Growth marketing is a data-driven strategy where experiments are designed and conducted to determine how to optimize results over a targeted area. If you want to increase any specific metrics of your business, growth marketing is an excellent idea.
The Major Goals Of Growth Marketing
- To keep customers engaged
- To increase the retention rate of customers
- To acquire New customers
- To turn customers into brand ambassadors
- To Increase Profit
What makes a successful growth marketer
So there are three main components to being a successful growth marketer based on growth marketing skillset.
- Channel level expertise.
- Analytical capability.
- Cross-functional strategic thinking.
Channel level expertise
So the number one is channel level expertise. It includes email marketing, Push, SEO, Facebook ads, etc. for understanding how the channel works. Don’t hire for where people are today because if they have massive growth potential if they’re fast learners and have proven, they can learn new things in the past. They’re hungry to get better, teaching them and like getting them that experience they lack is not that hard. People need to be hungry for learning. They need to learn new things and grow to get better. So channel level expertise is right to have for a successful growth marketer.
The next one is an analytical capability, which is essential, whether it’s just like Excel skills or SQL skills. It will take you to the next level. If you can extract data to gather insights, analyze your experiments can lead you to become a successful growth marketer. You were so able to like get your hands on data and interpret it and use it to make better decisions, super important. The analytical capability will help you to become a growth leader in your team.
Cross-functional strategic thinking.
The next is strategic thinking, and this is like a product manager or a growth manager. It’s being able to come up with good ideas, figuring out how do you pick the right experiments. It will tell you how to prioritize your roadmap, how do you think about your customers’ experience and the customer journey to identify significant opportunities.
And then also work with other stakeholders cause like growth is crossfunctional. If you are not particularly good at working with creatives or engineering team or an analytics team, you’re going to have a hard time driving projects end to end.
So it’s like that crossfunctional ability of strategic thinking. It is the key to getting to the next level in growth. You can’t have zero skill or expertise in any of those areas. You can’t have zero analytical abilities and still be a growth marketer. Or you can’t have zero channel level expertise and always be a growth marketer. You can’t have zero strategic thinking ability.
You just need a baseline of those areas .it’s better to go deep in one of those things. Especially as teams grow and mature, you end up having more specialization, and that’s how you kind of can pick who are the right people for what roles. Are they good at a specific channel, or are they good at analysis and analytics? Or are they good with strategic thinking, and they should be a manager or they’ve got like that leadership potential?
You want to pick one of them probably, maybe two of them, but usually you should choose one. Try to get good at that because that’s kind of like where you’re going to go long-term, is most likely in one of those specific areas.
Quick aside on growth hacking
What we were talking about earlier with the lean startup methodology is one of the founding principles and methods that kind of gave birth to the world of growth marketing or growth hacking. Hacking is just the tech context that is very similar to or is very applicable to the lean startup methodology. It tells how you can build a minimum viable product’s of simple working version as quickly as possible using minimal resources. That’s why hackathons are weekend-long marathons.
It is like you don’t take time to come up with the most perfect, elegant solution. So, You hack something together as quickly as possible to see if it works or not. That’s what the lean startup methodology is. You hack something together really quickly, that is the least, or that is the minimum viable product that you can use to learn if customers want what you’re building.
The same methodology applies to growth marketing. It will guide how you can build the minimum viable marketing campaign that you can run and test to learn whether or not it’s valid or not. Hacking is kind of like the mindset of someone who wants to work quickly without finding the perfect solution to find the fastest, best solution to start getting learnings.
What growth hacking is not and what it kind of got turned into today. People are looking for lazy, silver bullets is what a lot of people associate with a growth hack. It’s like what is the growth hack, what is that one growth hack that’s going to take me from where I am now to 5x growth. That doesn’t exist for almost all businesses.
People are thinking that it’s like buying snake oil like you think it’s going to be this perfect”If I buy this growth hacking book, “I’m going to find that one hack,” and it’s going to save my business.”I think even people that popularise the term know that growth is about a process. There isn’t one hack; it’s a series of hacks that fold into a broader process about continually experimenting and learning. So you can accelerate learning and get to the result and the end goal faster.
