41 Examples Of Growth Hacking Techniques Used By Famous Brands

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List of growth hacking techniques you can copy and use for your brand. Here I have compiled over 40 examples of how famous brands and real-world businesses have hacked their way to growth.

But first …

What is growth hacking?

Growth hacking is a phrase coined by Sean Ellis in 2010. Ellis was the “go-to” guy in Silicon Valley for helping companies grow their user base. He said that:

A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth – Sean Ellis

A growth hacker is someone who is a hybrid between a marketer and a coder, someone whose aim is to generate massive growth/following (i.e. the “growth”) – fast and often on a tight budget (i.e. the “hacker”)

A growth hacker often focuses on cheaper alternatives to traditional marketing methods and tends to work in small, startup companies that lack the resources to compete with more established companies.

Check out this excellent list of resources and curated list of tools.

3 famous growth hacks

  • Back when Facebook started out its goal was to acquire 200 million users in 12 months. One famous growth hack to accomplish this was by giving away embeddable badges and widgets that users could post on their websites and blogs that linked people back to their Facebook page. This hack alone led to millions of signups.
  • LinkedIn grew from 2 million to 200 million users by implementing a growth hacking technique that allowed users to create their own public profile. This was a brilliant move by LinkedIn as it made sure that the user profiles show up organically in Google's search results and this helped to grow LinkedIn's brand and user base.
  • YouTube began as a platform to share videos and grew from that into the second-largest search engine in the world after Google by using this growth-hacking technique. When you visit YouTube to watch a video, you can get an embed code that allows you to share the video on your blog, website or social network. This makes it extremely easy for users to upload videos and share them with the world.

Now let's jump into the specific growth hacks …

Examples of growth hacking techniques and strategies

Acquisition growth hacks (Free marketing)

1. The Quora Traffic Hack

Use SEMrush + Quora to improve your organic search rankings on Google by doing this:

  1. In SEMrush > Domain Analytics > Organic Research > search for quora.com
  2. Click on Advanced Filters and filter for Keywords containing your target keyword, Positions less than 10, and Volume greater than 100
  3. Go to Quora and write the best answer to the question
Companies that did this:

Geckoboard

Read more:

2. The Lead Form Demo Hack

On the landing page or opt-in form for your free lead magnet (whitepaper, case study, video, etc) include one extra ‘Yes/No' field at the end of the form that says “Would you like a demo of our software?” so you can book demos with people who are already interested in seeing your software.

Companies that did this:

KISSmetrics, Bounce Exchange

Read more:

http://grow.kissmetrics.com/webinar-171

3. The Advanced “Powered By” Hack

Use the “powered by” tactic. A fraction of these visitors will click on it and arrive on your homepage where some will request a demo. It has been shown to lead to a viral coefficient k > 0.4, meaning that every 10 users acquired will generate 4 extras users. To optimize for more conversions use dynamic keyword insertion on the landing page you send people to with the name of the company that referred them to your website.

Companies that did this:

Intercom, Wistia, Qualaroo

Read more:
https://blog.aircall.io/the-saas-guide-to-leveraging-the-powered-by-tactic/

4. Gmail's Scarcity growth hack

When Google launched Gmail in 2004 everyone was using either Hotmail or Yahoo. Google turned its underdog problem into an advantage. With limited server space available, Google made a virtue out of scarcity. When it was launched it was by invitation only, starting with around 1,000 influencers who were able to refer friends. This created the impression that when signing up to Gmail, you became part of an exclusive club.

Companies that did this:

Gmail

Read more:

http://time.com/43263/gmail-10th-anniversary/

5. The Dream 100 ABM Hack

Use this straightforward account-based marketing technique to identify your dream 100 clients (or whatever number), find out which college the decision-maker in each company went to, send him or her a baseball cap from their college with a personal note about how your company can help them.

Companies that did this:

Box

6. The Co-Webinar Hack

Contact influencers in your space who have a big audience and do an educational co-webinar with them. Instead of hard-selling on the webinar, do a 100% educational webinar with a poll at the end of the webinar for people to select if they are interested in a demo of your software.

