Digital Growth Strategies: 23 Ways To Grow Fast Online

by Josh Barney
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Digital growth strategies will be a hot topic as long as the internet drives buying decisions. 

In other words, they’re here to stay. 

If you’re managing a digital business, running marketing campaigns online or are on the verge of launching a start-up – digital growth strategies are almost definitely on your mind. 

In this article, we’ll reveal the tips, tactics and strategies that have taken some serious industry leaders to the top, as well as studying the facts, making a few future predictions and dissecting the ingredients of rapid digital growth. 

But before we get into the strategies, you need to have the fundamentals of digital marketing in place…

Getting The Basics Right

marketing conversion funnel digital growth strategies

You can’t build a solid house without foundations, and you can’t implement digital growth strategies without solid digital marketing principles in place. 

It’s tempting to skip ahead to the big picture strategies and tactics that are really going to elevate your game, but without the basics, even the most intricate strategies will fall on their face. 

The basics of digital marketing require patience and effort – perfect them before doing anything else.

Here are a few of the fundamentals of digital marketing that you’ll need to get right before implementing a digital growth strategy: 

Know Your Target Market

At its most basic, marketing is nothing more than presenting your offer/business to the right people. 

You need to know everything about those ‘right people’.

If you haven’t got a detailed understanding of your target market, you haven’t got enough. 

And even then, your knowledge can quickly become outdated. 

customer avatar digital marketing
Einstein Marketer’s free Customer Avatar template is available via the blog.

Before doing anything else, create a customer avatar of your target market. Think about your ideal customer and complete an avatar that digs into every aspect of their life. 

This will inform your offers, targeting, marketing channels and digital growth strategy.

When you’re done making one, create more customer avatars for different segments of your market and always keep them updated. 

Competitor Research 

After researching your ideal customer, it’s time to research your competitors. 

Your competitors will have already spent vast sums on digital marketing – particularly on testing and optimising their performance. 

similar web competitor research
A screenshot from SimilarWeb, a competitor research traffic tool.

Purely by researching your competitor’s strategies, you can hit the ground running (more or less), save money and take a shortcut to win channels. 

If you’re stuck for places to start with your competitor research, check out our recent guide about the Digital Marketing Budget – it includes 3 tools that offer an insight into your competitor’s tactics. 

Build and Track 

A website, lead generation strategy, sales structure and tracking tools are crucial to your success. 

It’s great if your digital growth strategy drives tons of interested people to your website, but not so if you aren’t extracting every last opportunity from them. 

create facebook pixel
Having a Facebook pixel installed on your website is vital to your current and future marketing campaigns.

Create sales funnels, consider your customer’s journey and ensure that every step along the way is tracked. 

Install pixels from advertisers like Facebook ASAP and create tracking events – even if you aren’t advertising, this data will rack up until the day you are. 

Capture leads at every opportunity by using offers (aka lead magnets) and continuously study your landing pages and CTAs. 

Create Content

Every modern digital business needs to create content. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean long-form content like blogs, podcasts and videos – it can mean short-form like social media posts or advertising creatives. 

BTW: Discover 10 Social Media Content Creator Strategies to optimise your time and social performance.

Content generates followers, traffic and leads – making it a must. 

The key to successful content marketing is your ability to target your audience’s problems and help them overcome them.

Consult your customer avatar before creating anything, and use it to come up with new ideas.

It’s advisable to optimise your content creation too. You can do this by making your content go as far as possible. I’d recommend repurposing and multiplying everything you create

23 Digital Growth Strategies & Tactics

When your fundamentals are in order, the sky’s the limit – especially when you’re implementing a digital growth strategy that targets rapid growth. 

Here are 23 of the best tried and tested growth strategies…

Free Stuff

Trust is a crucial, yet immeasurable commodity – and one of the most important determining factors in a prospect’s buying decisions.

