Growth Hacking Tactics: The Ultimate List


Last updated: 19 December 2016


Growth hacking is part science, part art. There is no template to master it; the best you can do is learn from successful growth hacks.

To help you out, we put together a list of 43 real-world successful growth hacks from the world's leading startups. Use these to brainstorm ideas and to understand the science and art behind growth hacking.

We update this list on a regular basis. Check back here in a while to see new growth hacks.

Find a Growth Hack by Category

User Acquisition Hacks

There are a few things more important for a startup than user acquisiton, especially if you're in the B2C space.

But user acquisition is also one of the the most expensive thing you'll do, at least if you stick to conventional tactics (read: advertising).

Growth hacking can solve this problem by amplifying the reach and impact of your marketing.

Use the growth hacks below to see how businesses similar to yours solved their acquisition problems.

1. Give an impression of being larger than you actually are

Pipetop uses international phone numbers to make it appear like a big company.

When people know you’re big company they think that doing business with you is probably safe.

Use this bias to your advantage by giving the impression that you are larger than you actually are.

There are plenty of ways to do this and some probably verge on the lines of being "unethical" (such as adding fake team members).

Case Study: Pipetop, a Danish startup, wanted to show that they are present in several countries.But instead of opening different offices, they just bought several Skype numbers for different countries.

They displayed these numbers on their homepage, giving visitors the impression that they have a presence in multiple countries. In an industry like B2B sales, this reassurance was critical for addressing customer FUDs.

2. Use FoMO to create a sense of exclusivity

Ello's social network used scarcity to get more users

Ello's social network worked - at least until the hype lasted - by limiting accessibility and giving a sneak peak inside.

FoMO - Fear of Missing Out - is a very real phenomenon that affects the desirability of a product or person. If a product is being used and loved by everyone (especially your friends), you feel drawn towards it, lest you "miss out"

Use this psychological principle to your advantage by limiting access to your product. This will create a sense of exclusivity and draw in users.

Case Study: Ello, an ad free social network, famously used this psychology hack to grow their initial users. You could only join Ello if you had an invite from someone.

Further, Ello gave you a chance to view content on the platform and see who all were on it already (including your friends).

This generated curiosity and FoMO. The result? More users.

3. Buy an existing product with an established user base that aligns with your product

Buffer and Digg Digg made for a potent combination

Buffer's acquisition of DiggDigg give it instant access to thousands of WordPress bloggers.

This isn't exactly a growth hack but if you have the cash, it can be an extremely potent move: instead of building a user base from scratch, buy it from an existing product.

The key is to not buy a competitor.

Instead, buy a tangential product with a similar audience to yours.

For Example, Buffer wanted to give users the ability to share via Buffer (and add the content to their Buffer queue).

Most of Buffer's users were using WordPress to blog. So instead of building a new sharing tool from scratch, it acquired an existing plugin - DiggDigg - and added its button to it.

DiggDigg had hundreds of thousands of its own users. It also wasn't a direct competitor to Buffer, making for a great "growth hack" to buy access to thousands of WordPress bloggers.

4. Give users a chance to test your product without signing up

Giving users a chance to test drive your product

UserLike created a widget to show users how UserLike's tool would look like on their websites - a great way to demo the product while collecting emails.

“Show, not tell” is a mantra from top writers that applies equally to your marketing.

The idea behind this is simple: don't just tell people about a feature; show them how it works.

For Example, UserLike had a bunch of features to offer their customers but didn’t want to overwhelm them with all the information.

They used this growth hack by building a ‘Try it yourself’ widget. Using this widget users can paste any URL into the bar and see how UserLike will perform on that website.

This gave UserLike a chance to show off their product, and for customers to see how the product actually worked - a win-win for both.

5. Extend free trials if users don’t convert

Freshbooks offers its customers an extended trial if they don't convert

Freshbooks offers customers who hadn't converted from trial to paid membership a chance to test out the product longer.

If a free-trial fails to convert, extend its length and inform the user via email.

In addition, make sure you guide them on how to get the most out of your product as well.

Sometimes, users are not quite ready to buy even if they have been using your service. The goal is to renew their interest with information about how your service has been beneficial to others or perhaps a new feature that you have launched,

For Example, Freshbooks, a cloud accounting service monitored users’ login history during the trial period, and extended it for those who had been actively using the service.

6. Incorporate a larger business’ product, service or API into your own to gain their user base and credibility

Groove integrations

Adding custom integrations helped Groove land a number of leads while also helping Groove's existing customers.

Tools to Use:

  • APIs.io (for finding APIs for integration)

Imagine this situation: you sell an email outreach tool designed for salespeople. You're a small company with just 100 users.

You notice that a lot of your customers use Salesforce to manage customer relationships. They get email data from their Salesforce CRM and plug it into your outreach tool.