How to Become a Growth Marketer
What are the characteristics of a successful growth marketer? Which skills are more important than others when it comes to hiring new talent? What do hiring managers look for?
How do you initially get hired as a growth marketer? It is an interesting question, mainly because there’s no pre-determined path or single path to becoming a growth marketer.
There are mostly three basic skill sets that are important and that hirers or interviewers are going to be looking for when you talk to them. Analytical capability, channel-specific expertise, and strategic thinking, cross-functional project management leadership.
If you’re new, you don’t need to necessarily have, outside of the channel-specific expertise, which is the hardest thing to get.If you’re not a growth marketer, it’s hard to have expertise or experience in a specific channel. Still, the other two are very easy for you to get your hands on and to learn about. So the good news is outside of the channel level expertise, you can still get into email marketing. You can find an email marketing course on Udemy or whatever, and you can get some of that.
Paid acquisition is probably a little bit harder unless you have some money that you can have to throw around, test doing that stuff. But on the analytics side, there’s no reason that if you want a growth marketing job. You don’t have a strong analytical background, and you shouldn’t go onto some online learning site and teach yourself to do SQL.A, having the skill is excellent. Still, even more, important is, you can tell, and you can show your interviewer that you went out and taught yourself SQL.
You showed that you’re a quick learner, you have a desire to get better, that alone would stand out to me. Going and teaching yourself these skills is essential. The analytics and the channel-specific one, at least for specific channels, is not super hard to do; it’s all about just having the hunger and the drive. And then, beyond having the skills, just understanding the necessary foundations of how growth works in the context of the business that you’re interested in.
So go to growthhackers.com, check out a handful of that growth studies from different businesses, find one that is similar to a business or a company that you want to work at, learn about how they do growth. How did they start their business, what were their frameworks, what are the channels they used, it will be beneficial?
Then you can go into that interview with a strong understanding, probably of how this business thinks about their growth model, and what are opportunities for them to grow? I think if you come in without any experience,over-index on showing that you did a lot of homework, that you want this job, come with ideas, ready to go. Come in with fresh ideas about experiments they should run. Make an email marketing tear down, sign up for their product, do a teardown of their onboarding flow, and come up with ideas for how they can improve it.
Those are the things that would impress and would very easily allow overlooking a lack of expertise or experience in a specific functional area. The biggest mistake is least the way that people prepare for growth marketing interviews, is probably focusing too much on their experience and their channel expertise.
Growth in the context of business is about trying new things that are continuously improving and getting better. The best growth marketers are people that apply that same thinking to themselves in their own life. So you can tell when you’re talking to someone if they think about their trajectory and career development the way they think about growth.
You can hear them talking about new skills that they’ve learned or new things that they’ve tried. They get excited talking about growth, and you can tell that they’re hungry to try new things, they don’t act like they know everything. Because if you’re a real growth marketer, you know that you don’t remember something, that’s why you want to experiment so you can learn and get better.
So, people that are very sure that they have the right experience, they’ve got all the knowledge they will focus on all the things they’ve done. Rather than showing tenacity, drive to get better. Just generally enjoying learning and being curious, I’ve interviewed a handful of people like that. It’s always a red flag because like I said, I think trajectory and upward potential is a lot more critical, most of the time.
There’s no real replacement for getting hands-on skills, so if you can A, find a way to run these experiments yourself, whether it’s coming up, if you have your blog, if you have a little bit of money. You can test different running types of ads. Email marketing is another one, and you can learn to build emails from scratch and do email automation using Mailchimpwithout having an email list to send. So the more you can get hands-on experience teaching this stuff, the better.
Doing these projects, as a part of an interview process, without being asked, is another excellent way to stand out. It shows that you understand the business, and come up with a proposal for how they can improve, what should be their landing page experimentation roadmap for the next two months, based on the research you did and ideas that you came up with.
You can show that you know what the right experimentation framework is. What are the best ideas to be testing.you can apply that to any part of somebody’s business if you’re interviewing with them? And then, hands-on experience with analytics is super easy because most online courses that you take for learning SQL, or Excel and PivotTables, give you datasets that you can then play with.
