What is growth marketing? A complete guide for beginners in 2021

Let’s face it, finding effective growth hacks is as common as finding irrefutable proof of Bigfoot.

Many individuals claim to have seen it, but growth strategies should not be built on a hoax. Growth marketing is a skill that takes time to master.

So, you’re probably wondering what growth marketing is all about. Continue reading for a step-by-step methodology for creating a game plan to “achieve growth at a sustainable pace.”

What Is Growth Marketing?

What Is Growth Marketing?

Marketing 2.0 is growth marketing. It adds layers such as A/B testing, value-added blog articles, data-driven email marketing campaigns, SEO optimization, innovative ad text, and technical analysis of every aspect of a user’s experience to the traditional marketing approach. In order to generate robust and sustained growth, the insights generated from these tactics are swiftly implemented.

Let’s take a deeper look at what it means to be a growth marketer, and highlight some common opportunities where a growth marketing team can optimize the user experience.

What does growth marketing actually mean?

For reaching customers, traditional marketing frequently employs the same tried-and-true methods. Hold a sale, send out an email blast, and use the same 50 keywords in your Google Adwords campaign. You may see some results, but they are likely to fade over time because you aren’t altering your technique to stretch your budget further as consumer interests shift.

Growth marketers, on the other hand, employ growth hacking tactics to routinely test alternative channels and strategies, incrementally enhancing their testing to identify how to best maximise their marketing expenditure. Growth hackers were eager to deploy a variety of creative experiments and continuous analysis to rapidly expand their user base at a lower price. Sean Ellis, an entrepreneur, developed the word when he was looking for someone to fill a new marketing position in 2010. He wasn’t searching for a traditional marketer who was concerned with things like cost-per-acquisition; instead, he was searching for someone who could help him increase his user base as soon as possible.

Fast forward a decade, and growth marketing has progressed beyond growth hacking’s “get-growth-quick” approaches. That isn’t to say that effective elements of its journey to greatness have been overlooked. Growth marketing is sticking to its foundations of testing, experimentation, and expansion, and applying these concepts to campaigns all the way through the customer journey.

The field of growth marketing has become more sophisticated as marketing technology has improved. Growth marketers are developing experiments around what content is seen and when it’s seen by different user segments and using the results to design highly scalable plans for each identified user group, down to the individual level, combining A/B testing and multivariate testing.

Marketers may create highly targeted ads that target consumers across numerous channels, allowing them to establish tailored growth strategies based on the customers’ own behavioural indications.

Successful growth marketers don’t simply increase the number of users; they also create a highly engaged audience that helps to prevent churn while also increasing the lifetime value of each user. Building a highly tailored marketing approach has been found to cut acquisition expenses in half, improve revenues by up to 15%, and enhance marketing spend efficiency by 30%.

Growth marketing also leads to higher rates of customer retention and satisfaction as you move farther down the funnel. You’re no longer seeking to monetize your audience when you prioritise offering exceptional customer experiences. You’re now looking for new ways to provide valuable information to each user’s ongoing experience. Growth marketing is a long-term approach that focuses on creating customer relationships and cultivating loyalty; it’s a strategy in which authenticity and engagement develop advocacy and organically grow customer lifetime values.

Characteristics of a Successful Growth Marketer 


The days of making decisions based solely on intuition are long gone. Making choices exclusively on the basis of the HiPPO strategy (highest paid person’s opinion) is also a bad idea. The modern growth marketer digs deeper into the data to determine which techniques are effective and is efficient at using all of the tools available to do so.

Also read: Top 5 Ways to Leverage Data for Growth


The most successful growth marketers are willing to think outside the box. They never say  “It’s never been done before, so why try?” 

If it had been Airbnb’s mindset while they were seeking to grow, they would never have thought of offering free professional photographic services to everyone who listed on their platform. Some believed it was insane or useless, but it turned out to be a tremendous growth engine.


You can’t sell a product you don’t understand, according to a sales proverb. The same logic applies to growth marketers who are also in the business of selling and marketing. Your goal isn’t to persuade people to buy something they don’t desire, but to explain the many advantages of a valuable product that you honestly believe will benefit them.

Posses a Hacker Mentality

A growth marketer must be a multi-talented individual. You could be making a video, improving ad content, implementing a new A/B test, or even coding on any given day. The more diverse and extensive your skillset, the more value you may bring to a company (especially at an early stage).

Has No Fear of Failure

A failed experiment, according to successful growth marketers, is not a terrible thing. In reality, failure is the quickest method to learn something new.

There is no such thing as a supernatural growth marketer. You must be willing to try anything and everything in order to figure out what works. You’ll ultimately hit on something that works, which you can then optimise and repeat.

Knows How to Tell a Story

All the data in the world won’t help you figure out how to engage with your users in a meaningful way. You must be able to combine quantitative and qualitative data to create a compelling tale that resonates with your target audience.

Can Juggle Multiple Responsibilities

An effective growth marketer needs to be a contradiction of sorts.

Details obsessed but keeps the big picture in mind. Results driven but comfortable with ambiguity. Measures everything and trusts the data but also values human intuition.

The essential elements of a growth marketing plan

CPA, conversion rates, client retention rates, and customer lifetime value can all be part of a growth marketing plan. Today’s growth marketers employ a variety of strategies to acquire, convert, and retain engaged customers. All of these strategies are common in the e-commerce world, but they may be used to brick-and-mortar businesses as well.

A/B testing

A/B testing in growth marketing

One of the key components of a solid growth marketing plan is A/B testing, or better yet, multivariate testing. Email marketing, landing sites, social media ads, and other formats can all benefit from A/B testing and multivariate analysis. This is running either a “A” and “B” test, or a series of several tests, to see which variation of your content (with tweaks to visuals, copy, design, and other aspects) engages your audience the most and increases your conversion rate. After that, you may base future marketing campaigns on that variation, iterating on your accomplishments to improve performance with each test.

