Growth marketing: It seems self-explanatory. In fact, it almost seems redundant. Isn’t the very purpose of marketing to grow your business? You look for improvement or growth in metrics, such as the number of website visitors, leads, and customers.
Believe it or not, the term “growth marketing” actually refers to a very specific kind of marketing. It refers to businesses growing exponentially as they discover the power of tailor-fitting a marketing strategy for their company using both sides of the brain: creativity and data-driven practices.
So what exactly is growth marketing? How can small businesses use it to their advantage? Is it right for your company? Read on to find out.
In its simplest form, growth marketing, also known as growth hacking, is marketing that is hyper-focused on, well, growth. Its very existence is a response to rapidly growing technology, a shrinking world, and a culture that seems to change on a daily basis. Growth marketer Sean Ellis says a “growth hacker’s true compass is north.” Bigger, better, and more are what it’s all about.
As a result, growth marketing is anything but old school. It differs from traditional marketing in that it uses modern tools and metrics to measure the performance of specific strategies and tactics as completely as possible. Different than old-school marketing, growth marketing is inherently tailor-fit to your company, and constantly evolves to fit changing customer attitudes, respond to industry events, and handle your competition. It’s completely dynamic.
In the past, marketers used generally accepted principles to guide their efforts, and worked creatively within those parameters. Growth marketing, however, depends on thinking outside the box. It’s highly experimental. It’s where marketing meets scientific theory.
Growth marketers don’t build a marketing strategy to implement, because their strategy is to adapt to whatever seems to be working best. In order to know what’s working, they have to just get out there and get started. You could say it’s like throwing spaghetti at the wall to see if it sticks—if you then measured exactly how much each and every noodle stuck. Then, one at a time, you’d slightly alter cook time, the type of noodle, temperature, angle of the throw, and more to see how each affected noodle stickiness. But you still wouldn’t be done, because then you’d test the best settings of each element together and fine-tune further to eke out just a bit more stickiness. By the time you finished that, someone will have remodeled the kitchen with fresh wallpaper. So you’d start all over.
If it sounds like a never-ending process, it is. But that’s the point. Your business environment is constantly changing, and so are your offerings as a company. And they’re changing faster than ever before. If you decide on a marketing strategy that isn’t dynamic, in the way that the Don Drapers of the world did, you’ll be out of touch before your campaigns ever go live.
So what do you need to hack growth? More than ever before, marketing depends on technical savvy and the ability to gather, interpret, and act on data. So here’s what you’ll need:
If you can roll with all that, growth marketing could be the greatest thing for small businesses since the internet.
How can you get started implementing growth marketing in your small business? With so many variables to test and measure, and so many metrics that contribute to overall success, you could get lost in the possibilities. Here’s how to get started without losing your mind.
Whether you hire an experienced growth hacker or take on the task of learning the trade yourself, you’ll come across tons of ideas for how you can improve your efforts. But that doesn’t mean you should act on all of them right away. That would be chaos to implement, and you wouldn’t know which strategy changed your metrics in which way. Instead, focus on tactics that:
Kev Kaye of Growthboks recommends dumping each of your ideas into a spreadsheet, then rating them for each of the above criteria. Add each rating into one overall score, and use that score to prioritize your efforts. Then knock them out one at a time.
Once you’ve tried out a few strategies, it’s time to start using them throughout your brand. One of the most important elements of successful growth marketing is the ability to scale up your efforts. If you’re a numbers geek or have a scientific mind, you may enjoy A/B testing blog titles. Sure, having a passion for figuring out what makes consumers tick is going to help make you a good growth hacker, but the science isn’t really the point. At least, an understanding of the science won’t in itself affect your bottom line. You have to use your knowledge and you have to use it in big ways. You’ve invested in learning what your consumers respond to, so make the most of it by scaling that knowledge up.
The best part about growth marketing is that you often learn about more than just marketing. You can learn how to improve the entire customer journey with tactics you can employ in sales, service, product development, and even packaging and delivery options. Hire additional support as needed, knowing you’re growing your business based on concrete, data-backed strategies and decisions.
As you learn more about growth marketing and what makes your customers tick, work on streamlining your efforts. Learn which metrics make the most difference for your bottom line, and hone in on them. Streamline your testing process by writing down procedures and invest in better tools that make rolling out changes instant and easy.
Growth marketing is the future of marketing. But is it the right move for your business right now? While growth hacking is all about the long-term (a marathon, if you will) it happens in sprints. You’ll do a whole lot of testing, then spend time implementing what you’ve learned across your organization. And because what you learn today could change next month, in order to take advantage of your investment, you’ll need to be ready to act on your findings right away.
Sometimes, you’ll get growth hacking results that your company simply can’t adapt to quickly enough. If, for example, as part of your A/B testing you end up with a huge influx of leads, but don’t have the sales team to nurture them into customers, you may miss out. And if you end up doubling or tripling your product orders, are you poised to fill them?
Investing in growth marketing may require hiring new staff, guiding company culture in a new direction, and new equipment, software, or other tools. Before you do any of those things, make sure you’re ready to capitalize on your investment with these key steps.
Make sure your tools allow you to focus on your relationships with your customers. Use a cloud-based system for service, community management, and marketing. The right platform will help you set up A/B testing for everything from social media posts to email drip campaigns. You can gather data from dozens of metrics, and also compile, display, and interpret it. Make it easier to share and implement your findings across your organization, no matter how big or small.
Growth marketing is only as powerful as the technology behind it. With the right tools and people, you can find success in this very reactive, exciting marketing niche.