If you can create an integration that automates this process, you would:

  • Make your users' jobs easier
  • Gain visibility among Salesforce's much larger audience
  • Give Salesforce's users a faster way to manage a small task

This is the logic behind integrating your product with larger businesses' products or APIs.

Case Study: Groove - a small customer service software company - integrates its product with popular products such as Slack, oLark and HipChat. This helps its users while also leveraging the popular product's existing audience.

In Groove's case, the Groove-to-Slack integration led to conversion rates of 5.8%.

7. Convert your product or service into a chrome extension so it opens up when your user opens up the browser

Base CRM Chrome extension

BaseCRM's Chrome Extension has close to 30,000 users.

Google Chrome is one of the most popular web browsers with over 60% of internet users selecting it as their browser of choice.

Within Chrome is the Chrome Web Store, which is the native app marketplace allowing you to publish apps and extensions. These are shortcuts to your application placed on a user’s browser for just $5 one-time fee.

When a user adds your web application to chrome, he will constantly see a link to your service in the browser's bookmarks bar, leading to a greater chance to revisit.

For Example,

when Base CRM, a widely popular and well recognized CRM solution, they immediately almost received 30k downloads.

Not bad for turnover for a few hours of time and $5.

8. Create a sense of urgency with time-bound countdowns or deals for targeted users

Amazon Lightning Deals create a sense of urgency

Amazon's "Lightning Deals" is a great example of a countdown timer that encourages action

Tools to Use:

A sense of urgency - the fear that a product or deal might run out of stock - is a powerful motivator for action.

The more desirable the product and the better the deal, the more powerful this sense of urgency.

Amazon "Lightning Deals" is a prime example of using urgency and scarcity to compel user action.

While Amazon shows these deals to everyone, you can "growth hack" this tactic by showing such lightning deals only to people who have viewed a product multiple times.

For Example, if your analytics data shows that a user has visited a particular product page more than 3 times.

However, the user isn't finishing the purchase because of some reason (price, availability or shipping).

By offering a deal on the product with a countdown timer only for this user, you can push the user to actually make the purchase.

9. Take advantage of Linkedin’s ‘Who viewed your profile’ feature.

Showing what the 'Who viewed your profile' feature in LinkedIn looks like

Get insight into who is viewing your website by adding a code snippet and using LinkedIn Pro membership.

With over 330+ million professionals, Linkedin is arguably the most important social network for B2Bs.

But besides the usual - sharing content and researching prospects/leads - LinkedIn also has a very useful feature: the ability to track other users who view your profile.

Using this hack you can figure out which linkedin users are visiting your website.

All you need to do is create a premium linkedin account and add the following HTML code on your website’s page:

<img src=”https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?authToken=XXauthType=name&id=XX” />

Here XX is represents your linkedin ID page.

Now, all the logged in linkedin users who visit your website will show up on your “who viewed your profile” page. Magic!

10. Create "bundles" and "offer packs" for your product.

Example of product bundling done right

Bundling products together can help push sales of a struggling product by combining it with a more popular product.

From McDonald's to Microsoft we have seen them all use this hack to sell their products. McD sells you "combos", while Microsoft offers you discounts for buying Windows + Office.

According to a study, offering packages of your products can significantly increase profits overtime.

Think of all your products that go well together. Maybe you sell a suite of plagiarism checking tools that would go perfectly with your content marketing offerings?

And it doesn't have to be limited to your products either. You can partner with companies selling tangential products in the same field (such as a productivity tool maker working with a virtual assistance agency).

This way, you boost the perceived value of both the products.

11. Teach an online class to establish yourself as an expert.

Udemy earnings

Platforms like Udemy can create an additional source of income while also increasing your credibility and generating leads.

Tools to use

Besides being an extra source of revenue, teaching is one of the best ways to build your credibility as an expert in a subject matter. As a teacher, you assume a natural authoritative position, which can be wonderful for your brand as an individual or as a business.

If you are already creating content in the form of blogs, ebooks, slideshare presentations, videos, interviews, and actively commenting and engaging on platforms such as reddit and quora, you already have more than enough material to create a course.

Repurpose all your content on a subject matter to create a course and be sure to reference it in your other online activities as well.

Brian Lang of SmallBusinessIdeasBlog.com, has created a beginners level course on blogging and leveraged being a subject expert in the matter using his experience as successful blog owner.

12. Incentivize users to share your product after they signup by offering rewards and discounts.

Robinhood incentivizes shares after sign-ups

Robinhood limited access, creating scarcity, and gave users an incentive to invite their friends.

Tools to use

Your existing users are your best source of new users.

To "growth hack" this idea, give out rewards or early access when users share your product with their friends on social media.

People are more likely to sign up or share when they see it coming from their own friends.

