The buzzword “growth hacking” has become pretty popular over the last few years.

What is growth hacking?

If you search for the term on Google, here’s what pops up:

“Growth hacking is a process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most effective, efficient ways to grow a business.”

Basically, when you growth hack, you come up with innovative, cost-effective ways of growing your business.

Now, this term was coined by Sean Ellis (CEO and Founder of GrowthHackers) 8 years ago.

Here’s the backstory:

In 2010, Sean was trying to hire a marketer for his company.

He posted a few job ads up, and he got a ton of replies. Most of these candidates had marketing degrees, and they’d worked in marketing before, but there was something missing.

After thinking about it, Sean realized that he wasn’t looking for your stereotypical marketer.

He didn’t need this person to be able to:

  • Build and manage a marketing team
  • Liaise with external vendors
  • Oversee media buying activities

Instead, he needed this person to be particularly skilled in one area: growth.

Wanting to be more specific in his job ads, Sean came up with the term “growth hacker”; he defines this as “a person whose true north is growth”.

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Now, here’s the thing:

Growth hackers aren’t innately better than traditional marketers – they’re simply a better fit for certain types of companies (that is: startups).

Why is this the case?

Well, in order to be successful, startups have to be agile, nimble, and obsessed with growth.

It’s the same with marketers in startups – these guys don’t have the luxury of dropping thousands of dollars on a “branding” campaign that’s not going to bring them any measurable results.

Instead, they need to be laser-focused on said results (including revenue and growth).

Want to learn more about growth hacking?

In this article, we walk you through:

  • The mindset of a growth hacker
  • Growth hacking strategies that help you generate leads, plus
  • Growth hacking case studies

Alright, time to dip your toes into this exciting new world. Let’s get started!

The mindset of a growth hacker

Now that you understand what is growth hacking, let’s explore the idea of a growth hacker in more detail.

As we discussed previously, a growth hacker is a person who’s obsessed with growth.

Here’s what this means:

Every decision that a growth hacker makes should fuel growth.

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Growth hackers don’t just stick to tried-and-tested approaches, and they DON’T have a “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality.

A traditional marketer might say: “Well, we’ve been spending a quarter of our budget on billboard ads for the past five years, so let’s just go with the status quo.”

But a growth hacker would say: “There’s no way of calculating our ROI with our billboard ad campaigns, so I’d like to move the budget to XYZ channel instead. This should bring us XYZ results, and help grow our revenue by X%.”

On top of that, growth marketers are also obsessed with testing and relying on data.

A traditional marketer might say: “I feel like the red button will work better. I’ve asked a few other colleagues, and they all think the same way, so let’s use this color.”

But a growth hacker would say: “I feel like the red button will work better, but we need to verify that hypothesis. It’s not statistically significant if we just ask around, so let’s run an A/B test and aim for 100 click throughs before we make our decision.”

Last but not least, growth hackers are typically working on a limited (sometimes even non-existent!) budget.

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Like we mentioned earlier, they can’t afford to blow thousands of dollars on a “branding” campaign that may not bring them tangible results or revenue…

And you definitely won’t see growth marketers working with marketing agencies who will produce articles on their behalf, for $300 a pop.

Instead, growth marketers take care of everything themselves, and they rely on free tools and resources to help them out!

Alright, you should now have a better understanding of what makes a growth hacker.

Let’s move on to discuss the different growth hacking strategies that you can use to generate more leads!

Growth hacking strategies to generate more leads

The goal is to grow and scale your company’s leads, but in a way that requires the least resources. In this section, we share five different growth hacking strategies that will help you do just that!

1. Create a referral campaign

A great referral campaign can help you increase your company’s visibility, and skyrocket your leads.

How does a referral campaign count as growth hacking?

Well, you’re putting in a once-off effort to set up and automate your program.

Once you do that, your program should run in the background, and help you generate more leads like clockwork.

In a nutshell, referral campaigns are low effort, high reward. And they bring you growth!

Now, referral campaigns are more suited to B2B SaaS companies (not retailers or eCommerce store owners).

Here’s the thing:

If you own an eCommerce store, or you sell some sort of physical goods, your referral campaign will probably involve some sort of discount.

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(For example: when an existing customer refers a friend, and this friend makes a purchase, both of them might get $10 off).

$10 might not be much compared to your customer’s Average Order Value (AOV), but it still eats into your margin, and it adds up in the long run.

If you’re in the SaaS industry, on the other hand, you can simply offer an extended trial or a week’s free access as a perk.

