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5 B2B Growth Hacking Success Stories to Learn From

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minute read

May 9, 2023

Growth Hacking in B2B - Why it’s not only important for B2C businesses

If you’re familiar with marketing, you might have heard of growth hacking in B2C marketing contexts. So perhaps you thought there is a typo in this blog post's title.

However, as proven time and time again, growth hacking can be just as effective in B2B marketing. The data-driven and iterative approach focuses on finding the most effective and efficient ways to drive growth. By constantly testing and refining their marketing strategies, B2B companies can optimize their approach. Driving sustained growth over time, leveraging principles such as social proof, incentivization, and network effects to build brand awareness.

Successful Growth Hacking Examples in B2B Marketing

In today's competitive market, B2B companies need to stay ahead of the curve with their marketing strategies. Growth hacking is an innovative approach to marketing that focuses on experimentation. Leveraging resulting data to identify the most effective ways to drive growth. In this blog post, we will explore five successful B2B growth hacking examples that showcase the power of this approach.

Dropbox - Leveraging Referrals

A network created through referrals
A network created through referrals

Dropbox is a file-hosting service that has become a household name in the tech industry. In just 15 months over 4 million users signed up. So, how did they accomplish this?

Their growth hacking strategy was to leverage referrals to drive growth. Dropbox offered users additional storage space in exchange for referring new users to the service. This simple yet effective strategy led to rapid growth.

Why was this B2B growth marketing strategy so successful?

  1. Reciprocity. Dropbox created a sense of reciprocity in the minds of users. They did this by exchanging additional storage space for referring new users. Reciprocity means that people are more likely to feel obligated to return the favour by engaging with the brand. This can be done either by a purchase or by sharing it with others.
  2. Social proof. Dropbox's referral program created a sense of social proof that the service was popular and valuable. Seeing your friends and colleagues using Dropbox, reinforces the belief in the value of the service. This increases the likelihood of using it yourself.
  3. Word-of-mouth. Referral programs tap into the power of word-of-mouth marketing. It has been shown to be one of the most effective forms of marketing. When people hear about a product or service from someone they trust, they are more likely to try it themselves.

What can we learn from Dropbox’s successful growth marketing strategy?

  • Referral marketing can be a powerful tool for B2B companies since:
  • People trust their friends and family the most when making decisions about which products to use/try.
  • Social proof is a strong psychological phenomenon, able to dictate consumer behavior.
  • Offering incentives for referrals can encourage users to spread the word about your product or service.
  • Word-of-mouth is an important factor in “going viral” and reaching a broader mass.

HubSpot - Offering Free Tools

A free gift used as a marketing tool
A free gift used as a marketing tool

HubSpot is a leading provider of inbound marketing software. Their growth hacking strategy was to offer a free tool that would attract potential customers and drive traffic to their website. This tool was the Website Grader, users put in their website URL and receive a report on their website's performance. This simple tool was a huge hit and drove massive traffic to the HubSpot website.

Why was this B2B growth marketing strategy so successful?

  1. Free Tools. Offering a free tool like the Website Grader is a powerful incentive for consumers to engage with a brand. Research has shown that people are more likely to try a product or service if it is offered for free. Even if there is no monetary value attached to it.
  2. Personalization. The Website Grader tool provided users with a personalized report on their website's performance. For uses this made it more engaging and valuable. Personalization has been shown to increase engagement and drive consumer behavior in a variety of contexts.
  3. Ease of use. The Website Grader tool was simple and easy to use, which made it accessible to users of all skill levels. A study into the effects of difficulty on consumer behavior has found that parts of the consumer judgment and decision-making is based on the ease of processing the tool. This means that the Website Grader tools’ ease positively boosted consumers’ perceptions of HubSpot and therefore made it more interesting.
  4. Share-ability. The Website Grader tool was designed to be easily shareable, which also made it susceptible to social proof. Users could share their reports on social media or email them to others. This helped spread the word about HubSpot's services and made others more likely to try it.

What can we learn from HubSpot’s successful growth marketing strategy?

Offering free tools or resources can be an effective way to attract potential customers and drive traffic to your website. This B2B online marketing tactic works well because offering something for free lowers the threshold.

Slack - Leveraging the Endowment Effect

An extensive network created through a viral loop
An extensive network created through a viral loop

Slack's viral loop strategy involved offering a free version of its messaging software that had limited features. Users could then invite their colleagues to join the platform, and once a certain number of users signed up, the full version of the software was unlocked.

Why was this B2B growth marketing strategy so successful?

  1. Social proof. By inviting colleagues to join the platform, users were able to demonstrate to their peers that they were using a popular and effective tool. This created social proof and made others more likely to join.
  2. Reciprocity. The limited version of the software that Slack offered for free created a sense of reciprocity in users. They felt that because Slack had provided them with something of value for free, they should invite others to join in return.
  3. Network effects. As more users joined the platform, the value of the software increased. This created network effects, where the more users there were, the more valuable the platform became, and the more likely it was that new users would join.
  4. Endowment Effect. The endowment effect entails that people are more likely to put effort (e.g., time, money, etc.) into a product when they are able to test/use a free version of it, even if the version is limited. Users grow accustomed to the features/platform/product and are therefore more motivated to put effort into upgrading/keeping it, which in this case was by referring friends and family to the product in order to get the full version.

