Growth Marketing – More than a buzzword…

Welcome to the 2nd edition of Digital Marketing Roundtable hosted by Acquire Digital Talent.

As this blog series explores different areas of Digital Marketing, next up is a term that itself has been growing over the last few years, Growth Marketing.

Is Growth Marketing a new phenomenon? Is it any different to what Digital Marketers have been doing for the last 10 years? Is it more than just a buzzword?

Well, I took to my network and found a few ‘real-life’ Growth Marketers to ask them some key questions on the topic to help shed some light on this area for the rest of us.

I was joined by:

Stephen Jury, Founder & MD at Jukebox Media

Tina Nord, Head of Growth Marketing at EyeEm (Ex-Zalando)

Freddy Ward, Co-Founder at Wild Cosmetics (Ex-Director of Marketing at HelloFresh)

Here’s how it went down…

Alex Marriner (AM)The phrase Growth Marketing has been around for a few years now, however, what are the key differences between Digital Marketing & Growth Marketing?

Stephen: The Digital Marketing term was created way back to link all online channels for performance marketers. Growth goes way beyond just digital. If you’re looking for a growth role, you need to be prepared to go hand-to-hand combat to get things done across any channel, both online and off.

Tina: I honestly believe, the difference between Growth & Digital Marketing is not that big. In the end, both want to promote & sell a product and use data & creative content to be successful. You may say, that Digital Marketing focuses a bit more on brand awareness and relationship management with customers. Whereas Growth Marketing focuses on the product and new ways to attract potential customers. It is often connected to product management or even engineering.

Freddy: I think incidentally growth marketing and digital marketing have come a lot closer together over the last few years as many of the skills and techniques developed can be applied in both disciplines. Growth Marketing is more of a mindset that applies holistically across the funnel from acquisition and activation to referral and retention whereas digital marketing tends to focus on driving customer acquisition. Digital Marketing will also involve some activity that is harder to measure and more focused on brand building.

AMHow do you balance brand vs performance to build a healthy growth funnel?

Stephen: All marketers have access to the same set of tools; it’s how you use them that makes the real difference. For me, creativity is still the key skill for a marketer and that is your greatest asset for your brand campaigns. I don’t want to say it’s easy to do PPC (it’s not) but you need more in your locker than just pumping my money into Google.

Tina: That’s a tricky question. Brand & performance need to go hand in hand as one cannot survive long term without the other. You can die virtuously or reach a performance plateau because you ignore brand values. For example, we just launched display ads with a more creative approach and were able to increase the average CTR above industry standards. There can be clear performance benefits when you invest in beauty. The challenge I see, is that brand & performance marketing are usually handled by different departments. In this case, it is crucial to bring both sides together, align & cooperate regularly. Cross-functional teams work – in my opinion – more efficiently and produce better results, no matter which disciplines you combine.

Freddy: In my view investing in paid brand building activities as a start-up is largely a waste of money. You need to be razor-focused on showing customer traction and getting early feedback across the funnel. You don’t have the luxury to test things you cannot measure, replicate and scale. Having said this as the business grows and you have proven market traction and harvested early adopter demand you need to start to invest in upper funnel activities to broaden your audience and appeal and reach into new segments. Essentially it all comes down to timing.

AMWhat role does brand building play in the scaling process?

Stephen: It depends on the stage of the business. If you’ve taken a role as the growth marketing lead in an early stage start-up, pre-series A, then it’s potentially less important. But, when I use to run in-house teams, I used to have a “fun allocation” from the regular budget on a quarterly basis. It doesn’t need to be huge but set your team a challenge of creating something that could impact your brand.

But, regardless of your business and size, you need to understand who your hero customers are and how you can scale using them. If you don’t know them or what your brand means to them, then scaling could prove difficult.

Tina: On the B2B side, brand building has a massive influence on conversion rate and the sales funnel. It’s much easier for sales agents to sell a product when the brand is known and trustworthy. This is usually a challenge for younger companies. Creating awareness is, therefore, one of the core tasks of successful growth teams.

Freddy: I have seen brand often being used as an excuse to invest in unmeasurable marketing spend during the growth phase. Launching on TV or running a tube campaign is more often than not the right strategy or the silver bullet that brands expect. I think the key for brand building is to continue to develop and nurture a strong core community of brand evangelists and ensure when you start to scale you really nail consistency across your channels of messaging and your mission for customers this builds resonance and brand equity and will help longer-term growth.

AMHow do you measure offline and how do you mix it with digital for fast growth?

