GDPR Compliance Deadline: How to Be Compliant in Simple English

GDPR Compliance Deadline: How to Be Compliant in Simple English

GDPR Compliance Deadline: How to Be Compliant in Simple English

Roshni Shaikh
Guest Contributor

Just think about what made companies like Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and the like change their terms and privacy policies one after the other. You must have noticed the notifications by now.

Yeah, Facebook is already in the limelight for user data discrepancies. But look at what’s happening to all the cookie policies. Companies are updating their terms quickly.

What’s triggering this frenzy? Of course, this is happening because of one law that has managed to stir the business world – G.D.P.R.

The European Union’s GDPR law takes effect from May 25, 2018. This has been in the news since its inception and adoption by the EU Parliament in April 2016.

The Law will affect businesses that manage a large amount of data. This applies to all EU citizens’ data, irrespective of their location.

What is GDPR and why is it being rolled out?

In simple terms, as someone who resides in the EU, my data is being protected because of GDPR. 

GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation. It replaces the old and obsolete 1995 Data Protection Directive. GDPR is more relevant today as a lot has changed over a period of two decades.

Rapid technological advancements and data processing/usage by businesses has led to realize the need for a law like GDPR.

This new regulation is being brought into effect to give personal data control back to EU citizens. It is put into action to control a business’ ability to exploit public’s personal data. GDPR is rolled out to give the citizens their digital rights

This law does not require national governments to pass any sanctioning legislation. This means that it is naturally applicable to any person, organization or business that deals with EU citizen’s data.

This law applies to your business irrespective of your company operating on a business to business level or business to consumer level. 

How will GDPR affect your business?

About the effect the GDPR wave has had, there is both good and bad news. Let’s see why.

Some small business owners are panicking and complaining about the sudden work overload. Russel Xiam, owner of a product support company says that there is so much to do to migrate to GDPR compliant software platforms.

Planning for GDPR is equivalent to revisiting your business choices. –  Russel Xiam

This implies that small businesses are the most affected.

John Higham, owner of Azybao, a project management company said that people are refusing to do business with European companies because they are afraid that they’ll be caught in the jam.

Isabelle Trijt, an HR officer from Germany says –

I had to modify/change/scrap the new hire and employee onboarding policies so that we stay inside of the GDPR compliant circle. I also had to take up the responsibility to delete all the old records containing data of the past interviewees.

To add to this, a business owner in Brussels migrated to MailChimp from Convertkit because Convertkit wasn’t giving a checkbox option that lets the user “choose” the data. This implies that business owners are abandoning email service providers that do not give more control to the user, although Convertkit has updated their functioning as of today. 

This makes sense because you, as a business, shouldn’t be put in jeopardy due to the rules your email service provider did not follow. After all, the email responder may have policies that do not hold themselves accountable for any loss caused to your business, right?

Although it is rare that such a scenario arises, you will still be held accountable for not conforming to the laws as it is your email list.

On the other hand, Sidney Burks, the CTO and Co-Founder of Ivizone from France says,

The new policies haven’t had a huge effect on our business. This could largely be due to the fact that French law already had quite stringent requirements around data protection and privacy. GDPR did force us to take data privacy into the core of our products, and think of it from the ground up, however as we are developing a new release for our product, we were able to do this in a clean and efficient manner.

Sidney also adds that GDPR has forced the businesses to get their data houses in order. They have now added additional policies to delete stale and unnecessary data and reinforced their internal security policies around data storage and access. This means that they provide a higher level of data security to their clients.

So, if your business or organization handles and processes user data, you should be concerned about your user data security. You are obligated to be GDPR compliant in this case. If your business does not comply with the GDPR law, you may face heavy penalties. 

The highest penalty for the severest deviation will cost you 4% of your global turnover or 20 Million Euros, whichever is higher (more about penalties in later sections).

The GDPR Law applies to ____?

There is a huge confusion about who the law applies to. There are few sources that talk about EU citizens and there are others who talk about EU residents.

The confusion arises as people with GDPR rights are referenced as “data subjects”. But who are these data subjects? 

Data subjects, who are they?

Does the GDPR apply to all EU citizens’ data?

Or does it only apply to people who reside in the EU? 

Data subject are defined as a natural person whose personal data is processed by a controller or processor. The controller or processor could be a business or an entity employed by the business that specifies the data processing funnel. 