This doesn’t cost you anything, and you get a new customer out of it. Pretty awesome, huh?

If you haven’t already set up a referral program, you’ll want to do so ASAP.

Here’s a pro-tip to keep in mind… Don’t ask your customer to recommend your product or service too early.

If you do this too soon, they’ll probably decline.

Sure, you can ask again, but then you might come across as pushy or salesy. This will destroy any trust or rapport you’ve built up with your customer!

So, when’s the right time to ask?

You can do this when they hit their 6 months / 1 year milestone (and you’re sending them a cute “Anniversary” email to celebrate), or when they renew their account/membership.

If you send your customers NPS surveys, you can also follow up with your Promoters, and ask them to recommend your product to their friends and family.

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What if you really want to reach out to customers who still new to your product?

Well, you might be able to get away with it – if you frame your question in the right way.

More specifically, don’t ask the customer to recommend your product. Instead, ask them to invite someone to “test” or “evaluate” your product.

If you’re doing this, you should also limit the number of people your customers are allowed to invite.

With the scarcity factor in play, your customers are more likely to send that invite out to their colleagues!

2. Create a free resource

Next on our list of growth hacking strategies is… create a free resource!

Now, when you hear the term “free resource”, you might automatically think of lead magnets such as eBooks, white papers, and case studies.

Buuuut we’re not referring to those today.

Don’t get us wrong – we’re not saying these are ineffective. If you use them properly, they can help you generate a ton of leads.

That said, it’s not the easiest to entice someone with a free eBook. These are a dime a dozen, and if you Google “free marketing eBook”, there are literally listicles and round-ups of free marketing eBooks that you can download.

So, if lead magnets are out of the equation, what kind of resource are we looking at?

Well, it really depends on your product and industry, but here’s an example from Snappa, which owns an online graphic design software:

Before Snappa was released to the public, founder and CEO Christopher Gimmer started building a side project – a platform where people could access free stock photos.

They called this StockSnap.io. Here’s how it looks like…

What is growth hacking

In Christopher’s words:

“We knew that a lot of people searching for free stock photos would probably be interested in an easy to use graphic design tool. Once we officially launched Snappa, we started cross promoting the tool to visitors of StockSnap.io.”

This growth hacking technique was highly successful for Snappa – they got a great deal of interest from users of StockSnap.io, and this helped them gain traction in their early days.

If you need more inspiration, an another great example is Shopify.

They have an extensive resource section featuring free tools for entrepreneurs; these include:

  • A logo maker
  • A business name generator
  • A slogan maker
  • A pay stub generator
  • A QR code generator
  • A Terms & Conditions generator
  • A business card maker
  • A gift certification template
  • An invoice generator
  • A purchase order template
  • A privacy policy generator
  • A shipping label template
  • A refund policy generator
  • A bill of lading template
  • A barcode generator
  • An image resizer
  • A business loan calculator
  • A CPM calculator
  • A profit margin calculator, and
  • An exchange marketplace

Basically, anything eCommerce store owners (or potential eCommerce store owners!) might need, they have.

Now, if you feel intimidated at the prospect of creating your own tool or software, don’t be.

There are tons of plug and play solutions that will help you set up your own tool – and they require 0 technical knowledge.

Here are a few options:

  • Outgrow allows you to create calculators, quizzes, assessments, and polls
  • Kuia allows you to create calculators, quizzes, assessments, and visualizations
  • Brandquiz allows you to create calculators, quizzes and personality tests, surveys and assessments, and contests and promotions
  • LeadDoubler allows you to create calculators, quizzes, assessments, and contests

To give you an idea of how many options you have, there are even white label SEO audit tools that you can embed on your website.

If you run a marketing or digital agency, you don’t have to create your own audit tool from scratch… you can simply embed a pre-existing tool on your site, and start generating leads!

3. Track your website visitors

We know that B2B marketers struggle with generating leads; this isn’t anything new.

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But for most marketers, the problem doesn’t lie in getting consumers interested in their company or product…

It lies in sustaining their interest.

Here’s the thing: you probably get at least 50 visits on your website per day. (We’re being conservative on purpose – if you’re getting much more visits, just humor us).

So in a month, that’s 1,500 people who are looking at your site. This means that you have 1,500 potential leads.

Now, what’s stopping you from reaching out to and converting to those leads?

It’s that your offers or calls-to-action (CTAs) on your site aren’t attractive enough to get these visitors to, well, take action.

At this point, you might be thinking:

Well, I’ve been A/B testing my site, and I follow the best practices when it comes to conversion rate optimization… I don’t know what else I can do.

