The rise of growth marketing

Discover the role that’s closing the distance between sales and marketing

July 20, 2020

The rise of growth marketing

Editorial Note: This episode of Live with Marketers was recorded back in March, before COVID-19 changed the world of work. The conversation and topics are still relevant today, so we wanted to share.

In an ideal world, sales and marketing work in perfect symbiosis. But if we’re honest, the relationship is rarely as harmonious as all that. In fact, there’s usually a sizeable gap between the two: Marketers want sales to do a better job following up on leads; salespeople want better leads. And sometimes good prospects can fall through the cracks.

A lot of this comes from the territory the two disciplines have claimed within the marketing funnel. Traditionally, marketing handles the prospects at the top and nudges them down until sales can close the deal. But with the introduction of growth marketing, these boundaries no longer exist. There are no cracks – instead, the customer is put at the forefront of the experience.

What is growth marketing?

Growth marketers focus on the entire customer lifecycle, from the moment they touch the awareness stage to long after they make a purchase. And it’s the focus on retaining customers and generating referrals that separates growth marketing from other disciplines and makes it so attractive to employers.

In our recent Live with Marketers episode, our B2B marketing experts highlighted an uptick in these types of positions:

“Their role is very interesting because they are meant to be that bridge between sales and marketing. They are entering it with a prospecting hat on, coming at it from a sales and revenue point of view. But they're equally coming at it from an engagement [perspective].”

In short: it’s a job function that brings the focus back onto the customer. In the words of Drift’s Matt Bilotti:

“Successful marketing is no longer only about the top of the funnel and acquiring customers – it’s about acquiring customers who are going to stick around.”

In order to achieve that, growth marketers are dedicated to experimenting with enhancing the customer experience at every stage of the buying process: Innovating, testing, measuring and revising.

As such, the role fuses creativity with a focus on data and analytics. A growth marketer is expected to take calculated risks, but they are equally responsible for ensuring the results are carefully tracked and analysed. And if a risk falls flat, they should have another experiment ready to take its place.

Who makes a good growth marketer?

It should go without saying, but the ultimate goal for a growth marketer is not customer acquisition, but company growth. That focus on finding more revenue requires a solid grounding in a wide range of hard marketing skills like analytics, content strategy and social, combined with a healthy dose of creativity, adaptability, resourcefulness and disregard for traditional marketing rules.

If that sounds like a pretty unlikely combination, then you’d be right. In fact, we’d go so far as to say they’re a bit of a unicorn. Our Talent Insights found an extremely high demand for chief growth officers and not many available to fill the gap, with the number of vacancies increasing by a third in just 12 months.

A good growth marketer knows to steer away from vanity metrics and focus on what matters most – specifically customer lifetime value. They test tactics at a micro-level before scaling them up systematically and will only spend money on acquiring the customers that will get the most value from the product or service.

That’s because they know these are the types of people who are not just more likely to stick around but will also be more open to upselling in the future. And the only way to know who to target is by extensive research, which then informs a strategy that includes no preference or fear of any channel. Instead, they make decisions based on the data available and find growth wherever they can.

Often this can include ignoring the traditional funnel altogether. Growth marketers have no compunction about simply pumping money into what works.

They are also different to growth hackers in a number of ways. The two disciplines share an affinity for creative problem solving through data analytics, but growth marketers’ focus is broader, more long-term and strategic. On the other hand, growth hackers tend to have a laser focus on solving a specific problem, often with very little money available and always as fast as possible.

Do we really need another type of marketing?

Yes, it's another buzzword, but behind growth marketing is the potential for businesses to evolve into a more agile, data-led model of customer acquisition and retention. However, it requires commitment at every level of the business to be successful, from your leadership to your product development. It tends to suit smaller companies and start-ups because they have the greatest flexibility to adjust to changes in the marketplace.

But even more established companies can benefit from growth marketing. Experimenting and measuring new marketing tactics on a small scale is a relatively low-risk method of finding new potential for growth. And because growth marketers make it their mission to target and engage the ideal customer, it’s also a valuable method of bringing detailed feedback back to your product developers.

With demand for growth marketers only set to increase, perhaps it’s time you assessed your own skills to see how closely you match the unicorn criteria.

Watch the full conversation here.