The term “data subjects” doesn’t have a specific definition. In fact, it is a connotation. GDPR requires businesses to protect the privacy and personal information of EU citizens under any transactions that occur within EU member states. According to Cyber Counsel, any person present in the EU member states at a given point becomes a data subject. 

What are the kinds of data that is subject to scrutiny?

The GDPR considers any and all personal data concerning a natural person as a belonging of that person. The kind of data may include:

  • Digital Information
  • Biometric Data
  • Genetic Data
  • Encrypted Data
  • Personal Data

The rights of a data subject:

1. According to EU GDPR, you can either choose to be a data subject or not. What it means is that you can refuse to get your data processed and by doing so, you will be exercising your right to not be a data subject.
2. If you choose to be a data subject, you have the right to be informed about your data. You hold the rights to seek all information processing that involves your personal information.

3. You are also given full power and authority to change your personal data or withdraw your data at any given point. This is the main reason why businesses should provide checkbox options (discussed in the above section) to give the user more freedom and power to get their consent.

4. A data subject can also object processing of any/or all of his/her data if s/he thinks that the data being processed is inaccurate or incorrect.

5. A data subject can also object to or resist the transferring of their data from one service provider to another. In addition to this, as a data subject, you can also request to delete your data from the records. But this right may not be earned by the data subject if the data being processed is for legal purposes, public health purposes, research purposes etc.

In short, it applies to all EU residents irrespective of the location of the business, organization or their citizenship. And, breaching the rights of the data subjects attracts heavy penalties. 

What are the factors that determine a penalty?

1. Past Violations – If you have a history of violations, either from GDPR point of view or the previously active Data Protection Directive, this will be a factor that determines the penalty amount.
2. Cause – The violation could be intentional and for profitable purpose. Or it would have been the result of a negligible step. Either way, the decision-making body sets the penalty amount depending on the cause.
3. Type of information – It depends on the classification of information used. For example, a company might have used genetic or biometric data of a person(s) for business purposes. This may attract a higher penalty than information like employment details. Again, the penalty is set entirely within the EU laws’ discretion and boundaries.
4. Solutions and Measures – If you have taken steps to mitigate the damage caused to a person or group of people directly affected by your business, this will also become a deciding factor.
5. Preventive measures – The EU has had a transition period of 2 years before coming to effect and full enforcement in May 2018. If your company has taken measures to stay compliant with the GDPR laws and yet, an infringement has occurred, this will be a point to highlight before the penalty is set.
6. Intention – If the data damage was intentional, this could be a trigger for a penalty.
7. Co-operation and Relations – If the business has been obliging to co-operate with the supervisory authority to repair the damage and possibly reverse the violation, this acts as a positive which may reduce the penalty.
8. Reporting – If the violation was proactively reported by the violating body itself or it was brought to notice by a secondary source.

Please note that none of the above factors guarantee a specified penalty because the determination of fine is completely within the EU laws’ discretion.

For more information, refer to the core principles that lead to the GDPR Law enforcement here

Appointing a Data Protection Officer (DPO)

The data being processed in your business may have to undergo monitoring. If you need help in organizing your business to comply with GDPR, the EU body advises to seek expert consultation.

Each of the EU Member States may nominate one or more independent public authorities to help monitor the data laws’ compliance.

According to GDPR, Data Protection Officers should be appointed if your business operates at the following levels:

1. Organizations that act as public authorities

2. Companies that deal with large-scale data aggregation and monitoring

3. Companies that deal with large-scale processing of crucial personal information

5 Myths about GDPR

1. US companies are heavily affected – All companies (not just US companies) with EU customers should comply with the law.

2. Small business owners need not worry about GDPR – A business small or big: if it handles user data, it should be GDPR compliant.

3. User consent is not mandatory if the user is choosing to enter their personal information during subscription – Explicit consent from the user in the form of a checkbox is mandatory from May 25, 2018.

4. If you are not doing business inside the EU, you shouldn’t be concerned – If you are a business dealing with EU citizen’s data, irrespective of the citizens’ location, GDPR applies.

5. User data is only the data provided by users – Any data collected, generated, modified, morphed or acquired in the form of cookies, user behavior is still user data.

