June 7, 2022

What is growth hacking? We analyzed 6 B2B cases to help you understand

What is growth hacking you ask? In this article, we'll give you a full definition and general overview of how it works. We have also added some examples to give you an idea of how other companies used growth hacking to give their business a boost.

Growth hacking: what is it? Definition + 6 B2B cases.

Have you ever asked someone what growth hacking is? 

If you did, they probably reacted like this:

Let’s be real: defining growth hacking is hard. Especially explaining the ‘hacking’ part. That part scares most B2B business owners. Because ‘hacking’ is bad, right? On the contrary.

Growth hacking has become one of the most engaging forms of marketing and sales in the digital age. Based on data and experimentation, growth hacking has been implemented by B2B businesses and startups around the world. As a result, they grew exponentially and saw big increases in their revenue.

But what exactly is growth hacking? That’s exactly what we’ll cover in this blog post. We also added 6 B2B growth hacking cases to make things a bit more practical. Let’s jump into it!

What is Growth Hacking? 

If it’s effective growth you want, growth hacking is what you need. Since 2012, growth hacking has become a great way of growing your startup or business in a very effective and efficient way. Leave out the enormous marketing budgets and slow decision-making processes and you get growth hacking. 

But what is growth hacking? Growth hacking is a new form of marketing and sales. Growth hackers set up low-resource experiments and use that data to help companies achieve their growth goals. Their main focus is to continuously test and iterate until they’ve found the ‘growth hack’ that helps to skyrocket business growth. 

Why is growth hacking so different from traditional marketing? Let’s take a deeper look at how it helped some of the biggest companies gain traction and achieve business growth.

The difference between growth hacking and traditional marketing

A common misconception about growth hacking is that it’s all about setting up referral programs. While referrals are a big part of gaining traction, growth hacking is much more. It’s experimenting with new ideas and searching for new ways to attract customers that come back to your business. Forget about billboards and TV ads and think more A/B-testing and data tracking.

Growth hacking is future-proof in the sense that it’s extremely customer-focused. It’s more than creating awareness or getting customers to purchase your product or service. It is all about acquiring new customers and turning them into your ambassadors. 

But how is this different from more traditional ways of marketing? Growth hackers are always searching for new opportunities to further develop and grow their businesses. In comparison, traditional marketers are more often working on a day-to-day basis and focusing more on branding. 

A big difference is their use of the entire funnel. To realize growth and find customers that stick with your brand, it is important to look at all the parts of the funnel. Most marketers are focused on creating awareness and acquiring new customers. In a sense, their main job is to push a company’s product towards a target audience. Growth hackers look at the full buyer journey and set up experiments in order to optimize the funnel. Their goal is to turn new leads that enter the funnel into brand ambassadors at the end of the funnel.

Another big difference is agility. By setting up experiments and A/B testing, growth hackers are able to quickly detect what works and what doesn’t. Traditional marketers are often working on bigger projects with bigger budgets which, once launched, are difficult to alter or adjust when results are not as good as expected. 

This brings us to the use of data. Growth hackers love (and I really mean LOVE) to work with data. This is especially important when experimenting and testing new tactics: if it’s not backed by data, it’s not validated. While traditional marketing is more focused on brand, growth hackers are looking at their analytics to fully understand customer behaviour.

To sum up the growth hacker’s profile, a growth hacker is someone who:

  • Uses the whole funnel
  • Uses data-based decision making
  • Sets up creative experiments
  • Is agile in their execution
  • Uses analytical skills to understand their customer

6 B2B companies that saw great success with growth hacking

1. Hubspot

Everyone loves free tools. HubSpot knows that free tools are a great way to capture user data, so guess what they did?  They offered a free website grader that analysed how well the user’s website was optimised for SEO-friendliness, mobile-friendliness, and overall speed. The only thing they needed to do was fill out their website and their email address. For the user of the free tool a low price to pay. For HubSpot, a goldmine of data. 

After filling out their details, the users started receiving nurturing emails from HubSpot for their paid services. 

What HubSpot did was to give the users just enough value (in this case this was quite a lot) in order to get their data. Once they got the users' data, they were able to use this to start to upsell their premium products 

Key takeaway: Sometimes, giving away free tools or products can be a quick way of collecting users' data to ultimately get to buy more of your products or use the more expensive versions of it. 

2. Slack 

The internet makes communicating with each other as easy as opening a book. Unfortunately, this can result in an overload of e-mails and messages.  When working on a video game, Stewart Butterfield ran into the chaos of communicating with different teams via e-mail. He ended up creating a software tool to streamline internal communication at the company and make an end to the chaos of internal communication.

 The idea was received so well within his own company, that he decided to open it up for other businesses as well. In only a few days, they created a tool that would become the fastest growing SaaS-product in the world. One of the main points is that you have to have a good product. If the initial product is good, if it has a product market fit, it will sell. After that, it’s a matter of listening to the users to make it an even better product. But the main thing that you have to focus on, is the product-market fit

Key takeaway: focus on product-market fit. 

