small business

8 Proven Small Business Growth Hack Strategies You Need to Try in 2021

As your small business gets back into the swing of things after the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re likely looking for new ways to encourage growth. 

But many small businesses and startups need to achieve high growth at low cost — and maybe even in a short time frame. 

This is especially true if you, like many small businesses, are working hard to recover losses from the uncertainty of 2020. 

So how can you grow your business without taking too many risks or investing too much money? 

Growth hacking. 

This group of strategies helps businesses grow a lot, even when they don’t have a ton of resources. In this article, we’ll tell you exactly what growth hacking is and show you eight proven strategies for infusing new life into your business. 


What is Growth Hacking? 

Growth hacking is a collection of tactics focused exclusively on increasing your customer base at a low cost to the business. Growth hacking strategies often require creativity, innovation, and flexibility. 

At its core, growth hacking is about achieving maximum growth for minimal cost. And cost doesn’t just mean the money you spend — you also want to minimize the time and people needed to grow, so you can push your small business growth even further. 

Many growth hacking strategies connect to marketing strategies, but growth hacking impacts every area of your business. This includes sales, product development, and customer service. 

Growth hacking strategies may also work across different parts of the business to deliver the best results. In a small business, this gets easier as you and your employees likely aren’t as siloed as you would be in a large company. 

Keep in mind that growth hacking has to fit your specific business and customer needs. You’ll need to adapt the growth hacking strategies discussed below to work best in the context of your company. 


Customer-Facing Growth Hacks for Small Businesses

The first set of growth hacking strategies we’ll cover focuses on customers. 

Growth hacking as a whole works to get more customers for your business, but these strategies will be highly visible to prospective customers. 


1. Provide social proof

Consumers trust other consumers far more than they trust businesses. 

That’s why sites like Yelp exist. 

In fact, 70% of shoppers read between one and six online reviews before making a purchase. 

Customer reviews and testimonials carry a lot of weight with prospective customers. This is often called social proof — that is, evidence from other consumers that your product or service is a worthwhile purchase. 

To make it as easy as possible for your potential customers to find and be persuaded by social proof, consider including customer testimonials on your website like MozartData does.

Using pictures, quotes, and other information from real customers is a highly effective way of including social proof on your website. 

If you run a small business where reviews on Yelp or Google carry a lot of weight, consider asking your satisfied customers to leave reviews for you. 

It’s also good practice to respond to customer reviews regularly, particularly the negative ones. How you handle unhappy customers can reveal a lot about your business and earn you more customers in the long run. 


2. Offer free trials of your product

Customers often hesitate to purchase a new product for fear that they might not like it. If your product or service comes with a hefty price tag, a smart growth hacking strategy is to reduce the risk to your customers by offering a free trial. 

Free trials work best for service-based businesses or those that charge a recurring fee. Bay Alarm Medical is good at this.

By offering a free month for its medical alert service, customers can sign up with virtually no risk. 

If you run a retail business, free trials like this may not be a good fit. Instead, you can try offering sample products or setting up a generous return policy that reduces risk for the customer. 

In-person service-based businesses like salons or personal trainers can try offering free consultations. This helps get more people in your store, where you can spend more time working with the customer to meet their exact needs. 


3. Add chatbots to your website

Chatbots are appearing on more websites every day, and for a good reason: they make businesses more productive while also keeping customers happy. Win-win. 

If you’re unfamiliar with chatbots, here’s a quick overview. Chatbots automatically simulate live chat options on websites. If you visit this route planning software website, you will understand what we are talking about.

Chatbots can give simple messages or directions to customers, or they can be a lot more complex. The most advanced chatbots provide detailed customer service options that help customers solve common issues. 

You can benefit from a chatbot even if you don’t need robust customer service. 

Here are just a few ways you might use a chatbot in your small business: 

  • Prompt customers to book an appointment or consultation
  • Walk customers through the process of signing up for a service or membership
  • Answer questions about pricing or inventory
  • Provide basic information about your brick-and-mortar stores, such as hours, location, and phone number

Using a chatbot frees up your sales and customer service agents to work on more complex problems or growth hacking strategies. At the same time, customers receive immediate answers to their questions, encouraging them to convert more quickly. 

Remember that your chatbot should mimic human interactions as closely as possible. Even though consumers will know they’re just talking to a robot, they want to feel as much of a personal connection as possible. 


4. Boost your content strategy with content curation

Content marketing has long been an effective growth hacking strategy. In the age of information, businesses that can provide the best information often get the most customers. 

As a small business, you might not have the resources to launch a full-fledged content marketing strategy — and that’s okay. There are plenty of ways to accomplish content marketing on any scale. 

For instance, you can develop content for social media channels to draw leads and sales. This works especially well for in-person businesses that can show lots of images and videos of the location and products. 

Beauty salons, fitness centers, and retail stores can leverage simple social media content strategies as a part of growth hacking. 

If you have the resources to start a blog, that will likely yield the best growth. SEO was the most efficient tactic for content marketing in 2020, according to 75% of marketers. A blog is a perfect way to leverage that. 

If you don’t have those resources, you can try your hand at content curation

In this growth hacking strategy, you don’t have to develop dozens of new blog posts on your own. Instead, you’ll read other blogs, social media feeds, and newsletters to find the best content in your niche each week or month.

