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May 2, 2019

What is Growth Marketing?


If you’re trying to drive growth for your business, you might have heard the buzzword “growth hacking” thrown around.

But there’s no “hacking” involved in growth hacking; it’s just data-driven marketing being used as a method to optimize demand generation, which is why we think growth marketing is a better name.

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.

While experiments are aimed to improve processes for growth and scalability, growth marketers need to be comfortable with failure and plan for it. If you create an experiment and it doesn’t produce the results you wanted or expected, you need to have the next option lined up. Growth marketers should have solutions ready to address an experiment from all angles, so if one fails, the next step is ready.

How Can Growth Marketing Be Implemented?

Growth marketing can be applied to many areas within your business all contained in the acronym AAARRR (sometimes referred to as pirate metrics) which stands for Awareness, Acquisition, Activation, Revenue, Retention and Referral.


Awareness is the brand-building efforts that educate prospects about your brand and solution.

This is encompasses tactics like social media outreach, seo-optimized content and ToFu offers.

To address this, marketers might experiment on social media strategy. They might test what frequency of posts is most effective for driving blog traffic or what kind of content gets the most engagement.


Acquisition is the process around generating leads and acquiring net new customers, whether that’s through gated content, chatbots, a freemium sign-up or something else.

For example, on their homepage, Slack acquires users through an email collection form.

A growth marketer might try and increase the amount of form submissions by experimenting on the messaging, the button orientation and color or the page orientation.


Activation is getting people to use the product or service they purchase as much or as quickly as possible. The onboarding process is part of this.

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.

Growth marketers might look at ways to ensure that happens by experimenting on how they find and add friends.

Download our Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing to learn how to build a  successful, optimized strategy.


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 on pricing strategies or how the prices are displayed on 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 look at a pricing page like Drift’s and conduct experiments around the way the tiers are displayed.


Retention is keeping customers delighted.

To improve retention, growth marketers might look at how to offer personalized support for customers or how to improve the value users gain from a product.

For example, Slack noticed that I use “command + K” shortcut instead of the “jump to” search bar and gave me the option to hide the search bar.

That personalization helps users discover more value from the product.


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.

How Do You Determine What Type of Experiment to Run?

If you have 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.

If you're looking for more ideas or experiments to consider check out this list of growth marketing articles put together by MobileMonkey.

The Takeaway

Growth marketing can be as minute as changing a button color to as complex as redoing an onboarding process.

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, 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 the Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing

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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