5 Growth Hacking Strategies for Your SaaS Start-Up

Published on January 1st, 2021

9 min read


Every company dreams of turning its small SaaS startup into a billion-dollar company. For some, they might be able to achieve their desired goals within a very short span while some might struggle to make it big even after several years because of fierce competition in their niche.

Getting ahead of your competitors and that too at a low budget is quite challenging, but not impossible. That’s what “Growth Hacking Strategy” helps you with. The term “Growth Hacking” was coined by the CEO of GrowthHackers, Sean Ellis in a blog post in 2010, which is a concept implemented by companies for accelerated growth.

From using freemium models to redirecting traffic from another site, we’re surrounded by some crazy B2B growth hacking tactics that businesses have used over time.

Here are the best 5 B2B growth hacking techniques that have been implemented by some of the top SaaS businesses that you could implement too.

  1. Viral Referral Marketing aka Referral Campaign
  2. A Pre Launch Giveaway
  3. A Free Trial
  4. Content Marketing Strategy
  5. Influencer Marketing

Growth Hack #1: Viral Referral Marketing aka Referral Campaign

Your potential customers are your best marketing channels. Once you’ve managed to gain leads, you can come up with campaigns/programs wherein your users can earn some points or credits through referral marketing.

Referral Marketing Strategy, one of the best SaaS growth hacks, works wonders for Startups as anyone would prefer trusting his/her friend’s recommendation in comparison to seeing an ad over and over again. That’s not something we say, but according to a Nielsen report, 84% of people prefer recommendations from friends and family which makes implementing a referral campaign one of the most effective B2B growth hacking strategies.

While handing out $20 for referring customers as Uber did sounds like an idea for a viral referral campaign as it helped them expand to over 50 countries within a short span of 3 years. But we recommend not to use this tactic if you’re a startup and don’t have huge amounts of money to spare. If that’s the case, giving a part of your services, such as a feature, an add-on, or free storage space is a better idea. That’s exactly what DropBox did.

They started a referral campaign that gave users an additional 500MB of storage space for each successful referral.


Their user base grew from 100k to 4M users in just 15 months skyrocketing their growth by 3900%. Now DropBox is valued at more than $12B.

Referral Marketing is something that can help you generate potential leads for your business, leading to relatively high growth if only executed properly and deployed well.

Growth Hack #2: A Pre Launch Giveaway

Creating a feeling of excitement and curiosity before even releasing the product in the market, that’s what a pre-launch giveaway does. Giving your product exclusively to a group of people either through referrals or contests is a great way to create hype for it and in exchange, you can ask them to spread the word. Try to make it as viral as possible.

Take the example of Pinterest, which has over 291M monthly active users today. It became the fastest standalone site in history to reach 10 million unique users in 2012. However, it wasn’t always the same. For the initial 3 months, they only had 3000 users, but co-founders Ben Silbermann, Evan Sharp, and Paul Sciarra decided to launch a “Pin It Forward” campaign.

Users make a pinboard and get more invites by getting friends to create the same. Today Pinterest is valued at $12.7B. Personally, it is my favorite growth marketing strategy worth trying.

Growth Hack #3: A Free Trial

Trying before buying is not a new thing. With the SaaS industry flooding with new product ideas and trying their best to drive their customer’s attention, you need to offer people more.

Like taking a test drive before buying a car. While we agree a car is far more expensive than a SaaS product, it’s important that people want to know what they’re going to get before they invest money in it. Once your target audience gets the taste of your product, it’s easier to convince them to sign up for a paid version. You can blast out emails, and newsletters, and educate them about the product.

However, you need to be very cautious with the free trial, as there’s always a possibility that the needs of the users are completely satisfied by the free version, and they might not feel it necessary to pay for additional features.

Evernote, a simple note-making and organizing software made it to the Billion Dollar Club with its freemium model. One of the biggest achievements for Evernote is that they were able to convert their freemium version to a paid one.

The easiest way to get 1 million people paying is to get 1 billion people using.”

Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote

They have a conversion rate of 3.7% which is among the highest conversion rates for a freemium model. One of the things to which they say they owe their highly boosted freemium conversion rate to high user engagement. Since people go on creating more and more memories on this platform, they find it difficult to opt out of Evernote and end up signing up for the premium version.

Growth Hack #4: Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing strategy, another growth hacking strategy, that works great for SaaS startups is having a robust content marketing strategy. It’s an easier and cost-efficient way to drive organic traffic reducing the CAC by 62%. Curating educational content for your target audience is a low-cost way to build brand trust and easily convert readers into customers.

While developing a content marketing strategy, remember that visual content generates 7.8x more traffic and gets shared 40 times more on social media, so try to use infographics, images, and videos within a blog or an article.

HubSpot, apart from being known for great growth hacking marketing tools, is also known for its amazing content marketing strategy. From educational content to videos to ebooks, they’ve it all for various buyer personas and journeys making it the go-to place for marketers and PRs.

A similar example is Buffer, which is known for its blogs more than its social media management tool.

Once you’ve designed your strategy, make sure to use the right keywords as SEO will play a very important role. An effective content marketing strategy will allow your visitors to understand your product better and will guide them through each stage of the buyer’s journey. This will eventually improve conversions by generating a continuous source of leads.

Growth Hack #5: Influencer Marketing

According to a survey report by Tomoson, “Businesses are making $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing

Based on Referral Marketing, influencer marketing is a way of leveraging experts in your niche to talk about your brand. This can work wonders at the initial stages of a startup and can help your business grow exponentially.

90% of marketers say that the ROI from influencer marketing is better than other digital marketing mediums.

One popular startup that used this and successfully acquired 10M users in just 5 years is Canva. This graphic design tool proved to be a lifesaver for many companies that don’t have an in-house designer.

Canva – Canva is a graphic-design tool website. It’s a freemium tool and a total lifesaver for companies that don’t have an in-house designer or anyone that has to do design without any skill or knowledge. It used 2 of the best growth hacking ideas– the freemium model and influencer marketing.

In 2014, 2 years after Canva was founded, they took to youtube in search of people who would’ve talked about their brand or made video tutorials. That’s when they found Guy Kawasaki – then Apple Evangelist made social media graphics with Canva. They contacted him and now he is Canva’s brand evangelist. Today Canva has been valued at $4.7B.

Final Words

These are some of the best SaaS growth hacking strategies that can help you skyrocket the growth of your business. From generating more leads to more conversions to an increase in followers to your page, or website, this is the beauty of growth hacking for SaaS – immediate results. Even the slightest improvements in your strategies can act as a step towards the success of your startup.

Author Bio


Technical Content Strategist and Inbound Analyst at FirstPrinciples, Heba is a motivated self-starter with a knack for analyzing and solving tough business problems. When not working, you can find her either reading a book, painting landscapes or sketching places she yearns to visit one day.


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