In order to attain rapid growth, it is imperative for startups to look outside the usual marketing strategies and think differently about how they’re going to get their customers to come back and help spread the word.
Growth hacks are the novel or sneaky way of using techniques to scale up business and not going for the traditional marketing or advertising tactics.
Growth hacking is usually done in the initial stage of startups since traditional marketing methods won’t suffice.
The focus on this stage is to grow the company and traditional marketing methods don’t cut it. Here are a few growth hacks used by companies, to scale their business during the initial days:
Airbnb is a popular website that allows you to rent out a spare room or house by posting the listing on their site.
They came up with a brilliant growth hack to increase views on their website.
While filling out forms, the users were given the option of posting the listing on Craigslist.
Craigslist being a popular website, it would increase the number of views and the link would take them back to Airbnb’s website, thereby increasing their search engine rankings.
As simple as it sounds, that wasn’t the case. Craigslist doesn’t allow for such consolidations.
Airbnb had to reverse engineer how Craigslist works and make their site compatible with that.
Though Craigslist fixed this later, by the time AirBnB had seen a rise in its customer database.
LinkedIn is a business and employment-oriented social networking service.
Prior to the LinkedIn-era, if you searched for your name on Google, you would have to go through pages of useless information, before you came across the right page.
LinkedIn changed this. It allowed you to make your profile public and indexed them in Google Search Engine.
This is how LinkedIn increased its customer base from 2 million to 200 million.
Hotmail was the free, personal email service, which was later acquired by Microsoft.
Hotmail was looking for ways to increase its sign-ups. This simple line helped increase Hotmail’s sign ups from 20,000 to over a million in 6 months.
Their investor suggested they put “PS- I love you. Get your free E-mail at Hotmail” and a link to the Hotmail sign up page.
This would go at the bottom of every mail being sent out. This caused a stir and Hotmail started averaging 3,000 sign ups a day in the beginning. In 6 months they had a million users and five weeks after, they had 2 million sign ups!
Dropbox is a file hosting software that offers cloud storage.
To acquire new customer database, Dropbox decided to go for this hack rather than paying for new customers.
First, they ensured the sharing of referral link was easy. Next, they made an offer.
If a person refers somebody, both the people will get an extra 500MB of disk space, as soon as the other person signs up.
Dropbox used word-of-mouth technique and it helped them increase their users from 100,000 users to 4 million in 15 months.
You don’t become a social networking giant without using a couple of really smart growth hacks.
To increase its users, Facebook created embed-able badges or profile snippets that could be posted on various websites and blogs. These widgets led to millions of click which led to millions of sign-ups.
The second hack seemed a little off to business analysts. Facebook bought service providers in third world countries.
Facebook made this move to not just get email addresses, rather, it bought to access to their technology which was collecting email addresses.
Quora was started by two former employees of Facebook. It is a platform where people can post their questions and answers. Closely related to Wikipedia.
When the pace wasn’t picking up, they decided to do intensive research on the most active users and create a pattern which other users could follow.
This helped Quora increase their ranking on social networking hierarchy.
YouTube is a search engine in itself to search and upload videos.
When it first started out, YouTube used these hacks to increase tractions.
When you view a video, you have the option to share it and embed it as well. Once you embed it, you will get an HTML code.
Share this code on your blogs and websites and it shows up exactly as it appears on YouTube.
It also conducted giveaways and contests initially for people creating accounts and uploading videos.
Adding the comments section on videos increased its traction. This allowed people to post their opinions and heated arguments increased views on the videos.
Subscription to accounts or profiles increased the views on new videos.
These hacks in the initial days helped YouTube increase its consumer base by billions.
Ola Cabs is an Indian online transportation network company, along with the lines of Uber.
To compete with Uber, Ola launched cabs at cheaper rates, faster booking and quicker confirmations.
The launching of Ola Mini at auto fares was one of their most successful campaigns. They offered cab rides at auto fares on Auto strike days. This saw a positive response from customers’ side.
Ola Boats got Ola into customer’s good books. It deployed ferry rescue service during Chennai floods. The boats had professional rowers who rescued people from waterlogged areas, as well as, deliver essentials like food and water.
Flipkart, once the number one e-commerce giant, employed many growth hacks to reach that position.
It started with hugely marketing its return policy. It gave the customer 30 days to return a product if they were unsatisfied.
The next campaign which helped Flipkart was its Big Billion Day Sale.
They hugely advertise it and launch it before the festive season. This brings them enough sale to cover the cost spent on advertisements. This campaign has been copied by Amazon and Snapdeal.
They have recently released the Flipkart Assured which claims that the product given is of 100% good quality and the customers can buy it confidently.