In the highly competitive world of marketing, growth is more important than ever. But growth is not possible without retention. If you have hundreds of customers joining in but another hundred signing out- do you have any growth?
That is why nowadays successful marketing is not only about acquiring new customers at the top of the funnel. Successful marketing is also about acquiring customers who will stick with your brand.
And thus growth marketing- data driven marketing to optimize performance across the whole funnel, is gaining more popularity than before. Brands are increasingly using it to scale up and succeed. Whereas traditional marketing was only involved in the selling and promotion part, growth marketing covers the entire customer experience.
In this article, get to know about growth marketing, what goals you need to set for it, qualities of growth marketers, how to be updated on the latest on growth marketing, and some best cases of it.
What is Growth Marketing?
Growth marketing is a data-driven process that designs and runs tests and experiments to optimize and improve results. For example, using a split test to see which paid ads users like better. When something works, the insights gathered are used to take action. When something doesn’t, more tests are run.
Although the term “Growth Marketing” suggests an approach based entirely on attracting more users, it’s about more than just that. Growth Marketers experiment at every stage of the funnel to increase user acquisition, engage and retain customers, and ultimately turn them into die-hard fans of the brand.
Growth Marketing involves being integrated with product development. As renowned growth expert Andy Johns said: “If finance owns the flow of cash in and out of a company, growth owns the flow of customers in and out of a product.” It incorporates A/B testing, data-driven email campaigns, SEO optimization, and technical analysis of every part of the product development in order to give the best user experience.
While experiments are meant to improve processes for growth and scalability, growth marketing requires marketers to be okay with failure and plan for it. If you design an experiment and it doesn’t give the results you hoped, you need to have a plan B. Growth marketers should have contingencies ready to address an experiment from all perspectives, so if one fails, the next step is ready.
What’s the difference between general marketing and growth marketing?
General marketing involves a “just get it done and then forget” strategy that goes through some steps and wish for the best. Think of an ad campaign on Google Adwords with a basic ad copy. Such a strategy can be a great way to increase traffic to the top of your sales funnel. While it helps to increase brand awareness and user acquisition, that’s where it ends.
Growth marketing goes more than the top of the funnel. While a general marketing team works only at the top of the funnel stages (i.e. awareness and acquisition stages), the growth marketing team takes care of the entire funnel: Awareness, Acquisition, Activation, Revenue, Retention, and Referral.
When done properly, growth marketing adds value all the way from the top to the bottom of the marketing funnel by attracting users, engaging them, retaining them, and finally turning them into brand loyalists.
What Should be the Goal of a Growth Marketing?
Thinking about making growth marketing a part of your business strategy? Then you should start goals that make sense.
With growth marketing, you can set a number of goals that will help you succeed with the strategy. Some common goals of growth marketing include:
Goal: Get Traffic to Your Site
A major goal for any growth marketer will be to increase site traffic. You can achieve this in three ways:
- Organic Traffic: Organic traffic is generated when netizens visit your website through search engines. To increase organic traffic, your website needs to rank on top of search engine results. And to achieve that you need to produce search engine optimized content, produce backlinks from trustworthy sites, improve site speed, and make your website more mobile-friendly.
- Paid Traffic: As the name suggests, paid traffic comes from advertisements. In order to monitor paid traffic, you might want to check metrics like your ad costs, ad impressions, and acquisition costs. However, we all know how irritating advertisements can be. Yet, social media algorithms like that of Facebook, prioritize paid traffic over organic ones. So you need to get creative with that. One such creative way is non-traditional ad placements where the ads are focused more on content than promotion. This way you can increase engagement through paid traffic!
- Referral Traffic: This is the traffic that comes from social media and other sites that link your content. When your content is viral, people will be talking about it and share it more. By tracking the source of traffic, you can optimize your marketing and get better results. Alternatively, you can analyze your competitors’ success and reverse engineer it for yours.
