In recent years within the field of online marketing, there’s been a lot of hype around terms like ‘growth marketing’ and ‘growth hacking’. Growth marketing is often seen as ‘marketing 2.0’ as it’s supposed to supercharge the traditional marketing model by adding a thick layer of data analysis, experimentation and automation on top of it.
In its essence, Growth marketing is a data-driven marketing technique that is mainly based on the Lean-startup method. It revolves around testing assumptions by rapid experimentation to quickly see what works and what doesn’t, instead of strategically planning out your steps for months and then linearly implementing them one by one.
Is Growth marketing an overly hyped marketing term? Maybe. Do I think the hype is worth it and that it’s really more effective than traditional marketing? HELL YES and here are 3 reasons why I think you should start growth marketing in your business too, whether you’re a local shoe store or a large multinational corporation.
1. Growth marketing pays attention to the whole picture
You ask a group of traditional marketeers and a group of growth marketeers to build a car that needs to be race ready within a month. The group of traditional marketeers would most likely spend 80% of their time at the drawing table to eventually come up with a fantastically looking car design including a flashy spoiler, aerodynamic side-mirrors and carbon-fibre windshield wipers. However, they’ve spent so much time on the car’s design, that in the end, they forgot to put any effort into actually making the car drive.
On the other hand, the first thing that the group of growth marketeers would do is to dive under the hood of the car and start experimenting with the engine until it runs as optimized and smoothly as possible. Eventually, they’ll just have a little time left to create a basic design for the car, but they wouldn’t care because they will know that the car will ultimately fulfil its main purpose and that’s not to look pretty but to actually win the race.
Where traditional marketing mainly focuses on the top of the sales funnel to increase awareness and user acquisition, growth marketing goes beyond that and looks at the whole picture. The question for growth marketeers is not only: How do we attract new customers? But also: How do we engage them, retain them and eventually even turn them into ambassadors for our brand?
By looking at the entire sales funnel, they can identify the steps that require the most attention in order to improve the overall performance as much as possible. In a lot of cases, it could, for instance, be much more cost-effective to increase your companies revenue by optimizing the retention rate and activate existing customers to make another purchase, than to spend a bunch of money on attracting new customers that have never interacted with your brand before. However, a lot of companies seem to overlook this. That’s why it’s essential for any marketer to look at the entire picture instead of just a tiny part of it.
2. It helps you to make the most of your resources
Growth Marketing was initially intended for start-ups and scale-ups that only have access to limited resources and thus have to find ingenious and creative ways to grow their companies. However, my opinion is that whatever company you are, you should always be concerned with finding creative ways to optimize your budget. Why in the world would you spend more money on a certain result that could be achieved for much less?
For example: A lot of companies and marketing teams still spend a ton of money on content and advertising while they have no idea if these are actually going to be successfully influencing the metric that they want to manipulate. Even worse, they probably don’t even have a metric for determining the success to begin with and they will just run an advertisement until it runs out of budget.
Even if you work at a big company with an almost infinite marketing budget, why wouldn’t you spend a few bucks on testing your content and advertisements to see whether you should make any improvements or if it’s even worth posting anything after all? A technique like the $1 a‑day Facebook strategy* is an example of a very cost-effective way to do so. Thus there shouldn’t be any excuse for whatever company you are to not optimize your marketing budget.
3. It benefits both your company AND your customers
Instagram is one of the fastest-growing companies in history and the social media platform now has over 1 billion active users per month*. However, Instagram didn’t originally start out the way we know it today.
Have you ever heard of the company Burbn? Me neither, but Burbn was an app that was founded in 2010 in which you could check-in to places, make plans, hang out with friends, and post pictures of your hangouts. The app was quite okay, but it wasn’t really that successful. Burbn was so complicated due to its many different functions, that users didn’t really know how to use the app let alone explain the app to their friends.
The app’s creators looked at the user data to see how people were using the app and they noticed that people weren’t using the check-in feature at all. The features that they were actually using, were the photo-sharing and filter features. They decided to go all-in on that data, started focussing completely on photo-sharing and filters, removed pretty much everything else from the app and well, that’s pretty much how Instagram was born.
So what we can learn from this example is that you should always start with your customer when you’re trying to sell a product. Growth marketing is built on a customer-centric approach and there’s a lot of difference between ‘thinking’ you know your customer based on assumptions and actually knowing who he/she is based on real (data) input. Talk to your customers, conduct interviews, surveys and look at user-data to really make sure what your customers’ fears and concerns are regarding your product.
So what should you do if in the end, after extensive user-testing and data-collection, the outcome appears to be that your product doesn’t really seem to add any value for your customers? Well, there are pretty much three options: (1) continue on the way it is and hope that your customers eventually start liking your product (very infeasible), (2) Stop your business entirely (not recommended) and (3) PIVOT!
Like Instagram, try to change your product until it appeals more to your customers. Adapt to what people love about your product and get rid of anything that causes friction. You could have a fantastic idea, but if it doesn’t appeal to your target group and there’s no product-market fit to begin with, you can try every growth marketing technique in the world but you would never achieve real growth.
In the end, being customer-centric doesn’t only help you to grow your company as a whole, but it also benefits your customer as you’re essentially creating your products based on their actual needs. After all, the customer is the one who is buying and using your products, so you better make sure that their experience with your products is the best it could possibly be.
How to start growth marketing in your organization?
The key to starting growth marketing in your organization is to create a customer-centric and data-driven mindset. In order to do so, you will, of course, have to start with collecting data. If you have never collected data before, this might sound like a bigger deal than it actually is. Nowadays there’s a bunch of free software available that you could use to automatically track your customers’ characteristics and behaviour online. Besides that, data aren’t always a bunch of numbers in a spreadsheet, but it could also consist of interviews, polls or surveys. So get out of the building, meet up with your customers and start collecting!
Guest blog by Joren Tiessen, participant of the Growth Hacking traineeship.
Originally posted on medium.com