What is Growth Marketing?

Growth marketing is a phrase that’s been around for over a decade. Maybe more. However, it’s always been a practice of forward-thinking companies. They didn’t have a name for it—common sense, perhaps.

The official definition is something about focusing on customer relationships and building loyalty. It’s a long-term strategy where authentic engagement advocates for organic customer lifetime value.

That’s just common sense about how to treat customers.

Everything about growth marketing is common sense and simple. Not easy.

What is Growth Marketing
  • You operate by data-driven analysis, and you test and track everything.

  • You use the scientific method to test one idea at a time, review the results, and make modifications.

  • Then you collaborate with other departments and teams to reduce roadblocks and take action. Finally, you keep up with marketing channels.

  • Review your entire funnel, be great at customer service, and don’t forget about referrals.

How are these new concepts? Just new names put on tried and true ways of doing things.

Accept, adapt, and excel at Growth Marketing now. Your competition will be both direct and indirect.

Do you want your clients seduced by companies that embrace and practice a Growth Marketing Machine?

My take on Growth Marketing

A growth marketer could be an individual or part of a team, an employee, or someone you outsource. They work with you to increase revenue. These are the people who do Growth Marketing.

That may look like more app installs, signups, shares, likes, sales, referrals, etc. It also looks like onboarding customers gently, with care, and requesting referrals.

Growth marketers will work with you from the sale through customer retention and help you with those referrals. They use the scientific method by creating a hypothesis, testing it, and analyzing the results. Such as improving a landing page, running traffic to it, and seeing if the click-through rate changed.

They track everything and report to you in Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Nothing is left to chance. If something fails, it fails. It is simply the result.

So what, anything else?

What’s so great about Growth Marketing?

It’s Data-driven, Scalable, and Trackable.

The basis of growth marketing is using all available data to make informed decisions and craft strategies. You create tests and make scalable changes. The point is to grow. You track each possible visitor and user interaction valuable to make decisions.

Based on the Scientific Method

Not using the scientific method means you guess and just “wing it” with important decisions. You don’t base your strategy on research and evaluation.

Using the scientific method, you create a hypothesis (scientist speaks for “let’s try a different landing page” or “email nurturing series”), test it (Produce the landing page, setup tracking, go live), and evaluate the results (visitors, conversions, abandons, heatmap, etc.)

You improve a landing page based on HeatMap analysis and customer support ticket content.

Bound by Accountability

You tie Growth strategy to business objectives.

Key Performance Indicators (KPI) mean more buy-in upfront. Who would create a Growth Strategy on guesswork? Growth Marketing shares accountability, tracking, data review, and analysis.

These are valuable skills to have in your marketing toolkit.

Collaborative Nature

Growth marketers have a broad skill set with deep knowledge of several areas. They are T-shaped and full-stack marketers. Why does this matter? Usually, they’ve worked in or around many different company departments. They have connections in other areas.

You can expect teamwork and a general attitude of “let’s get this done together.”

Full funnel and more

Growth marketers work with the entire customer lifecycle using Pirate Metrics.

Named for the acronym AAARRR made up of the words that help you with growth.

Awareness, Acquisition, Activation, Revenue, Retention, Referral.

We get you more clients or give you a full refund.

Dave McClure coined the Pirate metrics model for measuring growth and success.

Use it to hold your company into the light and show where to focus your attention.

Pirate metrics are an excellent place to start if you don’t know where to begin.

Growth marketing is about working through these six metrics and driving improvements.

Awareness Metric of Growth Marketing

Every potential touchpoint customers have with your brand. Potential customers interact with your content on all channels.

Your brand. Your content strategy. Your public relations strategy. Whatever puts your message in front of your target market.

Here’s your chance to emotionally resonate and connect with a statement, story, voice, and design.

Create the story of your brand and bring your clients into that story.

Quick steps to improve your brand:

  • Craft and improve your Mission Statement.

  • Work on a company story.

  • Settle on a brand voice.

  • Improve brand Design.

Brand work is an ongoing effort leading to the next Pirate Metric area: Acquisition.

Acquisition Metric of Growth Marketing

The Acquisition metric is when potential customers initiate contact or interaction with your company.

If you’re gathering leads through free mechanism devices by getting, at minimum, an email address and max for high ticket items and deeper personal info, then you’re involved in Acquisition.

Tips for the Acquisition Metric

  • Here is where analytics, testing, iteration, and improvement can change results. It’s a process.

  • Are you targeting potential customers and using the right messaging when they arrive?

