What Is Growth Marketing? An A to Z Guide
As marketers, it’s not unusual to find ourselves constantly reinventing the wheel. Brands need to create new best practices or adapt to audience expectations for every technological breakthrough or new media channel. In recent years, however, growth and acquisition marketing strategies emerged as a reliable yet flexible way to acquire — and retain — highly valuable consumers. But what is growth marketing, and how can you implement it effectively?
What is Growth Marketing?
Growth marketing is the data-driven practice of attracting targeted customers, drawing them through a marketing funnel stage, and ultimately placing them in a retention loop. While all marketing techniques can achieve some of these goals, the “data-driven” component stands out. Growth strategies are about analyzing and optimizing the customer experience across an entire campaign, from choosing a channel to designing ad creative.
The core principle of growth marketing is simple: Everything is measurable. If each marketing activity is measurable, marketers can predict results, test them, and better understand the factors that improve performance. Every growth marketing activity needs a key performance indicator (KPI) that determines how effectively it aligns with current projections. Over time, marketers can A/B validate every aspect of a campaign before increasing ad spend and associated returns.
To learn more, check out Growth Marketing vs. Digital Marketing
What Makes Growth Marketing Different?
While growth marketing shares some overlap with other practices, such as digital or brand marketing, there are critical differences. Therefore, it’s essential to understand each technique’s respective advantages and limitations to prioritize growth with a company’s ad strategy.
Brand marketing is the technique of creating awareness of your brand as a distinct entity apart from the competition. In most cases, it involves developing a specific voice or image, applying it across a brand, and building a positive reputation among consumers. For brand marketing to succeed, businesses must maximize brand exposure while delivering a consistent product and customer experience.
In today’s climate, the most successful brand marketing campaigns are for companies that have already achieved a high level of success. For example, Apple is the most recognizable brand in the world, to the point that it doesn’t need to prioritize appealing to individual customers directly. Instead, most spending is dedicated to maintaining a consistent brand image that reflects sophistication and functionality.
Most brands don’t have the luxury of Apple’s brand awareness. Growth marketing is a promising alternative because it offers a cost-effective way to generate business — placing the right ad in front of the right consumer at the right time.
Digital marketing is the practice of marketing to consumers using digital channels. As a marketing category, it’s intentionally broad, often encompassing growth and brand strategies. Yet it is prevalent considering the amount of time people spend in digital spaces — one Pew Research Center study found that 31% of American consumers are “almost constantly” online.
While a digital marketing strategy can be growth-oriented and vice versa, as standalone concepts, they operate at different levels. The difference lies in methodology — while digital marketing focuses on top of funnel activity, growth marketing refocuses campaigns towards acquisition and retention. This distinction can make the difference between companies that consumers are aware of and ones they support over the long term.
Why Is Growth Marketing Succeeding Now?
Before the advent of digital marketing tools, performance strategies were limited. Traditional channels like TV or radio were linear mediums that lacked attribution components to demonstrate when consumers took action. However, with the advent and adoption of CTVs, we can access robust datasets to analyze campaign performance. That presents marketers with a huge opportunity to combine growth marketing techniques with TV advertising practices.
In traditional advertising, marketers had limited budgets that represented the uncertainty of their strategies. Once growth marketing data proves that a campaign brings in new customers and increases LTV, executives are more likely to invest in processes with a positive ROI.
What Are the Most Popular Growth Marketing Channels?
The future of growth marketing is tied to digital channels for a good reason — it lets marketers analyze campaign performance and customer activity in unprecedented ways. By comparison, traditional media is oversaturated, expensive, and drives lower returns, prompting small brands to embrace digital alternatives. That being said, each digital channel comes with opportunities and drawbacks that marketers must consider.
- Social media: Platforms like Facebook and Instagram represent a large audience, but face new privacy changes that make it difficult to target ads efficiently.
- Mobile apps: Mobile games and apps are a popular performance marketing channel with a high ROAS, but consumers increasingly expect ads to be unobtrusive or offer in-app rewards.
- Podcasts: With 100 million monthly listeners and ad revenue expected to reach $2 billion in 2023, podcasts are a high-performance marketing opportunity — if marketers can find ways to overlap the subject matter with their products.
- Search engines: Whether using organic SEO techniques or paid SEM marketing, search engines are an excellent way for brands to associate their offerings with specific keywords. Performance marketers can succeed here, but should expect extensive testing to detect what keyword strategies will succeed.
- Connected TV: Digital advertising has come back round to televisions, or more specifically, connected TVs. A projected 82% of households will use CTVs by 2023, with most preferring ad-supported streaming over ongoing subscriptions.
Want to learn more about the benefits of each channel? Check out 5 Growth Marketing Channels that Deliver ROAS in 2022.
Building a Growth Marketing Strategy
Now that we know what growth marketing is and its most effective modern channels, how do marketers actually go about building their strategy? Thankfully, the ideal approach has a structured methodology that revolves around performance, measured using return on ad spend (ROAS).
- Define your KPIs: It’s vital to know precisely what campaign metrics you’ll be testing for before testing begins — otherwise, you won’t understand how effective your ads are. Choose a KPI that reflects the priority for your campaign or audiences, such as completion rate, cost per completed view, or average order value.
- Use incrementality testing: Similar to A/B testing, incrementality testing analyzes campaign effectiveness against a control group that isn’t viewing your ad. If performance surpasses the control group, you know it’s worth pursuing further. But if the control group outperforms your ad, it’s time to investigate another channel.
- Test and learn: Adopting a “test-and-learn” mindset is one of the most effective marketing techniques because it accounts for failure and missteps. Apply it to incrementality testing results to identify areas that need improvement or opportunities you might have missed.
- Retarget: Once you’ve engaged your audience using one channel, it’s a good idea to pivot and retarget them on others. For example, if someone visits your website or social media page, you can follow up by delivering CTV ads to keep your brand in mind — increasing the likelihood of a conversion.
A Growth Marketing Partner
Whatever campaigns you build or channels you pursue, growth marketing is the most effective way to succeed. Brands that prioritize data analysis, creative testing, and optimization will acquire and retain far more customers over the long term than traditional methods. However, when you’re just starting out, it helps to have the right partner.
At AlphaDigital, our powerful CTV buying and attribution platform gives advertisers total control over their campaigns. By combining the reach of television with the accuracy and performance of digital marketing, our platform allows growth marketers to utilize real-time reporting and built-in, always-on testing to take their campaigns to the next level. Want to know more? Get in touch!