Conclusion

If you are a business with a website that collects personal information of data subjects, you are now obliged to implement legally compliant ways to acquire user information. For example, if you have a pop-up or subscription form on your website, the only way to ensure you are getting the consent of the user is by:

  • Implementing the double opt-in method that pools in only interested members with consent.
  • Giving the user the options to choose to regulate his/her data.
  • Giving the user the option to unsubscribe.
  • Ensuring all the third party services you use are GDPR compliant.
  • Keeping your data acquiring procedures in check.
  • Communicating your privacy policies in a transparent manner.
  • Designating a Data Protection Officer or educating and train your business to avoid the data breach.
  • Ensuring regular data audits and accessibility.
  • Minimizing the data you hold and process.

Disclaimer: The information above is solely for reference and informational purposes. It does not stand as legal advice. Please seek legal counsel for any further advice.

Roshni Shaikh

Roshni helps entrepreneurs to communicate with their audience in a voice that connects and conveys. She helps you spread your message through words that inspire, educate and emote. Her mission is to bring clarity to your content so that you build authority as a business. While she is not writing for the web, she is reading her favorite books on Kindle or playing Chess. She also loves traveling and speaking at networking events. You can find more of her work at https://contentprimer.com/

5 Free Organic Traffic Sources to Scale Your Business Rapidly

5 Free Organic Traffic Sources to Scale Your Business Rapidly

5 Free Organic Traffic Sources to Scale Your Business Rapidly

Abhik Shome
Founder and Editor-in-chief

Having warm traffic coming to your site is what content marketing dreams are made up of. A lot of marketers evangelize paid ads as the fastest way to grow an online business.

This is true as paid ads done right are highly effective. But not every one of us has the budget to support a continuous ongoing campaign through Facebook Ads and Google AdWords to generate leads. Thankfully, the current state of online media offers a host of sources which can help generate a ton of traffic and scale our businesses rapidly.

Here are 5 free organic traffic sources you can use to grow your online business extremely fast and in the process become an influencer in each of these channels.

1. Quora

Simply go to Quora and search for the keywords related to your niche. For example, if your niche is online marketing, just type the term on Quora’s search function.

You will be presented with a multitude of questions related to your keyword. Go to each question and answer them. Try to provide the maximum value you can without holding back.

Remember the more value you provide upfront, more the reader will be incentivized to read further on what you have to say.

After doing this, add links to your blog which further expand or give a more detailed answer to the question.

Again, put only appropriate links which add further value to your answer.

If you do these two things correctly, you will get a ton of hot traffic on your site, keen to get the value you are providing.

Have a lead capture form in place to attract this audience and turn them into leads for your business.

2. LinkedIn

It’s no secret by now that LinkedIn pushes content out more heavily than Facebook.

The reason is simple – they are hungry, for great content. Mastering your LinkedIn game right now will result in a lot of traffic coming your way.

This is because whenever a person in your network will like the post, it will be displayed to his or her connections, thus creating a viral effect.

Entrepreneurs who are taking advantage of it are getting an average 5k to 10k views on their posts.

Make use of it before it gets saturated. Take a part of your blog post and publish it on LinkedIn.

Put a Call-To-Action in the end, saying “Click to continue reading” which will direct readers to your website. It can result in massive vetted traffic.

Reddit is the place to be for finding internet gold. It is divided into sections called Subreddits, with each Subreddit dedicated to a particular niche.

So, simply go to Reddit and search for your niche, then join the Subreddits dedicated to that niche.

Now if not being spammy holds true for all the sources here, it is 10 TIMES more applicable when it comes to Reddit.

Redditors are notoriously famous for having zero tolerance for spam and promotional posts.

To avoid getting shadow banned, give as much value as you can. Share other people’s content apart from your own, do not hold back when sharing yours and where necessary provide the links for further reading.

A perfect way to do this is by getting some karma points (around 50+) before posting anything remotely promotional.

Karma happens organically when you constantly give value to discussions in the Reddit community.

This way the community knows you are an active user who adds value and not a salesman who dumps content and leaves.

4. Medium

The easiest way to ensure that your content will be read is through Medium.

It has a well-established audience base. You can leverage your content there to get more views from relevant audiences by using its tag features which are great for SEO purposes.

Also, all major publications are active on medium, so you have a higher chance of connecting with them.

To further add the benefits, your followers on Medium are notified every time you publish a post. You can also connect your existing Twitter and Facebook account to boost your following from the first day itself.

