3 Growth Hacks that Worked like Magic for Us

Like many of today's online marketers and entrepreneurs I am attracted to the concept of Growth Hacking. Despite plenty of well-funded criticism, the idea of 'easy fixes' with big results remains enticing. Instead of philosophizing about what does and does not classify as a growth hack, I'd like to share with you our best quick fix - big result implementations over the past years. Maybe it can inspire some of you out there.

To be able to place these hacks I guess it helps to have a frame of reference: we are an SaaS provider of live chat for website support. The following set of fixes we implemented over the past 3 years and they've worked like magic.

1. Tell-a-Friend Section

Since our launch in 2011 we used to offer a partner program in our backend area, allowing any user to become an affiliate partner of ours. This offer performed alright, not great. From customer talks and net promoter scores we knew that our customers were quite eager to spread the word about us. The 'hack' that we implemented here was to add a 'tell-a-friend' section in the backend of every user. That's every user, regardless of their position (account owner, admin, or agent). Every single operator has the option to recommend our tool to his or her friends/contacts.

userlike screenshot tell-a-friend button

Click here and you are guided to a standard but adjustable email template, including an explanation of how the referral works.

A critical success factor here is that the benefit of referring doesn't go to the referrer, like it would in affiliate marketing. Instead it goes to the 'friend': the person receiving the recommendation gets the benefit of an extended 2-month trial.

userlike screenshot recommend to your friends email

We found that addressing the 'good friend' persona in our users is much more powerful than addressing the 'moneymaker'. People are sceptical when it comes to referring things to their friends. Real friends don't spam, they only refer stuff when they think it’s really useful. When the referrer receives the benefit of sharing, the act of sharing could be regarded as selfish. On the other hand, when instead it's the friend who receives the benefit, the act of sharing is selfless.

Another important point here is that the reward should be generous, something that is clearly better than what others get. 2 months is four times longer of a trial period than what normal signups receive, so a clear benefit.

With this hack we found that personalization is key and strongly improved the results. Initially the name on the referral email was that of Userlike. When we changed it to the name of the actual referring user, it resulted in a 34% increase in signup clicks. Probably many people disregarded the email before because there was no recognition.

Another big optimization was adding the image of the referring operator. This image is standard in our dashboard, because it's the image that's shown in the Chat Window of our software to our customer's web visitors. Now we included this image automatically in the referrer email, so the friend or contact immediately relates to the person visually. This extra bit of personalization increased the response rate by another 8%.

userlike screenshot of email

All together 7% of our signups now come from tell-a-friend referrals - not a bad number considering that this system runs itself.

2. Try It Yourself bar

Like most other software company, we have too many features and benefits to communicate to our visitors all at once. Instead of only telling, we wanted our web visitors to experience them, we wanted something interactive so it would stick. And we wanted this to happen with the least effort possible.

What we came up with was a 'try it yourself' toolbar at the bottom of our home page. You simply paste the URL of your website, and our chat system is projected over this page with an overlay. This visually simulates what having a chat on your site would look like. In fact it’s the chat system of the Userlike team projected on the website, so if you click the chat button you are connected to our support team.

userlike screenshot what our customers say about us

The first benefit of this 'hack' is that it engages web visitors. Those who try out this bar stay 40% longer on the website and are 24% more likely to sign up. The second benefit of the 'try it yourself' function is that it works as a lead generation tool: we catch the URLs that are put in. There is no filter, so plenty of time we see fake URLs. Still, we regularly find genuinely interested customers as well. If those don't sign up within two weeks our sales team gives them a call.

screenshot of apple watch advert page with userlike chat widget overlay

3. Powered-By Link

This is rather a standard procedure but worth mentioning because of the great benefits it offers. The 'powered by' link appears in the Chat Window of all our customers on Free and Team products. If desired, corporate- and higher package customers are able to switch to a blank label, not re-linking to Userlike as their chat-provider.

screenshot of userlike live chat

Through all our free and team users the 'powered by' link now generates around 20% of our entire website traffic, and this proportion is growing together with our user base. Additionally, web visitors that arrive via this link are 20% more likely to sign up than the average visitor. As a side-benefit the link encourages companies to upgrade to a higher product version in order to be able to remove it. Because of these benefits I always recommend fellow entrepreneurs to have some form of branding or linking on their products, at least for their free or lower priced variants.

That's it, our top 3 growth hacks that worked like magic! We hope that they can serve as an inspiration to those of you pondering about little tricks to boost your growth. We would love to hear about the successful growth hacks you've implemented yourselves!