Growth Hacking: What It Is and How It Helps Businesses Succeed

Have you heard of the home renting company Airbnb? What about the file hosting service Dropbox? Both of these companies are huge now, but back in 2007, it was a different story. Airbnb and Dropbox were simply startups trying to grow their brand and gain momentum. Once they discovered growth hacking, they set themselves apart from other startups and gained customers rapidly. Now, they’re some of the most well-known companies in their respective spaces.

Growth hacking isn’t a buzzword. It’s a revolutionary way of marketing that effectively and efficiently grows a business. While it sounds similar to traditional marketing, it’s actually quite different. Marketing tends to focus on many different aspects of the company and can sometimes have very broad goals.  Growth hacking is simply focused on one thing: growth. Your main goal is to simply increase conversion rates and achieve rapid expansion with your user base.

Growth hacking is popular with startups because they often have a very limited budget to work with to market the company. It specifically focuses on using free or low-cost alternatives to traditional marketing methods. Social media, viral marketing, and targeted advertising are popular methods to achieve growth.

Let’s turn back to Dropbox – one of their biggest growth hacking successes was with encouraging others to refer a friend. When one of their customers refers a friend and they sign up, both users get an increase in the amount of space they get. Potential customers are much more likely to trust what their friends think about a product or service over a paid advertisement. By creating an incentive for both parties – the user and their friend – they were both quick to jump on board and do your marketing for you. If one person refers just three of their friends and that pattern continues, this can snowball and rapidly grow your user base.


What makes growth hacking work is the process of rapid experimentation with both product development and marketing channels. Through experimentation, you’re quickly able to identify what is working best for your company and can lean into those methods more. Growth hacking methods can help you quickly engage with your target audience and start building a network of loyal customers.

While growth hacking is most often associated with tech companies or startups, it can be a successful method for all types and sizes of businesses. Any company can leverage it, as long as they’re willing to be adaptable and flexible with their methodology. For more established businesses that want to start growth hacking to take their user-base to the next level, it’s important to not rock the boat too much at first. Doing a change on a massive scale can cause your customers to worry about the direction you’re going in. Instead, testing and experimentation can take place with a small sample group of your customers. If your testing works out well, then expand to your full user base.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you’re a startup or a seasoned business, growth hacking is a great idea to rapidly expand your user base.  If you want more information on how growth hacking can work specifically for you, contact SquareWheel today.