Startup growth hacking is more of a mindset and a series of processes than anything else.
Mainly, it can be a great way to discover the tactics that will help your startup grow.
But, growth hacking can help you with a series of other things as well.
In this article, I am going to give you six of these ways.
So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!
Way #1: Find the Right Traction Channels
Many new startups have used growth hacking to find the right traction channels for their business.
Some of these channels may be:
- Social media
- Google Adwords
- Email marketing
- Messaging apps (Messenger, WhatsApp)
I want to bring to light the fact that successful growth strategies allow startups to discover the right channels — channels that could fuel their engine of growth.
Let me give you an example.
Robinhood is a mobile App that initially allowed you to invest in and trade stocks.
It ran a pre-launch campaign that prompted users to join a waitlist for a product that wasn’t even available at that time.
More than 300,000 users joined their Email list and waited for the App to launch.
Here is how the landing page looked like:
The best thing about this particular campaign wasn’t the success it had.
This campaign taught Robinhood something vital — that this tactic works for them and could work in the future.
On the same vein, they ran a similar campaign when they decided to launch Robinhood Crypto.
Over 1,000,000 people signed up for early access this time.
Here is what the landing page looked like:
As I hope it is evident by now, growth hacking can help you discover what the best marketing channels for your startup are, and use them to your future campaigns.
Let’s move on to the next one.
Way #2: Find the Ideal Customer
It is of paramount importance to understand that growth hacking can help you find potential customers as well as to discover who the ideal customer for you is.
Growing your user base through various user acquisition techniques is essential —
But, you also have to know if the users or customers you are acquiring are going to stick with you.
What does this mean exactly?
It means that successful growth strategies involve speaking to your current customers and trying to find how you will satisfy their needs and solve their problems —
This is a long-term approach rather than a short-term one.
As Alicia Shiu and Archana Madhavan mention in their Product Analytics Playbook:
“Increasing user retention and minimising churn is the key to building a base of loyal, engaged users and driving sustainable growth.”
Increasing the baseline level of users or customers is the way to drive sustainable growth.
In fact, flattering the user retention curve is the only way to attain growth:
Growth hacking helps you discover the ways to increase your customer base and thus acquire more customers at a lower cost.
Way #3: Find the Right Content to Publish
Growth hacking can help you form a clear and more effective content marketing strategy.
Solid growth hacking strategies usually involve a significant amount of great content.
Some of the most successful startups like Buffer or Outgrow have heavily invested in content marketing, and it (probably) have paid out.
Here is how Buffer’s social blog editorial looks like:
Adopting a growth hacking mindset in every action related to content that you take, allows you to understand what is working and what is not working.
Thus, you can double down your efforts on things that work and don’t waste any time or resources in things that don’t work.
If you want to scale this process, you have to find a team that will continuously produce, publish, repurpose and test content.
Here is a list of startups and established SaaS businesses that do a great job with their content:
- Crazy Egg
Many people suggest that content marketing is a long-term strategy and thus don’t fit in a startup.
But, successful startups place content at the top of their growth hacking techniques list.
According to ProfitWell:
“47% of buyers view 3 to 5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales team and companies with blogs still get 67% more leads than those who don’t.”
Last but certainly not least, growth hacking can also help you discover the best places to distribute your content.
For example, social media may work in your case or a channel like Quora may work excessively well for you — to discover the best channels, you have to test.
Way #4: Find Out How to Improve Your Product (and Pricing)
I’ve mentioned before that to attain growth, you have to build a stellar product.
Don’t get me wrong, but growth hacking techniques can only be effective if there is something of real value there.
You wouldn’t expect companies like Hotmail, Dropbox, Airbnb or Hubspot to grow without having a great product.
A growth hacker may be someone whose — according to Sean Ellis — true north is growth, but growth can only be attained for products that add real value.
Of course, this value has to be communicated, as Dropbox elegantly does with this excellent Email marketing campaign —
But, this is just the perceived value of the product.
The actual value is what will make your customers or users stick with your product and keep using it no matter what.
Running tests and experiments allow you to understand how to improve your product and what features add the most value to your customers.
One thing that goes unnoticed by the majority of growth marketers is the fact that the pricing model can also (and should) be tested.
Regardless if you have a free plan, free trial or freemium available, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to test different pricing structures to:
What you think your product’s value is and what your customers or prospects believe it’s value is.
One of the most popular examples here come from Dan Ariely, who ran a pricing experiment based on The Economist’s subscription offer.
He describes the experiment in his infamous book Predictably Irrational.
Here is how the initial offer looked like:
As you can see, both the “Print subscription” and the “Print & web subscription” cost $125.
So, why pick up the “Print subscription” one, right?
Well, in the experiment that he conducted, Dan asked 100 MIT students to choose one of the three options.
The 16% of them chose the first option, and 84% of them chose the third option.
That makes sense.
But, when Dan asked 100 more MIT students giving them only the first and the third option, the results were a bit odd —
Surprisingly enough, 68% went with the first option, while only 32% went with the third (which was the second one) choice.
Thus, the second option wasn’t as useless after all as it “pushed” people to the third option.
This is a classic pricing experimentation example that can teach you one thing: nothing is absolute if it isn’t tested first.
Way #5: Find the Right Things to Track
Growth hacking can help you find the right things to track.
By running experiments and tests, you can find out which things are essential and thus focus on them.
Needless to say that something that is important to startup a may not be necessary for startup b.
For example, Facebook’s North Star Metric in its early days was the number of users who added 7 friends in their first 10 days on the platform.
How did they come up with this metric?
They ran experiments — and, they adopted a growth mindset that allowed them to realise that users who added 7 friends in their 10 days on the platform were more likely to use the social network in the long-term.
You may be wondering why.
Because if someone had more of their friends on the platform, they would interact with the users they added and thus be more engaged overall.
Simply put, they will have reasons to stay on the platform.
Likewise, by running tests and experimenting, you can discover what the most critical metrics for your own startup business are.
You can build your tracking system using tools like:
- Crazy Egg
- Google analytics
- Google Tag Manager
- Facebook Analytics
- Ahrefs (to track backlinks and SEO-related metrics)
Make sure there aren’t any broken measurements across marketing channels (or, at least the ones you are using) and you’ll be fine!
Way #6: Find Out How to Minimise Costs
In contrast with a digital marketer, a growth hacker is always trying to find ways to minimise costs and maximise the impact of the strategy.
Truth been told, you don’t need to spend a ton of money to get results.
Here is a quick example:
From spending $233 – $388 Cost per Acquisition for a $99 product, Dropbox managed to drop the costs of user acquisition and maximise its overall performance.
By using word-of-mouth.
This wouldn’t have happened if there was no experimentation or a growth mindset within the company whatsoever.
Growth hacking can help you:
- Improve your lead generation
- Increase potential customers
- Get more paying customers
- And, turn customers into promoters
While minimising costs.
Why is this important?
Because with the cost of acquisition being 5x higher in the last five years, you need to find ways to minimise your cost per acquisition.
As Rand Fishkin points out in an interview he gave regarding user acquisition:
“My answer is to worry less about proving ROI and more about being willing to give creative opportunities with imperfect measurement a try.”
To discover these creative ways, you have to experiment and not to be afraid of going the extra mile using unorthodox tactics with hard-to-prove ROI.
It is of paramount importance to understand that growth hacking can help your startup in many possible ways.
I am sure that this article will show you the ropes regarding your startup growth hacking efforts.
For all of you who have managed to see the concrete results of growth hacking already, well done — you can now give yourself a pat on the back.
For the rest of you who want to get your feet and get started, just read this article:
It will point you in the right direction.