Before I begin, I’m just going to say something you probably already know; this isn’t a complete list. I call it a complete list because it’s a pretty long list, but it’s by no means exhaustive. Part of the reason for that is because growth hacking is an ongoing game. It’s all about creativity and taking advantage of your own unique situation to do something other businesses can’t do themselves. So, while I list a lot of growth hacks, there are a lot more you can use and some you can come up with yourself. That said, let’s look at the list, shall we?
Make a Referral System
What’s the best source of advertising? Word of mouth. It’s free, and people trust their friends more than they’ll ever trust a corporate message, no matter how down to earth you may be.
A referral system incentivizes word of mouth advertising. It’s also incredibly simple to set up. All you need to do is come up with rewards for your referral tiers and advertise the fact that you have them.
Anything, really. I’ve seen successful referral systems based entirely on intangible game-style achievements. You earn badges that display on your user account, but they don’t get you anything other than the prestige of being a top-tier user.
On the other side of the spectrum, I’ve seen pure monetary payments in the form of gift cards and store credit offered. Typically these would come out to be very low payouts for advertising, so it’s worth using payments as incentives. You can also use products as incentives, if your product is compelling enough that people would want to earn it rather than buy it. Free upgrades work as well, such as Dropbox’s increased storage for referrers.
To actually run a referral program, you might want to use a company like Friendbuy or S Loyalty. These services, along with many others, give you the framework for tracking and redeeming referrals without requiring that you manage code and bookkeeping yourself.
Streamline Your Sales Funnel
A referral system is an example of a detailed, advanced growth hack. It takes a lot of work to set up, but it offers ongoing rewards for potentially years to come. On the other side of the coin you have the simple, minor growth hacks. For example, streamlining your sales funnel is a simple hack that makes it easier for users to convert.
The process here is simple. Make a map of all of the ways a user can convert. Draw a circle with “converted” in it, and draw lines radiating outward. Each line is a path. Where do users come from when they convert? From each node, draw more lines reaching out to a step further away. For example, one extended path might be Facebook ad, to Facebook page, to promoted post, to blog post, to product page, to checkout page, to conversion.
Your goal is to identify any case where there are too many steps between a user and converting. Think about it this way; every click a user needs to make, every form field they fill out, is an opportunity for failure. If you can take a five-field form and prune it down to three fields, you may get less information on an opt-in, but you get more opt-ins from the lower number of stumbling blocks.
The individual effect of each change is minor, but there will be dozens of minor hacks you can make to streamline your funnel.
The art of the upsell is the art of getting a customer to buy more than they had the intention of buying. Think of this old joke, where the young salesman ends a day of work selling just a single set of fishing hooks, which leads to selling a new rod, which leads to selling a boat, which leads to selling a truck. That’s what you’re trying to do, albeit on a much less ridiculous scale.
Amazon is a great example of this with their simple “customers also bought” menu. The idea is to suggest to users that they buy something that compliments what they’re already buying. You see it all the time with computer manufacturers as well. Hey, you’re buying a computer, how about adding in a second hard drive? What about a mouse and keyboard? How about a monitor that goes well with your graphics card? You can also get a mouse pad, and a carrying case for your accessories. Want some cleaning supplies for your hardware? How about an anti-static wristband for if you have to repair your machine?
If you take your time, you can leverage a mailing list signup or a free trial into a series of upsells and get more out of a single customer than you would had they just purchased up front.
Proof of Trust
Social proof and trust seals are both important for small businesses, anyone who hasn’t built up enough of a reputation to ride on it alone.
Social proof shows up on your landing page and your product pages. It can occur in various forms, as well. For example, basic user testimonials is a good form of social proof. Users like to know that other users liked your product. Testimonials are easily faked, though, so go one step further and get detailed testimonials from influencers and power users. If you ever have a brand-name minor celebrity come through, solicit their opinion for a bit more social proof. You can also add full case studies of businesses willing to share their results.
Another form of social proof is the company logo. If you contract Sony, the United Nations or NASA as a customer, you sure as hell want to tell everyone about it. Add their logo to your landing page and you’re sure to get more sign-ups.
Trust seals are a little different. These are certifications from security companies like Norton that require you pass a security test. They’re badges that tell a user that your conversion process is certified secure. Get one, post it on your checkout page, and watch your abandoned carts disappear.
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