Startups need to gain traction to have a viable chance of survival in the marketplace. These hacks highlight the top things startups need to consider.

By Matt Knee

Growing a business is hard. It takes hard word, dedication, time and money. Most startups are strapped for cash when they first launch, and are trying to be lean, mean, growing machines. Doing a lot on a tight budget can be difficult, which is why growth hacking is essential to quickly acquire new customers at a low cost.

So what does growth hacking entail? Growth hacking is short, quick, iterative experiments across marketing platforms and channels to whittle down to the fastest, least expensive ways to grow your business. In some cases, startups hire a “growth hacker” and in other cases, the CMO wears this hat. For startups with limited resources, we have some of the best growth hacks that you can do yourself.

Improve Customer Onboarding

Signing up first-time customers requires some careful thought. These people deserve – and often expect – a unique experience that guides them through your product or service. Just like first impressions between people, the first impression between a new customer and your brand can last a lifetime.

According to the State of SaaS report, more than half of SaaS startups in the survey were not profitable. What’s more – less than 7% of SaaS companies reach 10K users in their entire existence. As a $10B industry in North America, these numbers make you wonder what SaaS startups are missing. My guess is: customer onboarding.

What can you do?

Carefully consider how you will design your new-user flow. There are a number of different focal points companies use to get and keep new customers engaged:

  • Function:  Highlights the core functions of the site/product/service/app and provides step-by-step guidance on the best ways to use them.
  • Benefit: Explains the top benefits achieved from the site/product/service/app and how to best take advantage of those benefits.
  • Action: Walks the user through the optimal user flow, including first necessary actions or most common actions.
  • Account: Guides the user through the account setup, including profile creation, feature activation, friend connections and anything else pertinent to building out complete account information.

Up Your Site Speed

Optimal site speed is critical. Surveys by Akamai and highlight the evidence:

  • Almost half of web users expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less and will likely abandon a site that doesn’t meet those expectations
  • More than three quarters (79%) of online shoppers won’t return to a site for a repeat purchase if they have trouble with site performance
  • Almost half (44%) said they would share their poor experience with a friend

This is important information for startups, who largely rely on word of mouth to gain momentum with their product or service. Slow site speed could have that impact – in a negative fashion.

What can you do?

Google offers a tool called PageSpeed Insights that enables business owners to optimize page speed across all devices. The tool analyzes your site and offers both mobile and desktop recommendations to boost speed. Some sample suggestions include:

  • Optimizing images
  • Eliminating render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content
  • Leveraging browser caching
  • Reducing server response time

Customize Content to Drive Leads

Content marketing is quickly gaining momentum as a top way for businesses to engage and build relationships with prospects and customers. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 89% of marketers report using content marketing. Those that aren’t already using content marketing plan to: more than half of the 11% not currently implementing content marketing say they plan on starting within the next year.

What can you do?

The important thing to note about content marketing is that it is not just content creation. Great content marketing is backed by a solid strategy. More importantly, outstanding content marketing is supported by high-quality content. It can all be boiled down to three facets:

  1. Understand who your target audience(s) is/are. Build out personas by doing market research, conducting surveys and analyzing competitors.
  2. Create high-quality content that is tailored to your core audience(s). Whether you opt for in-house content creation or choose to hire a vendor, quality check your content. Great spelling and grammar are table stakes. Ensure your content really speaks to your audience and their unique needs
  3. Distribute and amplify content effectively. Great content is useless if it doesn’t get in front of the right people. Part of your content marketing strategy should include the optimal channels for amplification (LinkedIn, Twitter, Quora) and well as how you will distribute (email, website, etc.).

Growth hacking can be a beneficial way to grow your user base, increase engagement with current customers and boost retention and loyalty. No matter what stage of the startup game you currently find yourself in, these tactics and strategies can be employed to help you reach your next milestone.

Matt Knee is Founder and President of, started in 2001, makes starting and running a business simple, fast, and inexpensive for entrepreneurs and their advisors. They offer complete incorporation and LLC formation packages. To date, they have started over 50,000 companies in all 50 states.