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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.