Companies that did this:

Hubspot, Unbounce, Uberflip

Read more:
https://www.eofire.com/podcast/nathanlatka/

7. OKCuрid's data marketing hack

Online dating is a multi-billion dollar industry and OkCupid has leveraged its own in-house data to create blog posts and this has helped them to become a powerhouse in the dating industry. OKCupid's colossal dataset has become a marketing goldmine. OkCupid blog posts are typically built around their own data research and laced with clickbait headlines and controversial topics. You can use data to help storytell empirically substantiated trends, observations, and analysis on the industry you are in.

Companies that did this:

OkCupid

8. The Minimum Viral Product Hack

Build something in 1-2 days that’s more viral than your actual product to test sentiment-product fit and build a list of emails to launch your core product. Make sure your viral product is closely aligned to your core product and focus on the volume of users so you can maximize conversions from your viral product to your core product.

Companies that did this:

Calm

Read more:

9. The App Marketplace Hack

If you have an integration with a large SaaS company you can try and get your app listed on their marketplace (eg: Salesforce App Exchange, G Suite Marketplace, Xero App Marketplace).

Companies that did this:

Pipedrive, Insightly, ProsperWorks

Read more:
https://auth0.com/blog/how-to-get-from-0-to-10000-customers-with-b2b-app-marketplaces/

10. The Smart SEO Hack

Look at your highest converting keywords inside AdWords, then create an SEO strategy around also getting those keywords to rank organically. Or if you don’t run AdWords look at your Search Queries report in Google Search Console to see what keywords are getting clicks to your website, but are on page 2 and need a boost to page 1.

Companies that did this:

Optimizely, Lever, simPRO

Read more:

http://searchengineland.com/how-to-leverage-ppc-to-discover-high-converting-keywords-for-seo-131862

11. The Smart SEO Integrations Hack

Create a page that talks about your integration with other software partners, so when someone searches for a specific use case of your integration partners software that your software solves, your website will come up.

Companies that did this:

Zapier, Xero, Klipfolio

Read more:
https://zapier.com/zapbook/slack/trello/

12. The 3,000 Word Content Marketing Hack

Write 3,000+ word in-depth blog articles that cover a specific topic in detail. In the article, feature quotes from industry influencers and link out to research from other reputable blogs, then email them to let them know you featured them in your article to promote social sharing.

Companies that did this:

Buffer, Moz, Shopify

Read more:
https://visioneerit.com/7-tips-can-growth-hack-social-media-presence-today/

13. The Survey Response Hack

Send out a survey to your mailing list and offer respondents the chance to win cupcakes. Randomly select 10 participants from the survey to receive a dozen cupcakes. It's proven that people would rather receive a dozen cupcakes than an iPad.

Companies that did this:

RJMetrics

Read more:
https://thinkgrowth.org/the-greatest-marketing-growth-hack-of-all-time-hint-cupcakes-784ccaa3f78

14. The Highly Qualified Lead Hack

Make sure everyone who buys your software first needs to go through this process before you give them a trial or demo of your software (unless it's a referral). TOFU: top-of-the-funnel piece of content (eg: report, whitepaper, swipe file, etc), MOFU: middle-of-the-funnel piece of content (webinar, video, etc), BOFU: bottom-of-the-funnel piece of content (case studies, demo, strategy call, etc).

Companies that did this:

HubSpot

Read more:
https://rocketshipgrowth.com/the-most-scalable-channel-for-large-highly-qualified-saas-leads-hint-its-not-facebook-4c6fe110a6e7

15. The Content Repost Hack

Follow these 5 steps.

  1. Step 1: Send email to your list with your article (at whatever time you have the highest open rate, based on your historical email stats).
  2. Step 2: Share article on social media accounts as soon as email campaign is sent.
  3. Step 3: Look for channels relevant to your business and submit links there (eg: forums, FB groups, Slack groups).
  4. Step 4: Wait for a few days to get some analytics data (stats, shares and comments).
  5. Step 5: Send emails or tweet editors of big publishers who report on your content topic with screenshot of proof of traction (eg: “My post has 50% share rate, screenshot attached, repost maybe?”).
Companies that did this:

Uber, HubSpot, KISSmetrics

Read more:
https://rocketshipgrowth.com/how-to-promote-b2b-saas-content-eab660ee2407

16. The PR Backlash Hack

Getting bad PR? Being accused as a “rip-off”? Build a dedicated website where you unfold the story, present the facts, and show social proof to prove your version of the story and convert haters into customers.