3. Mailchimp 

Mailchimp’s success didn’t happen overnight or with one big growth hack. Their growth was steady with new users coming in every day. Their biggest problem was in fact that a large portion of their users was using the free version of their services. 

But how did they manage to get their free users to switch to the premium version? The answer is data. (It always is 😉)

Using their data Mailchimp set up marketing and retargeting campaigns to get freemium users to make the change to the paid versions of the product. The main idea of the campaign was to showcase what the premium version could do and how much more value was in this premium product. The use of client data helped Mailchimp to upsell its product and achieve massive growth in 2016. 

Key Takeaway: use your data and analyse this data to identify new business and growth opportunities.

4. Grow & convert 

Another way of knowing how to market to your specified customers is to go and find them. After clearly defining the target audience Grow & Convert started searching the web for forums, blogs, and other social networks to connect with their target audience. This method led them to have a clear idea of where they had to post their content and how it was possible to get the most interaction from their target customers. 

Doing this created interest and traction within the target audience. They wanted to see more. 

Ultimately Grow & Convert started as a blog on content marketing targeted towards content marketers. The blog gave the users new insights and created an engaged community which led to Grow & Convert becoming the business it is today. 

Key takeaway: By building a community and connecting with your audience directly you create a customer base that is interested and engaged. Creating an engaged community also creates ambassadors that will talk about your product, attracting even more potential customers. 

5. Ahrefs

If you want more traffic on your website, one of the most important tasks is optimising your SEO. There are hundreds of tools, courses, and blogs on how to optimize your SEO, but how come Ahrefs is such a prominent and well-known player in this field? 

Their product works very well and helps thousands of users optimise their SEO daily. But how can you continue to generate traffic and get new users to your product?  Thinking outside the box and daring to do offline marketing could be the hack you need. 

Ahrefs was asked by Brighton SEO to sponsor the coffee cups for the convention, and this led to quite the buzz. The logo alone would not have done the trick so they asked their community what they should do with the coffee cups and one idea resonated with Ahrefs’ team. 

The idea was to use data from their SEO tool and print this on the coffee cups. Once people noticed they took to Twitter to share this clever Growth Hack, which only created more exposure for Ahrefs. But what was so clever about this hack and the simple coffee cup? It was a convention targeted toward people interested in SEO. The attendees, all have friends or followers who are interested in SEO. Thus the perfect target audience for Ahrefs. 

The people who noticed the smart marketing from Ahrefs of course wanted to share their cleverness and took to Twitter. Within days Ahrefs’ smart growth hack was all over Twitter and trending. The result? Free marketing and awareness! 

Key takeaway: As a digital firm, it sometimes still pays off to do offline marketing. We’re not talking about the giant billboards or posters on the street. But conventions and conferences could be the place to create a buzz. As you see, something as small as a coffee cup could generate an enormous amount of awareness! By looking at which conventions and conferences will have the target audience you are aiming for you could use simple yet effective marketing ideas to aim the conversation your way and create a buzz around your brand or product!

6. Flowrite 

Another great way to have people perceive your product as a must-have is the creation of urgency and the use of consumers' FoMo. That is exactly what Flowrite used to skyrocket its user base and actively get people to want to try its product. 

No one likes writing e-mails, let’s be honest. Apparently, the people at Flowrite had the same idea. Their tool forms well-written and professional e-mails based on simple instructions provided by the user of the tool. The product itself is very handy, but how do you get people excited about using it? 

When the application was still in beta, new users who wanted to sign in saw a huge waiting list. But there was one shortcut, referrals. Each referral that found its way to Flowrite’s website moved the sender up on the waiting list. This simple growth hack created a sense of urgency with the soon-to-be users and played at the fear of missing out (FOMO) of the referred customers. Each time the queuers sent out an e-mail or shared the Flowrite website they became an ambassador for Flowrite, just to be able to work with the tool. 

Key Takeaway: Create urgency and use aspiring customers’ FOMO. This creative hack made the people who wanted to use the tool ambassadors for it. They were essentially doing the marketing and creating awareness for the brand and the product. 

Recap: here’s how growth hacking can help you increase your revenue.

Growth hacking is a new way of marketing. Low-cost, data-driven experimentation is the base of most growth hacking projects. Using the full funnel, growth hackers have a complete overview of the customer journey. Through A/B testing they know what works and what doesn’t. 

Of course, you need a growth hacker’s mindset. This consists of a data-driven approach, daringness to experiment, being future-oriented and focused on the full funnel. 

As seen in the examples there is no limit to what you can accomplish with growth hacking. Every business or company can benefit from growth hacking. The possibilities are endless when it comes to implementing growth hacking into your business. 


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