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October 26, 2022

What is Growth Marketing?

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As the subscription space continues to grow, marketers and revenue teams have entered 2022 with unprecedented opportunities as well as significant challenges. The opportunity to secure a competitive edge abounds, but it is increasingly difficult to balance growth strategy with execution across a growing array of available tactics. 

This challenge has led to the continued development of the concept of “growth marketing” (we also hear the term “growth hacking”  occasionally, but there’s no “hacking” involved in actual growth marketing– it’s just data-driven marketing being used as a method to optimize demand generation.) 

Here’s an overview of this critical concept along with a few of the key applications marketers should be considering as they implement their 2023 strategies.

What is Growth Marketing?

Growth Marketing is the process of designing and conducting experiments to optimize and improve the results of a target area. If you have a certain metric you want to increase, growth marketing is a method you can utilize to achieve that.

Growth marketing teams are responsible for

  • Determining areas to test and improve upon
  • Developing and designing experiments to optimize the identified processes
  • Conducting experiments to test hypothesized improvements
  • Analyzing results and conducting further experimentation as needed

Growth marketers use the scientific method to design and carry out these experiments.

Within an organization, growth marketing is an analytically minded function that focuses more on the data side of marketing than the creative aspects.

Accordingly, as revenue teams turn attention to hitting 2022 targets, they increasingly need to focus on their data, analytics, and overall revenue operations. The maturation of HubSpot as a comprehensive CRM, and the expansion of lead enrichment has facilitated and enabled this. Whether your growth strategy resides with a partner or with an in-house demand generation team, analytics should be at its core.

Growth Marketing vs Traditional Marketing

Growth marketing has its roots in direct response marketing and growth hacking. The key difference between growth marketing and traditional marketing is the focus on growth. 

Traditional marketers are focused on awareness, while growth marketers are focused on acquisition and engagement. Growth marketers want to know how they can acquire more customers and keep them engaged with their product or service.

To do this, growth marketers take a data-driven approach to their work. They use analytics to track progress and make decisions about where to focus their efforts. This data-driven approach allows growth marketers to be nimble and experiment with different tactics to find the ones that work best for their business.

Learn how to put your product at the forefront of your acquisition, conversion  and expansion strategies with Your Guide to Mastering Product-Led Growth.

How Can Growth Marketing Be Implemented?

Growth marketing can be applied to many areas within your business. We like to ground our growth marketing approach within the AAARRR (or pirate metrics) framework, which covers all major marketing components: Awareness, Acquisition, Activation, Revenue, Retention, and Referral. 

Awareness

Awareness includes brand-building efforts that educate prospects about your brand and solution. This can encompass tactics like paid campaigns, social media outreach, SEO-optimized content, and company news. 

Marketers have traditionally leveraged digital advertising (most often on Google), to test the messaging and subsequent impact on website traffic. However as the digital ad landscape matures and competitive differentiation becomes more challenging, growth marketing approaches need to be more focused and outcome-driven. For instance, marketers can consider testing multiple message variations to the same audience to see which generates more engagement. We are also seeing marketers leverage “brand gen” tactics (such as paid campaigns that feature signature content offers) to help drive both brand awareness and conversion.

Additionally, social platforms - most notably LinkedIn - offer immense opportunities as both an awareness and expansion driver. Social should be a core component of growth marketing in the years ahead. Experimentation with LinkedIn audience targeting represents a business-critical opportunity for growth marketing teams seeking to both drive awareness and customer closeness. 

Acquisition

Acquisition is the process of generating leads and acquiring net new customers, whether that’s through gated content, chatbots, a freemium sign-up, or something else. For example, Slack acquires users through an email collection form on their homepage. A core component of any growth marketing strategy, this use case reflects the need to experiment with conversion optimization to maximize the number of form submissions. Marketers should consider frequent iteration here, everything from the messaging, to button orientation, to colors, to form strategy. In our own experimentation, constant iteration consistently drives conversion increases.

