Growth & Marketing

What is Growth Marketing? And What It Takes To Get Started

6
Minute Read
Growth marketing is a data-driven approach to rapidly testing new ideas, through experimentation, that is focused on the entire sales funnel or customer journey.
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We’re going to kick things off with some mind-boggling statistics: 

What we can interpret from these statistics is that despite the pandemic setting many things back a step, businesses and entrepreneurs are continuing to be formed, exponentially. And as these new ventures enter a crowded market space, their biggest challenge will be to generate growth quickly and sustain it. 

This is where growth marketing enters the conversation and if you’re new to the term, we’ll break down what growth marketing is and how it can be used to accelerate and sustain business growth. 

What is growth marketing? 


Growth marketing is a data-driven approach to rapidly testing new ideas, through experimentation, that is focused on the entire sales funnel or customer journey. Growth marketers use analytics, marketing tools and software to interpret how their users interact with a company at any given stage of the funnel, to build robust long-term strategies. 


Growth marketing by definition will draw comparisons to growth hacking. The two can be distinguished as this: growth hacking is predominantly associated with startups achieving exponential growth on a low budget and typically focusing on one area at a time, whereas growth marketing, while using similar ‘hacks’ and techniques, incrementally adapts ideas and experiments for a long-term gain over several channels.

How growth marketing compares to traditional marketing 

Traditional marketing focuses on the top of the funnel, awareness and acquisition. The name of the game here is to firstly, attract customers and secondly, get them to make a commitment of sorts (purchase, subscribe, fill out a form etc). 

The tried and tested techniques traditional marketers use to do this might be an email blast (as opposed to a structured campaign), hosting a sales event or running a Google Ads campaign. 

A common problem with traditional marketing techniques like these is that there’s not necessarily a great deal of research being done before a company gives the go-ahead. It’s more a case of: 


“We need to attract X amount of people, let’s run an ad and see what happens.” 

It aims for growth by attracting new customers but doesn’t rely on data to adapt and optimise campaigns. These types of promotions will bear results but too often, those results diminish quickly, as do the budgets, with no foresight to change tactics. 

Where growth marketing differs and expands on these techniques, is by obsessively analysing data to see what’s working, and making incremental changes so that each stage of the funnel can perform to its optimum, with as lower costs as possible. 

Because the customer journey is now more diverse and complex than ever, with social media marketing, search engine marketing and the like, for marketers to truly excel they need to have a good understanding of the different stages customers pass through and also, who their target audience is

This understanding of the target audience and the data used to support what’s working allows growth marketers to tailor messages and campaigns with laser-focused insights. Which in turn, maximises each stage of the funnel. 

Growth marketing terms  

Here we’ll mention some of the core principles around growth marketing and what they mean. 

A/B Testing 

One of the core practices for a growth marketer is that of A/B testing or split testing as it’s sometimes referred to. This practice entails marketers trialling or experimenting with different variations of a format (websites, social media ads, emails etc) to see whether version ‘A’ or ‘B’ lands them more engagement or conversions. Whichever gives the best result informs growth marketers on where to focus their attention. 

A/B testing is used across multiple channels and can be applied to practically every type of digital practice, some common examples would be: 

1. Email campaigns 

Data analytics tools will tell marketers how an email is performing. This includes metrics like:

Statistics like these help marketers understand the behaviour of their users. How many people are opening an email? How many people click the embedded links? How many people open an email but back out of it? 

A/B testing is then deployed to create alternate versions of the email where the graphics, subject line, copy or links are changed to see which version performs better. 

2. Social Media Ads 

Applying the same logic to social media ads or even just content in general, some examples of social media metrics would be: 

Growth marketers would then interpret these metrics and create new versions to test. 

There’s a lot to consider with social media content and dozens of variables, which makes testing more stringent but some good places to start would be: Images vs video, tone of voice, use of emojis, embedded links, copy length and more. 

3. Landing Pages 

The goal of any landing page is to convert your audience into taking the desired action. 

These are the standalone web pages that customers see when they click through a link or an ad. 

The most important metric for a landing page is the conversion rate but marketers will need to look at several other metrics to fully understand how conversion rates are impacted. These include: 

Once they have the data, marketers can begin creating experiments for A/B testing. For landing pages, this might involve changes to the copy, design, the UI, adding a countdown-timer, personalisation and more

It’s worth noting that with A/B testing, you’re not limited to the implied two versions of a format. You can batch multiple tests but the important thing to remember is that you want to individualise testing. 

Growth marketing is so effective because they understand its target audiences so well. This allows them to experiment with ideas using a single demographic until something lands, before moving on to another group. 

Customer Lifecycle 

This refers to the entire journey that a customer passes through and the marketing strategies that encourage repeat business. From first contact where a customer is exposed to your brand, to interacting or making a purchase, to reselling existing customers. 

This cycle can essentially be broken down into four stages: 

  1. Awareness
  2. Acquisition 
  3. Activation 
  4. Retention 

SmartInsights does an excellent job of showing a detailed lifecycle marketing model with this graphic: 


The traits of a great growth marketer 

Beyond the digital know-how imprinted in marketers, the addition of the word ‘growth’ here indicates the need for a mindset shift. 

Growth marketing is an iterative process, which naturally lends itself to forward-thinking, agile people who can react in real-time using their utility belt of tricks. No, growth marketing isn’t an audition to become Batman, but you could become a marketing superhero if you possess these characteristics: 

1. Big Picture Thinking 

Growth marketing is about the meticulous details that drive businesses. Identifying what works, experimenting to discover new opportunities and honing in on data-led indicators. 

That being said, a great growth marketer always considers the bigger picture and how their work can benefit the overarching goals of the business - long term. 

They value the data but also are comfortable using their intuition. It’s a blurry line between the idea-centric ambitions of an entrepreneurial mind and the pragmatic analyst, but a great growth marketer can walk this tightrope with confidence. 

2. Data-Driven 

Following on from the previous trait, the ability to obsessively analyse data is at the heart of successful growth marketing. 

Growth marketers have numerous tools at their disposal which are used to decipher customer behaviours and company metrics. 

Interpreting this data, to form actionable strategies that grow, convert, and retain customers, is the unwavering north star for a great growth marketer. 

3. Creative 

Growth marketers welcome a challenge. The notion of venturing into uncharted marketing waters fills them with a sense of adventure rather than fear. Growth marketing is barely more than a decade old, which means there are going to be many, many changes to formulas with new ideas coming to the forefront so be brave! 

Creative thinkers want to be at the helm of these discoveries and as a growth marketer, it’s encouraged. 

4. You Understand How People Think  

Great growth marketers have a natural understanding of consumer behaviours and the psychology around marketing. They’re able to translate hard data into relatable stories that their audiences can feel connected to. 

Understanding why people react to certain marketing messages, and the behaviours that drive those decisions gives growth marketers a huge advantage when creating campaigns. 

Final Thoughts 

Do you think you have what it takes to be the next great growth marketer? 

Growth Tribe offers flexible, on-demand, and fully certified courses that will unlock your potential and boost your career opportunities. 

If you’re an EU citizen you might even be eligible for the government-led STAP funding which entitles you to learn for free! 

For more on our Certified Growth Marketing learning, click here