2021 was another record-breaking year in terms of funding received by startups. As per Crunchbase, North American startups received $329.5 billion worth of funding across all stages, a staggering 92% rise from 2020 levels. Such massive funding indeed gives an enormous boost to any company, but it also puts pressure on the founders to make profits as nobody wants to put their money to make a loss. As a result, most of these startups operate on lean marketing budgets and have resorted to terms such as ‘Growth Marketing’ and ‘Growth Hacking.’
Although they’ve become popular terminologies in the startup world, there’s still a lack of clarity regarding what they mean and what separates them from one another. Thus, let us understand these two terms before moving to the eight proven ways to implement growth marketing for unprecedented growth.
What is Growth Marketing?
Marketing was about TV ads, billboards, and newspaper ads in the pre-internet era. Then came the internet, which led us to new techniques such as Google AdWords campaigns. Even though the methods have changed, they are still “set it and forget it” strategies. Thus, the customer lifecycle had only two stages: awareness and acquisition.
Such strategies can work if you have a huge marketing budget to burn, but most startups don’t. It would help if you had strategies that speed growth on such organizations’ lean marketing budgets. That’s what led to the birth of ‘growth marketing.’
- Growth Marketing is Marketing 2.0
- It involves constant experimentation to engage, acquire and retain customers.
- Growth marketers put a lot of effort into continuously understanding and catering to customers’ unique, evolving motivations and preferences.
- You don’t wait for the results to happen; you create them through consistent efforts and experiments.
- It is not limited to marketing as it improves all departments such as sales, operations, support, HR, etc.
- It has six stages of the customer lifecycle: Awareness, Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Revenue, and Referral.
- It uses traditional marketing methods and adds new strategies such as A/B testing, content repurposing, etc.
What is Growth Hacking?
First coined by Sean Ellis in 2010, “growth hacking” is a term used to describe a marketing approach that delivers results in minimum time. Many see it as a shady term because of “hacking,” but it is an entirely legitimate strategy.
It’s called ‘hacking’ aims to discover and create growth strategies that yield quick results without huge budgets. They often do small things that result in substantial positive outcomes for businesses. Great growth hackers smell growth opportunities and go all in to make them work.
The main difference between ‘growth marketing’ and ‘growth hacking’ lies in the timeframe. Growth hacking is a short-term strategy, and things are done with the same mindset rather than creating a long-term plan. In other words, ‘growth marketing’ is a strategy while ‘growth marketing’ is a tactic.
10 Growth Marketing Hacks to Fuel Your Startup Growth
Now that we’ve cleared the air surrounding growth marketing and growth hacking, it’s time to dive into what you’re here for. Before we get into growth marketing hacks to boost your startup growth, you need to understand that these are not magic bullets. You will have to assess where you stand, your requirements, and which hack will be the right fit for you.
1. Build & Use Pre-Launch Email List
Many startups looking for growth hacks are at the product development stage and looking for ways to market their product once it’s ready. If you’re one of them, email communication can be one of the most effective tools out there.
The best practice is to reach out to your customers at least a week before the product launch, and for that, you’ll need to build your email list. Unlike your social media audience or SEO traffic, you own your email list. You’re not dependent on the platforms’ algorithms or don’t have to worry about the platform closing down.
If you’re an early-stage startup, building your email list must be on top of your priority. If you already have that, you must make the best of it. That’s because well-executed pre-launch emails can create hype around your product and help you reach people outside of your email list.
An excellent landing page must back your pre-launch marketing emails to facilitate a higher conversion rate. That’s because it takes 0.05 seconds for a customer to form an opinion about your website.
2. Offer Free Product or Service with Limited Features
Do you use Spotify Premium? Did you use their free version before opting for the paid one? The answer to both the questions is highly likely to be a ‘yes.’ It has 172 million premium subscribers, and it has done it on the back of a staggering 46% conversion rate from free to premium.
This is enough for anyone to convince that offering free product versions can work. Offering free versions with limited features helps them try your product and incentivizes them to opt for the paid product or service.
If you opt for this strategy, ensure you don’t get your eyes off the conversion rate. The conversion rate between 2-5% is standard, but you should aim for a higher number to achieve exponential growth. In case your number isn’t improving, it’s much likely that your product or service isn’t solving customers’ problems as they would expect.
After all, who doesn’t like free products?
3. Referral Marketing Campaign
As any successful entrepreneur will tell you, word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to grow. That’s because customers will trust the experience of existing customers much more than they would depend on what the brand has to say. That’s the reason why most people jump straight to the ‘reviews’ section on Amazon while making online purchases.
