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16 growth hacking tools that can give your startup a boost online

Growth hacking, a marketing technique that uses creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure, was pioneered by tech startups and remains ideally suited them. These are businesses, after all, that don’t necessarily have wads of cash to throw at marketing squads. However, one thing they do tend to have is a team of tech-savvy members who are eager to overcome challenges.

While building your own tool to overcome online marketing challenges is actually the ideal, there are plenty of easy-to-use tools out there, many of them freely available.

Validate your product

First off, you’ll probably want to validate your product. Now, you probably don’t want to spend all your time and money making a fully functional website. Instead you can use tools such as Quick MVP and Unbounce to make a launch page and test it out.


Once you have a “product” out there, you can fish the market to see how many people are biting. Some clever ways to do this would be to post some ads on Gumtree, Google or Facebook.

Both Google AdSense and Facebook Ads allow for geo-specific advertising, which means that you can accurately track your product click-through rates.

Read more: How to hack startup growth with Pay Per Click advertising

Validat.io could also come in handy. It does the market research for you, which means that you simply input your ideas while the service surveys customers on the concept using consumer panels. If you’re looking at more experimental ways of measuring your product’s success, take a look at this post.

Get people to your site

Now that you’ve validated your product, how do you increase new visitors to your new site? One way would be to organise your social networks so that you can get the most out of your existing contacts. Tools such as Nimble or MixRank are made exactly for this.

Nimble, for instance, groups your contacts across all your channels — Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, Facebook, LinkedIn, Skype, Google+, phonebook and so on — to create rich contact records that you can easily navigate.

Another way of pumping up traffic is to leverage your content by encouraging users to help spread the word. Pay with a Tweet is one way of doing this. It’s simple and sneaky: people will get access to your content but after they tweet about it.

Understanding your audience

Tools like Crazy Egg can really help you understand what users are doing when visiting your site, giving you enough data to optimise your platform.

Crazy Egg gives you a heat map for your website, which highlights where users click — thus enabling you to better understand what works and what doesn’t. Essentially, what’s hot and what’s not on your site.

Optimizely does just that. It optimises your site or app so that you can get the most from site visitors. Using A/B testing the tool enables you to test two different platforms to figure out which one works best. Alternative tools include Visual Website Optimizer and Nelio A/B Testing.

Hooking people to your site

Getting a Call to Action is critical to actually measure results of potential customers. This is where the so-called opt-in forms come in handy.

Lead generation tools like SumoMe provides the whole package. From heat maps to content forms, it promises to grow your daily email signups by 20% a day.

OptinMonster is a WordPress plugin that is said to increase you email subscriber base by 600% in less than a week. It also provides A/B testing alongside analytics.

Scroll Triggered Box is simple and free! Whenever the user reaches the bottom of the page, a popup will appear asking if they’re keen to sign up. Hello Bar is another free plugin that welcomes the user to your site, encouraging them to join the email list. It’s simple and straightforward.

Optimonk has the advantage of being easy to integrate in different site builders, from WordPress to Shoppify and Magento. It uses “intelligent” popups that appear at critical times like when the user is just about to leave the site and click the back button.

Please let us know which tools you’ve been using and how they’ve helped (or not failed) to boost your startup’s online presence.

Image: Moyan Brenn via Flickr.

Author Bio

Jacques Coetzee
Jacques grew up in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Keen to take over the world, one word at a time, he has always been interested in both politics and development and studied International Relations (BA) at Stellenbosch University. With an interest in innovation and social change, he seeks to tell the... More