Thursday 29 August 2013

Top 5 Growth Hacks to Consider

1. The Minimal Homepage

Dropbox, Pinterest, Quora are famous for their minimal homepage. When you start out and envision designing a new homepage for your product with all of its features, it's so counter intuitive and hard to decide to have a homepage with only one sentence, one photo and one call to action above the fold.

Anyone who hasn't measured this effect before will argue and argue that a minimal homepage like the one above will not convert as well because people just won't understand much about the product yet and will therefore not sign-up. It's always a good idea to A/B test your own minimal homepage against other types like short or long firm ones but time and time again minimal wins out (and sometimes significantly). The reason for this is that the page is simple for anyone to understand and the call-to-action is really clear because its the only one. We've all been to a homepage with 10 different products or large amounts of verbiage and its incredibly hard to know where to start or what to click on.

2. Send Push Notifications to Increase Retention

Using email to remind users about your product and re-engage them is a commonly known growth hack. Email is definitely an old school channel (not as sexy as social) but it can be very effective once you've taken the time to master it. Adam Nash (former VP of Product Management at Linkedin) had this to say about emails as a traffic source:
Email scales, and it’s inherently personal in its best form.  It’s asynchronous, it can support rich content, and it can be rapidly A/B tested and optimized across an amazing number of dimensions.  The best product emails get excellent conversion rates, in fact, the social web has led to the discovery that person to person communication gets conversion person over 10x higher than traditional product emails.
Having said this email is a saturated channel. Most companies are not doing email well but they're doing it none-the-less which adds to the sheer volume we all receive in our inbox on a daily basis. The Law of Shitty Clichthroughs is a common problem we face when we all rush into a channel and saturate it but recently it's been made slightly worse with Gmail's new tabbed inbox changes. MailChimp has some great data that shows a 0.5% to 1.0% drop in open-rates because of this change.

Don't stop sending email, as its still a great channel, but try sending push notifications if you have a mobile App. Relevant push notifications have a significant affect on retention rates. To get some ideas of how push notifications compare to email open and click-through rates, this post gives us some insight about their effectiveness:

  • 30%-60% open rates
  • 4%-10% interaction rates (with spikes as high as 40%)

Pro Tip: Use Mixpanel (event based analytics) to register users for your website and/or mobile app. Once you've done that you can send them emails, push notifications or text messages manually or automatically based on specific events a user performs within your application. Not only that but you can build intuitive funnels to track the exact effective of your email, push or text message campaigns.

3. Kill a Feature

This growth hack is less about a quick win and more about getting to the core of what might actually help your product grow long term. It can also be used to make sure that your product is continually refined and made simpler to use instead of leaving all those unused features hanging around which cause product bloat and therefore user confusion/frustration.

The above image is from a presentation by Dave MccLure. It's pretty self explanatory. Andrew Chen talks about this in a similar way when he says that "Does your product suck? If so stop adding features and 'zoom in' instead".

4. Embeddable Widgets

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//" 
frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Embedded video, like the one above (along with its <iframe> HTML code) was YouTube’s famous growth hack that helped them scale to hundreds of millions of users. In return for free video hosting, blogs and websites promoted the YouTube brand by embedding YouTube-hosted videos on their sites. It was a win-win for everyone involved and YouTube capitalized by acquiring users organically.

Many companies know about this growth hack and have subsequently created their own widgets (Vimeo, SlideShare, Healthtap... etc) that can be used in blogs or websites. Sometimes this works well (SlideShare for instance) but it can also fall flat with your user base. Having an embeddable widget is necessary but not sufficient to harness this growth hack's potential. There has to be a strong incentive for users to spend the time and energy to embed your widget in their site. There should be a strong need to share the content delivered by the widget in order for this growth hack to bear significant fruit.

5. Two-sided Referral Incentives

During Dropbox's growth, the company tried a number of marketing channels like long-tail search and paid advertising but they didn't work out that well. Dropbox then began experimenting with a referral program and it worked really well. The structure of that referral program is the most interesting part. We've all registered for a service before and been asked to invite friends and told that if they join we'll get some special offer. It feels pretty spammy to give a company your friend's email address and you get all the benefit. Dropbox knew this so they devised their referral program to be two-sided. If you invite your friend and they join BOTH of you will get the benefit. Each person receives 250 MB of additional storage. The psychology of this is great, it no longer feels spammy to invite your friends, you actually feel like you're helping them out by giving them more than they otherwise would have had without your invite.


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Andrew said...

Thanks for letting me know. There was a problem with the blogger template on Internet Explorer (I use Chrome on a Mac so I didn't notice it until you mentioned it).

The problem has been fixed. Let me know if its still an issue for you.