100 Marketing Growth Hacks Learned from 5 Years as a Startup
As of writing this, I’m currently a part of a startup that’s grown to over 250k unique pageviews a month, and over 300k signups to date.
And while I’m happy to say that we’re on a good track, the path to that marketing success wasn’t glamorous. It was paved with hundreds of failed A/B tests, too many unopened emails to count, and heaps of traffic that wouldn’t convert.
But because of that we optimized, again and again (and still are) - continually trying new things until we could finally get it right.
And now (while still in a growth stage), we’ve compiled what we’ve learned for you today. 100 growth hacks free of charge for you to take back to your team and leverage our findings.
I hope you enjoy!
Growth Hacking Tip #1: Hide retargeting cookies for 45 seconds
Growth Hacking Tip #2: Send out old articles as newsletters on the weekend
Capitalize on your mailing list by sending out relevant (but older) content on the weekends. This is a great way to drive more traffic to your blog with minimal effort.
Growth Hacking Tip #3: Provide a secondary CTA on your Thank You Page
Strike while the iron is hot and prompt your newly converted leads with a secondary CTA on the Thank You Page of your lead generation campaigns.
Here's an example of a secondary CTA that we offer new leads on one of our ebook post entry pages.
Growth Hacking Tip #4: Use pre-filled form fields
Use information you already know about your users to pre-fill lead generation forms in order to make it easier for them to convert.
See step-by-step instructions on how to set up pre-filled form fields.
Growth Hacking Tip #5: Use content upgrades
Content upgrades are one of the easiest and most effective lead generation tactics on the market today. A content upgrade is essentially an extension of one of your content pieces, except available for download in exchange for contact information.
Types of content upgrades include: bonus strategies for a blog post, video recordings, checklists, and resource / tool guides.
For more information on content upgrades, see 7 Content Upgrade Ideas and Examples that Helped Build 100k Subscriber Lists.
Growth Hacking Tip #6: Set a time period for your AdWords call extension
If you're using the phone number call extension on Google AdWords, there’s nothing worse than wasting money on clicks when no one’s around to answer. Use call extension scheduling to set a predefined schedule for when your call extension will appear.
For a more detailed breakdown on how to set up this growth hack, check out 5 Growth Hacks to Maximize the ROI from your AdWords Campaigns.
Growth Hacking Tip #7: Use Gmail ads to bid on your competitors keywords
Use Gmail ads to target by keyword in a user’s inbox. This hack allows you to find people who are likely receiving newsletters and other promotional materials from your competitors, and target them with a similar product.
Growth Hacking Tip #8: One click webinar registration (from email)
Use the one click webinar registration hack by passing a users information via a URL once they click on your email CTA. Note that you’ll also need to ensure your landing page is set up to receive these parameters at which time it will automatically sign them up for the webinar rather than requiring them to enter their information again.
See hack number 14 on 17 Knockout Growth Hacks to Nurture Leads into Customers for a full walkthrough.
Growth Hacking Tip #9: Use Facebook lookalike audiences
Leverage the power of your email list by creating a Facebook lookalike audience. Using this hack you can target people with similar characteristics to your pre-existing email list on Facebook and Instagram.
For more information on Facebook lookalike audience, check out How to Leverage the Power of Your Email List to Get More Leads
Growth Hacking Tip #10: Add hidden form fields to your lead-gen forms
The more you know about your leads, the better you can cater and nurture them in your marketing down the line. One trick used to capture even more information about your leads is to pass a parameter in a URL which can be received by a hidden field on one of your forms.
Using this trick you can capture even more information about your leads without making them fill out multiple form fields that you already have information form.
Common uses of this can include location, campaign, and interest category.
If creating a hidden field in Wishpond, simply check "Make this field Hidden" when adding your form field:
Growth Hacking Tip #11: Send an “oops! forgot the link" email
When automating follow up emails, consider incorporating some "human errors" into your email sequences. One trick is to send one email that’s missing either a link or a file. You then automate a follow up email 1-5 minutes later sending the missing piece of the first email.
While open rates will likely remain the same, we’ve found that conversions for the second email tend to skyrocket.