Learn how to put your product at the forefront of your acquisition, conversion  and expansion strategies with Your Guide to Mastering Product-Led Growth.

Additionally, in 2022, video and content syndication will continue to play a critical role in the acquisition process. Marketers are increasingly diversifying away from traditional formats like webinars and moving toward shorter-form content. Expanding your content syndication should play a major role in your growth marketing efforts this year.

Activation

User activation can be defined as the process of getting people to use the product or service they purchase as much or as quickly as possible. The customer onboarding process is part of this. As customer experience rises in importance in the b2b world, this area is increasingly the domain of marketers and revenue teams. For example, Facebook found that if users added seven friends within their first ten days on the platform, they were extremely likely to return and keep engaging with the platform.

Customer closeness initiatives can play a key role in growth marketing approaches through the use of customer data and analytics (HubSpot enables this through their service hub) and promotion of “user generated content” tactics. Experimentation with these can play a key role in growth marketing and will likely become foundational components of demand generation in the future. 

Revenue

Revenue involves all the actions that make a company money, like customers purchasing a product, signing a contract for a service, or upgrading their current product or service.

Growth marketers can address revenue-related metrics by experimenting with pricing strategies or how the prices are displayed on the prices page. They could also examine upselling tactics, like sending messages when a user is close to their plan’s limit.

A growth marketer might like a pricing page like Drift’s and conduct experiments around the way the tiers are displayed.

Similarly, revenue analytics represents an increasingly valuable component of growth marketing in 2022. Data enrichment tools make it possible to identify new customer insights, leading to improved marketing opportunities. 

Retention

Customer retention is business-critical for any subscription company. Keeping customers delighted is one key component of this, but improving retention can also be a growth marketing play. Data enrichment and customer data science - once prohibitively expensive or resource-intensive for many scaling organizations - is now accessible, including on the HubSpot platform. These technologies provide greater insight into your customer opportunities, helping you better design customer outreach and engagement strategies that drive an improvised overall experience with your brand. 

Referral

Ideally, people are so happy with your product or services they’ll just refer new business, but marketers can also create referral programs to incentivize this. 

Tesla offers free supercharger miles in exchange for referrals. A growth marketer could experiment with different incentives or promotional methods around the referral program to increase results.

5 Components of Growth Marketing Campaign

Growth marketing is a process of experimentation and optimization with the goal of growing a company’s revenue. To be successful, growth marketers need to have a data-driven growth plan, focus on engagement and retention, experiment constantly and pay attention to the customer journey. If you keep these things in mind, you’ll be well on your way to designing a successful growth marketing campaign.

1. A Data-Driven Growth Plan

A comprehensive growth marketing campaign absolutely requires a specified growth plan in order to be successful. Keep this document updated on a regular basis as you experiment with new ideas and receive more data. Your growth plan needs to include important information such as your hypotheses, goals, target market, channels, and budget. 

The types of data worth tracking are acquisition-related (i.e., how people are finding out about your product), engagement rates (are they actually using it/ taking the desired action), and conversion numbers (how many people become customers).

2. A/B Testing 

A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a process in which growth marketers compare two versions of an item (such as a landing page) and track the results. Typically, this entails sending traffic to both versions (the “A” and the “B”), then observing which one converts better. By A/B testing different elements on your website or app, you can optimize your growth plan for maximum efficiency.

3. A Focus on Engagement and Retention

To create a successful growth marketing campaign, prioritize engagement and retention from the start. Instead of only concentrating on acquiring new customers, think about how you can also make them loyal return visitors. You can track engagement and measure success by looking at data such as time spent using your product, the number of customers who come back regularly, or customer lifetime value.

4. Constant Experimentation

To successfully experiment, you must be unafraid to try new things and then use data interpretation to see what works best. Remember that your experiments should always center around changes that come from understanding your data. The growth plan you keep updated should be the driving force behind your experiments, and A/B testing can assist in fine-tuning those experiments for more significant results.

