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Growth Hacking 101: Your First 500,000 Users

Growth Hacking 101: Your First 500,000 Users

Customer acquisition tactics ranging from the cheap to the expensive, in other to get to half a million users. Focus is on users with a calculable ARPU e.g. e-commerce, gaming, SaaS startups.


May 03, 2012

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  1. Disclaimer! Based on first hand experience growing a user-base of

    500,000 (1.5 years) at previous company and doing customer acquisition consulting Focus is on users with an explicit ARPU! e.g. SaaS, E-commerce, Gaming... Zero-revenue services may not be applicable YMMV etc. Growth Hacking 101 by @yongfook Thursday, May 3, 12
  2. Background Director #2 Luxury Flash-Sales Site in Japan US$XX million

    per year sales Joined at 0, left at ~500,000 I lived in Japan for about 10 years before moving to Singapore Above company is still going strong and has expanded into China I’m founder of 2 SaaS startups (one active, one not) a user-generated content recipe site (acquired) and a quirky viral game Currently working on another e-commerce site targeting South East Asia Growth Hacking 101 by @yongfook Thursday, May 3, 12
  3. cheap Trivia: The artist Michelangelo was famously cheap and lived

    in poor conditions, despite being very wealthy Thursday, May 3, 12
  4. Organic Search • Always be creating searchable content • Mix

    of template / basic editorial • Have clear CTAs on your public content • sitemap.xml • Previous company = all brands we sold had a permanent public page (50% algorithmic and 50% editorial), we ranked on Google 1st page for some of the lesser-known brands. Long Tail. • Hackers! implement your content generation strategy early on so you can set and somewhat forget. • Spend some time making a few “superstar” pieces of content i.e. Infographics Editorial Automatic / Template There’s a page like this for every country on DirectRooms Ex Growth Hacking 101 by @yongfook Thursday, May 3, 12
  5. Blog • Create shareable content • Top 10 Lists •

    Interviews • Op-Ed • PICTURES! (e.g. Boston.com) • Create fans who will turn into influencers and evangelists for you. • Back-links are goood • Become recognized as an authority in your vertical / niche • Don’t write shitty filler posts - the point of the blog is to create an audience, not just to add content to the site (see previous slide for that) Mr Porter Excellent, authoritative and shareable blog content. Their business is e-commerce. Ex Growth Hacking 101 by @yongfook Thursday, May 3, 12
  6. Landing Page • Hackers! test like crazy. • Don’t fuck

    around testing your design too much. Test your incentive / value proposition and CTA. • Preserve Scent • Get Their Email Address (it’s really all you actually need) • Completing the process is the only way to leave the landing page. Groupon Different graphic assets depending on entry keyword to preserve scent: this search was for “spa coupon” Ex Growth Hacking 101 by @yongfook Thursday, May 3, 12
  7. Share & Embed 1) Create Something Worth Sharing. 2) Empower

    your users to share/like/recommend content. 3) More Users! Thursday, May 3, 12
  8. Massive APIs • Connect with Facebook / Twitter • Reduce

    friction to entry / sharing • Hackers! Retrofit other large markets to work with your site in a way beneficial to users. • AirBNB / Craigslist • Don’t forget language APIs - you too can be Big In Japan Air BNB Famously created a “Post to Craigslist” feature despite there not being an official API, in order to gain initial traction Growth Hacking 101 by @yongfook Ex Thursday, May 3, 12
  9. Social Campaign • “Retweet this to Win!” • Is this

    really social? No. • Can’t do it more than once. Boy Who Cried Wolf syndrome. • Hackers! There’s A Better Way • Leverage vanity and curiosity • Give User A some dynamic content specific to them (e.g. a horoscope) and encourage User A to tweet it. • User B learns about your company via learning something funny about User A (their friend). • Alternatively • Create content that is innately shareable e.g. Will It Blend • Hook into a recent event / topic Klout Some (most?) of Klout’s growth is driven through leveraging user vanity and curiosity: 1) Vanity of users sharing their high score 2) Curiosity of user’s friends to find out their own score Ex Growth Hacking 101 by @yongfook Thursday, May 3, 12
  10. Viral Scumbag Mechanics? In 2010 I made a game that

    at a certain point you had to invite another person in order to progress ...it worked incredibly well and it didn’t piss as many people off as I thought it would. At that middle point in the game, most users were happy to spread the word. 10,000+ users in 2 days. Thursday, May 3, 12
  11. scalable Trivia: Mount Fuji in Japan is actually a volcano

    and has been dormant since 1708 Thursday, May 3, 12
  12. Influencers Recruited over 30 trend-setting (non-celebrity) bloggers and incentivised blog

    coverage via VIP events and coupons Hackers! Sweeten the relationship with widgets for their blogs Growth Hacking 101 by @yongfook Thursday, May 3, 12
  13. Member Get Member • “Refer a friend and get a

    $25 coupon!” • Japanese users seemed less motivated to refer for cash • Test the incentive, for example “Refer 5 friends and get free shipping for 3 months!” • Some incentives work better at different stages of the customer journey e.g. a newly-activated user / a long-term user • Hackers! Remember to test the crap out of the HTML email design / message itself. Make it beautiful and personal. Gilt All group-buying and private e-commerce sites have an MGM mechanic. It’s a scalable way of acquiring pre-qualified users - costs will rise linearly with new users acquired Ex Growth Hacking 101 by @yongfook Thursday, May 3, 12
  14. Paid Search • A reliable portion of our monthly growth

    came from paid search • You need an adwords virtuoso if you want to do well in paid search • Doubly so for competitive spaces like travel / hotels • Not super-viable for startups without much funding: it takes time, it’s expensive and needs to be constantly tweaked. • Really handy for ad-hoc testing though. “Singapore Hotels” A search for “Singapore Hotels” on Google shows many companies with deep pockets: Agoda, booking.com, expedia.com - startups trying to compete head to head with these companies in Paid Search will simply run out of cash Ex Growth Hacking 101 by @yongfook Thursday, May 3, 12
  15. expensive Trivia: Archimedes discovered buoyancy, was one of the best

    mathematicians of his time and also built giant, mechanical war machines Thursday, May 3, 12
  16. Celebrity Blog • Bit of a gamble but can be

    highly effective at getting users • Depends on the size of the blog ecosystem but in Japan: 10,000++ new users from a single post • User quality varies • Can result in re-blogs, conversations • Real Example: Celebrity A (paid) wrote about us, then Celebrity B (unpaid) checked us out and wrote about us organically and enthusiastically as we were selling a brand that she loves. We ended up getting more users via Celebrity B than Celebrity A. • Best to do it in a regulated environment where there are guidelines. Ex Famous bloggers such as Xiaxue are no stranger to advertorials. Pick your audience wisely however. Growth Hacking 101 by @yongfook Thursday, May 3, 12
  17. Partnerships • An incentivised partner sending you targeted prospects is

    supremely valuable • High quality users • Try to negotiate a revenue-share, but be prepared for other costs like a revenue guarantee or an up-front payment. • In addition to rev-share offer them something they can’t already get easily e.g. build something for them for free, give them data. • Hackers! Offer something innovative. We put a whole store on their site that earned a rev-share, that they never had to manage and that seamlessly-integrated with the rest of their site. We partnered with a popular fashion destination and got banner space, a dedicated page (we put an inline-frame store on it), EDMs and more. Ex Growth Hacking 101 by @yongfook Thursday, May 3, 12