What is Growth Marketing?

Real sustained growth isn't about getting lucky. Even a perfect product or service needs a well-executed marketing plan. Good ideas catch on in the market when a good strategy supports them. So what is growth marketing, and how do you implement it?

Growth marketing means using data to rapidly grow and keep your audience. It means you kill bad ideas quickly and scale good ideas just as fast. The entire toolbox of marketing channels is available for your use.

business growth and success chart - isolated over a white background

The term Growth Marketing covers a lot of techniques and tactics designed to grow businessesespecially in the startup worldefficiently and quickly. Depending on who you ask, Growth Marketing may be considered more or less synonymous with Growth Hacking.

Growth marketers constantly tinker with ads and website pages and constantly A/B test a variety of hypotheses, all with the goal of increasing customer acquisition numbers.

There are myriad tools available that enable marketers to know precisely how people interact with their content. The resulting data enables you to adapt to your audience, plug any holes in your efforts, and capitalize on the successes.

If something isn't performing, it doesn't matter how good it looks. Growth marketers need to monitor metrics that include landing page conversion rates, email open and clickthrough rates, ad performance, blog traffic, and free trial conversion rates, to name but a few.


So just what is growth marketing?

It is an analytically directed function within your organization that focuses on the data side of marketing more than on the creative aspects. It is constantly designing and conducting experiments to optimize and improve results in a targeted area.

What is referred to as Pirate Metrics directs much of the activity delineated as growth marketing. The term pirate comes from the acronym for these metrics: AAARRR. This stands for:

  • Awareness
  • Acquisition
  • Activation
  • Revenue
  • Retention
  • Referral


Awareness: The brand-building effort that conveys information about your brand to prospects and makes them aware of your solution to one or more of their pain points. Tactics include social media outreach, SEO optimization, and top-of-the-funnel offers. Growth marketers might experiment with a social media strategy to see what frequency of posts most effectively drives blog traffic or what kind of content gets the most engagement.

Acquisition: The process of generating leads and getting new customers through gated content, chatbots, premiums upon sign-up, etc. The growth marketer could try and increase the number of form submissions by experimenting with messaging, button orientation, color, and/or page orientation.

Activation: Refers to the onboarding process for new or returning customers purchasing additional products and services. The objective is to get them to use what they purchase as much as possible and as quickly as possible.

Revenue: All the actions that make your company money, including the purchase of products, signing of a contract, or upgrading currently purchased products or services. Growth marketers can address revenue-related metrics by experimenting with pricing strategies or how prices are displayed online. They might also look at upselling tactics like messaging users as they approach the limits on their existing plan or subscription.

Retention: This is keeping customers delighted. Growth marketers can look at how personalized support for existing customers increases retention, or how to improve the value each user gains from using your product or service.

Referral: If people remain delighted with your brand, they'll refer new potential customers. Growth marketers can also look at creating referral programs to incentivize existing customers to encourage these referrals.


Growth marketing best practices

Stay current: Understand the trends in your industry and uncover new tactics to take advantage of growth opportunities. Follow well-regarded blogs and industry sites that follow these trends.

(Legally) obtain quality emails, social signups, and shares: Use email addresses gained through sign-ups from social channels for your website so new publications will get in front of potential customers.

Create quality content: You will only succeed online with great content. It can be blogging, photography on a business site, or great software, depending on what your product is. Stay customer-centric and make things great for others to share and consume.

Have a narrow focus: You can be an expert in a field, and people will associate you and your website with that service or product when you focus narrowly. Having an already established association with your brand lowers the cost to acquire and then reengage that customer.

Offer proof: Unless you're a huge brand, nobody has reason to believe your website is legitimate. Use media proof, social proof, and customer testimony to strengthen your brand and increase trust in it.

Use creative thinking: Every business carries its own nuances, and tactics have different efficacy across industries over time. Great ideas fatigue. Consumer sentiment changes, and competitors mimic tactics that are shown to work well. The first mover always has the advantage. Being smart about growth is supremely important.


Growth marketing for startups

A big advantage startups have over mature businesses is that they haven't yet had the time or need to develop layers of process and red tape. They can let data dictate the direction and immediately act on new information in designing their marketing.

Along with this advantage, however, startups are under huge pressure to grow quickly. This pressure can make it tempting to let intuition guide your marketing decisions. Remember that relying on data helps you better anticipate problems and capitalize on early successes. Then you can adapt even faster to changes in your market. This is how growth marketing works.

Growth marketing in the startup world can take the form of amazingly low-cost actions that are validated by the results they bring in. Everybody’s favorite example is Dropbox giving out storage for referrals and bringing in an astounding amount of new business that cost them pennies. Just try everything you can design and test until you find the thing that works for you.


Growth marketing for more mature businesses

Although here you encounter more established processes and red tape, you also get more budget, and likely less pressure to make radical changes. This means as a growth marketer, you can afford to buy more tools that better enable you to utilize ever better data. You need tools to aid in the optimization of that data, and you need the information to feed your experiments.

You also need the influence to act on your results. The continual need to adjust the entire funnel stays with you no matter how big the business becomes.

Unlocking Growth Guide Inbound Marketing


Source: What is Growth Marketing and Why is it so Popular? [2019]. https://www.growthmarketingpro.com/what-is-growth-marketing/

Shelley's been in Seattle practically since the dawn of time. She enjoys having fun (seriously) with research and writing. In her off hours she reads and walks, although not at the same time -- because tripping over sidewalks is embarrassing.

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