By Phil Laboon, CEO & co-founder of Growth Stackers.

One of the biggest misconceptions of growth hacking is that it's a shortcut to success. While growth hacking can be highly successful, it's hardly a shortcut. In reality, it requires a ton of creative strategy, days testing various ad formulas and even more time to analyze the sea of data these tests produce.

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet growth hack that works for every company, but I have put together a few high-level growth hacking strategies that I have seen work well for startup brands.

Build a Buyer's Journey

A huge mistake startups make is assuming people are aware of what's happening behind the scenes of their company. Although you might know that your company is hard-working, ethical, creative, unique, etc., the general public has no idea.

It's essential to have a plan of how your company is going to cut through the noise of the everyday ad saturation and get your brand to stand out from thousands of others. Before testing growth hacking strategies, brainstorm different buyer journeys from the discovery of the company to the closed sale. Different parts of the buyer's journey include:

Top of the funnel: How will you get someone interested in learning more about your product or service without being self-promotional?

Mid-Funnel: How will you educate the client on how your product or service is different from your competitors?

Bottom of the funnel: What specials or discounts are you willing to give to get the prospect to pull the trigger and make the purchase?

Out of the Box Offers

One of the quickest ways to see a spike in sales and traffic is by building creative offers. Many startups get lazy and simply offer cash discounts, which can actually devalue their brand. Offer a low-cost product, free express shipping or an over-top warranty. Here are some out of the box offers that have worked well for my clients:

Order any phone case and get an industrial charging cable and screen protector for free. Buy any item in our store and we will extend the warranty by 99 years (100) years total.   
Buy our course in the next 24 hours and we will include actual contracts we use at no additional cost. We have spent tens of thousands over the years building these contracts and you won't find them anywhere else.

Split Test Everything

Growth hacking is all about the data. If you aren't analyzing every piece of information in your funnel, you're doing it wrong. Constantly split test every aspect of your funnel. Here are a few variables that companies should continually split test:

Ad groups: age, gender, location, interests, job titles, income, ad placement, ad frequency, cross-channel strategies

On-page: call to actions, color schemes, mobile and desktop layouts, body copy, number of form fields, video

Emails: titles, imagery, "from" names, user behavior, exclusive content, industry news

Provide High-Value Content

One of the best ways to build a company is to build a community around the brand. One of the most efficient ways to do this is by creating Facebook groups that offer real value to their members. While you don't have to give away every hard-won piece of knowledge that you've ever learned, you should share high-level wisdom that your audience may not know.

Tricks to a successful group:

Don't get greedy: While you can make the occasional sales pitch or offer, don't overly sell your members or you will lose their trust and interest.

Add in educational videos: Use video to build a relationship with the group. Video gives you the chance to get in front of the members and lets them put a face to the name. It will help them feel like they are getting to know you.

Exclusivity is key: No one wants to be a part of an open group where anyone off the street can join. Always make your Facebook groups closed and ask some qualifying questions regarding why someone wants to join. Not only does the member feel like the group has more credibility, this also weeds out spammers.  

Phil Laboon is a serial entrepreneur and currently the CEO & co-founder of the fast-growing performance marketing company Growth Stackers.