10 Growth Hacks That SaaS Startups Need To Succeed

growth hacks

Jessica Jackley, the co-founder of Profounder defined entrepreneurship as “the pursuit of opportunities regardless of resources currently controlled”.

Talking about growth hacks, I’m sure you saw a great opportunity in your chosen software as a service vertical. And I’m also sure that you are quite passionate about pursuing it. But my question is—must you depend on your limited resources in order to reach that big milestone in your mind right now?

My answer is no.

You can share your opinion on that after reading through these collected pieces of growth insights. Down the line, I’ll be sharing some real examples too.

Success in a SaaS business means different things to different people. It could be about simple experience of 100,000% ROI via an acquisition, taking your company public for IPO or leaving some digital asset behind for your family. Whatever the case, if you are not growing enough, that milestone cannot be reached anytime soon. And that’s the essence of putting together these proven SaaS growth hacks.

What Is Growth Hacking?

In theory, this has become more of a buzzword than competitive strategy. Coined by Sean Ellis in 2010, growth hacking is the process of rapid experimentation, learning and execution of strategies for growing a business.

For most people, marketing is the only known route for growth. You can say this is the norm. However, growth hacking cuts across product development, engineering, product management, customer success, and support. Beyond customer acquisition, it could as well be the growth of human capital, customer lifetime value, and ROI. Now that you know what it is, let’s move onto the real SaaS growth hacks.

#1 Multi platform Content Distribution

You can refer to this as repurposing content. The basic premise is that a certain piece of content can be transformed and distributed in different platforms. According to Derek Halpern of Social Triggers, ‘it’s not all about content creation day in day out. Focus on getting what you’ve created into the hands of new audiences’.

Think of how you can use the same piece of content as

  • Blog post
  • Ebook
  • Infographic
  • Video
  • Slideshare

Check these 100 content distribution sites you can leverage for organic growth.

#2 App Widget Links

You know the ‘Powered By’ kind of link you see on certain web apps? That’s it. In this scenario, almost every single user exposes your SaaS product to other potential users. And the interesting thing is you don’t have to pay for the traffic generated from such links.

brand outreach

Here is an example of what I mean. Find a way to add this within your product especially for freemium users so that people using it to serve their customers will be contributing automatically to the growth of your traffic, sign ups, and paying users.

#3 Use Case Diversification

API integration has become a proven growth hack for SaaS businesses in recent years. Beyond product development, it serves many other purposes. Among many other benefits, you’ll achieve community exposure, growing brand awareness, and organic user acquisition.

The challenge is to increase diverse use cases through API integration with other high value products used by your target audience. You can begin to explore Zapier and GitHub for this purpose; also check Programmable Web’s directory of 15,000+ APIs.

#4 Iterative Onboarding

While you are making all efforts to bring in new users to product sign up pages, the prospect’s onboarding experience matters a lot. The fact is that if the number of potential customers falling off the funnel is more than normal, then you have a problem in your hands. Interestingly, you have no chance of seeing this unless you are constantly on the lookout for bottlenecks.

slack saas user onboarding

This is one of the product related hacks that makes a lot of difference in product qualified lead (PQL) conversion rate. Use periodic A/B testing to discover bottlenecks and improve your onboarding process.

#5 Influencer Marketing

Just as the name suggests, it’s simple way of leveraging influential experts and brands in your niche as a growth hacking strategy. Especially at the early stages, this alone could take your startup farther than what is possible with your personal strengths and resources. With this option, you are only limited by your imagination.

Providers of premium tools in this space like BuzzStream and NinjaOutreach have lots of resources to help you get started. Check these influencer marketing case studies for more insights.

#6 Social Proof

I guess you already know what this one means. Now think about the last time you became prospects for a particular product or service. Did you feel kind of curious around what the social proof is? Well, even psychological studies prove that a whole lot of purchase decisions are influenced by social proof. Don’t ignore this in your growth hacking strategies.

smhack testimonial

The interesting thing is that social proof affects conversion rate almost at every stage in the buyer journey or marketing funnel.

#7 Authoritative Content Marketing

If you want to leverage content marketing as a growth hack, then you have to go beyond content creation. Never forget the content in content marketing. The most interesting thing about content marketing is its potential for long term ROI in comparison to paid traffic generation.

content marketing ROI

If you are looking for content marketing strategies, here’s a post I’d recommend for you.


#8 Viral Referral Marketing Campaigns

One Nielsen study found that 92% of US consumers trust referrals from people they know. This includes buyers and users of SaaS products too. You may not be in the US, but this is a common psychology. Trust is a big factor in successful marketing and long growth of any company. So smart growth hackers leverage proactive strategies to influence other people who now refer their friends and family to products they love.

Software tools like UpViral and Viral Loops are good for such campaigns.

#9 PR Courtship

The basic thing here is simply befriending people in influential media outlets to get exposure. Yes, this is a growth hack too. But you don’t have to depend on it. You could try learning how to get media coverage for your startup.

“Successful coverage isn’t a one-time feature kind of thing. It’s about finding a way to facilitate continued coverage of your company”.

Renee Waren, Onboardly

If you do this very well, even getting backlinks to your SaaS business website will contribute to increased search engine ranking and direct traffic from these media sites. And the best thing is that these two outcomes can continue to benefit your company for a long time to come.

#10 Paid Traffic Generation

This one will contribute to a balanced healthy startup. So you don’t have to wait for the outcome of your long term strategies to generate the revenue you need to keep going.

But the trick is overspending your resources on the things that don’t scale will prolong the discovery of fatal flaws in your strategy

With paid traffic and A/B tests, you can discover the things that work and don’t work in a very short time. This is what the lean startup methodology is all about – rapid experimentation, learning, and execution. For high volume targeted traffic generation, consider Google Adwords, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

With that, you are good to go explore these hacks and build a successful startup. Don’t forget to come back and let us know how that went.

Author Bio:

authorNikhil Premanandan is currently the head of marketing at SMhack, a social media management software startup.

He likes to experiment with social media consistently and document his experiences in his blogs. He understands the hidden potential social media has and is always looking to learn. Nikhil also contributes regularly to Social Media Examiner, Jeff Bullas and Maximize Social Business.

When he’s not on social media, you can find him digging through the latest exploits of Tom Hanks and Steve Carell.

About Carson Derrow

My name is Carson Derrow I'm an entrepreneur, professional blogger, and marketer from Arkansas. I've been writing for startups and small businesses since 2012. I share the latest business news, tools, resources, and marketing tips to help startups and small businesses to grow their business.

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