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Tips & Guides — 09 Jun 2022

Fundamentals of Growth Marketing

Fundamentals of Growth Marketing

Survival and success depend on growth in the business world. But, traditional marketing techniques are no match for rapidly changing business-consumer relationships and digital platforms. Step in growth marketing.

Growth marketing aims to accelerate business growth through rapid experimentation and implementation of digital marketing processes. It uses data-driven approaches to optimize the customer journey and create sustainable, robust growth.

Read on as we take a look at what growth marketing is, what makes a successful growth marketer, and its fundamental aims.

What is growth marketing?

Growth marketing is a data-driven approach using rapid experimentation to identify and develop strategies to boost business expansion. It’s effectively an updated version of traditional marketing, combining conventional and unconventional methods and technologies to achieve its growth aims. 

For example, a growth marketer might use A/B testing to see which landing pages or push notifications consumers prefer. Once they identify one that works, they either use it in their campaigns or continue with experimentation.

Growth marketing stems from the term “growth hacking”, coined by Sean Ellis in 2010. Ellis helped Silicon Valley startups, like Dropbox, achieve rapid growth and wanted to describe his role in quickly growing user bases and scaling businesses.

As Ellis coined the term, companies like Airbnb and Amazon used growth hacking to boost short-term marketing efforts. Today, growth hacks have become a core strategy to implement digital marketing processes.

growth marketing

Growth hacking and marketing share a common approach. They both:

  • Focus on rapid growth
  • Use experimentation to develop and optimize marketing strategies
  • Focus on all aspects of the customer journey and product roadmap
  • Have a data-driven approach
  • Identify and resolve bottlenecks or customer pain points

However, they differ in one way. Growth hacking focuses on short-term hacks to achieve one growth goal. Growth hackers often boost business growth for startups and make the company more valuable to investors. 

Growth marketing looks to implement short and long-term marketing campaigns. Instead of concentrating on a single short-term goal, it uses growth marketing strategies to drive multiple growth goals across the business. By generating data-driven insights and strategies for long-term campaigns, growth marketing provides businesses of all sizes with robust and sustainable growth.

Traditional marketing vs growth marketing

Growth marketing enhances the traditional marketing model by using growth hacking strategies and techniques, such as:

  • A/B testing
  • Data-driven email marketing campaigns
  • SEO optimization
  • AI and automation
  • Data-analysis of the customer journey

As a marketing process that depends on data, growth marketing works best for online or digital campaigns, where customer data, analytics, and a wide array of statistical tools are available to grow businesses.

Traditional marketing excels offline where rapid experimentation, data-driven approaches, and understanding of customer touchpoints are hampered, affecting growth strategies.

However, expanding digital platforms means growth marketing has become essential to acquiring new customers. Its ability to accurately target audiences, test hypotheses, and rapidly iterate is vital in a world where the business-consumer relationship is ever-changing online.


Additionally, where traditional campaigns would take weeks or months to approve, growth campaigns are constantly moving. Strategies are tested and implemented as soon as possible.

Understanding when and where to use each technique is crucial to growing your business and improving your return-on-investment (ROI).

marketers' behavior

What makes a successful growth marketer?

The skills required for a traditional marketer and that of a growth marketer are very different. Consider a typical customer journey or funnel with the following stages:

  • Awareness
  • Acquisition
  • Activation
  • Retention
  • Revenue
  • Referral

A traditional marketer focuses on the top of the funnel. Awareness and acquisition are vital stages and are valuable to boosting brand awareness. Their skills reflect this, with a mastery of copywriting, design, and video marketing essential for traditional marketing methods.

However, growth marketers focus on the entire customer lifecycle, from awareness to referral. They attract users, engage, retain, and turn them into brand advocates. So they need the ability to boost growth at each stage of the customer journey. 

While they don’t need to be experts, growth marketers must have a wide array of skills to deal with their varied tasks. For instance, a growth marketer might focus on developing customer engagement strategies one day and be involved in website coding the next.

