Here are 111 ideas for Growth Hacking (GH). (Actually, it’s 285, thanks to Helvijs and Anupam! 🙂
But first, just exactly what is growth hacking? A good bit of it is marketing stuff (and, as you’ll see below, somewhat spammy ways to get attention). But there’s ideas such as optimizing for onboarding, retention, and offboarding (in non-SV words: improve the process for new customers to start, keeping those customers, and make changes to keep customers who quit).
A great deal of GH is low-level get users by any means tactics. Nearly all of the books and blogs postings on GH don’t talk about serious SEO work, using Google Adwords properly, or web analytics. So I’ve added that, along with other things that I’ve found to work.
Many GH methods are deceitful. Many large startups (and some very large companies) were started with these tricks. I’m writing about those and I’ll post about that some day. I am not encouraging you to spam people. That annoys people, hurts your brand, and wastes your time and money. The best path is to build a solid, useful product or service and use GH to let your audience know about it.
About these tips: I looked at many lists and ideas, including Justin McGill’s list, which I edited, sorted, and expanded.
- Helvijs Smoteks in the Netherlands also has a list of 128 growth hacking tips. His list includes details on technical implementation.
- Anupam Varshney has a list with 42 growth hacking tips. Go http://growthsimple.
- If you made a list of growth hacking methods, let me know.
Who should be in charge of GH? As you can see below, it’s not just a marketing issue. The growth hacker must be able to implement technical changes. And she can’t be just a manager (and definitely not a project manager: nobody listens to project managers). The growth hacker must have a director title, be in the engineering team, and have the CEO/CTO’s authority to require other teams to make changes. (“You will implement the following changes within five work days.”) GH is critical to the success of the company.
If you have ideas, use the Comments box at the bottom to add to this list.
If you have questions or ideas, just ask.
Optimize Your Product/Service
What’s the #1 Top All-Time Best Growth Hacker Tactic? That’s easy: build the best product or service in your category. Reviewers will talk about it. Customers will tell others about it. It will sell itself. Put 80% of your effort in building the best possible solution. Put the other 20% in taking care of your customers.
If your product isn’t super good, then you’ll have to invest heavily in marketing. This can become an extreme problem. There’s a well-known app that few people understand, that doesn’t have a clear purpose, and has been abandoned by 80% of its users. The management team has been in an internal war over everything. The company is forced to spend $50m every month to try to get people to use it. What is it? Twitter.
Optimize the Website
What’s the point of bringing people to a website if the site is lousy? Make sure you have an excellent website.
- Build strong branding with memorable and salient logo, colors, fonts, and message.
- Use a consistent message and logo in all material to build branding
- Use SEO to be findable in all channels where the audience is. Search, Social, video, etc.
- Use web analytics to see who is your audience, where they are, how they get to your site, and what they do there.
- Use conversion tracking to see what works.
- Use KPIs to manage the marketing bids, budgets, etc.
- See Hot Spots and Cold Spots: Use CrazyEgg or Inspectlet to see where visitors are clicking (or not clicking).
- Use an FAQ Page: Create a page on your website for FAQ’s. Make note of actual issues or questions your customers are having and address them.
- Improve Landing Pages. Use A/B split testing and MVT: Optimizely or Visual Website Optimizer
Optimize the Visibility: The Best Ideas
Don’t advertise with a scattershot approach. That will waste your time and money. Get a clear idea of your target audience and try to reach them. I’ve used all of the following tactics and they work very well.
- Use Virality. Everyone in marketing talks about going viral, but nobody in marketing bothers to take the time to research how to do this. So professors and researchers at Stanford, Wharton, and other universities have studied virality. They’ve carried out experiments which show the factors that cause a message to go viral (and the factors that prevent virality). Read more at my blog virality-and-word-of-mouth.
- Use Yahoo Answers and Quora to find the audience’s questions, and answer them in your blogs. Use digital marketing to promote the blog postings.
- Use digital marketing (Google Adwords and all channels) to advertise. Use analytics to see which is effective.
- Create profiles in all social sites
- Use Yahoo Answers and Quora to find questions and turn them into tweets with #hashtags and the URL. Create 300 tweets in two hours. Use bulk upload in Hootsuite to schedule the tweets over a year in Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
- Use content marketing to create visibility. Write books, blog articles, video, etc. Offer free chapter or white paper in exchange for an email. Use digital marketing to promote these.
- Make the offer. On the last page of your book, white papers, articles, etc., include a page about your product or service.
- Place video in 12 video sites with OneLoad.com
- Send a monthly newsletter to all contacts.
