Marketing February 23, 2015 Last updated February 22nd, 2015 2,337 Reads share

Top 10 Growth Hacking Tips for Early Stage Start-ups

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The growth and scaling of startups is one of the most daunting tasks a marketer ever faces. No matter how ingenious your startup idea is, at one or another point, you would have to find someone to steer it to its glorious prime.

Technology and internet startups often have to face the gruelling question of how will they manage to convince more customers and users to join them. The ‘Build it, they will come’ attitude doesn’t work for start-ups and marketing it’s services is a must. This is when the startups seem to come to a grinding halt. Marketing is perceived as a thing for the Fortune 500companies, with substantial budgets to spare. But the thing is, even start-ups can ‘growth hack’ their way to scaling and eventual success.

Start-ups, usually confined to a limited budget, would achieve some major payoffs if they took ‘Growth hacking’ seriously. Even the decently funded startups could make the most of growth hacking techniques to drive more customers to their services and in turn, increase sales. According to the World Startup Report, there are over 140,000 new startups at the end of the previous year alone, with a majority of them outside the USA. With this start-up boom, it has become even harder to stand out of the crowd just with a distinctive idea and the quality of the product. What matters more is who attracts and retains customer better.

Knowledge of consumer centric actions is essential to relentlessly pursuing growth strategies.

What is Growth Hacking and how could it help your startup?

‘Growth hacking’ is a fairly newer marketing concept, coined by Sean Ellis, the founder of Qualaroo, in 2010. Growth hacking is all about making the most of knowledge of consumer actions and using it for the company’s growth. Growth hacking does not involve gigantic marketing budgets; instead it is more specifically focused on growth and scaling the startup. It is all about making the people talk about your startup instead of you going ear-to-ear marketing your services. Growth hacking is entirely different to traditional marketing with the primary focus being on social media, viral marketing and whose ‘

The early adopters are the key to a start-up’s success and make sure you are not disappointing them. Once you stop appealing to them, it would be much harder to get to your next goal of acquiring customers. Be active on sites like Betali.st, that showcase up and coming startups that will soon be going into beta mode. Get your early customers from such services and provide your early adopters with valuable information and informative newsletters.

#2. Leverage your social media and other free channels

Write great content and publish it on multiple free platforms like Facebook, Quora, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, Vine and much more. The audience are always interested in learning a thing or two on the web and provide them with those informative or entertaining snippets. These free services would drive more traffic to your blog and in turn more conversions. Make use of tools like IFTTT to automate the process of sharing on these free services and save you valuable time.

#3. Monitor the web and engage with amazing content

Keep track of the latest trends in your industry and make sure you react retrospectively to it by creating relevant and amazing content. Blog more frequently and also consider guest blogging to drive more traffic and conversions to your website. Create alerts for business trends and follow them up with timely blog articles and social media updates. Guest posting on other blogs increases your chances of enhancing your brand identity considerably. Consider writing list posts like business motivational quotes and such that tend to perform the most. You can also invite writers to do guest posting at your blog and ask them to link the same on their blog, improving your online visibility considerably.

#4. Make use of Remarketing

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Remarketing is a cost effective way, albeit a creepy one on the internet, but has proven to show amazing CTR and response from users. The attention span of users on the internet is on a rapid fall and remarketing helps catch the attention of only those users who have already shown an interest in your services. Remarketing caters advertisements to only those users who have searched for your brand or its services on the web, or have browsed through your webpage for learning more about your services. Targeting your campaigns towards such users while not overdoing on the frequency could work wonders for your startup.

#5. Reward recurring users with incentives

Maximising your conversion rates and rewarding your consistent and frequent users with incentives is essential as a startup. Loyalty programs will work for startups and rewarding your business’s loyal customers is a great way to make them revisit your site and they are your potential long-term customers. Codebase provides incentives to its users who have registered for a 15-day trial with a follow-up email to convert them into paying users at a later point of time.

#6. Take Collaboration to the next level

Collaborating or partnering with another influential business could help your startup in more ways than one. Mutual marketing campaigns help entrepreneurs flourish by making them work together instead of working against one other. Join forces with someone else, promote each other for free and spread a word about your startup faster. You choose your partners, so you would be driving targeted potential customers to your startup and the work is half done.

#7. Ask for and Get endorsements

Make use of a combination of paid and unpaid endorsements with the unpaid one usually taking it up from the paid one organically. You can pay an online celebrity or someone with a huge following on social media to endorse your product and you can get more free endorsements through organic links on the web. Startups that get endorsed by well-known and trusted celebs on the web tend to perform better and convert faster. Everyday users will be compelled to learn more about your startup and services when they are endorsed by these set of online users.

#8. Provide free products that go with your services

Now who doesn’t love a freebie on the web? Offer your users or potential customers free incentives that go hand in hand with the services you offer. This allows them to try out your paid services if they are satisfied with what your free products have to offer. You can also consider offering a free informative e-book that could drive more email subscribers to your startup. You can look at how Moz.com offers free SEO tools and services in the belief that it would compel users to subscribe to their paid subscriptions and it did work out pretty well for them.

#9. Force Virality

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Forced virality is something you can achieve by incentivizing distributions on your webpage, by offering up something in return for distributing your content or products. You can offer something in return for a social share or sharing on multiple social media networks about your startup. One such wonderful example is how Dropbox provided its users with an additional 3GB storage space to everyone who shared about their services on social media. This strategy at Dropbox was implemented by Sean Ellis, the man himself who coined ‘Growth hacking’.

#10. Track your product and listen to customer feedback

You can use a powerful heat maps tool like CrazzyEgg to track detailed metrics about your website and learn why you are underperforming on conversions and work on it. You can visualize activity on your webpage and place your CTA buttons where users are most likely to click. You can minimize your bounce rates and improve your conversion rates by useful information from such services. While you are building an efficient startup, take care to listen to your customers and keep an eye for constructive criticism and feedback to work and improve on those specific areas.

These are few of the effective growth hacking tips, while there are many more strategies to improve your startup further. If you have other advice or suggestions to growth hack a startup, feel free to share them below.

Images: author’s own

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Aashish Sharma

Aashish Sharma

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