Goal: Get Leads & Improve Conversion Rate
Your high site visitor number will not mean much if they do not turn into customers. So some growth marketers set their goals to getting leads and improving conversion rates. If that’s your goal, you need to focus on the following metrics:
- Conversion Rate: Are your web visitors completing the action (like sharing the content or subscribing to a plan) you intend them to do? If the percentage is high, then you have a high conversion rate. If not, you may need to make improvements to your website by tweaking the copy, design, or layout. For example: Creating shorter headlines perform better than longer ones.
- Subscriber growth: Are your web visitors subscribing to your email newsletter or blog? Subscribing to the newsletter is a great way to generate leads. It also helps you get informational insights. In order to improve your subscriber list, create compelling content that will keep your visitors engaged and hooked so much that they would want to subscribe to your mailing list.
- Sales: Ultimately, you will want your leads to buy your product. If you are a software provider, you can offer a freemium product where customers enjoy a free trial but pay for additional features. Or you can offer a free trial period followed by paid subscription (something Netflix does!)
Goal: Retain Customers
This is probably the most important goal for any growth marketer. Retaining customers creates a growth loop that helps businesses earn recurring revenue. And the costs involved with a retained customer is much lower than those with a newly acquired customer.
The way to achieve customer retention is to satisfy your customers. And to measure your customers’ satisfaction, track the following metrics:
- Churn rate: Churn rate is the percentage of customers who paid for your services but later unsubscribed. If the churn rate is unusually high, you really need to pay attention. Analyze what is causing your customers to churn. It might be the user experience or the expectation-reality gap. Whatever the reason for churn, take action to reduce it.
- Average order value: Try to get your recurring customers to buy more from you. Analyze their purchase behavior in order to provide them valuable offers that they will not refuse.
- Customer Lifetime Value: How to get the maximum value from a customer who is on board? Conduct surveys to gather customer feedback, monitor customer behavior and provide personalized services.
How to hack your marketing growth?
While there’s no shortcut to growth, you can always accelerate your growth marketing efforts. What you need to do is build a strong base that will help accelerate or “hack” your growth. In order to achieve it, follow the steps below:
- Establishing a Brand
Once you can establish your brand, that is, prove yourself as a trustworthy, reliable, and a great user experience providing business, you can get attention from your target audience easily. So, the first thing you need to do to hack your marketing growth is to prove yourself as a high quality brand in your industry.
Building a great brand starts with building the company culture. You need to define what your organization is and what purpose you are serving. This way, your employees and teammates can get lifted up in the company spirit. Your marketing and PR team can then start working on communicating about your brand and its purpose.
- Reaching to the right audiences and channels
Nothing grows on its own. You need to give the right message to the right group of people. So find out your target audience and where they communicate online. If you can’t find the right audience, you cannot achieve growth and if you can’t find the right channel, you cannot reach your right audience.
To find the right audience and channels, check the following metrics on social media:
- Audience Engagement
- Trending Topics
- Clicks and reaches
- Creating Buzz around your audiences
Buzz is created when your audience engages with the content. And the best way to engage with someone is to keep that person in the center of attention. Therefore, create buzzworthy content that focuses around your audience.
In order to find audience centric content, engage in social listening. Social listening is to monitor conversations around certain topics. You can do this seeing the trending list in Twitter or keeping a tab on the news. Social media analytics tools also provide you with options to know about your audience’s interests. That’s another way for social listening.
You can also create buzz through the following types of content:
- Shout-outs to special customers and other companies you work with.
- Feedback about your products.
- Asking open ended questions.
- Promoting your products
Now promote your product in order to achieve growth. While it is free to publish content on social media, using paid avenues can help you go the extra mile. In fact, social media networks like Facebook now prioritize paid promotions over organic ones in their algorithm.
To promote products on social media through paid channels, you need to set up a campaign and a budget. The media you use for sponsoring the ad (e.g. Facebook or Twitter) will work with your budget to give an optimal ROI.
Qualities of Successful Growth Marketers
Successful Growth Marketers are “T-shaped” personalities- people who have broad knowledge on a wide variety of topics and in-depth knowledge on marketing. This kind of personality is important for growth marketers as they have to combat various challenges from different angles using different tools. They need to look at the whole funnel and analyze it in the light of marketing, data analysis, sales, product development, and customer experience.
