Growth Hacking is a simple and proven framework that has generated billions of dollars for clients and marketers alike. From fresh-faced startups to Google and Facebook, everyone is looking to jump on the bandwagon and tap into growth hacking right now.
But what is the hype all about and why should you consider growth hacking at all?
We are now about to share with you the 10 boldest, most effective case studies from the field. Some are genius, a few are somewhat bizarre, but all of them offer valuable insights into how growth hacking can improve business results. Maybe it might be what you need to see real results!
Extremely effective growth hacking example #1 is…
AIRBNB CRAIGSLIST HACK
Before AirBnB became popular, Craigslist was the most popular way to rent a place short-term. AirBnB took advantage of this by getting their listings in front of Craigslist’s entire user base — for free.
They did this by creating a simple algorithm that cross-posted AirBnB properties onto Craigslist. This simple method gave the company a huge marketing push at zero cost — and put it well on its way to $1 billion public valuation and then $500 million in annual sales.
Facebook’s original plan was to reach 200 million users in just a year. This proved to be a near-impossible goal, and FaceBook turned to Growth Hacking to deliver the super-growth they were looking for.
In 2009, they introduced embeddable badges that could be posted to websites like MySpace and blogs. This created millions of sign-ups for the company, helping it gain the critical mass it needed when starting out.
In 2010, DropBox started giving up to 16 GB of extra space in exchange for referring new users to the service. The offer turned out to be hugely successful, with 2.8 million direct referral invitations in April 2010 alone. Insane, right?
This growth hack was key in taking DropBox from 100,000 members to over 4 million in a 15-month period while helping the company beat its competition in a competitive niche.
LinkedIn is a service made for professionals, but the major innovation that took the service from 2 to 200 million users appealed to personal vanity.
What LinkedIn did was to offer public profiles that got indexed by search engines. At the time, most users had a hard time finding themselves on Google, and this gave them an opportunity to have an easy-to-find web presence.
As a result, millions of users started using LinkedIn, and millions more signed up to the service after finding pages hosted on the service on search engines. We’ve said it before, but having a product that people want is critical, and this case clearly proves your chance of success if you have that.
PopCorn Metrics adopted a “whatever it takes” attitude to converting free trial users into paying ones. To achieve this, the company started offering personal consultations, free code tweaks and useful information. Within 2 weeks, their revenue had gone up 367%.
The initial process was not scalable, but it eventually grew into an automated collection of videos, articles and emails that on-boarded users with minimal employee involvement.
In the end, PopCorn Metrics experienced an almost fivefold increase in sales while creating a tutorial system. How’s that for killing 2 birds with one stone?
THE RICH JERK
The Rich Jerk is a get-rich info-product that turned its founder into a millionaire. Its creator promoted himself by making videos as a brash, rich man teaching others to make money; an image that contributed to The Rich Jerk’s success.
Believe it or not, but the growth hack here was that all the properties, pools and luxury cars featured in the program’s videos did not belong to the program’s creator. He simply filmed in other people’s backyards, garages and pool areas after breaking into them illegally! Who said, fake it ’til you make it?
This move might seem silly, but it did propel The Rich Jerk program to success on a bootstrapped budget; a result that is hard to ignore!
WAITER CASE STUDY
It’s common wisdom that over-delivering is good for business, but did you know that this idea is backed by research?
A study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology found that waiters who delivered their table a second set of mints got 23% more tips than those who didn’t.
This just goes to show that you don’t need fancy technology to growth hack effectively. In fact, the case study below was wildly successful and happened in the 90s, long before “growth hacking” was coined as a term!
In the 90s, Hotmail acquired 12 million users after they added a link in the bottom to each email sent through the service saying, “PS: I Love You. Get Your Free Email At Hotmail”. This strategy helped Hotmail beat their competition, get a huge user base and eventually sell the company to Microsoft for $400 million!
UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA
Sometimes, the best growth hacks are also the simplest. The University of Alberta increased their email subscriber conversion rate by 500%, and they did it by asking one simple question:
“You seem interested in UAlberta news. Would you like to sign up for the Daily News email?”
That is it! No hard sell, no persuasion tricks, nothing. The message and sign-up box popped up after a few seconds of browsing the university’s website and proved to be remarkably successful!
Instagram took advantage of other social networks by allowing users to cross-post to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. Each cross post came with a byline or comment indicating it originated on Instagram, giving the service a huge (and free) boost in users.
Eventually, the platform’s cross-posting abilities became a lot more developed, but this was the hack that gave Instagram their first billion-dollar push.
Especially when you consider that the growth hacking “trend” was integral to many high-profile startup success stories.
The best part is that finding a growth hack first is equivalent to having insider information before a major stock market moves. Until the rest of the market catches up to you, you have got an incredible advantage in acquiring users, making sales and running laps around the competition.