Growth Hacking Tip #12: Use exit intent popups
Here's an example of an exit popup that we use on our pricing page:
For more examples of exit popups check out 5 Exit Popups You Need to Know About.
Growth Hacking Tip #13: Trigger SMS text messages based on actions
Using marketing automation, you can now trigger text messages whenever someone converts on one of your campaigns, visits a number of web pages, of makes it onto on of your lists. It also doesn’t hurt that text messages have a 98% open rate.
Growth Hacking Tip #14: Create automated webinars
Put your webinars on autopilot by creating automated webinars that can keep running the background.
For more on this, see Eric Sui’s article Automated Webinars Might be the Tool You Need to Scale Your Marketing Efforts.
Growth Hacking Tip #15: Send emails from a real person
Rather than sending emails from firstname.lastname@example.org or even "Tom at Company", send them from real people with their first and last names.
We've found people respond better to actual people when compared with generic company emails.
Growth Hacking Tip #16: Add an image to your Google+ profile for increased open rates
While you're sending emails from a real person, you might as well add an image that will appear in the thumbnail of people's inboxes as well. This will help reinforce that you are in fact a real person and can help boost open rates on your email mailouts.
Growth Hacking Tip #17: Use Buffer’s optimized posting scheduler
Use Buffer's optimized posing scheduler to determine the best time to post throughout the day based on the times of highest engagement.
Growth Hacking Tip #18: Reschedule popular Tweets on buffer
Your audience has already told you what they like, why not give it to them? Reschedule popular tweets using the "Re-Buffer" button to keep old content alive and traffic flowing.
Just don't overdo it. Use your common sense (it also depends on how much you're tweeting and the size of your Following).
Growth Hacking Tip #19: Schedule social media posts using Buffer
Use Buffer to schedule Facebook and Twitter posts weeks in advance and save yourself time and stress.
Growth Hacking Tip #20: Engage in communities
Growth Hacking Tip #21: Make your 404 page a landing page
When people get lost on your site, why not prompt them with something of value and a CTA? Popular giveaways can include ebooks, checklists, and course signup pages for lost visitors.
Growth Hacking Tip #22: Use an entry overlay
Entry overlays have been known to give insanely high conversion rates for high traffic pages.
Here’s an example of one that we have up on the Wishpond blog which has already driven more than a thousand signups in the past couple months:
Growth Hacking Tip #23: @ mention people when you post content on Twitter
Whenever you share a piece of content on Twitter remember to @ mention the author or the company involved. This is a sure way to get a couple extra likes and retweets.
Growth Hacking Tip #24: Create lists on Twitter
Creating and adding people to lists is a great way to keep your contacts organized, but also allows you to gain visibility on Twitter from people who matter in your space.
Growth Hacking Tip #25: Use autoresponders to send follow up emails
Growth Hacking Tip #26: Use Google Customer match
Target your best leads across Google search, Gmail, and YouTube using Google’s customer match. By uploading a list of contacts, Google will allow you to target those users specifically across Google’s entire network.
This is a great strategy for lead nurturing and user onboarding.
Growth Hacking Tip #27: Use 30% scroll popups on content
Scroll popups are a content marketers dirty little secret. Not because they're dirty, but because they're effective. We all know people hate entry popups and few people actually make it to the bottom of your article to see a bottom page CTA.
That's why a 30% scroll pop up works so well. It is triggered based on engagement just before the halfway point of your content. This way you know you're prompting actively engaged readers rather than people simply browsing through your site.
For more information about popups, check out 3 Best Popups for Your Website.
Growth Hacking Tip #28: Use names in your subject line
Using a user's name in a subject line is one of the easiest ways to increase your email open rates. This can usually be done through most email service providers using a function called a "merge tag." Of course, this assumes that you've also collected a name field from your leads at some point.
Growth Hacking Tip #29: Target people using the local locations option on AdWords (for local businesses)
If you're a local business, you might only want people within Vancouver rather than people searching for “Vancouver.” To weed out the people outside of your desired area, use the local locations option in AdWords to only show your ads to people within a specific geographic location.
