15 Powerful Growth Hacking Strategies for Online Businesses

Brian Mechem

Brian Mechem

Every business owner wants their business to flourish and grow. However, running a business doesn’t come without its challenges. You need a lot of planning and legwork to get your business going. And you need creative strategies to gain more visibility and grow.

This is where growth hacking strategies can be truly helpful. The term “growth hacking” originated in 2010 and quickly gained momentum in the marketing world. Be it the conventional ways or the unconventional ones, brands all around are trying to leverage them.

So what exactly is growth hacking? Simply put, growth hacking refers to leveraging your current resources to achieve exponential growth. Such growth may be in terms of your visibility, traffic, conversions, or even revenue.

If you own an online business, you too can grow it quickly with proper growth hacking strategies in place. Here are some of the most powerful, tried-and-tested growth hacking strategies you can leverage.

1. Define Your Goals

Before you start looking for different growth hacking strategies, you need to define your goals. If you don’t have a specific goal in mind, you’ll likely be shooting in the dark. Be it to boost traffic, leads, or conversions, you need to define your goals.

It’s only based on your goals that you can analyze the effectiveness of your growth hacking strategies. For example, you can set a goal of achieving an X% increase in monthly website visitors over Y months. Or an X% increase in social media followers over Y months.

However, you should also keep in mind that you need to keep your goals as realistic as possible. Unrealistic goals won’t help you grow effectively.

2. Drip Marketing

Drip marketing is an extremely helpful growth hacking strategy. But what exactly is drip marketing? Drip emails are a set of pre-scheduled messages that you can send automatically to your target audience over time.

For example, whenever someone signs up to your mailing list, you can send one of them. Maybe another a few days later, and another two weeks later. It’s called a drip campaign because the emails drip to your customers one email at a time.

These emails are usually more personalized and timely so they can lead to better click-through rates. Drip emails can be triggered based on the actions or behaviors of your customers.  

Old Navy

Image via Old Navy

Old Navy uses drip campaigns to sell their products. They make sure that the first email reaches a newsletter subscriber immediately after they sign up. This email includes a discount code to encourage people to make their first purchase.

The second email comes in two days later and showcases some of their popular products. This also includes a reference to the discount code and urges people to use it before it expires. The third email comes in another two days later and includes information about their loyalty program - the Old Navy Card.

3. Spread the Word Offline

Even if you have an online business, offline marketing can help you. While it may be considered a more traditional means of marketing, it is definitely effective. Contrary to popular belief, offline promotion can spread like wildfire too.

For example, Shazam used offline marketing to spread the word. The app allows people to identify music that they hear at various places. When there is a lot of background noise, it can be tough to identify the track that’s playing.

So, Shazam recommends users to hold their phones close to the speakers. When people saw others holding their phones in such a manner, they were intrigued. This helped the word about Shazam to spread quickly.

4. Form Partnerships

Partnering with other brands is a great growth hacking strategy. The key is to partner with a brand whose products can complement yours to benefit your customers. This can help to improve your sales and interactions. This growth hacking strategy is used by many brands around the world.

For example, Fitbit and MyFitnessPal have a great partnership going. While MyFitnessPal indicates your caloric intake, Fitbit shows you how many calories you’ve burned. For users, it can’t get better than that - you can feel less guilty about binging on something when you know you can burn off those extra calories.

RunHoly

Image via RunHoly

To partner with another brand, explore social media. Once you find a company that is complementary to yours, you work on a partnership proposal. It’s easier to grow together than on your own.

5. Communicate Directly with Your Buyers

This growth hacking strategy has a more direct approach. For this, you need to talk directly to your audience by targeting them.

Once you've figured out your target audience, you can start communicating with them. You can leverage social media, forums, internet bulletins, and other such platforms.

In fact, this is the strategy that Netflix used to promote their DVD rental business. They spread the message that they offer movies that aren't easily available. And they did this on internet bulletin boards and forums used by avid DVD lovers. They got more than 1000 orders per day within just a month of using this strategy.

This is possible even today with sites like Reddit that offer advertisements. With a highly targeted audience, you too can reach your desired goal.

6. Use Retargeting

Retargeting works as a great growth hacking strategy. It is used to target people who have visited your website but haven’t made a purchase. You use advertising to sway them even when they are away from your website.

Using tools like Google Display Network and Facebook Ads, you can achieve this. It yields a better ROI because the people you are targeting have already shown interest in your brand. Retargeting helps convert those consumers.

