21 Growth Strategies
Growth Hacking is not only a set of features that you implement in a business to accelerate its development. It is also a way of organizing a team and team building. And if growth hacking is “more of a mentality than a toolbox,” as Ryan Holiday put it, then it can be called collective thinking.
Successful growth hacks result from engineering, marketing, leadership, design, and product management skills. Whether your team consists of only two co-founders or a skyscraper full of employees, your growth strategies will only be useful if you can integrate them into your organization, apply them to your workflow, and use the results of experiments to make smart decisions.
Simply put, there are no ready-made recipes for growth. To grow its customer base, your company must adopt new strategies for the product, problem, and target audience.
We offer 21 stories from 21 teams. They used growth strategies and tools to grow their companies massively. Each plan is tied to the brand’s context, but there is a lot to learn there.
1. How Clearbit Got 100,000 Inbound Leads By Offering Free Tools
Clearbit APIs open up unique possibilities. For example, extended trial registrations on the home page – but you’ll need a developer to implement them. Therefore, for Clearbit to grow, developers must try the tool. The company’s strategy was to devote developer time to building free tools, APIs, and browser extensions that would open other developers’ way.
They experimented with creating free APIs for specific purposes. The most successful project has been the free Logo API, allowing companies to embed their brand on site pages quickly. Clearbit launched the API on ProductHunt and distributed the information to the developer communities and mailing list. Within a week, the product received 60,000 views with a rapid rise in word of mouth.
Clearbit directed the development team’s efforts to create a trial version of its primary product. The Logo API represents Clearbit as a whole – it’s a flexible and easy-to-use way to integrate data into workflows. Companies can experience this functionality almost instantly by seeing how the logo enhances their pages.
By leveraging your team’s talents to create free solutions, you will make an incredible first impression of your brand. Free products will prove that what you do works. This will draw attention to the main product as well.
2. Experimenting With Paid Acquisition: Segment Increased Conversions
The Segment team developed an experimental data-driven approach to identify the most successful data collection channels and double their effectiveness. Diana Smith, head of marketing at Segment, said the company recently experimented a lot with pay-per-view channels. “In a nutshell, we learned that retargeting works, but the search doesn’t,” explains Smith.
The company has found that it is more efficient to reach out to those users who have already viewed the site than those who first discovered the area in search. After hearing this, the team decided to refine its retargeting strategy. They started setting up ads for visitors who viewed specific pages, specific documents, sent specific API messages, studied price lists, and more. The team promoted these ads through Facebook and Twitter.
By narrowing your acquisition strategy, you will increase your paid channel ROI. Drive conversions by attracting the best leads from context and thereby minimizing CAC (customer acquisition cost).
3. How Tinder tripled its customer base by offering a product to its audience directly
The Tinder team has created a fun product by “Gamifying” online dating. But to grow, the startup needed to activate its two-way app. The team needed a strategy to allow potential users to play the game and find many pairs on the “other side” of the application.
To test a product, you need to see it in action. The company has assembled a team of people who personally came to potential users and directly showed them the value of the product.
- The strategy spanned colleges and universities to collect registration data from a millennial audience. This move increased the number of users from 5,000 to 15,000.
- First, the team asked the girls to help them install the app. The installation aid overcame the initial friction.
- Then the staff did the same for a group of guys. The main factor here was that the app was already populated with female profiles. Moreover, all these girls had something in common with the guys – they went to the same college.
To find the right product growth strategy, you must understand how to show users its functionality. The Tinder team’s plan was a huge success, as users saw that the app showed potential partners right after signing up.
4. How Zapier Hacked Signups by Writing About Other Tools
Zapier integrates tools into a single system, allowing events from one tool to trigger events in another.
Zapier’s strategy is to exploit the actual “multifacetedness” of the product through content marketing. The team uses each new Zapier integration as another opportunity to increase search authority and reach a new audience. The Zapier blog reads like a collective guide to hundreds of tools. This can be seen at least in the headings: “How to quickly add text to an Evernote or OneNote note from the browser” and “How to automatically create charts and reports in Google Sheets and Docs.”
Indexed in searches on these specific topics, Zapier secretly promotes using brands of a variety of tools. This strategy has helped the blog reach over 600,000 readers from scratch in just three years.