A great way to get traffic to your site is by putting 2/3rd of your post on Medium and adding a Call-To-Action at the end of it to lure the warm traffic to your blog.

FB groups are a great organic way to get to your target audience and get known in your niche circles fast.

Like it or not, FB is the most used social media channel and that is where people hang out the most.

Use the FB group search function and type in the keywords related to your industry.

Vet the groups you want to join by seeing if they ask entry questions before they allow you to join. This is a great way to tell if the group is spam protected and has active members or not.

After being allowed to join, read the group rules carefully and start engaging with other people’s posts by commenting and adding value to the discussion.

The idea is to get seen as a group regular so that the community adopts you as one of their own.

After doing this for a week or two, start posting valuable content in the group BUT please DO NOT post links in the group.

Due to the FB algorithm changes, most self-respecting groups have a strict no link policy to avoid spam and affiliate links. Respect it and simply post valuable content.

How will this benefit you in getting website traffic you ask?

Well, if you keep posting valuable content, interested people will visit your profile to see who you are. Here is where the magic will happen.

Make sure you have your website link and a short description of it on your bio and if possible in your cover photo.

More often than not, the visitors will click through to your site and be led to the funnel where you can capture them through a sign-up form.

Yes, the funnel is a little longer compared to the other sources listed here, but it is a great opportunity to get leads in your industry from where they are most active at – Zuckerberg’s lair.

An all conclusive pro-tip

Here is a little secret technique which you can use to ensure you get a viral boost in all the sources I mentioned.

Simply establish a telegram group of fellow content marketers in your niche, and every time new content goes out from you on any of these channels, ask them to engage with it through likes, comments, etc.

Doing this will tell the platform algorithm that the content you posted is driving instant engagement and hence will be pushed more.

Abhik Shome

Abhik helps entrepreneurs shorten their path to online growth with conversion marketing. He is a leading conversion marketing expert and online marketing thought leader. As CEO of Brand Bridge Solutions, an online marketing agency, Abhik’s content has been featured in mainstream media outlets like Inc Magazine, Business Insider, Inc ASEAN, YourStory, and Influencive among others. Abhik is the Founder of The Starting Idea, a business growth magazine focused on giving fast-paced actionable marketing strategies to the modern day entrepreneur. He is also the founder of Product Know, an exclusive library of business software and resources. He has recently authored the book The Growth Toolbox covering 210+ tools to grow every aspect of a modern day business. Get it for FREE here.

Everything You Need to Know About Cryptocurrency – Start Here

Everything You Need to Know About Cryptocurrency – Start Here

Everything You Need to Know About Cryptocurrency – Start Here

Shadab Khan
Guest Contributor

The buzz around the future of money is hard to miss these days. Sensational stories of how a teenager or a college drop-out have become millionaires overnight have been making news quite often… tempting people to start investing in digital money or what are more technically known as cryptocurrencies.

But the gurus of investing adhere to one rule: invest in what you understand.

Here is then a quick rundown on cryptocurrencies.

What is cryptocurrency?

Firstly, cryptocurrency is not just Bitcoin. It’s actually the other way round.

Bitcoin is the first, the most popular and the cryptocurrency with the highest market capitalization.

Then there are others like EtherLitecoinDogecoinMoneroDashand around 900 more.

Next, what exactly is cryptocurrency and how is it different from liquid money?

Cryptocurrencies are decentralized – they are not controlled by any one person or entity.

Cryptocurrencies are not printed, they are digital currency and are held in digital format.

Usually, they are mined by people or entities called miners.

Miners use computers to perform mathematical computations to put the transactions into a database and get rewarded with units of the cryptocurrency.

For example, Bitcoin miners get 25 BTC (Bitcoin) for each block of transactions they put to the database.

Miners compete with each other to win the block reward.

Cryptocurrency transactions need to be confirmed by the network of miners before the ownership of the tokens pass on to the receiver.

Should you invest in cryptocurrencies?

Recently, several cryptocurrencies experienced a massive increase in market share.

Ether, which facilitates companies, organizations, service providers, in general, anybody who has enough technical knowledge to conduct Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), has grown massively and at one point surpassed Bitcoin in terms of market share. ICOs are much like IPOs, in that the company raises money through them.

But instead of giving you the company’s shares, it provides Ether-based tokens.

These can either be traded on the exchanges (once the exchanges feature them) or exchanged for some service that the company provides.

