Best Growth Hacking Strategies for Side Business & Startup

For many people, “growth hacking” is just a buzzword. This word is becoming more and more popular over time, but many people still don’t understand what growth hacking means and what are the benefits of using it. Born out of the vision and needs of start-ups to grow quickly with little means, often relying on continuous data and testing, it uses different marketing and product approaches to rapidly expand its business. Growth Hacking optimizes the value of each user at every step of the process. “Rapidly” is the keyword. While “traditional” online marketing is focused on steady growth, the hacker aims for exponential growth.

My name is Julian Ivaldy, I have studied and developed many types of side-businesses through my digital side business studio SideFounders. I wanted to share what I have learned along the way. If you have any comments, do not hesitate to contact me, I love to challenge my point of view :)


Growth Hacking is a discipline that seeks, with the least possible expense and effort, to rapidly increase a company’s user volume or revenue. It is a great alternative to traditional acquisition and communication methods that often require significant financial means. Growth Hacking is very flexible, the strategies can be adapted to any type of company and allow to integrate creativity in growth strategies.

There are many frameworks for structuring growth hacking and its various segments. One of the most complete frameworks is probably the AARRR framework. Let’s take a closer look:


The AARRR framework refers to the 5 essential metrics used by the Growth Hacker. These 5 metrics correspond to the user’s life cycle:

Acquisition: How do visitors find you?
Activation: First user experience?
Retention: Does the user come back?
Revenue: How do you make money? Is your price justified?
Referral: Are your users happy enough to talk about it around them?

This framework helps you better understand your customers and measure their conversion through your sales funnel, it is composed of metrics that you can analyze as part of your customer journey :


In case you have micro-conversions (for example, newsletter subscription), you can break down the acquisition into different pieces measuring each of your conversions (micro & macro). Your funnel will be as good as the user you will acquire in the first step. If you convert very bad leads at the top of the funnel, you will get very few customers.

So it’s best to work on traffic acquisition to make sure you can bring a lot of qualified leads to your website. On the other hand, you can also work on conversion rate optimization. Each aspect of an AARRR funnel can be measured separately, giving you several optimization possibilities and a large margin of evolution.


Getting people to register on your site is only the first step. Many will simply register and never use your product. People who are “activated” use your product. They have logged in and started using your application.

The goal is to work on your integration so that people who connect to your product can quickly understand your value proposition and realize how your product could help them in their work. If they don’t, your leads are unlikely to be activated.


Now that people have started using your product, you want them to come back regularly. They will enter more data and really realize your value proposition. At that point, they will consider buying it.

Many people will only use your product once and never come back. The problem with them is that you waste tons of money trying to get them to use your product just to never see them again.


People now use your product, they fully understand its value and pay for it. It’s all about counting the number of customers you have: while this number is critical, it is not representative of the health of your business.

It’s not enough to just count the number of your customers and you’ll have to rely on other, more advanced metrics as well.


If you can easily get people to talk about your product and refer some of their peers, that’s a big win. The goal of this part is to count the number of people who talk about your product and invite their friends. This is the key step to stimulate organic growth.

Start-ups that can stimulate their organic growth in this way usually win big. They acquire users who will become real ambassadors and will talk about it around them, on their own networks. Once the machine is up and running, it is very common to see rapid growth!


The characteristic of growth hacking strategies is that they tend towards infinity. Between the well-known classical methods and the still unknown revolutionary techniques, the field of intervention of a growth hacker is gigantic. Here is a list of 20 growth hacking techniques that are referenced, cited, and used by many companies

1. Take advantage of the competition:

One of the first things you should do is to check what the competition is doing. Who is your direct competition? How long have they been in the market? Who are their clients? Find out what are the Growth Hacking strategies they use to get traffic and to build customer loyalty. Study what keywords they use and how they are positioning themselves to implement a much more elaborate strategy.

2. Content Marketing:

Generate valuable content that educates your customers. Having a blog is always a good option to position yourself as a content benchmark in the industry. Today’s influencers are media, forget the old content repetitive and without added value, create your marketing content by highlighting your teams, their expertise, their contribution to the product/service you sell, be human!

3. Brand partnerships:

In the beginning, it is important that you have alliances with other companies to help you have more visibility. This helps generate a lot of noise in social networks and is a great marketing strategy that benefits both companies. It will also help increase visits to your website and generate new customer leads. Participate to live & multiply your visibility.

4. Enhance your social networks:

A good Social Media strategy will help you have a greater presence. Take into account your target audience so you can define which social network best suits their needs and expectations. Automate your social networks, engage, and partner.

5. Use Referral Marketing:

There is nothing more powerful than recommendations from your customers. When your friends, family, or partner tell you about a product that got them out of a jam or a service that made them live a different experience, chances are you’ll want to run out and buy that good or service. The same goes for your customers. Besides, the cost of this is very low. You didn’t need to place an ad, pay for advertising, etc. All you have to do is make sure that each customer has the best possible shopping experience, no matter if they bought a lot or a little, make them feel like they are your most important buyer. A happy customer will always speak well of you.

6. Use gamification to capture your customers:

In the beginning, it can be complicated to attract clients, however, if you use different strategies it will be easier to capture their attention. With gamification, you can create a fun process for your customers to get involved with your product. A trivia or guessing game can be a good option to give them information about what you sell and how it can help them.

