A tree in a lake representing growth marketing

What is Growth Marketing?

May 16, 2023

Welcome to the exciting crossroads where data-driven analysis meets creative problem solving—welcome to growth marketing!

Growth marketing isn't just another buzzword; it's a paradigm shift, a powerful tool that goes beyond traditional marketing to supercharge your business. It's the matrix where creativity intertwines with data, fostering a relentless focus on growth.

In this post, we'll pull back the curtain on growth marketing, illuminating how it reshapes customer engagement, enhances acquisition strategies, and forges ironclad customer retention. So, ready to embark on this transformative journey? Let's dive in!

Growth Marketing vs Traditional Marketing

The juxtaposition of growth marketing and traditional marketing is a compelling one, highlighting the shift from a predominantly one-size-fits-all approach to a more tailored, data-driven strategy.

Traditional marketing has its strengths—it's tried, tested, and has stood the test of time. It focuses primarily on increasing brand awareness and acquiring new customers, often through mass media channels. It paints with broad strokes, and while that can create memorable campaigns, it lacks the precision that modern businesses often require.

Growth marketing, on the other hand, is a like a Swiss army knife. It's not just about acquiring customers, but also activating, retaining, and maximizing the value of these customers. It's an end-to-end strategy that looks at the entire customer journey, using data to understand and optimize every touchpoint.

But it's not about discarding traditional marketing altogether. Instead, growth marketing seeks to augment these established practices with a more iterative, experiment-driven approach. It's about harnessing the power of data, technology, and creative thinking to deliver targeted campaigns that resonate on a deeper level with your audience.

In the following sections, we'll explore how these differences play out in practice and how growth marketing can give businesses a competitive edge in today's fast-paced digital landscape. Stay tuned!

Growth marketing vs growth hacking

Navigating the buzzword-heavy world of modern marketing can often feel like traversing a linguistic labyrinth. Two terms that often get bandied about—and sometimes used interchangeably—are "growth marketing" and "growth hacking." But are they the same thing? Spoiler alert: not quite.

Growth hacking, a term coined in the high-speed, high-stakes world of Silicon Valley startups, is all about rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most efficient ways to grow a business. It's the wild west of marketing—fast, furious, and sometimes a little frenzied. Think of growth hackers as the sprinters in the race, gunning for quick wins and explosive growth, often for early-stage startups.

On the other hand, growth marketing, while still fixated on growth, takes a more strategic and sustainable approach. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Growth marketers are the long-distance runners, focusing not just on quick wins but also on building a consistent, scalable, and sustainable growth model. They use data-driven insights to understand the customer journey, optimize every touchpoint, and foster a more profound engagement that extends beyond the initial conversion.

While growth hacking can often provide the initial thrust needed, especially for startups looking to make a mark, growth marketing is about building momentum and keeping the wheels turning. It's about fostering a growth mindset throughout the organization and creating a culture where every decision, big or small, is aligned with the broader growth objectives.

In essence, while both growth marketing and growth hacking share a common objective—growth—their methods and outlooks differ. Understanding these differences is key to choosing the right approach for your business. As we delve deeper into the universe of growth marketing, we'll explore how it can be leveraged to drive sustainable, long-term growth. Stay tuned!

Core components of a growth marketing strategy

Delving into the toolbox of a growth marketer can feel a bit like peeking into a magician's hat. It's filled with a variety of tools, each with a unique role to play in conjuring the magic of growth. Let's take a closer look at some of these key components that make up a successful growth marketing strategy:

  1. Data Analysis: Growth marketing thrives on data. It’s the compass that guides the growth marketer, offering valuable insights into customer behavior, market trends, and campaign performance. Effective data analysis helps identify what works, what doesn't, and the levers to pull for growth.
  2. Customer Journey Mapping: This is about understanding the path your customers take from first exposure to making a purchase and beyond. It involves identifying key touch points, understanding customer needs and pain points at each stage, and optimizing the journey to enhance customer experience and conversion.
  3. Experimentation and Testing: Growth marketing is a constant cycle of hypothesis, experiment, analyze, and iterate. This process allows growth marketers to test different strategies, learn from results, and continuously improve and optimize their efforts.
  4. Personalization: In the era of customer-centric marketing, personalization is key. It's about delivering the right message to the right person at the right time, enhancing customer engagement, and improving conversion rates.
  5. Cross-Functional Collaboration: Growth marketing is not a siloed effort. It requires seamless collaboration across various teams—product, sales, customer service, and more. Each team brings unique insights, and together, they can drive a cohesive, organization-wide growth strategy.
  6. Retention and Loyalty Programs: Growth marketing extends beyond customer acquisition. It focuses equally on retaining existing customers, fostering loyalty, and maximizing customer lifetime value. Happy customers become brand advocates, fueling organic growth through word-of-mouth referrals.

Remember, a successful growth marketing strategy isn't about ticking boxes. It's a fluid, evolving process, continuously adapting to changes in customer behavior, market dynamics, and business objectives. In the upcoming sections, we’ll dive deeper into each of these components, offering practical tips and strategies to effectively harness their potential. Stay tuned!

Slack: A Masterclass in Growth Hacking and Growth Marketing

Slack's meteoric rise is well known, securing its title as the fastest-growing B2B SaaS company in history. But how did they manage to catapult themselves to such dizzying heights of success?

While still in its beta phase, Slack's founder, Stewart Butterfield, deftly utilized the power of media coverage to spark interest and create a buzz around their innovative communication tool. The result? A staggering 8,000 signups within a single day, ballooning to 15,000 within just two weeks. Now, that's a textbook example of growth hacking in action, leveraging smart tactics for rapid user acquisition.