Also, most ICOs are pre-product – companies raise funds to develop their products, update products, pay salaries, etc.

ICOs have become the main mode of crowd-funding these days and have attracted the attention of a lot of people.

But there are dangers that investors should be aware of:

  • Cryptocurrency prices are highly volatile. Many currency holders have made fortunes, but they didn’t do so overnight – nor is it possible to do so.
  • Cryptocurrencies are not regulated by many countries – the threat of future regulation always looms over them affecting the price. China recently banned ICOs as an illegal fundraising method and the Bitcoin price took a dip from around $5000 to $4000. Following this, Russia’s central bank, The Bank of Russia, issued a warning on cryptocurrencies and ICOs. We can expect more such regulations and bans in the future.
  • Cryptocurrencies may be forked or split into two or more. Bitcoin recently split into Bitcoin (BTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). After an attack on one of the Ethereum-based projects, Ether was split into Ethereum and Ethereum Classic networks. A split may lead to a depreciation in value of one of the resultants and appreciation of the other – investors have to choose wisely which network they want to support.
  • Hackers are always on the lookout for vulnerabilities that they can exploit to steal coins. Mt. Gox exchange hack is one of the biggest hacking scandals where hackers stole $460 Million and forced the exchange into filing for bankruptcy.
Tread with caution:
  • Cryptocurrencies involve a steep learning curve during the initial stages of investments. You need to be tech savvy to be able to set up your wallets and handle your addresses properly and securely. Addresses are like your unique account number where you receive coins. There are multiple types of addresses.
  • Also, there are various types of wallets like online web wallets (accessible through browsers or mobile apps), desktop wallets (connected directly to the network) and hardware wallets (since cryptocurrencies are nothing but 1s and 0s you can store them in hardware wallets that are off any network and are more secure because of that).
  • The most popular rule for investing in cryptocurrencies is: only invest what you can afford to lose.
  • Keep in mind that investments in cryptocurrencies may take a long time to give a good ROI. Don’t get overawed by news reports of people becoming millionaires – for every cryptocurrency millionaire, there are countless others who have lost majority or all of their investments in this highly volatile world.
  • Stay away from websites and the so-called investment platforms that claim to be providing a high ROI in a short span. Such platforms are called High Yield Investment Programs and are scams or ponzi schemes. No legit investment platform will double your investments in 10 days!

Cryptocurrencies are no doubt the future of currencies. But read, learn, exercise caution and then dive in.

References:

Shadab Khan

Shadab is a computer engineer by education and interested in all things tech. When not reading about technologies and startups he likes to spend time listening to music and playing guitar.

4 Ways How Startups Can Improve Internal Communication

4 Ways How Startups Can Improve Internal Communication

4 Ways How Startups Can Improve Internal Communication

Olga Mykhoparkina
Guest Contributor

Congratulations! Your startup is successful and expanding quickly. You might be excited about your growing business (and you should be!) but a new challenge awaits you soon.

While beginning a successful startup is half the battle, managing internal communication can become as large of a challenge as getting your business off the ground.

Proper internal communication is crucial to the continued growth of a prosperous startup; when you are able to make sure that all your employees are on the same page and devoted to the same mission, your customers will notice.

Here are the top four ways how your growing startup can improve internal communication.

Onboard Effectively

One of the largest barriers startups face in their internal communication is the onboarding of new employees to the company’s mission.

Working in a new environment can be stressful and intimidating, especially within a small startup culture.

Your business can alleviate this stress by introducing new employees to his or her coworkers, and by clearly defining the roles of each member of the team.

This will allow new employees to direct questions and concerns to the proper team members.

Meetings are Out. Online Communication is In.

The successful startups are 7x more likely to use online communication tools instead of traditional face-to-face meetings than failing startups do.

New online communication tools provide superior inter-departmental support because they require less time than organizing a traditional meeting, plus the added benefit of having all information readily accessible at all times.

For example, business messenger Chanty provides unlimited messaging history to its users, eliminating the need for note-taking at meetings.

Additional apps like Slack and eXo also remove the need for meetings by allowing all team members to communicate instantly.

Encourage your team to skip the meetings and move internal communications online, and be sure to create department-specific channels to make relevant information immediately available.

Crush Cultural Barriers

Cultural differences can cause huge breakdowns in communication – this is especially true if all members of your team do not share the same level of language they use to communicate.

