Spend time on Facebook long enough and you’ll see plenty of posts promoting ‘life hacks’. Many are common sense, some are surprising, but all are designed to help you achieve an outcome quickly and easily.
Growth hacking is a similar prospect but aimed at your business, rather than your life. The term dates to 2010, coined by Sean Ellis (now founder of GrowthHackers.com).
The goal of these growth hacking strategies is to encourage swift business growth through following calculated shortcuts.
If you look at the success stories of businesses using these techniques, you’ll see a common theme. Ironically, that theme is variety. There is no one-size-fits-all formula.
Studying success stories can uncover the tactics other businesses used. But what you need is the strategy underpinning them.
We’ve rounded up 15 growth hacking strategies to skyrocket your business. Read on to learn more.
1. Offer a Referral Program
Your best spokesperson is an existing user of your product. But only the most evangelical users will ever tell their friends and co-workers about your solution.
How do you encourage the rest of your users, the ones who like your product but don’t rave about it, to do the same?
You set up a referral program. If your user encourages someone else to sign up, you give them both a bonus.
Why both of them? Well, if you only reward your user, the new user has no real reason to use your product. And if you only reward the new user, then what’s in it for your existing user?
If you think this sounds familiar, it is. This strategy is how Dropbox hacked their own growth. They had a million users in April 2009. That was 500 million users in March 2016.
2. Provide Embeddable Widgets
As we discussed above, people often trust other people over businesses. A referral program gives an active way for users to recruit people they know.
But is there a more passive way for your users to ‘advertise’ your product for you? One that ideally requires very little effort on their part?
Facebook discovered there was. They created profile widgets that users could embed on their website. That advertised both their presence on the network and the network itself.
Best of all? Facebook didn’t even have to pay for all of that advertising. Their branding was right there on the widget.
All they asked of the user was a tiny portion of their website real estate.
3. Keep It Simple, Stupid
Always remember the KISS method: Keep It Simple, Stupid. If your growth depends on user acquisition, make it as easy as possible for new users to create accounts.
Check your product’s home page. Does it offer too many options for visitors? Are there lots of links to click and downloads to gather?
What you’re doing here is creating the Paradox of Choice. When there’s too much choice, the user often chooses to do nothing.
So cut these options back to the bare minimum. Give a new visitor as few choices as possible. Ideally, ‘create an account’ and ‘login’.
With fewer options, they’re more likely to choose the action you want them to do.
4. Own Your Niche
Growth hacking doesn’t just refer to brand new techniques or “thinking outside the box.” Sometimes you need to know what you’re doing and do it well.
Identify your niche. How can you serve it? What content can you create that makes you the #1 resource for your audience?
Provide helpful tools. Teach your audience through long-form blog content (like this article). Offer free courses or run a YouTube channel.
Become the online destination for people wanting to learn about your topic. Keep refreshing and updating your tools and content to continue attracting new visitors.
It’s not the sexiest strategy, but it’s certainly a solid one. This form of content marketing is flexible enough to adapt to many niches and industries.
5. Model What Already Works
It’s not always about reinventing the wheel. Find what works and repeat. What do we mean by that?
Look to your existing successes. Who are your most active customers or users? Analyze your data to identify them.
Now deep dive into your data. How do they use your product or service? When do they log in? What is their first action after logging in?
Understanding the journey these users take every time they use your product gives you a behavior map. Crucially, it’s a map for a successful user that generates income for you.
Modify your existing solution to encourage users to model this same behavior. That might involve changing the options available after logging in. Or it might require a different onboarding sequence.
Twitter did this after they discovered users who followed more then 10 people were more likely to return. So they started encouraging new users to follow 10 people upon signup.
6. Focus on Your Email List
Email marketing might not seem like a fun growth hacking strategy. But 73 percent of marketers consider email as their best channel for ROI. With so many free and low-cost tools available, you can run inexpensive tests to gather valuable data.
Growing your list quickly doesn’t have to be hard. Adding an exit-intent popup to your website is an easy way to start.
An exit-intent popup is a better choice because it doesn’t annoy visitors as soon as they land on your site. It only displays when they make a move to click away.
Link the popup to something useful for your audience. A cheatsheet, checklist, explainer video, or mini email course are good options.
Drop those new subscribers into a nurturing email sequence related to your niche. Learn about sales funnels to move them through the right sequences. But don’t forget to ensure you maintain a healthy email list by using an email verification tool to clean your list.
Accessing your potential customers in their inbox means you’ll always weather any social media storms.
7. Offer Rewards for Social Sharing
We talked about rewards through referral programs. But incentivizing users to share your product on social media puts you in front of a much bigger audience.
Instead of offering something to both parties, offer a discount to the existing user. Link it to social shares to make it more effective. The more shares, the greater the discount.
