Growing Your Startup With Growth Hacking

by Todd Jones ([email protected]) 127 views 

What does a startup do to grow its business? This was the type of question that Hotmail (yes, that Hotmail) asked in 1996. The newly launched webmail platform was struggling to grow its user base when one of the investors suggested an idea.

The investor proposed adding a message to the bottom of each email. The message would say “PS: I Love You. Get Your Free Email at Hotmail”

The idea was initially rebuffed by the team, but after stagnant growth, they decided to add the line, without the “PS: I Love You.”

The result was incredible:

The impact was almost instantaneous. Within hours Hotmail’s growth took on the shape of a classic hockey stick curve. They started averaging 3,000 users a day, compounded daily. By Labor Day they registered 750,000 users and within six months they were up to 1 million. Five weeks after that, they hit the 2 million user mark, adding more than 20,000 signups a day, with Smith desperately trying to keep the servers up and running.

Some people point to this as one of the first times growth hacking was applied. The term would later be coined by Sean Ellis in 2010.

Andrew Chen wrote in his landmark blog post Growth Hacker is the New VP Marketing:

Growth hackers are a hybrid of marketer and coder, one who looks at the traditional question of ‘How do I get customers for my product?’ and answers with A/B tests, landing pages, viral factor, email deliverability, and Open Graph.

Startups have a unique set of problems for growth that growth hackers help solve. Fast Company identified some of these problems:

These innovations were possible because they came from startups, businesses typically averse to traditional marketing for two reasons: 1) they don’t have the money and 2) they don’t have the experience. Because they didn’t have access to the ‘luxuries’ of an ad budget or the burden of proper training, they were able to be creative enough to broaden the definition of marketing to immense advantage.

It is becoming clearer that startups that need to scale need a member of the team who can use growth hacking techniques. Growth hacking also takes a certain amount of innovation which fits nicely into a culture of innovation.

A growth hacker possesses a hybrid of skills which enable him or her to grow the startup quickly helping the founders get their quickest return on investment and showing success for their product or service.

With the identification of the skills being five years old, growth hacking is poised to be among the future task of technology startups. Indeed, is an integral part of the startup process.

What growth hacking techniques have you used in your startup? What growth hacking techniques have you seen used? Please share.