“Growth Hacking” has become the trendy buzz word for start-ups in recent years as companies like Airbnb, Facebook, LinkedIn and Uber have been able to boost their user base, profits and popularity to the next level popular without the help of mainstream media.
Doesn’t seem like that big of a deal?
Think about it…
Prior to these companies figuring out how to grow without wasting massive amounts of money on marketing, the accepted way to build your company into a large brand was to spend massive amounts of money on PR and advertising. However, these companies have been able to turn traditional marketing on its head by bringing in experts who are willing to try multiple marketing tactics as well as as many ideas as possible in order to optimize growth. The keyword here is optimize.
Growth hackers measure and analyze each tactic that is applied – if something isn’t working then it gets ditched quickly and tactics that do work end up getting enhanced. Growth hackers leverage as many tools as they can along with using traditional media to help with generating leads and boosting profits.
Below are a few approaches that you may want to consider to hack your company’s growth.
1. Referral Programs
One of the tools growth hackers have used to grow their customer bases is a referral program. Because people tend to associate with others who are like-minded, one of the best ways to reach new customers is through your existing customers. After all, they already like and use your product or service, so they probably have good things to say about your business, and since they congregate with other people like them they have direct access to more of your target audience. Plus, because their reputation is at stake if they make a recommendation that turns out poorly, their friends and other connections will trust what they’re saying when they recommend your company.
All you have to do to leverage these connections is create a win-win situation for both parties. On-demand car service Uber is a great example of this. Every user is given a unique referral link when they sign up. Any time a new subscriber joins using this link, the new registrant gets $10 towards their first ride, and the referrer gets a $10 credit as well. This creates a situation where everyone benefits, so more people are inclined to share the service with the friends and those friends are more likely to sign up since they get a discount, too.
2. Built In Sharing
Another way growth hackers build large followings without paid advertising is by including social sharing into their onboarding or content distribution processes. One effective way to do this is through gated content, which is covered at length in the post Drive Up Conversion Rates with Gated Content. The idea behind gated content is that you don’t publish your best material on your website or blog for “free.” Instead, you request that your readers and followers help promote your business in order to access your premium material. So someone would have to tweet a mention of your company or pin a promotional message to their Pinterest account first before being granted access.
Assuming the content you offer to your audience is of high enough quality to inspire them to take action, by building social sharing into the process you will be able to achieve extensive growth quickly.
3. Leveraging Existing Technology Platforms
Leveraging existing technology platforms is what puts the “hacker” in growth hacking. This happens when, instead of building their own native environment to grow their business, a company figures out a way to integrate it’s offering with an existing platform that already has a large audience.
The perfect example of this is Airbnb, a company that allows people to rent their apartments out to short-term occupants like tourists and vacationers. Airbnb found a way to integrate its listings with Craigslist so that with the push of a single button the listing would go up both on Airbnb’s website as well as post a listing on Craigslist.
Craigslist has a much larger following than Airbnb and there are entire classified sections on the site dedicated to finding temporary housing, which is exactly what Airbnb provides. By automating the process for publishing their listings on Craigslist, it meant that Airbnb instantly increased their exposure to the massive following Craigslist already has — for free — and wound up pulling a substantial percentage of the people browsing for temporary lodging over to their site and converting them to be users.
The moral here is to remove barriers from the onboarding process for your target customers. If they are already using another technology platform, instead of making them start from scratch when they want to start using your company, figure out a way to make your business appear like a seamless extension of the platform they already use. If it’s just a matter of one or two clicks for your prospects to get started using your service from the popular platform they are already using, then you will have the “ease-of-use” factor in your favor and prospects will try your company out just because it’s convenient. And if your offering lives up to their expectations, then you’ve just closed another long-term customer!
Has your company used any of these strategies to grow your business? Let us know what you did in the comments!