Child screaming into a megaphone

The ability to use the product to market itself is one of the most powerful advantages of growth hacking. When product marketing is done correctly, it can lead to viral growth as each new user draws in additional users from their own network. Here are five ways that you can design your product to attract new customers.


Gamification of a product is an excellent way to encourage users to take marketing actions in exchange for status rewards and leveling up. One of the best examples of gamification is Zynga’s Farmville. At the height of Farmville’s success, it was able to attract up to 30 million users each day. One way that Zynga uses gamification to attract new users is gifting. Gifting allows users to give other users presents, which in the case of Farmville, is livestock. Most users reciprocate in kind with their own gifts. The potential to grow their farms together encourages users to maximize the number of people from their own social network that they invite into the game.

Incentivize Your Users

Incentivizing your users to recommend the product to their friends is a great way to grow your customer base. Often, the best type of incentivization is to give users additional functionality if they make a referral. One company that makes the most of incentivization is Dropbox. Through their “Refer a Friend” feature, the cloud storage service offers an additional 500 MB to both the customer who makes the referral and the friend who takes up the offer. This is a classic win-win for both parties. The best part is that for Dropbox, the costs of providing the offer are marginal.

Dropbox makes it as easy as possible to refer a friend by offering email, Facebook and Twitter invitation options. “Refer a Friend” programs are particularly effective for marketing a product because of the trust element of a recommendation from a friend. In addition to the “Refer a Friend” feature, Dropbox provides a wide range of other incentives for users who take certain marketing actions. For example, linking your Dropbox account to your Facebook account can earn you 125 GB, and following Dropbox on Twitter can also earn you an additional 125 GB of storage.

Adding Hyperlinks

Including hyperlinks inside of your product that direct to your website can be an excellent way to increase visibility across the Internet. Customers who use your product essentially become part of the marketing team. This is a particularly common marketing tactic for WordPress theme and widget developers. If you decide to include hyperlinks to your own website, it is important to make it easy for users to remove these if they want to. Customers should not be forced to market your product. Including links to your own website also provides valuable backlinks, which can help your search engine rankings.

Ensure Customers Are Using the Product

In order to get word-of mouth referrals, it is important that your customers are actually using the product. This is why building “stickiness” into the product is so crucial. Zynga’s Farmville encourages its users to stay active in the game by allowing the farm to degrade if it is not regularly maintained. This encourages players to regularly return to the game.

Of course, the Farmville strategy will not be appropriate for all products. A more common one is to use email, text and tweets to remind the user if they haven’t used the product recently. Notifications can also be used when another user takes an action which involves the customer. For example, Facebook users are notified when they are tagged in a photo. When using notifications, you need to be careful not to annoy your customer. That means regulating the number of notifications you send and using them only when it adds value to your customers.

Integrating with Social Networks

Integrating with social networks is a powerful way to leverage another site’s user base and increase the product’s viral ability. One product that does this very well is BranchOut, which is now the largest professional networking app on Facebook with over 25 million users. Because Facebook has access to its users’ data and personal networks, BranchOut does not require its new user to fill in this information separately. This reduces friction for signing up and makes it easy for users to quickly take advantage of the app. Another clever product feature is allowing users to state which of their friends they would most like to work with, and post this on the friend’s Facebook profile page. This is a great way to increase the visibility of the app in a fun manner.

In an online environment, your product can easily become your best salesperson. Adding product marketing features can allow you to reach a wider audience faster and at a lower cost than can be achieved with traditional marketing tactics.