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5 Real Growth Hacking Strategies for SaaS Companies

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It’s become a tired phrase in the digital marketing space, but like it or not, SaaS growth hacking is alive and well. Or at least the philosophy behind it is. 

Despite its buzzword status, the core idea of growth hacking remains incredibly relevant for SaaS companies trying to grow their brand in an increasingly crowded online space. 

But what is growth hacking? At Foundation, we define it as “a set of unconventional marketing experiments aimed at achieving business growth.” Its focus is on rapid experimentation, leveraging data and technology to find the most effective, cost-efficient ways to grow a business.

Growth hacking isn’t about chasing shortcuts but embracing a scrappy mindset and constantly experimenting with low-cost, high-ROI tactics. 

In this post, we’ll take a look at five low-cost SaaS growth hacking tactics you can use to drive traffic at a low cost — a goal all content marketers strive for. 

But first, let’s answer the question on everyone’s mind:

Is SaaS Growth Hacking Still a Thing?

Well, it’s a bit of a touchy topic. 

There are plenty of people who say yes and plenty who say no.

Social hot takes and arguments over semantics aside, the fundamental ethos of growth hacking is most definitely still a thing: using low-cost or unconventional strategies to unlock exponential growth.

The r/GrowthHacking subreddit is a good representation of how this trendy topic has evolved over the last few years. With over 42,000 members, this forum ranks in the top 3% of all subreddits by size. It features posts on everything from recent Product Hunt launches to discussions on marketing experiments. 

The r/GrowthHacking subreddit has over 42,000 members and is in the top 3% of Reddit communities by size

If you look at the top posts over the last year, Product Hunt has almost exclusively taken over this subreddit. That’s chasing a shortcut.  

But if you look at some of the top posts of all time, you see more of the innovative strategies and experiments that capture growth hacking’s true spirit. These posts range from lead generation hacks and conversion rate optimization strategies to using AI for marketing automation — it’s still a rich repository of growth hacking wisdom.

I think growth hacking isn’t dead — it just needs a rebrand. Because the need for low-cost, high-impact marketing isn’t going anywhere. 

The continuous influx of startups in the SaaS industry, often operating on shoestring budgets, makes growth hacking an indispensable strategy. For these early-stage companies, traditional marketing methods with hefty price tags are often out of reach, making cost-effective growth hacking not just attractive but necessary. 

So as long as the SaaS landscape is dotted with startups looking to carve out their niche without breaking the bank, growth hacking will continue to exist. 

5 Low-Cost SaaS Growth Hacking Tactics

Let’s get to the good stuff: Which growth hacking strategies can produce an outsized impact on your brand relative to the cost? 

Some of them you’ll likely have heard of before, others maybe not.

Low-cost SaaS Growth Hacking

1) Get Active in the Right Communities

We’ve talked numerous times about the importance of community-based marketing, particularly in SaaS. 

In B2B marketing and sales, you aren’t just approaching an individual customer; you’re targeting a person within an organization. They have job-related goals and challenges, just like you and me. They often turn to online communities to meet these needs. 

That’s where the growth hacking opportunity lies.

Whether it’s through popular social forums like Reddit and Quora, messaging apps like Slack, or a more technical platform like GitHub or Stack Overflow, I guarantee your target audience already has an online community. 

Not only are these platforms a great way to collect valuable information on your target audience, but they’re also a great platform to present case studies, thought leadership, or your solution. 

Or, in the case of this post from u/justforthemarketing in the r/GrowthHacking subreddit four years ago, all three at once:

A Redditor explains how they used the platform to acquire a massive number of new users in a great example of SaaS growth hacking

Once you get past the spammy title, you learn how a growing startup called Rezi used a founder AMA to drive a massive number of new users in a short period. It’s definitely worth a look

Now, does an “Ask Me Anything” or another type of insightful post on Reddit guarantee these results? Of course not. But with zero cost and massive potential, it’s certainly worth a try. 

2) Give Away Value for Free

At the heart of many successful growth strategies lies a simple yet powerful concept: Offering something of value for free. It’s nothing new, but that’s exactly why it works so well.

It’s actually the driving force behind the product-led growth movement that’s spurred SaaS unicorns like Calendly, Slack, and Datadog. Give people a free trial or limited version of your product, get them hooked, and drive paid conversions. Freemium models and free trials are a proven catalyst for growth.

However, the potential for free offerings extends well beyond product-led companies. Ross, the CEO and resident distribution expert at Foundation, frequently highlights how providing simple, free tools can be a game-changer for attracting and retaining users. Among these free resources, include: 

Shopify has brought in millions of organic visits through a suite of free tools it acquired just for lead generation.  

I know, I know. Acquiring a website isn’t exactly cheap. But here’s the thing: This works just as well for templates you create using Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides. 

You just need to operationalize your content engine by creating a valuable tool or asset that visitors can access for free through your website. 

3) Strategic Comments on Videos, Social Posts, and Blogs

From Instagram to Linkedin, comments have quickly become the best part of social media — people live for the comment section. This is why many marketers and influencers turn to the comment section to unlock growth. Instead of spending hours on a social campaign, video, or blog post, you can simply comment on someone else’s asset in a way that engages, educates, entertains, or empowers others. 

As Richard Bliss, CEO of BlissPoint, said in his LinkedIn post, the question isn’t how often you should post but “how often should you be commenting on other people’s posts.” 

