Founded in August 2008 by three room-mates who couldn’t afford to pay their rent, the peer-to-peer vacation rental company AirBnB is valued at $13 billion today. The phenomenal growth of the company became possible through a series of radical steps, or growth hacks, that the management continuously envision and implement.
To kick things off, the AirBnB founders decided to exploit CraigsList as it was being used heavily for renting-out accommodation. They started targeting CraigsList advertisers through emails, asking them to list their rental properties with AirBnB as well. It was a spammy tactic, but it worked. Next, they made a little modification to their website – AirBnB started offering people the option to list their properties with CraigsList after they had listed them with AirBnB. When the listing was added to CraigsList, it had a link back to the AirBnB website. Not only did this generated back-links for AirBnB but it also drove more traffic to their listings.
Does this seem too simple? That’s often how growth hacking work! Below, I have provided some really small and simple growth hack tips to use in your own business.
What is Growth Hacking?
The term Growth Hacking was coined in 2010 by Sean Ellis, who had practically become a one man growth shop for many of Silicon Valley’s dotcom companies. He set up systems, processes and mindsets that helped businesses leap into hyper-growth. He was, in his own words, a growth-hacker—a term he invented after he found it difficult to recruit candidates with the right skills to fill in his shoes.
Growth Hacking is a modern concept in which you hack your core digital product in a way that the product markets itself. You hard-wire growth in your product’s DNA. Consider the jaw-dropping growth of social media platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn. Until maybe recently, they had been in hyper-growth mode since they were launched. Why? Because they are viral by their very nature.
However, you can hack growth in any business. In the AirBnB example, people found it irresistible to advertise on CraigsList and generated free publicity for the startup. It was a tactic that helped the business grow very rapidly.
Is Growth Hacking right for Your Business?
[tr-shareit ]If you are a digital marketer, you can build #growthhacks into your content marketing, website, and even your product itself[/tr-shareit]
You don’t really need to be a digital marketer to implement growth hacks. If you are a digital marketer though, you can build hacks into your content marketing, website, and even your product itself. Growth Hacking doesn’t rely on advertising or PR to spread the word around. It doesn’t follow any particular principles from the old world of brick and mortar products. There are plenty of tools to help you hack into growth, but you need to know how to apply them. The results of growth hacking are widespread word-of-mouth publicity, more conversions, and incredible business growth. One of my favourite examples of growth hacking is the way Foundr Magazine clocked up 110,000 Instagram followers in 5 months.
6 Simple Hack Tips to Push Your Business into Hyper-growth
Alright, that’s enough theory and concept. Let’s get right to the meat. The following simple growth hack tips can be applied to any online business within days, and deliver a significant improvement to sales in the short term and eventually (and potentially) taking your business into triple-figure growth.
1. Hack Lead Capture
It’s such a shame if a good quality visitor comes to your site or landing page and bounces without converting. You must do everything in your power to keep the visitor glued to your website and take the action that you want them to take. There are plenty of ways of doing this, but most of website owners do nothing.
One of the ways to boost your lead-capture performance is to lure your visitor with a lucrative offer or give them some free stuff. Take a look at the GroupOn homepage below and see how minimalist it is. The visitors can clearly see the advantage of subscribing—a 50% to 90% discount on deals. To make it easier for them, the subscription box just asks them for their email address, no first and last names, no DOB, nothing! I can tell you that GroupOn have an almost never-ending mailing list as a result of this simple conversion hack.
2. Schedule Email Blitz
How often is too often in email marketing? Smart Insights have a great piece on this topic.
Each niche will differ but some businesses have good success from being very in-your-face. AirBnB sends daily emails to their subscribers about the latest rentals that they may be interested in, and the strategy has worked for them so far. You should use an email program like ConstantContact or Mailchimp, import email contacts from your social media profiles and mail lists, create a knock-out mail sequence, and put it on fire-and-forget.
It’s even better if you automate your email marketing with your latest deals and offers. There are several CRM’s available which you can use for this purpose. Check out Contactually. It allows you to integrate LinkedIn into your contact list and sync your contacts with your Facebook friends, email subscribers, Gmail contacts, etc. You can send out group, individual and batch emails, and can also track every mail to see whether it is being opened and clicked.
3. Create Scarcity and Urgency
Did you ever wonder why people pay stupendous sums of money to buy antiques and paintings? It’s scarcity! If the visitors coming to your sales pages get the impression that they can buy your product whenever they choose to, chances are that most of them will never make the decision to buy. “Oh, I can buy it another time” …a time that may never come.
Instead, you should drop clues about your product being scarce and/or time-sensitive. Using phrases like “Limited time offer”, “First come first serve” or “Offer expires in hh:mm” can often do the trick. If a visitor really likes your product, he/she will be tempted to buy right there and then. Notice how GroupOn, another company in hyper-growth mode, creates scarcity and urgency on its sales pages.
Another way to create urgency is using a sticky notification bar on top of your page header. Check out the Unbounce header example below:
4. Make Your Content a Must-share
The Cheese and Burger Society currently has more than 135,000 engaging Facebook fans, which it has gathered over a short period by applying a simple hack—it makes it almost obligatory for its followers to click the Share button. How?
Most social media users are tough nuts to crack. They may like your content and still not click the Like button. Getting them to share your stuff is even harder, but not if you are using a content locker plugin. These plugins restrict access to your premium content until the visitor shares the content that you want to spread. In my opinion, this method can be a little aggressive but there’s no doubt that some have had huge success with it.
The Cheese and Burger Society gets their customers to share or tweet pictures of their favorite cheeseburgers in order to be eligible to win free gifts. It’s probably a custom API that makes it possible for them, but you can always scale any growth hack up or down.
Here’s another way to get people to share your offers:
5. Revamp the Buy Button
Yes, write something else on it instead of Buy. Try “Get Awesome” or “Get it Now” button. It’s a subtle change, but the effect can be powerful if you have the right audience. If someone else is selling similar products as yours, the customer may prefer to buy from you, because they could perceive you as more creative. There’s also a psychological issue with the word buy, because it sounds like a commitment to pay. As ever, you will know your own demographic (or you should!), so you can adapt this tip to suit your own website personality.
The area around the button is also very important. Here are a few things you can put there to encourage people into clicking that button.
- A price comparison
- Key product benefits
- Customer rating and reviews
- The number of people who have bought that product
- And, of course, some elements to create scarcity and urgency, such as a countdown timer, limited stock indicator, etc
6. Gamify Your Website
Gamification is a vast subject, but it’s basically centered around people’s interest in publicising their actions and thoughts, and learning about others’. A simple example of gamification is providing a vote up or down option on your content, which you can do using a simple plugin. People can express their like/dislike about your post or page, and can also view how others have reacted to it.
There’s no end to gamification, and your visitors should love it. See how Poshly uses a number of gamification elements including countdown timers, quizzes, and free prizes to keep its audience engaged.
You can also create a system of badges, medals or bonuses to reward loyal as well as first-time customers. Gamification is customizable as well as scalable. 4Food, a website promoting healthy junk-food, has added plenty of gaming features to its website. You can build a burger for a cause and share it with your social media friends. 4Food will donate 25 cents to your cause each time a burger is sold.
Growth Hack Tips – Conclusion
As you may have noticed, growth hacking is dynamic and fluid. It’s hard to define the boundaries between different growth hacks. Gamification can merge with social sharing; scarcity can be turned into a social activity; email marketing can be blended with social media, and so on.
In order to be good, a growth hack must deliver significant growth. Every hack may not work for every business, and a lot of testing may be required before you can apply the right combination of hacks. But once you do, it should only be a matter of days before you see your growth spiking.