Growing your business is the dream and goal of every entrepreneur, but sometimes it’s hard to come up with ideas to get you to the next level.
Take a look at the success of others for inspiration.
We’ve gathered interesting growth hacking examples of companies that have successfully used low-cost promos and techniques to drive rapid growth.
Although each business is unique, these growth-hack stories might inspire your own, so that your business can rapidly grow and thereby increase revenue.
We’ve listed companies in alphabetical order, and there’s a content table so you can jump straight to the growth hack case studies that interest you the most. Let’s get begin
- Dollar Shave
- Grow and Convert
- Harvest Snaps
Let’s kick things off with one of the most famous growth hack examples: the craigslist hack of AirBnB. AirBnB is now famous for being a place where you can score affordable accommodation almost anywhere you’re traveling. Still, in the early days, they needed to build their user base, customer base, and reputation.
The founders realized that people who were searching for alternative accommodation searched Craigslist. Thus offering the option for AirBnB accommodation providers to copy their listing to Craiglist with one click, verify the information and post it.
The result? Immediate access to a large target user market.
2. Dollar Shave
We always say that video marketing is a great marketing technique, and another of our famous examples of growth hacking is proof of that.
Dollar Shave Club used a video to promote its service of sending people new razor blades for just $1 a month. The video was viral, quickly gaining 19 million views and making the company a household name.
You can see the video, which now has more than 25 million views, below.
Two years after the launch, Dollar Shave Club generated more than $20 million in revenue, Business Insider says.
A year later, that figure tripled.
Dropbox is another company known for its creative growth hacks, which is why its included in this roundup.
Dropbox enhanced its onboarding process by providing existing users with free storage to link their Dropbox account to Twitter and Facebook and sharing Dropbox information on these social sites.
That was a free way to get new users and grow exponentially.
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And adding incentives to complete tasks on Dropbox, such as sharing a file, got people using the service, making it more likely that they would stick around. Dropbox now has 500 million users, so the hack of growth is working!
With more than 2 billion users, Facebook is now a fact of life for many of us. Still, even the now ubiquitous social network has used growth hacks to expand its reach quickly.
A Quora question on Facebook growth reveals several particularly useful techniques: encouraging users to add their contacts Sending emails to those contacts if they were mentioned or tagged on Facebook Mention emails prompted people’s interest and made them go to Facebook and sign up to see what had been saying about them.
When Foundr decided to publish their first book, they turned to Kickstarter to validate their ideas. Their growth hacking strategy involved influencer marketing, social advertising, and competition through a tool called Upviral.
Recommended Resource: Are you looking for more tools like Upviral to grow your business? Check out our roundup of the Best Growth Hacking Tools for Marketers.
Foundr magazine editor Nathan Chen says using this tool has allowed the company to give incentives for different promotional activities so that users can get more competition points and get closer to winning one of the three grand prizes. Foundr has managed to attract hundreds of new backers and thousands of email marketing subscribers and has achieved a goal of 4x Kickstarter.
When Gmail was launched, a call-only system was used to drive growth, and it worked. The fear of missing out (FOMO) is a powerful marketing technique, and if you have a product that people really want, they will respond to this type of marketing.
At the time, Gmail offered high email search capabilities and improved email management: in fact, many of the features that we now take for granted in every email program. The Invite-Only Growth Hack worked so well that Gmail’s invitations were auctioned on eBay.
Use this growth hack, though, with caution. Google has used it again with other now-default products that turned out not to be famous (such as Buzz, Wave, and Google+).
This is because this growth hack works best with open tools and communities. With Gmail, you can still email people using other email services besides Gmail, so exclusive invitations worked well. But with social networks closed down like Buzz or Google+, the platform itself is unusable if you’re the only one there – so limiting calls is backfired.
The next example in our growth hacking list comes from Groove. The company used a number of techniques to build $5 million a year of business, but it attributes most of its success to content marketing.