Especially with analytics, there’s no replacement for just getting in there with a big ol’ dataset and just playing around with it and figuring out how you can explore that data, get real learnings, understand it better, and start pulling out some insights.
How to Grow your Career in Growth Marketing
When you think about growing your career in growth, you must consider the two most important things
- What do you like?
- What are you good at?
Usually, they are related and overlap each other. But in the context of growth marketing, as we mentioned before, there are three different skill sets. There’s the analytics, channel-specific, and strategy management, leadership type skills. You can learn more from here
Figure out the ones that you enjoy most, and think about the ones that you’re best at. As long as you have the capacity to get better at it, even if you’re not the best at it right now, it’s just far more likely that you’ll be successful in the long run.
If the thing that you pick to do, every single day, is something that you love doing. So, find which one of the three you are best at and that you enjoy the most, and double down on that. Figure out what are your weaknesses, in the other two areas, and try to continue to develop those skills. And then, figure out what is the path. The best way to figure out is how to make your next move, get to that role that you want and identify somebody in the company who has made similar jumps.
Talking to people is the most effective thing and this is tough to learn, but the longer you’re at a company, the easier it is to see. start trying to forecast needs six, eight, 12 months down the line. In startups especially, they grow really quickly, they change constantly. But you can often see when new needs are going to emerge, you can see where there are gaps and opportunities in the business. If you can anticipate what that opportunity is going to turn into, Utilize that moment to change your career.
Experimentation as the defining trait of growth
The value of experimentation on growth is by deciding the most successful way to increase your users’ engagement and conversion. The experimentation process is around choosing that goal and then define a series of experiments that you can use to achieve that goal and gather learnings along the way.
Say, for example, you’re a growth marketer at Instacart, and you are responsible for increasing retention rates of existing users at Instacart. You had a quarter to come up with a plan and run a series of experiments to move the metric from, say, 50% month-on-month retention 60% month-on-month retention.
Traditional brand marketing wouldn’t focus on this metric. It would probably be a product team or just a product team. But the approach would be to run an email campaign to these users reminding them to use Instacart. Don’t set it up as an A/B test. Just send them an email. See, if after they get the email, people buy more groceries or come back to the site more often. You can do that a couple of times over the quarter, and each time you send an email, you can see there is there a lift in retention rate, or does it drive traffic to the website.
But what you’re not learning is whether the message you’re sending or the email you are posting is the right message for your customers or not. How much lift are you getting and retention from sending this email? Maybe it’s not being caused by the email. Perhaps they’re getting this email, and then there happens to be something else that’s going on that’s causing an overall increase in retention rates.
Maybe it rained that week, and people are particularly lazy and are ordering more from Instacart. If you don’t run as an experiment, you don’t know about the campaign that you ran on the experiment which will not improve any performance on your campaigns.
So what you should do is you can come up with a series of five, ten experiments that you want to run and think about what would increase retention rates. The way you do that is you come up with a hypothesis.
Say, if people get reminded that Instacart is convenient, and they use these kinds of emails, “Save yourself an hour this week.”Use Instacart instead of going to the grocery store.”Set it up as an A/B test. See if the people that receive the email buy more groceries or come back to the site more often than people that don’t see the email. Then you learn does the email itself increases the retention rate or purchase rate of customers versus not getting the email at all.
If you discover that sending emails is a good idea and increases purchases, you can then move on to the next hypothesis. Which could be what is the right message to send people.So that’s when you start testing messaging. You say maybe it’s about convenience and saving time.
Perhaps it’s about pricing. Be like, “You will save 20% by using Instacart”, or some random thing like that. Then you can learn, do customers care more about the convenience factor, or do they care more about price? Then by setting it us as an experiment, you know precisely based on purchase rates and retention rates of the convenience test group versus the pricing test group.
Potentially, you can go even a layer deeper and learn which customers exactly care more about pricing or convenience, because realistically, not everybody cares about the same thing. The ideal state of any growth process is to find out the point where you want to know. What the right message, the right offer, the right customer experience for each customer in your business to drive the best experience, and the best results are.