Companies that did this:

Freshdesk

Read more:

http://ripoffornot.org/

17. The Twitter Leapfrog Process

Gone are the days when you could write a short, 500-word blog post on a topic and expect hundreds, if not thousands of visitors to find it online. Those “publish and pray” days are long gone. Today it takes more effort to get noticed. Enter “The Twitter Leapfrog Method”. It's a process that helps deliver your newly published articles to hundreds of highly targeted readers.

  1. Step 1: Write one 10x / badass article on a topic you know well
  2. Step 2: Identify people who have shared similar articles on social media
  1. Step 3: Share your article with these people
Companies that did this:

Junto

Read more:

18. The Low Budget Advertising Hack

Retarget people who have seen the sales page for your SaaS product AND did not get a free trial/demo/bought AND who are users of certain fan pages (eg: your biggest competitor). With this layered targeting, your audience will be very small, which allows you to spend less than $10 budget per day, create an ad that speaks specifically to your target audience so you can increase your click-through rate and skyrocket your conversions, which in turn will drive down the cost of your ad.

Companies that did this:

SamCart

Read more:

http://www.digitalmarketer.com/buying-website-traffic/

19. The Inbound Retargeting Hack

Convert more of your inbound traffic into leads by retargeting them across these 8 ad networks: GDN, Facebook, Gmail, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Taboola, Yahoo Gemini and AOL ONE.

Companies that did this:

Optimizely

Read more:
https://rocketshipgrowth.com/how-the-worlds-biggest-saas-companies-leverage-inbound-to-dominate-a-market-cae780d38bcd

20. The AdWords SaaS Hack

Target feature-specific, industry-specific, and high converting competitor keywords. Drive people straight to feature-specific and industry-specific landing pages with a call to action for a demo of your software to get people on the phone with sales.

Companies that did this:

NetSuite, Zoho, Freshdesk

Read more:
https://rocketshipgrowth.com/how-we-outcompete-ebay-on-google-adwords-without-a-big-ad-budget-885e22d4e619

21. The PPC Hyper-Growth Hack

Run Google ads to a landing page for a free trial signup or demo call. 1-10% will convert. To convert the other 90%+ retarget them with FB lead ads using a softer sell (like a whitepaper). From their put leads into a marketing automation campaign (like an email mini-course) and nudge them to start a trial or book a demo with your sales team.

Companies that did this:

Drip, SurveyMonkey, Pardot

22. The Pixel Swap Hack

Find another company that sells to the same target customer as you do (but is non-competitive) and offer to partner with them by placing their retargeting pixel on your website, while they place your retargeting pixel on their website using a tool like Perfect Audience Connect. Use retargeting ads across Facebook to drive new, cost-efficient leads into the top of your funnel with a TOFU lead magnet.

Companies that did this:

New Relic, SendGrid, Runscope

Read more:

http://marketingland.com/perfect-audience-launches-partner-retargeting-network-directly-target-others-sites-visitors-83518

23. The AdWords Competitor Hack

If there is a major competitor in your space that many people search for, but your SaaS offers better value for money, better features, or a better reputation you can target their brand terms. To do this successfully without wasting the marketing budget first identify your unique point of difference (ie: value for money, features, reputation). Second, target keywords based on your USP (ie: features = [mailchimp], value for money = [mailchimp pricing], reputation = [mailchimp review]). Third, create a landing page that shows how you are better than your competitor in that area with a comparison table so your ad is more relevant and gets served.