For this reason, organizations have looked to growth teams to round out the many skills required for growth hackers. A typical marketing team might contain:

  • Growth master – Leads the team and makes final decisions
  • Growth marketers – Propose and implement experiments focused on KPIs
  • Growth analysts – Provide data analysis on experiments and implementation
  • Designers, programmers, and engineers – Develop products, tools, and software

Let’s take a closer look at the desired qualities an ideal growth marketer possesses. 

Digital marketing skills


A modern marketer is all about data and technology. They make decisions with an objective, data-driven approach. So, a growth marketer must be comfortable using tools and software like python panda dataframe for statistical and data analysis. 

Several technical tools are used to create, analyze, monitor, and implement growth strategies. So, it’s advantageous to be mathematically inclined, or a logical thinker as it helps in understanding technical processes, such as:

  • Building/designing websites and landing pages
  • Designing and understanding fonts, colors, and branding elements
  • Basic codings like HTML, CSS, and others
  • Running ads on different channels/platforms
  • Implementing tracking tools
  • Analyzing data
  • Understanding business and marketing concepts like conversion rates
  • Comprehension of other concepts like automation

However, some tools, like Affise BI, simplify data gathering and analysis. They compile unstructured data from multiple marketing channels onto a single dashboard. Teams have self-service access to data and analytics, giving them valuable insights and reducing the need for expert technical skills.


While a technically-minded growth marketer is great for your marketing efforts, this should never be at the expense of creativity. Your campaigns must be unique and exciting, reaching new and existing customers. 

In addition to vibrant designs and standout copywriting, you need new and attractive ideas for robust growth. 

For example, Uber started by offering free rides to new users. As users had to download the app and input their card details for the free ride, Uber managed to onboard customers to their new product, show them its benefits, and overcome initial user hesitancy in one step. 

It led to rapid growth, awareness, and is a strategy that has been adapted to different situations to take advantage of festivals and referral programs.



Growth marketers are present at each step in the customer lifecycle and form a link between products and users. They’re responsible for finding target audiences and informing customers about product features, changes, updates, and pricing.

They’re well-placed to deliver customer feedback to product development teams and accurately describe features or updates to customers.

So, to be effective, they need a strong knowledge of both the customer base and the product. It involves:

  • Understanding product evolution
  • Understanding the target audience and product-market fit
  • Analyzing customer feedback regularly
  • Understanding customer concerns

Have a hacker mentality

Like growth hackers, growth marketers must be technically versatile. Their tasks include creating videos, implementing A/B testing, content marketing, or building an ecommerce store, among others. 

It goes beyond simple skills or mindsets. Effective growth hackers will take on multiple roles and responsibilities depending on what they need to achieve. 

It can change day to day, so growth marketers and teams must have the mindset to switch between tasks or roles quickly. It’s crucial to implement effective marketing strategies and rapidly scale your business.

Quick to adapt

The business-customer relationship is constantly changing. So are the digital marketing techniques and tools to take advantage of new platforms and customer expectations. 

Growth marketers need to keep their fingers firmly on the pulse of new developments and trends in the business, industry, and marketing world while adapting their tools and techniques to take full advantage. For instance, finding and managing partnership marketing opportunities is time-consuming to do manually. But with tools like CPAPI, the burden can be eased. 

CPAPI lets you work with thousands of advertisers and different offers. API integration between sources of offers and your system means offers transfer automatically, improving brand awareness, acquisition channels, and forming fast, reliable partnerships.

Quick to adapt

No fear of failure

For growth marketers, there’s always room to improve the customer experience, journey, and business-consumer relationship. Experimentation is at the core of their process, and businesses should always look for new and out-of-the-box ways to drive growth.

While some tests will succeed, many don’t. So, neither growth marketer nor business must be afraid of failure. 

A growth marketer needs to know what doesn’t work just as much as what does. Each failure provides new opportunities and allows strategies to be narrowed and optimized. If they’re pressured for continuous success by either the business or themselves, their methods may regress to safe, traditional techniques.

