The terms “hack” or “hacking” conjure an image of a person clad in black, lurking in the dark and typing strings of letters, numbers, and symbols on their laptop. It’s an ominous image, something that brings a sense of dread borne from the fear of having your data stolen.
But not all hacks are negative. In fact, when you go on YouTube and type “hacks,” the results will likely be about new or clever ways to do everyday things. Basically, hacks are a quick solution to a particular problem.
When it comes to growing your startup, hacks are particularly useful. After all, it’s not a bad thing to succeed using easier, faster, and more resourceful means – all without resorting to illegal practices, of course. And, while growth typically takes time, it’s not a bad idea to find alternative ways to help get where you want to go.
Boost Your Budding Business
How people ran and grew their businesses in the 1920s isn’t the same as how you’d want to run and grow your startup in 2020.
The rise of the digital age means today’s consumers are more connected than ever, so with a few taps and clicks, they can access a wealth of information and options that could either make them your loyal customer or your competitor’s.
This is especially true for startups that don’t have much of an online presence or haven’t built a reputation yet. In order to scale your business up and attract a larger audience, you need to adopt different growth hacks and implement them successfully. Below are a few effective growth strategies, some of which have even been implemented by names you might recognize.
1. Build Curiosity Through Pre-Launch E-Mail
Lots of businesses today emphasize the importance of chatbots and social media engagement. This is understandable, since these are communication methods that allow your audience to interact directly with your brand. But, as we’ve established, you’re a startup noob and may not have a big-enough audience yet.
That doesn’t mean there’s no other way to build hype around your brand. Enter the evergreen relevance of e-mail.
Yes, e-mail might be basic, but it’s still one of the most effective marketing strategies out there. For starters, every $1 spent on e-mail marketing typically generates a $38 return on investment. That’s a 3,800 return! Consumers also check their e-mails a lot, with more than 50 percent of U.S.-based users checking their personal e-mail account at least 10 times a day.
These statistics point to the fact that using e-mail to create hype around your new brand, product, or service is an effective marketing campaign. When a target audience opens an e-mail from you, you’ll pique their curiosity until you’re ready for the full reveal, in which time, you already have consumers waiting to use what you’re offering.
So, how do you collect e-mail addresses? The easiest way is for you to add a newsletter signup box on your website. When you hire web design services for this, you might want to ask them about exit-intent pop-ups, which are an effective way to capture and convert your visitors.
2. Engage Your Users in a Refer-a-Friend Program
At the start of the digital era, companies like PayPal and Dropbox weren’t big. But, in a matter of four months, Dropbox grew from 100,000 users to four million. In March of 2000, two years after starting its operations, PayPal only had a million users. When the summer rolled around, they had five million users.
So, what did these companies do to grow that fast? They implemented a referral program.
In PayPal’s case, they gave $10 to a user if they referred a friend and that friend signed up. Said friend also received their own $10. Who wouldn’t want to receive $10 by simply creating an account, right? So, PayPal grew until they didn’t need to use referral fees anymore. Dropbox followed in PayPal’s footsteps, but instead of cash rewards for every successful referral, they offered more storage space.
Why was this successful? Not only do referrals convert users directly and more effectively than traditional marketing, but it also costs your brand less because your users are doing the marketing for you. SEO link building services work in the same manner. You secure a link to your website (registration) on a trusted website (your existing users) and the audiences who trust that website (potential new users) will clink on your link.
3. Leverage Exclusivity and People’s FOMO
Remember when we mentioned how today’s consumers are more connected than ever? You can leverage that by using the psychological hack that is people’s fear of missing out or FOMO.
FOMO refers to people’s innate fear of being left out of exciting or interesting events. So, when you market your brand as something exclusive only to, say, e-mail subscribers, and they post about it online, others’ curiosity will be piqued and they’ll want in on what you offer.
The appeal of exclusivity is what made Gmail the most popular e-mail provider, with over 1.5 billion active users worldwide.
4. Offer Freemium Options
You can stream music all you want on Spotify for free. You can create playlists, listen to albums, and discover new artists…all without having to pay a thing. Except, there are features you can’t enjoy, like listening to your playlist or albums in order, or listening, ad-free. Those can only be enjoyed by premium users.
This strategy is called “freemium.” Basically, Spotify and other brands that use this technique give you enough features that get you hooked on their product or service, but they withhold key features if you’re not a paying customer. Because you now can’t live without that product, the next logical thing to do would be to upgrade.
You may find another form of freemium offering is when a brand gives you a free trial. Netflix, for example, gives you your first month for free. So, you enjoy binge-watching movies and TV series for a month and next thing you know, your free trial is over. But you have three episodes left of Stranger Things! So what do you do? Become a paying subscriber, of course.
Your Next Customer is Within Reach
These are only a select few growth hacks for your startup to try. With enough research and your own creativity, you’ll be able to find dozens more to try. As your customer base grows by employing these strategies, the growth of your startup is within reach.