Facebook Ads

Image via Facebook

Many brands use retargeting so that consumers are well aware of their presence. To get better results, you need to do things differently. You could use better ads with new ideas to make them more interesting. Perhaps a video or a customer testimonial can do the trick. You should also make sure that your advertisement has a call-to-action.

7. Offer Freemium Subscriptions

If you have a digital product or service, one of the best growth hacking strategies is to offer freemium subscriptions. You can offer a freemium subscription of your product or service to your customers. This subscription can have fewer features than the paid version. You can even insert a watermark, logo, or credits.

When you offer a freemium product or service, people will use it. This way, they will get a hands-on experience of the product and may even like it enough to purchase it.

Even if they don’t end up purchasing, they will see your brand name every single time. They may recommend it to others. This way, they may end up promoting your brand indirectly.

Those who have seen the product may even end up trying the freemium version. Some of them may become your customers too. This way, you will be able to grow your online business.

Shutterstock

Image via Shutterstock

8. Share Freebies

Growth hacking strategies like freebies work well for all forms of businesses. You can increase your brand awareness by distributing free promotional products. These products should ideally have your brand name or logo on them.

Try to select products that are useful to people and can be used regularly - water bottles, pens, diaries, and USB drives are some great options.

People may not think much of them ordinarily, but as promotional products, they will notice them. Your brand name will also get noticed as a result. You can distribute these freebies at networking or social events.

9. Leverage Referral Programs

A referral program is one of the best growth hacking strategies. You can simply ask your existing customers to refer you. However, you may need to offer them some sort of incentive to do so.

A great time to ask for a referral would be when you have successfully made a sale. This is the right time to offer an incentive to your customers. The chance of them referring it to others is much greater at this time.

Many online businesses give out virtual cash, extra subscriptions, or discounts for referring others. This motivates current users to refer others and get them to buy from you. This way, you will be able to retain old customers and even get new ones.

G Suite Basic

Image via Google

For example, Google has a referral program in place to grow their business. For every new sign-up that existing users refer for Google apps for work, they get paid. For G Suite Basic, they get $15, and for $30 for G Suite Business.

10. Leverage Guest Blogging

Many brands use guest blogging to increase traffic to their websites. You could even sell your products by guest blogging on other websites.

Guest blogging can not only help you increase traffic through link clicks but also through SEO. The links to your website count as backlinks, and Google notices them. Backlinks from high-authority websites can help you rank higher in Google search results. But keep in mind that they should be from the same niche as yours.

Once you’ve found such websites, you can pitch them. The pitch should essentially have the following:  

  • Appreciation of their recent work
  • A request for an opportunity to write a guest post
  • Ways it can benefit them
  • Some topic ideas that you have in mind

Write guest posts that are informative and are not filled with promotional content. A helpful article makes readers want to come back for more content and information.

You should ideally insert only one link to your own website. And remember to use a proper anchor text while linking it to your website. The linking will help drive traffic to your website and will help with SEO too.

Jeff Bullas-1

Image via Medium

Jeff Bullas frequently writes helpful guest posts. The articles are not directly related to his services, but are informative. The article shown above discusses the truth about content marketing. It also includes links to his own website.

11. Use Influencer Marketing

Growth hacking strategies need not be restricted to doing all of the work yourself. You can also collaborate with influencers to achieve your goals.

Influencer marketing is certainly one of the best growth hacking strategies out there. A Twitter study found that 40% of users have made a purchase as a result of a tweet from an influencer.

In case you don’t know who influencers are - they are people who have a dedicated fan-following on social media. They may be bloggers, journalists, celebrities, or popular social media personalities.

You can set up an influencer marketing campaign and get in touch with influencers to promote your brand. You could send them your products and ask them to review them. Since they’re greatly trusted by their followers, an endorsement from them can boost your credibility too.

You could even feature the influencer’s review as a testimonial on your website and social media accounts. What’s even better is that they can help you drive real conversions by driving people to your website. Just throw in an affiliate link or a discount code and you can give them some more reasons to buy.

stephsterjovski

Image via Instagram

Another way of utilizing influencer marketing is guest posting. You could guest post on an influencer’s blogs or websites. Not only can this get you greater exposure but also valuable backlinks that can give your search rankings a boost.

Finding the right influencer, however, remains a challenging task. There are too many fake influencers out there. Grin can help you find the right influencers based on locations, niches, and platforms of your choice.

You can also get their verified contact information so you can brief them, pay them, and even ship them your products. The best part is that you can even measure the success of your campaign and calculate your ROI.

