A Comprehensive Guide to Growth Hacking for Your Business

Growth hacking - a comprehensive guide

Today’s digital landscape is evolving at a rapid pace and marketers have to constantly confront with a huge spectrum of terminologies that have changed how we define digital marketing.

Amidst these buzzwords, if you have heard about “growth hacking” and wonder what it means, you are not the only one. The concept has shaped over the past few years and has gained popularity only recently. Forget reinventing; growth hacking is all about using the proven strategies intelligently to be more efficient, effective and faster to grow and achieve your goals.

You know or not, growth hackingis the buzzword today…it’s happening around the world.

What is Growth Hacking?

Growth hacking is a strategy to use proven and inexpensive marketing techniques to grow and reap the profits. A growth hacker is drivenby the desire for growth and so Sean Ellis, the Godfather of Growth Hacking, rightly said that “a growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth.” He does not care about expenses, budget or conversions; all he cares for is growth.

Whether you own a startup business or a large multinational company, a growth hacker focuses only on your “make-or-break” metric. Thismeans either you grow fast or perish. Growth hacking is all about using creative, innovative, analytical and cost-effective methods to growyour organization’sconsumer base. Growth hacking often involves A/B split test and/or new ways of doing marketing funnels in general.

To understand “what is growth hacking” and how it can help your business, you first need to know what others are doing. The below examples indicate that companies of all size are leveraging their growth hack marketing efforts to improve the bottom line.

5 Proven Examples of Growth Hacking

  1. LinkedIn

Linkedin - login dashboard and sign up

Do you know how this renowned social networking platform grew from only 2 million to 200 million users? It is how smartly they used growth hacking strategiesto let the users have their ownpublic profiles so that they appear organically in Search Engine Result Pages when queried for (see the above image). Before LinkedIn, it was difficult to find yourself in the top Google search results unless you were some big personality. (I am sorry for the danish text example, but it’s because of my danish ip address)

  1. AirbnbAirbnb login screen

Airbnbis one of the greatestexamples of how startups can use growth hacking strategiesto increase their customer base effectively and instantaneously.

When Airbnbstarted off, it needed a significant growth in accommodation providers and customers. At the same time, building a strong brand reputation was also a priority. So, the genius minds behind the company thought of something that became a legend in growth hacking.

They tied up with Craigslist, giving their accommodation providers an option to list their property on Craigslist, upload an accommodation ad and verify their listing.

In those days, Craigslist was an established brand with an active user base. So, anyone who searched for affordable accommodation on Craigslist got AirBnB listings right in front of them. Targeting the right information to the right market and at the right time resulted in exponential growth of Airbnb.

They did not iterate or reinvent anything. Airbnbhacked Craigslist’s platform to increase their audience base substantially.

  1. Skype

skype example

Giving growth hack marketing a new dimension, Skype uses a viral loop to grow its user base. The globally-renowned telecommunication app needs its users to invite family, friends, andothers to join the Skype network and stay connected always.

Once the invitees started Skyping, they added their network of contacts, and the loop continued. By the time, Skype had garnered a whopping 330 million users!

Candy Crush Saga is another example of how to use the viral-loop as a growth hacking strategy. The Facebook gaming app was less popular until they forced the gamers to invite others before they could move forward to the next level.

facebook notification - candy crush

While it was a bitannoying for many, whoreceived such notifications, yet the game went viral and added to its active user base.

  1. YouTube

Youtube - worlds second largest search engine

The 2nd largest search engine, YouTube, did not reach its monthly user base of 1.8 billion just like that. Competing with other video networking platforms, YouTube went a step ahead, providing users a simple option of “Embedding” their videos. And that had set it apart from others.

Now, users may not only upload videos on YouTube but can also view their preferred videos like in a video player on their own website. The results are marvellous as you could see above.

  1. Dropbox

Dropbox - signup - growth hacking technique

Dropbox always steals the show with its unique growth hacks, setting an example of proven growth hacking strategies. From its very beginning, Dropbox has used creative referral programs to increase the number of active users onboard. They offer free storage space to the existing customers who would invite their friends via Yahoo Mail, Facebook, andTwitter.

Dropbox - signup - growth hacking techniqueThey also incentivised users for completing certain tasks on Dropbox such as inviting people, sharing a file, etc. This caused users to stick around more. No wonder the growth hack worked and today Dropbox has over 500 million users.

Benefits of Growth Hacking

The above examples show how businesses, big or small, are using various growth hack marketing tactics to drive significant growth in users. No wonder why several startups achieved massive growth in a shorter time span. Discussed here are the growth hacking benefits that you can use to your advantage:

  • Low Resources: Growth hackers do not need to formulate new things to drive growth. Rather they innovatively leverage the established tactics, platforms and strategies to increase brand awareness, traffic, and Instead of using your entire marketing team, find a growth hacker who masters the art.
  • Cost-Effective: Successful growth hacking implies using the available resources and techniques inexpensively. Despite what you might have to wait before you can dig into the golden egg, but it does not have high costs associated with it unlike other marketing efforts such as advertising or content marketing.
  • Measurable ROI: The best thing about growth hacking is that you have access to critical data that helps track performance and make informed decisions. You can monitor which hacks are performing at par and which need necessary tweaks. This can help measure your return on investments.