Plus, it gamifies the signup process and gives people something to do besides waiting to get access.

For Example, Robinhood, the free stock trading platform, created a sign-up system where every new user was told exactly how many were ahead of her in the sign-up queue.

If the user wanted to jump ahead in the queue, all she had to do was invite her friends to sign-up. The more friends signed up, the faster the access.

This turned the sign-up process into a gamified, scalable referral system.

User Retention Hacks

Once you've acquired users, how do you retain them?

This is far more importan than you realize. You might attract a million users but if 99% of them leave without coming back, you don't really have a sustainable business.

A growth hacker approach to user retention would focus on fulfilling departing users' desires to get them to stick around. It would also be testing focused, experimenting with different ideas to find the "secret sauce" that retains users.

Let's look at some growth hacks to solve your user retention problems

1. Use data analysis to figure out your users' "sweet spot" for retention

Twitter suggests who to follow to encourage interaction

Twitter encourages you to follow people when you sign-up since "following 10 people" is its 'sweet spot' for user retention.

Tools to use

Throwing more marketing dollars at a problem doesn't make much sense if you don't know what keeps your users from leaving.

There is usually a "sweet spot" of number of actions after which a user's chance of leaving decreases.

This is less of a growth hack and more of a general approach to product design.

For example, Twitter realised this back in 2009 when users used to sign up but never come back again to use the website.

After some extensive research, they discovered first time users are much more likely to use the website if they followed at least 10 twitter accounts after signing up.

This ‘aha moment’ gave rise to their gradual engagement strategy that in turn boosted sign ups by 29 percent.

Notice how Twitter asks for your interests and shows you suggested accounts based on these interests. The logic goes: if you follow your first 10 users, you'll have your feed filled with interesting content.

Hence, higher engagement.

2. Incorporate "random acts of kindness" by giving back to your least engaged users.

HostelWork gives its users free coupons

HostelWorld offers its users free coupons for their next trip. The built-in expiry also creates an incentive to act.

Who doesn't like free gifts?

Giving away something free without asking - a random act of kindness - is an established loyalty generating tactic, especially in retail businesses.

The "growth hacker" approach to this would be to:

  • Identify dis-engaged users (such as users who haven't logged in for X weeks)
  • Offer a personalized discount or coupon code - just as a gesture of thanks

This creates a "surprise and delight" reaction, something even HBR calls the "most powerful marketing tool".

n ad free social network, famously used this psychology hack to grow their initial users. You could only join Ello if you had an invite from someone.

For example, HostelWorld gives out its least engaged users discount coupons as a gesture of thanks. To further the impact, it personalizes the discout coupon message ("Hey Joshua") and hints at its use ("for your next trip").

3. Remind your users about your presence with regular communication

Buffer wins big thanks to its regular emails

Buffer regularly engages its new users and reminds them to use Buffer's tools.

Tools to use

When a new user signs up, the next few weeks are crucial for user retention. Plenty of users will sign-up for your product and forgot about it in a week.

Your job at this stage is to remind the users that you exist, and that you can add value to their lives.

One way to do this is to stay in constant communication on a prominent and private channel, such as email.

One or two emails a week goes a long way for your brand. Use this opportunity to introduce new product features, share tips or maybe introduce a new member in your team.

For example, Buffer sends out personalized messages when you sign up and promises to keep in touch on a regular basis.

These emails focus on Buffer's product and how you can use it to improve your social media marketing. This not only helps remind the users that you exist, but also shows them how the product adds value.

4. ‘Cause a problem’, then fix it to win over customers

Blizzard responds within seconds of a complaint

Fixing a problem quickly and transparently is often better than having no problems at all

On the ethical scale, this one tilts towards the "not-so-ethical", but we'll document it none the same.

Basically, research shows that customers who had a problem that was resolved quickly were more likely to view the company favorably than before.

Turns out, customers don't mind a problem as long as they feel that there were taken care of.

You intentionally create a problem with your product (like crash it for example) and tell your customers, “Uh, oh, sorry our bad” and “fix” the problem.

In return, as a favor - you give your customers some discount for the “inconvenience caused”.

Two things happen when you do this quickly and transparently:

  • You show customers that you are willing to own up to problems.
  • You show customers that you will jump in to solve the problem as quickly as possible.

Your customers understand that problems can arise at complex businesses. They don't want a "perfect" business; they want to be taken care.

This might not be the best example, but I want you to understand the psychology behind this thought process - the rescue is more important than the disaster.

5. Use simple personalization to reach out to new users

Problogger shows different pages to different users based on their past visit history

ProBlogger shows different pages to returning and first-time visitors.

