What is growth marketing?
Growth marketing is an evidence-led marketing approach that focuses on iterative experimentation and prioritises uncovering and implementing tactics that actually work in attracting and retaining customers.
Through ongoing ideation and testing across the entire funnel, growth marketers are able to drive growth systematically and with clear, objective outcomes.
How is growth marketing different from marketing?
While traditional marketing tends to use data in a lagging way to report on activity, growth-marketing is data-led, using data to prioritise and execute experiments across the entire funnel.
The graphic below outlines some of the more subtle ways in which the two approaches differ, but in principle growth marketing is simply a more scientific, open-minded, do-what-needs-to-be-done approach to delivering growth.
The growth marketing trend has accelerated over the past few years thanks to several converging trends:
- The amount of data available to marketers is increasing
- Rising acquisition costs are forcing marketers to spend budget more effectively
- Changes in privacy rules are making it more challenging to track ROI, further pushing up acquisition costs
- The rise of product-led growth
Why does growth marketing work?
This all sounds great in theory, but why does growth marketing actually work in the real world? The main reason is that it’s data- and results-driven. Rather than relying on gut feel or subjective opinion, growth marketers look at the numbers to decide whether a tactic has been effective.
Consider this example: A marketing team implements a variety of campaigns and tactics in their quarterly action plan. The bottom line for the company improves. That’s a win, right?
Sort of. If the bottom line improves, that’s great – but which parts improved? Did any metrics get worse? Which piece was the most important to this company in this quarter – revenue, customer retention, average order value, or something else?
And to take it one layer deeper, which of the marketing tactics and campaigns were actually successful? The overall effect of “marketing” may have been positive, but without proper tracking and measurement, we have no idea what we should repeat and what we should drop in the next round.
With growth marketing, we can draw a clear line between tactics and results, making it easy to define the most impactful campaigns for our company.
The pros & cons of growth marketing
Growth marketing isn’t for every company, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Let’s run through some pros and cons:
To keep learning about growth marketing, be sure to check out our list of 25+ books, courses, and tools to boost your knowledge.
Growth marketing frameworks
Continued sales success requires constant review and improvement to ensure your products and services don’t get stagnant. The same is true of your marketing approach. The same type of effort and engagement you put into research and development needs to be invested in refining, improving, and expanding the effectiveness of your outreach.
Growth marketing is all about identifying the methods and channels that work best for your company. It not only helps you reach more potential buyers, but also refines your message. Creating a growth marketing framework provides a strategic, organised approach to achieving your growth goals.
Why your business needs a growth marketing framework
A growth marketing framework helps to adopt growth marketing best practices in a systematic and repeatable way so that you can grow strategically and quickly.
The key to the success of your growth marketing framework lies in its organization and detail. The more time and effort you put into the initial step of creating this foundation, the easier the process will be going forward and the more valuable your conclusions will be.
It is essential that the thought process surrounding the framework focuses on both the short-term and the future considerations and potential for each client in order to ensure maximum benefit from promotional efforts. The best practice for formulating a growth marketing strategy takes a holistic view, specific to your business. This approach ensures you are able to create a marketing scheme driven by facts and results – one you can rely on for both the present and in the years to come.
How to build a growth marketing framework
Every company has its own needs and takes its own path to creating a growth marketing framework, but the main goal should be to craft a structure that can be used over and over again. Once you’ve found a framework that is effective, you can just change the specific target and use it repeatedly. Our tried-and-true framework has served us effectively for years, and involves the same four steps each time:
- Decide where you are focusing our attention
- Decide how you will approach our question
- Experiment to see if the idea works or if you need to pivot
- Measure the results of the experiment
How does this play out in real life? Let’s take a closer look.
Step 1: Align
The first step is always to agree on what marketing goal you’ll focus your attention on. Marketing offers seemingly endless targets and objectives, so it can be easy to think a broad approach is best. But identifying the single point of focus that will have the biggest impact on your company is a crucial step in the framework. It’s also one of the trickiest, as there are endless possibilities, and all of them seem important.
One approach is to simply increase the number of leads your marketing generates, but there’s a big difference between quantity and quality, so others will opt for a sales-focused goal instead. There’s no wrong or right answer here: the decision depends upon the needs of your organization.
What is important is that everybody aligns on what the focus will be, as the rest of the framework builds on this foundation. You’ll need to work together to determine how you’re going to quantify your desired end results, what the actual metric is that represents your goal, and how you’re going to measure it. A vague sense of improvement will not facilitate the growth you need. Instead, you need to identify a specific target and agree on it.
