In the marketing community, growth hacking is repeatedly being dubbed the “new way” to market.
In fact, a lot of growth hacks are now becoming mainstream marketing techniques, as the benefits and success rates speak for themselves.
Growth Hacking is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest ways to grow a business, which is also why marketers and businesses love to use it.
There is plenty information out there on the basics of Growth Hacking, what it can do and how you can use it in your business, but this article is going to explore some of the lesser-known and even sneakier hacks that businesses have used to skyrocket sales and maximise profits.
While some of these techniques may be way outside the box, they do offer valuable insight into how startups and other brands have turned into overnight successes.
For example, the dating app Tinder grew from 5,000 to 15,000 users in just one day and Airbnb went from a no-name brand to a huge player in the travel industry in just a matter of months.
All of these once small-time brands have used growth hacking in some form or another to get where they are today.
So, if you are looking to skyrocket your sales or get your startup off the ground and into the limelight, here are 12 sneaky growth hacks that you may want to consider using-
Growth Hack #1: Fake It till You Make It
Have you ever tried to look cooler or smoother than you really are to get into the latest nightclub or bar? Have you ever tried the one-liner- “do you know who I am?”
The fake it till you make it hack is very similar to this and basically involves you setting up a few sneaky suggestions that make your brand look bigger and more powerful than it really is.
This strategy is effective for two reasons-
- It helps startups to secure investors who are more likely to be interested in the brand
- It helps customers to be more curious and trusting of your brand
Now, this is not about lying to your customers or investors, but it is about creating the illusion that your brand is bigger and more popular than it is.
There are many ways to go about doing this, but here are two strategies that have worked for other brands-
Pipetop is a Danish startup that decided to place several contact numbers on their home page. They listed a number for their UK office and other contact options under different phone numbers. By doing so, Pipetop were able to create the illusion that they were a much bigger brand. This helped the brand to boost their sales and sign up rates.
The ride share service, Lyft decided to go head to head with Uber and provide an alternative to the competition. In order to establish their reputation however, Lyft had to create the illusion that they were just as popular and even better than Uber. To do this, they hired a large number of drivers and paid them to wait around for passengers. The drivers were happy because they were getting paid and interested customers were happy because they saw a large number of drivers available to rent. By implementing this strategy, Lyft took off and is now a top competitor of Uber.
Growth Hack #2: Building Community
The number one way to build engagement is to build a community; a place where your customers and potential customers can come to interact, learn and gain information.
One of the quickest ways to grow your fan base and boost engagement rates is by creating a community feel around a product. Here are some examples-
Facebook is all about community, but when they implemented their Facebook chat service, they realised that users were more likely to stay around, connect and interact with the page. In fact, they found their Facebook chat service to be so successful that they even designed a new Facebook Messenger app, which users had to download in order to use the service. Even though Facebook was already a huge brand, this chat feature was able to further establish their sense of community and increase engagement rates.
Unbounce is a marketing software tool that allows you to A/B test landing pages. To help grow their user base, Unbounce decided to create a community were digital marketers could chat and connect with each other. By providing this platform, Unbounce was able to increase engagement rates and keep bringing users back to their website. This in turn, helped Unbounce to establish its reputation and increase referrals.
Growth Hack #3: Can’t Touch This
You walk into a store and there is a big, bold sign that reads- “please don’t touch”. What is the first thing you want to do? Of course, you want to touch it!
The human brain is interesting, when we are told not to do something our attention is immediately drawn to the thing that we are not meant to do. We become curious and we suddenly want to know what it is like to touch the forbidden fruit.
Creating an air of exclusivity or putting something just out of reach is a great growth hack that can help drawn in more customers and build the intrigue of your leads and visitors.
Here are two perfect examples of exclusivity in action-
Founders Card, offers entrepreneurs access to high level services, travel and hotels for a discount. The moment you click onto the Founders Card website you are greeted with their slogan-“Elite Status. VIP Treatment. Premier Benefits”. This instantly sets people up to believe that they are getting access to something exclusive and special that is just for entrepreneurs.