Companies that did this:

Intercom, Quickbooks, Wrike

Read more:
https://www.intercom.com/customer-support/zendesk-alternative

24. The Facebook Algorithm Trial Signup Hack

Place a FB conversion tracking pixel on the page that people land on after signing up for a trial of your software, create a Lookalike Audience based on people who have hit the conversion tracking pixel, then create a FB campaign with the “Website Conversions” objective sending your lookalike audience traffic to a page with a free trial offer. Facebook will use its algorithm to target people who are the most similar to people who have already signed up and converted on your site.

Companies that did this:

InVision, Treehouse, Asana

25. The Facebook TOFU Hack

Use FB lead ads to drive people to a lead magnet (eg: case studies for specific verticals, whitepaper, etc). You will increase conversions because when someone clicks on your lead ad, a form will open with the person's FB contact information automatically populated. Then use marketing automation emails to nurture the lead into requesting a demo of your software.

Companies that did this:

Infusionsoft, Salesforce, InsightSquared

26. The Case Study Retargeting Hack

Retarget website visitors to a case study page (eg: See how Bob, a CMO at Zendesk used us to get XYZ done) with a call to action at the end of the case study for a demo (exclude your list of paid users so you don't waste ad budget). Group the website visitors who see the case study into a unique audience and then show them ads to a new case study so your most engaged prospects keep seeing fresh, new case studies in the sequential order you set up.

Companies that did this:

simPRO

Read more:

27. The Custom Affinity Audience Hack

Create an audience from people who have visited specific websites you define (your competitors, blogs, industry publications, etc) and then target them with Google display ads. Someone seeing a display ad isn't necessarily interested in your product just yet, so offer content that you think will be valuable and helpful to your prospects to build trust and brand awareness (eg: webinar, whitepaper, etc).

Companies that did this:

Zendesk, Intuit, Emma

Read more:
https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2497941?hl=en-AU

28. The Gmail Competitor Hack

Show Gmail ads to people who receive your competitors' emails. To get the most accurate targeting, target your competitor's domains using domain placements.

Companies that did this:

DigitalOcean

29. The Paid Tech Stack Hack

Use a lead list tool like BuiltWith to build a list of decision-makers at ideal target companies that use your competitor's software. Upload the email addresses of the decision-makers into a Custom Audience that you can run ads to. Then create a lookalike audience from that custom audience to target your ads at even more qualified prospects (start at a 1% lookalike audience, then scale up as you see results).

Companies that did this:

BuiltWith, Datanyze

30. The YouTube Ads Hack

Use YouTube in-stream ads to target specific YouTube channels relevant to your market and only pay if someone watches past 30 secs.

Companies that did this:

Wishpond, Salesforce

Read more:

http://www.digitalmarketer.com/youtube-ad-types/

31. The Native Ads Hack

Look at your Conversions report inside Google Analytics to identify your blog content URLs with the highest amount of
lead conversions. Promote your highest converting blog content piece on ad networks like Taboola, Outbrain or Twitter.

Companies that did this:

Netflix

Read more:
https://blog.hubspot.com/agency/native-ads-201

MONETIZATION GROWTH HACKS

32. The Voicemail Personalization Hack

When someone opts-in for one of your lead magnets, collect their mobile number and then use Slybroadcast to record a personal message that gets sent to their voicemail.

33. The Trial Conversion Hack

Send this seven-word email to a sizeable segment of your trials who did not convert into paid customers using this email copy: “{{Name}}, are you still looking for {{product}}?” Then prepare for a busy day of answering emails. Combine this with The Irresistible Offer Hack by sending a short follow-up offering a discount or extended trial (especially if there have been product changes since) to get them back.

34. The Onboarding Retargeting Hack

Once someone has signed up for a free trial, retarget them with ads that go to a page for a free webinar or free call with your customer success team to make sure they have everything set upright in their business to prepare for after their trial ends.

Companies that did this:

Heyo

Read more:
https://rocketshipgrowth.com/how-to-increase-free-trials-to-paid-customers-with-onboarding-retargeting-5e8cc05e3756

35. The Onboarding Optimization Hack

Backtrack through successful customers who are using your product and look through what they've done in the first 7-14 days. Try and find the first three common things those people did and build that into a product user score. These are the activities you want leads to do. Optimize your onboarding and in-app messaging to lead people down the path of doing those three things.

