A lot has been said about growth hacking from the first time the term has been used by Sean Ellis in his 2010 article “Find a Growth Hacker for Your Startup”. By now, it has become evident that growth hacking stands for an entire process of startup growth that requires certain time, testing and probing, analysis, skills and mindset in order to be handled properly and to produce results. The disruptive nature of growth hacking has brought fresh and smart solutions to previous stale and inefficient marketing processes that were not user focused nor based on data analysis. Together with its affordability (basic growth hacks cost close to nothing) it has quickly been adopted as the go-to process for startups to grow and retain their customer base. Here is the list of seven nearly free growth hacking techniques that have proven to be industry best practices as they helped startups like Dropbox, Uber and Airbnb to grow their user bases quickly and almost cost free.
- Establish a product-market fit
- Drive traffic
- Landing page
- Viral loops
- Get socially approved
- Test, analyze and optimize
This essentially means that you should make sure that you have a product or service that offers the best solution possible in the market for a specific problem that is experienced by a large amount of people/businesses. This also means that you have established your ideal users’ profiles, that you know what they are like, what they like, where they are to be found and what language they speak in order to reach them. One of the best ways to do this is to carry out interviews with specific user groups in order to collect their feedback. Such surveys need to be heavily focused on gathering the key info for your product launch and some ideas on how it should look are presented in this article.
In order to drive much needed traffic in the beginning you need to get the attention of your ideal users. This is best done by providing helpful information about their points of pain and/or interests. Blogging is one of the key components of this technique since it provides you with freedom to choose the type of content you publish. Regular quality posting can get you a long way since it creates trust with your audience and makes them that much more willing to purchase from you in the future. Here are some of the most successful business blogs to help you find inspiration.
Next step of the growth hacking process is landing page optimization. You want to make sure your visitors get to the core value as quickly as possible. This means placing one clear call to action, and cutting down on any unnecessary navigational elements that may distract your visitors from completing the actions. Another important element that you need to consider when designing a landing page is the language. It is essential that you know the source from which the visitors came to your landing page so that you can adapt the language and visuals to fit their expectations. HubSpot’s list of 16 best landing pages provides great examples of successful landing page designs.
Once you have gathered email addresses from your users, it is time to retain them by conducting the so called email drip campaign. The campaign is one of the most effective ways to stay top of mind with clients by delivering helpful and meaningful content and an occasional informative piece on the products or services you are offering. Additionally, emails are a good way to inform your clients about certain events, promotions or updates. While collecting email addresses can be quite of a challenge for starting businesses, there are lots of different free techniques you can apply for this purpose. From social media to other pages on your website, virtually anything can be a channel for inviting users to give you their email in exchange for high-quality content (i.e., premium articles, industry research, etc), an award (to enter giveaways) or other valuable offer.
Virality is something that is strived for by many but achieved by few. Best examples of virality have happened when the viral aspect is built into the product, as was the case with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to name a few. These products have easily gone viral due to their purpose being to connect or share with others. In most cases, unfortunately, virality is not the part of a business, therefore some lesser viral coefficients need to be considered. Some may opt for a forced virality – those instances when in order to unlock additional features of a product, users need to invite a certain number of friends. This technique may work in some cases when users are already hooked on using your product or service, otherwise it could lead to the opposite effect and turn them off. Yet, there is still a great chance at improving your viral coefficient by refer-a-friend campaign, which still helps your growth metrics increase significantly.
Nothing makes people reach a decision to purchase as seeing someone else using that same product. We are social beings and it is part of our nature to want to feel as a part of a community, whether it is the problem, trend, or a solution we have in common. This provides growth hackers with the opportunity to spread their word across different platforms. Social media comes first for obvious sharing benefits and these networks are ideal places where your users can discuss and share impressions about your product at the same time helping you build a community around your business. Another important and free growth hacking technique you can easily apply is using testimonials of people or businesses using your product. This is another great way to let others make recommendations about your product making it more honest and unbiased.
Last, but not least, you should always keep in mind the analytical mindset that is essential to growth hacking. Be prepared to test and analyze everything since this is the only way to truly achieve significant growth. Analysis helps you learn a lot about your product usability, user experience and behavior, which can help you optimize all the necessary elements in order to better fit your customers’ needs. This is where the analytical mindset of a growth hacker comes into play and makes growth happen.
To sum up, growth hacking techniques are applicable once we realize it as a learning process that takes work, creativity, curiosity and analysis. In the words of Johan Berger, the author of Contagious: “Virality isn’t luck. It’s not magic. And it’s not random. There’s a science behind why people talk and share. A recipe. A formula, even.”