Face it, most entrepreneurs build products and services that no one ends up using. For example, say you have a start-up and you build a team and a product. Then six months later you have a product you are happy to release. Now the day comes and you are ready to launch the product and guess what? Nothing happens.

The business creates a huge PR campaign and does a write-up for a few major publications and starts to build up a user base. Then what happens? They all usually end up not using the product or service after a few tries. This isn’t the viral growth your business was hoping, so now what do you do?

San Diego-based marketing entrepreneur Sweta Patel.
San Diego-based marketing entrepreneur Sweta Patel.

In this case businesses should not focus on creating new features; this just simply does not solve the initial problem of getting users and buyers for the product. Lets try something new in the world: growth hacking. What is growth hacking and how can it help your business?

Growth hacking is a set of tactics and best practices for dealing with user growth. These tactics will solve problems such as: getting more users, increasing the value of the lifetime users, increasing active users, and reducing the churn rate. Online businesses go wrong when they just focus on three things: traffic, users and revenue. There are four phases in the cycle and what happens in between the above three are the most important. It is imperative for every business to map out the lifecycle of their product or service.

Phase 1: Getting People To Your Website

Think about getting people to come to the website and how you will get them there. The tactics are: SEO, partnerships, blogs, contests, emails, and paid traffic. Most of the clients we work with useFacebook advertising as their primary source to acquire new users of their website. We use specific targeting methods to get people to opt-in to our database. Remember to have a core offer to intrigue them to opt-in. This can be in the form of a webinar, white paper, eBook, videos, series of infographics or even a digital magazine.

Best Practice: We promote our offers and posts on StumbleUponReddit and other popular social bookmarking sites to get attention.

Phase 2: Getting Repeat Visits To The Website

Lets use one of our favorite websites as an example for this. Quora allows users to share their answers on popular platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. It even allows you to share the questions. Now say that the user shares their question and a friend is intrigued by it. They go on the website to check their answer and automatically decide to sign up. Then a few days go by and the user receives a weekly digest from Quora based on their interests. The user goes back to Quora and is encouraged to answer related questions. At the end the user starts sharing their questions, which leads to more users on the site. As a business, think about how you will move users from one phase to the next.

Another example is dating site OKCupid.com, which uses a tour guide to help you through the sign up process.

Best Practice: Force people to sign up before they can view the content on your website.

Phase 3: Get Users To Become Active

When users love a good thing they refer it to their friends and it spreads like wildfire. The job of the business is to measure the conversion rate at EVERY phase of the lifecycle of a product. Our company uses MixPanel to measure conversion. We also use Segment.io to check on a variety of different services. Just note that in the beginning of this process the numbers may not be all that great. Do not focus on acquiring new people for a product or service if the number of active users is less than 1%. We want to make sure the users love the website and keep coming back for more information.

Best Practice: Use Facebook integration. It makes it really easy for people to share.

Lets get more in-depth by measuring the effectiveness of the traffic source. Websites with minimal amount of items on them convert better. Use a overlay to improve activation and allow users to pick from different options. We use email to get people to come back for more of our products and services. Last we use an overlay to encourage people to share on Twitter and Facebook.

Best Practice: Groupon and Living Social use two different pages to test their users. One is for direct traffic and one is for Google traffic.

Phase 4: Monetizing From The Database

We have a set of tools we use to check if we are monetizing from our website. We use unbounce to make sure our landing pages are favorable and what needs to be changed. Monetizing is all about testing and seeing what really works and what doesn’t. Then we use a website like Optimize.ly to perform A/B tests for our landing pages.

Best Practice: SwagBucks.com sends emails if you have been inactive for too long.

It is never too late to start implementing growth hacking techniques within your marketing strategy. Start with the testing and see where it takes the business!

Sweta Patel is a San Diego-based marketing entrepreneur whose start-up company is Global Marketing Tactics.