Tools to use

  • Personyze (Advanced targeting and personalization)
  • Gravity (Personalized content recommendations)
  • Monetate (On-page content personalization)

In marketing speak this hack is called Context Marketing. All this means is that you can personalise your website content based on your visitor’s previous history of interacting with your company.

For example, when a new visitor lands on your homepage, she sees a list of your best resources and a starting "how to" guide. This helps them get up to speed with your product/service and get to know you better.

A returning visitor, on the other hand, gets a personalized "Welcome Back" message with a list of new content she might have missed or your recent posts.

As far as personalization goes, this isn't particularly complex, but it can help reach out to new users and create a more welcoming environment for them - a must for user retention.

6. Create a gamification framework

FourSquare gamification model

Foursquare's gamification was a critical element of its success - and still a blueprint for modern day gamification.

Tools to use

Remember that incomplete progress bar of your linkedin profile? For some it was annoying and other thought of it as a goal to achieve. Either way everyone wanted that bar to reach 100 percent to get it over with.

That's a simple example of gamification.

A gamification framework means creating a series of meaningful rewards, trophies and badges for performing specific actions.

More often than not, these revolve around engaging with the product.

Gamification is a vast subject but for starters, your rewards should be:

  • Visible to the community; users should be able to use rewards as social proof.
  • The rewards must be reasonably spaced out with higher-tier rewards difficult to unlock
  • Each reward should be tied to a single action, such as unlocking a badge for adding a phone number to your profile.
  • The rewards should be stackable, i.e. unlocking X number of badges gives you a higher-tier badge.

For instance, FourSquare's initial idea of "check in" was successful largely because FourSquare associated each check-in with a positive reward.

If you checked-in often enough, you'd get badges and awards which were visible to the wider community.

7. Create a "What to do next" email to onboard new users

What next email from ahrefs

Ahrefs' onboarding email telling people what to do next shows off the product's features and shares useful tips

When new users sign-up for your product, they might not always know how to best use it or what steps to take next.

Cue them in with an onboarding email that tells them what actions they must perform next.

These actions must ideally:

  • Demonstrate your product's best features
  • Deliver immediate value to your users

The idea is to show your best side to your new users in a bid to get them to stick around.

For example, I love this email from Ahrefs that focuses on things you can automate immediately with Ahrefs.

This basically uses Ahrefs' features to deliver immediate value to users - save their time on manual tasks.

8. Build a community around your product to engage customers

Unbounce community page

Unbounce's community brings together people who care about a subject - conversion rate optimization

Tools to use

Community is often the glue that gets users to stick to your product even against stronger competitors. They also serve as a fatastic advertisement for your product.

Strong communities are never product-focused. No one logs into a forum to discuss how amazing Salesforce is (it is).

Instead, strong communities usually focus on one of the following:

  • Expertise: For example, Inbound.org focuses on digital marketing - an expertise.
  • Interest: These are communities for people with a shared passion, such as Product Hunt (product enthusiasts).
  • Cause: Communities united for a cause tend to be particularly strong. Consider Wikipedia's massive editor community as an ecample.

For example, Unbounce, an application that simplifies A/B testing of your landing page created an Unbounce Community, a forum where digital marketers can connect with each other. They used this community to promote their Unbounce product.

Social Hacks

SEO can take months to kick in. Until then, social media will be the bread and butter of your traffic.

How effectively you can turn attract shares and turn social traffic into $$$ will have a big impact on your business' initial success.

A few years ago, I'd say this was limited to B2C products, but with more and more businesses turning to social media for their decisions (84% of C-suit execs use social media to support their decisions), this is equally applicable to B2B products.

Getting the most from social media is more than just filling your sharing queue with engaging content. You have to use the right sharing tools in the right place and give the right nudge to spur shares.

Let's look at some growth hacks to do this.

1. Follow and like top posts in popular hashtag categories on instagram

The Instagram follow-like-like-like model

The "Follow, Like-Like-Like" tactic works quickly to get your follower count up

Tools to use

This is a ridiculously simple - yet effective - tactic to rack up those Instagram followers.

Here's how: log into Instagram and search for a popular hashtag such as #cats (here's a list of popular hashtags).

Next, click the top post for the hashtag and follow the account. Then go ahead and like their last three posts.

Do this for 10 more accounts for each hashtag.

This is the "Follow, Like, Like, Like" tactic. It works because people who usually have trending posts tend to be top Instagram accounts, and top account holders are generous with their like backs. Do it consistently and you'll easily get to a few thousand followers in a few weeks - provided you have interesting content.

2. Search for users tweeting they need something related to your product

Contacting people based on their needs

Answering people's questions publicly is an effective marketing strategy, as long as you don't get too spammy

Tools to use

This is one of the most obvious Twitter marketing strategies around, but it is also one of the most effective.

Essentially, you have to turn into your target users' personal customer support.

