9 Free Tools to Growth Hack Your SaaS Startup (Based on Real Life usage)

9 Free Tools to Growth Hack Your SaaS Startup (Based on Real Life usage)

Growth hacking is a concept that aims to generate business growth in a short period of time, using minimal to no resources.

Contrary to a popular belief, growth hacking is not just about marketing. It also includes product, engineering and sales aspects that help you move fast and acquire customers faster.

While growth hacking is less about the tools and more about the way you implement your ideas, tools still play an important part as they speed-en up the growth hacking process.

Today, I will share my list of 9 free tools that we used (and are still using) at OnPage Champ to growth hack our way to acquire 100 users within the first week of our launch, and 500 users by the end of our first quarter.

Being a SaaS startup ourselves, we understand the importance of free/freemium product offerings. That’s why we are featuring only the free tools in this list.

These tools are in no particular order and their ease of use varies from being extremely simple to being extremely technical in nature.

1. FullStory

Purpose: Understanding the in app user behavior 

Free plan: 1000 sessions/month

Ease of use: Moderately technical, you need developer’s help to embed the code and pass information from your system to FullStory. But once set, it’s a goldmine.

How we benefited?

FullStory captures the user activity across sessions;recording the way your user interacts with your app, the buttons they click, the pages they visit and so on. 

Seeing the user activity of your early adopters opens floodgates of UX insights for you. In our case, user behavior was exactly the opposite of what we had expected, thereby making us revisit our onboarding sequence and messages.

What about privacy?

Don’t worry, there’s no compromise with the users’ data security & privacy. FullStory masks all the sensitive data by itself. In addition, you can also specify more data fields that should be masked. So our users enjoy full privacy, while we can still see how they interact with our app.


2. Loom

Purpose: Creating quick videos/product tutorials 

Free plan: Unlimited videos a month (but you can share only 25 of them via Loom). However, you can download any number of videos and use them the way you want.

Ease of use: Extremely easy to use. No video editing skills required. 100% web based, though you can also install their desktop app.

How we benefited?

Video editing is not an inhouse skill set for us at OnPage Champ, neither do we plan to have it pretty soon. 

Loom allows us to create videos and edit them (especially screen grabs) with lot of ease. Right now, we have created a couple of case studies and demo videos and we plan to continue keep using Loom further.

Here’s one of the case studies that we recorded a couple of days back.

Does the video look cool? Probably not much.

Does the video deliver value? Definitely yes.

Did it help generate engagement? Yes….and that’s what matters to us right now.


3. ChargeBee

Purpose: Invoicing and billing management

Free plan: Chargebee is free-to-use for first USD 50k worth of billing (cumulative)

Ease of use: It seamlessly connects with Stripe, Paypal and any backend system (via an API). It needs to be configured for your needs (by your web developer), but once done, your marketing function can pretty much do most of the things independently.

How we benefited?

I knew about ChargeBee right from the start of our SaaS journey so it was our de facto choice.

Invoicing & recurring payments management is a critical piece of workflow for any SaaS business, and we would have easily spent hundreds of hours of development effort to build even 1% of what ChargeBee provides. 

ChargeBee Menu options

With ChargeBee, we got a free working solution. Our only investment was 2-3 days of dev effort in understanding the platform and configuring it to our needs.


4. SendInBlue

Purpose: Email marketing and automation

Free plan: 300 emails a day and upto 2000 subscribers in database

Ease of use: Complex, you need at least an intermediate level marketer to understand and use the functionality of SendInBlue. Thankfully, their support is awesome (even for free plans) and that smoothens the product adoption phase.

How we benefited?

Your email database is your biggest asset, and you need powerful tools that can help you mine your email lists.

SendinBlue

After trying a couple of email solutions (including MailChimp), we finally settled with SendInBlue.

SendInBlue is probably one of the handful of solutions that open up a large part of their functionality even to their free users. 

We were literally frustrated with email services that had a free plan but were restricting the usage basis the functionality (in addition to the free emails that can be sent). When it comes to an email software, you easily need 2-3 months to become aware of your needs and settling down with a software.

In my opinion, a mere 14 day free trial or highly restricted access is not just enough when it comes to an email marketing software.

And now that we are pretty much settled with SendInBlue, I have already upgraded my subscription to their Lite Plan.