Fair enough. Regardless of how much time and effort you spend on A/B testing and optimizing your site, you STILL won’t have a funnel that’s 100% waterproof – that’s the harsh truth.

What you can do, though, is to track the visitors who land on your site, and get your sales team to reach out to the ones who have the highest potential.

Don’t worry – you don’t need to build this functionality from scratch. You can simply use our free tool, Albacross.

What is growth hacking

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Sign up for a free account on Albacross. This takes just 30 seconds, and you don’t need to submit any credit card information.

Step 2: Paste Albacross’s tracking script on your website.

Step 3: Albacross will start tracking your visitors’ data. You can choose to receive daily, weekly or monthly reports telling you:

  • Who’s visiting your site
  • Which company they’re affiliated to
  • Their company revenue + number of employees
  • Their contact information

From there, it’s just a matter of identifying which leads you want to reach out to, and passing them over to your sales colleagues.

To simplify the process, you can make use of Albacross’s filtering function. This will allow you to sort the wheat from the chaff, and hone in on the hottest and highest-value leads.

Again, Albacross is 100% free to download, and it’s an awesome option for marketers who want to automate their lead gen process.

Go ahead and sign up for your free Albacross account now!

4. Steal your competitor’s leads

This growth hacking technique is a little sneaky, but hey… all’s fair in love, war, and marketing.

Basically, the strategy involves monitoring your competitor’s brand mentions on social media, and reaching out to their customers who you might be able to poach.

For example, say I’m from Namecheap (they’re a domain registrar company), and I want to steal customers off my competitor, GoDaddy.

Here’s what I’d do:

  1. Search for “GoDaddy sucks” and similar terms on Twitter
  2. Look at who’s complaining about GoDaddy
  3. Tweet at them and entice them to convert

What is growth hacking

What should you say to these potential leads?

You could do something along the lines of:

“If you ever want to switch to Namecheap, we’re here for ya. {Link}”

This link should direct the consumer to a special landing page, featuring:

  • A comparison table pointing out why Namecheap is better than GoDaddy, and
  • A special promo / offer for new customer switching over

Once you’re done, rinse and repeat with the other social networks.

Straightforward enough, right?

5. Create an awesome job ad

Back in 2009, Tourism Queensland launched an ingenious marketing campaign. They created a job ad to hire someone for what it called the “Best Job In The World”:

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Job perks included:

  • An AU$150,000 salary
  • Free lodging in a gorgeous villa
  • Free transportation

Unsurprisingly, people began sharing the job ad, and it quickly went viral.

All in all, guess how much the campaign generated for Tourism Queensland?

Not $2 million.

Not $20 million.

But a whopping $200M in global publicity.

In fact, the campaign was so successful that Tourism Australia brought it back in 2013. This time, they rolled out dedicated campaigns for Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, the UK, and the US.

All in all, the new campaigns generated 620,000+ applications from individuals in 196 countries. Tourism Australia was also featured in over 8,500 news articles worldwide, bringing them $44 million worth of media coverage.

The moral of the story?

A great job ad has the potential to go viral, and it can do great things for your company.

Now, I know what you’re thinking…

I’m not in the tourism industry, and there aren’t any jobs at my company which involved lounging on a beach. This wouldn’t work for me.

Well, there are other ways of having your job ad stand out (and hopefully go viral). Here are some examples:

Google once publicized their job opening on a billboard – this billboard said: “{first 10-digit prime found in consecutive digits of e}.com”.

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The answer was 7427466391.com, and when you input this into your search bar, it’d lead you to a landing page with a series of problems.

If you solve all the problems successfully, you’d be contacted and asked to interview at Google.

Pretty cool, huh?

Our last example is from ShopBack, a cashback reward company that’s based in Singapore.

This company came up with a job ad for the position of “Chief Shopping Officer’…

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And this promptly got them featured on publications such as Timeout, Elle, and more.

Apart from banking on the media mentions that they’d get, the team at ShopBack cleverly engineered their campaign to maximize sharing and engagement.

How did they do this?

They made it mandatory for all applicants to:

  • Make a video introducing themselves, and talking about why they want the job
  • Upload the video to LinkedIn and/or Facebook
  • State what they’d do with SGD11,271 worth of shopping funds in their LinkedIn/Facebook post, and use the company’s branded hashtag

Take a leaf out of these companies’ books, and create an intriguing job ad of your own!

Try Albacross

Growth hacking case studies

Before we wrap things up, here are three growth hacking case studies that can (hopefully!) inspire you in your growth hacking journey.