Start by monitoring "help" keywords related to your product (such as "SEO help", or "need marketing help"). When you see someone tweeting with these keywords, jump in and help them out.

Example: Searching for "need shoes" shows me several people tweeting that they, well, need shoes.

If I was a shoe retailer, these would be perfect people to help out with a subtle plug for your product.

It's important to do this altruistically - tweet out with the intention of helping, not just diverting them to your site. If you get a visit (or better, a sale), that should be incidental. You want to help, not spam your target users.

3. A/B test your headlines to decipher which works best

A/B test headlines to unlock higher shares

Changing headlines helped UpWorthy get 100x more pageviews for the same article.

Tools to use

Your headline impacts the success of your content on social media more than anything else. After all, 8 out of 10 people only read the headline.

Instead of waiting for that "perfect" headline idea, try this: write 4-10 headline variations and throw them into your testing system.

For added impact, run these headlines through CoSchedule's Headline Analyzer first. Select the top headlines as per the headline analyzer score, plus two "creative" headlines where you test unusual structures and ideas.

For example, X studied two headlines in

4. Test locations of share buttons to optimize number of shares.

Changing button location can get you more shares

Testing different share button locations helped UpWorthy get 142% more shares

The location of share buttons on your page can impact the number of shares you receive.

This makes it tempting to place as many share buttons to maximize impact but this will only confuse confuses readers, be visually unappealing, and slow down your page

Generally, most pages follow the design outlined below, however, it is a good idea to A/B test (split test) variations of a page with share buttons in different locations to determine your final page design.

Try testing share buttons on:

  • Row of share buttons after the headline and before article
  • Row of share buttons at bottom of the content
  • Set of floating share buttons at the left edge of the screen

Besides these, you can also test "hover share" buttons that show when a user hovers over an image. This works particularly well for Pinterest shares.

Case Study: UpWorthy famously tested its share buttons at different locations, including below/above the headline and a floating share button.

Adding floating overlay links + links above image led to a whopping 142% increase in shares!

5. Use slide-in boxes to prompt shares.

Slide-in box example

A bottom slide-in box can be used to prompt shares or direct readers to additional content

If done in the correct manner, prompting users to share your content can deliver powerful results.

The idea is to use a pop-up or fly-in box appear on a user’s screen after they have scrolled through a predetermined section of the page.

This prompt will ask users to share the post on most social networks have an actionable copy such as ‘Share with your friends’

Example: ViralNova uses a slide-in box on its posts to ask users to share its content.

It also uses a sticky sidebar to promote sponsored content - a key source of revenue.

6. Use content locks to increase your shares

Content loks are annoying, but they work

On high-value content, a content lock can get you more shares (at the cost of user experience).

This is a controversial tactic and something I don't always approve of, but in the right situation, it can be extremely potent.

The way I like to use it is the "80-20 Method".

Here's how it works: you show readers a "preview" of your content. They get about 80% of the value from the content without any shares, sign-ups or action.

To unlock the remaining 20% value - such as point #5 of a list of 5 points - they have to share the content.

It won't win you a lot of fans, but it will win you shares. Besides, if you are offering significant value and stating your share lock upfront (instead of baiting and switching), a majority of your users won't even mind it.

Example: The content lock on this site blocks access to high-value content for a small user niche. This can help you get more shares, though it won't win you much love from readers.

7. Turn written content into images for social media.

UberFacts turns its facts into images

UberFacts adds images to its written content to stand out in a crowded feed

This is now canon in social media marketing: images do better than text.

The reasons are easy enough to understand: human beings are visual creatures and visuals are more arresting than text.

With this in mind, strategically repurpose your content into shareable images for use on well-known social sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

The following image types tend to perform particularly well:

  • Memes
  • Infographics
  • Statistics, trends and graphs
  • Factoids and trivia

Example: By adding text to an already existing image as seen below, UberFacts is able to draw more shares as compared to a simple text-based tweet.

Furthermore, Uber is able to brand themselves by including their logo at the bottom of each post.

8. Use bigger share buttons for your top performing social network.

Use larger share buttons for best performing social site

ViralNova uses a larger button for Facebook as compared to others since FB drives most of its shares.

Besides placement of share buttons on your page to increase share count, you can also nudge users by increasing the size of the share button for your top performing social network.

By "top performing" I mean top performing in terms of your conversion goal (new sign-ups, revenue, etc.), not just shares.

The idea is to draw others to prioritize this network over others. If a user was initially going to share the article on Twitter, a larger Facebook share button (your top network) might persuade her to share on Facebook instead.

This tactic works particularly well in B2C niches where Facebook tends to significantly outperform other networks.

Example: Facebook is the biggest source of traffic for ViralNova. Instead of giving each social network equal importance, it pushes Facebook sharing by using a larger button for it.