Word of mouth might be effective, but it takes time to get the word out there. With the right incentives, you can expedite this process and reach out to many potential customers who might be interested in buying your product or service.
One of the best examples of a successful referral marketing campaign is Dropbox who got its registered users from 100k to 4M in just 15 months! They gave away free space to users upon a successful referral.
One of the most important decisions you need to make is the incentive you offer. It should be something that prompts your existing customers to go out of their way to refer your product or service to other people.
4. Strategic Giveaways
A well-planned giveaway can be an excellent way to get the attention you need. Although all people won’t turn into customers, you can use such giveaways to generate traffic and convert them as subscribers.
Such tactics will depend on two things: what you offer as a giveaway and how you propagate your message. Don’t offer something because your competitor did it; instead, try to understand your audience and determine what matters to them.
Here are some suggestions to help you start with thinking in this direction:
- Popular products or services of your company
- Buy one get one offer (BOGO)
- Gadgets or Software
- Coupons for restaurants, flights, etc.
- Free access to your premium products or services
Moreover, you can keep multiple options as giveaways as a brand new smartphone will not entice all customers, but they might be interested in something else.
5. Reach Out to Influencers & Bloggers
Influencers are called ‘influencers’ for a reason, and it’s not about their cute cat photos or stunning vacation pics. No matter how many times we watch ‘The Fight Club,’ people will get influenced by surrounding people and the environment. That’s the reason why the influencer marketing industry is expected to reach $24.1 billion by 2025.
You need to keep in mind that influencers exist in each domain, and you need to find the right ones whose target audience matches yours. We suggest you create a list of such influencers and start approaching them for the product or service you want to market.
The most significant advantage of these influencers is the vast audience that comes with them. Even if you don’t get many customers, it will help you create a buzz around the product.
6. Affiliate & Partnership Programs
Another trick in the growth hacking book is to onboard corporate partners and affiliate marketers. You can partner with other products or services relevant to yours and offer free giveaways. Dropbox once again provides a good example here as it provided 50 GB of free space for two years to customers purchasing Samsung phones in 2013.
The second tactic you could use is to create an affiliate marketing program for the product or service you’re looking to market. Affiliate marketers are companies or individuals who promote your product and get a certain percentage of the sale. Affiliate marketers are always on the hunt for new companies, and you could position yourself attractively to create a win-win scenario.
7. Business Conferences & Product Launch Events
Although it’s one of the old tricks in the trade, business conferences and events are effective even in 2022. If you’re a B2B company, you should try to find conferences where you could position your company and interact with potential customers. While these conferences are filled with marketers, you must think of creative ways to stand out from the crowd.
Product launch events are another type of event that could be useful to spread the word about your product or service. You could combine this with pre-launch emails and invite your subscribers to this event. You could top it off with free versions of your product or service to all those who attend, giving them an incentive to attend.
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, offline events have taken a big hit, and you will have to resort to online arrangements in some situations. However, they could still be an effective way to market your business.
8. Hire a Growth Marketing Company
Although it’s not precisely a growth marketing tactic, hiring a growth marketing company can go a long way toward achieving fast and scalable growth for your startup.
Many startup founders have a background in technology and don’t hold expertise in marketing. A growth marketing agency has all the skillset and experience to play the role of catalyst in your startup’s growth. With a reliable growth marketing agency taking care of your marketing efforts, you can improve your products/services and hire the best talent.
Whether marketing, sales, product development, or HR, growth marketing companies are adept at working with various company divisions. You can consider them as consultants who will not only give suggestions sitting afar but will work shoulder-to-shoulder at every turn of the road.
“I just honestly would recommend to anyone listening…just spend less time in meeting[s], less time on PowerPoint presentations, less time on spreadsheets and more time on the factory floor or time with customers,” Musk said at the 2020 WSJ CEO Council Summit.
The ultimate goal in Musk’s view is to be: “absolute perfectionist about the product that you make or the service that is provided [and] seek negative feedback from all corners…from customers…from people who aren’t customers.”
These are powerful words from someone whose net worth is $151B. While you must try to scale your business in the least possible time, you shouldn’t get your eyes off the product or services you offer. No matter how much buzz you can create, it won’t sustain for long if it’s not offering something extraordinary to your customers. Thus, it must always be your first focus.
At LeanSummits are a Growth Marketing Agency that collaborates with business leaders to help them address their most pressing business needs and seize the most promising business solutions. We work in close collaboration with every department within your organization to achieve profitable results for all parties.
Schedule a free consultation today!