For more on this strategy, check out my article "Adwords Growth Hacks."
Growth Hacking Tip #30: A/B test everything
Wherever there’s traffic, there’s an A/B test waiting to be run. No matter if it’s a blog title, email subject line, popup CTA, or a million other things. There’s an A/B test that can help you optimize that campaign.
If you’re stumped on A/B tests to run, check out 50 A/B Split Test Conversion Optimization Case Studies
Growth Hacking Tip #31: Use a headline tester before publishing
Does your headline suck? Try running it through a headline tester to see how it can be improved.
Growth Hacking Tip #32: Use PDF’s of articles as a content upgrade
Save your blog posts as a PDF and use that as a content upgrade. It’s literally the easiest and one of the most effective lead generation tactics you can employ.
For more information on content upgrades, click here.
Growth Hacking Tip #33: Use Wistia turnstile to email gate video content
Using Wistia you can gate your video content part of the way through using a feature called Wistia turnstile. Research has shown that gating content around 14% is the most effective and is a great way of coupling video marketing and lead gen.
Growth Hacking Tip #34: Use testimonials on landing pages
In an increasingly online world, social credibility can sometimes be the only factor differentiating you from your competitors. Add testimonials to your landing pages to increase trust and in turn, conversions.
Growth Hacking Tip #35: Auto select form fields
Enable the “auto select form field” option on your landing page forms. This will make it easier for users to convert since they’ll just need to start typing rather than having to select the form, then type.
Never underestimate the importance of usability in your sales funnel.
See step-by-step instructions on how to setup the auto select form field option.
Growth Hacking Tip #36: Drive traffic to landing pages instead of your home page
Driving paid traffic to a generic homepage is one of the biggest mistakes rookie marketers make. Drive all of your campaign traffic to a dedicated landing page in order to increase conversion rates.
Growth Hacking Tip #37: Clean up your email list
In marketing as well as in life, sometimes you just need to know when to let it go. Use your email provider or leads database to weed out leads that haven't opened one of your emails in over 3 months. Then remove these users from your active email list in order to get a better gauge of who you're real audience is.
Growth Hacking Tip #38: Use liquid code to personalize emails
Use liquid code to dynamically change emails based on a user's behavior.
See 17 Growth Hacks to Nurture Leads into Customer for more information on how to apply this growth hack.
Growth Hacking Tip #39: Create separate landing pages for each ad group
Creating dedicated landing pages for each of your ad groups is one of the best ways to keep your messaging and content targeted and conversions high.
Growth Hacking Tip #40: Create email drip campaigns
Nurture your leads using a series of emails that all push towards a sales email at the end.
For more information on running an effecitve email drip campaign, check out 5 Drip Email Templates That Work
Growth Hacking Tip #41: Use merge tags on landing pages / popups
Personalization has been proven to drastically improve the conversion rates of emails, landing pages, and popups. Use merge tags to use what you know about your users to dynamically add their personal information to headlines, body text, and CTA’s.
Growth Hacking Tip #42: Use Statusbrew to keep your social media following ratio in check
Use the app Statusbrew to see who is and who isn’t following you on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The app also gives you the option to quickly unfollow, as well as sort users by inactivity and other properties.
Growth Hacking Tip #43: Use the hashtag "#growthhacking" on Twitter
Trust me, just try it.
Growth Hacking Tip #44: Make your CTA say exactly what the button will do
People will experiment with all sorts of CTAs. But rarely are CTAs as successful as a CTA that describes exactly what the user is doing. I.e. “Get my discount”, “See the 100 Growth Hacks”.
Drill down to the simplest action of your CTA for maximum conversions.
Growth Hacking Tip #45: Use the AIDA copywriting formula
When in doubt use the AIDA copywriting formula for all of your landing page and email copy.
For a complete walkthrough on how use use the AIDIA copywriting formula, see The AIDA Formula: Solving all of Your Copywriting Woes
Growth Hacking Tip #46: Use Buzzsumo to see the most shared content for a keyword
Buzzsumo is a great way of seeing what the most popular and shared content is for any topic. Simply enter the search term you want information on and Buzzsumo will return the most shared results over the past year.