9. Use unique platform-specific image dimensions for each social network.

Use different sized images for different networks

At the very least, you should have three image types - square, landscape, and portrait - for all the major social networks (Source)

It's easy to get lazy with social media - uploading an image on one network and creating an IFTTT recipe to autoshare everywhere else. But doing this means your content won't look "right" on every network.

The truth is, every image-type doesn't perform equally well on every network. Tall images tend to do better on Pinterest, while smaller, postcard-style images do better on Twitter. Instagram's images, on the other hand, are the size of polaroid.

Solve this problem by customizing your image dimensions for each network. This means you'll share tall images on Pinterest, then crop the image to 219px for Twitter.

Refer to this infographic to see ideal image dimensions for different networks.

10. Use actionable copy in your sharing CTAs

Actionable copy in CTAs

UpWorthy uses "Share this story" instead of a simple "Share" in its CTA to tell readers exactly what the button does

Your users don't always do things unless you explicitly tell them so.

A classic case is the share button CTA. Most CTAs have the network's name and/or icon - like "Facebook", "Twitter", etc.

While this works, a small but significant section of your users might either not know what the button does, or need more explicit instructions to share the content.

Try this: state exactly what the button does, either on the CTA or before it.

This means that instead of "Facebook", your CTA can say "Share on Facebook". Or your preceding text can say "Click the Button to Share with Your Friends on Facebook".

You might see a 10-20% bump in clicks with this tactic. If your audience is older, this bump might be even bigger.

Example: On UpWorthy, the top bar button links tell readers exactly what the buttons will do - "Share this story" or "Tweet this story".

This avoids reader confusion - crucial for UpWorthy's slightly older demographic.

Email & Lead Generation Hacks

This is where you turn traffic into revenue. Or at least the potential of revenue.

Your ability to capture emails, and your ability to convert those emails will have a massive impact on your success, especially if you're in B2B.

Most "growth hacks" for email and lead gen focus on improving conversion rates. Even a small bump - 10% - can create a "snowball" effect with significant payoff further down the line.

Let's look at some of these hacks below.

1. Offer content upgrades to grow your email-list

Content upgrade from videofruit

Brian Harris uses content upgrades to get double digit opt-in rates.

A "content upgrade" is a highly focused lead magnet that's associated with a single blog post. They essentially add to an existing piece of content (such as a blog post) or make the post better.

Content upgrades work exceptionally well because they are targeted and contextually relevant.

Unlike a conventional lead magnet, a content upgrade is contextually related to its parent blog post. A blog post about "20 growth hacking tactics" might have a checklist of the 20 tactics as a content upgrade.

This is far more targeted than a generic "Guide to Growth Hacking" offered as a lead magnet in the sidebar. The result? More conversions.

The result? More conversions.

Example: Check out this example of Bryan Harris from VideoFruit offering additional content to his users in exchange for their emails.

His content upgrades campaigns are very successful with some generating a subscription rate of 62%. (source)

2. Offer users a "no" option in opt-in forms

Copyhackers uses a yes/no form

Copyhackers saw a nearly 5x increase in opt-in rates after adding a yes/no form.

A "YES" choice is meaningful only if a "NO" option exists. You can't have a real "opt-in" unless you give people an option to "opt-out".

This is the logic behind the Yes/No opt-in forms you see on so many sites these days. Contrary to perception, they actually increase your conversion rates by making the opt-in choice much more meaningful.

It also helps that the "NO" option vocalizes the result of the negative choice ("NO, I don't want to grow faster"). This paints the option in sharp contrast to the benefits emphasized in the "YES" option ("Yes, I want to grow faster").

The result is more opt-ins.

Case Study: Copyhackers tested a two-button opt-in form as shown on the right.

Adding the second negative choice immediately increased opt-in rates nearly 5x.

3. Use progress bars on email capture forms that show how much of the process has been completed.

effect of adding progress bars on opt-in forms

Flir Systems tested a progress bar on opt-in pages to see a 28.2% increase in conversions.

Tools to use

  • LeadPages (Yep - it's perfect for communities)

Users today are flooded with information and are distracted, busy, and impatient. You need to be able to hold their attention long enough so that they complete the opt-in process.

Adding a progress bar which shows users their status each step of the way or how much of the process remains is is an effective method to do so.

Further, breaking the opt-in process into two steps means that you make the process a little bitharder. This might be counter-intuitive but by adding a "hurdle" to the opt-in, you increase the quality of leads.

Only people who are committed to getting your lead magnet would opt into the form, which equals better leads.

Case Study: When Flir Systems, decided to split-test their sign-up form with and without a progress bar, the former increased conversion rates by by 28.2%

4. Create an email drip sequence to drive revenue.

Drip sequence from Ahrefs

Ahrefs' initial emails introduce the tool to the user and how to use it better.

