Growth Hacking Case Studies

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

How do you grow a business quickly, using unconventional tactics that cost little or no money? In this lesson, we'll take a look at a few examples of businesses that implemented growth hacking to take it to the next level.

Growth Hacking

Someone once said, ''If you're not growing, you're dying.'' Marketers have taken this saying to heart and run with it in a concept known as growth hacking. Though it sounds ominous (think about computer ''hackers''), growth hacking is actually a positive - and important - concept, particularly for start-up businesses.

Growth hacking is about building a business quickly with minimal expense.
growth, hacking, growing, dying

Growth hacking is concerned with growing a business as quickly as possible using strategies that cost little or no money. It requires an outside-the-box approach to marketing, by trying strategies and tactics that might be considered non-traditional or unconventional. Growth hacking is most commonly seen in the areas of content marketing, social media, and email - all choices that cause very little damage to a marketers' wallet.

So, who are some leaders we can look to in the growth hacking arena? Below, you'll find short case studies for several popular brands you've probably heard of. Each has used growth hacking successfully to take its business from non-existent to ''leader of the pack.''

Case Studies

From a hospitality industry disruptor to a music industry giant, growth hacking has worked wonders for these businesses. See how many you're not only familiar with, but have become a part of your daily life.


Founded in 2008, Airbnb has grown from contender to leader for vacationers looking to get the best bang for their buck when traveling to another city or country. Its disruption of the typical hotel/motel model in the hospitality industry has not gone unnoticed by its competitors. Why? Growth hacking.

Not yet 10 years old, Airbnb succeeded early in its business model by thinking outside the box in terms of reaching the most consumers in the most economical way. They managed it by leveraging an online platform that was already raking in the traffic, an online classified ad-based site known as Craigslist.

To accelerate its growth, Airbnb created a listing model that allowed - and even encouraged - its listers to crosspost their apartment, condo or house on both the Airbnb site and the Craigslist site. By creating listings on not one, but two websites, particularly a site with already high traffic numbers, Airbnb gained brand awareness as well as customers. In 2017, the company is on track for 100 million stays, a pretty impressive number considering the brand hasn't even celebrated its 10th anniversary.


If you've ever purchased anything online, chances are you've used, or at least been exposed to, the online payment system known as PayPal. Using growth hacking strategies, the company managed to grow from one million to five million users from March to the summer of 2000. At the time, PayPal was still a toddler, just two years old.

So, how did they do it? By incentivizing new users. Early on, PayPal would give $20 to each new customer, eventually backing off to $10, then $5, then nothing. Giving new users a cash incentive for joining proved to be lucrative for the company, which is now worth more than $50 billion. You may see it as ''buying'' customers - and it is, in a way. But, it was a small price to pay early on to get to the stratosphere where the company now resides.


Are you one of the more than 140 million active users of this pioneering music platform? Spotify, born in 2006, experienced exponential growth as a result of growth hacking. When Spotify hit the music scene, it wasn't alone in its model. It did, however, offer differences, such as the ability to create playlists and a free version featuring company ads.

Where it experienced the largest growth was through its partnership with social media network Facebook, increasing its web traffic to more than a million people in a four-month time period. Integrating its platform with Facebook, such as playing music from the social media site or sharing songs inside Facebook messenger, gave Spotify an edge and a full one million new users in a one-month period.

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