don’t.

When Sean Ellis, the founder of Qualaroo, coined the term “growth hacking”, he only meant to reflect what he called “an attitude of scrappiness”. He went on to explain that a growth hacker is someone who finds a way to ‘hack’ the movement of metrics.

The truth is that you don’t have to be a coder to be a growth hacker. Anyone can become a successful growth hacker if they set their mind to finding an advantage in product distribution that others fail to see. The ‘hacker’ part implies that you need to be a constant hustler who gets things done quickly. Not a coder.

MYTH #5: Growth Hacking is A New Thing

FACT: Growth hacking has been around way before the term for it was invented.

Many businesses were already using strategies akin to growth hacking long before Sean Ellis named it. Facebook, LinkedIn, Hi5, Bebo, and even McDonald’s growth hacked their way up at some point. McDonald’s! That’s right. Growth hacking isn’t for startups only.

Technically, when McDonald’s realized their food services would appeal more to travelers who needed a quick meal and thus started opening a branch at every interstate highway, they were growth hacking. That was way back in the ‘50s. So, growth hacking has been around for a long time and isn’t applicable to startups exclusively.

MYTH #6: Growth Hacking Can Be Done by An Individual

FACT: A growth hacker is part of a team and not a lone ranger.

Growth is a step-by-step process that depends on whichever stage the company is. Long-term growth cannot come from one part of a company. Businesses that do well in the market have a growth team to test every stage of the company.

And, different stages will often require different types of growth teams. Even if there is one man pushing everything behind the scenes (i.e. the founder), they have to be team players to ensure sustainable growth is achieved.

Growth hacking is more about changing the mindset and culture of a company so that every decision is made with long-term growth in mind. It wasn’t created for startups only, and neither is it a coder’s thing.

Anyone in any kind of business can practice growth hacking. The most important thing is that you are ready to work hard, be patient, and keep learning as fast as you can. Whether you want to be a growth hacker or you are looking to hire someone, now you know what isn’t growth hacking.

A Comprehensive Customer Lifecycle for Growth Hackers 

The days when marketing efforts revolved around identification of potential customers and techniques for converting them are long gone. With the rapidly evolving digital world comes a lot of opportunities for gaining and even losing customers. That is why marketing strategies have extended to include more factors that ensure you gain as much as possible from a customer. 

One of the biggest mistakes a business leader can make in trying to grow is solely focusing on customer acquisition. This could result in the “leaky bucket problem” – a situation where customers leave without generating much profit or any at all, and all those resources used to attract them get wasted. 

This article is all about helping you understand the six stages of customer lifecycle so you can “growth hack” your marketing campaign every step of the way.

If you can manage to maintain a good impression with your customers throughout their journey with you, you’ll surely increase your Customer Lifetime Value (CVL). 

Awareness 

This is where your potential customer learn about your existence for the first time and where you start building a relationship with them. Of course, your marketing campaign will have began long before. 

Making a good first impression with people who are just learning about your brand, products, and/or services is what sets the stage for the rest of the customer lifecycle. If they hear about you form their friends, you probably don’t have much control over what they are told.

If you are the one reaching out, however, ensure it’s to the right people. You want to get in touch with prospects that could actually benefit from what you’re selling. 

Don’t forget to communicate what your product is all about clearly and precisely. Give examples of problems that you could solve for them and explain how to get your product or where to start. If you sell your product right at this point, customer acquisition becomes a downhill process. 

Engagement 

Customers will usually skip this stage. But it’s still important to note for those seeking to buy products that require a lot of investment. These customers will often engage with the brand prior to actually purchasing the product or the service to see if it’s worth their money. They’ll often do this by looking for your marketing content on your website and Social Media or signing up for your emails. In some cases, they’ll be contacting you and/or your team directly with some questions.

At this point, they’ll also start listening to what others are saying about your services. They’ll be paying attention to how you respond to requests and complaints. Companies that are in the habit of engaging the public through Social Media would usually excel when the customer is at this stage. 

