6 Simple Growth Hacks for Startups

Starting a new business is hard. These growth strategies will help your startup succeed without big investments.

As many readers know, I typically write about strategy, innovation, growth, and leadership. But I’ve been asked a lot recently about how I helped establish Praxie.com as a destination website for hundreds of best practice digital tools and templates using growth hacking strategies. That’s because it’s incredibly difficult to cut through the noise and establish a new brand, web presence, and business model in today’s increasingly cluttered, competitive world.

Here’s what we did to build a brand and attract tens of thousands of visitors to our website every month, all without a significant investment in marketing. Anyone who is focused, methodical, and willing to take their time can do it.

Content is king. You can create it yourself or provide a platform that encourages users to contribute content as part of your business model. Content drives branding and attracts customers. Plus, Google and other search engines index and prioritize pages with strong content, so your targeted web pages with noteworthy content will get a boost in SEO rankings and see increased traffic over time. Content comes in many forms: articles, blog posts, listicles, white papers, templates, and videos.

Backlinks are the lifeblood of SEO. The more reputable websites that link to your website (or subpages of your site), the higher your search engine rankings will be. And the higher your rankings, the more organic visitors you will receive. Whatever you do or provide as part of your business, position yourself as the expert. Become a source of knowledge and insight for the press, get interviewed on podcasts, write articles for other sites, or do anything else that will get your name (and your backlink) out there on the web. This strategy also builds your brand and aids growth.

Content isn’t limited to the written word. YouTube is now the world’s second-largest search engine, right behind Google. Video content highlights your expertise. It gets shared. And it drives traffic to your website that can convert into newsletter signups, subscriptions, and product purchases. Make sure to include keywords in your video titles and descriptions. Also include a link at the end of the video where the viewer can learn more (e.g., your website). Repurpose your videos on social media and embed them on your website to further reinforce your content expertise.

Even though almost every email inbox these days is filled with spam, when someone gives you their email address, they’re basically opting you in to connect with them. While the same principle applies to social media, email is still a uniquely direct way to network. Compared to social media, email is like taping a flyer to someone’s front door or hoping they’ll see one taped to the telephone pole on the corner. So create easy ways for people to sign up for newsletters. Connect with others on LinkedIn, where most profiles include email addresses. Focus on building a list and delivering high-value communications that use expert content to connect with your audience, rather than trying to sell them your product. Many free or inexpensive tools can help you get started, such as Mailchimp and Constant Contact.

The only way to see growth is to measure it. Use Google Analytics to track your most important metrics, such as visitor numbers, landing pages, your newsletter and purchase conversion rates, and more. Use free tools like those offered by Moz and Similarweb to compare yourself to the competition. Connect social media and advertising metrics into a dashboard that gives a holistic picture of your business. But don’t spend too much time collecting data. Keep it simple so you can get a quick read on how you’re doing while spending most of your time doing the things that grow your business.

Google has recently introduced a great tool called Optimize. Optimize allows you to quickly run tests on your website or individual web pages. By creating A/B tests that serve up different page headers, product prices, button colors, etc., you can gain insight into what works and what doesn’t based on what you’re trying to accomplish. See which market positioning statements drive the most newsletter signups, or which pricing model brings in the most revenue. Testing should be an ongoing activity, which basically means you’re taking the winning formula from your A/B test and then running another A/B test using that as the baseline. Connect your tests to your data analytics to track what’s working (and what’s not) over time.

Most small startups don’t have a lot of funding at their disposal. That’s why growth hacks are so important. Use a little effort, along with smart customer acquisition strategies, to lay the groundwork for market traction. It may take a little time to see results, but that’s also what it takes to build a lasting business.