This is a great way to determine if there's an SEO opportunity for your brand.
Growth Hacking Tip #47: Use the AdWords keyword planner to find keyword opportunities
Just because you aren’t running any AdWords campaigns, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be using the AdWords platform. Use the AdWords keyword planner to find awesome keyword opportunties for your content.
For more on how to use Google’s keyword planner, check out Brian Dean’s awesome article.
Growth Hacking Tip #48: Use the skyscraper technique to own a niche
If you’re just getting started with content, using the skyscraper technique is one of the best ways to get yourself seen and heard in a busy space.
Growth Hacking Tip #49: Create a referral contest
Referral contests are one of the best ways to run a social promotion with the best chance of going viral. Referral promotions require users refer other users in order to win a prize, which naturally encourages sharing and engagement amongst users.
For a walkthrough on how to run a successful referral contest, check out How to Run a Facebook Referral Contest.
Growth Hacking Tip #50: Run a social sweepstakes to generate leads
A social sweepstakes is one of the quickest and easiest ways to generate a ton of leads (or traffic) in a short period of time. Simply select a prize related to your business, come up for a theme of your contest, and have people submit contact information in order to win.
Growth Hacking Tip #51: Create a “hot leads” list using marketing automation
Use marketing automation to create a “hot leads” segment containing your most engaged and buyer-ready leads.
We've found that the most straightforward, and successful way to do this is based on pageviews - i.e. "lead visited the pricing page twice in two days."
For instructions on setting up a triggered popup, check out this knowledge base article.
Growth Hacking Tip #53: Create slideshares to drive traffic
Slideshares are super popular these days. Create slideshares with helpful tips and tricks to help drive traffic to your website.
Growth Hacking Tip #54: View 100 people's linkedin profiles a day
Is your startup struggling to get visibility? Get noticed by viewing at least 100 LinkedIn profiles a day. To save time, try the Chrome extension Linkclump to speed up the process and view multiple profiles at once.
Growth Hacking Tip #55: Use Instagress to gain exposure on Instagram
Use the Instagress bot to automatically like, comment, and follow people in your particular niche on Instagram. This is a hacky but effective way of getting noticed.
Growth Hacking Tip #56: Retarget on a specific piece of content
Create a tailored-made retargeting campaign based on a single piece of content. Doing so will allow you to talk about the content the users just saw and position your offer accordingly.
Growth Hacking Tip #57: Use Sidekick to see who’s read your emails
Hubspot has an awesome free tool call Sidekick which allows you to see when someone’s read one of your emails. This is great for sales, following up, and just for general interest.
Growth Hacking Tip #58: Use IFTTT to automatically post Instagram posts to Facebook
If you're a social media manager, use IFTTT to automatically post any of your Instagram posts to Facebook. This quick integration will save you time and keep both of your accounts active.
Growth Hacking Tip #59: Syndicate your content on LinkedIn
Publishing on LinkedIn is a fast and easy way to get more out of your content and can help to build a targetted following outside of your website.
Growth Hacking Tip #60: Create round up posts featuring influencers
Roundup posts like this are a great way of providing good quality information, while also leveraging the network of an influencer to help content go viral. In order to do this, reach out to an influencer on Twitter or via email, then let them know when the article is published to encourage them to share.
Growth Hacking Tip #61: Do Google AdWords email based retargeting
Upload a list of contact to Google AdWords in order to retarget a specific group of people across Google search, YouTube, and Gmail.
Growth Hacking Tip #62: Comment on Slideshares
Commenting on popular new slideshares can be a good way of driving more traffic to your website.
Growth Hacking Tip #63: Validate new ideas with landing pages
Use a landing page to validate a business idea or product change before your product or service even exists.
For more on this, check out How to Validate a Successful Business Idea in Your Area.
Growth Hacking Tip #64: Ask for feedback on HackerNews
Reaching out and asking for feedback on YCombinator's HackerNews can drive a ton of traffic if questions are asked in a legitimate and genuine way.
