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Startups are mushrooming globally. New entrepreneurs come up with their own companies that are based on creative and innovative ideas. While those ideas might be really disruptive and can change the face of the game most startups struggle to survive in the market at least for the initial period. One of the most difficult challenges that startups face is to get their name out in the market and cultivate a loyal customer base. This foundation then allows them to compete with the larger competition out there and establish themselves through better marketing and sales strategies. This is exactly why startups need better growth hacking strategies that can allow them to grow from nothing into something and provide them with the wings on which the company can fly new skies.

If you are a SaaS startup, you can try these growth hacks to set you off, at least in the beginning.

Go for Freemium Model

There is no free lunch in a business world. Well, that phrase sounds cliché, but the word ‘free’ instantly raises eyebrows and gets attention and there are no ways about it. As a startup, you would certainly want more customers that would like to use the software that you offer. However, how many people in the market really know about your software and how it works?

The answer is – you can count them on your fingers.

To get the initial kickstart you need to offer your software for free for a trial period allowing people to use it and realize how good your software is. Once they realize the potential of your software it will be easier for you to sell the software without much explanation because the consumers have already tried and tested it. Even if the software is not good enough, you can get feedback and enhance it to meet practical demands of the market.

When Hotmail launched their services way back in 1996, they leveraged a free account to entice more users to sign up and it worked for them like a charm. And not only that, every email sent from Hotmail had a banner saying “Get your free email at Hotmail”. This hack really kicked off the number of signups.

Similarly, Evernote has become a cult and people are using the program for free and when they can’t live without it, they go for the paid services. And if you are not a user yet, you can only view the note, so everyone has to become a user in order to edit it/store it. And founded in 2004, Evernote has managed to raise $251 million till date and is expected to go public in the next few years to raise even more capital. Tell me that does not work.

Offer Exclusivity

Are you offering something to your customers that no one offers? Psychologically, customers love to be a part of something exclusive and special. Hence, one of the top growth hacks to boost your SaaS is to offer them a unique feature that is available to a large group of people and they can use it and show it to their friends and contacts.

For this, you will need to look into the list of features that your software offers and find certain features that are innovative and unique and that can allow customers to stay productive. Offering exclusive features will hook your customers to your software and once you are able to entice more people to your business you can build upon it with better marketing and sales strategies.

For instance, Gmail initially was available through invites only and this allowed existing users to feel the air of exclusivity to the product because people were asking for invites to others. Pinterest followed the same strategy and they would email the prospective users that the waiting list is long, but eventually they would be accepted to join. People want to join the band the wagon and even if your SaaS is B2B – companies are still willing to invest in something that their competitors use.

Boost Up Referrals Programs

It is always better when people find out about your brand through your customers. Startups can make the best use of the word of mouth publicity and allow their loyal customers to spread the word. Referrals can do wonders for startups because they do not have to do the hard work.

In the referral system, customers automatically attract other customers and this chain works effectively to allow your business to grow in a short period of time. You may want to offer some incentives to the people that can refer as many people as they can to your business and in return you can achieve a massive growth right when you need it.

For instance, Dropbox decided to give an extra storage space to users that referred Dropbox to others. This incentive system allowed them to get rapid growth during the initial period. Since 2007, Dropbox has grown its customer base to 200 million and remains the most popular cloud file storage.

Utilize Email Marketing Channels

While most people are connected on social media websites, email still remains the primary communication tool. This means through emails you can reach out to millions of new potential customers and clients. If you have a vast email list you can reach out to them and get the right growth that you desire.

With thousands of email subscribers, you can create better ways to reach out to the people. You can use various ways to get email addresses through sticky widgets, exit pop-ups, welcome gate, contests, and by giving something away in exchange for the return.

AppSumo has been one company that has managed to build their success story on the email subscriber list and they have done it well for all these years.

Offer Killer Customer Experience

At the end of the day, customers want more than what they expect and if you can surprise your customers with an unforgettable experience you have a winning strategy in your hand.

SaaS companies often forget about how they can build software that can enhance the overall customer experience. To succeed, companies need to focus more on product development than on growth hacking, because if the software itself enhances the customer experience, users spread the word for you.

Help Scout decided to treat their customers with royalty and therefore they focused on how they can improve their customer software experience and it worked well for them.

Create Killer Content

Google’s ‘Content is King’ phrase is an eternal fundamental law that works almost everywhere and therefore you should always keep that in your mind. If you are a startup you can always make the use of a killer content strategy that can allow you to reach out to millions of people on the internet and attract it towards your software.

While there are many software and apps’ companies, Buffer managed to attract more people because they went ahead with the killer content strategy valuable and sensible content that had a lot of charts, graphs, data and studies involved. The language was simple and easy to comprehend and the tone was casual allowing people to connect at an emotional level as well.


To sum things up,

While there are many different SaaS growth hacking strategies, startups need to understand and evaluate which one will work for them the best. Perform A/B testing and see what works best for your company. Growth hacking is all about getting the initial growth, but it isn’t about following a set of rules or imitating what other SaaS companies have done before. Growth hacking is all about being innovative, testing and finding what works you and even adjusting your business plans accordingly. It also clearly implies that you need to break the law of organic evolution and come up with disruptive ideas that differentiate your business from the rest.

Got any memorable growth hack to share? Post it in the comments and help to spread the word.


by Jonas Matkevicius

Jonas is a marketing specialist at SalesChakra. He is a certified inbound marketer who drives social media engagement and optimizes content for audiences. He loves to write on sales, non profits and entrepreneurship.