If a prospect begins to engage with your business, you are definitely in luck.

Evaluation 

Whether a customer goes through the engagement process with your business or not, they will most certainly take the time to evaluate you as a brand. People nowadays will hardly make purchases without first doing some research. It could be months of research or just a quick comparison before making the final decision. 

One of the best ways to ensure that you outdo your competitors at this point is to provide a lot of digital self-service. Today’s shoppers like to find information online by themselves before they even ask a friend. Be keen to answer all the possible questions your consumers could have. Provide some videos that explain what you do, the problems you solve, or why you are your customers best bet.

If you have agents, brand ambassadors, and store outlets, be sure to give them access to the same information. If people receive consistent information concerning your services over multiple channels, they’ll be more confident in choosing you. Otherwise, conflicting answers could tank your marketing campaigns. 

Purchase 

For the first time in their lifecycle, the customer does what you wanted them to do. It is critical to be helpful when a potential customer wants to make a purchase. Most consumers – around 83% – will usually expect some support when buying things, especially when it’s being sold online. And, 56% will opt out of the process if they can’t find or don’t receive a quick answer to something they want to know. 

Try putting a live chat customer service option in addition to self-service at this point. 40% of consumers confess to having their hearts won over by websites that have a live person that answers their questions real-time. It could be the difference between sealing and losing the deal!

The reason is that a person’s reassurance always sounds more convincing than a machine. Chat assistance is the final push you need to give visitors who are considering making a purchase to turn them into trusting customers. 

Support Experience 

We all know that getting a new customer is more difficult than keeping an old one. It is also more expensive (up to seven times more costly). This is why it’s better to provide your customers with post-purchase support. 

The kind of post-purchase service you give will determine what kind of lasting opinions your consumers will have on you. In fact, arguably, the customer lifecycle does not begin until after this stage. Besides just delivering on the quality you promised, this is how you assure customers that you are committed to helping them succeed. Most consumers regard this kind of customer service as the true indicator of how much a company values them. And others think it’s a crucial consideration when deciding which brands to remain loyal to. 

Referral 

So you have attracted the potential buyers, shown them why they need your product, sold it to them and followed up to ensure they are satisfied. You have nurtured them to a point where they are confident in you enough to tell others that they are missing out. Thumbs up!

You have managed to create the most valuable customers – the ones who jump right back into the lifecycle and bring their friends with them. These are the kind of customers you should nurture, not just the ones that buy once and bailout. 

What next? 

The bad news is that a customer becomes unhappy and stops using your products and services eventually. It will always happen. You still want to give a good impression even at this point. Social scientists say the last impression counts more than the first. Ensure you end things in the most courteous manner possible. That way, you might still get them back. If not, then they can at least refer you to other potential customers.

Perhaps they simply left in search of a particular feature that wasn’t in your product or they just wanted to try something new. And, when you make improvements, you’ll have a chance to win them back. 


Read about Dave McClure’s AARRR Growth Hacking “pirate metric” system to help make your business even more successful!

Pirate Metrics: How to Use Dave McClure’s AARRR Growth Hacking 

The one thing that anyone who has tried a startup will agree on is that growth is the key to success. If you can achieve growth, everything else will fall into place much more easily. As the founder and CEO of GrowthHackers.com Sean Ellis puts it, “a growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth.”

You can use growth as a compass in every decision making you have to face and never go wrong. Well, so long as you have a product people could use. 

The acronym AARRR, also referred to as “pirate metrics” for the way it sounds, is a growth hacking term originally coined by the co-founder of 500Startups and active investor, Dave McClure. Through his experience working with startups and being a hotshot in entrepreneurship, he argues that to be successful as a CEO/founder, one only needs to focus on five key performance indicators.

AARRR Growth Hacking

– Acquisition. Get users to visit your site from various channels. 

– Activation. Users find your product useful.