Here are some qualities growth marketers are expected to possess:
- Data Driven
The days of making decisions based on your gut instincts are over. Growth marketers make data driven decisions. They extract the right data, analyze it, describe what it shows, think critically about it, explain why that is the case, and pull away actionable insights. In short, they dive deep into the data to figure out the right course of action. As a result, they can analyze the effectiveness of any campaign and understand what’s working and what’s not.
A growth marketer can thus look at yearly organic traffic trends and explain what causes the ups and downs in the trends. He/she can then determine what tactics (SEO, content, promotion etc.) activities will need to be taken.
Growth marketers are always thinking outside the box. They don’t say, “It has not been tried before. So let’s not do this.” Instead they are always looking for new trends to incorporate in their marketing efforts. They love taking the challenge of trying something new.
Think about Airbnb. In the early days, the founders of this startup would go to each and every of their listings in order to provide free professional photos. Others would not have taken such a move. But being the creative marketers they are, the founders saw explosive growth of their platform.
- Product Focused
Growth marketers are more product focused than sale focused. They do not sell a product they don’t understand. They do not trick people into buying a product. Rather they try to enumerate the various benefits brought by a product they believe is actually valuable.
- Posses a Hacker Mentality
As told before, growth marketers need to have knowledge on multiple disciplines. They need to execute and collaborate with a great number of people. Their work includes validating an excellent product /service, solving customer problems, and driving revenue. One day, they might be creating a video, or optimizing ad copy. Another day, they might be implementing a new A/B test, or even doing some coding. The more skill sets a growth marketer has, the more value he/she can provide to the organization.
- Has No Fear of Failure
Growth marketers are no sure predictors. They know that they will not succeed all the time. But when they fail, they do not give up. Rather they start afresh.
Growth marketers use the failure as a means of obtaining information that will lead to success. They optimize their process and continue.
- Knows How to Tell a Story
The famous American marketing guru Seth Godin said, “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.” Growth marketers know that they must combine both qualitative and quantitative information to tell a story that resonates with the target customer.
A great growth marketer knows that humans often make decisions based on emotions. So when creating a new ad or campaign, they align it with the story they are trying to tell. They break down even the most complicated products and services into a story that connects with users.
- Can Juggle Multiple Responsibilities
As we discussed in the “Posses a Hacker Mentality” section, a growth marketer needs to do a lot of things at the same time. They need to take decisions, collaborate with the team, and work on various projects. They are obsessed with details but keep the big picture in mind. At the same time they take actions based on results but are okay with ambiguity. They use data but also rely on instincts.
Growth Marketing Tools you’ll need
Much like the relationship between a contractor and their toolbox, the tools for growth marketing is vitally important for any growth marketer. Here are some fantastic tools you can use to get started with growth marketing:
- Hubspot: Provides a vast amount of growth marketing content- from webinars, ebooks, guides, to courses.
- Leadpages: Allows you to build custom landing pages optimized for lead conversion using drag and drop features
- Sumo: Build an amazing email list for conversion
- Ahrefs: Find high quality keywords for SEO
- Quicksprout: Learn all you need to know about marketing from this site created by the influential growth marketer- Neil Patel (you can know more about him in the next section)!
- Hotjar: Record how users interact with your site, see heatmaps, and then take data driven action.
- Apptimize: Conduct A/B testing for your mobile app
Some popular growth marketer you can follow
As we told before, a growth marketer needs to keep up with the latest trends and happenings. It might be difficult on an individual basis to find the latest trends, so you can follow some growth marketers who research heavily on the trends and give valuable insights. Some popular growth marketers are:
- Brian Balfour: Brain Balfour is the former VP of growth at Hubspot. His blog page provides detailed content on growth marketing and user acquisition.
- Neil Patel: Neil Patel is an expert in content marketing and SEO. His growth marketing blog has thousands of followers. His blogs are detailed and yet, easy to read.
Ready for Growth Marketing?
Is growth marketing right for you? Then follow the above tips and get started. Both your company and your customers will be thankful.