Tools to use

A drip campaign is a series of automated mails sent to target users leading to a whole new method of communication

According to Vero, the average open rate on email series is 80% higher than a single email campaign.

A drip sequence has two major uses:

  • Lead nurturing: A series of emails with appropriate personalization can make new leads feel that you are there to take care of them. You can also use the sequenec to send them targeted educational resources. Better nurturing will lead to higher conversions.
  • User on-boarding What are your product's best features? How can people benefit more from your product? By sending new leads targeted emails, you can help them understand the product better which will make them stick around longer.

For Example, Ahrefs sends its new sign-ups a series of emails showing off the Ahrefs product as well as sharing SEO techniques to get more traffic (utilizing Ahrefs, of course).

The idea behind this sequence is to educate people about SEO and get them to use Ahrefs. The more they use the tool, the more likely they are to stick around for longer (which equals higher CLTV).

Social CTA in SumoMe email

SumoMe directs readers to a "Share this on Facebook" link in its emails

Sending subscribers an email everytime you publish a new post is old hat - marketers have been doing it for spectacular results for years.

But if you have a growth hacking mindset, you don't just want people to click on your blog post link; you also want to amplify your reach by getting them to share it.

A simple tactic to do this is to include a link to a pre-populated tweet or Facebook for easy sharing.

For Example, SumoMe includes a direct share link to share the post in its emails.

Note the social proof-focused copy - wouldn't you want your marketer friends know the latest marketing tech

6. Create automated webinars that run on certain dates after the live airing.

Scheduled webinars are powerful conversion weapons

McKesson's webinars feel like they are "live" but are actually entirely automated.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, webinars rank amongst the top 3 most effective marketing tactics. They're particularly effective because they help you market in real-time.

Furthermore, you can:

  • Bring influencers as guests and tap their network
  • Generate leads through registration requirements
  • Push hyper-targeted offers to your most engaged users

Though webinars are usually a one-time live event, you can use tools such as StealthSeminar to record them once and run them automatically at certain dates. Those who attend these pre-recordings will not be able to tell the difference and you will not have to be there to monitor them.

For example, McKesson provides a series of educational webinars for each of their business unit. Users can register themselves to gain access to upcoming webinars or watch those in the archive.

7. Offer custom lead magnets to users based on the page they're visiting.

DigitalMarketer increased conversions by showing different lead magnets to different users

DigitalMarketer shows visitors different lead magnets based on the URL they were viewing.

Tool to use

Lead magnets work great, but when you show the same lead magnet to every user regardless of the page they're on, you will see lower conversion rates.

One way to get around this is by using content upgrades. Unfortuntately, creating content upgrades for each post is too time-consuming.

Here's a solution:

  • Create 2-3 lead magnets covering broad topics (say, SEO, social media, inbound if you're in marketing)
  • Show each user different lead magnet depending on the URL they're visiting

Case Study: DigitalMarketer created a lead magnet on "Facebook Ad Templates" and included it in every URL that had the word "facebook" in it.

Since DigitalMarketer already has a lot of different posts on Facebook, they could re-use the same lead magnet multiple times while still being contextually relevant to the visitor.

As a result, they saw conversion rates between 50-90%for some pages.

Design Hacks

There are two ways to get more customers: get more traffic or convert more of your existing traffic into customers.

The former is hard, expensive and not always scalable (particularly in B2B). With the latter, however, a few simple design and copy changes can lead to big wins in conversion rate.

Try to see it this way: a 10% bump in conversion rate means that for every 10 customers, you get the 11th customer "for free" since you aren't paying anything extra to acquire him/her.

The growth hacks below focus on such design and copy changes to unlock higher conversions.

YuppieChef site without navigation

YuppieChef doubled conversion rates by removing the navigation menu.

This is a common mistake design mistake I see so many businesses make: they add outgoing links to landing or checkout pages.

All conversion-focused pages, such as landing and checkout pages, should have a single purpose: to get people to perform an action (enter their email, click "next", etc.). Outgoing links, including navigation links, are a distraction from this purpose.

Comb through your landing/checkout pages and remove all outgoing links from them.

Your job is to strictly place the user in a single action environment so that they do not wander away. Besides 'boring' links like Privacy Policy and ToS (which no one reads anyway), you shouldn't give them any option to click away.

Case Study: When Yuppiechef removed the navigable links bar on their landing page, their conversion rate doubled from 3% to 6%.

2. Add "Social Proof" to key pages

Add social proof to key pages, like Voices.com

Voices.com increased conversion rates by 400% through social proof.

"Social Proof" - one of the pillars of persuasion - is a conversion superpower.

The idea is simple: the more popular your service appears, the more new visitors are going to want to sign-up.

