What Is Growth Marketing?

Kyle McCarthy Kyle McCarthy
Marketing Strategy

Marketers struggle transitioning to modern growth marketing approaches for several reasons. First on the list, many of them aren’t even aware of the need to implement growth marketing strategies, tactics, and channels. Many of those who do, lack the right resources and tools to develop and execute holistic growth marketing plans. Further, even among those marketers who understand the growth marketing imperative and have the infrastructure in place to deliver phenomenal lifecycle marketing campaigns don’t grasp how to align their strategies with their business models.

What Is Growth Marketing

So, in this blog, we’re going to examine the question: What is growth marketing? As we do, we’ll discuss the role of growth marketers in successful organizations, as well as how they leverage best practices and innovative techniques to expand their business and extend the customer lifecycle.

Keep reading to learn how to implement growth marketing approaches, execution, and technologies to grow your business.

The Definition of Growth Marketing

Growth marketing can mean many different things to many different people. Some examples include:

  • An industry term used to describe how the scientific method can be used to improve marketing strategies and in the short and long term.
  • A phrase describing a specific marketing employee who is tasked with identifying potential areas for organizational growth — and attacking these opportunities with a razor-sharp focus.
  • A way for companies to expand their business by delivering personalized buyer journeys and tailored customer experiences via marketing automation platforms to go beyond the standard “attract and capture” model of traditional lead generation and instead focus on extending the customer lifecycle.

This last definition aligns most closely with Act-On’s vision of effect growth marketing because it forces marketers to focus on the lifelong needs of the consumer from a multi-dimensional marketing perspective. That said, none of the definitions above are “wrong.” In fact, they all factor in when developing a well-rounded understanding of growth marketing.

What’s the Difference Between Growth Marketing and Growth Hacking?

The origins of growth marketing can be traced back to Sean Ellis, who coined the phrase “growth hacking” back in 2010. He meant the term to describe a marketer whose sole purpose is to explore avenues for organizational growth and capitalize on the opportunities. 

So, after reading the definitions for “growth marketing” in the previous section and comparing them with Mr. Ellis’ use of the term “growth hacking,” you probably notice a lot of overlap. This is a perfectly appropriate reaction. There are a lot of similarities between the two phrases. But there’s also one key distinction:

Unlike growth marketer hacking, which is dedicated to uncovering specific areas for immediate growth in unique business areas, growth marketing is a more holistic, team-wide approach that blends traditional marketing approaches with innovative techniques for consistent organizational growth in both the short and long term.

So while many marketers use the terms interchangeably, we’re going to focus on growth marketing as a more sustainable model.

Growth Marketing Automation: The Next Wave

What Does a Growth Marketer Do?

In a nutshell, growth marketers take deliberate steps toward expanding their company’s customer base and overall revenue through more creative measures than typically associated with traditional marketing. They view the customer lifecycle as an hourglass rather than a funnel. Not only are they concerned with developing creative awareness and lead gen campaigns, but they’re also razor-focused on extending the value of their offerings for their existing customers. By driving more active engagement, they better understand their customers, which empowers them to tell more compelling stories to all of their target audiences.

But how do they do it? What are their primary tasks and responsibilities?

Here are just a few things successful growth marketers do on a daily basis to help expand their business.

  • Work cross-functionally to develop an understanding of each department and learn how they can contribute to the growth of the company
  • Develop plans to experiment, test, and optimize targeted and personalized digital experiences across every stage of the customer lifecycle
  • Oversee content marketing initiatives meant to drive traffic to numerous digital properties through search engine optimization, backlinking initiatives, and public relations efforts
  • Gather, analyze, and interpret critical data to identify growth opportunities and improve awareness, conversions, sales, and revenue
  • Experiment with innovative marketing techniques and deliver progress reports to key stakeholders

That’s a lot to ask of any marketer, so it’s best for marketing teams to employ a universal growth marketing approach where every team member is focused on expanding the business through holistic lifecycle strategies. 