Companies that did this:

HubSpot

36. The Irresistible Offer Hack

If your software value speaks for itself, add an email into your marketing automation with an incentive to buy or demo your product (eg: See how our software works and get a $25 Amazon gift card). It may seem spammy, but many large B2B SaaS companies use it to generate qualified demos because it can move people from having you at #101 on their priority list to #3.

Companies that did this:

LeadPages, Bizible

Read more:

http://www.bizible.com/blog/4-b2b-saas-growth-hacks-that-helped-bizible-raise-8m

RETENTION GROWTH HACKS

37. The Customer Feedback Hack

After a person signs up and completes all the in-app onboarding tooltips, send them a congratulatory in-app
notification and email that offers to send a gift of stickers in the mail. In the email link to a Typeform that collects the user’s mailing address. At the bottom, give people two optional response fields: 1) What brought you to [your app]? What problem were you looking to solve? 2) Anything we could be doing better? Any feature/product we are missing? Use Zapier to send responses from those 2 fields into the product board. Use product board to bucket and rank feature requests by priority of user cohorts, and by how a feature fits into your broader vision for your product.

Companies that did this:

CloudApp

Read more:
https://clearbit.com/books/data-driven-marketing/customer-retention

38. The Product Reactivation Hack

Automatically send this email to users that haven’t used your product for 30 days: “I was wondering if you could spare a second to let me know what you thought of the product and if you have ideas on what we could do to improve? In return, I’ve gone ahead and added one month of the pro plan to your account for free.

Companies that did this:

CloudApp

Read more:
https://clearbit.com/books/data-driven-marketing/customer-retention

39. The Sticky Product Hack

For every subscription level in your product, create a three-email series with a CTA to enable/walk them through the most important feature on that pricing tier (eg: Email #1 > Wait 1 Day > Email #2 > Wait 2 Days > Email #3 > End Campaign). Then start a 2nd three-email campaign to enable/walk them through the next most important feature in your product so you can create sticky users who are less likely to churn.

Companies that did this:

CoSchedule

Read more:
https://clearbit.com/books/data-driven-marketing/customer-retention

40. The Personalized Report Hack

Automate the sending of a personalized Monthly Metrics Report that includes a summary of what your customer has achieved with your product during the month. Use a customer data tool like Segment to pipe your usage data from your product into a data marketing automation tool like Customer.io. Setup data-triggers using “if/else” logic to give your customers actionable recommendations on where they can improve.

Companies that did this:

AdRoll

Read more:
https://clearbit.com/books/data-driven-marketing/customer-retention

41. The Product Gamification Hack

When a customer hits a specific milestone in your app send them a reward, tips to get to the next level and a call-to-action to upgrade. For example, for Sumo email list software:

  1. 1 Email Subscriber = Sumo Sticker (plus tips to get to 100 email subscribers)
  2. 100 Email Subscribers = Sumo T-Shirt (plus tips to get to 1000 email subscribers)
  3. 1000 Email Subscribers = Sumo Sunglasses (plus tips to get to 10000 email subscribers)
  4. 10000 Email Subscribers = Sumo Hat (plus tips to get to 100000 email subscribers)
  5. 100000 Email Subscribers = Sumo Taco Lunch
Companies that did this:

AdRoll

Read more:
https://clearbit.com/books/data-driven-marketing/customer-retention
  1. The NPS Churn Buster Hack

Send an email to all users 1 day after their free trial ends. In the email use an NPS survey that asks your user how likely they are to recommend your software to a friend or colleague on a scale of 0 to 10. If the NPS score is <6 thank them for their honesty and ask for feedback, if it is 6-8 offer to extend their free trial, if it is >8 offer them an upgrade promotion.

Companies that did this:

Mention

Read more:

http://slideshare.net/mentionapp/mention-nps-process-reduce-churn-increase-customer-hapiness

Okay …

Now, you are equipped with a bunch of actionable “how to do” growth hacking techniques, which you can copy & paste and start working on for your startup.

Good luck!

Thanks and credits to: Spreadshare.co and Rocketship Agency for providing the inspiration and data source for this post.

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