From Dropbox to Airbnb, growth hacking — the buzzword coined by Sean Ellis in 2010 — is the secret weapon behind the success of many startups. This era of startup hyper-growth began around a decade ago, thanks to expanded global markets, access to remote talent, and unprecedented later-stage private capital.
But what does it involve exactly? Well, rapidly implementing marketing and promotional strategies solely focused on business growth. However, with many ventures wanting to stand on the shoulders of startup giants, everyone is trying out the same growth hacking techniques. So, it’s time to tap into some of the overlooked strategies. Here’s how.
Growth Hacking and its Pivotal Role in the Startup Ecosystem
Around 80% of marketers say their industry changed more in the last three years than in the previous 50.
Therefore, with this competitive business landscape, companies don’t have the luxury of waiting for traditional marketing efforts to pay off. Instead, companies need to expand their customer base and increase revenue without breaking the bank.
Startups with limited resources and fierce competition need to be more creative and innovative than the average company, which is where growth hacking is key. The stages of the growth hacking funnel often include customer acquisition, retention, referrals, and revenue.
For example, by getting existing customers involved in referral programs, improving marketing strategies through A/B testing, or establishing authority with content marketing, startups can build a strong brand presence and achieve sustainable but rapid growth.
However, growth hacking doesn’t magically happen overnight. Startups must set achievable goals and know what they are seeking to accomplish. It is worth looking at and learning from other growth hacking successes and failures.
Even reaching out to experts in the field via LinkedIn or at conferences and asking them for opinions or tips can be extremely beneficial. For example, how did they incorporate growth hacking as a mindset and methodology? How did they prioritize initiatives and then organize their teams and resources?
A Recap of the Common Growth Hacking Techniques
First up, we have referral programs. Part of Uber’s rapid growth globally is often attributed to this tactic. Via the app, when a user referred a new rider to Uber, the referrer and the new user would receive free rides or credits. It created a self-sustaining loop of growth through word-of-mouth and social sharing. Dropbox’s referral program also incentivized existing users to invite friends to use the service. Again, both the referrer and new user would receive additional storage space for free. When the program was active, it contributed to 35% of daily signups.
Next, we have “low cost, high reach” social media marketing strategies. You can:
- Leverage social media channels to attract followers
- Drive traffic to your website by identifying the right platforms
- Create high-quality content
- Strike a balance between newsjacking and leveraging pre-planned content
- Use hashtags
- Respond to followers and running social media campaigns
Take Ryanair’s simple TikTok strategy looking at emerging trends and developing memes — it has led to more than 1.9 million users subscribing to its TikTok videos.
Then, we can’t forget the infamous SEO strategies driving organic traffic. Airbnb not only adopted an extensive internal linking approach for its user-generated content, but it also did a 180 on normal SEO best practices. It implemented a ranking algorithm that assesses hosts’ popularity using various data points like guest engagement and booking frequency. In turn, this has led to positive user experiences for both guests and hosts — and more repeat bookings.
Lastly, the all-important content marketing strategies that drive results and achieve business goals. This involves having a clear target audience, a well-developed content plan, high-quality content and regular analysis. For example, HubSpot is a marketing software company that uses content marketing and in-depth blog posts to attract leads.
Investigating the Overlooked Growth Hacking Techniques
There are also some unsung heroes of the growth hacking movement that can yield you some significant results when incorporated into a growth strategy too. Let’s check them out.
Did you know at the beginning of the year, 89% of marketers using micro-influencers said they would increase or maintain investments going into this growth hack? If that doesn’t sing of success and results, we don’t know what will.
Startups can tap into niche markets by partnering with micro-influencers. With smaller audiences but a loyal following, they have the potential to generate much higher engagement rates compared to mega influencers.
Niche social media platforms
Ever heard of the Dribbble social platform for designers and creatives, Twitch live streaming for e-sports and gaming, or Discord for instant messaging? These platforms may be under the radar, but you can establish connections with an extremely focused and specific audience that shares a genuine interest in your product or service. By establishing a presence on a niche platform with a narrower focus, you can position your brand as the authority in a specific domain.
User Experience (UX) Optimization
There are always new developments in the world of UX, which can drive customer satisfaction and growth. For example, if you’re unsure whether your leads are more likely to convert on a product or pricing page, you could use an exit intent pop-up to test out different conversion points and optimize. It also helps to provide insights into how leads behave and how they can turn into customers.
Engaging in Strategic Partnerships
By forming strategic partnerships with other businesses or organizations, startups can tap into new customer segments and leverage out-of-the-box knowledge. If you’ve just started a new collaboration, think about organizing joint events, creating co-branded content, or delving into other marketing initiatives to help both businesses reach a larger audience. Remember, the experience should be a win-win for you, your partner, and the consumer.
Customized Insurance Plans
Imagine you are a rapidly growing consumer retailer, and you are noticing security risks are beginning to rise. In that case, tailored insurance solutions can protect and support your startup’s growth as they mitigate losses and offer financial stability.
Implementing and Measuring the Success of Your Overlooked Growth Hacks
First things first, a brainstorming and research session is probably overdue. Look through all the unconventional or overlooked growth hacking techniques with your company’s executives and see what aligns with your startup’s goals and target audience.
Then, set specific goals for each growth hack and focus on the power of data-driven decisions. For example, if you decide to implement a referral program, your objective may be to increase customer acquisition by 30% within the next six months. To reach these goals, you must assign responsibilities to the appropriate team members and set specific timelines for execution.
It’s important to establish key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with these objectives to track the success of growth hacking efforts too. If we continue with the referral program example, you’d need to track metrics like the number of referrals and conversion rates. Ultimately, the more analytics you use to see user behavior and demographics, the more targeted your marketing campaigns will become, meaning a better user experience.
Finally, it is imperative to assess the return on investment of every growth hack by juxtaposing the implementation expenses with the ensuing advantages, encompassing aspects like insurance retention, website traffic, or customer lifetime value.
Understanding the details of what coverage your startup needs when you are rapidly growing and testing out new growth hacking techniques can be confusing. Founder Shield specializes in knowing the risks startups face to make sure you have adequate protection. Feel free to reach out to us, and we’ll walk you through the process of finding the right policy for you.