“The standard pace is for chumps.” – Kimo
❓ What You’ll Learn
- How to find cost-effective ways to grow?
- How to build a low-cost referral program?
- How to increase your odds of virality?
- How to reduce switching costs?
- How to build backlinks?
- How to lower customer acquisition costs?
- How to get existing users to invite new users?
💎 Why It Matters
Marketing channels become competitive over time.
Find cost-effective ways to get attention and convert customers.
Growth Hacking Examples
- Intercom • Adds “We run on intercom” to chat windows.
- Robinhood • Offered higher spots on waitlist to users for more referrals.
- CD Baby • Sent offbeat confirmation emails to customers.
- Dropbox • Grew 3,900% by offering free storage for each converted referral.
- Hotmail • Signed every email with “P.S. I Love You”.
- Barclay Prime • Sold $100 cheesesteak. Attracting press around the country.
- Paypal • Gave a referral bonus to users and merchants.
- Uber • Gave early adopters free rides.
- Sean Ellis • Co-author of Hacking Growth
- Nir Eyal • Author of Hooked
- Ryan Holiday • Author of Growth Hacker Marketing
- Tiffany Desilva • Founder of Flowjo
- Wes Bush • CEO of ProductLed
- Jonah Berger • Author of Contagious
- Dan Benoni • Co-Founder of Growth.Design
Growth Hacking Tools
- Hotjar • Understand user behavior
- Zapier • Automate workflows
- Ghostery • Find out which tools websites are using
- Wistia • Host videos and optimize user engagement
- Ahrefs • Get traffic value and ranking of competitors
- CrazyEgg • Survey, split test and understand user behavior
- Unbounce • Hone your landing page through A/B testing
- More apps will use collaboration-focused featuresto spur growth.
- Growth tools will become a popular way to reach prospective customers and gain mindshare.
- Top brands will partner on rare drops.
- Balenciaga worked with Adidas on a spring collection.
- Apple collaborated with Hermès on a limited edition Apple watch.
- Puma worked with Nipsey Hussle’s team on their TMC collection.
- Spotify partnered with Starbucks to offer free premium memberships.
- Spatial Labs partnered with Pantone to design their LNQ Wearables and more.
- Brands will increasingly use pricing to trigger word-of-mouth marketing.
- Offer free credits to users for referrals.
- Homage gives $20 credit to you and each friend you refer.
- Plant Therapy offers $10 off to you and each friend you refer.
- Uber began sponsoring events and offering participants free rides.
- Airbnb offered up to $35 in travel credit for each successful referral.
- Dropbox grew 3900% by offering free storage for each converted referral.
- Skillshare offered 2 free months to students who signed up via referral links.
- Fiverr gave members 10% in platform credit for each completed referral order.
- Tag your products to trigger virality. This works well with freemium plans. Turning free users into promoters.
- Mint gave VIP access to their app in exchange for placement of their badge on a website.
- Product Hunt lets makers embed their badges to share milestones. Ex: Trends.vc
- Hotmail added a signature to every email and gained 1 million users in 6 months.
- React Native’s documentation embeds Expo code widgets for real-time learning.
- Calendly gives you a way to embed a calendar for visitors to request meetings.
- Headway adds a “Powered By” tag at the bottom of changelogs.
- Testimonial adds a badge at the bottom of embedded sections.
- Facebook offers profile badges to embed on personal websites.
- Carrd displays “Made with Carrd” pages that you create.
- Use the invite-only playbookto create scarcity and drive word-of-mouth.
- Clubhouse released as an invite-only app.
- Hey offered two invite codes for each new member to share.
- Facebook only gave access to Harvard students upon launch.
- Gmail started with a 1,000 user limit and required an invite to join.
- Dispo started with a 10,000 user cap and required an invite to test.
- The Gathering Spot is a private, member-only restaurant and networking space for entrepreneurs and celebrities.
- Book guest spots on podcasts to spread the word about what you’re building and get backlinks. You can piggyback on existing audiences.
- Iddris Sandu spoke with Coindesk TV about LNQ.
- Luis von Ahn spoke with CNBC Make It about DuoLingo’s growth.
- Courtland Allen shared the Indie Hackers story on Will Kwan’s show.
- NPR’s How I Built This hosted Stewart Butterfield to discuss Slack’s journey.
- Scott Hanselman hosted Brandon Tory for the journey behind Little Hackers.
- Dru Riley explained the success behind Trends.vc in 15 minutes on Indie Bites.