– Retention. Users come back because they like your product or find it useful.

– Referral. Users like your services enough to refer you to others. 

– Revenue. Users are satisfied enough to start paying. 

By revolving your goals around these five metrics, a startup can be efficient in setting strategies and time towards excelling in an actionable stage of the business. Here is the AARRR lifecycle that Dave came up with: 

The idea is relatively old. The AIDA model that was developed back in 1893 is not so different. And neither is the more recent inbound marketing strategy of Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight. You might find, however, that the AARRR methodology mimics customer behavior more closely and is effective for both B2B and B2C.

Now, let’s break down this pirate metrics thing. 

Acquisition 

This first stage is the customer impression you give.

Your marketing campaign has worked, and people have your attention. They start visiting your website and/or start trying your product. It is the first point of contact between a potential customer and what you have to offer. They view your page and maybe even click on a few other things. 

This is where you start making your analysis. Get all your variables checked. Where are the biggest chunk of your audience coming from? How about the slow but steady traffic? How engaged are they and how is the bounce rate? 

At this stage, low volume should not worry you. So long as a few people are finding your product, you can always influence some more. 

Determining your acquisition metrics depends on the nature of your services. For instance, piktochart.com determines theirs by a more direct approach – simply pulling numbers directly from their database. They also display the numbers on their page and update them on a weekly basis for their visitors to see.

Again, it depends on the nature of your startup. For most SaaS, subscribing to your blog via email could be looked at as an advanced stage of acquisition. For an online journal, this gesture could be considered as activation. 

I think that drawing conclusions about your acquisition by simply basing on the number of visits is a little shallow. But, once someone has viewed multiple pages, read more than a single blog post, or simply those that stayed for at least 20 seconds, you could categorize their engagement under the acquisition stage.

Here is an example of a more detailed acquisition dashboard:

For the first acquisition line, the conversion rate of 100% implies nobody actually visited your site. The next line shows that a few people visited, but the bounce rate is still high. 

Activation 

This is the point where people actually use your product or site. As much as everyone who fills out your registration form will try your product, most of them will not necessarily stick around. 

It is crucial to focus on the effectiveness of your activation before investing a lot in the acquisition. Why?

If customers simply try your product and don’t become active users, chances are they didn’t like it. You wouldn’t want people out there spreading information that your services are poor. The damage could be irreversible. That is why you need to take the first bunch of customers through the activation process and ensure it’s successful before going on to attract more eyeballs. 

More so, you don’t want to start asking users to pay just yet. This is the point where you entice them with free trials. Users need to appreciate the usefulness of your product and get confident that they’ll be getting value for their money before they give up credit card information. 

Value > Cost = $$ + Time + Focus 

Only after users have gauged the value of your services through interaction will you be able to convince them (fingers crossed) to part with money in exchange for the full experience.

Retention 

So you’ve acquired some users, they’ve tried your product and seem to like it. Some could have generated their first invoice, created a project, or started playing your game often, and so on. Now is the time to focus your energy on getting those users to keep coming back. Continue to hold off on the money part; avoid things like payment forms and in-app purchases (IAP). 

Retention will be unique to different forms of SaaS. You don’t have to go with the conventional daily active users (DAU) and monthly active users (MAU).

For instance, for a tax submission software like Turbo Tax, a user who logs in once a year might already be a retained customer. For a social media platform like Facebook, however, such a user has been lost. 

But still, the number of log-ins for a user is a major determinant factor of whether you have retained them or not. Another way to know a user is retained is when they ask questions about your product on a regular basis or keep giving suggestions on how to make improvements. Such levels of concern show that a user actually wants to stay.

Referral 

Research shows that 92% of customers will trust a recommendation from a friend, and 77% will take your word for it even if they don’t know you. Having customers refer you is a big deal! This is where the highest conversion rates come from. 