The easiest way to build trust is exposure to your business’s products, services, offers and knowledge – and the best way to increase this exposure is to offer it for free. 

free offer quote josh barney

Free reduces risk in the buyer’s mentality – the only thing on the line is their time, and although this is very precious, it’s much easier to acquire than your prospect’s money. 

There are a number of ways of offering ‘free stuff’ to your prospects, and there are tons of businesses who have used this growth strategy to achieve rapid market advancements in a short space of time. 

The Free Package

Spotify is a great example of this. As well as their Premium service, they also offer a free service that monetises via ad-delivery. 

spotify user growth stats
Spotify owes much of their rapid digital growth to their free package offer, as can be seen in this User Growth chart.

At 155 million Premium subscribers and 345 monthly active users (Q4 2020), it’s clear to see a correlation between the growth of their free service and those that buy their premium package. 

This model is particularly relevant for SAAS businesses, with its success reliant on limiting product features to ‘free’ subscribers. 

Create a free package and up-sell offers to your paid package. 

The Free Trial

Free trials work on the basis of offering a prospect the chance to test-drive a product/service for a limited period of time. 

Free trials allow prospects to:

  • Build trust
  • Personalise the product/service to their needs
  • Integrate the product/service into their processes
netflix free trial growth strategy
Netflix used a 30-day free trial as a digital growth strategy.

An industry leader who used this model to dramatically increase their market share and create rapid digital growth is Netflix. 

In 2012, Netflix launched in the UK, using a Free Trial offer as one of its primary growth tactics. In Q3 2020, they now have more than 15 million users in the UK alone (Source). 

netflix user growth paid subscribers
Netflix’s rapid growth can be seen here. In Q4 2020, the company had grown to more than 200 million paid subscribers worldwide (Source).

Free Content 

Free content (like this blog) is a great way to drive traffic and generate brand exposure, as well as presenting website owners with the chance to make offers to their visitors. 

But, in the case of this digital growth article, it isn’t the type of free content that I’m suggesting. 

A key to capturing more sales is generating leads, and one of the most effective ways to do that online is with a lead magnet. 

lead magnet growth strategy
A lead magnet cheat sheet with templates by Einstein Marketer.

Lead magnets are offers that are made to prospects in exchange for their contact information – usually in the form of content like an ebook, guide, cheatsheet, template or another type of downloadable PDF. 

If you’ve ever given your email address to a brand in exchange for a downloadable commodity, you’ve been captured as a lead. 

Lead magnets allow brands to grow their email list and build out their sales pipeline – generating new customers for businesses of all sizes. 

Free content makes for an easy and accessible growth strategy. 

Easy Transition 

Separating a customer from a competing business is a tough task, especially when they’ve been working together for an extended period of time. 

However, some brands have been able to get over this hurdle by making the transition completely seamless.

Strength and growth come only for through continuous effort and struggle. 

Napoleon Hill

Sometimes great offers aren’t enough to pry a loyal customer away from their favourite brands – even the opportunity to save money or receive a more well-rounded service might not be enough.

Customers are often tied into contracts, or made to feel committed to a brand that they do regular business with. 

And this is why a brilliant digital growth strategy can be to alleviate this problem, and make the transition free, easy and effectively taken out of your prospects’ hands.

Dedicated Migration Teams

If you’re in an industry that relies on recurring payments, e.g. a subscription-based payment model, you’ll know the importance of stick rate. Many businesses in this space will do anything to increase loyalty and retain their existing customers. 

To combat this, you should do whatever you can to make the transition to your business easy. A great way to do this is with a dedicated migration team. 

convertkit migration team growth strategy

A ‘migration team’ are responsible for onboarding new customers, whilst retaining their existing personalised options. 

The last thing that a new client wants is ‘work’ – a dedicated migration team can do the work for them – aiding your brand and becoming an effective digital growth strategy. 

One business that has used this technique is ConvertKit. Their service offers a ‘concierge migration service’.

