39 Actionable Growth Hacking Tactics Part 2/5 – Activation Hacks

Part 1 Acquisition hacksPart 2 Activation hacksPart 3 Retention hacksPart 4 Referral hacksPart 5 revenue hacks.

It’s a wonderful assumption that every user who completes your signup form, or installs your app, is going to fully explore your product. “Why would anyone create an account, and then not create their first campaign?”

Getting users to activate is a critical stage. There’s a bit of ambiguity about exactly which stage ‘Activation’ refers to. Some growth hackers would consider this ‘completing a signup form’ however at trak.io we consider that part of acquisition. To me, Activation means getting users to a stage in the product where you can be confident that they’ve experienced the value in the product.

Here’s the next part of our Growth Hacking Tactics guide, with lots of actionable hacks to try.

Activation Hacks

11. Add an on-boarding email drip sequence

Using behaviour emailing platforms, you can use event data stored in platforms like trak.io to sent targeted emails directly aimed at moving the user towards a specific goal. Add your first project, invite your first colleague, publish your first video.

Whatever is relevant for you, be sure to deliver emails that have 1 specific goal each time, and have a system in place that automatically measures and adapts for user actions. Don’t just send an email 7 days after signup – check the user has actually logged in yet, check they’ve actually viewed your developer documentation. Personalise your on-boarding sequence and have smart rules in place so that it will scale as you do.

12. Produce a series of short (<3min each) Screencasts on how to use your product

Some people are visual learners, and need to see someone else clicking around on the exact same screen that they see, so that they can fully understand what to do.

Screencasts are quick to produce (and you can always redo them if your product changes or you want to redo with nicer editing). But you’ll achieve 80% of the effect just by sitting in a quiet room with your macbook and Quicktime screen record.

Keep each screencast shot, and aimed at one specific task. Upload them to a dedicated section of your product (docs, blog category etc.) and be sure to tell users about them, through your newsletter and in your onboarding email sequence.

In true testing spirit, monitor view counts on each video and use the data to inform towards where pain points might be in the product UX and general understanding.

13. Offer an incentive for users who activate (e.g. t-shirts)

Adding a “pull” hook to get users to put up with a bit of friction can be useful, particularly for developer targeted products.

App error monitoring startup New Relic are pioneers in the swag space, giving away RC helicopters and t-shirts to everyone who deploys their tracking code. (We also give away t-shirts at trak.io to every developer who integrates our tracking code!)

T-shirts don’t have to be expensive – you can print and ship a t-shirt for <$15, and this scales up easily with order fulfilment companies and bulk printing. You can offset some costs later by selling t-shirts. You need to keep an eye on costs to ensure you’re getting an ROI based on your conversion rates and LTV.

14. Offer increased product limits for 100% activation 

If you’re product plans have usage limits, i.e. “Active projects, GB of storage” you can incentivise users to fully explore your product by adding extra rewards when they do.

Make your first project, get an extra 250mb of storage space. Have your first client conversation, unlock white label messaging.

You need to be creative and specific to what makes sense in your product, and you also need to know which resource your customers really want within your product so you know what incentives will work well.

Dropbox are champions at this, and cite their rewards program (and referral program) as the key to their growth success (they had previously had an awful experience with Google Adwords and were haemorrhaging money in clicks).

Unlike offering free t-shirts that cost you upto $15 each time, offering increased product limits has a negligible cost associated, so it scales up much better.

Screen Shot 2013-07-17 at 05.49.36
Dropbox allows you to see all the bonus space you have earned for so far

15. Add ‘blank slates’ to show what a fully setup account looks like

Unfortunately, those awesome, sexy interface screenshots you had made up by your best designer to demonstrate what you’re dashboard looks like is NOT what your customers see when they first sign up. That’s because most products only look their best when they have a perfect set of data in them.

New customers don’t have any projects, or comments, or posts, or uploads, or activity. their dashboard probably looks pretty shit, and nothing like the beautiful interface they saw in their video before they signed up.

So why not give them a taste? Experiment with using teaser blank slates alongside ‘wizard’ type prompts to pull the user through your setup process.

The blank slate for trak.io's Metrics dashboard
The blank slate for trak.io’s Metrics dashboard

16. Deliver case studies of happy customers via email to users who haven’t activated yet

You only need to demonstrate value with 1 or 2 great case studies, and then you can use that to show other potential customers how awesome your product is.

Online teaching platform Udemy started their journey to 5,000 online courses by using just 1 case study to attract new instructors. By demonstrating how one early adopter made $50,000 in course sales, they were able to bring more big hitters onboard.

17. Popup helpers within the app

Your navigation system within your app may seem obvious to you, but that’s because you probably use it every day. “Of course you should go to ‘My Account > Tools > Collab Tools > Invite Users’ to invite colleagues, who wouldn’t understand that!” however not every customer will think that way.

Pushing users towards key functionality by using baloon call-to-actions within the app is a simple (and measurable) way to get users around your app. It’s also useful for promoting hidden gems of functionality that might have become buried under other features.

Ensure they’re reactive to the user’s previous usage and current needs – don’t push users towards creating their first project if they’ve already made 3!

18. Offer live webinars (and in the early days, 1-to-1 coaching via Skype)

Sounds crazy, but you should be offering direct 1-to-1 skype chats with as many of your users as possible. If you’re worried you wont have time, humour me. The most valuable thing you can be doing in any startup is getting your users engaged in conversations anyway, but seeing first hand on live screen-shares is a goldmine of UX feedback, and equivalent to thousands of dollars in eye tracking tests.

Once you’re happy, and you really have outgrown 1-to-1 activation support, start running 1-to-many webinars to run through all of the main onboarding issues. Be reactive, and drop webinars that repeatedly only get a handful of attendees, focussing on the webinars with the biggest audiences (as these are are your main paint points in activation).

Keep webinars focussed and don’t dilute too much, and use them as drivers to dictate your screencast and documentation library.

That was part 2 of 5, coming up next…

21 more hacks, focussing on Retention, Referral and Revenue! Let me know in the comments or via twitter if you have any more cool hacks & tactics for Activation not in this list!


Published by

Liam Gooding

Liam is the cofounder and CEO of Trakio. Previously an engineer, he writes about growing subscription companies using data-driven techniques and inside glimpses to Trakio's own growth journey. He wrote a book, "Growth Pirate!" which discusses data-driven growth strategies for startups.

  • Beto Castillo

    Just perfect, i’m trying to apply everything to my site http://qbien.com, i’m looking the way to integrate trak.io with Magento