How to Become a Growth Marketer

If you want to become a growth marketer (or, more specifically, a growth marketing manager), you likely have a lot of the necessary tools in your tool belt already. That is, you’re probably already well-versed in best practices for proven digital marketing strategies, such as:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Paid advertising (search, display, remarketing, social, native, etc.)
  • Automated email marketing programs (as well as a firm understanding of email deliverability, reputation, and compliance)
  • Product marketing and sales enablement
  • Customer and partner marketing to improve customer retention and brand affinity
  • Marketing operations (including data collection, interpretation, and reporting)

Still, not all marketers are necessarily growth marketers. That’s because growth marketing is a mindset more than just a series of tactics and experiments. You have to be enthusiastic about the company you work for and your role in its success.

  • You can’t just understand SEO; you have to know where you can improve your company’s SEO in accordance with organizational goals and objectives.
  • You can’t just understand PPC; you have to know how to allocate your budget and create attractive assets to place on engaging landing pages.
  • You can’t just understand email deliverability; you have to know what makes your audience tick and then deliver compelling subject lines with useful messaging and content.
  • You can’t just understand your company’s offerings; you have to know what differentiates these products and services from your competition while also gaining full visibility into the business roadmap to stay a step ahead of consumers’ needs.

Essentially, good growth marketers do far more than just adhere to best practices. Instead, they use those best practices as a foundation to go above and beyond the same boring, ineffective campaigns to produce real results that translate into meaningful engagement and growth. They do so across multiple channels, never losing sight of extending the customer lifecycle.

What Is Growth Marketing?

What Are the Best Growth Marketing Strategies and Channels?

This question is difficult because the answer is going to vary based on each company’s unique position. That said, there are a few general growth marketing strategies and channels that almost every good growth marketer is going to stand by. 

  • Organic lead generation is preferable to paid lead generation. By focusing on where SEO is trending and delivering exciting messaging, companies can drive major leads and sell far more of their products and services without having to drain their budget through paid advertising strategies. And skilled marketers who do invest in paid advertising do so to complement their existing content marketing efforts and support a holistic marketing plan.
  • Customer retention is just as important (if not, more so) than customer acquisition. This isn’t to say that bringing on new customers shouldn’t be a priority, but the best way to grow your company is through your existing business. Keeping your clients and consumers engaged with your offerings leads to better usage and more interest in other products and services. So make sure that you know your customers, understand their needs and expectations, and deliver on your promises. 
  • Persuasion is a better approach than overt salesmanship. It feels awkward even having to include this on the list, but many marketers still think they can bend customers to their will. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Modern consumers are in complete control of their buying journeys, so it’s important that you treat them with the respect they deserve. Don’t lecture, educate. Don’t preach, empathize. Don’t brag, listen. Informing your audience will drive trust in your offerings and endear prospects and customers to your brand.
  • Relying on instinct is a slippery slope; trusting the data reveals objective truths. Historically, marketers have had to make estimated guesses about their target audiences and their program performance, which isn’t ideal. After all, determining the ROI of roadside billboards and radio ads is pretty difficult. These days, though, we have a literal world of data at our disposal. Don’t ignore it! Use this information to develop accurate personas, anticipate your customers’ next steps, and improve program performance in real-time.
  • A company is more than the sum of its products. Every business relies on the quality of their offerings as the foundation of their revenue. But a product can’t sell itself, so you need to go beyond the tangible offering to build a larger narrative that delights your audience and elevates your brand to new heights. While staying within brand and style guidelines is important, don’t be afraid to express a creative, disruptive, or even subversive message. Again, know your audience and use that knowledge to anticipate and exceed their expectations.

Learn More About Act-On: The Top Growth Marketing Platform

Ready to become a growth marketer? Act-On is the top growth marketing solution on the market today and has everything you need to identify areas for growth and seize on these opportunities through a myriad of platform features and use cases. Our software is easy to use, and our support teams are the absolute best in the business. 

To learn more, please book a 20-minute demo with one of our marketing automation experts. Or, if you’d rather keep your journey digital for the time being, take our interactive product tour to focus on what you’re looking for in a growth marketing platform

Growth Marketing Automation: The Next Wave