- Use Your Email Signature: Add email, URL, and social links, plus a link to the latest blog post from our RSS feed.
- Show Off Your Press Results: If you are mentioned in any key news sources, feature their logo on your website.
Optimize the Visibility: More Good Ideas
These are generally good ideas. Do these if you have time.
- Interview Influencers: Ask questions. Include a link to their blogs or sites. Let them know when it’s published.
- Look for links at other sites to competitors: If you have a better product, ask the sites to link to you.
- Marketplace Integrations with Other Apps: Integrate with well known products that will expand your reach to their user base.
- Discounts to Influencers: Find influencers in your niche and offer discounts (or free accounts).
- Guest Blog: Find blogs that your target customers visit and ask to submit a blog post.
- Use Paid Ads to Promote Your Press: Use paid ads to promote those articles.
- Ad Placement/Sponsorships: Get banner ads placed on key blogs or websites where your users visit. Especially helpful if there aren’t other competing ads.
- Ask for Beta Users on Social: Use social to ask for beta users. Don’t advertise. Ask for help.
- Handwritten Notes: Send handwritten letters to key influencers.
- Repurpose Content: Convert blog posts into presentations, white papers, infographics, video, and audio.
- Feature Key Figures in Your Niche: Invite them to speak or write.
- Old Tools That No Longer Exist: Search for blogs about products in your space. If there are products that don’t exist anymore, email the author. Suggest replacing it with your product with a brief description and link, or add your product to the list.
- Tuesdays: Almost all websites see a dip in traffic on the weekend. Fridays are lost in the weekend excitement. Mondays are catch-up days. Tuesdays and Wednesday are the best for attention.
Optimize the Visibility: Yet More Ideas
Be careful with these. Some of these are spammy. Others may take more time and effort than it is worth. And some are illegal. Some of these may work, if you have the time.
- Amazon Book Commenting: Buy the top five books in your niche on Amazon, read them, and write comments. If the most recent book was published two or three years ago, write a book. As the newest book, you will be listed at the top.
- Buy Followers in Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. 1,000 followers for $10 or 100,000 for $500.
- Create fake accounts. Start off with several million fake accounts. A number of well-known major social startups did this so they appeared bigger. It’s not just social media startups. To meet their sales goals, Wells-Fargo used customers’ information to open two million fake accounts and issue 600,000 fake credit cards. This was illegal and they paid a penalty.
- Create fake traffic. Every week, I get emails from startups that congratulate me on my new account and send me a login and password. I’ve never heard of these startups nor signed up for their accounts.
- Create fake interaction. So you sign up for FarmerLife, the farm game, where you raise chickens and swap eggs with the cute blonde neighbor on the left and help the charming brunette neighbor on the right to watch her cows. Your neighbors chat with you, ask for favors, and trade with you, but it’s all fake interactions. The site uses your profile to create neighbors that you’ll find interesting. Whether it’s farms, aquariums, dogs, or whatever, many use fake profiles to keep you interested.
- Require Shares for Your Best Content: If you have good content, use Pay With A Tweet (or similar) to require people to share it in order to access it.
- Upload Training Videos: Upload your training videos to Lynda, Udemy, SkillShare
- Reach Out to Guest Bloggers: Find people who contribute to guest blogs and ask them to contribute to your blog.
- Guest blogging: Offer to guest blog on other sites.
- HARO: Find press opportunities. You can respond to any press inquiries in your industry. You can get ad placement and be talked about before the list of press inquiries. Use a tool like Bitesize PR to automate this.
- SnapGuide and Guides.co: Post How-To’s to SnapGuides and Guides.co.
- Discounts for Beta Testers: Give half off or deep lifetime discount to beta testers
- Social Listening: Use Hootsuite to monitor conversations about your industry/product and jump into the conversation.
- Create Templates: Offer free templates in return for an email address.
- Blog Commenting: Leave thoughtful/relevant comments on other blogs.
- Converse with Authors: Talk directly with the authors (not publishers, etc.) of blogs or news articles.
- Ask for Shares in Your Application: Add a message to the interface to encourage social shares. “Help us spread the word by tweeting this message.”
- SlideShare Commenting: Add comments to SlideShare presentations.(I include the remaining items just in case. I don’t think these have much (if any) value and likely, they are more work than whatever you get out of it. But whatever: here are more items.)
- Submit your App to Award Sites: Get recognition, awareness, and links.
- Wavelength by MailChimp lets you find similar email blasts to yours.