If users begin referring you to their friends, it means they have confidence in you. They have tried and tested your product and would like to be the ones responsible for letting others in on the secret. Be sure to coax users slightly into making referrals by having a thank you page where you ask them to do exactly this. Put share buttons in place as well as affiliate links and promo codes. 

Not all referrals will generate income, though, which is why you need to classify them into two groups – those who just came to see what it’s about, and those willing to become customers.

As much as actual customers are the people you are looking for; the rest are just as essential for brand PR and exposure.

What’s more, some of them could be comparing your product against the one they are already using. Be sure to jump in and convince them that they need your services.

Revenue 

When your users have tried your services and started bringing their friends, it’s time to start charging them. This is what you were driving at all along. The other four stages were just to ensure you are not throwing prices out there when no one is willing to pay.

Monitor your transactions and always perform A/B tests to find ways of increasing your revenue with each passing day. Among the factors you want to be tracking are MRR (monthly recurring revenue) and LTV (lifetime value). You want these two to be constantly increasing. Remember, growth is the key here. 


What exactly is growth hacking, though? Learn more by reading our post about it! Make sure to also check out our tips to help you grow your email list!

What is Growth Hacking?

What is Growth Hacking? Growth Hacking is the recent, but not so new term you’ve probably gotten bored of hearing from new businesses and online forums, or is confusing if it’s your first time. It is the reason we see new startups grow at a ridiculous rate each year. Marketers have used the term so often that it is now difficult to define and narrow down to what it entails. The point to note, however, is that real growth hacking is crucial for expanding a company’s market from a handful of users to millions of them.

Wikipedia says: Growth Hacking is a process of rapid experimentation across marketing funnel, product development, sales segments, and other areas of the business to identify the most efficient ways to grow a business.

What Does Growth Hacking Mean?

Growth hacking is a relatively new term that has only been around since 2010, owed to Sean Ellis, the founder, and CEO of GrowthHackers.com. Sean once described a growth hacker as “a person whose true north is growth.” He went on to say that everything a growth hacker does is guided by its potential to influence scalable growth. Every strategy you put in place, every tool you use and every technique you invent should be scrutinized by a desire to expand.

Here are some characteristics of growth hacking:

  • It amounts to sustainable and scalable growth.
  • Growth hacking involves extensive testing, regular tweaking, and breaking the monotony of a product, sales, and marketing strategy.
  • It requires all teams in a company to work in harmony towards one goal; increase growth.

As you might guess already, growth hacking is very extensive and is not limited to precise guidelines and techniques. It can be almost any action that directly results in sustainable, scalable growth, and it all depends on your company.

Examples of Successful Growth Hacking

Although it is a relatively new term, growth hacking had existed long before it was invented. For instance, consider McDonald’s strategy of starting a branch at every interstate highway exit during the 1950’s. Upon realization that these locations were going to be big, they popped up at almost every one of them, knowing that there would be significant numbers of customers. You can say that was a form of offline growth hacking

Presently, nearly any major startup on the market has had to employ some ingenious growth hacking techniques to increase their customer numbers drastically. Talk of Uber, Facebook, Dropbox, Airbnb, and PayPal, among others.

For instance, when Dropbox was just getting started, they were purchasing PPC ads and conducting social campaigns to attract traffic to their site, which would ideally result in more sales. They experienced considerable growth, gaining attention, traffic, and customers, but that wasn’t entirely sustainable because customer acquisition costs were rocketing.

So what did they do? They shifted to a referral-and-reward based strategy to scale their growth. They used customers to make referrals and in turn, rewarded them for their acquisition efforts. This program made their market explode.

Here is a checklist of growth hacking techniques to enable your business soar high with sustainable profits. Remember, you have to come up with growth ideas on your own.

Get creative with your ideas

Try using various techniques for generating concepts, such as mind storming, scamper, mind mapping and so on. Find one that works best for you and make the most out of it. Even better, use several of them.

