Company 3 min read

Growth hacking for startups and small business

Growth hacking

Growth hacking is an often misunderstood term. To the uninitiated it can conjure images of manipulation, control, or even gaming the system.

But growth hacking isn’t something evil. It’s simply looking at your product or service across several channels to identify effective and efficient methods to grow and extend your business. In fact, it can be an amazing way to optimize your product or service by looking at it holistically and objectively.

You might be saying to yourself, “That’s great, but how can I apply growth hacking to my business?” It starts with shifting the way you think about your users and/or customers. Instead of worrying about how you’re going to acquire new customers with inflated advertising budgets and iffy social strategies, start looking at your project from the inside out.

Every journey begins with one step

Every step your user takes along the product journey will influence how they feel about your product. Don’t take this lightly. When thinking about growth hacking, it’s important to remember to:

  • Make usability testing part of your standard operating procedure
  • Examine your onboarding process to make sure it’s a well oiled machine (more on that below)
  • Focus on retention and converting your existing users in more thoughtful and engaging ways
  • Find out if you’re leaving money on the table with bad user experience

All of these things are just as (if not more) important than finding new customers.

As I mentioned above, let’s talk about a process that every new product has: onboarding. You’ll want to ask yourself a couple of questions:

  • How is my first impression?
  • Is the onboarding efficient and optimized?
  • Is the user focused on the right features?
  • Are you asking users for the right information at the right time?

Spend some time with your internal product team and review the process to assure it makes sense. Or, even better, ask existing users to give their thoughts on the onboarding process and get ideas of what’s working and what isn’t.

These exercises could give you insight into key product benefits or use cases you hadn’t focused on before. Sometimes these insights are so good they can change the trajectory of your product.

Getting creative on the cheap

As you can see there are a lot of ways you can plan for growth hacking around your product or service. The only thing we’re spending is time and space to explore fresh ideas.

If you haven’t already, look for cheap wins like word of mouth and referral marketing or even incentive programs for existing users. These methods are sure to inspire consistent customer acquisition, retention, and customer growth. And if someone is willing to share your product or service with a friend, make it easy and worth their time.

Helpful growth hacking tools & tips

You used to need an entire engineering team working around the clock to get actionable insights to your product. Now, what used to take weeks can take days.

Using products such as Mixpanel, Amplitude, or Segment make this process a breeze. Any of these three apps will help you get up and running in no time. But you need to be careful. The most important part of growth hacking revolves around one thing: the metric.

The most important part of growth hacking revolves around one thing: the metric.

Having a single success metric is of utmost importance. You need to set your goal and priority (yes, singular) and measure only that over a period of time. If you try to juggle several goals and priorities, you’ll have no idea how they are actually influencing user behavior and conversion.

It can take time, but stay focused and try not to get frustrated. Big wins can be right around the corner when you run multiple, singularly-focused experiments.

Written by @mattdowney

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