Christian Stewart is a privacy researcher and reporter. Follow his latest coverage on YouTube.
For startups, growth is everything. These growth hacks can help you set your business up for success, even if you just launched.
If you can start building a list of email contacts who may be interested in your business once you're ready for launch, you'll set yourself up for success post-launch.
Email is the most valuable way to reach your target audience, because you actually OWN your email list. Unlike social media platforms, which can decide your content isn't worth showing in people's feeds, email lets you send whatever message you want to your list whenever you want.
So how can you build a list before launching your business? There are a few common ways that can help you find interested customers and build a list: giveaways, eBook downloads, and free trials.
Giveaways are a great way to build interest in your brand and build your email list. You want the "prize" to be big enough that people are willing to share their contact info, but it should also be relevant to your niche (if possible).
One example of these giveaways is Omaze, which gives away huge prizes while also building a massive list of emails to help continue to raise money for charities.
eBook or Resource Download
Offering an eBook in exchange for someone's email address is a great opportunity to provide value to potential customers while also growing your email list. If your eBook helps solve a problem that your target audience has, you will build trust around your brand.
And, after someone has downloaded your eBook, you can continue to provide value via email. You can talk about industry trends, or provide specific tips for people or businesses that you might work with in the future.
Free trials are a great way to get your foot in the door with potential customers, but these need to be implemented strategically. If your customers are just signing up for the free trial, using your product and then canceling their plan -- this won't help grow your business. You'll need to keep certain features exclusive to the paid version of your product, while allowing the free version to show the best parts of your app or tool.
If someone signs up for a free trial, there is a good chance that they are actually interested in the paid version, but just want to get a better idea of how the product works. If you exchange their email address for a free trial, you can continue to market to them until they sign up for the paid version.
note: text message (SMS) marketing is becoming increasingly popular -- and it has higher open rates & quicker response times than email. if you're developing a mobile app, this could be even more relevant for your business.
This is a super quick hack that can deliver a massive boost in awareness for your business. Product Hunt and Hacker News can be absolute gold mines for getting traffic to your website right after launching.
Neither of these are 100% guaranteed, so you'll need to make sure that what you're sharing is captivating enough to get upvotes. Otherwise sharing on these sites won't provide the traffic boost you're looking for.
This article from MarketingExamples.com shows how posting on Hacker News can provide a spike of over 30,000 visitors in a single day. (I hope your site is ready for that much traffic.)
Just because your business is new doesn't mean you need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to getting your brand in front of your customers. Your competitors likely have tested a range of strategies to attract new customers, and you can benefit by looking at what is working for your competitors.
Using tools like SimilarWeb, ahrefs, and SEMrush can give you an idea of where your competitors' traffic is coming from. You can go after these same traffic sources to start getting consistent traffic to your site.
If you recently launched your website, Google and other search engines probably don't yet see your site as an authority in your industry. You should definitely focus on publishing content on your website and building high quality backlinks to your site to set your site up for long-term success. However, if you want to speed up that process and start building awareness organically and start getting referral traffic to your site, guest posts are a great way to do so.
Guest posts are basically blog posts, but you publish them on other websites with existing readerships and established traffic. You can share value with those sites' readers while also getting people to click links back to your website.
Influencer marketing is a fairly new concept, but it really has been going on forever. Think about how fashion brands get celebrities to wear their clothes so that more people will want to buy them. This is the same concept that you can use to promote your brand.
The most important part of influencer marketing is qualifying and selecting which influencers to work with. If you are a software product for businesses, obviously you wouldn't want to promote that with an influencer who talks about fitness products. You probably already know who the biggest influencers are in your industry, so now you just need to reach out to them to see how much they charge for mentioning your product or sharing it with their followers.
You'll need to be sneaky about openly marketing your brand on Reddit and Quora, but if done correctly you can find major benefit on both of these sites.
Reddit gets millions of visitors every day and the site is broken into subreddits that cover specific topics. If you can find a community that may be interested in your product, you can scan the discussions in those communities to find insights about your customers.
The best way to use Reddit and Quora to attract customers is to insert yourself into conversations related to your product and casually drop a link to your website, or casually mention your brand. Both of these sites, specifically Reddit, are very against people blatantly promoting their businesses.
Many of the most successful companies over the past decade or so have risen to success thanks to building strategies for growth directly into their products. If you can incentivize your users to share your business with their networks, you can drastically accelerate your growth.
Companies like Dropbox and Clubhouse used this strategy well. Dropbox rewarded anyone who referred a friend with free storage space. As a result, Dropbox's growth skyrocketed. Clubhouse used a different strategy. It made its platform exclusive to select users and gave them each a limited number of invites to refer their friends. Because the platform was exclusive, people were motivated to ask their friends if they had any invites. The combination of exclusivity and FOMO (fear of missing out) can be an incredibly powerful way to drive growth.
Many startups are constantly fighting and clawing for short-term wins as they just try to stay alive early in their lifecycle. Although short-term wins are important, they often come at the expense of overlooking longer-term more sustainable growth. SEO is a long-term investment. It can take 3-6 months to see any traction at all.
So why then would any startup focus on SEO? Because it can provide a constant flow of new visitors to your site for years without you doing anything after publishing new content. Organic search traffic is incredibly valuable because it allows you to target people based on their intent (and what they're looking for).
If you can get your site ranking on the first page of Google, you can continue to see traffic on a daily basis for free. And if you target the right keywords for your business you can get your site in front of people who are already looking for your product.
Startups have a habit of using unclear or overly broad value propositions, and that ends up being a barrier for their growth. To maximize the speed at which your company can grow, you need to make sure that your messaging around what your company does is as clear as possible.
You need to eliminate any barriers that could prevent someone from choosing your business. If people are confused they are going to keep looking or go somewhere else. You need to package your messaging so that it includes the most compelling reasons to choose your company over your competitors.
Creating content can be overwhelming for startup founders. If you've developed a particular skillset that has allowed you to create an amazing new product, adding content creation to your duties can be too much to handle.
By creating a process for creating and repurposing content, you can save hours and hours of time while still crushing it on all of your content channels.
One way to think about this is to think of content like a funnel. If you start with longform video content (think YouTube podcasts), and use that content to fill all of your other content needs, you'll have an endless stream of content with minimal work.
You can post your longform video to YouTube. Then strip out the video and share the audio as a podcast. Take the biggest points from the video and put them into a blog post on your website. You can take clips from the video for Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and Facebook.
Tips for Producing Content
If this still sounds like too much, you can always work with a growth marketing agency to produce content for you -- or handle other marketing needs.
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