You should social proof your site at every opportunity possible, from home pages, landing pages, thank you pages, to account sign-up pages. If you have space on a page and are not sure how to utilize it effectively, use it for social proof.

You can:

  • Add testimonials from real customers that show your product's benefits. Bonus points if you can get an influencer to do it.
  • Use logos of actual customers or even places you've been mentioned in. You want to give the impression that there are influential people/companies who use and read you.
  • Use customer/follower/subscriber count on pages to show that your products are used and trusted by thousands of others.

Case Study: Voices.com saw a 400% increase in conversion rates by adding social proof in the form of client logos on its homepage.

3. Test CTA color, size, design and placement variations

Effect of different CTAs on conversion rate

Testing different CTA colors dramatically changed CTR without any change in design or copy.

Tools to use

Your CTA is the most important element on the page. After all, it signifies the action you want your users to take on the page.

Although not exactly a "growth hack", it's critical to test your CTAs for more clicks. You might find that a few simple tweaks can get you a significant bump in CTR, which can translate into more users, leads and customers.

Here's what you should test:

  • Size: There is a "Goldilocks" zone for CTAs. Too small and your users will miss it. Too large and they'll ignore it. Follow Fitt's Law and test different size variations.
  • Color: Instead of fixating on specific colors (orange buttons don't necessarily perform better, contrary to what you might have heard), test colors that contrast against the background. You want the CTA to be visible in one glance on any page.
  • Design: Think of adding borders, icons or shadow effects to your CTA. Again, the idea is to make it clear to visitors that the button is clickable and performs the user's desired action (such as moving to the next page, opening a new window, etc.).

Only people who are committed to getting your lead magnet would opt into the form, which equals better leads.

Case Study: In a study published in Neuromarketing: Understanding the Buy Button in your Customer’s Brain, the authors used three different color buttons to test their conversion rate against a control.

The results were as follows:

  • Version B scored 81% higher click-through-rate (CTR) compared to control
  • Version C scored 95% higher CTR compared to control

It is not about choosing specific colors such as blue, green or red, but about using colors which stand out in the surrounding they are placed in.

4. Use action oriented words in your copy.

CTA copy test

In a marketing test, more action-oriented CTAs resulted in higher CTRs

How do the words "Just do it" make you feel?

Most of you would feel a minor bump in motivation or energy (and cynicism, for some of you). In other words, you'd feel more focused on taking action.

This is essentially the purpose of all marketing: to get you to do something.

Action-oriented copy in your landing pages works the same way: they subtly push your visitors towards taking some action, such as clicking a button, signing-up for a service or sharing the page.

This is a simple "hack" to use. Just follow this formula:

  • [Action Word] + Your Desired Action

Action words are simple verbs like "Go", "Now", "Click", "Get", "Start", etc. Thus, you might have CTAs like "Start Your Trial" and "Click to Get Started".

For Example, in one test, CTAs that were more action-focused and detailed - "Get Started Now" - performed much better compared to less specific CTAs ("Try Now").

"Get Started", presumably, is a stronger indicator of action compared to "Try".

5. Add some fun and mystery to your design.

Wistia Dance example

Typing in "dance" into Wistia's about page causes everyone to break into a dance.

Can "fun" be a growth hack?

Just ask the thousands of people who type in "do a barrel roll" into Google everyday - and tell their friends about it.

Baking in some fun, mystery and delight into your product is a powerful branding and traffic acquisition strategy. When your users stumble upon this element, they are very likely to talk about it. Plus, it makes your product appear more human and fun, which is great for branding.

For Example,Wistia's 'About' page looks like any other startup's.

But when you type in "dance" (or click the "Partytime" icon at the bottom), the team members all break into, well, a dance, complete with background music.

It's a delightful little detail that makes the page a lot more fun. And the fact that you're reading about this here means that it works very effectively as well.

6. Use Net Promoter Score to get more reviews in two-steps.

NPS explained

NPS is a powerful measure of customer happiness - and a great way to get reviews from your happiest customers.

Reviews are crucial for driving more sales, especially in e-commerce and local.

According to a study, 85% of customers read up to 10 reviews before deciding on a service. 88% of consumers also trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends.

The problem is, getting reviews can be exceptionally hard from your existing customers.

Here's a quick two-step process to solve this problem:

Send out a survey to your customers asking them two questions and rate your product/service on a scale of 0-10.

First question: How likely is it that you would recommend my brand/product/service to a friend or colleague?

When the customer rates this question, the second question appears:

What’s the most important reason for giving us that score?

If your customer gives you a score of 9 or 10, they get an automated email that politely asks them if you can use their comments in a review.

The reason why this hack works so well is because it cuts down the number of actions a user need to take in order to arrive at the desired destination.