There are mostly three layers of depth that you can go to with an experiment. The first is just learning whether or not doing an email campaign or a push notification or a landing page at all has some sort of effect on conversion. You can learn that sending an email improves conversion. That’s great. Your competitors are probably doing the same thing.
So if you want to go a layer deeper, it’s about figuring out what is the right message or the right offer or the right campaign? How do you get better about your email marketing? Or how do you make better landing pages? So for your entire audience, then how do you create the best experience to drive 10% more growth or 20% more growth on top of the most basic? It could be the worst email campaign possible, but sending an email, even if it’s terrible, is better than no email.
So how do you come up with the best email? Once you figure out, you will start seeing some gains. You will see, there are individual messages that work better than others. This is where things get powerful when you can tailor the news to different customers. Understand what campaign, what offer, what message resonates with customer A better than with customer B.
Because trying to treat all your customers the same, assuming they care about the same things, they like your brand for the same reason, or they use your products, in the same way, is wrong. I can guarantee you it’s wrong. It is possible now with the data that companies have available to them by running experiments. And you can learn which customers respond best to which type of offer or message.
So you can probably get to 10 or 20% improvement by just testing different messages or different campaigns against each other at the macro level. But once you start getting into every individual customer who has various experiments run for them.
So you’re learning what the best thing for each individual is, that’s when you get to the point where you’re at 30, 40, 50% better than your current baseline. That’s where you can differentiate versus your competition because it’s not that easy to do. There are a lot of companies that don’t do it.
The best companies do this religiously, and they probably don’t want other people to know about it because it is so powerful. It takes a lot of time and energy to invest in and get good at. But once you figure out how to do it and you have it instrumented correctly, the results are incredibly powerful, because every person is unique and wants different things.
If you can give that to them, you’ll not only improve metrics in the near term, and you’ll see better performance, but you will also see longer-term benefits. People will be more loyal to your brand. They’ll feel that one-to-one personal connection when you can deliver them personalized messages and optimize everything for the individual. So that’s the holy grail of experimentation and growth. Let’s talk about food delivery now.
You’ve got Postmates, DoorDash, and Uber Eats, Seamless, all of these different, mostly, commodities. They’re all doing some sort of email marketing experimentation, testing different landing pages. If you’re doing all the same thing, you might not even get the best single message for your entire audience. Say, you get 10 or 20% better than your baseline, you’re still not necessarily better than them.
You’re better than where you were before, and that’s great. Improving your monthly email resurrection or retention email by 10 or 20% of your average purchase value is, I don’t know, $20 or $30 per customer. You’ve got millions of customers. You’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars in incremental revenue every single month.
As your customer base grows, it’s $100,000 this month, and then it’s $120,000 the next month. Then $140,000, and then by the end of the year, this 10% increase in revenue per user from a better email that started as $100,000 more a month is now $400,000 more per month if you’re growing your business. Every incremental bit of performance or conversion performance can improve translates to down funnel effects for your business in the long run.
So it’s great to get that first incremental $100,000in that first month. But when you extrapolate that too throughout an entire year, your overall business is growing. When you move one of these metrics, it turns into something that continually compounds and adds more revenue for your business over the long run. If you set something up as an experiment, even when you fail, you are learning.
Therefore, it is valuable. As opposed to if you’re not running as an experiment and you’re just doing stuff, you’re just sending emails. You’re just putting up landing pages, and if it’s not an experiment. You’re not learning does it work, or does it not work, you’re not getting any learning as about what your customers care about, what things are working, what things aren’t working.
When it fails, and you learn about something that doesn’t work, that’s just as valuable. That’s one more data point that you can use to improve every other future thing that you do in your business. A lot of times, those benefits aren’t even limited to your team. If you run an experiment around messaging, and you can learn about those customers that don’t care about it. Saving 10 minutes by ordering from Instacart versus going to the grocery store, whatever the example is. Your experiment failed, you didn’t see any increase in conversion, you’re like, well, darn this was a failed experiment.