Stephen: Attribution, wow what a topic. Measuring the success of campaigns through fast growth has been difficult. I’ve worked for many companies where you have offline breaks in the customer flow, so you need to try and collate as many data points as possible. Obviously, brand trackers, direct/organic growth in areas also give you indicators. It still makes me laugh when I hear a radio advert or see one on TV using a /tv or /offer on their domain…… good luck with tracking that! Consumers are lazy and unlikely to use this based on my experience.

Tina: I do not have much experience with offline. However, I do organise local events on a voluntary basis for Women in AI. In this case, I measure success by tickets that have been sold and the number of people that attended. Afterwards, clippings, tagging’s and mentions can be interesting, as well as sentiment analysis. In an ideal case, off- and online go hand in hand. An event website, targeted (local) ads and an influencer strategy increase the reach and the chance for an event to generate attention.

Freddy: To begin with if you are an offer driven business good old code attribution will suffice to measure offline activity. However, again as you grow and the mix becomes less transparent you need to start looking at ways of measuring incrementality for example with OOH you could measure a set of KPIs in the geography you are running the activity vs the baseline in a different territory or if you are running TV or Radio to run a short burst over 2 weeks and keep your mix stable before and after to understand incremental uplift. If you are doing DM campaigns always ensure you have a control group to compare behaviour with and this is one of the great things about DM as a channel is its measurability.

AMFor those who have skills within Digital Marketing, what steps can they take to become Growth Marketers?

Stephen: If you’re a digital marketer then you likely have the skills to be dangerous. Let’s face it, growth marketing is a made-up phrase by the start-up marketing community. It’s a massive cliché but growth marketing is a mindset. I’ve seen so many senior marketers or marketers with huge budgets just not understand how fast you can get things done these days.

Example, I wanted to test new PPC landing pages? I don’t need a dev team anymore; I’ll launch one today on Instapages. You want some nice video creative for social to test a creative line, great I have

Does your sales team need leads? I don’t need a website, I can use Facebook lead generation adverts and connect them straight into the sales CRM via Facebook using Zapier.

Be fast, use all the new tech and tools available.

Tina: Well, I think you are halfway there already. For the last few miles, I recommend getting involved with the technical side of your product or company. Connect with your UX and market research team and pitch your ideas for further product development and growth. In an ideal case, you have the chance to investigate your idea, prove that its a business case and convince your leads to invest resources and bring it to life.

Freddy: I think the skills and mindset are increasingly transferrable. It is primarily about getting exposure to different parts of the funnel and applying similar techniques around creative, psychology, offers and then measurement to all parts of the customer journey and learning how to use new tools. I am also a big fan of the growth tribe if digital marketers are looking for a crash course in growth hacking these guys really get it and can provide the perfect introduction to make the jump.

AMWhat do the next 5 years look like for Growth Marketing?

Stephen: New software/tech is making it easier, faster and cheaper for marketers to produce work. We can all run SEO reports via SEMRUSH, but it’s what you do with that insight that really makes the difference. Growth marketers will continue to in-demand for in-house roles with a support team/agencies for specific marketing tasks. The growth marketing mindset will also seep into the big corporates but you’re already seeing this with digital transformation and innovation teams.

Tina: As in many other fields, automation will play a big role. Most tools are already offering a variety of smaller automation and even intelligent calculations & recommendations. This starts with lead scoring and includes content production, ad targeting or A/B testing. All of this will further evolve. Personalisation is another big topic that drives growth. At the moment, this is still a challenge and only larger organisations are capable of implementing it. In 5 years from now, it could be a feasible feature also for smaller companies.

Freddy: The game is changing so fast – Facebook and Google are getting more competitive and more expensive and GDPR has closed or restricted a few of the classic growth hacking techniques. I think Growth Marketing will become even more focused on the customer experience and journey both online and offline using data to drive improvements. I also think AI, automation and personalisation will be big trends that significantly impact the discipline over the coming 5 years.

Very interesting insight there from the panel and it just goes to show, yes, Growth Marketing is more than just a buzzword! If you’ve enjoyed this blog, please like and share.

I’d like to thank Stephen, Tina, and Freddy for taking the time to provide their knowledge and wisdom on this topic.

Keep an eye out for future editions of Digital Marketing Roundtable hosted by Acquire Digital Talent where I’ll be utilising my network to ask the channel experts their thoughts on the topics the rest of us want to know. Featured soon will be PPC, Paid Social, and CRM!

If you missed the first edition, which looked at SEO, please click here to read it now.

Until next time. Thanks for reading!