The concierge team visit whatever tool their new customer is using, scrapes their information and imports it into ConvertKit – effectively transferring their existing data and personalised service into their CRM. 

Automated Transitions

Humans can personalise a transition and onboarding service, but they are expensive and relatively slow in comparison to AI. 

Tools like Zapier and IFTTT offer trigger and behaviour automations between tools, allowing you to link up different software and create automated transitions. 

xapier ifttt automate growth strategy
Zapier and IFTTT are the market leaders in automation between tools and software.

Tags and automated drip email campaigns should also be implemented to ensure that the correct customer receives the correct service. 

UK Mobile networks have been using automated services to smooth the transition for new customers. 

Historically, moving networks had meant sacrificing your mobile number, paying to keep it or going through an irritating call centre process to receive a code for a new network. 

pac code uk mobile network transitions
An example from GiffGaff of how users can easily transfer their number and personalise their service.

Now that the law has changed, mobile users can change networks and keep their mobile number simply by sending a text message. This has seen many mobile networks using this instant service as a key selling point.

User/Customer Satisfaction

Digital growth doesn’t always rely on intricate or technical strategies – it also pays to be great at what you do. 

User satisfaction might sound like a given, but it’s something that is often overlooked by companies who are hyper-focused on micro-moments or tactics that have worked for others. 

Above everything else, providing a great service will generate referrals, repeat custom and high stick rate.

Quality in a product or service isn’t what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it. 

Peter Drucker

Place user satisfaction at the core of your digital growth strategies. 

Aim to go above and beyond your rivals before you’re established in your industry – this will buy credit from your customers before you scale your campaigns

User Journey Optimisation 

The user journey from cold visitor, to prospect, to lead, to customer, needs to be as slick as possible. 

Your aim should be to reduce friction at each step, offering the user a personalised improvement in their status as they progress through the journey. 

Sticking points that frustrate, irritate or disorientate your prospect will be enough to lose future business. 

You must place yourself in your prospect’s shoes and streamline the process, making it satisfying for your customers.

Regularly review and analyse the UX of your website and sales processes, visualise your journey as a ‘funnel’, and always ask users for feedback.

In the early days of the internet, Google were not the dominant players in the search engine market, but their focus on what their user’s wanted, rather than what they thought they wanted, has led them to own a huge slice of the market.

old yahoo homepage
The Yahoo! search engine was a market leader, but their overcomplicated home page and mixed messages saw them lose out to Google.

Their competitors, AOL, AskJeeves and Yahoo! lost out, as they broadened their services to news, email and other, whilst Google refined their search algorithms for their user’s journey.

Product Optimisation 

Great products create word-of-mouth referrals – one of the most powerful growth marketing byproducts. 

Word-of-mouth also creates social proof, tapping into a psychological factor that can influence prospective buyers who are on the fence. 

Digital products are never complete – there are always features that can be added and elements that can be tweaked and adapted based on customer feedback. 

slack daily active users chart

Use analytical reporting tools to better understand how your customers are using your product/service – and optimise with the data!

Slack is a brand who grew rapidly via word-of-mouth. Their service launched with 8,000 active users in 2013, but with the help of their excellent customer support system and product enthusiasm from their early adopters, they had 12 million+ daily active users in 2020. (Source).

Instant Indoctrination

Companies that grow fast, indoctrinate new customers fast.

Instant indoctrination in growth marketing means teaching a new customer the ways of your brand and product as soon as they are onboarded. 

An example of product tour software from Intercom. Tools like this help to indoctrinate new users.

This cements your new customer’s place inside your business and immediately gets the ball rolling for them. 

This might sound like a technically structured process, but it’s actually very simple to implement when you consider your customer’s journey and where they are when they first enter your business. 

Community Indoctrination

A great way to get your new customer stuck into your product is via a community of existing customers. 