12. Use the Power of Social Media

Social media is extremely useful for growing your business. There are numerous social media growth hacking strategies that you can make use of. However, to harness the power of social media, you must first create a killer profile, complete with all your information. Only then will your customers and other brands take you seriously.

Make sure that you fill in every single detail in your profile including your profile photo. Remember, your bio is the first thing that people will see. If it gives a good first impression, people will scroll further, or else, you’ll lose the prospect.

elegant themes

Image via Twitter

Follow as many relevant accounts in your niche as possible. This will establish your brand’s authenticity and might even get you a few followers. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be ready to start using social media to grow your business.

Now, you should start looking for people who are searching and posting about things related to your product. What you need to do is to become a personal customer support representative of your target audience.

You can do this by monitoring certain target keywords that are related to your product. When you help them out by providing useful information, they may start following you.

lisamariegil

Image via Twitter

At the same time, you should also post engaging content on social media accounts regularly. Play around with the headlines of your posts and test them. Using social media analytics, you can see which one is performing the best.

social media analytics

Image via Instagram

You can even use paid promotion on social media to reach a bigger audience. Choose your target audience for the promotion based on the buyer personas you’ve created.

Make sure that your website and blog use social share buttons. When people share your articles, you’ll get greater visibility which will help to grow your business. Test different locations to place share buttons and see which performs the best.

Keep in mind the power of visual content. While well-written articles can definitely grab the attention of readers, images and videos can do a lot more. They convey information in a more concise, interactive, and attractive manner. So they can help you catch the attention of a lot more people.

Also, ensure that you use compelling calls-to-action in your posts and articles. Using these, you can get more users to click on the links and grow further.

13. Create Circumstances to Generate Growth

Once you have a decent number of people following you and actively engaging with your content, you can use this strategy. You need to encourage your audience to utilize your other services. You could actually take a leaf out of Facebook’s strategy book for this one.

To get people on Facebook Messenger for greater advertising revenue, Facebook had to make some tough calls. Many Facebook users were using the app which had an integrated messaging feature. And so they didn’t move to Facebook Messenger.

To get people on board Messenger, slowly, Facebook turned off the messaging feature on their own app. They told people to move to Messenger if they wanted to continue messaging. This helped Messenger grow their audience quickly. Similarly, you can grow your business too.

14. Give Incentives

Incentives work great when you’re starting off. You can offer incentives to people for becoming your customers or for doing certain activities. You could even offer attractive discounts to them so that they are more tempted to buy from you

This way, people will be more willing to purchase from you. Such growth hacking strategies have been used in the past by big brands like PayPal too. When PayPal launched, they couldn’t get customers easily in spite of having a great idea.

PayPal

Image via Referral Candy

They decided to offer $10 for every person who opened an account with them. Additionally, they gave $10 for every referral that their customers brought. They spent over $60 million on referrals and incentives, but they could get a growth rate of 7 to 10% daily. This way, it became one of the most preferred payment providers in the world.

15. Create Viral Content

Viral content can help your brand grow exponentially in no time. This can be done on various social media networks or dedicated sites for videos like YouTube. People come to these websites to relax and to see content which is informative, fun, or humorous.

If you can come up with videos or photos that can go viral, it can greatly benefit your brand. Content which goes viral is seen by millions worldwide and this can help you grow manifold. A lot of companies utilize content marketing to grow.

Good content not only gets the attention of people but also helps you with SEO. When people share your content or link to it, you will be able to earn multiple backlinks. This way, your website will start ranking higher in Google. This translates to greater traffic and growth in business.

Content marketing can be done using both textual content and visual content. Almost every brand around the world utilizes it to gain traction. Dollar Shave Club utilized viral videos to grow from a startup to a $600 million company.

Dollar Shave Club

Image via YouTube

To get people to sign up to their subscription model, they presented crude but funny videos. The very first video got them 19 million views and was enough to get them going.

Conclusion

Some growth hacking strategies may be difficult to implement. But if you can execute them to perfection, you will be reaping their rewards in no time. All you need to do is catch the attention of people on the internet. If you can manage to do that, the market is all yours.

Can you think of any other growth hacking strategies? If so, please mention them in the comments. We’d love to hear from you.


Brian Mechem

Brian Mechem

Brian Mechem is COO and Co-Founder of Grin, a software solution for companies who run influencer marketing programs. Grin's software powers some of the best influencer programs in the world, providing insights on ROI and adding efficiency to the influencer marketing process.

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