Top 7 Growth Hacking Strategies

The growth hacking strategies should be outlined so as to optimize the growth hacking funnel effectively. The below image explains the “pirate metrics” clearly:

Growth hacking funnels - how to

#1 Grow Your Email Marketing List with Exit Intent Popup

Email marketing is one of the most inexpensive and effective ways to connect with your audience and encourage them to be your customers or subscribers. According to a study, you can earn $40 in revenues for every $1 spent on email marketing (yes a 40x ROI).

However, building on your email list takes time. You need a hack that will boost your subscriber list substantially and in no time. For this (if you run an e-commerce or otherwise web-based business), you need an Exit Intent Campaign on your website that can transform abandoning visitors into subscribers.

Popup website banner

Right when your website visitors are about to leave the page without any positive business outcome, the popup will show up, alluring them to subscribe. Create an appealing exit intent pop-up with a lead magnet (sort of incentive to potential subscribers) as shown above. Use an exit intent popup tool such as Thrive Leads, Growth Funnel, Ninja, Omniconvert or OptinMonster to enable the option on your website. Sit back and relax as you see email subscriptions pouring in.

#2 Make it Viral

One of the best growth hack marketing techniques is to make your product viral. Growth hackers call it “viral acquisition.” You can make the product viral naturally by adding some unique feature, creating a mind-boggling promotional campaign or providing one-of-a-kind offers that will induce your customers to share, thus, generating new customers.

You can also push your product to go viral by including an option that forces the users to invite others to join. For instance, the example of Candy Crush Saga mentioned in the article earlier.

When done right, viral acquisition can help achieve significant growth.

Hotmail is a classic example of smart hacking its own product and users to increase email sign-ups. They offered free email solution to all and attached a small taglineat the bottom of each email sent via Hotmail. So, every email sent by Hotmail users had the message of ‘free email service’ by default. This spread like a virus, promoting Hotmail’s free service. The messageat the end of the email was attractive enough for the recipients to sign up for Hotmail as well.

hotmail - referral marketing - growth hacking

Following this viral strategy, Hotmail acquired massive growth in the number of new sign-ups.

#3 Content Marketing

Nothing can beat the power of intelligent content marketing for growth hacking. The best part is that it drives growth at different levels. In-depth, informative and engaging content may not only increase website traffic but can also turn visitors into customers.

Do not limit yourself to creating implausible website content only. Use different forms of content marketing such as blog posts, guest posting, slide share, videos, infographics, e-books, etc. that would increase brand awareness as well as encourage social sharing.

The 3000- words content hack is an excellent way to attract more consumers in no time. Create an epic 3000+ word blog or article that covers a particular topic in details. Use an empathy map to know what your target audience would love to read or what interests them. Based on it, craft a content that is in-depth, engaging and induces readers to share or take a positiveaction.

In the article, add relevant images, charts, and infographics to make it attractive and interesting to read. Include quotes or references from industry influencers and add links to other reputable blogs of the same genre. Email them saying they are featuredin your blog or article. This will help encourage social sharing, and in no time, you will see a massive increase in users.

Even Google provides long-form content a special place in its SERPs over shorter content. See the image below:

Content length - ranking organic in google SERP

Another study indicates that 2500+ articles get more social shares and backlinks. Some great examples of this growth hacking strategy are Moz, Quicksprout, HubSpot and Neil Patel.

#4 Incentivise Social Shares

Globally, there are millions of users on various social media platforms. You can hack this opportunity to spread the word via word-of-mouth communication and social sharing. This will help increase brand awareness as well as get new customers.

Buy merely asking people on your network to share the word does not always serve the purpose. They would ask, “what is in it for me?”

Use “rewards” as the bait to have people share your message, andyou would see your brand spreading like wildfire. Referral programs (as in the example of Dropbox mentioned earlier) work goodto attract new customers. But Groupon gave it a completely new twist.

The global e-commerce marketplace has the message clear – SHARE and GET the deal before it EXPIRES. Theyhave intelligently used urgency and the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) to boost social sharing. People have understood that if they do not share, they will potentially miss out on a lucrative deal because it will expire soon.

Expire soon - people bought recently onlineshop plugin

Thisis how Groupon does it to push people to share and get the deal. With this growth hack marketing strategy, the store getsnew users every day.

#4 Hack Contest or Survey Responses

Contests and surveys are one of the most effective ways to increase awareness for your product or service. Many brands have successfully implemented this growth hack marketingstrategy to spread the word and build a stronguser base. And if it is something related to your product or service to give them back as prizes, it’s a win-win situation for you.

Create something appealing as Kate Spade did. The below example shows how they smartly used the surveyto get more interested customers as well as paved the way for the nextpurchase as well.

