An entrepreneur and investor, John Rampton is the founder of Palo Alto, California-based Adogy, a marketing company specializing in helping startups.
As a business owner, you have to learn to attract users to your business. Scaling growth is key to every business. Without it, it’s impossible for your business to thrive online. Knowing how to scale user growth for every business is going to be different but you should have a clear plan of doing this before investing large resources behind it.
Rampton proposes 7 tips he’d used for accelerated user growth for his businesses:
1. You don’t need a growth hacker. You do need to understand psychology and human behavior. There are lots of ways to motivate users to share your product, and sometimes the process of testing these motivations is called growth hacking. But hacking is a misnomer that implies some specialized skill or unknowable blackbox. Scaling real growth always comes from the perfect pairing of product design and a built in reason to share.
2. Make a product that has to be shared to work. The most viral products in history required users to share. Think about the telephone, text messaging, and social networks. What do they have in common? They absolutely won’t work unless someone else is on the other end. If you build a product that delivers value and requires others to work properly, you have a chance at striking growth gold.
3. Nail engagement. Most companies separate their growth and engagement teams. Don’t do this. The most engaging products drive the most growth. Period. The team that’s responsible for designing hyper-engaging products should also be responsible for designing natural virality into the product. When you nail engagement you increase the opportunities you have to get users to share. To design for engagement think through the triggers that can happen throughout the day that will bring users back. Plan for your users to have a delightful experience every time they come back and user your product, and make sure you can let them know when there’s a reason to come back.
4. Don’t ask users to share, offer value. It seems like every product that’s trying to be viral asks its users to “Invite friends!” or “Share with friends!”. Instead of asking your hard-earned customers to promote for you, show them how publicizing your product benefits them. User acquisition expert Jared Allgood says “In Jott Messenger they don’t ask users to “share on Instagram”; they ask user to “find friends” on Instagram. Everyone wants to find friends, so users post a selfie and their Jott username on Instagram to find friends. It’s a soft endorsement and a subtle difference that makes all the difference when it comes to scaling users.”
5. Remove friction. The instant you show a user something awesome in your app or site, and you know that sharing with someone will add value to your user, make it seamless to post, pin, or tweet. To do this right bring testers into your office, hand them your product, and watch for when their eyes light up. That’s where you insert your natural sharing moment.
6. Make your users look funny, smart, or generous to their friends. My favorite flash sales site is TheClymb.com—they sell steeply discounted outdoor gear. They made sharing a no-brainer by offering me and my friend $25 when my friend signed up and bought his first product. I buy their stuff and I have friends and family I know would buy their stuff. I look smart and generous ($25!) when I share with them. Groupon became one of the fastest growing viral companies in the world by making their users look smart and generous. YikYak is going viral because of funny/crazy/crude content is easy to share. Make your users look awesome and they’ll be viral for you.
7. Don’t abuse your users. Sometimes a “growth hacker’s” real specialty is in tricking users into sharing unintentionally. Beware of these tactics. Avoid “send all” buttons and make sure users know where their posts will be seen. When a user trusts you with their contact list don’t abuse that trust. You may be able to drive short-term growth, but more often than not these tactics result in burned users who don’t come back. Anything that hurts retention and engagement always kills growth.
Ultimately every great growth strategy comes back to simple math. When the cost to acquire a new user is less than the lifetime value of that user, you make money. You can take that money and spend it on user acquisition, which in turn generates more money, which you can then spend on more user acquisition, which…well, you get the idea. The most predictable way to scale user growth is to know the lifetime value of a customer and then find users at a lower price. If you figure this out then the strategies above help you drive down the average cost to get a new customer and give your business a platform for scaling growth.
Originally published at www.inc.com.