- Pay users directly. Customer acquisition costs may be lower by paying users. Instead of intermediaries.
- Bluehost pays $65 per qualified referral.
- Slide gave $20 off foreach new sign-up.
- Tornado offers $10-$1,000 as a sign-up bonus.
- Acorns pays $5 to you and each friend you refer.
- 1729 teaches concepts and offers crypto for completed tasks.
- PayPal paid $60,000,000+ in referral incentives to gain new members.
- Robinhood offers a free stock to you and each new member you refer.
- Too Many Channels • Limit the number of experiments that you run at once. Chasing too many channels at the same time leads to context switching and can lower your chance of success.
- Working in Silos • Open the floor for every team member while brainstorming growth hacks. Winning ideas can come from outside of marketing. An engineer at Pinterest optimized subject lines by 10% through automated tests.
🔑 Key Lessons
- Most prospects see through gimmicks. Put your customers first.
- Building a product is half of the battle. Figuring out who needs your product and how to reach them is the other half.
🔥 Hot Takes
- Companies will spend more time and resources on organic strategies like growth tools.
- More companies will manipulate demand by limiting access. Raya, the private celebrity dating app requires an application and a referral.
“These companies make growth hacking seem easy. How do these examples translate to other companies?”
You’ll need to decide what makes sense for you. These are models. Try them and keep doing what works.
“Scraping seems illegal. Isn’t this an unethical growth tactic?”
If the data is public it’s yours, according to the US Supreme Court. You may decide to avoid web scraping. Competitors may decide that this is not off limits.
“Growth is great. But what if you’re pouring water into a leaky bucket? What about retention?”
Growth hacking should include experiments around retention. If you’re losing more users than you’re gaining. You’re not growing.
- Who should we talk to about growth hacking? • The tweet behind this report.
- 3 Stages of Growth Hacking • A talk by Sean Ellis.
- Growth Hacker Marketing Review • A review of Ryan Holiday’s book.
📁 Related Reports
- Growth Tools • Build utilities to attract prospective customers.
- Drop Culture • You can tweak supply to spur demand.
- Referral Programs • Incentivize others to help you grow.
- Lead Generation • Get qualified leads.
- Build in Public • Share your journey and gain advocates.
Thanks to Krish, Paul Martin, Stewart Townsend, Uwe Dreissigacker, Vishal Srivastava, Maciej Cupial, Ron Immink, Jwalant Patel, Yarty Kim, Theo Ohene, Anke Corbin and Ken. We had a great time jamming on this report.
✏️ Devin researched and wrote this report. Dru researched and edited this report.
📈 What else?
Trends PRO #0090 — Growth Hacking has more insights.
What you’ll get:
- 30 Growth Hacking Examples (275% More)
- 30 Growth Hackers (328% More)
- 20 Growth Hacking Tools (185% More)
- 8 Predictions (100% More)
- 17 Opportunities (240% More)
- 4 Risks (100% More)
- 5 Key Lessons (150% More)
- 11 Links (266% More)
With Trends Pro you’ll learn:
- (📈 Pro) How to find your North Star Metric?
- (📈 Pro) How to increase user engagement?
- (📈 Pro) How to use web scraping to prospect and acquire customers?
- (📈 Pro) How to launch successful contests and challenges?
- (📈 Pro) How to use urgency to drive sales?
- (📈 Pro) How to get the most of out freemium options?
- (📈 Pro) How to use physical items to spur word-of-mouth marketing?
- (📈 Pro) How are founders “hacking” the fundraising process?
- (📈 Pro) How to leverage user-generated content to acquire customers?
Get Weekly Reports
Join 63,000+ founders and investors
📈 Unlock Pro Reports, 1:1 Intros and Masterminds
Become a Trends Pro Member and join 1,200+ founders enjoying…
🧠 Founder Mastermind Groups • To share goals, progress and solve problems together, each group is made up of 6 members who meet for 1 hour each Monday.
📈 100+ Trends Pro Reports • To make sense of new markets, ideas and business models, check out our research reports.
💬 1:1 Founder Intros • Make new friends, share lessons and find ways to help each other. Keep life interesting by meeting new founders each week.
🧍 Daily Standups • Stay productive and accountable with daily, async standups. Unlock access to 1:1 chats, masterminds and more by building standup streaks.
💲 100k+ Startup Discounts • Get access to $100k+ in startup discounts on AWS, Twilio, Webflow, ClickUp and more.