Early growth hacking strategies for startups

The sole objective of a growth hacker is to grow the number of users for a specific product. Over the last few years, we see more and more products growing from zero users to millions at galloping rates – growth hacking tactics have become a must for everyone who wants to grow.

The idea is, that for every decision a company makes, a growth hacker should ask: ”What will be the impact on growth?”

Here are some of the most effective growth hacking strategies to implement in the early stages of your startup:

1 – Get into case studies and use cases

Case studies are an excellent way to build traction and establish credibility in the initial phase. In fact, at my startup Hiver, case studies also proved to be the ultimate growth hack when we wanted new visitors on our blog.

Here’s one thing to remember, don’t make your case studies too technical and difficult to understand. Make them fun to read and simple to understand.

Here are some reasons why you should publish case studies and use cases:

  • They show your prospects how others are benefiting from your product/service.
  • Sales rep can use these materials to show proof and results.
  • They help guide your existing customers on how to use the product well.
  • Plus, they give you amazing credibility in the market place.

2 – Find integration partners

In the initial  phase, you will need a lever to help you boost your sales and marketing – partnerships can be a great way to do that. You can benefit from the established user base of other companies.

For example, if you are a house cleaning startup, you can integrate with a home rental startup and give offers to your prospects and the customers of the home rental company. Since, your target markets are the same, this can help you amass new customers.

In fact, Paypal and Ebay are the perfect example of integration done right. This integration lead to the growth of the otherwise struggling company Paypal – it’s everywhere now.

Also, if people can sign up for your product/service using one of their already existing accounts on Facebook, Twitter or Google, it can increase your sign-ups up to 50%.

By forming integrations you are giving additional value to your customers as well.

3 – Invest in analytics

You should be able to quickly track, analyse, and understand the effectiveness of your campaigns. For this to happen, analytics is the key.

They help you understand what actions are hurting or helping your startup’s growth.

For example:

  • Which paid campaigns are driving good ROI and which are not?
  • Which social media platforms are worth your effort and time?
  • How much of your blog traffic is actually converting?
  • Are mobile users converting ?
  • Is marketing automation working out for you?
  • How many of the leads you pick up are of high quality?

Analytics will help you answer all these questions and many more. It is the one important tool you need to build the right strategy.

4 – Use the Freemium technique

Freemium is an excellent technique to enter into a market, especially if it’s already overcrowded, because it makes it easy for people to adopt your product.

Here’s why you should consider Freemium:

  • It can help you amass a large user base pretty quickly.
  • Once you have a large user base, you can leverage it to grow and make profits.
  • It is easier to convince users to pay for your product, if they get a chance to experience it first for free.

But, when considering Freemium, make sure that you have a strategy in place to earn some money before your run out of your bank balance because of all the free subscriptions. Dropbox’s freemium strategy is one good example – it gave away free storage space to build a customer base and today it is one of the most successful startups.

5 – Invite-based rewards

Companies such as Dropbox and Uber are good examples to demonstrate how rewarding referrals can help grow customer base exponentially.

Many companies allow you to refer your friends using a unique sharing link. The link gives you extra credit in the form of reward points, free rides or extra storage space. This way the customers themselves are acting as marketing agents and are of course, benefiting from it.

6 – Drop your signature everywhere

Most startups start from ground zero with no following or customer base whatsoever. In this infant stage, you need to make sure your name is heard as much as possible and is picked up by the search engines too.

One simple and overlooked way to do that is to design a good and informative signature and drop it everywhere.

For example:

  • If you answer a question on Quora, end it with your signature.
  • If you post something on Facebook, drop your signature.
  • If you comment on someone’s article or blog, again add your signature.

I hope you got the point. This way, when someone googles you, you have at least some online presence.

7 – Divide and conquer the adjacent markets

Sometimes, in fact most times, the best place to start are the smaller, easily-conquerable, adjacent markets, one after another.

For example, when Facebook first started it’s main focus was on the college-goers and the college community. After winning in this area, they moved onto the next.

The advantage of this strategy is that you can tackle each market independently and methodically, winning one at a time.

Here are a few advantages:

  • It’s easy to segment your customers and hence, make the marketing campaigns more personalized.
  • You can design ads according to the market – very specific and individualized.
  • It gets easier after you have covered a couple of markets initially.

Final thoughts

There are numerous growth hacking strategies out there, some more easy than others to implement.

A growth hack is not exactly a shortcut but more of a lever you need to push yourself higher.

The right strategies for your company depend on various factors including your business goals. You can only figure out the right ones by trying and experimenting and the above mentioned strategies are a great place to start.

Niraj Ranjan

Niraj is the founder of Hiver (formerly GrexIt), an app the lets you share Gmail labels with other Gmail users. Niraj works on programming, customer support and sales, and also contributes to design and UI. He’s a fusion music aficionado, loves to play the guitar when he can.