Alexandru Bălţat

It’s no secret that today’s entrepreneurs aim turning a tidy profit and reinvesting it in their startup companies for long term growth. What’s important for the most entrepreneurial initiatives is steady growth and ingenious ways of onboarding users without breaking the bank.

Key growth hacking strategies are not reserved only for professionals. Anyone who has the right skills, tool stack and drive can build upon these tactics to increase a product’s reach and subscribers.

But what exactly is growth hacking?

Photo credit: growthtribe.com

Otherwise known as growth hacking marketing, Sean Ellis, CEO and Founder of GrowthHackers, first came up with the term growth hacker.
According to him, “A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth.” — Tweet it!

Everything a growth hacker does is aimed towards a single goal –growth.

A growth hacker uses all initiatives, tools, and techniques to achieve consumer growth. This professional needs to be both a marketer and an engineer who seeks out the best marketing ideas through testing and analyzing results.

The end game for any growth hacker is finding scalable strategies to bring in more users.

A growth hacker ignores everything else to focus on infiltrating the market through product innovations, new distribution channels, and technology-based features.

In a Q&A with Observer, Ellis expanded his definition of growth hacking as “a process of rapid experimentation across the full customer journey to accelerate customer and revenue growth.” — Tweet it!

While growth hacking is the new breakthrough marketing, Ellis puts emphasis that this method is not about the output but the process.

It’s no secret that the strategies and tactics out there are successful experiments which worked for companies executing them.

Some of them are universal, which means that they can work for any kind of e-commerce business and are worth repeating and others don’t.

However, what you don’t hear that often is how many unsuccessful experiments they have been running before they came up with that strategy or tactic that really moved the needle.

Here are 10 growth hacks any business can use to increase their customer base and product reach.

1. Introduce a Double-Edged Referral Hack

When it comes to key growth hacking strategies, Dropbox’s referral scheme will always come to mind.

Users who referred a friend received additional space for free, and the person who signs up from the link also gets a freebie.

This win-win situation paved the way for the company’s rapid growth, and it’s the same strategy Payoneer is also using to win more customers.

2. Do a Random Act of Kindness

Customers are fed up with emails offering products –these craftily created messages are often ignored.

In worse cases, they land in the trash, unread.

One growth hacking strategy is to give out something for free with no strings attached –and send your customers with a notification through email.

This will make recipients more excited to receive an email from your company.

3. Build on Trust and Focus on Delivering a Great Product

Growth hacking strategies is a vehicle for growth but it would never succeed if your product does not appeal to your market.

If you have a great product at hand, you need to capitalize on trust.

Amazon and eBay wouldn’t succeed if customers were unable to leave feedback.

The same thing goes for freelancing sites like Upwork and other online platforms offering products or services.

4. Launch a Program to Reward Loyal Customers

A bird in hand is always better -the same goes for business especially when you are a startup.

You should not just focus on user acquisition.

This also boosts retention rates.

An online food delivery business, GrubHub, launched the loyalty program Yummy Rummy back in 2011.

Customers were given the chance to play a game for every three orders they place –the reward could either be a free drink, a dessert, gift certificates or free food for one year.

The game was so addictive, customers kept coming back.

Customers love loyalty programs, and a ClickFox study in 2012 revealed 54 percent would increase the volume of business they have for rewards while 46 percent already did.

The cost of retaining customers is six to seven times lower than acquiring new ones.

5. Fabricate a Sense of Urgency

Urgency is a strong motivator to buy a product or take the deal before it’s too late.

Countdown timers and limited edition deals drive more customers than regular products.

Take Groupon, for example.

The site offers discount deals for a limited period so customers feel the sense of urgency.

You need to make the purchase before it expires or you will lose the opportunity.

Will adding a countdown timer or expiry date for the products be enough?

It won’t. The sense of urgency will be ineffective if the product is undesirable or the customer is not interested in it, at all.

Amazon nailed the right way to use this sense of urgency by offering lightning deals.
Customers who viewed the product multiple times see these special offers designed to compel user action.

6. Employ the Puffer fish Survival Tactic

The puffer fish has a visually striking adaptation technique when in a dangerous situation.

This marine animal sucks water or air to grow three times its original size.

This acts as a signal warning other animals not to mess with the puffer fish.

A Danish company, Pipetop, used an approach similar to the puffer fish’s survival tactic.

The company bought phone numbers in different countries in Europe, and displayed those in their contact information.

The results were spectacular –the media and investors thought Pipetop was a big company not a startup, which in return brought in a ton of PR and Investors.

7. Capitalize on the Fear of Missing Out

Insecurity is an effective tool to attract new customers.

Limiting access to a product or service to members triggers an emotional response –the fear of missing out is more effective than logic.

This strategy is all about offering an exclusive product.

One example could be the professional social network Quibb. They reject 59 percent of the applications they receive.

Likewise, Ello is following Quibb’s footprints, by only allowing people who receive invites to sign up on the ad-free social networking site.

Gmail also employed the invite-only strategy when it was launched.

Having a Gmail account became so in demand, invites were sold on eBay with bids going as high as $150.

Owning Gmail account meant being part of an exclusive circle and created a huge demand.

8. Piggyback on a Thriving Network

Spotify accelerated its growth through referral traffic.

When a Spotify user played a song, the title showed up in the user’s Facebook feed.

Ultimately, millions of Facebook users also became advocates of the music platform.

The piggybacking strategy is ideal if you have a business which adds value to the network you want to tap.

By offering a complementary product, you can ride on the network effect which worked to Spotify’s advantage.

9. Make Your Business Visible and Accessible

Hotmail’s glory days are over but the company reached one million users in just six months.

The company did this by using their 20,000 subscribers as leverage. A “Get your free email at Hotmail” sign-off strapline linking back to Hotmail site was added to every outgoing mail.

The results were almost instantaneous.

Users who clicked on the link became Hotmail users, and this fueled exponential growth. The same concept applies to adding “Powered By” in many website footers.

10. Launch a Freemium Model

Growing a business is all about knowing the most effective distribution channels and how to deliver content digital users will love.

One effective strategy to make this happen is to offer basic services for free.

Users are given the choice to apply for premium membership to unlock advanced features.

This was the biggest hack behind Spotify’s success.

The company was making money from cash subscriptions and from ad revenues.

Free users could use the streaming service without paying for anything but they had to listen to ads.

Growth hacking is about using the resources already at your disposal and sifting through ideas to find the inspired solutions no one may have tried before.

Creativity is at the core of growth hacking but so is rapid experimentation to continuously improve the product. — Tweet it!

A real growth hacking strategy is not just about driving demand -it’s about addressing pain points and giving customers what they want.

Ultimately, key growth hacking strategies don’t just center on tools –it’s all about your product and its users.

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