What can we learn from Slack’s successful growth marketing strategy?

The combination of social proof, the endowment effect, and reciprocity can be used in order to create network effects.

LinkedIn - Creating Viral Loops

A viral loop created through interactions on social media
A viral loop created through interactions on social media

LinkedIn is the largest professional networking platform in the world. Similar to Slack, LinkedIn’s growth hacking strategy was to create a viral loop that would encourage users to invite their colleagues and connections to join the platform. In this case the viral loop is a B2B online marketing strategy where existing users refer new users to the platform, who then go on to refer more new users. This goes on, creating a self-sustaining growth loop.

LinkedIn made it easy for users to import their email contacts and send invites to join the platform. This B2B growth marketing strategy led to rapid growth for the company, with over 900 million members as of 2023.

Why was this B2B growth marketing strategy so successful?

  1. Network effects. The value of a social networking platform like LinkedIn is in its user base. As more people join the platform, it becomes more valuable for everyone involved. By making it easy for users to invite their colleagues and connections, LinkedIn was able to tap into the power of network effects and quickly grow its user base.
  2. Social influence. People are more likely to trust a recommendation from someone they know or respect. By encouraging users to invite their colleagues and connections to join the platform, LinkedIn was leveraging the power of social influence. Users were more likely to join the platform if they received an invitation from someone they knew and trusted.
  3. Reciprocity. The act of inviting someone to join LinkedIn creates a sense of indebtedness or reciprocity. When someone invites you to join a platform, you may feel obligated to reciprocate by accepting their invitation or inviting them to join a platform that you use. This creates a positive feedback loop (viral loop) where more and more people are joining the platform.

What can we learn from LinkedIn’s successful growth marketing strategy?

  • Creating a viral loop can be an effective way to drive growth.
  • Making it easy for users to invite their colleagues and connections can help spread the word about your product or service.

Intercom - Addressing Specific Pain Points

A growth arrow representing positive collaboration
A growth arrow representing positive collaboration

Intercom's B2B marketing strategy framework was built to create highly targeted content that addressed specific pain points of its target audience. This increased its perceived relevance to its clients. They then promoted this content through social media and email marketing to attract new customers.

Why was this B2B growth marketing strategy so successful?

  1. Addressing Specific Pain Points. By creating highly targeted content that addresses the specific pain points of their target audience, Intercom is able to attract customers who are actively looking for solutions to their problems. This resonates with customers on an emotional level and increases the likelihood that they will engage with the content and become customers.
  2. Personalization. Intercom's content is highly personalized and relevant to the needs of its target audience. This personalized approach creates a sense of connection and empathy with customers, which can increase the likelihood that they will become loyal customers.
  3. Social Proof. Intercom's content is often shared on social media, which provides social proof that its product is valuable and worth considering. This social proof can be a powerful motivator for potential customers to try the product and become customers themselves.
  4. Consistency. By consistently creating high-quality, targeted content, Intercom is able to build trust and credibility with their target audience. This consistency can lead to increased engagement and customer loyalty over time.

What can we learn from Intercom’s successful growth marketing strategy?

  • Addressing specific pain points by creating highly targeted content towards the problem of your (potential) customers can help you reach exactly the target audience that matters the most to you.
  • Having a service/product that is shareable via social media can be very lucrative for your company since it can raise the value of your service/product through social proof.

After reading these 5 best marketing strategies for B2B, you are probably wondering:

How can I create a successful B2B marketing strategy myself?

Consider incorporating growth-hacking strategies like the ones discussed above into your marketing plans.

Here is a checklist of some of the best B2B growth marketing strategies (based on psychological principles) from this blog post that you can make use of right now:

  • Make use of the principle of reciprocity to create a viral loop of people joining and motivating others to join.
  • Make use of social proof and social influence in order to maximize people’s trust and interest in your business.
  • If possible, use the scarcity principle to make potential customers more inclined to act on your offer due to its scarce nature.
  • Make use of the endowment effect by giving your customers a taste of your product so that they will feel more inclined to purchase it later on in order to keep the benefits your product/service provides
  • Make sharing of your business/product/content easy and give incentives for sharing in order to increase the likelihood of word-of-mouth marketing and to increase the perceived value of your business.

Remember

A well-executed B2B marketing strategy, coupled with growth hacking, can lead to sustainable growth and long-term success of your business, as proven time and time again by examples like the five discussed in this blog post. By experimenting with different growth hacking tactics/strategies and taking psychological factors into account, you can achieve your growth goals and drive success in your respective industry.

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