Growth Hacking case study

This is a Growth Hacking Case Study that explains, step by step, how we gained our client 100,000 new users and 400+ quality backlinks in only 11 days, riding the Pokemon Go superwave

Like most progressive growth teams, we’re always on the lookout for different content types and angles to pull in traffic and drive conversions for our clients. One of our weekly brainstorms brought up the idea of a stat counter site, that reflects an industry’s sales, downloads or revenue numbers in realtime. We found a great way to code up the stat counter and saw a nice topic fit with AppInstitute, one of our clients in the DIY app builder space.

We began by looking for a public API we could plug into for data, with no luck. But we did come across a few regularly updated stats sites that would work as a base to extrapolate figures from. And decided to move forward with a site design that showed data that ticks up with every second that a user is on the page.


The focus of the piece was app store downloads and revenues, specifically the top performers in each category.

The site was just about complete and our promotion strategy in place, when Pokemon Go was released. And it quickly became clear that this was more than just another game on the app store. So we began the scramble to restructure the site around the Pokemon Go growth story.

We went back to our stat sources and decided to use the following figures as a starting point:

Pixel Road put together this great infographic to showcase some of the mind-blowing stats surrounding the success of Pokémon Go — the biggest mobile app game in U.S. history.

Pixel Road put together this great infographic to showcase some of the mind-blowing stats surrounding the success of Pokémon Go — the biggest mobile app game in U.S. history.

We knew there was only a limited amount of time to promote this site before the interest wore off and people got sick of hearing about Pokemon Go. So the pressure was on to get it live and in front of the right people.

Here’s what the site looks like today. The page shows the Pokemon Go iOS and Android downloads occur every second while you are on it.

appinstitute pokemon go landing page

In this case study we’ll be fleshing out everything we did to promote the site on a limited budget – using growth hacking techniques – to get a traffic spike of 92,000+ visitors in just 7 days, and over 115,000+ visitors in 3 weeks.


Step 1: Finding out where our audience was most active online

Here we were looking to build a target list of communities and forums of people who’d be most interested in this site. Our initial list included Reddit, Quora, Facebook groups and Twitter accounts.

Pokemon go on Quora, Reddit and Twitter

And from there we found a number of Pokemon Go forums where the most passionate and engaged communities were.

Step 2: Identifying publications, journalists and bloggers who would be interested in our piece

Over the years we’ve found a lot of opportunity in Twitter as a starting point for identifying prospects and influencers.

One of the best sources is Twitter lists built by industry leaders. We were after journalists working at major tech blogs and news sites. And it didn’t take long to find this post that listed a number of great Twitter lists including:

Because many Twitter lists are automatically built by bots, it’s often best to find articles featuring lists.

We used Kimono to extract member details and made our way around the standard scrape limitations by naming our CSS selectors in the Data Model View and exporting the data as a CSV in the Raw Data View.

kimono labs in action

After that, we moved on to Followerwonk to export profiles that mentioned keywords like tech reporter and tech journalist in their bios.  

Finally, we used Justreachout and Buzzstream to find journalists who’d written about Pokemon Go in the past. At the time, this initial search didn’t return too many results, but the quality was really high.

So we broadened the search and expanded to include journalists and reporters who’d written about games and apps.

app pillar promotion on excel and justreachout

Step 3: Refining the lists

At this point we had a few hundred email addresses, thousands of Twitter profiles, tech blogs, groups and forum URLs.

We now needed to remove all the least relevant records, find additional details for the best records and prioritize each of the channels. Nothing fancy here, just filters and tabs, the end result of which was a list of 1, 2, and 3 tier prospects for outreach.

Step 4: Getting the email addresses associated with Twitter profiles

Once we’d removed all the irrelevant Twitter profiles, we looked into how we could find email addresses associated with each record. We wound doing it in the following ways:

  • Using Kimono to extract the name, domain and bio from Twitter profiles
  • Looking through the bio text for email addresses
  • Running the name, surname and domain through Email Hunter’s addon in Google Sheets


EmailHunter Google Chrome extension

The preparation above was all done while the site was still getting built. We’d identified a list of the places we needed to be showing up, the people we needed to contact, and a way to contact them. Now it was just a case of being ready to press play the minute the site got final sign off.  We handled most of the email outreach through Replyapp, made direct contact over social media ourselves, and briefed a team of virtual assistants on all other manual outreach tasks.