Growth Hacking Tip #65: Run an Instagram Hashtag contest
Running a Instagram hashtag contest is one of the quickest and easiest ways to generate an Instagram following, generate engagement, and collect user generated content.
Growth Hacking Tip #66: Prompt users to share after converting
After a user converts on one of your forms, prompt them to share on their social media channels.
Growth Hacking Tip #67: Progressive sign up forms
Rather than asking for all of your lead details at once, use a progressive sign up form to ask for one piece of information at a time. This eases users into the conversion process and allows you to get a series of micro conversions along your conversion trail.
Growth Hacking Tip #68: Send out webinar reminder emails
Ensure maximum attendance for webinars by emailing attendees multiple times before and during the day of the webinar.
Growth Hacking Tip #69: Insert Google calendar invites into emails
Make it easy for people to remember your meetings by making a one click add to Google calender invite inside of your emails.
Growth Hacking Tip #70: Add social logins to login pages
Adding a social login option to your login pages can drastically increase your conversion rates. Wishpond was able to achieve a 8.5% increase just by adding two social login buttons.
Growth Hacking Tip #71: Use SpyFu to see how much your competitors are spending on ads
See exactly how your competitors have used google for paid search over the past 9 years using SpyFu. See things like ad variations, keywords bought, and total ad budget.
Growth Hacking Tip #72: Create pre-written emails for leads to send to their boss
If your target audience requires approval from management to purchase a product or attend an event, make it easy for them by providing pre-written email templates that they can submit for that approval.
Growth Hacking Tip #73: Delay sending emails until office hours
Use Mailchimp’s Timewarp to delay sending emails until office hours. That way you know your leads will be awake and ready to engage.
Growth Hacking Tip #74: Send a post-webinar / event email
Send out a post webinar email including a recording of the event to everyone who missed it. This is also a great chance to prompt them with a secondary CTA in order to move them further down your sales funnel.
Growth Hacking Tip #75: Automate a “replenishment email”
If you sell products that need to be replaced, or subscriptions that need to be renewed, automate a “replenishment email” that will automatically offer the same product at some date into the future. Using marketing automation you can set this to be 1 month, 6 months, or 1 year into the future (whenever your product needs to be replaced).
You can accomplish the same thing by automating an internal email reminding an account manager that one of their clients is due a replenishment call.
Growth Hacking Tip #76: Use lead scoring
Use lead scoring to score your leads based on past behaviour (page views, downloads, etc), as well as interests and personal details. Lead scoring will allow you to segment your audience better and allow you to send targeted content to your most engaged prospects.
Growth Hacking Tip #77: Shopping cart abandonment email
Send an email as soon as someone bounces from your checkout page without purchasing. This is a great chance to address any objections they might have had which prevented them for purchasing while also giving them a chance to return.
Take a look at an example of a shopping cart abandonment email that Wishpond sends:
Growth Hacking Tip #78: Apply a hello bar to your site
Adding a hello bar to your website or blog is a simple but effective conversion trick for desktop and mobile. Hello bars automatically scroll with a user in order to ensure you are constantly providing users with a CTA.
Check out this free hello bar code from code pen.
Growth Hacking Tip #79: Use free stock image sites to spruce up your blog / social media posts
Growth Hacking Tip #80: Use tooltipster to allows any part of your content to be shared
Using an app called tooltipster, you can allow any part of text to be highlighted on your website and blog, and automatically shared to Facebook and Twitter.
Growth Hacking Tip #81: Turn your popular tweets and posts into Pinterest posts
Recycle old content by turning popular tweets and Facebook posts into Pinterest posts.
Growth Hacking Tip #82: Create a Google business page
Creating a Google Business listing tied to the physical location of your business to ensure your listing comes out front and center when someone searches for your business name.
Growth Hacking Tip #83: Use the Moz’s open site explorer to find out your competitors backlinks
Find out exactly who’s linking to your competitors (so you can reach out to those companies as well) by using Moz’s open site explorer.
Growth Hacking Tip #84: Create a free tool
Creating a free tool is an awesome way to drive a ton of leads. Tools can include: ROI calculators, performance graders, idea generators, and more.