5. How Twitter attracted onboarding users through “TOP People to Follow.”
Andy Johns became the product manager for Twitter in 2010 when the network already had over 30 million active users. But, according to Jones, growth has slowed. The growth team ran the experiment daily. The team chose an area to attract more users to run the experiment and subscribe to 60,000 people every day.
The strategy that brought Twitter the most users was to get people to follow as many accounts as possible during the onboarding phase. Marketers tried the 10 People Worth Follow feature.
This pushed users to speed up onboarding as intended. People did not have to deal with an empty update feed; they began to communicate with people faster, which gave additional reasons to stay online.
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Give new users a “guide” through the product during the onboarding phase by providing the first Aha! The moment at the very beginning: whether it’s connecting with friends, sending messages, or sharing files.
6.How LinkedIn Grows Explosively With One Question
The LinkedIn platform is designed to connect users on business issues, from recommendations to new work assignments. But on their own, people generally didn’t use the service the way it was designed. The creators realized that most users still have only one connection per profile. It was worth helping people make more contacts.
LinkedIn’s strategy is to get people to make the right connections as soon as they sign up before the service’s focus has waned. To this, people were asked only one question during the onboarding process: “Where did you work?” Based on this information, they displayed a list of users from their previous place of work. This encouraged new clients to interact with former colleagues.
By taking this step, people would be more likely to start making connections on their own. After adding this question, page views grew 41%, searches grew 33%, and user profiles got more detailed – the number of specified jobs increased by 38%.
Help people use your products the right way while grabbing their attention. And do it during the onboarding process.
7. How Facebook Boosted Weekly Retention With The North Star Metric
Facebook’s active base exceeded 1 billion users in 2012. It is easy to look at the massive growth of the network and rate it as huge. But Facebook’s development is tied to several key strategies.
Time and time again, Facebook has exploded growth, giving a constant emphasis on user behavior data. They have been identified by the so-called North Star metrics, guiding people’s decisions.
One of these metrics is “get to 7 friends in 10 days”. Facebook used analytics to compare user cohorts – those who stayed on the site and those who left after signing up. It found that the average for those who remained was seven friends in 10 days. That’s when the company discovered its Aha! The moment that correlates with increased retention – Facebook created an onboarding process that pushes the user to many friends.
Your team can focus on increasing engagement and retention by measuring progress against those metrics.
8. How Slack grew to help users adapt
Slack grew up watching teams interact with the product. The service’s team became the first test case; since then, the company has improved the product and attracted testers. Even now, with 4 million active users, the Slack team is looking for ways to enhance their productivity.
Slack knew to give users as many opportunities to chat as possible. The team then began building interactions to encourage people to send multiple messages at once. For example, Slack’s onboarding process kind of mimics the behavior of an experienced user. A message from Slackbot immediately opens a private message window, showing users the functionality of private messaging. The rest of the communication capabilities of the service are also displayed here.
Look for success. Reflect the behaviors that lead to new users’ success and encourage them to do things that lead to retention.
9. How ConvertKit Raised MRR to $ 125,000 by Helping Users Switch Platform
In early 2013, e-book author Nathan Barry publicly announced an unusual decision. He reported the “Web App Challenge” to build an app from scratch and get $ 5000 + regular monthly income for six months. Although it failed to reach the $ 5,000 mark, Nathan managed to create a strong demand product, whose MRR reached $ 125,000 per month.
Barry has tried out many growth hacking strategies in the first three years of his email marketing tool for bloggers, ConvertKit, but found it challenging to make the switch to the new service. All contacts, data, and drafts linked clients to old tools.
So Barry developed a service to help change the service. ConvertKit plunged deep into Word Press, Mailchimp, or another tool in which the blogger worked, fetched all the necessary data, and transferred it to itself. Fifteen months after launching this strategy, ConvertKit has earned $ 125,000 MRR.
Barry may have launched ConvertKit as a challenge to himself, but he could only achieve explosive growth by interacting with others.
By proactively searching and listening to target users, you can see the barriers to registration. They can be small, for example, the problem of transferring data between tools. And by finding these barriers, you can remove them.