How marketers react to failure is a skill in itself. It should be embraced and nurtured to ensure failed experiments drive new strategies.

A storyteller 

Storytelling is a prominent skill in the wheelhouse of all marketers, and it’s no different with growth marketers. Having the vision to outline the social benefits of products to customers or form a meaningful connection is vital to a good sale.

For instance, imagine your new workplace communication app has a cloud contact centre solution feature. A successful growth marketer will make full use of this feature and tell a story around the mental drain of an always-on society or other social improvements to connect with consumer needs.

Fundamental growth marketing goals

Growth hackers focus on single short-term goals, like increasing website views. All of their efforts target this one growth goal. However, traditional marketers concentrate on longer-term campaigns. So, they set and monitor multiple goals, ensuring the business has sustainable growth.

Growth marketers do both. They create SMART goals, set KPIs, monitor metrics, and rapidly experiment to find marketing strategies that work for short and long-term campaigns. Their efforts focus on the main stages of the customer journey:

  • Acquisition
  • Activation
  • Retention
  • Referral

These are the fundamental areas they spend their time to optimize marketing and sales efforts. We’ll go through every step and highlight key strategies you can use to drive growth in each area.

Fundamental growth marketing goals

Customer acquisition

Customer acquisition is the first step in the customer lifecycle. It’s where prospects first find out about your business or products. There are many ways this can happen, such as:

  • Online and offline ads
  • Social media virality
  • Content marketing such as blogs and podcasts 
  • Word-of-mouth
  • Influencers and partnership marketing 

Growth marketers can delve into experimenting with different techniques, platforms, and content to drive brand awareness. Partnership marketing is one major strategy to do this.

For example, if you have an ecommerce store selling candles, you can partner with candle reviewers or bloggers to widen your reach. Finding partners can be made easier with partnership marketing platforms like Affise Reach. They assist your growth marketing by sourcing reliable partners to drive ecommerce traffic, expand your partnerships, and grow your business.

Other growth marketing strategies you can use to drive traffic and grow brand awareness include:

  • Enhancing organic traffic

Organic traffic is when potential customers look for your brand/site via search engines. You can use SEO marketing, inbound links, and create valuable content for higher search engine ranking and visibility. 

  • Testing paid ads

This refers to the traffic brought to you by your advertising channels, such as PPC ads. Again you can leverage SEO and A/B test different ads to find the best growth marketing strategies for your paid traffic.

  • Using paid social

Like paid traffic, paid social refers to advertising on social platforms, such as Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter. Investing in influencers helps spread awareness and generate leads from your target audience.

  • Proactively looking for referrals

This is when traffic is referred to your site by any means other than the three listed above. Instead of waiting for this to happen, you can use growth hacks, like writing guest blogs, launching customer referral programs, or using social media challenges to increase virality and referrals.

Customer acquisition

User activation

Activation is where customers use your product and find out if it’s valuable to them. So, you want to make this step as seamless and satisfying as possible. There are a few strategies used to do this:

  • Exciting onboarding

Customers get frustrated if they struggle to understand how products work. It can lead to product abandonment. An exciting and comprehensive onboarding process that introduces the products and features can prevent churn and increase perceived product value to users.

Checklists, progress bars, and gamifying onboarding are regular growth hacks companies use to make this critical step fun for consumers.

  • Extended trials/features

Free trials introduce and show consumers how your product integrates into their life. Take the example of free Uber rides for first-time users. Users had to download the app, giving Uber the chance to onboard and convince users of the need for their service. 

They used the incentive of a free journey to activate users. Look for similar growth marketing strategies for integration with your free trials and features. 

  • Video tutorials

Unlike text instructions, video tutorials let customers see a friendly face and make a human connection. Using emotions is a growth marketing essential to make personal connections, and it’s easier when you have tutorials customers need to watch.

  • Knowledgebase and forums

Growth marketing strategies need to be sustainable and robust. By building forums or knowledgebases, you’re creating self-sufficient online communities that support, interact, and persuade prospects to convert. Consider platforms like Reddit, where vibrant subreddits host communities of enthusiasts.

