28 Web & Mobile App Growth Hacks You’ve Never Seen
“Growth Hack” is a buzzword that describes the clever methods web and mobile app marketers use to grow quickly. The problem is, if you look for growth hacking examples, the same ‘ole Paypal, Hotmail, and Airbnb examples always come up.
I figured it’s time for some new examples. So I looked around and put together a list of 28 web and mobile app growth hack examples you’ve probably never seen.
Let’s get to it!
Growth Hack Examples for Web Apps
1. Zapier Landing Page Hack – Zapier has a landing page for every integration pairing they have AND don’t have. This is not only good for user onboarding, but great for SEO and getting new users to imagine the power of Zapier without even using it. It also helps Zapier get sign ups and know which integrations to focus on next. It’s just so darn clever.
2. Taplytics Can Do Hack – Taplytics offers to setup their mobile app A/B testing tool for you if you need help. This may not seem like a hack but let me explain. Getting people to use your app is one thing, but getting people to actually install something that requires a developer is another. That’s why Taplytics’ can-do attitude is such a phenomenal hack. They realize non-technical mobile app marketers will probably stumble on their page first. If app marketers can get set up help without begging their swamped dev team to do it, they’re more likely to choose Taplytics. If this is scalable for you, find a way to do it.
3. Qualaroo and Moz Community Hack – If you could create a site for your potential customers to visit everyday to discuss topics around your product, would you build it? Moz and Qualaroo did. Moz created a Q&A and advice forum for online marketers that makes it easy for members to upgrade to a pro account. Qualaroo created Growthhackers.com for growth hackers to do the same. Now anytime you visit the Moz community their app is top of mind. Growthhackers.com members are show banners for Qualaroo webinars. It’s a win for everyone.
4. Funnelfeed Craigslist Promo Hack – Funnelfeed used Craigslist to promote their service. But to get the signups they needed, they baited startups with a huge promo code they found for free office space. It’s perfect because it cost them nothing and it’s something their potential users actually want. Besides, the goodwill they’ll get from saving startups money is huge for their retention.
5. New Relic, Trak.io, and Invision T-shirt Hack – People will do almost anything for free t-shirt and New Relic, Trak.io and Invision know this. New Relic and Trak.io give a free t-shirt to anyone that signs up for their service. Invision gives a t-shirt to anyone that signs up for their mailing list on their exit intent pop-up. Both techniques get visitors to convert before they leave their site.
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6. General Assembly and Udemy Content Hack – We all know how hard it is to seed a community with great content, especially when you need experts. Instead of spending a lot of money and time creating their own content, General Assembly and Udemy convinced experts with an audience to do some of the heavy lifting for them. Though General Assembly develops its own curriculum and content, they also enlisted experts to lead classes and workshops, reducing the number of instructors they have to hire and allowing individual instructors to do some of the marketing for them. Udemy (especially at the beginning) even cold emails authors, professors, and other experts to add content to their site.
7. Growth Hacker TV Free Ad Network Hack – Leave it to the person who make videos about growth hacking to come up with a great growth hack like this. Growth Hacker TV partnered up with growth niche sites and agreed to drive traffic to each other’s site using Hello Bar. The best part is, Growth Hacker TV got partners to agree that for every two clicks given away they’ll send one click back. Basically, give two clicks, get one click. So they always get more traffic than they give away. Score!
8. Yammer Biz Email Hack – Yammer only lets you sign up with a verified business email address. This helps users invite coworkers effortlessly. I’d also bet this helps their sales department lead score more efficiently. Either way it’s a good way to get a whole business using your app and filter out the looky-loos.
9. Uber IRL Hack – In this whole growth hacking game we often forget real life exists. This is why I was so impressed with two of the IRL (in real life) growth hacks Uber pulled off recently. In the San Francisco Bay Area, Uber drove around entrepreneurs and investors for pitch events. Was it a waste off gas? Sure. Was it an easy way to get press, get sign ups, and encourage current and future influencers to talk about their brand? Absolutely. Uber also worked with Nor Cal Dry Bar to pay for their patrons’ next Uber ride if they booked a blowout. This helps Uber reach a different niche, gives them press, and helps every user imagine another way to use Uber.
10. AnyPerk Gatekeeper Hack – A lot of B2B and Entreprise companies have to worry about reaching the right person in the company. This can take hours of research, weeks to set up a meeting, and months to actually get people using your app and paying for it. Well, AnyPerk wants to skip all this. AnyPerk is incentivizing users to get their message right to the source. Without making a call or sales pitch, AnyPerk pays members in the target company $50 to convince HR directors to use the app. Remember, customer acquisition costs for B2B SaaS is about 12-18 months of sale revenue. That’s far more than the $50 they’re offering. AnyPerk cut the time it takes to close a deal and saved money. What did you do today
11. Hittail Blogger Love Hack – We all want bloggers writing about our app, but are you making it easy for them to do? Hittail is. Most of us hide the fact that our tool is free for bloggers to review. Hittail just puts it all out there on their pricing page. The one thing that could make this bigger is if they automatically letting bloggers enter their URL on a special blogger signup page. In the background they could run a check on Alexa rank, Google PR, social shares, and any other metrics they find important. This could pre-quality bloggers, send them straight to a “press page” to get all they need to start writing a post (screenshots, feature list, logos, etc) and let them submit the review link when they’re done. This helps them cut the time they need to quality bloggers and helps bloggers get their work done faster.
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12. Sidebar Dual Reward Hack – In attempt to grow their already large email list, the folks at Sidebar created a neat referral program. Sidebar created an incentive that encourages new subscribers to refer a friend to subscribe to their email list. What makes it great is that it is a dual-sided reward. This means, both the new subscriber and the person they refer get the incentive. What’s best is, Sidebar only spent five minutes on the hack and got four times their average email sign ups.