10. How Yahoo Doubled Mobile Advertising Revenue By Changing The Team
When Yahoo doubled its mobile revenue between 2012 and 2013, it was more than a growing product. The corporation has hired a new head of mobile and new products, Adam Cahan. Kehan immediately took up the organizational changes that allowed Yahoo’s mobile department to quickly launch experiments, implement data, and develop new products.
First, Adam turned the department into a more tech startup environment. He brought together talented people from different industries – design, product management, engineering – and encouraged them to work almost like a startup’s founding team, focusing solely on developing mobile products with growth potential.
Adam argued that the conditions of close cooperation were preserved even when the team grew to 50 people. By focusing each team member on the user experience, he avoided the overspecialization that often occurs in large technology companies. Kehan gave the team a clear goal of learning how to make Yahoo better for their customers, even if that means changing the status quo or the previously installed software.
Two years later, Kahan expanded Yahoo’s mobile reach from 150 million users to 550 million.
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So by focusing on hiring the right people and letting them solve user problems all the time, he opened the door to organic growth.
11. How Stripe grew up taking care of developers
Stripe understood that developers were the key to implementing a service. The company’s founders, John and Patrick Collison’s launched Stripe with a niche challenge – the developers desperately needed a payment solution that could adapt to the merchant’s varying needs and match the buy-side speed and complexity e-commerce interface.
Stripe quickly gained 8.6% of the payments market share from Alexa’s top 1 million websites by focusing primarily on developers. The team achieved this by prioritizing product elements based on what the developers expected from payments:
To kickstart implementation, they focused on creating clear and comprehensive documentation. This allowed developers to acquire and work with Stripe products quickly.
Stripe has created a library of documents that guide the user through all products. The papers are written in more straightforward English than the code, making it easier for new users to adapt.
In the Try Now section, users can see what it takes to unblock a credit card with Stripe. This API explorer gives developers the ability to explore and test the API for their particular product use format.
By focusing on a specific user experience or audience that is more affected by the problem your product is solving, you will trigger word of mouth among the most loyal and authoritative users. For example, sellers over time started clamoring for Stripe products because their developers raved about them.
12. How Groove eliminated dangerous churn by sending targeted emails
In 2013, Groove saw an alarmingly high churn rate of 4.5%. The company worked well with new users, but for some reason, they left. Then the marketers decided to get to know these users better. This allowed them to reduce churn from 4.5% to 1.6%.
“Your clients probably won’t tell you when they decided to leave,” says Alex Turnbull, founder, and CEO of Groove. Explore the data and creatively solve audience problems.
- Groove used KISSmetrics to examine customer data. Marketers identified who left and stayed on the app.
- They compared the behavior of users of both cohorts. They found that staying in the application strongly correlated with performing specific key actions, such as creating a support widget in 2-3 minutes. Deceased users spent much more time on this, which means that for some reason, they could not cope with the tool.
- The Groove was then able to send these people targeted emails that helped them learn the tool’s value and brought them back before former users completely forgot about the app.
Using analytics data, you will identify behaviors that drive engagement and reduce churn. When you find this behavior, reach out to customers. By overcoming isolated churn patterns, you drive engagement.
13. How Paypal Paid Users To Hack Their Growth
Paypal has cracked growth with referral traffic. As a new payment method, the service needed to build trust with the original customer base before influencing new users.
Paypal’s radical first iteration of the referral program allowed them to grow to 5 million daily users in just a few months.
- Paypal paid the first users to sign up. The company gave money just like that. Bonuses started at $ 20.
- As people got used to Paypal and loved it, the bonuses dropped to $ 10 and then to $ 5. Then they were phased out. But the referral program launched the organic growth of the base, which began to multiply.
“We must have spent tens of millions on signups and referral bonuses in the first year,” says David Sacks, Chief Operating Officer of Paypal. But the initial investment paid off with a vengeance.
Incentivize users in a way that makes sense for your business. The referral program’s initial cost will pay off when the user pool creates a self-replicating virus machine.
14. How Postmates Reached 1 Million Deliveries by Investing in Engineering and Products
Postmates, an on-demand delivery service, reached 1 million monthly shipments last year. They also launched Postmates Plus Unlimited subscription service. With the growing demand, Postmates has focused on developing products that are affordable and easy to use. At the same time, they raised funds. In October 2016, Postmates received another $ 140 million in investment and was valued at $ 600 million.