But the story doesn't end there. Over the ensuing six months, Slack took a strategic turn, transitioning from a sprint to a marathon. The team took on the role of attentive listeners, gathering and analyzing feedback from their burgeoning user base to refine and polish their product.

Upon the official launch, armed with an established brand and an impressive trajectory of growth, Slack shifted its focus towards a more sustainable and consistent growth strategy. This phase was all about acquiring new users, yes, but also ensuring an enhanced and satisfying platform experience to retain them. This, my friends, is the essence of growth marketing.

From an impressive growth hack to a refined growth marketing strategy, Slack's journey offers invaluable lessons for businesses looking to scale.

Examples of growth marketing campaigns

Your e-commerce business needs a boost. Customers buy, but small orders don't cover acquisition costs. What do you do?

You try cross-selling and upselling. Pair products or suggest premium options. Engage customers for repeat purchases, where acquisition costs don't factor. Regular, personalized email marketing can encourage revisits and increase sales.

In short: Recommend more, engage often, communicate regularly. This is the path to healthier profits.

This may not seem like rocket science but it's exactly what growth marketing is all about, there's even a framework that growth marketers use that lays it out clearly, the AARRR framework.

What is the AARRR framework?

The AARRR framework is one of the most vital models in growth marketing. It stands for Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, and Revenue. Let's break it down:

  1. Acquisition: This is where you attract and bring users to your product or service for the first time. It involves understanding where your users are coming from. Are they finding you through search engines (organic search), social media, paid advertising, or perhaps direct referrals? Understanding the channels that bring you the most valuable traffic is key in this stage.
  2. Activation: Acquisition alone isn't enough. Once users find you, you want them to have a good first experience, to "activate". This can mean different things depending on your product or service. For a blog, it could mean a visitor reading an article or subscribing to your newsletter. For a software product, it could mean a user signing up for a trial or making their first action in the app.
  3. Retention: Now you've got users, and they've had a positive first experience. Next, you want them to keep coming back – that's retention. Are your users returning to your product or service after their initial use? If not, it's important to understand why and address those issues. Retaining customers often costs less than acquiring new ones and increases customer lifetime value.  Getting customer feedback is key at this stage.
  4. Referral: Happy customers can become your best advocates. The referral phase of the AARRR framework involves turning your users into promoters who refer your product or service to others. This can be encouraged through various strategies, like creating a referral program that gives them benefits for referring others.  If you don't have one already you should definitely explore how the best referral programs work.
  5. Revenue: Finally, the part that makes it all worthwhile - revenue. This is where you convert those users into paying customers. This can be accomplished through various monetization strategies, and understanding which ones work best for your customer base is essential.

Remember, the AARRR model is cyclical and each part feeds into the next. As a growth marketer, you'll want to measure how users flow through each of these stages, find where they're dropping off, and then work on strategies to improve those areas. It's all about testing, learning, and iterating.

Successful growth marketers understand that this model is key to their growth marketing strategies.

Key performance indicators for growth marketing teams

  1. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): This KPI calculates the average expense your business incurs to acquire a new customer. This includes the cost of all marketing and advertising efforts. The lower the CAC, the more efficient your growth marketing strategies.
  2. Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV): This is an estimate of the total profit your business can make from a single customer over the lifetime of their relationship with your brand. This KPI is useful to identify your most valuable customer segments.
  3. Churn Rate: This measures the number of customers who stop doing business with you within a specified period. A lower churn rate signifies that your customer retention strategies are working.
  4. Purchase Frequency: This KPI measures how often your customers are buying from you in a specific period. It's a crucial indicator of customer loyalty and satisfaction.
  5. Net Promoter Score (NPS): This index ranges from -100 to 100 and gauges customers' willingness to recommend your products or services to others. It's a useful tool for understanding overall customer satisfaction and loyalty to your brand.
  6. Conversion Rate: This is the percentage of customers who complete a desired action. Depending on your business, this might mean making a purchase, booking a service, signing up for a newsletter, or any other goal of your growth marketing campaign.
  7. Revenue Growth Rate: The ultimate indicator of a successful growth marketing team is a consistent or increasing rate of revenue growth. This KPI shows whether your marketing strategies and tactics are positively affecting your bottom line.
  8. Social Media Engagement: This involves metrics like follower count, likes, shares, comments, and other forms of engagement. These indicators offer insights into how well your content resonates with your audience and can help you assess the effectiveness of your social media strategies.

Wrapping it all up

As you can see,  growth marketers are very different from a growth hacker.  Growth marketers look at the complete customer journey and a successful growth marketing campaign is based on customer data and business growth.

Growth marketing isn't just a digital marketing strategy.  Yes, in todays world digital marketing is a big part of it but this shouldn't stop you picking up the phone to call your early customers.  If you want to retain customers and really understand user behavior you need to talk to customers.

This is what Zapier did in their early days.  They spoke to customers regularly and built strong one-on-one relationships thereby creating brand champions.  They didn't just focus on boosting revenue, they focused on building relationships and understanding customer needs.  A lot of these calls generated new ideas that they could implement which helped the business expand.

Whilst growth hacking sounds exciting and sexy, a strong growth marketing strategy means consistent growth over time with a lower customer acquisition costs, more loyal customers from a better customer experience and generally a better ROI from your marketing budget.

Unlike traditional marketing methods, growth marketers bring the data from your search engine optimization and your whole marketing funnel beyond just acquisition but builds loyal customers by marketing to the complete customer lifecycle.

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