Their “aha moment” was a recognition that there was no other blog sharing real numbers and pitfalls on the road to a successful SaaS company. Once they decided to honestly share their experiences as a kind of case study, their user base exploded.
They asked their core clients what information they needed, and they used that information to create blog themes. And they selectively emailed influencers and asked for permission to share certain content with them.
The decision to be completely transparent also led to reviews, interviews, and guest blogging opportunities, all of which contributed to further email subscribers and user base growth.
8. Grow and Convert
Content is also a vital feature of the next in our growth hacking examples list. In five months, Grow and Convert attracted more than 32,000 users without having to pay for traffic. This is how they did it.
They defined their target audience so that they knew who they were creating content for (by the way, creating buyer people will help you do that) They searched Google, Quora, Facebook, and other social networks to find the most engaged communities where their target audiences were hanging out online. They asked their audiences where they should promote content to find the sources they trusted.
As well as new users, Grow and Convert became part of a wider community, attracting inbound links from the communities they were part of, and also gaining SEO benefits.
As we’ve seen, social sharing and refer-a-friend techniques are one of the tried-and-tested ideas for hacking growth, but Groupon has a twist on it.
You know, it works on the principle that you need enough people to make a deal to GET the agreement, so if you don’t share it, everyone will potentially miss it because the agreement will expire. It’s a great use of FOMO and the urgency of marketing.
If you do share, you’ll get the deal, and Groupon will get new users to market new deals. Sweet, huh?
10. Harvest Snaps
Some of the best growth hacks have been born out of necessity. Without a budget for traditional promotional tactics, Harvest Snaps had to be creative.
After defining their business model and user base, the company used some of the growth hack tactics that we’ve already mentioned, such as Gamification Working with influencers Social media promotion But one of the revenue growth tactics that worked particularly well was the creation of an exclusive loyalty club for email subscribers. This kept the company in front of its subscribers and made those subscribers feel right about being part of something that wasn’t open to everyone.
The results were astonishing. In three years, Harvest Snaps had: increased revenue from $10 million to $240 million. Increased its social media audience to 342,000 Increased revenue to 95,000 new email subscribers.
Never underestimate the power of an email signature. The next one on our list of growth hacking strategies is deceptively simple.
Hotmail (the precursor to Outlook.com) has added a signature line to every outgoing email user, inviting email recipients to get a free account. That was all it took to create super-fast growth for 12 million users (or around 20% of the email market at the time) in 18 months.
Creating a free tool is another proven creative growth hack that worked very well for Hubspot. Hubspot is known for providing free information to help its users, and its web grader tool is another example of this.
The tool helps people evaluate their sites for SEO friendliness, mobile-friendliness, and speed so that they can optimize their websites. And since you need to sign up to get your site report, it also helps build Hubspot’s email list.
In 2015, the company’s founder and CTO Dharmesh Shah credited the web grader tool as a critical part of the company’s growth to 15,000 users and a market value of $1.6 billion.
Facebook-owned Instagram now has more than 800 million users, but it wasn’t always that way. Early users attribute Instagram’s success to having a great product with precisely the features that users wanted to focus on user experience and make it ridiculously easy to use Let people try it out freely before launching, turn it into brand advocates In the first hour of launch, Instagram had 10,000 users, and it hasn’t stopped growing since then.
Social media features hacking examples in many of our growth patterns, and with good reason. It’s a very cost-effective way to promote anything. Knudge.me, an app that helps people develop their English-speaking skills, uses social media, and in-product marketing to drive growth from 100,000 to 1 million users within six months.
The company has also focused on retaining users and optimizing all aspects of user experience. The app was rated as one of Google’s best apps in 2017 and had more than 20,000 reviews above four stars.
These days, if you have a job – or are planning on looking for one – you probably have a LinkedIn account. But it wasn’t always like that. It wasn’t that simple to keep in touch with former work colleagues and get referrals and recommendations from them. LinkedIn changed this and then used its assets to drive growth.