- Startup App Directories: A list of over 100 startup directory websites: http://justinmcgill.net/massive-list-of-web-app-directories-to-promote-your-startup/
- Pay for Triberr Influencers: Pay influencers to push your app through Triberr.
- Viral Content Buzz and Just Retweet: Share other content and earn credits on Viral Content Bee and JustRetweet. Then offer those credits for others to retweet your Twitter posts.
- SellHack for LinkedIn: Find hidden email addresses on LinkedIn with the SellHack browser extension.
- LaunchBit: Pay $1,000 per month to get your app featured in other company’s email blasts with LaunchBit
- LinkedIn Group Owners: Send offers to LinkedIn Group owners.
- Sponsored Content: Use Izea to get links in content or sponsor posts
- Pay for Reviews: Get paid reviews of your app. Be sure to follow FTC guidelines for disclosure or you may get substantial penalties.
- LinkedIn Group Blog Promotion: Join groups on LinkedIn in your niche. When you write blog posts on your website, be sure to use a social sharing plugin to promote to your groups.
- Submit to Social Bookmarking Type Sites: Submit your blogs to StumbleUpon, Reddit, Growthhackers, HackerNews, Inbound.org, BizSugar.
- Email News Publishers for Your Industry: Use this handy little tool to scrape Google News API. Find a virtual assistant (Mechanical Turk or oDesk) to find the author name and email for the authors who have covered your niche. You now have a list of publishers to about covering your business.
- Use PR: Use PRserve, Publicize, PRLeads, PressFriendly or JustReachOut. Actually, don’t bother. No newspaper or magazine will ever look at these PR blasts. It’s just spam. If you want PR, hire a PR person. That doesn’t mean a 22-year old to send out PR messages to hundreds of newspapers. You have to hire a real PR person with 10-15 years of PR experience.
- Chrome Webstore: Create a Chrome extension to open your web app when opening the browser. Only $5.
- Daily Deal Sites: If you have an app, use sites AppSumo, Rewardli, MightyDeals
- Third Party Partnerships: Look for products in your industry that do not compete and try to integrate with them.
- Be featured in a product’s Marketplace: Sometimes you can get featured in their marketplace, so ask what you need to do to make that happen.
- Cold Emailing: Send personal emails to your targeted prospects.
- Engage Influencers: Use IFTTT to track influencers using IFTTT. Follow them, tweet, and comment where possible.
- Influence the Influencers: Invite them to speak at exclusive conferences in the Bahamas, Hawaii, or Colorado, all expenses paid. Add a generous speaker’s fee. This is how the banking, oil, and pharmaceutical industries get so much positive press.
- Automated Webinars: Use StealthSeminar to record a webinar and replay it as live webinars.
When people come to your website, do as much as you can to get them aboard, sign up, and start using the product.
- Optimize the onboarding process as much as possible. Make it easy for people to sign up, order, pay, and start using the product. Your conversion rate should be 70% or greater.
- Make Signing Up Easy: Just require an email (it will be their username) and one password. Don’t confirm the password, don’t ask for an email AND a username. Make it quick and painless.
- Auto Login After Signup: Don’t require a confirmation. Just get them right to your product.
- Sign-up that Stays at the Top: Use a sign-up form that stays on the page or a side column.
- Pop-ups: Use OptinMonster to show attention-getting CTAs.
- Put “>>” in CTA buttons: See CTA tests at copyblogger.com/call-to-action-buttons/
- Use the Thank You Page: When someone signs up for a newsletter, show “thank you” page with screenshots to highlight benefits.
- Show the product. Show pictures of your product or screenshots of your software or app. A short video is very effective.
- Case Studies for Different User Types: If you have multiple user types or subsets of users then try showcasing each of them with their own case studies.
- Send Personal Email: Why Did They Sign Up?: Within 24 hours (or even right away), send them a personalized email asking them specifically why they signed up. Learn from them.
- Send Gifts: Send new users real gifts.
- Tweet or Mention New Users: Tag new users in tweets and thank them for the signup.
- Build a Champions List. Your most enthusiastic customers will also tell others about you. These are your “champions”. Send a questionnaire to all of your customers and ask only one question: how much they like your product (1-10 stars). For the ones who reply with eight, nine, or ten stars, put them in your Champions project. Send them monthly newsletters to let them know what you’re doing. Ask them for ideas and tips. Invite them to be beta-testers. The more engaged they are with you, the more likely they will refer you to others.
- Double-Loop Referral Program: Dropbox rewards you with more storage when you refer someone and also gives the referred user more storage.