Providing the tools for employees to improve the language they use at work is an excellent and effective way to improve internal communication, as well as communication with customers and clients.

For native speakers, training employees to speak clearly and use simple words when communicating with those still learning can also help to break down cultural barriers and improve the speaking skills of both parties.

Your startup can also take steps to create diverse and multicultural teams, improving not only internal communication but also cultural understanding and team synergy.

Actively Encourage Feedback

Your employees have the most intimate knowledge of your business practices and how to improve them.

Feedback from your team members should be treated as valuable and encouraged from all departments.

Your startup can improve internal communication by directly asking employees to submit anonymous feedback multiple times throughout the year; anonymity encourages team members to be more honest and removes the fear of being reprimanded for critical comments.

Ask team members what they think the startup is doing right as well as about areas that are in need of improvement.

Then, make sure your team leaders follow up on issues!

Treat negative feedback as seriously as you would a complaint from a customer, and in the case of multiple recurring issues, consider restructuring certain parts of your startup.

If employees feel as if their opinions are being heard and considered, they will be more open and communicative and your startup will be successful.

Running a startup is difficult – it can be even more difficult if all your team members aren’t on the same page.

Uncontrolled growth has resulted in the death of countless startups unable to handle the pressure of hiring a larger team.

However, by taking steps to improve internal communication, your startup can move steadily towards bigger and better goals while retaining your most valuable employees.

4 Top Takeaways

Here are the top takeaways for helping to improve your internal communication:

1. Properly introduce all employees to one another when onboarding. 2. Replace meetings with online tools like SlackeXo or Chanty and see your productivity soar. 3. Create diverse teams in order to encourage cultural understanding. 4. Take all employee feedback seriously, and encourage management to do the same.

Found this useful?

SHARE it with your team.

Have any tips or tools on internal communication which you would like to share and get featured for?

Write to us!

Happy directing!

Olga Mykhoparkina

Olga is the Chief Marketing Officer at Chanty – a simple AI powered business messenger and a single notification center. This powerful and free Slack alternative is aimed to increase team productivity and improve communication at work. Having a 9-year experience in digital marketing field, Olga is responsible for Chanty’s online presence strategy, managing an amazing team of 5 marketing experts and getting things done to change the way teams communicate and collaborate. Follow Olga on Twitter or feel free to connect on LinkedIn.

11 Growth Hacks Used by Famous Startups Which Will Instantly Scale Your Business

11 Growth Hacks Used by Famous Startups Which Will Instantly Scale Your Business

11 Growth Hacks Used by Famous Startups Which Will Instantly Scale Your Business

Abhik Shome
Founder and Editor-in-chief

If you throw a growth hacker off an airplane he will build a parachute before he hits the ground. Don’t believe me? Just try it*!

In other words, growth hacking truly captures the spirit of marketing of an entrepreneur with the mindset involving finding and implementing innovative to downright unconventional marketing strategies into the operations and engineering of a product for the purpose of achieving lightning fast growth.

Growth Hacking is the reason why startups who have no marketing budget are able to go head to head with big corporate machinery and beat them at their own game. Truly revolutionary, right?

And though the term has been coined comparatively recently (by Sean Ellis circa 2010), the idea and the implementation behind growth hacking has been around for quite a long time, used in multiple ways by famous startups during their early days of bootstrapped existence.

Celebrating this very spirit and zeal, we want to share with you some really mind blowing strategies on how to grow your own startup business provided with real world examples of famous Startups who used them in their early days of growth.

Enjoy and implement!

1. Product Integration

Why build a user base from scratch when you can leverage the product in front of a beloved platform with tens of millions of highly engaged and active users?

This growth hack is called the platform integration hack and has been made famous by Airbnb‘s use of Craigslist‘s platform to grow their user base substantially.

Though Airbnb was a much more sophisticated and verifiable platform than Craigslist, it lacked the Craigslist user base. So in order to build its own user base,

Airbnb implemented a platform integration hack by listing all the listings in their platform simultaneously on Craigslist.

Any user searching for vacation rentals ran into a barrage of professional listings with Airbnb’s name inviting clients to click on it.

Side by side, Airbnb also used an email campaign to inform people who posted on Craigslist about how much more easy and convenient it was to post on Airbnb too.

Implement this if your product is a marketplace platform is lacking user base and needs an established and mature user base to work. Facebook and Craigslist are great platforms to implement this growth hack.