Step 2: Prioritise
Once you’ve identified your goal, you need to figure out how to get there.
This is the brainstorming part of the framework, and as you’ve winnowed down your focus you may have already started without realizing it. As your ideas for goals have been raised and either tossed aside or adopted, there’s a good chance that some strategy ideas have been mentioned. When that happens, write them down, as they are not only valuable but can also serve as a starting point for this ideation process.
This is a collaborative process that should be wide open. Create a “no judgment zone” so that nobody holds back, and you end up with a long list of potential strategies. Even ideas that sound silly or impossible at first can give rise to more workable solutions that can help achieve your overall goal. Only once you feel you’ve exhausted your group’s creative energy should you sit down and decide which idea (or ideas) work best.
How do you know which one(s) to choose? Ask questions about each idea, including:
- What’s the bottom line on this idea? The cost if we do implement it or if we don’t? Is it an expensive idea that’s too good not to use?
- If we go with this plan, who would be in charge of putting it into motion and overseeing it?
- How long would it take to make this work? If we decide that it takes too long, are we losing out on opportunities as a result of saying no?
- How well do we think the idea will really work? Is it worth pursuing?
By asking and answering these questions for each of the ideas on your list, you can quickly winnow it down to the idea that makes the most sense, as well as decide who is going to take responsibility for moving it forward.
Step 3: Test
Once you’ve chosen which idea(s) you’re going to put into action, you embark on the most crucial aspect of the framework: putting the plan into action in order to see whether it works.
By quickly testing whether your idea delivers positive results, you’re able to quickly make adjustments – or drop the idea entirely if it isn’t working and move on to the next.
Step 4: Measure
When you come up with the idea that you want to pursue, you need to track its results as if you’re conducting a scientific experiment. You established a quantifiable goal – now you need to collect data on your results to see whether your hypothesis worked.
Only by recording the actual numbers you achieved can you avoid a skewed sense of success (or failure). You can then use what you’ve learned to either repeat what worked or avoid what didn’t. It’s the actual data, shared among all members of the team, that will drive the growth marketing process to greater achievements in the future.
Building a growth marketing framework is an exercise in repetition and sustainability. The stronger your original structure is, the more effective it will be going forward as you identify new goals and targets. Learn from your mistakes along the way so you can strengthen your foundation and make the process easier and more successful for the future.
How to execute on your growth marketing framework for maximum impact
Once you’ve built your growth marketing framework, what comes next? How do you move from crafting a structure to implementation and doing the work?
Putting your plan into place is the next step – and it can be the most exciting step of all. Here’s how to execute each step of the framework:
Building your growth marketing framework is like constructing a house. The framework is the frame that goes up first and gives the rooms their shape, but the implementation is where that frame turns into something you can live in.
You start by identifying the metric that’s most important to you to work on first. The metric or goal chosen will be different for every organization:
- New customers
- Customer turnover/attrition
- Average order value
- Website visitors
There is no wrong answer as long as you are able to quantify your current status and set a goal for where you want to go. The key is to choose something objective and measurable – otherwise deciding whether you’ve been successful will come down to feelings and personal biases.
Once your focus has been identified, it’s time for some soul-searching. Take a realistic view of where you are versus where you want to be. Though some organizations are only looking for incremental improvement in their target area, others may find themselves looking to take a big leap.
Determining what needs to be done to get to your goals means taking a hard look at today’s numbers and where they fall short, and what is contributing to the gap. Whatever the difference is – and whatever the changes that need to be made – both need to be quantifiable to gauge whether you’re improving or not.
So, you’ve identified where you’re falling short and where you want your numbers to be – now it’s time to prioritise how to achieve those goals.
Brainstorming solutions is the most creative and invigorating part of implementing your growth marketing framework, as it allows all stakeholders to participate and throw out their best – and worst – ideas. At this point, focus on quantity rather than quality. The more strategies people voice, the more they may inspire other ideas. A notion that sounds absurd may spark a brilliant thought that another colleague can run with. Don’t dismiss anything – just write everything down and work together to see where it leads.