5. Bonjoro

Purpose: User engagement

Free plan: 50 Bonjoros a month

Ease of use: Once you appreciate that Bonjoro is personalized email marketing (but done through videos), you will understand the workflow they have built within the tool.

How we benefited?

Email marketing has a low engagement & conversion rate. That’s why it works when you have a bigger database.

But for startups like ours which are still in product market fit journey, it’s necessary to generate engagement, build relationships and at times, surprise our users.

Bonjoro’s video email solution helps us with all three.

Talking from my initial experiment, I recorded 10 Bonjoros for a select group of OnPage Champ’s new users. I got a reply back from 3 users and 1 of them converted into a paid user.

Bonjoro App

Now this is a small sample set to draw any definite conclusion, but I have high hopes from Bonjoro and we will keep using it for some more time to see its impact.

Our sole purpose behind sending video messages is not just sales. Bonjoro helps in building brand, recall value and trust. Sales is a byproduct.


6. Hootsuite

Purpose: Social media scheduling & automation

Free plan: 3 social media platforms, plus max 30 scheduled messages 

Ease of use: Takes less than 2 minutes to get started. Just integrate the social media platform  within the Hootsuite app, and you can get rolling.

How we benefited?

We use Hootsuite for scheduling all our social media posts across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. A couple of hours a week on Hootsuite is enough to save a couple of days worth of social media management time. 

Plus it also helps us monitor the brand and drive online conversations.

Recently we picked up their 2 months free trial for one of their paid plans, and we are sure we will upgrade thereafter.

Here’s how the streams look on Hootsuite:

Hootsuite example


7. Intro.JS

Purpose: User onboarding 

Free plan: Intro.JS is an open source, customizable library.

Ease of use: You need technical support to implement Intro.JS.

How we benefited?

User onboarding is an important step for any SaaS solution. 

Unfortunately, all existing solutions are heavily priced. We couldn’t find a free solution which we could try for at least a couple of months before we commit to it.

Thankfully, Intro.JS is a simple yet powerful library that can solve the purpose, atleast during the initial stages. This is a plain vanilla library that helps you put onboarding messages in your workflow. There’s no analytics or segmented workflows available, but you can do all that stuff through custom code. 

My suggestion is to atleast get started with Intro.JS, identify your needs, let your onboarding workflows mature and then commit to a full fledged solution.

Here’s how we are using Intro.JS within OnPage Champ (by the way,we changed the look and feel through CSS, it doesn’t look so beautifull in its original form). 

IntroJS example


8. Undraw.co

Purpose: Illustrations for your website/apps

Free plan: Open source library

Ease of use: Illustrations that can be download as SVG/PNG for free

How we benefited?

We use Undraw illustrations within the OnPage Champ tool. The good thing is that you can add your brand color to the images, that too online, without using an image editing software.

Undraw saves us scores of hours of design effort, plus makes our app visually appealing.

Here’s one of the screenshot of how we use Undraw illustrations during our onboarding process:-

Undraw usage


9. OnPage Champ

Purpose: Competitor on-page SEO analysis & tracking

Free plan: Free for 10 SERP Audits & 1 month website change tracking

Ease of use: Just signup and start using, needs no integration or setup

How we benefited?

We eat our own dog food and have been using OnPage Champ right from the day we went live.

While there are multiple benefits, the biggest benefit is that OnPage Champ easily saves us 20-30 hours worth of competitor research time each month. 

We don’t need to manually go and observe the content structure of the top ranking pages. OnPage Champ does it for us in just 30 seconds.

SERP Audit_onpage champ

Additionally, we use OnPage Champ to keep a track of changes done to our as well as our competitors’ website. 

That helps us understand the direction which the competitor is going, the keywords they are targeting and the pages they are actively doing SEO for. That opens up a lot of opportunities for us.


 

Conclusion

At OnPage Champ, we have used all of these tools to save time & staying focussed on building our SaaS product.

The best part is that these tools are either free or offer generous freemium plan, sufficient for the needs of a new SaaS business.

Which is your favorite tool from this list? Or is your favorite free tool outside of this list?

Either ways, do mention the tool name in the comments below.

2 thoughts on “9 Free Tools to Growth Hack Your SaaS Startup (Based on Real Life usage)”

  1. Hi Tushar, At first thanks for this great article. I am a great fan of OnPageChamp and really it saves 20-30 hours. I am also a fan of FullStory and Loom. Thanks, again and waiting for the next problem-solving article for you.

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