What is growth marketing? Unlike other modern marketing buzzwords that are often thrown around in marketing land, growth marketing actually has substance – and it’s something a surprising number of companies haven’t yet caught on to.

Essentially, growth marketing is a roadmap for attracting and retaining more engaged customers and delivering a positive customer experience.

Most marketers put a heavy emphasis on inbound marketing, and for good reason. Inbound is a successful way to drive leads into your pipeline. But that’s just one element of a more holistic marketing strategy.

Traditional marketing efforts have resulted in companies focusing on driving awareness and acquiring customers. But this strategy doesn’t take into consideration how those customers impact revenue and long-term growth for the business.

For example, Adwords may be a great channel for getting new customers in the door for your business, but it’s all for not if they don’t stick around.

Growth marketing is designed to avoid that. With all of the data available today, successful marketing teams are turning to a growth marketing mindset to ensure those hard-won leads are actually turning into to customers and contribute to their overall business growth.

So, wait – what is growth marketing?  

Growth marketing is essentially retention-focused marketing at its core. Whereas traditional marketing focuses primarily on the top of the sales funnel (think of banner advertisements judged only by how many click-throughs they garner), and account-based marketing focuses on nurturing a few major accounts, growth marketing is geared toward the entire sales funnel, ensuring people find your brand and actually keep enjoying it.

In short, it’s designed to help grow your entire company through marketing.

The bottom line is attracting not just more customers, but more engaged customers. It pays special attention to customer service, nurturing techniques and ongoing marketing efforts such as social media and email marketing.

What’s the difference between growth marketing and growth hacking?

Don’t get the two confused. Growth hacking is a buzzword that’s fallen out of fashion in the last few years. That refers to a technique used to quickly reach new customers in a short period of time, sometimes using web developers, other times making a few quick aesthetic changes.

growth marketing

Growth marketing is something entirely different – more of a strategic mindset than anything. Growth hacking is usually seen as a shortcut to drive results, like changing elements of a landing page to see if it increases KPIs. It’s helpful to be agile, but most marketers are already doing that stuff anyway.

How can you be a successful growth marketer?

There are a few proven techniques to be a successful growth marketer.

  • Listen to your customers. Lean into the analytics of your customers’ behaviors. Whether you are launching a product in beta or a have a legacy offering, getting feedback from your users will help to guide your marketing path. You can find this out by sending out NPS (Net Promoter Survey) and product usage surveys to your customers in exchange for future discounts or even something as simple as an Amazon gift card. This is a critical step to seeing big results through growth marketing.

Another big key is to focus on the data: it can tell you how people are engaging with your product. Once you identify a pattern, leverage that data to find more customers that are most likely to be engaged, paying customers.

Remember growth marketing is primarily concerned with user retention, so seeing whether people are sticking with your brand or product is important. Annie Katrina Lee from Amazon says it best:

“Good growth teams care about driving acquisition. Great growth teams care about acquiring users who will stick around.”

  • Find a marketing platform that makes sense for you. Marketing is a chimeric beast, and you don’t need to master every platform. Think about social media, for example: Do you have a B2C brand? Can people use it in visually interesting ways, and do they look awesome doing it? Instagram and Pinterest campaigns would be for you, soliciting hashtags and creating DIY graphics to share and inspire. But that isn’t the right call for every brand.

If you are trying to drive growth for your B2B, referrals, search engine marketing, display ads and email marketing may be the right marketing channels for you. Either way don’t spread yourself too thin too fast – pick a few that work for you. Then test, measure and adjust quickly.

  • Test your marketing techniques rapidly. This is the most critical component of growth marketing: quick, agile tests. Most of your experiments will fail, maybe one of out ten will succeed. The only way to know is to try multiple tracks quickly. See what works, and be prepared to react intelligently and analytically.

Some in the industry call this “high-tempo testing,” and the process is simple. You start by brainstorming a set number of marketing strategies, then lay them out over a calendar on a weekly schedule. Hit the ground running and scrutinize your own findings. Keep the good and scrap the bad, then repeat with other ideas when necessary.  

That last line is important – growth marketing is not a one-and-done deal. You should always be testing, analyzing and re-evaluating your own results. Trends change over time just like shifting algorithms with Facebook and Google. Your job, as growth marketer, is to stay on top of those updates and react swiftly to keep your marketing efforts on the right track.

What is growth marketing good for?

Growth marketing is about more than just raising awareness of your brand. It’s about converting and retaining customers. So when setting out to accomplish your goals, be sure to conceive realistic, achievable results. Some examples might include converting blog readers into email subscribers, increasing user retention by a measurable amount (or decreasing churn rates), bolstering certain social media numbers and upgrading users on a paid-subscription ladder.  

These are multifaceted projects that extend beyond simple marketing. They require marketing to cross over into customer service to ensure retention, product to deliver a great user experience, as well as to support knowledgeable salespeople to win more customers.

At the end of the day, it’s not just about marketers drivings leads and new customers.

It’s about the whole picture – finding, delighting and keeping more customers to fuel business growth.