Source: Shutterstock

Growth hacking is a marketing approach that involves using unorthodox tactics to rapidly grow a business.

The concept was inspired by Silicon Valley startups that grew from nothing to billions in valuation in a relatively short time, including Uber and Airbnb.

Marketing in the traditional sense is usually based on a variety of textbook principles and well-documented strategies. Growth hacking on the other hand has no boundaries. Its primary goal is to achieve rapid growth, it doesn’t matter how.

Airbnb famously reverse-engineered Craigslist’s website to enable it to republish its listings on the platform and gain access to millions of users. That was a growth hacking masterclass that paved the way for the company’s success.

5 Simple growth hacking strategies

1. Accumulate ratings and reviews to build credibility

There’s no better way of building credibility on the internet than by having lots of positive ratings and reviews.

A YouTuber did an experiment to see if he could turn his house into a 5-star restaurant within 24 hours. He created a Google business page and then went out on the streets to ask people to write reviews just for the purpose of the experiment. He managed to get hundreds of reviews and his “restaurant” was suddenly number one on Google. He and his team were completely overwhelmed with the number of people that actually showed up at his house thinking it was a 5-star restaurant.

The more positive ratings and reviews your business has, the more it’s going to stand out from competitors. You can start collecting them by simply requesting them from your customers. 70% of people will write a review when asked.

If you have a physical storefront, you can also get a Google My Business page to help streamline the process. Whenever people visit your store, Google will send a notification to their smartphone asking them to submit a rating and review.

2. Give out freebies

Offering free things is one of the most effective growth hacking strategies. It helps eliminate the hesitancy that prevents many people from buying things they’re unfamiliar with.

For example, Uber offers free rides to first-time users to encourage them to download the app and try it out risk-free. You can offer freebies such as gift vouchers, discount coupons, free trials, and even samples of your products.

3. Create a “FOMO”

FOMO, or “fear of missing out”, is the anxiety we feel whenever we believe that we’re missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

FOMO marketing entails deliberately inducing that anxiety in consumers to make them drop their guard and become easily influenced into making impulsive decisions. It’s an extremely powerful way of getting people to take action immediately.

Let’s say you’ve been looking to replace your smartphone with the latest iPhone; however, you’re still on the fence about it. And then you suddenly stumble upon an ad saying that it is available at a discounted price, however only for the next 24 hours. What are you going to do?

Most people will want to place an order immediately so they don’t miss out on the deal.

The underlying principle of FOMO marketing is to combine an exclusive offer with a strict deadline, or by creating an offer that’s only available to a set number of people.

For example, if you’re looking to get people to download your mobile app, you can create an offer that’s only accessible via the app, and then advertise it on other channels such as social media and email.

If you have a restaurant and you’re looking to increase your online orders, offer a free dessert to people who order online. If you’re selling tickets to an event, offer early-bird discounts to the first 100 people.

Make sure to emphasize the exclusivity factor in your messages to make it clear that the deal will soon not be available. That’s how the FOMO effect is created. You can use trigger keywords such as:

  • “Hurry! This offer expires soon”
  • “This is your last chance!”
  • “Offer expires in 24 hours”

4. Get featured on popular publications

Getting featured on well-known blogs, magazines, and newspapers is another great way to build credibility and social proof.

Imagine if someone were to Google your business and the first thing they saw was an article about you on Forbes. How do you think that would affect their impression of you?

There are many different ways to find opportunities of getting featured. The easiest is through sponsored posts and reviews (although it can get quite expensive, particularly if you’re targeting high-authority publications).

If you have a limited marketing budget then you can become a contributor on niche blogs. Many blogs accept guest posts and don’t charge any publishing fees. The only downside is that you won’t be able to directly promote your business, you can only mention it in your author bio.

Another way to find coverage opportunities is by signing up on HARO and responding to interview questions. HARO is a platform that journalists use to obtain quotes from professionals in different industries.

Whenever your quotes or interviews get published, the journalists will often show their appreciation by shouting out your business and linking to its website.

5. Automate repetitive tasks

Time is your most valuable asset. Don’t waste it on things that don’t actually need your personal involvement. Automating repetitive tasks is a great productivity hack to help free up more hours in your day.

There are several tools you can find online to automate your work. For example, you could use Hootsuite for your social media posts, Mailchimp for your email marketing, and Hubspot for your sales and marketing activities. You can even install a chatbot on your website and social media pages to respond to questions so that you don’t have to do it yourself.

Any repetitive tasks that you’re unable to automate, you can instead outsource to a freelancer or a virtual assistant. Never waste your time doing things that can easily be delegated.