13. Unroll.me – Unroll is a tool that helps you clean your inbox. To set it up using a web service like Gmail, you have to allow Unroll limited access to your Gmail account. Since Unroll gets permission to access your inbox, they suggest a few friends (your top contacts) you can invite to use Unroll too.
14. Rankscanner Earn More Hack – Rackscanner’s app helps you track your websites keyword ranking. During their beta, you can only track 5 keywords, unless you refer more people to use the app. I know, a few web apps do this, but I think Rank Scanner implements this well because they give away the one thing they KNOW their users value.
15. Gleam Widget Hack – Gleam gives customers a widget to embed on their website to help them run contests to grow traffic and social followers. When contest participants use Gleam, they can click on a link that invites them to get a Gleam widget to host their own online contests. This hack is responsible for about 20% of their new sign ups. You may want to copy this.
16. Visual.ly and Quora and Medium “Sharecropping” Hack – I don’t like using “sharecropping” to describe what they do because of it’s negative connontation, but these sites use their users work (with their permission) to bring traffic to their site. Visually lets you upload infographics and allows others to embed them on their site with a backlink to Visually. Quora lets you answer questions which brings traffic to their site. Medium features the best blog content to get high quality traffic to their site. Visually, Quora, and Medium let you reach their community in exchange for access to your content. This in turn makes their site valuable. It’s a win-win for both parties.
17. Appcues and Bounce Exchange “Powered By” – The powered by is so infamous that it’s difficult to include in a list of ”never seen before” hacks. But some of the “powered by” brandings are better than others. Appcues and Bounce Exchange are a couple of my faves. First thing, both of their powered by messages are well placed and targeted. Appcues targets web/SaaS companies and their customers seem to have the same audience. Bounce Exchange is used by marketers and only marketers would actively look into the powered by link at the bottom of the screen. Second, Appcues and Bounce Exchange’s “provided by” are shown even on paid plans. This bumps customers that don’t like the branding into a higher plan and you get paying customers to advertise your service for you. Can’t get better than that.
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Growth Hack Examples for Mobile Apps
1. Timehop Future Hack – During user onboarding, Timehop helps you schedule a tweet or Facebook message with a promotional message to your future self a year from now. I know what you’re thinking. A year is a long time from now and you’re right. But when those tweets and Facebook shares go live a year from now, it brings users back to their app and invites new users. It’s like a growth hacking savings plan. You invest now and in time, you’ll get something in return.
2. Facebook Messenger Sync Hack – Facebook doesn’t really need more growth, but that doesn’t stop them trying. In Messenger, they’ve ASKED (key word here) users for permission to continuously sync their address book so they can find other Messenger users. This means their users will always be able to invite Facebook friends that aren’t using Messenger to use the app. This is awesome because this isn’t a one-time growth hack. As their users add more friends, they’ll always be prompted to invite different people to the app.
3. Blab – Blab also does a neat hack using address book syncing. Blab uses the address book to allow users to video chat with anyone, even if they don’t the app. This is an incredible way to get new users since invites will include a link to download the app. The thing I like best is that Blab is makes sure users know what they’re getting into. This is good for reviews and building trust. Too many growth hacks rely on dishonest practices which make their results short lived and ineffective.
4. Foursquare Platform Hack – This Foursquare hack is the typical “leverage a platform” growth hack. Foursquare allows you to post your check-ins on your Facebook timeline for others to see. The one missed opportunity here is that they don’t default Facebook sharing “on”. With some A/B testing, they may find making Facebook sharing a default for user could increase downloads.
5. Path WOM Hack- Path does their take on IRL growth hacking by letting users invite someone else in person. Doesn’t seem like much of a growth hack. But 77% of people learn about new mobile apps through family and friends (word of mouth). The best way to encourage word of mouth sharing is to make sharing your app easy in person. Path is known for their growth hacks but this one is an easy win (and I’m sure a highly converting one).
6. Fancy Credit Hack – Paid referral programs are typical for web apps to get more sign ups. But Fancy stole this technique for their mobile app. Fancy is like Pinterest with buy links. When a user invites a friend they can earn real credits to use on their site. A lot of people don’t like to consider referral programs growth hacks, but since they aren’t used much on mobile…it is.
7. Circa Share by Text Hack – Circa does something that surprisingly most other mobile apps don’t do. Circa allows users to share in-app content by text. Remember, 98% of text messages are opened. And most text messages are read in 3 minutes (PDF LINK). By allowing their users to text interesting bits from Circa, their friends will get the news and a link to download the app.
8. Instapaper Integrations Hack – The goal of any mobile app team is get people to download the app and keep them using it. Instapaper has found a way to do this by integrating with similar apps. In Instapaper, users can install other apps like Pocket onto any device or browser they want. They’ve even made it easy for users to do it by making their own app directory and adding easy options that help users add apps by email.
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9. Draw Something Connections Hack – I know Draw Something seems like ancient history now, but there was one major growth hack they used to reach the top we can all learn from. Draw Something used Facebook connections to make it easy to invite friends to play. This encouraged more users to invite friends and the cycle continued to 100 million daily active users.
10. Sing! Karaoke Experience Hack – Some apps just lend themselves to major growth and Sing! Karoke is one of those apps. Sing! Karaoke lets users sing along with their favorite songs and share their performance with a community of artists and get likes and feedback from friends. Users can even invite friends and sing along with them. The entire app is one sharable moment. There’s no way a user would want to use the app by themselves and that makes people invite others to use the app. Basically, if there’s any kind of fun way to use your mobile app, find a way to get people sharing it. It’s growth hack virality most of us can only dream of…sigh!
Also don’t forget to try some user onboarding hacks.
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