Community indoctrination can easily be created in exclusive Facebook Groups, Member Forums, Slack Chats or Twitter Groups. 

facebook groups community indoctrination

These communities are free to create, easy to access and for the most part, will run themselves with a small amount of moderation. 

Twitter used community indoctorination to their benefit. They saw an increase in user numbers and stick rate when they adjusted their sign-up process to include a step that asks new users to follow people on Twitter – including famous and well-known Twitter users. 

twitter groups growth strategy
After signing up on Twitter, new users are asked to add interests and follow appropriate users.

This new step immediately indoctrinated new users into the Twitter way – instead of seeing a blank Twitter feed. 

Product Demonstration And Tips

A commonly used and very effective way to indoctrinate new users is to provide them with a product demo and some tips and tactics for using their new purchase. 

A welcome video product tour from Koding.

Think video guides, ebooks and cheat sheets that are sent out to new customers as soon they purchase or sign-up with a business.

Where possible, use customer reviews and testimonials to understand what aspect they found most useful and surprising about your product – and create content based on this knowledge. 

Referral Incentives

Given what we know about social proof and the power of word-of-mouth, it makes perfect sense that incentivising your existing customers to make referrals is an awesome growth strategy. 

Referral incentives create wins for everyone involved: your existing customer gains something, your new customer gains access to your product and you capture a new customer. 

This type of digital growth strategy has psychology on its side too – in addition to social proof, referral incentives effectively turn your existing customers into salesmen and brand advocates, making them feel more aligned with your brand and its values. 

If you haven’t already, think about what would incentivise your existing customers to invite their like minded peers. 

Product Add-ons

If your existing products or services don’t have upsells and add-ons, you’re missing a massive opportunity. 

Upsells and offer bumps can really increase your average customer value – making them a must for digital businesses. 

dropbox referral incentive growth strategy
A product add-on referral incentive from Dropbox.

These upsells and add-ons also make brilliant incentives, that in most cases, won’t cost your business a penny. 

Offer them to customers in exchange for referrals as a cheap and effective growth strategy. 

A famous example of this is Dropbox. They incentivised their customers to refer others by offering greater storage space for their files.

This offer has proven so successful for Dropbox that they are still running the promotion

Financial Offer 

If your product doesn’t have an upsell or add-on that’s attractive enough to generate referrals (you should make one!), you could try using a financial offer. 

This type of incentive is as simple as offering your customers some sort of financial gain in exchange for referring new customers to your business. 

etoro referral incentive growth strategy
eToro use a financial referral incentive as a digital growth strategy.

Consider cashback on a purchase, vouchers for future purchases with your business, or a straightforward cash reward.

There are many businesses who use this type of referral incentive to generate fast digital growth, a few examples include: 

  • eToro offer £50 per referral
  • TransferWise offer £50 for every 3 referred friends who transfer over £200 on their platform

Get and Give

As well as offering your customers the chance to gain something by referring new customers, you can also offer them the opportunity to give something to peers that they refer. 

give and get referral incentive aspire
An example of a give and get referral incentive from Aspire.

These ‘Get and Give’ referral incentives can act as a brilliant growth strategy, as it doubles the sharing incentive. 

One company who has used this growth strategy is Uber. When their app was still a burgeoning company, the new age taxi service offered a give and get referral incentive that gave referrers 10 Uber credits, in addition to giving 10 Uber credits to the people they referred. 

uber give and get referral incentive
A screenshot of Uber’s growth strategy.

If you’re already using a financial or product add-on referral incentive, it might be worth splitting that incentive up to create a give and get growth strategy offer. 

Reviews and Testimonials 

Landing pages need reviews and testimonials. They’re a form of social proof that you simply cannot do without. 

This type of bottom of funnel content is crucial to growth and sales, particularly when proving your trust and credibility to new prospects. 

A testimonial video from the landing page of our EMC event.

There are a number of ways to use reviews and testimonials as a digital growth strategy, but before you can use them, you need to generate them. 