Whether you share expertise, offer a witty observation, or shed light on a complex issue, your comments become a powerful tool for growth hacking. But there are a few things you need to do in order to make this growth happen: 

 1. Make sure your comment is high-quality

It must offer genuine value, spark curiosity, or provide a fresh perspective that enriches the viewer’s experience. This approach positions you as a thought leader who contributes to conversations and can help boost traffic to your personal or brand account. 

 2. Make sure your comment is first (or early) 

Commenting early can significantly amplify a content’s reach and engagement. As more people turn to this type of forum to inform their perspectives, being the first one in can help you gain more visibility. 

4) Provide In-Depth Supportive Content 

How-to guides, API documentation, and other types of support-style web content have massive traffic potential in SaaS. Companies like Kong and Confluent have used this in-depth content effectively to improve the customer experience and drive traffic. 

But, as much as it pains the writer in me to say this, there’s only so much you can do with words. If you really want to give users and potential customers a great experience, you need to use visual content. “Show, don’t tell” and all that. 

But for brands that want to incorporate visual content on a budget, there’s one tool that’s head and shoulders above the rest: Loom

The wildly successful video communication platform makes it incredibly simple — and cheap — to create screen-share-style content. Considering that every single SaaS product requires users to interact with a screen at some point, it’s a match made in heaven. 

From a growth hacking perspective, Loom allows experts within any niche to produce supportive guides that go beyond the written word, offering visual and auditory learning experiences. 

For example, the SEO agency, HigherVisibility, embedded a short Loom to its page explaining how to check Google rankings. According to Ahrefs, this page brings in 24k visitors monthly and ranks 1st in the SERPs for the keyword. 

The SEO agency Higher Visibility uses an embedded Loom to hack growth for one of its blog pages 

Most importantly, the traffic to this page has nearly doubled since the Loom was added on December 4th. 

And before you think it’s only for agencies or blog-based sites, take a look at the homepage for the artificial intelligence copywriting startup SEO.AI.

SEO.AI is using Loom to drive more visitors to its website in an ingenious example of SaaS growth hacking

They’ve embedded an explanatory Loom in the prime landing page real estate right below the fold. Instead of opting for a costly, high-production video, the CEO of the company simply recorded himself using the product for 12 minutes. 

The company SEO.AI embedded a Loom on their homepage to help increase organic traffic and engagement

Walkthrough-style video content is immensely valuable for users seeking to deepen their knowledge and skills. If the pages mentioned above are any indication, this type of video content is also a strong ranking factor and serves as a powerful magnet for traffic. 

If you want a low-cost, high-impact way to hack growth on your website, adding a Loom to key product, service, and support pages is a great option. 

5) Scale Your SEO Content Engines with AI

This one is by far the most controversial on the list, probably because it has the potential to be the most effective. 

The use of generative AI among content marketers is inevitable. There’s always an incentive to create faster, and there simply isn’t a better way than AI. (Of course, you still have to do it in the right way). 

Tools like ChatGPT and Jasper are powerful new additions to MarTech stacks that drastically increase the efficiency of the creative process. From startups to enterprises, everyone is building a new AI workflow. And some are a lot more controversial than others. 

Take the SEO heist, for example.  

If you’re wondering, “What is an SEO heist?” Don’t worry — you’re not alone. I first heard about it just over a month ago when the Exceljet scandal hit. The concept refers to sophisticated schemes that manipulate search engine algorithms to illegitimately boost a website’s visibility and traffic. 

Here’s a basic rundown of an SEO heist according to the most notorious practitioner, Jake Ward

  • Look up the sitemap of your top competitor online.
  • Scrape the page URLs and target keywords, placing them in a CSV.
  • Enter upload the CSV to a tool like Byword to generate a new title and outline.
  • Use ChatGPT, Jasper, or another AI to create content centered around the keyword.
  • Upload these pages to your website and siphon away traffic.

And although it’s undeniably a black hat SEO tactic, the results were astounding. 

This manipulation has raised alarm within the SEO community and among digital marketers. Some argue it’s completely unethical and exploits loopholes at the expense of web users (very much agreed). Others, like Ward, argue that it’s just doing competitor keyword targeting on a massive scale. 

It’s also important to note that this gain was short-lived — the traffic to Ward’s website has cratered in the last few months. 

The takeaway here? Invest in a more robust AI content creation workflow where you can apply the benefits of new technology without shorting your audience and ripping off competitors (or pissing off Google).  

Experimentation Is Key to Successful SaaS Growth Hacking

So there you have it — five low-cost, high-potential SaaS growth hacking tactics you can start with today. 

Before we wrap things up, it’s important to remember that there’s no clear-cut “best growth hacking tactic.” Brands, markets, and customers are constantly changing — as well as the channels we use to interact with one another. All of these changes can impact your ability to drive traffic and conversions. 

The massive exodus of SaaS advertisers, marketers, and thought leaders from the platform formerly known as Twitter is a perfect example of this. Whether something was working for one year or ten, there’s no guarantee it will continue to in the future. 

It all comes back to the growth hacking mindset itself. You need to keep your finger on the pulse, have the confidence to try new things, and know when it’s time to try something else. 

If you want to learn more about this tactic from the growth master himself, check out Ross’s piece on the Sherlock Homeboy Technique!

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