How To Use Growth Hacking Case Studies For Your Startup

Growth hacking
Image credits: Sommai at

We always admire and wonder about the way some of the most successful companies like Facebook, Youtube, Hotmail, Quora reached to the mind boggling scale in a very short span of time. Every entrepreneur wants to achieve the same feat for his own startup. But somehow we tend to attribute all the success of these companies to their core idea; and believe that the idea was simply awesome and destined to such a growth. That's a flawed thinking.

Even the best of these companies planned diligent growth strategies that just played perfect for them. A deep understanding of what these companies did and how did it help them go viral at such immense levels can help an entrepreneur use the same or similar ticks with his own startups. Let's see some of these most successful case studies and understand the lessons learnt from the growth hacking applied by these companies.

Growth hacking via customer enablement

Even Facebook faced a time when it was not acquiring customers as fast as it expected (they had a target to acquire 200 million users in 12 months) and among many of the hacks it used, an important one was to give away Facebook plugins (e.g. Facebook Likebox) to users, that they could embed into their websites. Youtube also used a similar approach by giving away an embedded code to allow the users share the video on their own blogs, websites etc.

How to use it: The key is that these companies enabled the users to use their services for creating opportunities for the users. Don't just limit your thinking to acquiring the customer and providing good services afterwards. Think beyond, and help your users grow because of your service directly or indirectly. It could be a very simple idea of referrals where they earn money, credits or any other benefits. And it could also be a complex added feature into your product or an additional service given away just to benefit the users.

Growth hacking by experimenting on user behavior

Quora is an excellent example of using a growth hack of studying and experimenting on the users' behavior. They ran a number of experiments on the user behavior, analyzed it's most active users and studied their behavior patterns. And they were continuously and quickly responding to these observations to fine tune themselves to acquire more users. The lesson here is that it's obvious that you'll have some users who like your product more than others, but what might not be that obvious is the factors that make those people like your product.

How to use it: Try to find out the reasons why people liked you and then use the learning to narrow down your customer acquisition or make changes in your offering so that you can include other categories of users to like it. Both the ways would increase your customer acquisition rate. Some ways to do it could be, an easy (and if possible, interesting) to fill feedback, A/B testing, using Google analytics effectively etc.

Piggybacking others' success could be a growth hack

Airbnb (rental discovery platform) employed an interesting growth hack by using the success of Craiglist (a classified advertisements portal). Airbnb used Craiglist to find the listing of accommodations for rent and then approached the renters directly to used Airbnb's platform. The hack worked great for them.

Similarly, Paypal used a growth hack by having a deal with eBay to include the PayPal logo on the listings of all the sellers that accepted PayPal. Ebay was already a successful platform and Paypal cleverly used Ebay's success to drive its own growth.

How to use it: Try to find out some already existing successful players and see how you can ride on their success by creating a win-win situation for both.

Integration into customers' life

Hotmail is a very good example to show that how even a very simple growth hacking strategy can have a huge impact on a startup. By putting a simple signature at the bottom of the mail, which said "PS: I love you. Get your free email at Hotmail", the company was able to drive huge customer acquisition. Have you seen the stickers on some cars which read "I have been to Fun'n'Food Village". They would put such a sticker on your car when you visited this amusement park.

How to use it: You need to find out some ways to get yourself integrated into your customers' life at a very low or no cost. Try to find some ways so that your presence is marked in the life of your customers very ostensibly. For example you can give some incentive to them for mentioning you or showing them using your product on their social media; or any other offline media.

It's your turn now. Do you also know some interesting growth hacks or have you successfully used one? Let us and the other readers know in a comment below and let all benefit from it.


Log in also lets you receive 'likes' and 'responses' to your comments.