Ask for the referral

Growth Hacking for Startups

Ask for the referralSpringSled founders Dan Falabella and Jeff Schwarting gave a presentation last night about growth hacking which is a way to achieve remarkable growth for very little money. The reason they were qualified to present at BoomStartup’s event is they managed to get over 100,000 signups for their project management software in less than 30 days.

The presentation began by sharing examples of other companies that have experienced massive growth; Hotmail, DropBox and Harry’s razors. Hotmail’s growth curve was virtually flat until they started putting a call to action in the footer of their mail client urging existing users to share a free email account with their friends. 15 months later the company was sold to Microsoft for millions of dollars. DropBox also provided a referral program and gave existing users and their referrals extra storage space. Harry’s razors exchanged product for referrals too.

Then they explained how their experience with growth hacking began. It didn’t start with SpringSled, it began with Toastio. Dan and Jeff dummied up a webpage called Toastio with an offer and a referral program for a product that didn’t exist. In two weeks they got seven thousand signups. That experience was transferred to SpringSled.

Part 1 – The offer

SpringSled’s offer was simple; share a link with five people and get an early place in line to use the software and get the software free for 12 months. In other words, ask for the referral and provide something of perceived value.

Part 2 – The landing page

SpringSled called itself the world’s easiest project management software and the landing page provided proof. It was simple and converts at 40% to a signup.

Part 3 – The followup

SpringSled followed up after each referral telling the user where they stood to get their 12 months of free software. The magic number was five. So if two people had signed up after being referred, the original sharer would get an email saying where they stand. The share rate was highest at one and four.

Users shared the most at 1 and 4.

Users shared the most at 1 and 4.

The follow up piece is what they believed was the critical factor. They believe it so much, that component has been spun off into its own product which they call Untorch.

Part 4 – Other factors

The starting point was paid placement on Betalist for $79. That site guarantees 150 to 200 signups for each paid listing. They had used Betalist for Toastio as well.

Another factor that was critical in this growth hack success was making it easy to share. Share buttons for Facebook and Twitter were embedded in the site and the emails. The results from Facebook accounted for most of their traffic.

Traffic from Facebook.

Traffic from Facebook.

It’s always nice when entrepreneurs are willing to share their successes with such transparency. It makes it easy for other business owners to take the valuable parts for their company and incorporate into their own marketing.

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