User activation differs for each business. For example, a company that markets hosted voip solutions will have a different approach to an art store. Consider the strategies you need to turn your prospects into paying customers.

User activation

Customer retention

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) is the amount of money a business invests for one customer. It’s calculated by dividing sales and marketing costs by the number of new customers in a specific period.

If you’re not retaining customers, you’re spending this CAC each time you want to sell them a new product, wasting valuable resources on repeated acquisition. So, customer retention is a big part of maintaining and building business growth and is an essential component of any ecommerce marketing strategy.

Retention reduces churn and increases the lifetime value (LTV) of customers. As well as a solid product-market fit, you can implement other strategies to increase retention rates. These include:

  • Customer experience/satisfaction

The customer journey details the process consumers go through to purchase products. Tracking and analyzing it lets growth marketers test ways to target customers better by looking at common touchpoints or behaviors. For example, increasing the average order value (AOV) by upselling or recommending product bundles.

Additionally, you can identify and resolve pain points in the buying process to improve customer experiences and satisfaction, leading to increased loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing.

  • Loyalty programs

Incentives, like discounts, encourage customers to try your product and ensure brand loyalty. By rewarding loyal shoppers, you’re showing you value them. Consider testing different incentive strategies or getting feedback from customers over what rewards they’d like to see.

  • Email marketing

You can supercharge email marketing by using automation and AI algorithms. Automated tools can regularly send emails containing personalized consumer interests at the best time of day. It does this through individual consumer profiles and in-depth data analysis.

Whichever growth marketing strategies you decide to implement, ensure you track and update them for longevity.

Subscription Business tactics


93% of people look to friends and family for purchasing advice. So, developing ways to increase referrals is crucial to boost growth opportunities.

Referrals can come from different places and in different ways. 

  • Referral programs

People trust their friends and family for recommendations, so it’s sensible to turn your customers into brand advocates. A referral program provides a unique code or link to customers to pass on to their network. When they do, they receive gifts and discounts.

Take Dropbox as an example. They initially offered free storage for every referral. So they incentivized current customers to refer as many people as possible. By leveraging their customer base, Dropbox quickly and inexpensively boosted business growth.

Implement similar marketing hacks in your business. Ensure your customers are aware of the referral program. It’s through them your customer base grows.

  • Partnership marketing

Partnership marketing is a crucial strategy for acquisition and also referrals. Referrals are a form of acquisition, and finding the right partners is vital to expanding your business reach. Consider using partnership marketing platforms to form valuable and profitable relationships to increase your growth.

  • Social media

Social media is a busy online space. An example of this is that there are now over 1 billion Instagram users, and each one potentially likes, shares, and posts content. It provides a perfect opportunity to get referrals from shared content, posts, and online recommendations. 

Investing in social media influencers is one way to get prospects on side. Another is to create vibrant content for your social accounts, giving yourself the best opportunity to go viral and increase your brand awareness.

Trust in brand

Growth marketing is more than a buzzword

Growth marketing is more than just a buzzword. It’s an updated approach to digital marketing that leverages growth hacking techniques for long-term marketing campaigns.

It requires multi-skilled marketers with a growth hacking mentality, ruthless experimentation, and rapid strategy implementation. It ensures the highest possible growth with few wasted resources.

Partnership marketing has become an invaluable growth strategy due to its cost-effective nature. Platforms like Affise can quickly build relationships to benefit your business. 

Growth marketers don’t replace traditional marketers. But, with changing business-consumer relationships, digital platforms are becoming ever-important. Growth marketers are the future in developing new strategies and optimizing the customer journey to ensure robust and sustainable business growth.

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Richard Conn - Senior Director, Demand Generation, 8x8

Written by

Richard Conn is the Senior Director for Demand Generation at 8x8, a leading communication platform with integrated contact center, voice, video, and chat functionality. Richard is an analytical & results-driven digital marketing leader with a track record of achieving major ROI improvements in fast-paced, competitive B2B environments.

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