No matter which industry you find yourself in as a company, one thing is clear: the market is highly competitive and customers are rightly choosy. After all, the competing offer is just a click away. The most colorful, shrillest, most unusual advertisements collide with us every day. This is one of the reasons why advertising blindness continues to expand in our society. While we as potential buyers usually put on blinders to avoid being annoyed by advertising, we as entrepreneurs are increasingly cutting our teeth on the other side. How can we still generate sustainable growth in such a dense market – digital and analog – today? Specifically: generate attention, win customers and keep satisfied customers? In order to break through this clutter in a meaningful way, we as a company need a marketing strategy that has a different impact and thinks further ahead than has been the case in the past. Growth marketing could be just that strategy, which is why we’d like to take a closer look at this approach.
What is Growth Marketing?
Growth marketing is next-generation marketing, because it is by no means limited to the field of marketing itself. Growth marketing involves the entire company, from product development and support to corporate communications. In growth marketing, the company itself, with its corporate philosophy as much as with its banner advertising, acts as a growth driver. Growth marketing works through every fiber of the organization and has only one goal: to deliver the best experience and outcome to users at every touchpoint, turning them into satisfied customers, fans and ultimately brand ambassadors. That’s the big idea behind the comprehensive marketing concept. Broken down to the everyday work of a growth marketer, this means: growth marketers use growth hacks and techniques with which they regularly interact with users on different channels, along the entire sales funnel. The experimental approach is crucial here, because one should not be afraid of making mistakes. It is a matter of trying out measures quickly, arriving at valid figures quickly and then drawing the right conclusions from them quickly. The term “growth marketing” itself originated with Sean Ellis, a former marketer at Dropbox. At the time, he used the term “growth hacking” to describe the further development of traditional marketing across departmental boundaries with the aim of achieving the fastest possible user growth. From then on, the concept of growth hacking took off and is now an essential part of any marketing strategy.
Growth Marketing in action
Traditional marketing always pulls the same measures out of the hat to reach potential customers: Sales, promotions, newsletters, advertising campaigns with the same keywords, online and digital advertising… the results achieved are usually below expectations. The user-market behavior described above is used as an “explanation”. However, nothing changes in terms of strategy or access. So traditional marketing efforts tend to be set up and forgotten. The situation is completely different with growth marketing, where the data and figures that constantly roll in are immediately channeled back into optimizing the measures that have been set. And the tools? These are mostly already well known to us: A/B testing, content marketing, mail campaigns, SEO, etc. However, the measures are mostly put together in a new way and interpreted in a data-driven way. So growth marketing is heavily numbers-driven. At the same time, it is also a stochastic process – with many innovative, creative, quirky measures, you simply don’t know in advance whether they will deliver the hoped-for results or not. Chance is therefore a constant companion in growth marketing, one that is definitely kept in check by a love of numbers and data.
What makes a good growth marketer?
Growth marketing is fun when you hire the right person to do it. A person born for growth hacking
- loves numbers, data, facts. They are the faithful companion and are not perceived as a burden, but as constantly arriving feedback that steers one’s own work in the desired direction.
- is creative and playful. In the spirit of Pippi Longstocking, Growth Marketers simply think of the world differently: “I’ve never done this before, so I’m sure I’m good at it!” is a central guiding principle of these personalities.
- has a pronounced product focus. He or she is absolutely convinced of the benefits of the product and does not sell with tricks or features. Growth hackers inspire!
- is a Swiss army knife in the area of know-how and skills. Only those who understand the entire range of all possible and necessary measures and, in the best case, can apply them themselves immediately, will also use them in a targeted manner.
- is not afraid to make mistakes. Only those who try things out can know whether and how they work. Figures and data help to quickly correct steps that have been taken.
- tells the best stories! Despite all the data, the story that is told must also fit. The focus here is on understanding the corporate philosophy and transporting it to the customer.
- always keeps the overview.
- takes stress and setbacks in stride; after all, it’s part of the game.