ReplyApp screenshot

We kept our messaging short, simple and to the point without pitching.

example of cold email

Here you are an example of email template you can use:

Hello {{first_name}},
I thought your readers may be interested in {{topic}} about {{niche}}.
Our team have recently put together {{post title}}. And we're getting some great feedback from it.
You can check it out at: {{link}}
Hope you find this useful.
{{your signature}}

Twitter outreach and following

We decided to try get a little more mileage out of the Twitter profiles we’d collected. So we tasked our VA team to follow every Twitter account on the list, like and retweet one of their posts, and direct message anyone with an open inbox.

direct messages on twitter

We pinned a post about our piece to the top of our main outreach profile’s feed and mentioned the site in our bio. We also used Social Quant to automate the liking and following of everyone who mentioned keywords and phrases related to Pokemon Go.

Personal twitter account twitting about Pokemon Go

Facebook posting and direct messaging

We messaged target profiles directly, including journalists and Facebook page owners. We also left posts on key Facebook pages.

Facebook private message to Fan Page

Community posts

We set up profiles across the biggest Pokemon Go forums and posted new threads with links to the site.

Pokemon Go stats on a forum topic

We asked and answered questions related to different aspects of the stats site on Quora, receiving upvotes, comments and engagement from the community.

Answers and questions about Pokemon Go on Quora

We posted links to the most relevant subreddits to start conversations around the stats presented. We used different titles for each subreddit, avoiding in that way to look too spammy to redditors. 

Reddit posts about Pokemon Go

Paid Promotion

We ran an Adwords campaign targeting specific phrases including Pokemon Go revenue, Pokemon Go stats, Pokemon Go downloads, etc.  As well as a Facebook ad campaign targeting senior journalists and reporters who’d shown an interest in Pokemon Go.

Facebook Adv

Aside from that, on the social front we also promoted the piece on Quuu – a tool to promote your content to to real people with thousands of interested followers across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ – to the mobile app development community which aligned nicely with AppInstitute’s core market.

quuu screenshot


Within one week we were able to generate 92,000+ sessions to this page. And from there it only took another two weeks to reach 115,000+ sessions. Most of that traffic came through organic searches and news site referrals. 


The site was featured on TNW, BGR, Tech in Asia, Android Authority, Geeks ULTD among others. Not just as a reference, but in most cases as the main feature with AppInstitute’s name getting mentioned in almost every article.

TNW, BGR, Tech in Asia, Android Authority, Geeks ULTD

Beyond just traffic, the exposure generated for AppInstitute was huge.

the exposure generated for AppInstitute was huge

From an SEO perspective, the client earned 442 backlinks from 279 high authority domains and began ranking for 294 keywords.

pokemon go app download and revenue in real time screenshot on ahrefs

These backlinks also had a massive impact on AppInstitute’s core keywords which were all bumped up as a result. The screenshot above shows updated data from ahrefs, a SEO Backlink Checker & Competitor Research Tools.

And the site is still seeing loads of traffic coming through search engines, referrals from blogs and Facebook.

real time visitors on Analytics

One of the key contributing factors to this piece going viral, is the social sharing buttons beneath each section on the site. Instead of just using regular sharing buttons, we built Pokeballs that buzzed, with the SHARE THIS call-to-action.  We believe this had a huge impact on the number of likes and shares the site generated and the total engagement tally is now well over 5.4k.

total shares of pokemon go real time stats

We set up individual social share messages for each of the different sections of the site. So that someone could see or even share 7 different posts pointing to the site that each had a unique headline.

7 different posts pointing to the site that each had a unique headline

While much of the success of this project is owed to being in the right place at the right time, it’s also the result of a willingness to go all out when trying new things and jump on a new opportunity that presents itself in the moment.

If you’d like to find more about how we can help accelerate your growth, working with us at BusinessApps, please feel free to get in touch.

Grow your Business
with Data Driven Marketing
and Intelligent Growth Hacking