Hotmail: First growth hack in history

Want to hear something amazing?

The first growth hack in history took place EONS ago, back in 1996.

Yes, technically speaking, growth hacking only became a thing in 2010… but Hotmail actually growth-hacked their way to success way earlier.

As you’d expect, marketers typically relied on non-digital mediums such as print ads and billboards back in 1996.

Instead of following suit, however, Hotmail decided to switch it up. They auto-populated their emails with a one-liner that said: “PS: I love you. Get your free e-mail at Hotmail”.

Once someone clicked on the link, they’d be redirected to a registration page where they could create their own email account.

This simple campaign helped Hotmail to increase their user base exponentially. Pre-campaign, the company took six months to reach the one million-user mark, but after the campaign, they hit two million users in just five weeks.

And it doesn’t stop there. Hotmail sold to Microsoft shortly after this, and by that time, they had a whopping 12 million users.

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PS: If you’ll recall, Apple used the same trick when it launched its iPhone in 2007.

Back then, all emails that were composed and sent on iPhones came with an auto-generated “Sent from my iPhone” one- liner. This definitely generated a ton of free publicity for Apple!

YouTube: Capitalizing on MySpace

Our next case study is on YouTube, and it deals on how the video-sharing website cleverly piggy-backed upon MySpace to increase its user base.

Here’s some context:

YouTube was born in 2005, and back then, there were plenty of video startups in the market, including Google Videos.

YouTube had to stand out from the crowd, and to do this, the founders of the company came up with a great strategy…

They decided to allow their users to embed their videos on MySpace.

Why was this a big deal? Well, MySpace had almost 25 million unique users in 2005, and they were THE biggest social network back then.

People loved sharing about themselves and connecting with friends on MySpace, but the one problem they had was sharing videos. (This was pretty much impossible).

Also, at that point in time, no video-sharing sites allowed users to embed their videos on external websites. This was because:

  1. They wanted to keep their traffic on their own sites, and
  2. They didn’t want to incur extra hosting costs from supporting traffic on other sites

That said, YouTube bit the bullet, and started allowing MySpace users to embed their videos on the MySpace platform.

The rest, as they say, is history. Check it out:

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YouTube’s visibility and traffic both skyrocketed, and they’ve been dominating the video-sharing space ever since.

Wall Street Journal: Free wifi for all

Our last case study is a more recent one, and it’s from Wall Street Journal.

In a big to acquire more users, Wall Street Journal came up with a campaign to offer people in New York City free WiFi. All in all, the company set up 500 hotspots in high-traffic areas such as Union Square, SoHo, Greenwich Village, Chelsea and Times Square.

Here’s how the campaign worked:

Whenever someone attempted to access the free WiFi, they’d be redirected to a landing page featuring Wall Street Journal’s branding…

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This landing page was basically a lead generation tool users had to fill in their contact information, as well as specify their job title, in order to create a Wall Street Journal account.

Once a user signed up for their account, they would receive a triggered email offering 30% a Wall Street Journal subscription:

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That’s not all. Once a user successfully signs up for an account, and they get internet access, they get directed to a second landing page.

This one asks them to verify their account, and it’s yet another activation funnel that helps to convert the user.

Wall Street Journal has been pretty tight-lipped about the results, so we don’t have any details regarding their ROI.

That said, the company did run this campaign multiple times, and they even expanded it to San Francisco so it’s safe to say that the campaign was a success!

Growth hacking your way to more leads

Now that you’ve made your way to the end of the article, we hope you’re crystal clear on what is growth hacking, and how you can use growth hacking techniques to generate more leads.

Yes, you’re constrained by a lot of factors as a growth hacker…

But it’s the best feeling ever when you manage to help your company gain traction DESPITE all these challenges in your way.

Here’s a quick recap of the growth hacking strategies that we’ve discussed in this article:

  1. Create a referral campaign
  2. Create a free resource
  3. Track your website visitors
  4. Steal your competitors’ leads / customers
  5. Create an awesome job ad

Regardless of what you’re doing, remember to measure your results, and A/B test the crap out of your growth hacking strategies.

As long as you keep an eye on your key metrics, and you keep testing and fine-tuning your campaigns, your efforts will definitely pay off.

Here’s to scaling your startup or company, and growth hacking your way to success!

Try Albacross

Albacross

Marcus Svensson

Head of Growth

Marcus Svensson is responsible for the Growth of Albacross with previous experience as a founder and background in Mathematics.