Quibb is a professional network that allows users to share and read industry news and research. To use Quibb, interested participants have to become members, but only 42 percent of people are accepted. Currently there are around 30k members of Quibb who come from big brands like Apple, Morgan Stanley and Microsoft.
Exclusivity marketing is a great growth hack for certain brands and taps into the fear of missing out. No one wants to be left behind, which is why this style of growth hack often works.
Growth Hack #4: Reverse Engineering
One of the best and most effective growth hacks around is to find out what your competitors are doing and then take the good bits and leave the bad. In the growth hacking world, your competitors are actually your best friends because you can learn from them.
To use this strategy effectively, find a campaign that your competitors did really well at and then reverse engineer how they did it.
To help you with this process, there are a range of tools that can help such as Alexa or SimilarWeb, which allows you to see your competitors website statistics, and Google Advance Search Operators, which allows you to see where your competitors are getting their backlinks from.
There are also other services out there that will allow you to track your competitors ads and analyse your competitors emails and social network.
By studying what your competitors are doing and looking at what is working for them and what is not working for them, it can not only save your brand time and money in research, but it can also help you to reach the same level of success in far less time.
Growth Hack #5: Join Forces
There are plenty of small startups that have decided to band together to become powerhouses.
By doing so, these small brands have been able to combine their resources and turn into even bigger players in the industry. Of course, this strategy requires finding the right brand to merge with, but the rewards can be endless. Here is a great example-
Buffer is a popular social sharing tool that allows brands to schedule social media updates to all of their networks in just one place. When Buffer was just getting started, they decided to acquire Digg Digg, which was an established floating share bar company. By merging with Digg Digg, Buffer was able to tap into their resources and instantly became an overnight success. Now Buffer has more than 2 million users and is still growing.
Growth Hack #6: Get More Followers on Social Media
Having a large number of social media followers across platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can help you to build your reputation and make your brand look far more successful and popular. Having a strong following on social media can also make your startup more appealing to would-be investors.
But how do you go about scoring genuine followers?
The last thing you want to do is collect spammy followers, as these will never serve your business in the long run, but there is another way-
To gain more Instagram followers try out an Instagram bot like Instagress. As long as you use the platform responsibly, it won’t violate any of Instagram’s terms and shouldn’t cause you any problems. The program works by allowing you to automatically follow people and like images that fall in your demographic. This helps others to see your account and be more likely to follow and like your images back.
Similar to Instagress is a platform for Twitter called Tweetfavy. This platform automatically likes and follows people on Twitter that are in your niche or demographic. This leads to you getting more likes and follows as well. Again, as long as you use the platform responsibly, it shouldn’t violate any of Twitter’s terms and conditions.
Growth Hack #7: Reward Shares
How many more shares would your blog or content receive if you rewarded visitors every time they shared it with their network?
It can be hard work to get visitors to your landing page, so once you have them there, what better way to capitalise on it by incentivising your visitors to spread the word.
Having your post shared numerous times on social media doesn’t just do wonders for your traffic, but it can also help to boost your SEO and get you more customers.
The incentive you offer your visitors is up to you, but to integrate a reward program, use one of the many viral sign up forms on offer. These include the Viral Sign-Ups plugin and KickoffLabs. Both of these allow you to put a share button on your site that can help you track who is sharing what and how frequently.
Growth Hack #8: Be Transparent
Consumers love it when brands can be transparent and come right out and share what it is that they are doing. This works for two reasons-
- The customer is appreciative of your brand’s honesty and is more likely to do business with you.
- Your honesty usually ends up making the press, and can score your business some much needed attention.
Here are a few examples of transparency in action-
The Container Store
The Container Store proudly announced that they offered their employees a very generous salary of $50k per year. By promoting good company culture, the Container Store was able to earn the attention of the press and win over customers. The founder of the Container Store even wrote a book about his philosophy, which further added to the hype and attention. All of this helped the brand to increase sales by 7.5 percent in just a few months.
Buffer is another brand that decided to get transparent with what they were doing and how much their employees were being paid. By doing so, Buffer was able to get into the press and was able to attract some top applicants who wanted to apply to work there. This helped Buffer to really get a kickstart and now the company has over 2 million users.