  • Have you created Personas and gained a deep understanding of why they chose your solution or not?

  • Does your copy and calls to action reflect this?

– Does your copy reflect what the potential customer is thinking?

– Are you helping the potential customer through the journey?

– Are you considering the potential customers’ stage or Awareness and sophistication?

Activation Metric of Growth Marketing

The Activation metric sits in a category with Retention and Referral. This category is often neglected.

Activation and Retention are related. How? Clients should have “feel good” moments” along with “AHA” moments when activating and onboarding with you.

You want them to feel they’ve made the right decision and think, “Aha, I made the right choice!”

Why do companies neglect this area? The sale is over. No teams form to improve these areas until it’s too late.

How to excel in Activation

  • Build customer relationships.

  • By gathering information about why they buy or don’t buy.

  • Segment customer lists to refine customer behavior further.

  • Provide immediate value in your product, service, app, or membership.

Give your clients an “AHA” moment when they realize they’ve made a great decision.

Revenue Metric of Growth Marketing

Companies define and measure their revenue metric differently—some group this with Acquisition. For example, when a prospect becomes a customer, it’s a Revenue event. However, some only consider it a revenue event once the customer breaks even with the Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC.)

Share this area of Growth Marketing strategy closely with product strategy and other company teams.

How do you increase revenue?

Get more customers, increase order value, and compel repeat purchases.

On a sales page, you can sell better with better copywriting:

  • You can improve the value proposition.

  • You can change the pricing strategy.

  • You can change and improve the offer.

  • You can add more proof.

The metric includes all activities related to increased revenue. More customers. Repeat purchases. Higher per transaction amounts. Upsells, cross-sells. Cost savings.

Get granular with pricing strategies on order forms to increase per transaction amounts.

Do you need a lesson on the lifetime value of a customer? Or average order value?

Retention Metric of Growth Marketing

Are you keeping customers happy? Have you defined what keeping customers happy even means? Do you ignore them or engage with them?

When you engage, is it to try and sell them something else? Or is it to listen, understand, and resolve? Then learn document, and implement what you learned in other areas of Pirate Metrics.

Do you see how this is working?

  • Do you have a newsletter?

  • Do you educate them on new features and products?

  • Any kinds of highlights, spotlights, or company news?

  • Do you have anything interesting to say at all?

  • How about contests, offers, and free giveaways?

  • What about polls to get information about how they grow with your product or service?

Then, are you using this data to improve Retention and other areas?

Acquiring a new customer is more expensive than keeping an existing customer.

Referral Metric of Growth Marketing

How serious is your company about an automated, trackable, incentivized referral system?

You provide excellent service and stand behind your product, right?

  • Does your company have an automated referral system in place for clients?

  • Are triggers set that send emails or set reminders?

  • Does it ask for referrals when they’re happy with your service in the client journey?

  • Do you make referrals painless and easy for them?

Make it easy, so people want to refer to you and feel good about another.

What else is essential about Growth Marketing? Research.

Growth marketing is about understanding your target market more profoundly than before. For example, what emotions drive their decisions to seek you for a solution? Or what changes their mind and compels them to seek somewhere else?

Research is a vital part of Growth Marketing and a fair share of the work. Put effort into quality research of your product, your product’s Jobs to Be Done (JTBD) , your personas, and your competitors.

Jobs to Be Done Research

Understanding your product’s Jobs to Be Done, creating and refining customer Personas, and digging into your competition is part of research and discovery.

Are you familiar with the Jobs to Be Done (JBTD) framework?

Your continued research guides product improvement, customer acquisition, and retention.

Research is necessary because your brand doesn’t reflect how you view it.

address these in the Pirate Metrics Model.

Instead, it’s a reflection of how your market views it.

You want a better product-to-market fit which requires research into your product.

The framework is simple. Customers hire products to do “jobs.” Do the job well, and the customer will hire you again. Using the framework breaks you out of the features and benefits discussion and makes you understand why customers buy. You’re meeting real-life needs.

The point is that by doing customer research using the JTBD framework, you may uncover jobs your product or service does. You can

Investigating the problem your company solves is a clear path to knowing your customers better.

JTBD is just part of the research you’ll do. Persona research helps you better understand your product and customer.

Persona Research

You should always move toward a better understanding of your ideal customer. Doing this requires research. Interviews, polls, surveys. Asking questions for which you may not like the answers.

When was the last time you reviewed your customer personas?

Why define personas? It’s easier to convert potential customers who are like your existing customers. Going through the personal work and documentation, then using the result in Awareness and Acquisition is the purpose of Growth Marketing.