Try out these platforms and exercises to ideate with your team:
- Virtual brainstorming platforms: Miro, IdeaNote, Mural, LucidSpark, Creately – or even just a shared Google Doc
- Exercises and games to boost creativity: 15 brainstorming techniques to try, 3 exercises to kickstart creative ideation, games to boost workplace productivity
Better yet, try out our ideation session feature in TrueNorth:
You will be amazed at how many strategies a team can produce once a good brainstorming session gets going. If you’ve gotten to the point where you feel like you have some real winners, start putting them in order from most promising to least. There is no reason to completely eliminate any idea, as it may have something to offer in the future. What sends an idea to the top of the list is not only its appeal, but also whether it is feasible to everybody who will be involved in the implementation. For instance, make sure that what your content creators come up with is within the realm of possibility for your software team.
You also want to be able to gauge whether suggested tactics can accomplish your goal. That takes us to the last step.
Test and measure:
Though it may feel less exciting than your brainstorming session was, there is no step more essential to the success of your growth marketing framework than testing it to see whether it works. No matter how much appeal an idea holds or how enthusiastic your team, there’s a chance that what sounds good may not actually deliver what you hoped.
By regularly and quickly testing your idea(s), you will be able to save yourself a tremendous amount of wasted time and allow yourself to shift gears and modify your approach in order to deliver the best results. Not only will doing so help you achieve your goal, but it will also teach you valuable lessons for the next time you identify a target.
How to win at growth marketing
So, you’ve got your growth marketing framework in place and you’re ready to execute. One question remains: how can you knock it out of the park? In this section, we’ll run through some growth marketing best practices, examples, and tools to get your team started on the right foot.
Growth marketing best practices
A successful growth marketing operation will check the following boxes:
- Data-driven – Relying on gut feel or expert “opinion” is a thing of the past. Growth marketers make decisions based on data, and use the necessary tools to analyse the impact of each tactic or campaign.
- Product-led – If you don’t have a great product, you won’t grow. And if you can’t effectively explain the benefits of your product, no one will buy it. If you’re in the business of selling to customers, ensure you can clearly communicate why they should choose you.
- Creative – The ideation phase of growth marketing is where this comes into play the most. Successful growth marketers are creative and think outside the box – and they encourage their colleagues to do the same. (That’s where great ideas are born!)
- Risk-taking – Avoidance of risk won’t play here. You won’t know if an idea works (or doesn’t) until you try it. Successful growth marketing teams are able to narrow down ideas to those with the highest potential, but they’re also comfortable taking the leap with the understanding that not every idea will be a winner.
- Visionary and detail-oriented – Growth marketing tactics all fit into a larger strategy, meaning the team needs to think at both a micro- and macro-level. The granular details of an experiment – the target audience, channels, distribution, and corresponding data – are crucial, but so are the overarching goals of the company.
Growth marketing strategy examples
To kickstart your ideation session with your team, here are examples of growth marketing strategies that have proved successful for other companies. (Remember: Every company is different, and these might not work for your customer base. Follow the framework discussed earlier to discover the right experiments for your business.)
- Subscription-based services/products
- Define a new market
- Freemium model
- Lead nurturing
- Disruptive pricing
- Define a niche
- Leverage community
- LinkedIn lead generation
- Acquisitions and partnerships
- Organic social growth
- Hyper-personalised email campaigns
- Invite-only/ exclusivity
- Offer free resources/tools
- Content marketing
- Webinar marketing
- Edit intent popups
- Focus on repeat customers
- Referral programs
- Rewards programs
- Reengagement campaigns
- Identify new demand
- Create a customer support knowledge base
- Leverage early adopters
- Leverage influencers
- List products on ProductHunt
- Personalisation technology
Looking for more growth marketing strategy examples? Our friends at VentureHarbour created an in-depth list of 30+ strategies and success stories (including how they were implemented) here.
Growth marketing tools
There are a variety of tools to support growth marketers across the funnel. We did a deep dive on 20 of the best growth marketing tools on the market on our blog, but here’s a quick recap:
CRO / landing page tools
This list is a great starting point for teams to discover growth marketing strategies that succeed. (Don’t forget to head to the blog for a full breakdown of what each tool does, pricing, and benefits/downsides.)
Want to work on your growth marketing goals all in one place?
TrueNorth makes it simple to track all your ideas and experiments, then measure and analyse their performance – all in one platform. Use our growth projection to visualise how your goals break down. TrueNorth is the only tool on the market that enables you to visualise the path between where you are and where you want to go.
TrueNorth empowers your team to maximise results from your growth marketing efforts – from beginning to end, all under one roof. Start a trial here.