7 reasons Dropbox grows to $ 4 billion

Original author: Zach Baligo
  • Transfer

Did you know that Dropbox spends a modest amount on advertising, but despite this, its cost has grown to 4 billion dollars? What is the secret to success? Everything is simple and complicated at the same time. At the forefront are tactics of "explosive growth", which we will discuss in this article.

What does the term “Growth Hacking” mean? Instead of “buying” with the help of traditional advertising of each individual new client, you can solve this problem on a different scale. In other words, the price of receiving each individual client will tend to zero. You will only have to pay directly for the implementation of growth tactics in your company, and further business growth will cost you almost nothing.

For example, one of the growth tactics is to encourage some of the existing users in order to attract others. Such stimulation can be souvenirs with your company logo or preferential (free?) Monthly service. Another example is icons or buttons that websites can “embed” in their code. These icons or buttons will direct the visitor back to the site, which will serve as an advertisement. Below we describe some of the tactics of the "explosive growth" of Dropbox.

Dropbox has received many awards, including the 2011 Best Startup Award and the Webby for Best Services and Practices (“exemplary website” and “best web service”). Today it is no secret that the founders of this company, Drew Newston and Arash Ferdousi, rejected the nine-digit offer to buy their business from Steve Jobs.

Here are some facts about the scope of Dropbox:

  • The company's profit in 2012 amounted to $ 116 million, and in 2013 it was expected to grow to $ 200 million.
  • In January 2014, Dropbox earned $ 250 million at an estimated value of $ 10 billion.
  • Every 24 hours, 1 billion files are stored on Dropbox.
  • Dropbox is used by more than 200 million users.
  • This company employs over 500 people.
  • Dropbox is installed on 250 million devices.

Not every SaaS company can achieve such success in 4 years (regardless - with or without advertising). So what led to such an extraordinary growth of Dropbox? I will share a few techniques that Dropbox has integrated into its service, leading to an incredible growth in the popularity of a company offering remote data storage.

1. Registration page

The first thing visitors to Dropbox notice is its simple structure. Simplicity is the principle behind the entire Dropbox service. A two-minute video (noticeable without scrolling) gives an idea of ​​the Dropbox product. This video is one of those elements that were present on their site from the very beginning.





The number of options on the main page is limited. Clearly, Dropbox wants its visitors to register. This is similar to what many private beta startups do before the official launch. The video on the home page shows the product for promotional purposes.

So you can set the level of interest in the service by counting the number of registration requests.

You may be tempted to add the latest press release, large article or product image to the home page of your site, especially if you think that in this way you can increase the level of potential consumer confidence and conversion. In some cases, this may actually work, but more often this approach leads to page overload. Each time you are tempted to do this, remember that Dropbox instantly earned 70,000 users by simply posting a demo video.

Do not say anything to your users! Your superior product must speak for itself. You will not need any additional arguments!

2. Easy registration

The registration process consists of just a few steps. The user can do this from his "desktop" - not even a browser is needed.


As soon as the user has registered (through a web program or desktop) and installed Dropbox on his computer, the service automatically sends him a folder with a photo and a text file with a guide to get started.


This helps new users quickly adapt to Dropbox and its features.

At the time of its popularity, MySpace added Tom as a friend to all newly registered. Facebook encourages its users to search for friends by e-mail. Mint is a weekly newsletter distributor. Amazon daily sends out emails with data on the goods that you recently searched. Some eCommerce (e-commerce) sites send letters with coupons at a 10% discount if you haven’t ordered anything from them for a while.

How will you help your customers get acquainted with a product or service? What will you do to get them back again?

3. Invite a friend

According to Houston, such invitations increased Dropbox registrations by 60%. Dropbox has greatly simplified the dissemination of information about its product to users; this process is even encouraged. For example, a user who has invited someone else to the service is supposed to, as well as the newcomer himself, have 500 MB of additional space.
Dropbox makes it easy to invite new users:

Via e-mail:


By link:


Friends' recommendations in any case deserve more trust than advertising. Moreover, the inviter himself is motivated to attract new customers to Dropbox, as he receives additional space. The invitee is also interested in registering, as in this case he will receive more space than just a new client. All this costs Dropbox 1GB of space, which is significantly cheaper than paying Google AdWords for advertising.

Before you pay for advertising on Google or Facebook, think about whether you can organize your “invite a friend” program. People respond quickly to promotion. You can track the effectiveness of your program, using it as an experiment. If you do not know where to start creating this program or are looking for instructions, go to Curebit.