You also want to use smart tactics to attract leads. For example, try offering free trials and content at the beginning. That way, if potential customers are still reluctant to spend money, you can gradually nurture them until they are ready. You can achieve this through different tricks such as offering a free trial of your premium features for a specific number of days (like the way Spotify gives a 30-day free trial) or providing a free e-book if someone signs up for your newsletter.

Blog to your level best

If you don’t already have a blog for marketing your brand, what’s holding you back? Customers can’t love you if they don’t have a way to know you. Blogging is your least costly and most straightforward way of getting an audience with your prospects. In this digital era, consumers tend to go straight to the web for information concerning a product before they even consider talking to a person.

Ensure you put some excellent content on your blog to captivate your readers, and then do yourself a favor and don’t stop. Once your readers are hooked, they’ll be curious to come back on a regular basis. Remember, the more information they acquire about your brand, the higher the chances you have to earn their trust and influence them to recommend you to their friends.

For instance, Mint (a personal financial management company) came up with the idea of a content-driven approach to stimulate growth and boost brand awareness. They fired up with mind-blowing content on an array of financial topics – like investing, credit, saving, and planning. The blog, which is now called MintLife Blog, made Mint a major player in the financial market.

Have a specific target market

Do not target everybody. Familiarize yourself with something called the law of diffusion of innovation. It argues that to acquire the maximum market size your product must pass through several stages, such as innovators and early adopters. Here is the graph:

There are small groups and communities that you have to target explicitly. There are several entire books written about this phenomenon. Products will either capture the first 15% of the market or go on to die there. If you target everyone at once, it will be tough to growth hack past that first 15% because you won’t even know who to convince to buy.

Embrace Partnerships

Instead of hating on competition, find a way to partner with them. You might have the best product, or believe you do, but seeking partners that compliment your company will take you higher.

You get to tap into new customer bases, provide more value for customers, your brand gets more cross-marketing, and you open up more opportunities for potential new markets.

Employ the ICE Test to inform your next move

In your strategies, you should be choosing the one with the most significant impact, so you don’t end up wasting your time, money and resources on tests that don’t have the biggest rewards.

Developed by Sean Ellis, the ICE test is a framework that enables you to prioritize testing. The GrowthHackers team uses it frequently. ICE is an acronym for impact, confidence, and ease.

  • Impact: if the idea works, how big will its impact be?
  • Confidence: how sure are you that the concept will work?
  • Ease: How readily can I get this test up and running?

The test is not designed to be the perfect system for prioritization of individual ideas, but it is a good system for relative prioritization. Although it’s not objectively accurate, it’s good enough to get the job done.

Conduct experiments

Be it A/B testing information on your homepage or identifying which email subject lines resonate with your readers, experimenting can help you uncover quick fixes that you wouldn’t have known to give huge results. The trick could lie in eliminating one field in your form, or add detail on your landing page. For example, when InsightSquared removed the part where users have to give up their phone numbers, they got a rise in conversions by 112%.

Social Proof

What about make use of Social Proof in your Growth Hacking process? Check out our post here.

CONCLUSION

Growth hacking isn’t just another vague concept. It could be the single most incredibly ingenious technique for expanding your market. It doesn’t matter if you are a one-man-army or a team, a marketer or an engineer. Anyone can be a growth hacker, and your most important goal is growth. Nowadays, marketing your product through conventional approaches is no longer enough. You have to adapt to survive.

Useful Resources

Quicksprout offers a complete guide with really nice infographics: https://www.quicksprout.com/the-definitive-guide-to-growth-hacking-chapter-1/

Neil Patel offers a simple step-by-step guide: https://neilpatel.com/what-is-growth-hacking/

How can we help?

crowdy.ai is a tool used for conversion optimization. crowdy.ai uses social proof in helping clients such as OpvizorFit Schlank und Sexy, and Kleeberg.BUSINESS. And with social proof, clients get the trust of their market, improve their conversion rate, and lessen their cost-per-action to name a few of the benefits of crowdy.ai. You can try it 14 day for free by signing up here.