Then, you can create roundup posts, where you’ll direct readers to other articles or content but add your own commentary to provide a unique perspective. 

Content curation is still a lot of work, but it’s a more manageable approach to a content marketing strategy for many small businesses. 


5. Be transparent about your pricing

Have you ever been close to making a purchase, only to realize you can’t find the price for that product anywhere? 

Whether you’re shopping online or in a brick-and-mortar store, few things are more frustrating than not knowing how much something costs. 

To avoid this frustration, be as transparent as possible in your pricing. Here are a few key tactics to use as a foundation: 

  • On your website, create a clearly labeled pricing page that users can find in the top navigation menu
  • Post signs in your brick-and-mortar location listing your prices
  • Make sure each product in your inventory has a price associated with it

If you have complex or varying services, being transparent about pricing can be a lot tricker. If that’s the case for your small business, consider creating a pricing table like ActiveCampaign does on its pricing page.

Not only does ActiveCampaign clearly list the base prices for each of its four plans, but it also has interactive tools prospects can use to adjust pricing and features based on the amount of space they need and whether they function primarily in the B2C, B2B, or ecommerce space. 

For highly customized services, such as spa packages or personal training regimens, creating a consistent pricing matrix can be difficult. 

If that’s the case for you and your business, the best course of action is simply to be transparent. Provide as much pricing information as you can, and include a disclaimer that prices may vary depending on the services customers want. 


Growth Hacks for Internal Business Processes

So far, we’ve discussed growth hacking strategies that have a direct impact on customers. Now, we’ll talk about growth hacking strategies that have a more direct impact on your business operations and employees. 

These strategies still focus on growth: they’ll help you get more customers with fewer resources. But these strategies work by making your business more productive and efficient, which frees up more time and resources to focus on customers. 


6. Use Gantt charts and other task management tools

A great growth hacking strategy for businesses is to use project management tools like Gantt charts. 

Gantt charts provide an overview of an entire project or process timeline. They show the order of tasks, how long each task should take, and what tasks need to be completed before another one can start. 

When you implement a Gantt chart for your business, whether for a store opening, marketing or sales campaign launch, or another major project, your entire team will be able to keep up with progress as it happens. 

That means everyone knows exactly what they need to do and when, and nothing falls through the cracks. You’ll waste less time and fewer resources and get your projects done faster. 

You can also leverage other project management tools, such as task trackers and editorial calendars. These tools help you stay organized and give you a birds-eye view of all your business operations at once. 

At the same time, project management tools help keep your employees on track. Most tools will let you assign tasks, set automatic reminders, and otherwise keep work moving forward without requiring you to micromanage.  


7. Implement business automation wherever possible

As automation tools get better, they’re becoming easier to use. 

That’s great news for small businesses. 

Automating business processes is one of the best ways to improve efficiency and productivity across your company. 

Marketing automation alone can improve productivity by 20%

With more business automation options out there, you can automate virtually any business process. 

Here are just a few things you might be able to automate for your business: 

  • Purchase requests and sales orders
  • New hire paperwork and onboarding
  • Contract management
  • Vacation approvals and time-off requests
  • Social media posts 
  • Marketing emails
  • Appointment bookings for customers

Because plenty of business automation software connects to external tools, you can build entire automated processes. 

For instance, if a client books an appointment on your website, business automation software can instantly add that appointment to the right calendar and send confirmation emails to both the customer and the employee. 

Then, a day before the appointment, it can send a reminder email as well. 

When set up correctly, business automation allows you and your employees to spend even more time interacting directly with customers. That means you’re selling more products and generating more revenue. 


8. Outsource HR and other tasks

If there are some tasks that your business just can’t automate, you might be able to outsource them. 

Take human resources as a prime example. As a small business, you likely don’t need a full-time HR person. In these situations, small business owners either take on HR responsibilities themselves, even when they don’t have the expertise, or they hire a full-time employee who doesn’t have all that much to do. 

Both of these solutions are inefficient and a waste of valuable resources. 

Instead, small businesses can consider hiring a professional employer organization, or PEO, provider. 

PEO providers help businesses manage benefits, such as insurance, worker’s compensation, and retirement plans. They also help run payroll and support other HR needs. 

Another great avenue for outsourcing is with legal requirements. You can designate a qualified registered agent to receive legal documents on your behalf, and they’ll let you know what’s required of your business to remain compliant. 

Outsourcing administrative tasks like these can save your business a lot of time and hassle. At the same time, you’ll be working with experts who can make sure the work is done right, helping you avoid costly mistakes. 


Grow your small business to new heights in 2021

Growth hacking is a great way to give your small business a breath of fresh air in 2021. 

By focusing on maximizing growth while minimizing costs, you’ll find more efficient ways to run your business. If done well, growth hacking can lead to excellent growth that will sustain your business for years to come. 


About Appointy

We at Appointy, help business owners grow and run their businesses with our online scheduling software. This blog was a part of our ‘Manage your Business’ category, where we provide expert tips, resources, or simply talk about the challenges that small and medium businesses face every day. 

If you have any thoughts on this blog, or would like to chat about your business struggles and achievements, let us know in the comments below. 

We love a good talk!