As an early stage startup, growing your loyal customer base will be at the forefront of your strategic goals. Competing with established businesses on a smaller budget is a challenge, but not impossible. That’s where growth hacking comes into play.
Sean Ellis, Founder and CEO of GrowthHackers, originally coined the term “growth hacker” in a blog post in 2010. There are many definitions of what a growth hacker is, but it essentially refers to someone who has high-level marketing skills whose primary goal is to grow a company’s customer base.
If you’ve been in business at any level, you likely recognize that everything takes time. Growth hacking allows you to test and iterate faster while keeping costs low.
Here are five growth hacking strategies implemented successfully by household names that you could implement too.
1. Get Your Customers To Refer A Friend
How did Dropbox and Airbnb hack their way to becoming billion-dollar companies? In a word, referrals.
Dropbox grew from 100,000 users to four million in a matter of four months, while Airbnb was able to triple their daily bookings after implementing their referral program.
Dropbox followed in the footsteps of PayPal, which had offered users cash bonuses when they referred a friend. But instead of offering cash rewards, Dropbox offered users more storage space, which proved more practical.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
Airbnb, on the other hand, offered referrers $25 travel credit after they went on their first trip and $75 credit after hosting a guest for the first time.
2. Make It Exclusive
Today, Pinterest has over 250 million monthly active users, and it gets talked about alongside other popular social media platforms like Instagram, but that wasn’t always the case.
They only had 3,000 users three months after launching, but that did not deter co-founders Ben Silbermann, Evan Sharp and Paul Sciarra. They went on to hold meetups with their loyal but small group of users. Then, they launched their “Pin It Forward” campaign in which users would make a pinboard and get more invites by getting their friends to create pinboards. The platform began taking off as the co-founders continued to focus on its user base.
Today, many people use Gmail as their primary email inbox, but it was once a skunkworks project with plenty of objectors. When it launched on April 1, 2004, invitations were fast becoming hot property, prompting some users to sell them on eBay. Making the platform exclusive only made more people want to check it out. Slowly but surely, Google increased the number of invitations users could send out, but it wasn’t until 2007 they made it available to everyone. As of 2018, Gmail has over 1.5 billion users.
3. Offer A Freemium Option
Slack is one of the fastest growing SaaS companies ever built. They achieved this feat by focusing on the B2B market instead of general consumers. It didn’t hurt that people were watching co-founder Stewart Butterfield after Yahoo acquired Flickr.
But among everything they did right, their freemium model may have contributed most to their overall success. The freemium option allowed people to try out the platform before deciding whether it was right for them. This wasn’t just any old freemium offer either. Users got to take advantage of a feature-rich platform and only needed to upgrade as they required more storage space and deeper message archives.
As of 2019, Slack has over ten million daily active users.
4. Leverage Influencer Marketing
Recognizing an opportunity, Interscope Records co-founder Jimmy Iovine and hip-hop star Dr. Dre collaborated on Beats By Dr. Dre. Unlike high-end headphones, Beats offered a more colored tone to make the music sound dramatic. Iovine polled everyone at the Interscope offices, including the likes of Pharrell Williams, Gwen Stefani and Will.i.am and asked them what they thought of their design prototypes. Iovine also sent a pair to LeBron James. James ended up requesting 15, and it wasn’t long before the entire 2008 U.S. Olympic basketball team were wearing Beats.
Subsequently, at the London 2012 Olympic Games, athletes were banned from wearing Beats headphones which only generated more press for the product. In 2014, Apple bought Beats for $3 billion.
5. Gamify It
When Magnum Ice Creams launched Magnum Temptations, they created a Super Mario Bros. style game called The Magnum Pleasure Hunt in which consumers were invited to find chocolate bonbons across the internet. By connecting with internet giants like YouTube, Samsung and Dove, they were able to create an engaging game that captivated users everywhere. The campaign resulted in more than 7,000,000 players.
With so many great growth hacking strategies for your startup to try, a loyal customer base is within reach.