When it comes to driving growth, it really comes down to having an intimate understanding of consumer behavior. Others, like Ryan Holiday, believe that virality can be reduced to a formula. Whatever the case, it's undeniable that startups have garnered rapid growth through the use of various novel growth hacking techniques.
Here are 3 companies that generated growth with some of these techniques:
Founders Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky started by renting out their 3 airbeds in their living room through airbedandbreadkfast.com. Pioneers in the growth hacking movement, Airbnb integrated their listings with Craigslist with a ‘post to Craigslist' link. That way, people could see their listings on Craigslist automatically, without having to create a new listing. It was convenient, gave listings more exposure and generated buzz for the brand. Andrew Chen wrote an excellent case study here.
Best known for their black cars, Uber has changed public transportation (specifically, taxis) with their car services. Founders, Garett Camp and Travis Kalanick, understood the basic economics of supply and demand – people wanted a better, faster, safer cab system, and Uber did it.
One of the most crucial parts in their success was the extent that they understood their users. They targeted the right users, and used word-of-mouth to boost user adoption. The company ran campaigns to highlight the usefulness of their service, notably on New Years' Eve, when the supply of cabs was bound to be dismal. Most importantly, they were made sure to be relevant to their local users. Launches in every city were specifically catered to the local needs.
It's amazing what catchy headlines can do. For Upworthy, it has spawned a browser extension, a video and a card game. Through rigorous A/B testing (where two versions of the same service are launched simultaneously to test which version is more successful with audiences), Upworthy optimised headlines for reader engagement. Timing was crucial – one of the first videos they reposted was of Mitt Romney during his presidential campaign. This case study shows that growth is not a fixed formula, but is a constantly evolving process.
At the same time, growth hacks aren't just for startups, and any business with the right product-market fit and a flexible outlook on marketing can optimise their way to success with the right methods.