Whether you run a business that thrives on live chat, or you’re bootstrapping your way to success as a SaaS or e-commerce store, you know that growth hacking is key to seeing success – fast. But before you spend a lot of time, money and effort on techniques that don’t work, check out these proven tactics for growing your user base and revenues faster than you ever thought possible.
SaaS Growth Hacks
Growth hacking your Software as a Service company is all about getting people to adopt your idea, try your concept, and then become lifelong customers. Easier said than done, right? With the right tools and technology, you can take your existing SaaS and turbo-charge it to increase your customer base and start seeing a real improvement in numbers across the board.
1. Make Your Widget Viral
Way back in 1996, free email services were a big deal. Not surprisingly, everyone and their dog were starting up their own free web-based email provider to try and capture the largest swath of newly-minted internet users. One company decided that the best way to spread the word about their service was to put in a little “P.S.” signature link at the end of every message inviting message recipients to get their free email account too.
That company is still around today, too. You know them as Hotmail.
So what does a simple link call-to-action mean for you? No doubt you’ve already encouraged your users to download and install your widget. But why stop there?
2. Preview Before You Try
Ditch the “Powered By ________” link in the hopes that people will be intrigued enough to click. These days, we’re bombarded by the latest and greatest SaaS products and we need more than just intrigue to drive a click. Let your prospects try it directly from the widget screen – just like Rafflecopter does with their widget:
Or at the very least, provide a sign up form within the widget itself for people that are using the SaaS for free. In the case of Rafflecopter, not only can you launch a branded giveaway directly through your Facebook pages, but people can also participate in a live giveaway (beyond your own) through the Rafflecopter service. Since you already have their Facebook account details, you could segment, post and test retargeting ideas through a less-intrusive method: social media.
3. Avoid the Sign Up Drop Off
So many of us, despite our best intentions, are guilty of this. How many times have you signed up for a free SaaS only to never actually get around to using it? Buffer turned this into a unique opportunity through their reminder and notification emails. Check out how growth hacker Lincoln Murphy’s account looked after he set up the Buffer app:
A little enticing. You see a big empty space with options to fill it. But so what? A friendly reminder just nags us that we need to act on something. What about rewarding us when we do act – along with suggestions for new content to keep the app topped off with new ideas? That’s precisely what Buffer did in their revised email:
See how much more convincing it is? It makes doing your job of finding and loading content even easier – which is precisely the thing that Buffer was built for.
Live Chat Growth Hacks
Growth-hacking via live chat is a smart marketing idea that’s easier said than done. You have to have a live chat provider that lets you track your chat’s analytics and proactively initiate chat with your users. Fortunately, the aforementioned link above will help you decide on a solid provider which offers the kinds of features you’ll need for turbo-charged growth hacking.
4. Use Analytics to Proactively Initiate Chats
As long as you’re able to monitor user activity in real-time, you can initiate a chat with a user based on the pages they visited or the links they clicked. Imagine if someone is struggling to find something in a particular size or color, or they’re looking for detailed specifications or an instruction manual. Wouldn’t it be worthwhile to initiate a chat and ask how you can help? Being able to get an instant response is worth much more to a customer than waiting around a support forum or worse, being put on hold for long periods of time.
Will eager, lightning-fast live chat support help with your growth hacking efforts? It certainly can’t hurt. But there’s one specific way to utilize live chat to make early adoption and testing of your product or service even easier.
5. Make it Rewarding to Tell a Friend
Userlike, a live chat provider, followed this idea with their own product and it resulted in a 30% increase in their conversion rates. They made it drop-down simple (literally!) to tell a friend about Userlike, but then, in a twist from traditional affiliate-style referral marketing, they reward the person being referred with free service:
That’s right, the end user receives 2 free months of premium use from the friend recommending the service. What “good friend” who’s looking for a solid live chat provider wouldn’t want that? And Userlike wins too, since after 60 days of trying their premium service, it’s unlikely that the user will want to switch for a more watered down “lite” version.
Userlike did another awesome move with their live chat system. Rather than waiting for the end user to shuffle their feet with getting the script installed (and then dealing with the instant frustration of not being able to customize it the way they’d like), Userlike decided to show them exactly what their page would look like with the script already added.
The overlay in the picture above is in the lower left corner
Of course, it’s a simple overlay and no code is actually added to the site being shown, but by being able to type in your URL, you get a preview of the kind of functionality and features your customers will see. Simple and brilliant.
E-Commerce Growth Hacks
Most websites tend to treat customers as mere numbers. It’s all about numbers – clicks, conversion, raw data. But oftentimes we forget about the person behind the number, and that’s where growth hacks can make a big difference. Your customers are talking…but are you listening?
6. Remember, Some of the Best Growth Hacks Aren’t Always Magical
Many people look at e-commerce growth hacks as these imaginative, ingenious success stories that start out so simple, but bring in amazing results. Things like Dropbox’s extra space referral program, AirBnB’s leveraging of Craigslist ads and even Hotmail’s free email link in the subject line are all perfect examples of “unicorns” – rare, highly successful marketing tactics that are genius in their simplicity.
You can’t handle this innovative growth hack!
Sadly, not every growth hack is a unicorn. And not every e-commerce growth hack will work with your particular business model. The best advice when looking for ways to rev up your start up is to look, listen and learn from what your audience is doing: what are your competitors lacking? What are customers dissatisfied with and how can you capitalize on that? Is there an existing service or popular brand or person that you could partner with in order to grow your product or service sign up rates?
7. Just Because It Has Already Been Done, Doesn’t Mean It’s Finished
For example, could you implement a referral reward program that not only rewards the person signing up, but rewards the referrer too? Could you partner with influential bloggers or YouTube superstars to present a live “unboxing” of your product and get their reaction? Oftentimes in order to get the best results from e-commerce growth hacking, you have to go where the audience you want to reach already is.
Just as there’s no one size fits all strategy for growth hacking in general, so too is there no concrete road map to follow for growth hacking your e-commerce startup. One of the key points to always keep in mind, however, is to keep your finger on the pulse of the industry and what people truly want out of it. From there, let your imagination run wild and don’t be afraid to push the limits a bit. Those that break out from the norm are typically the ones people remember most.
Are You The Next Growth Hacking Success Story?
Now it’s your turn. Have you used new or innovative growth hacks in your SaaS, live chat or e-commerce business? What were your results? Share your success stories or what you learned with us in the comments below!