Being transparent as a brand also offers shock value, which helps to draw attention to your brand. Being transparent about things like salaries and pay cheques is not common, so when businesses do it, they really stand out from the crowd.
Growth Hack #9: Epic Referral Program
It takes a lot of time, money and effort to score a customer and this growth hacking technique ensures that you capitalise on all of it.
We have all seen referral programs before, but in order to take your referral program to the next level, you have to make it double-sided. This means that you have to offer both parties some incentive, not just the person who is doing the referral.
The reason for this is that essentially, humans are kind creatures and if they know someone who may benefit or be interested in the service, they are far more likely to share it with them if both parties are up for a reward.
Here is a great example-
Dropbox, a cloud storage solution software decided to try out the double sided referral hack and found that they were able to increase sign ups by a whopping 60 percent. They offered both the referer and the referee double the storage space when signing up under the same link, which motivated users to share the link with all of their friends. This is the power of offering something to everyone.
Growth Hack #10: Heat Map Your Landing Pages
Heat maps are nothing new, but there is a very clever way to use them that not many marketers know about.
While heat maps are great for showing you where your customers eye’s are being drawn, they can also tell you a lot about your customers.
In fact, by using heat maps and Google Analytics, you can get a very detailed picture about the type of customers that are coming to your page and which ones are actually moving through the checkout process.
To do this, gather your Google Analytics data and then observe where your heat maps are most illuminated and then compare the two for greater insight.
For example, say your Google Analytics shows you that you have high bounce rates and many new users. When you compare this to your heat map, you may see that users are skipping past the content and then exiting the page.
This will show you that your main problem in getting conversions is a lack of information and that your new visitors simply don’t have enough information, which is why they are leaving.
By running this experiment, it will help you to make changes to your landing page and tailor your landing page to show information more effectively. It will also help you experiment with different ways of grabbing your audience’s attention and explaining your products or services.
By using heat maps along with your other analytical tools, it can help you to maximise your conversion rates and really understand how your customers think and respond.
Growth Hack #11: Offer Gifts
Incentives are a great way to get your customers excited about your brand and willing to come back for more. One of the best ways to do this is to give gifts to a random selection of leads or customers on your email list.
There are some great examples out there of companies adopting this strategy will success. For example, Dropbox has been known to increase your storage space for free, and HostelWorld has also been known to add money to your account, which makes you more likely to use their services again.
By offering some free and seemingly random incentive like this, it gets your customers and leads excited about your brand and more likely to stick around for the long haul.
Here are some potential gift ideas that you can use-
- Offer inactive customers a coupon code
- Offer customers who just ordered a free shipping coupon for their next purchase
- Add money to one of your customers account as a random act of kindness
- Offer free samples or trials to new or existing customers
- Give cart abandon customers a discount or coupon code to incentivise them to finish checking out
Growth Hack #12: Find Customers on Social Media
Social media is actually a great place to find customers. Here is how to do it. Use the search bar in Twitter to look up an item that you sell or promote. For example, if your company sells sunglasses, try searching for “buy sunglasses”.
By using “buy” as part of your search term, it will direct you to specific conversations where people are discussing needing or purchasing sunglasses. Then you can swoop in with your offer.
While it is difficult to use this hack to score thousands of customers, you never know what or who may stumble on your brand when you take this approach.
Another way that you can use social media to find new customers is on a site like Quora. When people post questions about your niche or industry, offer a genuine answer. You may not get a customer out of it straight away, but the more you offer suggestions, the more you will be able to get your brand and your name out there.
You can also adopt this strategy on other social platforms too like Facebook and LinkedIn.
Growth Hacking is really about using the tools that you already have and getting creative with them.
When you give yourself the freedom to think outside the box and use your web analytics or software in new and innovative ways, it will not only spark new ideas but it will also help you to grow your brand and your business.
Growth Hacking is definitely here to stay and as more and more companies adopt these strategies, it is going to become even more important to stay ahead of the game.
While this is list of growth hacking strategies is pretty definitive, there are many other resources and tools out there that you can explore.
The one thing to keep in mind when it comes to growth hacking is to get creative and take a chance.
After all, sometimes in business you need to take that leap of faith in order to move from one step to the next.