We’ve all seen it happen. Facebook, Youtube, Mint… Huge companies seem to rise out of nowhere and become international brands. From the outside the rapid growth might look like a miracle, but there’s a lot more to it than just plain luck and it’s something you can replicate for yourself. Here is a list of some of the most successful growth hacks that you can apply to every part of your business from product concept through to launch.
Mailbox had the kind of successful launch that companies dream about. Mailbox launched a sales video based on the kind of adverts Apple produces. The video gained more than one million views. Gentry Underwood, the company’s co-founder, was blown away by the result.
We had set the goal of 100,000 video views by the time we launched. We actually got 100,000 views in the first four hours. It just exploded.
The slick pre-launch sequence and a great product wowed customers. Just 36 days after it was released the company was bought by Dropbox for a reported $100 million.
Monster Slippers launched with a great story about a sale that went spectacularly wrong. When Tom Boddingham ordered a pair of simple slippers the Chinese manufacturer missed a decimal point and he received a shoe the size of a bed. It was a great story, and always likely to make people smile.
The fact that it was a PR stunt never really mattered to the newspapers. When the photo was sent off to the papers the company’s name instantly hit the headlines.
The follow up story where Monster Slippers were shown to have made the slipper as a PR stunt also made headlines.
One of the best social media campaigns in recent years is the Coca-Cola ‘Share a Coke’ campaign. Coca-Cola bottles were labeled with 250 of the most common names in any given country.
People quickly took ownership of the campaign and started to promote Coca-Cola without the company having to do anything. It was the perfect social media campaign.
By forming an emotional connect with customers and leveraging present day trend of self expression on social platforms, Coca-Cola managed to grow U.S. CSD volumes and sales by 0.4% and 2.5% year-over-year in the twelve weeks through August, while both PepsiCo and Dr. Pepper Snapple witnessed declines in both volumes and revenues.
When Paypal started it literally paid its users to sign up and invite their friends. It was so successful that at the turn of the millennium the company was averaging a 7-10% daily growth rate.
New customers got $10 for signing up, and existing ones got $10 for referrals. Growth went exponential, and PayPal wound up paying $20 for each new customer. It felt like things were working and not working at the same time; 7 to 10% daily growth and 100 million users was good.
Giving away money though is obviously not a sustainable business model. Paypal couldn’t go on doing this forever and slowly phased the incentive payments out, initially reducing the payments to $5 for every new customer and PayPal referral, before getting rid of the offer completely.
One simple growth hack is giving away products to grow your audience. SumoMe is a great example of a company that has really made this method work for them. On the company homepage there are currently 10 free software plugins, which anyone can download.
Each of these plugins have been created to help a person bring more traffic to a website. It’s the audience that the brand is targeting. SumoMe instantly generates goodwill towards the brand from their target market.
Ok, so there’s a bit too much happening on this website, but you get the idea.
Strategic partnerships (even unwitting ones) with a larger competitor are a well-established growth hack. When Airbnb launched they integrated their own posting system with that of Craigslist. This wasn’t an official partnership and so the engineers had to put in a lot of work reverse engineering the software. You can find out more about exactly how they did it here.
Paypal used this growth hacking tactic when they started. As a way to grow the number of users they actually integrated their payment service with eBay in the early 2000’s.
Named AutoLink – it automatically linked to their customers’ existing eBay auction listings and added a PayPal logo to the bottom of each eBay listing…
For every product there is an ‘aha’ moment. That single point in time when the person using your product or visiting your site decides that this is something that they want to be a part of it. Twitter put a lot of work into finding out what the ‘Aha’ moment was for their users.
When I joined Twitter, we had an interesting puzzle. Many many users were hearing about Twitter each day from press, blogs, their friends and were signing up. But none of them stuck around.
Medium.com – Josh Elman
After a lot of testing Twitter eventually discovered that it comes when a new user follows 30 people.
Hotmail might have faded from the limelight of the Internet, but in the mid 90’s it was a trailblazer. In just one and a half years the company went from one user to 12 million (this was at a time that the Internet had just 70 million users).
A few weeks after launch, they discovered a key insight: 80 percent of signups actually came from friend referrals. Tim Draper, one of their seed investors, then came up with an idea of putting a message at the bottom of every email sent using Hotmail – ‘PS: I love you. Get your free e-mail at Hotmail’
It was a simple message, but people loved it. In 1997, one year after the company was founded, Hotmail was bought by Microsoft for $400 million.
If you’ve got an email address then you will almost certainly have received on of these email invitations from LinkedIn. The emails are automated and are sent out because people don’t read the small print when they sign up to LinkedIn.
Of course the LinkedIn community forum is full of happy customers. Regardless, it does work. This is why companies like Facebook and LinkedIn invested in making their sites compatible with every single email provider available to the public.
I’ve covered some of the best growth hacks used by the most successful businesses. Now find out how to apply these lessons to your business in A Pirate’s Guide to Growth Hacking.
Download your copy and start implementing these strategies on your site. Don’t forget to share your results and let me know the tactics that you have used to grow your business.