LinkedIn’s initial strategy consisted of focusing on the sector it knew (tech) in the area it knew (Silicon Valley) and using it to test the concept of business networking. Once it worked, the company was able to expand to other sectors and areas and now enjoys close global coverage.
LinkedIn also paid attention to what was working to drive growth so that they could do more. That’s why they focused on optimizing their homepage, which led to more increase than email invitations.
Next, LinkedIn started monetizing what it did well, encouraging users to sign up for faster access to potentially useful connections (via InMail), more advanced search engines, and more.
Another of our well-known growth hacks is based on applied social psychology. It’s a “queue jumper growth hack.” We may not like the ones who cut in line in everyday life, but we certainly want to know that we’re beating the people behind us.
Mobile-only bank Monzo used the system to encourage registration and grow from 0 to 250,000 users in two years. Users could see how many people were in the queue ahead of them and how many were behind them. And they could also jump the queue by referring to others, driving even more growth.
This tactic was also successfully used by the Robinhood stock trading app, which had a waiting list of 1 million people in a year.
Growth hacking examples are not much more transformative than Netflix, which started as a DVD rental company in 1997. As the company’s co-founder, Reed Hastings, has revealed, becoming a significant player in online video streaming has always been in the plan, hence the company name.
The Netflix USP let people watch what they wanted, whenever they wanted, and that’s still a key component of their success.
One technique used by the company was to split into two companies, DVDs and online streaming, and to use the profits of one to fund the expansion of the other.
Other growth hack techniques Netflix used include: acquiring and streaming popular TV shows so that audiences would subscribe to watch them Building a strong social media presence to connect with those who love entertainment More recently, hiring the best talent to create great content that would encourage people to subscribe The company now has more than 117 million streaming subscribers.
Think to give away money is going to help you grow up? It was indeed working for Paypal. The company used the referrals to grow its business by 7% to 10% a day, but there was a cost. It cost about $60 million to encourage existing users to refer others.
If those numbers make your eyes water, consider this: it was a drop in the bucket compared to the company’s eventual valuation of $46.6 billion in 2015 (and about $100 billion at the time of writing).
What’s also interesting about this growth hacking example is that social media wasn’t a thing of the past: Paypal grew through word of mouth on instant messaging, blogs, and emails.
Job board Proven improved organic traffic by 43 percent without increasing marketing expenditure or creating new content. Cost-effective growth hacks examples don’t get much better than that.
Their strategy: an internal competition called Mission Week, where employees have gained points to improve and promote an existing piece of content that is not doing well. Everyone in the company has participated in activities, including outreach, social sharing, content optimization, and more, with the goal of amassing 20 points for each of them to complete their mission.
Search ranking for many contents improved, resulting in an increase in organic traffic.
Sometimes the most creative growth hacks don’t have anything to do with your business.
RJ Metrics used a cupcake gift to get the attention of their SaaS startup. For a $50 donation, the company got a lot of social media love, first from people hoping to win a dozen cupcakes, then from people who won.
Other cupcake experiments followed, and the company discovered that cakes were more popular than iPads.
They’re not the only company that has successfully used this technique. Inspired by the story of RJ Metrics, Advance B2B offered cupcakes to people signing up for their SaaS grader tool and improved their 1.5x signup rate.
Sometimes, in order to grow, you need to get people’s attention offline. That’s precisely what Shazam did. Because the app helps people identify songs from music and lyrics, it encourages people to hold their phones up to speakers, to make other people look, and to attract their interest. Instant word of mouth is working, and the app has been downloaded more than a billion times.
Slack is known as one of the fastest-growing B2B SaaS companies. One secret of their success was to identify a problem that people didn’t think they had, and then come up with a solution. The problem was poor productivity and increased stress due to poor communication, and Slack was the way to make things work better.
The company combined this with a freemium model and the word of mouth of its users. It worked, and in just one year, Slack grew to more than 500,000 active users a day. At the time of writing, Slack had 9 million active weekly users.
This is it! Use these growth hacking examples to launch your own growth hacking strategies!