You can also include a sense of urgency into it to get a quickresponse.

Various social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter allow running attractive contests to drive social media engagement and have more followers. Create photo contests, sweepstakes, bonus entry contests, etc.

Firstcry.com, an online store for baby and kids products, beautifully used the contest hack to drive more customers. They publicised the contest on their website, on Facebook and via emails to spread the word. The contest was so sweet that every parent wanted to participate. The results – gigantic brand awareness as more and more people shared the contest message, customer loyalty, andincrease in new users. See how they used a simple photo contest to drive growth for their business:

Who would not love to see their kids in television commercials! Firstcry intelligently tickled the sentiment to increase their user base.

#5 Low-CostAdvertising Hack

As growth hacking is all about using the available resources effectively and inexpensively, the advertising hack may work the best for you.

Retarget your ad to people who know your brand but did not get a free demo/trial/purchase. You can also target people who are users of your biggest competitor. In layered targeting, the audience base is small, yet concrete and your ad spend inless than $10 per day.

You can also use social media ads which are comparatively less costly than other forms of advertising but have a substantial potential reach.

Create an ad content that is interesting and talks specifically to your audience. This is an excellent way to increase click-through rate and boost your conversions.

#6 Hack the Potential of Quora or Similar Other Sites

Today consumers prefer making an informed decision before they buy a product or service. And that is why question-and-answer sites such as Quora have received immense popularity these days. According to a study, Quora has over 190 million monthly users, andthe number is growing at a rapid pace.

No wonder this is a lucrative platform to use to your advantage. Quora allows businesses to advertise on their forum, reaching out to people who are looking for advice on products or services related to them. You can also post an interesting question related to your business or industry and let user answers pour in. A significant portion of these users will show an interest towards your brand, leading to quality leads for your business.

#7 SEO Hacking for Organic Results

Though many consider SEO as one of the alternatives to growth hacking to drive organic results in the long-run, but it is a vital strategy that, when done smart, can get you higher traffic in no time. That does not mean you will use black-hat techniques to drive quick results. Leverage the ones that are proven and generates quality leads.

Install Google Webmaster Tools on your website and use it effectively to increase your page rankings also immediately. You can hack different parameters of this tool such as sitelinks, search traffic, indexing, etc. to improve visibility and user experience on your site.

Steal your competitor’s audiences by downloading all the incoming backlinks to their site. Check out all these links coming from other websites, bloggers, reporters, andinfluencers. Now, create an in-depth content (as discussed earlier in this article), optimize it and build a conversation with the above link sources, influencing them to add a link of your content to their site or blog.

Since these are some authoritative sites or people on the web, they already have high page rankings. Hacking this platform and authority will help you boost your page ranking as well as get higher click-through and conversions.

Steps to Implement Growth Hacking Into Your Business

Behind every successful growth,the hackingcampaign is a structured, meticulous process that is deeply rooted in informed decision-making, scalability, anditeration. Whether you are a startup or a multinational organization, there are no alternatives to growth hacking that can deliver massive results instantaneously. For this, the process must be well thought-off, smart and customizable.

Before you leap, follow these essentialsteps to ensure an effective growth strategy:

#1 Make Your Product ‘Perfect’

– Your product is the most significant catalyst for business growth. We know you have a wonderful product but a growth hacker will want it to be market-fit. There are millions of similar products out there in the market, and yours have to be the show-stopper. Analyse the needs and interests of your audience anduse the data to improve your product. Only a growth hacking campaign that is backed by a reliable and robustproduct can achieve significant results.

Former growth hacker, Josh Elman, beautifully tweeted on the relationship between product development and growth hacking –

“Growth hacking is a recognition that when you focus on understanding your users and how they discover and adopt your products, you can build features that help you acquire and retain more users, rather than just spending marketing dollars.”

#2 Find a Growth Hacker

– No, growth hacking is not everyone’s cup of tea. You need a professional growth hacker who has vast experience and expertise in using innovative and inexpensive strategies and tactics to help grow an organization’suser base. Multi-billion dollar companies such as Microsoft, Facebook and others have dedicated growth hackers who have driven significant business growth.

Having a growth hacker is the best choice for startups because they need to establish their brand and build a customer base in a shorter period.

#3 Use Multiple Platforms to Broaden Your Reach

– Do not keep your growth hack marketing campaign limited to just one platform. There are various platforms out there with millions of users and subscriptions. Depending on your product and target audience, leverage the potential of multiple platforms such as email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Google search engine, etc.

#4 Analyse and Optimise

– Analysing your campaign performance helps to stay on track with your set goals. As you measure your progress, it can also be vital to optimizeor refine different areas to get the best results.


Growth hacking might sound like a magic bullet, but it needs thoughtful planning, measurable goal-setting, precise delivery, and comprehensive analysis. Only then you will be able to acquireand retain your customers for better revenues and references.


One thought on “A Comprehensive Guide to Growth Hacking for Your Business

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