Important elements of a growth marketing strategy
Growth marketing integrates very well with existing marketing, but has a particular focus on certain points in the strategic approach.
Testing different variants in real-time operation – and yes, there may be more than two variants! – is one of the central control elements in growth marketing. These tests are used in a wide variety of areas: whether it’s social media ad placements, newsletters, landing pages, or call-to-actions… little is left to chance here, but many things are tested against each other. The winning variant gets the award – but also only until the next round!
MULTI- AND CROSS-CHANNEL MARKETING
Our potential customers are on different channels, some on many, some only on some. A successful marketing strategy takes this into account – so does growth marketing. That’s why it’s especially important for growth marketers to think in terms of multi-layered channels. This requires a deep understanding of the target groups’ preferences and communication habits that characterize our customers. Meeting people where they are, with the means that appeal to them, is the core of a growth-driven multi-channel strategy.
Speaking of target group understanding: The customer journey, the customer lifecycle, is the most important compass for successful growth marketing. If you don’t understand where potential customers come from, how they pay attention, make decisions, and use the products they buy, you’ll have a hard time in marketing in general, but especially in growth marketing. It is along this customer journey that typical growth marketing success stories can be told.
Growth Marketing Recipes for Success
Where can growth marketing approaches be used particularly effectively? This question was certainly burning under our nails at the beginning of the article and is now being tackled.
NEW CUSTOMER ACQUISITION
Acquiring new customers is a tough business. Anyone who pushes too hard for sales here has often lost the customer right at the start. Growth marketers try to build a long-term strategy here that is based on trust and always offers the potential customer the opportunity to decide for themselves. Content marketing is one of the central measures when it comes to winning new customers in growth marketing: Stop selling, start being useful!
Starting with a well-developed persona, the first step is always to understand even better where the trigger points and interests of potential buyers lie. But it is also about communicating the company in its entirety, with its corporate philosophy and purpose. As Simon Sinek rightly says: “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it!” It’s up to marketers and communications professionals to deliver that message.
Once purchased, a new customer gives us the ideal opportunity to increase engagement with our brand and collect even more information and data along the way. The goal of growth marketing at this point is to make the customer journey the best it can be and the most supportive for the new user – across multiple channels. Growth marketers don’t just want happy buyers, they want to understand what excites customers and what they need for absolute happiness, so that they can subsequently delight even more (future) customers.
Who is more credible than an absolutely enthusiastic user? No one. This is exactly why referral campaigns are extremely well suited for growth hacking. The social proof that comes from referrals is huge; after all, we all value recommendations from friends, colleagues and family members. The central question at this point: What do you offer the recommender and what do you offer the new user? Here, a colorful playground opens up for enthusiastic growth hackers. Not only the goodie but also the way to it offer a colorful palette of possibilities and many potential measuring points.
LOYALTY AND CUSTOMER RETENTION
We all know it: It is better to keep existing customers instead of constantly generating new ones. Yet this final stage of the customer journey usually enjoys the least attention – not so with Growth Hacking! Warum? Existing customers buy more easily than unknown people do. The prerequisite for this behavior is a pronounced satisfaction with the existing product. The goal at this point must therefore be to show our customers that they are very important to us and that they are “part of the family”. Therefore, they always get the VIP treatment. Customer loyalty campaigns are a great way to convey this sense of belonging to our existing customers. It is important to know what our customers love about our products and what is still missing for perfect happiness. Again, it is figures, data and facts that we need in order to be able to derive meaningful and effective measures here.
These days, growth marketing is certainly something we should all take to heart. The great thing is that everything we need for this is already available to us. Our focus as marketers should be on continuously testing and optimizing the actions we set in place to increase engagement and improve our customers’ experience. We need to move away from the watering can principle to highly personalized access. And while we are creatively drawing from the full, we are constantly gathering empirical data in the form of figures, which we iteratively incorporate into our next measures. What sounds like a lot of networked, multi-layered work can also be seen as a playground for creative, bold, and numbers-loving marketers. In any case, we really like this point of view.