5. A Focus on the Customer Journey

The customer journey is the path that your customers take as they interact with your brand, from awareness to purchase (and beyond). As a growth marketer, it’s important to understand how your target customers progress through the customer journey so you can optimize your marketing efforts at each stage. By mapping out the customer journey, you can identify opportunities for growth and create a more seamless experience for your customers.

Learn how to put your product at the forefront of your acquisition, conversion  and expansion strategies with Your Guide to Mastering Product-Led Growth.

3 Types of Growth Marketing Campaigns

1. Acquisition-Focused Growth Marketing Campaign

Growth marketers who are focused on acquisition think about how they can bring new people into the fold. They use a variety of marketing channels to reach their target market, including paid advertising, search engine optimization (SEO), social media, and email marketing. 

For example, a growth marketer might create an SEO-optimized blog post that ranks high in search results and drives traffic to their website. Or they could run a paid Twitter campaign targeting users who have visited similar websites in the past. The goal of an acquisition-focused growth marketing campaign is to reach as many potential customers as possible and get them interested in your product or service.

2. Engagement-Focused Growth Marketing Campaign

Engagement-focused growth marketing campaigns are all about keeping your existing customers happy and engaged. After all, it’s easier (and cheaper) to retain a customer than to acquire a new one. growth marketers use a variety of tactics to increase engagement, such as in-app messages, push notifications, email campaigns, and even good old-fashioned customer service. 

For example, a growth marketer might set up an automated email campaign that sends a coupon code to customers who haven’t used their product in a while. Or they could create a pop-up message for first-time visitors to their website that offers a discount for signing up for their newsletter. The goal of an engagement-focused growth marketing campaign is to keep your customers coming back for more.

3. Revenue-Focused Growth Marketing Campaign

Revenue-focused growth marketing campaigns are all about increasing the amount of money that your customers spend with your business. This can be done through a variety of means, such as upselling, cross-selling, and even discount codes. 

For example, a growth marketer might create an upsell offer for customers who add a certain product to their cart. Or they could send out a discount code to customers who haven’t made a purchase in a while. The goal of a revenue-focused growth marketing campaign is to increase the total amount of money that your customers spend with your business.

How Do You Determine What Type of Experiment to Run?

If you have a fully developed growth marketing team, they should be responsible for identifying places to test. And then doing those tests.

If you don’t have a full team of growth marketers, employees from other areas of your company can reach out to your growth marketer with desired areas of improvement.

When choosing experiments, consider the impact that experiment could have. How many people will your experiment affect? Will people reach the step you’re experimenting upon?

For example, if your chatbot is getting a lot of views and interactions with its welcome message, but people aren’t moving past the third message, it wouldn’t make sense to start experimenting on the fourth message. You need to have an impact higher up in that conversation to bring people to that message first.

You also need to ensure your experiment collects information from a large enough sample size to deliver conclusive results. If you’re designing an experiment around something that doesn’t receive many views, you may have to extend the time length of the experiment to capture data from a large enough audience.

The Takeaway

Growth marketing isn’t the right marketing method for every company. It requires a solid foundation to grow from, so if your company is still in the startup phase, you should establish yourself before devoting too many resources to growth marketing. However, as we move into 2023, the rise of data enrichment and the maturation of the HubSpot CRM are enabling this for more companies than ever before.

If you’re at the point where scaling your company is your main goal or you’re seeing high growth and need to tweak your marketing efforts to get more ROI, consider implementing some growth marketing experiments to improve the pirate metrics.

Download your guide to mastering product-led growth

This post was originally published May 2, 2019 and has been updated for relevance and accuracy.

Guido Bartolacci

Guido is Head of Product and Growth Strategy for New Breed. He specializes in running in-depth demand generation programs internally while assisting account managers in running them for our clients.

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