But to cope with this growth and maintain the product’s strength while scaling, it also required scaling up its Growth team. According to Siqi Chen, vice president of development at Postmates, the company had “an incredibly close-knit, hardworking team that went out of their way with the tools available. But it is tough to carry out growth work at the Postmates level without unique engineering and product support. “
So the team switched to engineering and products at all levels. Now the Postmates growing team consists of three pillars: Product growth, Marketing growth, User acquisition. And each project has its engineering support.
By providing the growth team with growth opportunities and connecting them with technical decision-makers, Postmates has created a team that scales with the company.
15. How BuzzFeed Grows To 200 Million Daily Visitors With Golden Content Sharing Rules
BuzzFeed is a continually running content machine that publishes hundreds of articles a day and receives over 200 million unique visitors daily. BuzzFeed’s primary growth strategy was to identify viral potential and pursue it in everything the team does.
Jonah Peretti, CEO of BuzzFeed, just started listening to readers. He found that visitors were more interested in the community than in the content – people were frustrated. The most critical metrics for BuzzFeed were social sharing and social media traffic.
As a result, BuzzFeed developed the Golden Rules for Content Sharing to further refine the evaluation criteria. The team used all their viral hits to create guaranteed shareable content. This is important because it allows the team to explore new topics and areas with little or no success risk.
BuzzFeed focused on social media audiences and was able to adapt to changing platforms and reading patterns. Now over 60% of BuzzFeed traffic comes from mobile because people read content on the go.
Lesson? If you want to go viral, follow your customers. As Peretti says: “People are distributing media – and this is a stronger and better signal than a media company alone can create.”
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16. How Airbnb Got Explosive Growth Through Reviews
The Airbnb story is one of the growth hacking legends. The platform founders knew that their potential audience was already using Craigslist, so they developed their integration that allows registrants to publish ads twice – simultaneously on Airbnb and Craigslist.
But the review strategy allowed the service to grow further when these short-term tactics were no longer useful. Reviews enrich the platform. In 50% of cases, guests visit the host’s profile at least once before booking. And hosts with more than ten reviews receive orders ten times more often.
Airbnb has hacked growth and social media sharing, making it easy to write a review:
- The process of leaving a review is “blind” on both sides – the feedback is not visible until both (the traveler and the host) complete the review form. This makes the process more honest.
- The platform also added private reviews and reduced the deadline for writing a check to 14 days.
Simple and honest feedback about the owner and tenant increased the number of reviews on the site and the resource’s authority.
You can hack growth by figuring out what users need to trust you more. And then – just do it.
17. How Adroll Increased the Adaptation Rate by 60% with Modals
Adroll has one great MailChimp integration – it allows you to retarget ads for your email subscribers in MailChimp. But marketers found that very few users used this feature.
Peter Clark, head of growth hacking Adroll, wanted to experiment with in-app messaging to better target integrations with the right service users at the right time. But experiments like this require quick iteration. Clarke’s engineers were well-suited to longer development cycles, and he didn’t want to disrupt the flow of his organization.
So Peter and his team started using modal windows that didn’t require any code. They are easy to create and customize – and do not require technical assistance. The development team could develop and implement many of the windows necessary for the features they were working on. This is how it works with MailChimp integration:
customers who were using both Adroll and MailChimp at the same time.
They inserted this list into Appcues and created this modal by programming it to show only to users of both tools who could immediately appreciate the integration benefits.
They programmed the window to appear when users reached their dashboards. This is the central area of Adroll, where users set up ad campaigns.
This one-off experiment generated thousands of conversions and ultimately increased the integration rate to 60%. The case is so easy to repeat that Clarke and the team still use modals for their experiments.
18. How GitHub grew to 100,000 users a year, developing network effect
The GitHub title: “How people build software” is no coincidence. GitHub started as a Git software development tool. It was designed to solve a common problem for code creators by allowing multiple developers to work together on the same project.
The creators of GitHub realized that the collaboration problem is not just a practical software problem. The whole developer community lacks some kind of connecting factor. Therefore, the creators focused on expanding the product community, creating an open-source freemium model where developers could discuss projects and collectively solve problems.
