What Is Growth Marketing and How Can It Work for You?

Use these strategies to market smarter and grow quickly.

The digital product marketing world is one of seemingly constant change. Strategies that work one day may be less effective the next. They are replaced with new tools, new applications, and new users. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all this flux, but there’s another way to think about it. Growth marketing is the process of using data gained through marketing campaigns and experimentation to drive growth. It can help you anticipate change and plan your strategies to make constant improvements.

Growth marketing shortens the cycles of innovation rather than relying on extended efforts. Just-in-time campaigns and micro campaigns respond to the current moment’s needs. The results generated by each campaign or piece of content help you learn the answers to key questions.

  • What are your key user demographics?
  • What are your users’ pain points—and how much are they willing to pay to solve them?
  • How often are your users interacting with your product and how deeply?

The “growth” in growth marketing can be adding more users, boosting revenue, or even gaining name recognition. The key is to start small and get some information on what marketing efforts are most effective. Then focus your efforts on the channels that the data supports. Later, you can determine how much of your marketing budget to devote to those efforts.

Growth marketers are always analyzing data and feedback on what’s working and what isn’t. They’re attempting to understand what benefits users and keeps them coming back. Growth marketing transforms the traditional “make a product, then market it” pathway into “make, then market, then analyze, then remake, then remarket.”

Here are some of the key aspects of growth marketing that can help you shift your mindset.

All hands on deck

Growth marketing doesn’t exist in a silo. Everyone in a company is working toward the goal of growth. After all, everyone wants to find more users who will engage with their product. That mission of growth is fulfilled everywhere—from product development to customer support. Every team has something to share that can inspire a new way to draw in and delight users.

Your marketing team becomes a hub where data from other teams is combined and analyzed to help create the next batch of campaigns. Consider how teams other than marketing are gathering relevant marketing information all the time.

  • Product development pays attention to requests for features, upgrades, and complementary product lines, and their upcoming plans and goals can be used in marketing campaigns.
  • Analytics and developers track unusually high or low web or mobile traffic, data that can motivate marketing to try something new with their digital campaigns.
  • Customer support is in constant contact with users, and the conversations they have are relevant to marketers. Customers share compliments on what is going well (telling you which features to highlight), and they also share persistent concerns (highlighting areas to work on and then remarket).

Growth marketing can begin with any source of data that spurs innovation. Use that data to brainstorm new strategies, then test those new strategies with a pilot program or an experiment to see whether they’re worth expanding.

When starting out with growth marketing, try a few different tactics, making small changes to your newsletter, emails, or social media posts. The excitement happens when you see how these small changes impact your product engagement, downloads, or subscription renewals, giving you clues to what new direction will work best.

A/B testing

With today’s digital marketing capabilities, you can directly compare results from different email content, social media posts, and other marketing efforts. You can write almost any piece of marketing content in 2 ways to create an A/B test.

For instance, you might try 2 versions of your email newsletter, the first emphasizing a certain feature of your product and the second emphasizing a different feature. These different versions form the A and the B of A/B testing.

In this case, you would set up each test email to go out to a portion of your mailing list—maybe you split it in half or you send one version to just a small sample. You should also set the metric or goal that you’re trying to meet with this test. Are you looking to increase open rates? Decrease unsubscribes? The results of this test will show you which email better helped you meet those goals so that you can direct your efforts to the winning email.

Maybe more people clicked on the link in email A, but a higher percentage of people actually purchased after clicking through to the feature highlighted in email B. This is useful data! It indicates that certain users are more likely to follow through and purchase, and those users preferred email B.

Data like this can become part of a long-term strategy of continuous improvement, where you compare your old best strategies with new ideas. You’ll need to know what’s been tried before, so make sure you track your efforts.

Customer feedback

With modern digital marketing, there are countless ways to analyze your data through sites like Google Analytics. You can get instant feedback as well, in the form of a click on your link or a like on a social media platform.

To collect even more valuable data, create more opportunities to engage with your users. Try to go beyond the quantitative information gained from your site about how often or when customers interact with your pages. Reach out and get their reactions to your product and their thoughts about the experience of working with you. Mailchimp’s hosted survey form makes it easy to connect with users and get feedback on their latest interaction or see what they think about your ideas for future product updates.

To combine engagement data with data-driven marketing, then, you need new ways to solicit customer feedback. You might want to track website visitors who downloaded your app but haven’t logged in yet, or those who entered their email to purchase a subscription, but never completed the transaction.

You can then create behavior-based automations that are triggered after a certain amount of time has passed. These emails can solicit feedback on why your users haven’t logged in or what questions they have about the subscription they were about to purchase. Use the information to get insight into what would have pushed them to click Order Now.

You might find that the payment page was confusing or they’re not sure about the terms of the subscription. Product development, customer support, and even engineering can all work on improving the customer experience with this feedback.

Marketing in particular can look at this data and learn what content to emphasize in the next campaign. Maybe you could send a welcome email to users right after they download your app to help them log in. Or maybe a page about all the benefits of subscribing to a paid plan would be a great addition to the company website.

Add new features or improve current ones?

Feedback can also guide how your company chooses between updating a product and developing a new feature. The marketing team may discover that first-time customers are increasingly recommending your product, or that there is a growing need for a complementary feature. These are strong marks in favor of expanding your offering to give loyal customers more even more features to try.

However, your data might show that many first-time visitors are creating a free account but choosing not to subscribe or purchase your product. In this case, you might find it best to tinker with the functionality of the original product. As with other aspects of growth marketing, customer feedback can play a role here. Maybe there’s a perception problem, maybe the features don’t quite fit the need, or maybe the value it offers isn’t clearly shown.

Creativity meets data

Growth marketing often means responding on a dime to new opportunities. To stay nimble, you’ll want to organize short campaigns with plenty of time to analyze the results. The cycle may be longer or shorter depending on your company, but it never takes too long to get clear results. To implement a successful growth marketing campaign, you might:

  • Gather information about potential customers and analyze whatever feedback you already have
  • Use the information you’ve gathered to develop a few simple A/B tests
  • Create and run sample email campaigns, social media posts, blogs, podcasts, and other content
  • Track engagement data on your test features
  • Analyze what works best and add those tactics to a growing library of customized best practices
  • Reach out to other teams for new data and feedback before starting again

Growth marketing is responsive. You don’t assume that the same kind of advertising or content will work forever. Instead, you keep trying new things based on the feedback that both analytics and customer surveys tell you. There’s creativity in it, but it’s creative problem solving, not random chance.

A good growth marketing team views everything that goes on in your company with a marketing mindset. Look out for opportunities to leverage feedback and data. Take every opportunity to revisit your marketing plan, tweaking it for better and better growth.

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