Growth hacking potential represented by a tree

Have you heard someone using the term “growth hacking” lately? It’s become a popular buzzword for marketers and techies, but should it mean anything to you as a small business owner? Yes, it should– and here’s how growth hacking can help your small business!

“Growth hacking” was a term conceived by Sean Ellis in 2010. Ellis is an influential angel investor and startup advisor who has achieved success as a marketer in his own right. In Silicon Valley, he’s frequently sought out by new startup founders thanks to his tremendous track record.

Ellis was able to take the strategies, mindsets and tactics he had learned from working with startups to help grow his own company.

Growth hacking potential represented by a tree

Eventually, he started looking for someone who could come in and take over for him. He wanted to develop a complete system that could run successfully, even if he wasn’t at the reins.

This proved to be harder than he thought. While sifting through a stack of impressive marketing resumes, he realized that he wanted to find someone who knew how to GROW a company (not just market it).

Thus the term “growth hacking” was born!

So… What is Growth Hacking?

Compared to more traditional forms of marketing or even inbound marketing, someone specializing in growth hacking only has one thing on their mind: GROWTH!

This is their all-consuming mission and creative growth hackers are always on the lookout for new ways to achieve it.

What does growth entail?

  • More visibility
  • More subscribers
  • More customers
  • Increased revenue

Growth hackers can’t just focus on one specific tactic to achieve these goals. They must leverage a variety of tools to achieve the adoption and engagement needed to truly grow. This can’t be done without a sound strategy in place.

When working with a new start-up, a growth hacker will focus on the processes that the company has in place. Some things may need to be streamlined while others may be disrupted and changed completely. This ability to completely transform a company is the reason why good growth hackers are so valuable.

This is all great, but as a small business owner you’re probably thinking, I don’t have the budget to hire on a growth hacker. Luckily, you don’t have to! We’re going to show you several growth hacking tactics that you can use for your small business. On top of that, these are viable strategies you can employ even on the strictest of marketing budgets.

How Can I Apply Growth Hacking Principles to My Business?

Do you have a signup form on your website? This is a great way to collect contact information from engaged users on your site. A common growth hacking tactic that has skyrocketed several companies is incentivizing sign ups.

Sign up form that incentivizes users

Unfortunately, many small businesses stick a sign up form on their site without really considering how they can encourage more visitors to complete the form. Site owners do it just because they know it’s something that websites are supposed to have. If you want to think like a growth hacker, then you need to take a closer look at the sign-up process you have in place.

What can you do to incentivize visitors to complete your online form? This post has some great tips that will help!

Listen to Your Fans!

Does your small business have a presence on social media? You should! The average consumer is an empowered one thanks to the plethora of information available online. If they can’t find your company on Facebook or Twitter, it can be perceived as a red flag.

Growth hackers also use social media to interact with potential customers online. Why? They are seeking feedback on their brand and yes, sometimes that feedback can be negative. Growth hackers don’t shy away from criticism; in fact they often find it extremely valuable. This feedback can be used to adjust your efforts and offerings to better match your target demographic.

You can also gain valuable feedback from visitors through your website. You might want to run an online survey or invest some time reaching out to fans through your available social channels. Do you maintain a brick and mortar location for your small business? Than you can gain some great feedback from customers in person too!

Here are 2 strategies to consider:

  1. Make sure you have Google Analytics set up for your website. Keep track of what pages and elements that users seem to enjoy on your website. Make small adjustments to better serve your users. This can also help you improve your content marketing strategy and search engine optimization (SEO).
  2. Using a reward-like a discount or special coupon, you can incentivize online visitors to leave their opinion about your current marketing efforts and offerings.

As a small business owner, time is a very valuable commodity and you might not be able to invest it in all of these growth marketing channels. We recommend focusing your efforts on a single channel to start out. Whether it’s garnering engagement through social media or email marketing, pick something that you know or feel comfortable working on.

Show Off Your Reviews

People are heavily influenced by online reviews when it comes to making a final purchasing decision. A study conducted by BrightLocal found that 79% of consumers view online reviews in the same light as a personal recommendation. That’s really significant!!

Kids react to positive online reviews about a local small business

With a growth hacking mindset, you can take things a step further and share your positive online reviews with more users through your active social media channels. Yelp lets you connect your profile with Facebook pretty easily. This will mean that all of your future Yelp reviews will also be posted to your Facebook page.

If you’re struggling to get online reviews, check out our guide to generating more reviews for your business.

Leverage Calls-to-Action (CTAs) to Drive Engagement

Want users and customers to take a certain action on your website or social media page? Then you need to ask them. Including a well thought out and obvious CTA is the single most important element on any sign up page you create for your brand. If your call-to-action doesn’t stand, then your landing page is basically useless.

How can you call more attention to your CTA? Use bigger fonts, contrasting colors and prominent placement to make sure it stands out!

You can also use CTA phrasing like “comment,” “share” and “please retweet” to garner more engagement and growth through social platforms. Just take care that your calls-to-action match the voice and tone your brand has developed.


Remember that these are by no means the only growth hacking strategies that work for small businesses. Do you have some different hacks that have worked for you? Be sure to share your favorite growth hacking strategies in the comments below!

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