Examples Of Traffic Growth Hacks (And How You Can Emulate Them)

June 30, 2015 Updated: April 23, 2016

Real talk: growth hacking is market babble.

We have all heard it referenced, and we have all nodded our heads in agreement when the guy you run into at Online Marketing Conference goes into his spiel about his incredible talent with it. We all have wished we had the secret growth hacking formula so we, too, can see miraculous boosts in our traffic.

But the dirty little secret is that growth hacking isn’t really a thing, Or, more accurately, it is many things. All of which have been given this magic bullet title that doesn’t really mean anything at all.

If you want to know what growth hacking really is, it is simple… growth hacking is an idea that works. Any time someone says they came up with a traffic growth hacking method, they really mean they had a clever idea, tried it, and saw results.

Does that mean it is useless? Of course not! You want to know what those methods were, so you can try them for yourself. Because under the marketing babble and pretentious titles is good old fashioned hard work and innovation.

Here are examples of brands that did it right, and what you can take from their success.

Making Couchsurfing Marketable

Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were roommates who couldn’t afford their rent one month. They were desperate, and decided they would rent out their apartment to people who needed a temporary place to stay while a design conference was in town.

Not wanting to post on the impersonal (and risky) Craigslist, they took a photo of three air mattresses in their apartment and made their own simple website. They promised anyone staying a hot and delicious breakfast in the morning as an amenity, and the chance to stay with two decent and friendly guys instead of an overcrowded hostel.

Charging $80 a piece, they immediately got three bites, one for each mattress. This was a fantastic result for them. But it wasn’t the end of it…they started to get emails. People wanted to know when their site would be expanded for other cities.

Thus, AirBNB was born.

This was a tactic that would prove fruitful when they chose to expand. Hiring developer Nathan Blecharczyk who had formerly been a roommate, they decided to launch a full renting platform. They timed it around the Democratic National Convention this time, to catch the eye of the many people who would be traveling to the city during the time.

Again, it was incredibly successful, and AirBNB has become a powerhouse for couchsurfers, vacation renters, and thrifty visitors around the world.

How You Can Emulate Them

You can take two things away from this particular example. First, a small idea doesn’t have to stay a small idea. The creators just wanted to make rent one month, not start an empire. But demand made it clear that they had stumbled upon an incredible opportunity, and they took it.

Second, timing is everything. They wanted to find renters during a design conference that they knew would book up most hotels. Then they wanted to launch around the DNC, when the same problem would occur. People searching for accommodations during these events ended up stumbling across the website and increasing traffic.

Know what is happening around you, and use circumstances to your advantage.

Allow Others to Earn

When your business creates a market, that’s always a huge potential for rapid growth.

The easiest way is to set up an affiliate or partner program.

One of the most recent examples is KontrolFreek: They grew thanks to affiliate partnerships with influential Youtubers by giving them a way to monetize their content.

How You Can Emulate Them

Affiliate program is easy to set up. There are plenty of platforms that will help you track clicks, make payouts and stay away from fraud.

The only trick here is to make an offer no one in your industry has. PrintMePoster affiliate program is one such example: With it, you can monetize any images on your site: Simply send your visitors to print those photos as posters and get paid! Very unique!

Early User Acquisition As An Art

Anyone who has kept an eye on app connection tool Zapier might have noticed an interesting trend. They create a landing page for everything. Why would they do this when they already have a fully functional site, and they could just promote and launch integration projects from there? Early user acquisition.

Each time they launch a landing page, Zapier is getting a chance for email sign ups. This gives them access to a powerful email list, a look into what interest a new pairing is generating, and a chance to build up hype.

It is also great for SEO, which is where traffic comes in.

How You Can Emulate Them

Everyone should be chasing early sign ups, but that isn’t what you are here to read about. What you can take away from Zapier is the SEO tactic. Landing pages are a great way to up your search engine ranking. They look good to crawlers, and they are a quick and efficient means of driving people to your page.

When you have better (and natural) SEO, you have better traffic numbers. Zapier uses that to their advantage, and so can you.

Giving away…

This is the simplest of all the examples, and probably one of the most effective. Dropbox managed to drive traffic and sign ups both with a single campaign that used an incredibly obvious bait: free stuff.

When a user referred a friend to their service, both they and that friend got free storage. It was very successful.

How You Can Emulate Them

People like free stuff. If you offer it to them, they will come to your website. Straight forward, and works every time.


Don’t lose yourself in rhetoric. Growth hacking is nothing more than an interesting and clever idea being put in practice and working. Which is exactly why you can be a growth hacker, too. The examples above prove it.