2. Build Virality into your product.

Once a product has virality built into its functionality, the user base can skyrocket fairly quickly.

Take the case of WhatsApp. Once you started to use the product, you felt encouraged to invite your friends and family on to the platform so they can interact with you via free calls, messages, etc.

As they came on board and started using it, they felt the same encouragement to invite people in their own network so they can use the product to its full potential.

Thus virality was built into the very functionality of WhatsApp thus led to its massive popularity. Most platform based products have virality built into them.

Some other examples of platforms with viral factors are FacebookCraigslist, and LinkedIn

To implement this, you need to provide a certain value (with WhatsApp it was free calls on the internet) which is exclusive to your platform and can be availed when other users get on the platform with you.

3. Have a fairly simple homepage.

Having a very simple homepage helps to make a decision-making process much simpler as it removes confusion or over thinking amongst the minds of potentials users/customers.

Some companies which have had great success implementing this are QuoraTwitter, and Dropbox

Implement this by including one headline highlighting the value proposition of your startup along with a simple and clear CTA.

This makes the users understand what you and your startup are all about in a very quick, simple, no-frills way.

Clear and concise information allows them to take action fast.

4. Implement gamification into the product

Implementing gamification (point scoring, giving ranks, creating competition with other users, having rules of play) is a much-overlooked marketing technique which can instantly hack growth of a product.

Human beings by nature are competitive and by creating the atmosphere of game playing with rewards for better performance can lead to instantly high graphs of engagement in the product.

The company which has mastered this the best is LinkedIn.

LinkedIn users are prompted to fill their profile, unlocking various levels of achievement, based on how much information they upload on their profiles.

The levels of achievement are marked with names such as All Star, expert, advanced, etc., which act as great social proofs in a user’s professional network.

Another employment of gamification is the endorsement feature where LinkedIn users can be endorsed by each other for particular skillsets.

Each skill shows the number of times it has been endorsed by other users with their profile pic showing next to the skillset.

Profiles with endorsements are 13x more viewed according to LinkedIn.

5. The Branding hack

It basically means getting your brand and its USP featured within the operations of the product as a free advertisement.

This hack was best used by Hotmail in 1996 when it had around 20,000 subscribers.

It opted to market its service directly to the friends, family, and colleagues of its users by adopting a fairly simple strategy – Put a clickable tagline at the end of every mail sent from its platform saying, “Get your free email from Hotmail”.

When the recipient of the email clicked on this tagline, he or she got directed to the signup page of Hotmail.

This growth hack alone skyrocketed the company user base to 1 million users within 6 months of its implementation. 

Implement it by featuring heavy to light branding within a freemium business model.

Your branding is featured when the user uses the free plan of your product.

6. Create a viral waiting list.

Another very interesting growth hacking method filled with the vitality quotient is a viral waiting list.

Typically when you launch a product, you will create a landing page to describe it to a wider audience.

The hack here is to make use of this landing page one step further and take advantage of it even before the product launch.

The idea is to turn your landing page into a viral waiting list.

To do so you can use a tool like Vyper or Maitre.

What it does is it places your subscribers into a queue, which enables you to create a rewards-based program.

So suppose a user gets enticed by your offering and signs up for your launch updates, he/she will be displayed the position they are on in the waiting list.

Here, you can create a rewards program and announce whoever is on the top 10 of the waiting list, will get a special reward (the reward can be a webinar, an exclusive ebook, exclusive add-on, whatever corresponds and resonates best with your product).

The rules for climbing the waiting ladder will be to share the page on Facebook, tweet about the product, etc.

This will create virality and popularize your product message, thus increase its hype and curiosity before the launch.

The end result will be higher customer/user acquisition even before launch.

The app will turn them into your brand ambassadors.

British growth hacker Vin Clancy used this growth hacking method prior to launching his book, Secret Sauce, thus creating the most successful Kickstarter program for the niche of growth hacking.

This growth hack was also used by Mailbox.

After downloading the Mailbox app, you would be told exactly which number in the queue are you.

7. The Referral hack also known as the ‘Dropbox hack’.

This is a highly effective hack and though Dropbox did not invent this method they surely are one of the most famous examples of this hack, as they successfully increased their sign ups by 60% by using this simple hack.

Anyone who signed up for Dropbox got an option to increase their storage space by inviting their friends to try the product.

