Ask a marketer, “How does my product grow?” They’ll reply:
Ads, affiliates, sales, social, yada yada yada
They’re describing top-down growth. Your classic funnel. Pour more in. Get more out. Here’s the problem.
• Acquiring new customers from scratch is hard
• Funnels flow in one direction
• Growth is linear
The best marketers think less about funnels. More about loops.
Loops feed themselves. The actions of one user create an output which create a new user.
Lets look at some examples.
1) Personal viral loop
Some products improve with more users. So there’s a personal incentive to invite new users.
e.g. Fantasy football, Slack, Trello
2) Financial viral loop
Some products have financial incentives to invite new users.
e.g. Dropbox, PayPal, Tesla
3) Social viral loop
Some products are so good, people just like talking about them.
e.g. DoubleTree, Stripe, Game of Thrones
4) User generated content loop
Some products leverage users content to grow their own organic traffic.
e.g. Quora, Reddit, Stack Overflow
5) Physical content loop
Some products attract new users simply by being noticeable. Lime’s bright green is not a coincidence.
e.g. Lime, Square, ChargedUp
6) Supply-side content loop
Some products incentivise users to promote their content for them.
e.g. Meetup, ProductHunt, Typeform, SurveyMonkey
7) Embedded loop
Some products grow by embedding themselves on other platforms.
e.g. Trustpulse, Intercom, Algolia
* * *
Most people think you build the product then you market it. Thinking in loops means you build the marketing into the product.
The product doesn’t precede the marketing. The product is the marketing.