When it makes sense to use growth marketing vs growth hacking


You may see the terms growth marketing and growth hacking and think they mean the same thing. They both have the word growth in them, so is there really a difference? What makes the distinction between the two even more confusing is that the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. While there are similarities such as the goal of generating more revenue, growth hacking and growth marketing are two different approaches.

Growth hacking is usually aimed at achieving short-term results through a burst of sales activity. It’s more or less about getting the momentum going and converting as many leads as possible. In contrast, growth marketing is for the long term. It’s a strategy that not only aims to convert leads, but also turn them into lifetime customers who advocate for the brand.

Yes, companies can use both growth hacking and growth marketing. And sometimes it’s hard to say which approach will deliver the results you’re after, when all you want is growth. But if you dig deeper into your growth goals, there are signs that growth marketing is the way to go. Let’s take a look at the key indicators below.

You need to build your brand

A company that needs to expand and develop its brand presence is usually already in an established market. Unlike a startup, your business may have been around for a while. However, you have not yet maximized your market share and want to become a stronger player in the industry. Growth hacking can give your company a temporary boost, but growth marketing will help to increase and maintain market share.

Growth marketing can also be more effective if your business has an established customer base. These customers are loyal, but you won’t see as much growth among them as you’d like. They tend to stick with the products and services they know and don’t generate as many repeat sales as they could. You want to find out what will help you move the watch face for your base.

A/B testing under a growth marketing approach identifies patterns of behavior that can reshape your strategies. For example, aren’t customers adding other products because they don’t know about them? Or is there hesitation due to a lack of perceived need and a general reluctance to try something new? The data you get from your tests will help you uncover these obstacles to long-term growth. Your marketing strategies can then work to overcome them.

Your product or service is more conventional

Let’s say you run a bank or a credit union. Let’s face it, your products and services are unlikely to generate excitement and internet buzz. Consumers see checking and savings accounts, home loans and credit and debit cards as a necessity. They are commodities that may be more difficult to distinguish in the eyes of the customer, and the risk of churn is high. In addition, consumers generally know that these products and services exist.

For the market, the decision is less about choosing the product or service. It’s more about finding a convenient provider, a brand identity with similar values, or a seller that offers unique benefits. Compared to growth hacking, growth marketing can boost awareness and build retention for brands and products that are less likely to go viral.

Growth hacking, which generates a lot of buzz in the beginning, needs products and services that attract attention. These offerings are usually something the market has not seen before, or they use a freemium business model. If your business sells a relatively conventional product or service, you can still carve out niches. Growth marketing identifies these segments and helps you grow them over time.

Your business has significant competition

It will become more challenging to achieve growth in saturated or highly competitive markets. There is only so much market potential or stock to go around. Even if you are a top player in the industry or the market, you will fight to keep the share you have. It will cost more to steal market share from competitors or entice new entrants to the market.

Maintain and growing share in a competitive market requires long-term thinking and planning. Strategies like building customer loyalty and creating innovative products are not things that happen in a week or two. They require research, data analysis and a slow but steady approach. This is part of what growth marketing strives for: finding strategies that work and that you can automate for lasting results.

While growth hacking may seem like a fading trend, growth marketing is one that sticks. And in a saturated market, you need a formula that you can apply multiple times to support revenue growth. Otherwise, you could see some of your market share go to competitors or struggle to cross a certain threshold. Growth marketing retains customers and creates personalized experiences that are difficult for competitors to replicate.

Growth Marketing vs Growth Hacking

Both growth marketing and growth hacking can deliver results that impact business bottom line. With growth marketing, however, you can continue to grow by focusing on more than one-off purchases and bringing in new customers. Growth marketing also focuses on discovering formulas that work with existing customers, driving repeat sales and referrals.

When you need to build your brand, sell conventional products, or your market is saturated, growth marketing may be the better approach. You are more likely to achieve the growth goals you are pursuing. Brand building, product offerings and competitive landscapes require more than a temporary solution. They demand the long-term retention benefits that growth marketing offers.


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