This means: 

  • Incentivising honest reviews (not fake or forced positive reviews)
  • Prompting existing customers to make reviews
  • Reaching out to your brand fans for testimonials
  • Adopting different mediums – written, audio and video – for your content

Direct Your Reviews

Many of your reviews will be vague and difficult to use on landing pages. 

At Einstein Marketer, we always try to direct reviews to generate content that converts new customers. 

Instead of leaving a blank box for customers to write their review in, ask them questions that would be relevant to a new customer, for example: 

  • What would you say to somebody who is thinking about buying from us? 
  • What was your biggest problem before using our service? 
  • How has our product affected your business? 

Ask relevant questions that alleviate any concerns that prospective customers might have about your business. 

Manage Reviews

You cannot please everyone  – there are always going to be circumstantial mistakes or gaps in your service. 

Negative reviews are fine, they give you glimpses into gaps in your product and will help inform your development decisions. 

Source

When you receive a negative review or testimonial, you must manage it. This means responding to it, finding solutions and doing all you can to help. 

It’s inevitable that some prospective customers will see the negative review – a thorough and helpful reply will demonstrate that you have an active interest in helping customers.

Don’t react angrily or ignore the negative comments, they’re just as important as your 5 star reviews. 

Third-Party Review Platforms

Fake reviews and testimonials have been a problem for as long as businesses have sold products on the internet. 

This objection can be handled by using third-party specialist review websites. 

These websites and apps are clearly managed by an external company, who’s stakeholders have completely different objectives to your own. 

trustpilot review score einstein marketer
Einstein Marketer’s score on TrustPilot.

Websites like Trustpilot have become a key researching tool for prospective customers. Set-up a profile for your company and manage the responses!

If there are any industry-specific review companies for your niche, ensure that you have a presence there too. A good example of this is TripAdvisor, their app has become a make-or-break resource for many businesses involved in the hospitality industry.  

Influencers

A modern day marketing growth strategy, the use of influencers stretches further than Instagram. 

Influencers are people who have the attention of your target market. 

The more attention an influencer commands and the more relevant their audience is to your target market, the better this growth strategy will be for your business. 

Rachel David explains how influencers have transformed digital marketing at her TEDx talk in Vancouver.

An influencer marketing strategy doesn’t always require outreach via agents and specialist influencer communities  – a great campaign can be built from your own network and friends, and can be one of the most cost effective ways of bootstrapping growth. 

Your Network

Unless you’re completely new to your industry, you probably know a few relevant people within your industry – so why not reach out to them? 

This type of influencer marketing is like word-of-mouth on steroids.

You speak to industry relevant connections and offer them trials, incentives and test-runs with your product. If they like it, you could ask them to share it with others, or incentivise them to generate referrals. 

In some cases, the most valuable connections to your business’s growth are already in your phonebook. It can be difficult asking your existing peers and connections – but it’s your obligation as a business owner or marketer to do everything to grow your business. 

Get on the phone and reach out to your network to harness this digital growth strategy. 

Conclusion 

Is that enough digital growth strategy ideas and examples to inspire your future marketing campaigns? 

No matter how big your marketing budget, or where your business is on its journey (even if you haven’t launched yet) there is always a growth strategy that will fit your business. 

You can grow fast, as long as you understand your market, have solid digital marketing fundamentals in place and pick a growth strategy that fits your niche. 

Just remember, rapid growth requires repaid scaling – so make sure you’ve planned ahead and have a cashflow strategy in place. 

If you have any digital growth strategies or ideas to add to our collection, use the comments below. If they’re great, we’ll add them when we update our growth strategy article!

Josh is the Founder of We Imagine Media, an award-winning content marketer and best selling author. He creates and strategises content, sharing the most successful tactics with his lovely audience. He hates writing in the third person, follow him on the social links (above) so he can get back to writing as himself.

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