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Growth Hacks for Start-Ups

The maxim of “build it and they will come” is from a bygone era. You must make the effort to reach your customers. They won’t just naturally come to you.

“If you build it, they won’t come” paints a clearer picture when you’re just launching your product and gaining traction. Gaining traction is the first stage of your start-up in which you get your initial set of users, who also give you feedback on your product.

Here is where you get answers to a pertinent set of questions: are the users really converting to paid users? Are they liking the product? What do they not like about the product? Are they sharing their feedback?

You need to stay abreast of what your users think because you can’t just launch your product and hope for the best and pray that users will flock to using your product immediately following your launch.

You want your product to increase in usage over time. In simple words, you need to grow, and growth hacking can get you there, to your batch of users. 

Growth Hacking

Growth hacking are buzzwords when it comes to start-ups. The term was coined by Sean Ellis, CEO of GrowthHackers, way back in 2010.  And the goal of a growth hacking strategy plan is to get as many customers and leads as possible without spending too much money. This is the reason why growth hacking is the go-to marketing response for an early-stage startup.

By definition, for growth hacking, growth is the only metric that matters. Many organizations apply it differently, but more often than not, there’s a viral loop associated with it.

What is this viral loop? It can be defined as follows: the loop begins when new customers typically hear about the product or service in their network. And after using the product or service, they share it with their connections. This loop of awareness, use, and sharing can result in skyrocketing growth for the company.

With growth hacking serving as the context, users typically flow through a six-step Pirate Funnel: awareness, acquisition, activation, retention, revenue, and referral. This is abbreviated as AAARRR—no surprise where the funnel got its name from. 

The idea around growth hacking is to grow your user base rapidly. It involves a primary focal point, which is getting users to try and buy your product. So, how do you get there? 

Establish SMART goals

Set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. This goal shouldn’t be generic such as making money or increasing the number of users. It should focus on specifics, and there should be deadlines.

For example, your goal could be to earn $20,000 in recurring monthly revenue at the end of the quarter. If you run this goal through the SMART framework, you’ll see that it checks every box. Similarly, you should do the same for every goal that you think about.

Find Affiliate Partners

The idea of finding affiliate partners revolves around partnering with other apps and products to get the word out on your product. Building your affiliate program means that you build a network of individuals or companies who promote your product for you.

For example, when users click on your link on your affiliate’s website and then travel to yours to buy your product, you pay the affiliate a percentage from your sales. Think of it as a referral fee. This is an elegant solution to the problem of getting your product in front of customers.

You can use bloggers and influencers for this purpose too. Make a list of all the relevant influencers, ask them to try your product, and then sign them up. If this seems time consuming, then reaching out to an agency should be your next best bet. Agencies are faster since you only have to reach out to a single person. The choice is yours, so choose wisely.

Harness Virality

Encourage viral sharing by tapping into your existing network. You can ask your network to implore friends and family alike to share your product. Dropbox, as an example, offers more storage space for actions such as referring friends and posting about it on Twitter.

Take WhatsApp as the next example. The moment you start using it, the app asks you to invite everyone on your contact list, and people on your contact list are asked the same. So, the same loop runs over and over again till everyone is connected on WhatsApp. This loop also gets people talking about the product.

Why’s this beneficial? Having a bunch of users talk about your product online is the equivalent of testimonials. That’s a big deal in the online sphere. Why? BrightLocal quotes that 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, and they trust the word of a stranger as if it were getting feedback from family members. 

Offer Freemiums

There’s nothing better than getting your product in the hands of your users, and offering freemiums is the way to go to get that initial traction. This works for all kinds of apps from games like Traffic Rider to music streaming services such as Spotify.

Users have nothing to lose by downloading and using an app for free. If users are satisfied with the free version of your app, they might then segue to buying the paid version. For example, Spotify runs audio ads in its freemium versions, but the paid version is totally ad free. Only satisfied users will take the leap of faith to become paying users. 


In a flash you’ve gone from what is growth marketing to how to perform growth marketing. With this knowledge at hand, you’re now better equipped to plan your marketing strategy if you’re looking for grow your company.