- Affiliate / Referral Program: Use HasOffers, GetAmbassador, or ReferralPop. Keep affiliates engaged with email drips and regular communication.
Happy customers will stay with you. Keep them happy. Don’t just take them for granted or ignore them. Do things for them.
- Ask Users to Take Pics w/ Your Product: Ask enthusiastic customers to take pictures with your product and post it on their social feeds. You can then use this social proof on your website!
- Send Handwritten Notes: Send handwritten letters to key users. Thank them for being a valued customer. Ask them for their opinion. Act on it.
- Free Training: Offer training.
- Communicate: Communicate as much as possible and as early as possible (live chat, personal emails, etc).
- User Stories: Send them success stories.
- Use Google Hangouts/Skype for Support: Use software your customers are familiar with to provide support.
- Personal Outreach: Ask new users to help to spread the word. Ask for feedback. Give them your cell phone number.
- Find Your “Aha” Moment: Find what leads to the highest activation rate. Once you have found what it is, bring new users to that point as quickly as possible.
- Don’t leave any questions or doubts about how to use your product. Follow up with emails that walks them through your product to its fullest capabilities.
- User Exclusives: Send exclusive content that no one else gets: Member forum, tools, webinars, hangouts, gifts, etc.
- Send Valuable Emails: If you provide value, they will want more.
- Leaderboards: Showcase your users in a leaderboard format. Give awards to most active users.
- Gamify: Gamify your product/app. For example, as users use features it may unlock a badge. They can then show off the badges to other users.
- Inform Users What They Missed: When users log in, show a message of new things or suggest things they should do.
- Use login pages, logout pages, forgot-password pages, etc to highlight features, testimonials.
- In-App Sharing: Allow users to share milestone achievements or something they can be proud of and will want to share.
- Add Professional or Concierge Services: Offer services such as helping them get set up, integrated, contract work, complimentary services.
- Annual Payments: Let customers pay with annual payments. Reward them with X% off or # of months free. This gives you cash upfront which can be put back into marketing.
Don’t let them get away! You spent so much money to acquire them, so try to keep them from leaving. It’s cheaper to reacquire a customer than to find a new customer.
- At-Risk Tagging: Use analytics (KISSmetrics, MixPanel, io) to find patterns of users who cancel, such as “haven’t logged in for two weeks.” These get an “At Risk” marker for immediate follow-up. Re-engage them.
- Exit Survey: Ask website visitors when they leave why they weren’t interested. Ask what they were looking for.
- Downsell at Cancellation: When a user wants to cancel, offer to a lower tier. Make clear this is a one-time offer and only because they met certain criteria.
- Credit Card Expiration Notices: Don’t let credit cards expire. Send email reminders about the value. Use a service like Churn Buster.
- Downsell at Signup: If users aren’t ready, offer an ebook, training course, or a limited version of your product
- Add Exit Intent to the Website: Use a survey or a giveaway to capture their email address.
- Send Personal Emails to Quitters: Why did they quit? Sign the email by the CTO or CEO. Fix the issues.
- Recover Lost Users: Add a win back sequence after 60 days (and/or 6 months) after a user cancels. Let them know you’ve added new features. Use this email to show the benefits.
- Extended Free Trials: If a free trial user doesn’t convert, let them know you’ve added 30 days to their free trial. Use the email to show the benefits.
How to Use Growth Hacking
Growth Hacking (GH) isn’t just for marketing. It requires participation of various teams, including Marketing, Sales, Design (colors, images…), Engineering (tagging, analytics…), UX/UI (User Experience, User Interface), and more. It absolutely requires solid experience and skill with A/B Splits & Multivariate Testing (MVT).
GH also requires attention to psychology and emotions. You have to understand what your users really want. You have to evoke their response.
To implement GH, you need top-level support and buy-in. This means the CEO, CTO, and CMO understand what you’re doing and wholly support it. You need their support and authority because the various teams will resist (and resent) what you are doing because you’re cutting across teams. This means the CEO has to grant you cross-team authority, which means the ability to direct any team. When someone refuses to do something or gives it a low priority, you’ll need the CEO to come in and tell the person to do it.
This is why GH is done mostly by small startups that collaborate intensely and closely. They understand the goal and work together. This is why small startups can use GH to grow explosively.
As I said, if you have tips or ideas on what works, what doesn’t work, and so on, please add a comment or email me.
- Sergey Aliokhin at AHREFS.com sent me a list of twenty more growth hacking ideas. Many of these are very good. Thanks!