It’s vital to remember that just because the “B” test worked best with one audience segment, the “C” test might be more effective with another: Don’t just send out your A/B tests in batches; focus on custom segments for each one to figure out what content resonates with that specific target group, and then keep testing fresh variations to improve performance.

Cross-channel marketing

Cross-channel growth marketing strategy

Cross-channel marketing focuses on developing a strategic channel plan to target your customers, which may involve email marketing, SMS messaging, push notifications, in-app communications, direct mail, and other channels, depending on your target audience’s preferences. When adopting a cross-channel marketing strategy into your growth marketing strategy, you must first focus on the individual user to learn their communication preferences, and then tailor your campaigns to their needs.

A/B testing can help you figure out, for example, that a specific user responds to push message offers at a 60% greater rate than email marketing offers, so you can tailor future campaigns to focus on push offers. It’s also beneficial to create a comprehensive marketing strategy that incorporates many channels so that you can engage with your audience wherever they are, employing contextual campaigns that help you understand their previous behaviour across each platform.

Customer lifecycle

Customer lifecycle

The path your customers take as they discover about, interact with, buy or convert from, and re-engage with your organisation is known as a customer lifecycle. For the sake of simplicity, growth marketers concentrate on three important lifecycle stages: activation, nurture, and reactivation. Each step contributes to the consumer experience in a unique way, and is often distinguished by specialised campaigns.

The activation stage is the first step of the lifecycle, during which organisations try to spark consumers’ interest and attention. To create familiarity and credibility, growth marketers target clients with welcome, onboarding, trials, and other introduction campaigns.

Companies nurture and engage customers during the nurture stage to strengthen relationships. Customers often receive the majority of cross-channel marketing from brands at this point, including sales, promotions, recent updates, newsletters, and more.

Re-engagement is the focus of the final reactivation stage. Companies use programmes like post-purchase, abandonment, loyalty, and win backs to reignite client engagement and boost retention and loyalty.

In terms of importance, no one stage is more important than the others. Customers move through this lifecycle at their own pace, but growth marketers use an arsenal of need-specific tactics to anticipate their changing wants.

Examples of growth marketing campaigns

Let’s look at a couple different types of growth marketing initiatives in action next. Growth marketing methods can be utilised to achieve a variety of objectives, such as motivating existing customers to participate in referral programmes, engaging new consumers, and top-of-funnel engagement, to name a few.

Loyalty Programs

Loyalty Programs - growth marketing strategies

Loyalty programs are an excellent method to keep your loyal consumers returning for more. Find ways to incentivise their experience as a nod to their loyalty if your brand offers a membership programme. Exclusive access, sneak peeks, and tiered status awards are all examples of campaigns that demonstrate continued brand loyalty. Using historical customer conversions as a guide and repeating those desirable behaviours with segmented loyalty programmes can help you keep your business close to your consumers’ hearts.

Referral programs

Referral programs - growth marketing strategies

Marketers are continually testing and tweaking offerings in order to assist attract new users via their most effective source of advertising: current customers. Consider segmenting your audience and presenting one form of incentive to one group and another to the other in order to test referral offers: The idea is to discover the sweet spot where you can get the most referral conversions for the least amount of money spent. 

Dropbox, for example, started a two-sided referral scheme in which both the existing and referred users earned 500MB of free storage space when the referred user signed up. The company was able to significantly lower its ad budget in order to acquire new customers while also increasing overall signups by 60%.


You have an amazing opportunity to drive a new customer’s interaction with your brand and acquire more data that can help you design better experiences once they’ve signed up for your product or website. Remember that you want to improve your new users’ customer experience, so using a multi-channel onboarding sequence where they’re more likely to engage with valuable material will assist.

For instance, your initial message may be a simple “Welcome!” followed by a message asking users what kinds of things they’re most interested in. Another message can inquire as to whether they prefer email or mobile notifications. The sequence can then be continued based on the user’s specified preferences, and future offers presented to them can be optimised to maximise their involvement.

Growth Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing

Growth marketing differs from traditional marketing in the same way that conventional marketing differs from digital marketing. It is less about using traditional marketing methods and more about cultivating a growth mentality.

Growth marketing requires an open mind.

It differs from traditional marketing in the same way that conventional marketing differs from digital marketing. Growth hacking is less about using traditional marketing methods and more about cultivating a growth mentality.

Take, for example, Frank Zappa’s metaphor: “A mind is like a parachute.” If it isn’t open, it won’t work.”   Breaking free from the status quo can be challenging, but perhaps we should all concentrate on the “status woah.” Consider what small changes could impress your users.

Companies with a growth mindset don’t squander money on marketing methods that haven’t worked. Before going all-in on a single plan, growth marketers should ease into their marketing budgets by taking an experimental approach to these investments.

Many traditional marketing tactics have problems demonstrating their return on investment. When contrasted to the click-through rate of a push notification, it’s impossible to assess and measure the value of a physical placement like a billboard or magazine ad.

This is why, in contrast to any strict tradition, a growth marketing mindset necessitates flexibility.

A Growth Marketers Toolkit

In order to keep up with the best, you’ll want to leverage some of these amazing tools.

Leadpages — helps you build customized landing pages.

Adroll — track the people who visit your site through ads

Sumo — build an amazing email list

Ahrefs — the industry leader in building quality keyword lists

Proof — increase conversions by letting the customer do the selling

Po.st — see who is sharing your posts

Buzzsumo — analyze the content of any of your URLs in detail

Voila Norbert — build relationships with important marketers with this email finding tool

Amplitude — helps you find your stickiest features

Apptimize — A/B test your mobile app