Then you realize that you just eliminate one messaging point that you probably would have used again, that you didn’t know wasn’t working. There are probably other people in the business that are using similar language that is unintentionally failing and doing a lousy job at communicating your value proposition to customers. You just saved all of those other people time, and likely money, that they’re losing because they were using the wrong message.
Half the money you spend on advertising will go into vain. You just don’t know which half. It’s okay if you waste that much money, but once you learn which part of it is consumed, that’s how you can start fixing that and getting better. It’s the thing that makes failure into a learning opportunity, which is extremely valuable.
Because that means even as you experiment more, as long as you’re getting some things right, yet one out of every four, then you’re doing pretty well. You’re only going to get better, and your success rate’s only going to increase over time.
Growth Marketing vs Traditional Marketing
There are several differences between traditional brand marketing and growth marketing. In the first round, where will you focus on as a marketer?
Brand marketing traditionally is focused on top of the funnel Which is awareness and acquisition? On the other hand, growth marketing focuses on the entire funnel. So your job as a growth marketer is to drive growth across the business in any way you like, there are no limitations.
While focusing on the crucial area will define the trait of growth marketing as a function. Even more importantly, it is the second characteristic, which is that the process of growth driven by experimentation, and that is like the main difference between brand marketing and growth marketing.
The way that you drive growth across all areas of the funnel is to continually experiment with different programs, campaigns, product features, etc. That increase conversion, create better customer experiences, generate data that you can then use to learn and improve. So that you can continue to optimize your funnel and grow your business
If you look at the Lean Startup methodology is probably like one of the founding, like philosophies, of the current approach in Silicon Valley and how growth marketing works now. You have to start by admitting that you don’t know what your customers want. When you think you know what they want. Then if you invest heavily in building the product for a customer based on a wrong hypothesis, you end up spending lots of time, money, and resources that generate no results.
The Lean Startup Methodology is all about defining a hypothesis upfront about what a customer wants. Finding the fastest and most efficient way to test that hypothesis is to design an experiment that can validate or invalidate your hypothesis.
It’s okay if you’re wrong because at least you’re learning and you’re not investing heavily in something that’s not useful. And then using those learnings to move forward then and then test the next hypothesis and the following hypothesis. And so the same approach can be applied to growth.
If you are a brand marketer and you want to increase awareness of your brand, rather than saying I know exactly what our customers want. Then What’s going to lead is 10,000 more passenger or customer acquisitions.
Again suppose you start with a hypothesis that your customers care about X.So we are going to run an experiment to see if this is something that they care about, whether it’s a messaging campaign, a video. Now if they care about this thing that you are putting out there, then you can set it up as an experiment. You can also learn about customers’ respond either you’re right or wrong. Then you can double down on that. And you’ve learned that this is something they care.
Now, if you see you’re wrong, then you should go back to the drawing board, but at least you have those learnings that you can then use to inform future campaigns and future experiments. We’re all starting at the same point, which is we’re at this current state in the business, and our long-term goal is to get to here, whatever that metric could be.
It could be like two x your revenue, three x your user base, whatever it is, and there are two potential paths to getting there. The traditional, more brand marketing path would be like come up with the best single campaign that’s going to take you from here to there in one fell swoop.
And if you’re right, that’s great. You’ve won, you’re a genius, you get a promotion and a raise. But if you’re wrong, you don’t get a second chance because you’ve spent all this time and resources upon it. You’ve put all of your chips on the table with this one campaign.
The reality is, most of the time, we aren’t right, or we aren’t as accurate as we think, rather than investing everything in one idea without getting learnings. Dont run lots of individual campaigns or experiments as quickly as possible in between now and whenever your deadline is for that goal you want to hit.
Each time you learn something more about what your customers want, what they don’t wish to, that allows you to improve the next campaign, and the following experiment. Even if most of them are wrong and you just got four right out of ten operations. Each one of those winning experiments gets you two, three advantages. All these learnings compiled into a better understanding of your customers. That is why growth marketing is superior to traditional marketing.