Take a look at Wordstream's AdWords performance grader for inspiration:
Growth Hacking Tip #85: Use a Facebook Like popup on contests and promotions
If you're running a social promotion, use a Facebook Like popup to prompt users to Like your page before entering.
Growth Hacking Tip #86: Use CTA buttons in your emails
As simple as it sounds. Instead of inline links, try using CTA buttons in the body of your emails to increase click through rates.
Growth Hacking Tip #87: Add a feature box to your blog
Add a feature box to the top of your blog directory to prompt users to sign up for your product as soon as they arrive.
Take a look at this example feature box on Buffer’s blog.
Growth Hacking Tip #88: Use a click popup CTA on your landing page
Rather than using a form, try a button and a click popup as your CTA. People can shy away from forms when they see how many form fields are required, so easing them in with a CTA button can help increase overall conversions.
For more on this strategy, see How We Doubled Blog Lead Generation with Click Popups
Growth Hacking Tip #89: Start with a high converting landing page template
Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, start with a high converting landing page template base and build on top of that. Doing so will save time and will help your page adhere to CRO best practices.
Growth Hacking Tip #90: Use directional cues
Use directional cues to subtly push your users towards conversion.
For more on directional cues, see How to Use Directional Cues to Optimize Landing Page Conversion
Growth Hacking Tip #91: Make the length of your landing page proportionate to the size of your offer
There’s a lot of talk of long form landing pages vs. short form landing pages. Rather than pulling your hair out about which one to choose, simply choose a landing page proportionate to the size of your offer. For example, if you're only looking to get your lead's email address, use squeeze pages. For high ticket purchase pages, use longer form pages.
Growth Hacking Tip #92: Add a negative statement to close a popup
Rather than just having an “x” to close a popup, use a negative statement that makes people reconsider your offer.
Growth Hacking Tip #93: Use Google Analytics to determine top referrers, then double down
Chances are your website is receiving referrals from some unlikely you might not expect. Check Google Analytics under “Acquisition” -> “All Traffic” -> “Referrals” to see where those are coming from. If you notice any blogs or websites that are driving a significant amount of traffic, get in touch with that site to see how they can send even more traffic your way.
Growth Hacking Tip #94: Dynamically change landing page copy to match ad copy
Dynamically changing your landing page copy to match your ad text is one of the most effective ways of ensuring that your landing pages are always hyper targeted for the traffic they’re receiving.
To see how to do this, check out growth hack #9 on 13 Growth Hacks to Get Your Rolling
Growth Hacking Tip #95: Launch on a Tuesday
Tuesday is the best day to launch a product, feature or article, since it’s generally the day with the highest engagement on social media.
Growth Hacking Tip #96: Use Mention to keep on top of who’s talking about your brand
Rather than constantly monitoring social media channels, use Mention to create alerts for anytime someone mentions your company or keyword.
Growth Hacking Tip #97: Automate Tweets using IFTTT
Save time by using IFTTT to automatically publish a tweet of your latest blog post as soon as it's published.
Growth Hacking Tip #98: Segment your email list
As a digital marketer, few things are as important as good quality list segmentation. Use behavioural cues (page views, product downloads, etc), combined with information collected (age, location, job type, etc) to create segmented email lists interested in different topics. Your leads will thank you and your engagement metrics will skyrocket.
For more on this, check out the Complete Guide to Lead Segmentation.
Growth Hacking Tip #99: Repurpose long form content
Take content like webinars and long form blog posts and turn them into slideshares, email courses and ebooks.
Growth Hacking Tip #100: Produce content which piggybacks off of a big industry event
Ride the media wave of a big event by creating conference notes, speaker Q&A’s and other types of content leading up or during a big industry event. Then share it on Twitter during the event and tag the conference / speakers to get more exposure.
I hope you enjoyed these 100 growth hacks!
Have a favorite growth hack that we missed? Feel free to leave it in the comments below!
- 17 Growth Hacks to Nurture Leads into Customers
- Beginner’s Guide to Growth Hacking: 9 Tips for Entreprenurs
- Learn Growth Hacking: 35 Resources to Help You Become a Growth Hacker