4. Media

We all saw the signs “Like us on Facebook” or “Join us on Twitter” on store doors. All this has become too banal and mundane, so no one pays any attention. Some companies offer bonuses for the fact that the customer likes them, for example, arrange sales at discount prices for Facebook fans.
Dropbox came up with something else. Each new Twitter follower or Facebook contact receives 125 MB of additional storage:


Dropbox has more than 720,000 followers on Twitter today. Of course, it cannot be argued that this was the reason for the breakthrough of the company, but the extra contacts didn’t hurt it.
Dropbox encourages its customers to join them on Facebook or Twitter, providing them with an additional platform to promote their product.

Now it’s not enough to have a Twitter or Facebook account and hang signs on the front door of the store. If you have an e-commerce site, think about the possibility of providing 10% discounts on each order for all your contacts on the social network.

The “trick” is that the subscriber can like you when placing an order, and then, after receiving the order and the discount, remove it. The point is to create an API to work only with regular, loyal customers, and not with those who are just trying to get a bonus.

5. Easy file sharing

Dropbox enables simplified file sharing. Neither the recipient nor the sender will have to do much. To share galleries with people you just need to copy the link:


This is similar to how people easily share their photos on Facebook:


When sending photos posted on the Dropbox website, this company gets access to new potential users. When an unregistered person looks through a gallery, he automatically sees the following short message:

“Zach Baligo created this gallery very simple. The user only needs to add the files to the “.
Create your own public gallery on Dropbox. ”

Users can also copy the link directly from their desktop.


Even in this ad, Dropbox pays attention to its trump card - simplicity.

Sharing folders

If a user wants to share a folder with his friend on Dropbox, he must also be registered. This tactic increases the number of Dropbox users exponentially.

Sharing file links

Remember when everyone used Megaupload, Rapidshare, Hotfile and other hosting sites to download files? These resources were crammed with all kinds of advertising, “premium accounts”, for which higher download speed and lack of waiting time were offered, as well as other attributes of making money. All this diverted attention from the main goal of the visitor - the ability to download the desired file without getting through millions of paid services!

Dropbox solved this problem.
If the user wants to share the file, he simply applies the 'Get Link' function on the desktop or on the network. Those who need to download the file will see this image:


No ads, no urgent registration requirements, no waiting for a download link. A blank page with an emphasis only on the file itself.

Compare with the download page on Megaupload:


Here a lot of attention is paid to advertising and various ways to make a visitor pay Megaupload. If the visitor does not want to do this, he will have to wait for a free download for at least 35 seconds.
If this can teach us anything, it is to use the weaknesses of competitors to improve the quality of our own service. Earn on their shortcomings.

Not all companies have file sharing functionality. If your business needs it, make the sharing process as simple as possible. Take the example from Facebook or Dropbox. Simplicity is the cornerstone of all these companies. When users share information with unregistered people, Dropbox gets the opportunity to show the speed, simplicity, design and usefulness of its service. How does your product show itself when users give a link to it to others?

6. Dropquest (space quest in Dropquest)

Dropquest is a Dropbox contest that involves users solving various puzzles and the game “hunting for trash” (a game whose participants must find and collect certain items for a limited amount of time). Those who pass tests among the best 176 receive additional space and / or a souvenir. Announcements about games on the blog collect a lot of likes and tweets.
Dropquest has attracted a wide audience from the world of technology to Dropbox.

For a company, such contests can be a great way to create excitement and rumors about their brand. If you have not tried this option, then start with a fun contest among your users, and with prizes make the goods of your company. This can be a good PR move.

7. Availability on many devices and platforms

For a product like Dropbox, it’s very important initially to work on different platforms. People should have access to the service anytime, anywhere. According to one of the company's founders and CEO Drew Houston, being accessible everywhere is a key task for Dropbox.

In the world today, about 20 million users of Ubuntu (Linux). Dropbox released a version of the program for Linux, and until that time, users of this platform did not have a free remote storage service. Continuing its practice of accessibility on a wide variety of platforms, Dropbox makes its services acceptable to everyone.

About 2.0% of Dropbox users use exclusively Linux. Based on the total number of Dropbox users (50 million), it turns out that at least one million are running on Linux. This is a million people, each of whom can distribute the product further, showing their galleries to others, attracting friends, adding them to social networks and so on.

In addition to Linux, Dropbox supports Blackberry, despite the decline in their market share. This product is available even on even less popular devices, such as Symbian.

Accessibility on most platforms is not just important for Dropbox. This opportunity can also be used to stimulate company growth. A single Symbian user can spread the word about Dropbox and share it with a Mac user who shares the discovery with hundreds of people.

The company's CEO, Houston, has big plans for Dropbox. The founders of Dropbox achieved everything without ads, they were just where their users were, made things simple and applied several tactics of “explosive growth”. Startups are always difficult to promote, but, using some of the tactics of "explosive growth" in your company, you can simplify the achievement of your goal. To make your work as effective as possible, do not forget about customer retention.

Have you tried any of the tactics? What else, in your opinion, could lead Dropbox to success?

Also popular now: