Marketing 4 min read

5 Growth Hacking Success Stories You Can Learn From

AirBnB | Pixabay

AirBnB | Pixabay

The term “Growth Hacking” was coined by Sean Ellis, CEO of in 2010.

Prior to Sean putting two new-age concepts together, a lot of marketers had already implemented some form of growth hacking strategies into their business. Simple, on-page SEO is one example.

#Growthhacking was first coined by #SeanEllis of Growthhackers.comClick To Tweet

Edgy Labs Brings to you 5 Growth Hacking Success Stories you can Learn From:

1. Airbnb Craigslist Integration

Airbnb‘s hack is one of the most popular growth hacks of all time. Back when AirBnB started out, Craigslist was a big classifieds site with millions of users. Airbnb decided to piggyback off Craigslist’s huge user base to drive users back to their site.

How did They do it?

AirBnB hacked an unauthorized platform integration with Craigslist. This allowed users who listed their properties on Airbnb to cross post to Craigslist.

AirBnB Craiglist Integration

Airbnb Craiglist Integration
Luke Bornheimer | Quora Answer

The Results

This hack helped Airbnb gain a lot of traction. Craigslist later discovered the vulnerability in their code and fixed it.

Once upon a time, AirBnB hacked Craigslist for growth.Click To Tweet

2. Hotmail

Considered to be one of the simplest and most effective growth hacks was Hotmail‘s postscript hack.

How did They do it?

Hotmail simply added “PS: I Love You. Get Your Free Email at Hotmail” at the end of every email sent using Hotmail.

Hotmail Tagline

The Results

Hotmail grew to 12 millions users in 18 months and was later acquired by Microsoft for $400 million USD.

3. Dropbox

After experimenting with paid ads, Dropbox realized the cost of acquisition was too high. They were spending $233-$388 USD to acquire a customer for a product that costs $99. This led them to their famous referral growth hack.

How Did They Do It?

Dropbox merged a referral program with an incentive system. They gave their users up to 16gb free space for inviting friends to join. Both the referrer and referee got 500mb extra storage for free as soon as the referee signed up.

The Results

Dropbox grew from 100,000 to 4 million users in 15 months with 2.8 million users coming from direct referral invites.

4. YouTube

YouTube is the largest video-sharing website in the world. But the question is what growth hack has catapulted them to such exponential growth? In short, the answer is YouTube video embedding.

How Did They Do It?

When you click on share on YouTube, there are three options for sharing. One of them is embedding. Embed provides you with a code snippet. This code can be posted on any website and the YouTube video will appear on the website with an easily adjustable frame. This feature allowed YouTube videos to be distributed across the ends of the internet. This increased brand awareness and backlinks to YouTube.
YouTube Embed

The Results

Google acquired YouTube in October 2009 for $1.65 billion USD and it has continued to be the biggest video sharing website since, despite being the subject of some controversy recently.

5. PayPal

PayPal’s growth hack is almost the same Dropbox’s. PayPal realized a traditional advertising was going to be an expensive option for them so they employed an incentive based referral program to attract new users.

How Did They Do It?

Paypal paid $10 USD each to referrer and referee after the referee signed up. This referral program cost PayPal $60 million USD.

The Results

Paypal grew to tens of millions of users and was acquired by eBay in August 2002 for $1.5 billion USD–one of Elon Musk‘s first famous ventures.

Which is your favorite of the many growth hacking success stories? Which one would you recreate? Care to take a guess at who will launch one of the next great growth hacking success stories?

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  1. CuteFTW October 20 at 1:51 pm GMT

    Great article on how the biggest companies formed! Creative thinking pays off : )

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