How is it done? If you already have customers, go through a list of your top 50 customers and study who they are. Where do they work? Age? Spending habits? Life events? You determine how granular to define personas.

If you don’t have customers, brainstorm 3-5 ideal customers for your product.

Next, tie each persona to a JBTD.

Now you have a more specific product and customer research. It’s time to look at what your competitors are doing.

Research isn’t a passive activity. Even spending an afternoon of work looking at your product and customers from another perspective is beneficial.

Competition Research

You’ll learn a lot from competition research. What value propositions and messaging are they using?

Your competition research doesn’t have to be a comprehensive deep dive. Instead, take notes on items that stand out to you. You’re looking for validation of strategic direction.

You’ll have to experiment on your own. Go through trial and error on your own.

You’re going to study landing pages, ads, and content marketing. Again, don’t break everything down or spend a lot of time. Instead, make top-level notes about what they’re doing.

Here’s a simple landing page review.

Are you addressing pain points?

Are you highlighting features?

What is the pricing structure?

Do they offer bonuses and freebies?

Look at the Ad Channels, Google Search Ads, LinkedIn Ads, and YouTube Ads. Look at Social Media, pages, and Ads.

Use tools Ahrefs or Semrush (or lower cost or free tools) to uncover Content Marketing to see what keywords they rank for and the content’s purpose.

You have to stop the research and create a strategy at some point.

Create a strategy and go

What is your growth strategy?

One of your keys to growth and competitive advantage is your ability to consistently and efficiently acquire new customers.

You engage in product-led growth if your product is so good that you can leverage it to acquire, convert, and retain customers. Typically applied to software, Slack is a great example. TikTok is another.

You’ll engage in Channel-led growth (CLG) and use marketing and sales channels to acquire customers.

A channel is a way to reach and target potential customers.

Sales strategies and tactics

Google Search (Display, Shopping, YouTube) Ads

Amazon Ads

Facebook and Instagram Ads

Pinterest Ads

LinkedIn Ads, etc.

Do you know Pareto’s principle? The 80/20 rule. Use it to think about using these channels to market your product or service. Not every channel is a fit for your market. Only about 5% are a fit.

Think of this when you’re overwhelmed by all the marketing channels available. You may be bombarded with strategies and advice to ‘game’ the channels or even use current ‘best practices.’

What does this mean?

Have a good understanding of what marketing channel your potential customers

are using. For example, do they engage with ads on this network? Or are they there to “do their thing”? Does your target market actively seek solutions to their problems on this platform?

What Acquisition Lane do you use?

If you want to scale, there are a few channels with millions of users. You know this. Not many want to admit it openly, but there are surprisingly few ways to drive customer acquisition at scale.

What are Acquisition lanes? Think of them as broad categories for the channels.

Content, Paid, Sales, Viral


You create content related to your product, customer pains, problems, and solutions.

Most companies and people will think of excuses or reasons to avoid creating content. As though their customers lack the desire for knowledge, information, and inspiration.


You pay for ads on one of the prominent channels such as Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, or possibly TikTok, but does that convert for you? Show me the numbers through LTV, including ad costs.

Let’s step back a minute before you pay for ads. You optimized your website, landing page, and email sequences for conversion optimization, right?

Just because paid ads are a strategy doesn’t mean it’s profitable.

Multiple things can go wrong in your paid ad strategy:

– bad product to channel fit

– wrong message to channel fit

– poorly written ads

– poor targeting


Business development through sales falls out of the Growth Marketing wheelhouse, but it’s a scalable channel.


Organic viral marketing is hard to get, even though it’s scalable.

How do you choose the right Acquisition channel?

Do you know your current customer acquisition cost (CAC)? If you don’t, you may want to figure this out before thinking about scaling in a paid channel.

What about the lifetime value of your customers (LFT)? If you don’t know what a customer is

worth to you, and what it costs to get one, how can you scale to get more?

If you know and are ready to scale, here are some points to consider.

First, is your market using the channel, and will they engage with your ad?

If your market on the channel and in a buying mindset?

Does the channel fit with your CAC and LFV and marketing budget?

Growth marketing presents multiple opportunities for improvement. Don’t go big. Start small and make micro changes and improvements. You are learning about your clients while you drive this growth.

It doesn’t matter if you agree with Growth Marketing or not. Your competition does, and they’re working through a strategy right now.

Remember, start with Pirate Metrics if you don’t know the next step to make improvements.

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