Encourage users to share across multiple platforms to widen your reach. You gain a sense of being trustworthy with your users’ followers by association.
As a happy side effect, you’re eight times more likely to make a sale if users have a discount code.
8. Turn Using Your Product into a Game
Gamification is a great way to keep a user’s interest. Put simply, it’s the act of turning a process into a game.
Apps like SuperBetter use this concept to help people ‘hack’ their anxiety or gym routines. By performing tasks, or ‘quests’, to boost activity or wellbeing, users earn points.
You can apply the same principle to your own business. Reward customers for hitting particular milestones, like installing your software or leaving a review.
It’s also a great way to walk new users through how to use your product. ‘Levelling up’ is more fun than following a tutorial.
Using these ‘levels’ helps build a sense of community between your users. That’s a strong benefit if you run customer forums.
9. Give Visible Rewards
Rewards don’t need to be practical, like extra storage space or discount codes.
Websites like Yelp and TripAdvisor offer ‘badges’ to users of their site. They encourage you to leave more reviews so you’ll unlock new badges.
These statuses don’t do anything useful for users. But they’re a visible sign of quality (making the user more trusted) and let users know you appreciate their time and effort.
But those reviews are gold for most businesses. TripAdvisor relies on reviews to position itself as a key website for use by travelers. And it’s unlikely Amazon would be the retail behemoth it now is without its reviews.
10. Make Content Exclusive to Members
This might seem like a controversial strategy but it works for Quora. Because of their optimized content, their threads often rank well on Google.
But when users click on the link, they often can’t read the responses unless they’re logged in. Those without an account are encouraged to create one.
The tactic works well to increase Quora’s user base. That, in turn, improves the user experience for everyone. The more users the site has, the more answers questions get.
That better user experience is crucial to growth hacking. While ‘hacking’ sounds like a negative term, ultimately growth hackers want to improve that experience. They use a combination of clever marketing and data to do it.
11. Create a Helpful Tool – for Free Use
We talked about the value of useful tools when we talked about owning your niche. And we’ve talked about lead magnets for growing your email list.
But this growth hacking strategy slams the two concepts together.
Create a useful online tool for your audience. It might be a quiz or an analyzer. Put it on your website for free use.
The catch? Users have to give you their email address to get the results. This way, only people who are interested in your product will sign up.
You don’t just prove you’re the authority in your niche. This method also lets you gather leads while you go about your business.
12. Hold a Webinar – or Several
Webinars might seem unusual in a list of growth hacking techniques. But as sales channels go, they’re still extremely effective.
You can run them to achieve different goals. Aimed at potential customers, your webinar teaches them to do something using your product.
Run for existing customers, you can give them additional tips and hacks to improve their experience. Turn them into evangelists for your product.
Given 2 to 5 percent of attendees go on to buy, they can be a lucrative growth hack.
13. Target Influencers
Product placement dominated advertising in the film industry for years until it got out of hand. Critics even nicknamed James Bond film Die Another Day ‘Buy Another Day’.
But that’s not to say a well-placed campaign can’t still boost your business’s growth. Simply switch your focus from Hollywood to online influencers.
Identify a handful of influencers whose audience matches your target customers.
14. Use Transparency
Being transparent and honest should be a given in business. But many businesses still present a front of ‘success’.
While a ‘fake it ’til you make it’ mindset can sometimes work, so can the opposite.
SaaS company Groove favored content marketing and set about using it as their preferred marketing channel.
But traction didn’t come. So they analyzed blogs by other companies in their niche.
And they realized their competitors weren’t talking about the difficulties of growing. Groove took the decision to turn themselves into a case study. The questions and feedback from their users provided ideas for new content.
By honestly sharing their challenges with their readers, they built a $5 million business in three years.
15. Appeal to the Worst in People
This sounds counter-intuitive but bear with us. Have you ever stood in line at the store and wished you could jump the queue?
Of course, you have. Even though you know it’s wrong, how great might it feel to get away with it?
Mobile bank Monzo realized this and used it in their app. Signups could see where they were in the queue for getting a new account.
So far, so normal. But Monzo added an unexpected option.
If a new signup referred other new users, they could jump the queue. The tactic earned them 250,000 users in two years.
Appealing to similar tendencies could be the key to your exponential growth this year.
Which of These Growth Hacking Strategies Will You Try?
We’ve given you 15 growth hacking strategies to consider in 2019. Remember the main ethos of growth hacking. Get results fast and either drop them or scale up.
At their heart, they all revolve around marketing. Where other tactics focus on brand reputation or reach, growth hacking is only concerned with growth.
If it doesn’t help you grow? Don’t do it. But growth hacking can be daunting.
We’re a multi-faceted marketing agency devoted to getting your business back on track. We’ll help you set up the content marketing, SEO and social media you need to succeed.
Contact us today to find out how we can get you growing.