The Growth Strategies Used By Airbnb, Uber, Slack and Etsy

When you're trying to define a growth strategy for your business, it’s helpful to first take a step back and look at other businesses. Explore what other companies have done to grow their businesses, products and services, and how it might apply to your organisation. 

Whether you're looking for growth strategies focusing on marketing, increasing revenue or breaking into new markets, examining the most successful growth strategies used by fast-growing companies is a good place to start. 

Before you begin to dive into stories about how other businesses have achieved company growth, it’s important to fully understand the definition of a growth strategy. 

What is a growth strategy? 

There are a lot of different growth strategy definitions used across the corporate landscape. However, put simply, a growth strategy is a plan to grow a business by increasing its market share, broadening its customer base and improving its bottom line. 

Growth strategies are often used alongside product development or product management plans when a business is ready to expand its existing products. This is typically by launching new product lines. 

Growth strategy examples 

Some of the biggest business success stories have used similar market growth strategies. We’ve summarised some of the best business growth strategy examples below, to inspire your own growth ideas. 

Simplify the user experience, just like Airbnb

When Airbnb first launched, it understood the power that user reviews and ratings had on potential customers, so it placed existing customer experiences at the heart of its growth marketing strategy.

It was this use of first-hand experience and word of mouth that would go a long way in driving the success of the business. In 2014,  the company took several steps to simplify the review process in order to accelerate growth and increase customer satisfaction with the platform. This included making processes more streamlined, introducing automated prompts and reminders, and allowing guests to give private feedback as well as leaving a public review. 

This, in turn, increased the number of reviews on site, which would go on to further drive bookings and increase growth. The following year Airbnb reported an increase in bookings of 100%, up from 40 million a year to 80 million. 

In Airbnb’s case, it seems as though successful growth strategies in marketing don’t only help grow product awareness. A recent study showed that 22% of Airbnb hosts say they chose to host after first being an Airbnb guest

Follow Uber’s example; penetrate and develop markets 

Hailed as the start-up success story to end all success stories, Uber has used a variety of growth strategies over the years. Today the company is still the dominant ride-sharing app in most Western markets, operating in over 900 cities in 93 countries across the globe.  

One of the most important steps the company took to increase and maintain its market share in the ride-sharing sector was to first penetrate emerging and existing markets, and develop them. Its most successful tool for market penetration was the introduction of new technologies – namely its suite of apps, for both drivers and riders, and later, food delivery drivers and customers.  

By digitising the ride-hailing and payment processes, Uber increased customer convenience, which in turn added quality and boosted satisfaction over that of traditional taxi-cab services. 

This market penetration strategy paid dividends, not only for riders but for drivers too. Benefiting from a purely digitised management platform, Uber drivers have more flexibility over working hours and make more money per ride than they would with more traditional taxi cab services. As Uber’s tech-first strategy lowered the cost of overheads, it only takes between 5-25% of the full ride fee, depending on region. This is less than other traditional taxi firms. 

Once established in the ride-sharing space, Uber began to develop markets by introducing new tiers of ride. These ranged from budget to luxury and expanded to encompass freight delivery and food delivery services. This style of market development has meant that even with the emergence of new ride-sharing apps, Uber remains at the top in its existing markets. 

Learn from customers successes and help replicate them, like Slack 

One of the biggest names in remote team communication, Slack, is now an office must-have. However, when Slack first launched it had to challenge engrained office behaviours and persuade companies to invest in its product. 

One of the best ways Slack did this was by engaging companies to act as testers for its software. Slack then monitored their use, exploring which features were used the most, discovering how the testers integrated the product into their daily workflows and routines. 

By learning which parts of the software worked the best, the company could hone in on its strengths and focus on the features that people found the most useful. One of the best ways it did this was through its user onboarding experience, which clearly demonstrates the platforms best tools and encourages maximum user interaction. 

By focussing on doing a handful of things very well, and clearly illustrating them in the onboarding process, Slack didn’t just grow its business – it helped to change communication behaviours. This is part of the reason why the company, which was only launched in 2013, is used by over 30,000 teams worldwide and estimated to be valued at over $1 billion

Follow Etsy’s example and create a community  

Etsy empowers small business owners to embrace digital sales through its online marketplace. Today the company boasts a valuation of $28 billion, with over 2.5 million active sellers all over the world. 

One of the most successful ways Etsy did this was by harbouring a sense of community among its sellers – 82% of which want to grow their own businesses via the platform. For Etsy’s growth market strategy to work, they had to do two key things: provide support and relinquish control. 

By providing detailed advice and inspiration via the Etsy seller handbook, the company was in effect training it’s sellers on how to grow their platform for them. This included in-depth training on SEO best practices, branding, marketing, productivity and even growth strategies for sellers

This relinquished control of the seller’s own sites to their community of small business owners, who took charge of their own shops. As a result, this motivated them to recruit buyers and create revenue. Many of the sellers cite the support, tools and sense of independence provided by Etsy as the secrets to their own success

RELATED: 4 meeting agendas and templates that are proven to drive strategic growth

Knowing the growth strategies used by some of the world’s most successful companies can give your own business a real advantage. To further explore how to grow your company, read our guide on how you can market your business online for free.

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Your complete business toolkit

Rovva puts everything you need for your business in one place. From an accountancy helpline to a drop-in business lounge - we've got everything covered.