The ability to track projects and the level of assistance of community members was developed. This is how the camaraderie and the element of competition emerged. This turned GitHub into a kind of social network for coders. A little over a year after launch, the updated Github got its first 100,000 users. In July 2012, Github raised $ 100 million in venture capital from Andreessen Horowitz.
By catalyzing network effects, you can transform your instrument into the culture. People will be involved in it for a long time, and not just use the product and leave. For GitHub, the more developers involved, the better the tool became.
Find a community for your product – and give these people a place to play and socialize.
19. How Yelp Achieved 145 Million Unique Visits Per Month By Gamifying Reviews
It’s easy to find a user base for a review site, limiting yourself to simple traffic. But Yelp has taken a different path – they attract returning users and community members, as their growth strategy is about the site’s social aspect. This generated 145 million monthly unique visits and overtook the competition by creating its service category.
Yelp set out to leverage the existing network effect by rewarding users for certain behaviors:
- Marketers have created user levels. Visitors could gain elite status by providing quality and helpful reviews. They could also vote and comment on the thoughts of others.
- Yelp rated reviews based on several factors, including the level of detail and the number of votes received. All these factors have made the service more accessible. Essentially, marketers trained loyal users to work as growth hackers for the company, rewarding them for improving the quality of Yelp content.
By turning reviews into a status symbol, marketers have turned the resource into a community with active members who feel they belong to the community. Think about how to make your product an exclusive club for users?
20. How Etsy Grows To 26 Million Buyers By Making Sellers More Social
Etsy went public in 2015, 10 years after its founding. The brand was valued at $ 2 billion, and the resource had 26.1 million active buyers and 1.6 million active sellers. Key to this tremendous growth has been Etsy’s creation of a “community-oriented” brand. Not only for transactions between sellers and buyers but also for building networks of like-minded artisans.
Etsy has fostered organic new user growth by actively encouraging merchants to share items on social media.
First, Etsy’s strategy was to attract sellers. The service supported them while leaving them independent in promoting and overseeing their business. This opened the way for organic user acquisition – sellers brought buyers themselves, who were then involved in the resource itself.
Etsy’s Merchant’s Guide is a course on the effective use of hashtags. Sellers are attracting loyal customers to their business through social sharing, while Etsy is positioning itself as a platform that simply supports interaction between parties.
The brand now has over 2.7 million Twitter followers – and even more on other international profiles. The hashtag #etsy generates a steady stream of traffic. Moreover, sellers create a visual and dynamic channel on their own, practically without marketers’ participation.
If you are in a two-sided market, focus on one side of the equation first. What do you need to do to make these people your channel for acquiring users?
21. How IBM Created a Growth Team to Reach Startup Growth
As a large corporation, IBM does not need to grow as fast as startups – creating growth literally out of thin air. But with the advent of cloud-based software, traditional hardware-software companies have faced significant challenges. IBM is facing an uphill battle to rethink its brand and products to sell to a more mobile audience.
Looking at the big picture of IBM’s growth over the past three years, you will see periods of slower growth, and in some cases, even a recession in 2014 and 15. IBM is still scraping the competitive landscape, but its history is beginning to look almost like a startup. With a global and challenging goal in the first few years, the company “aggressively reinvents” its identity and track record.
Their strategy to achieve this startup effect was to take a team approach to redefine and expanding new user bases.
As a large corporation, it no longer needed to develop a product from scratch. But by building this team, the brand aimed to grow into new industries, and new audiences with “data-driven creativity” and using small business strategies spied on in the startup scene. IBM now has nearly two teams: a startup model embedded in a large company and experimenting with marketing strategies.
“By treating marketing as a code, we turn it into constant testing, tracking, iteration, and improvement,” said former corporate social business manager Kasper Risbjerg.
Whether your team is remote or inflexible, you can transform your organizational structure into a growth space.
Instead of a conclusion
None of these growth hacks happened because the teams were trying to change the entire company at once. On the contrary, they found a small loophole, a detail, and created space for explosive growth out of it.
If you find that one feature of your product is the key to user acquisition or find a universal metric that allows you to repeat success, you have found an area of growth. Your Lucky Star is your ability to listen and notice what’s going on inside the product and what its users are doing. Let learning this be your first growth strategy.