The minute the referred friend signed up for Dropbox, the original user received more storage.

But what were the incentives for the referred friend to sign up?

Dropbox offered extra cloud storage to the referred friend too if they signed up using the link given by the original user.

As mentioned, this increased the sign ups dramatically and generated viral demand for the links among friend circles.

This hack is perfect for SaaS companies which work on some sort of credit per month basis and can be implemented by using a tool called Viral Loops which has referral templates inspired by Dropbox.

8. The Data fuelled growth hack

Ask any growth hacker and they will say data analytics is by far one of the best resources they can have at their disposal.

This is because seeing the correct data can tell you a lot about what is working in a business, what is not and what needs to be done. 

Twitter used data to solve an onboarding problem it faced early on in its life.

Twitter found out that a new sign up will likely become a core user if it follows 30 or more people.

Following this, Twitter started to focus on suggesting new users an option to import contacts in order to hit this number.

One can use this data to optimize your marketing strategy by doubling down on what is working and eliminating failed unproductive channels.

9. Seed the initial content.

A lot of famous companies and products used this technique to generate Initial user interest and eventual traction.

Create as much content as possible internally and put it out there on your website.

This method is especially useful for platform based websites which rely on user generated content.

The founders of Reddit used this tactic to fill their UGC based site with the initial content which acted as an incentive for other users to start creating their own content on the site.

10. Create exclusivity around your product.

People seek exclusiveness and rewards.

Hence, one way to make your product sought-after by many people is by restricting its access and not giving it to them too easily.

If you can make prospective users perform a certain task or work in order to “earn” your product, then they start seeing your product as a reward and thus position it as such.

Another way is to restrict access and create an ambiance of “inner circle” built around your product so that one can get access to it only through an invitation. 

Gmail used this approach by letting only invited individuals to sign up and use its product.

This ‘entry by invitation only’ approach created a huge curiosity and demand for the product as it was not accessible to all. 

Another famous startup which skyrocketed through this growth hack was Pinterest.

Exclusivity fuelled desire and led to explosive growth for the social media platform. 

11. The ‘Tinder’ growth hack

This is a very interesting hack which involves first targeting the right network (most preferred users who will drive other users) and then installing an incentive tactic as a method to get these preferred users involved with the product.

After this is done successfully, the presence of the preferred users will drive more highly engaged users into the product who will now see the product at a higher value.

Tinder used this interesting tactic to grow its initial base of most preferred users.

They organized exclusive frat parties at colleges and allowed entrance to only those students who downloaded the application.

Once these hip and influential frat users were onboard and started using the app, it attracted other users towards the platform to interact with them for hopes of finding a match and so on it spread across the United States.

Tinder targeted sorority girls as its early adopters. They would go to sorority chapters, give a presentation and have all the girls in the meeting install the app.

After that, they would go to the corresponding brother’s fraternity and make them open the app to see a platform filled with cute girls, which got them interested in using the app.

The way to implement this growth hack in by targeting your most preferred users (users whose onboarding will increase the value of the app and bring more users which in a dating application’s case are female users) at places where they are likely to be and incentivize them in some way to come onboard.

This event will trigger the network effect to take shape and bring in more users who will now see the platform having a higher value and thus engage more with it.

And with this point, we finish our list. As you can see, growth hacks by design invoke creative, unorthodox tactics as means to achieve growth. 

 A lot of them are not conventional, but I guess that’s what makes it all the MORE FUN!

Tell us what you think of these growth hacks and SHARE these famous stories behind them with your friends.

Have a famous growth hack story which you would like to share and get featured for? Share it in the comments section.

*No harm is intended to be done to Growth Hackers. We fully love and support this species.

Abhik Shome

Abhik helps entrepreneurs shorten their path to online growth with conversion marketing. He is a leading conversion marketing expert and online marketing thought leader. As CEO of Brand Bridge Solutions, an online marketing agency, Abhik’s content has been featured in mainstream media outlets like Inc Magazine, Business Insider, Inc ASEAN, YourStory, and Influencive among others. Abhik is the Founder of The Starting Idea, a business growth magazine focused on giving fast-paced actionable marketing strategies to the modern day entrepreneur. He is also the founder of Product Know, an exclusive library of business software and resources. He has recently authored the book The Growth Toolbox covering 210+ tools to grow every aspect of a modern day business. Get it for FREE here.

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