7. Optimize your call to action:

A common occurrence is that companies place forms on their website to capture leads and make them extremely long. This only causes customers to get bored and not want to finish filling out their data. Try to make a basic form and ask the necessary questions, personal data such as e-mail address or phone number should come last. If possible, try a less brutal format than a contact form? A Free Audit? Sending a guide?

8. Use cold emailing:

Right from the opening line, the ultimate aim of the cold email is to get the viewer to read through your pitch and respond to it. Here is a sample cold email template that you can refer to while drafting your own email to your prospects and increasing your sales.

9. Highlight success stories:

Your customers’ feedback makes a big difference in acquiring new users. People are willing to buy a good or service recommended by someone else who already has the experience. If you get a good opinion from a customer, be sure to share it on your social networks so everyone can know about it.

10. Create your army:

I encourage all entrepreneurs to have an army at their disposal. An army? A list of Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. accounts ready to support all your actions to make as much noise as possible. It can be an ambassador list or a list of old unused accounts…

11. Mailing and Nurturing:

If your forms have worked and you have captured a generous amount of leads, the work does not end there. You must create a strategy to start educating and nurturing these leads until they are ready to buy.

12. Send personalized gifts to your customers:

On special dates such as Christmas, New Year’s, birthdays, among others, it’s a good idea to send gifts. Even a handwritten note makes a big difference. What usually happens is that clients receive the gifts and comment on them with their closest contacts or they also post them on social networks and this helps you have more presence.

13. Make sure you have an SEO friendly website:

Your website is a fundamental piece to attract new customers, so it must be optimized for search engines. Concentrate on establishing keywords that will be present in the first 100 words that your visitors see when they enter the website.

14. SEM:

Besides having an SEO strategy, ads are a great help to reach thousands of people on the Internet. Keep in mind that your ads should be well segmented and not spam.

15. Organize events related to your industry:

Consider that by creating these types of events you will increase your visibility and you will be able to attract new consumers. This will also help your reputation as a brand by generating content for the industry and having new contacts.

16. Perform A/B tests:

Take advantage of this functionality and do a test to try out some web buttons or email subject headers to identify which of the options your users prefer.

17. Be creative and use Storytelling:

By creating a story that portrays how your product makes the lives of thousands of people easier, the sale will be easier. Try to create an emotional and inspirational story to engage people much more quickly.

18. Optimize your UX/UI:

If your website has a nice design, it will help improve interaction with people. The colors, the time of loading the page, the buttons, among others; are elements that at the beginning can seem secondary, but they have great relevance at the moment of interacting on the web.

19. Give benefits through downloadables:

Besides having forms, it is important that you offer your potential customers valuable content. For example, you can offer them a downloadable with a guide of marketing strategy steps, some manual, templates to organize tasks, etc.

20. Use a pop-up window to offer a demo:

This can be a great alternative to capture the attention of users and offer them a benefit. When your users are about to leave your site, this window will help you interact with them again and prevent them from leaving.

They did it, why not you?

Hotmail, Pinterest, Dropbox, Reddit, all these large companies have one thing in common: they have set up a reflection aimed at boosting their growth by using unconventional techniques. And the least we can say is that these growth hacking techniques have perfectly achieved their goal.


Make your customers talk without them doing it.
By adding the sentence “Get your free email address on Hotmail” at the end of each email sent by users of its service, the company has been able to exploit and develop a significant growth in terms of visibility, thanks to its current customers.

Hotmail’s master trick is to make advertising totally hidden and transparent to the trusted people of the Internet users using the service. Thus, with this simple sentence as attractive as it is intriguing, the company has won over many people and developed extremely important visibility.


Show how excellent the service offered is, even if it is not 100% natural.
Pinterest has decided to invest in qualified people to create attractive and desirable content. As a result, by configuring the newcomer’s account to automatically follow a group of these qualified people, the user immediately finds himself with quality content, making him want to stay on the platform.

More than in acquisition, this “hack” lies more in user retention, once the service is discovered. Nevertheless, it does allow for the acquisition of new users, thanks to the word of mouth that current users will generate because of this desirable content, which is very specific to Pinterest.


Encourage conversation by offering privileges to “talkers”.
Dropbox offered more storage space to referrers and acted as “sponsors” for new users of the storage solution.

As such, the company offers to encourage customers to talk in order to benefit from exclusive advantages, while participating in the development of Dropbox by generating conversations. This word-of-mouth, more than provoked, has allowed Dropbox to reach the success and notoriety it enjoys today.


If you don’t have anyone on your site: be schizophrenic
The technique developed by Reddit in its early days is far less commendable than its compatriots: the founders deliberately created fake profiles in order to give the illusion of a very popular site (through the submission of various contents).

This type of technique, totally discouraged by purists and people with “ethics”, has proven its worth and demonstrates that growth hacking is often at the frontiers of legality and respect for the Internet user or consumer.

I hope that this article and especially the growth hacking strategies I mentioned will inspire you for your own growth hacking actions. However, the great quality of a growth manager is to be agile, to understand and adapt to a specific sector in order to invent new ideas.

Growth hacking is not a science, it is a quest for the strategy that will work for your business. Some of your growth hacking strategies will fail. That’s fine. Stop doing these things and take the next step immediately. That’s how a growth hacker’s mindset works.

Hi! It’s Julian (Nomad Pirate)