Startup Growth Hacking Strategies

Case Study Startup Growth Hacking Strategies

Suzanne Qualmann

New member
Oct 31, 2021
Marketing for startups can be a difficult journey particularly if you're beginning from scratch. With the many of online channels to choose from and a myriad of experts who can offer different methods, it's difficult when choosing.
startups Growth.jpg

The main difference between established and startup businesses is that established businesses are more focused on the acquisition of customers and retention more than anything else.
A reputable company may have the resources to burn off cash to increase branding and awareness, however the primary concern of a new business is paying customers who can be generated without burning cash.

A popular article in Huffington Post reads:

Entrepreneurs often get excited and do not have a clear direction at this point. However, those who have a plan in place and have their strategies moving in the same direction are flourishing.

I can't be more in agreement with the statement above.

Sean Ellis, the first marketer at Dropbox created the term "growth hacking" and the entire science that focuses on the technical aspects of startup marketing.

This article explains how the most well-known startups were able to understand the marketing funnel for startups and implemented successful hacks across all levels to get the point they are at today.

Let's get into them by providing some additional information:
  1. Acquisition for startups this is how you can increase your awareness to be able to see outcomes from advertising efforts.​
  2. activation: Once people know about your business, what are the reasons why should they make the switch? This section discusses how to get people moving beyond the awareness phase.​
  3. Retention What is the reason why someone should continue to use your service or product in the face of a multitude of alternatives on the market? Retention will help you keep your customers on your list for the long haul.​
  4. Referral It is the best the power of word-of-mouth marketing. This part discusses ways to increase the number of customers from your current customers.​
  5. revenue: Finally, after having completed all the steps above and understanding how your business can ensure a steady cash flow and increase profits is crucial in this.​
Once we're familiar about the various steps of the marketing funnel used by startups I'll demonstrate each step with examples from the most well-known startup companies.

1. Acquisition How Airbnb created the right buzz for their product

After raising some initial money to start their company,The founders of Airbnb, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia began to research different ways to grow their business beyond paid acquisition.

They narrowed their market research down to one issue.

Where can the customer who is looking for something different from the standard hotel experience go to hang out digitally?

It was Craigslist.

To increase traffic to Airbnb's listings Airbnb has decided to provide the option to their users to share their listings on Craigslist in addition.

With a simple marketing strategy, they also encouraged people to post ads on Craigslist and other sites.

What are the results?

Utilizing this technique, Airbnb received the attention of a large number of users who had previously used Craigslist as their listings were more appealing, with better descriptions and photos than Craigslist and this resulted in an exponential growth cycle.

Image Source: Growth Hackers

2. Activation How PayPal activated users​

Paypal was among the most successful startups in the 90's.

Their incredible growth story is increasing from one million people in February 2000, to 5 millions users by the summer of 2000.

They began activating users through paying the users to join. For each sign-up, Paypal paid you $20 to sign up (and the same amount for an invitation). As the worth of their network increased as they grew, they cut the bonus to $5, $10 and finally the bonus was nothing.

This is a classic instance of motivating users through giving an incentive.

Paypal has tried many forms of methods of advertising, but this strategy resulted in the lowest CAC.

3. The retention of customers: How Groove reduced their the rate of churn by 71%​

A major issue SaaS companies have is the high turnover rates.

Churn rate is the amount of customers who leave your subscription-based business.

One of the companies that was having trouble with its churn rate included Groove.

Groove is an easy business help desk application priced at 15 dollars per person.

Despite the steady stream of new users, Groove's 4.5 percent churn rate made the model of business insolvent.

The team at Groove looked at the differences between those who stayed more than 30 days , and those who left before the end of.

They classified people into the following groups:

After extensive research, Groove decided to send specific emails to users who had less time on their platform and were likely to unsubscribe within 30 days.

Anyone who had sessions less than 2 minutes received this message:

Anyone who registered less than two times within the initial 10 days received the following message:

What are the results?

With this optimization of conversion strategy, Groove was able to lower the churn rate by 71 percent.

Key Takeaways

Knowing where customers might struggle with your product or service and then addressing this issue could yield remarkable results.

4. Referral: how Dropbox has fueled their growth through referral marketing​

Dropbox is most likely to be one of the most popular startups in tech. The secret to its rapid expansion is due to referral marketing.

Through paid advertising, Dropbox was spending $250 per client for a service which was priced at $99.

"Dropbox went from 100,000 to 4,000,000 users in 15 months"

These are steps Dropbox utilized to increase the growth of their business...

Every person you refer to Dropbox can give you 500MB more storage. You can earn up 16GB of free space with this strategy.

The most important message from this story is that word-of-mouth marketing is among the most effective strategies.

If you can integrate purchase orders or sign-ups for referrals into your business model and offer an incentive that is beneficial for customers and customers, it could be a great boost to expansion.

5. Revenue: The engine for growth of PicMonkey​

PicMonkey It is a startup that is in the realm of one of most competitive areas editing photos.
But, creating a fantastic product that is free to use has been extremely successful for the company.
Every month, billions of photos are edited using picmonkey.
Users can use basic filters at no cost. For more advanced tools and filters, customers need to pay $4.99 per month.
And hundreds of thousands subscribers pay the monthly fee.

The company is worth millions of dollars and the CEO has stated that the company's growth rate is 40% year-over-year.
The main takeaway is the importance of building freemium models.

If you are able to offer a portion of your service for free, people will be able to see the quality of your product.
This will enable them to comprehend the value they can get after they have purchased your product or service.
Offering freemium services for your products or services could be a great way to boost business growth.

As I Conclude​

If you are a new business, it is important to know what part within the AARRR funnel your company sit in.
Perhaps you are in the beginning stages, and you are aware of what is crucial to you.
Perhaps you should improve customer retention , and concentrate your efforts on that area.
Whatever the situation you are in, evaluating your current situation and making decisions based on that is a way to drive significant growth​


New member
Feb 20, 2022
It is such an interesting article. As a person who is looking for start up i know that a lot of startup is fail(usually about outsourcing 13chats or something like that) and marketing isnt so easy.
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