Beyond the Top of the Funnel: What is Growth Marketing?

 “Growth marketing is removing the boundaries of marketing to enable every aspect of the customer experience to focus on attracting more engaged customers.”

Mike Volpe, CEO of

With businesses spending over $200 billion collectively on marketing every year, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. A successful marketing strategy needs to be creative, compelling, and able to adapt to sudden disruptions. This requires something more than traditional marketing – the best way to connect with customers and build a loyal user base is through growth marketing. 

But this begs a number of questions: what IS growth marketing? Isn’t all marketing about growing one’s business? How does growth marketing differ from regular marketing? 

Read on and you’ll find the answers to these questions and more!

What Is Growth Marketing? 

Growth Marketing is a data-driven approach to marketing that uses various tests to determine how to best serve customer’s wants and needs. The goal of growth marketing is to optimize results through constant experimentation and improvement. This experimentation occurs across the customer journey in order to identify the best growth options, using rigorous data analytics surrounding the user experience to fully understand what is and isn’t working. 

Growth Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing

The key difference between growth marketing and traditional market is the relationship between product development and marketing strategy. Traditionally, marketing efforts were fairly isolated from other aspects of a business, so once marketers had created the creative message and campaign strategy, they were usually done with the project. In contrast, growth marketing is an ongoing process that is thoroughly integrated with product development, with marketers constantly tinkering with ads and offering data-driven insights to make products better and more relevant to customers.

Additionally, there’s a big difference between the two marketing strategies and how they relate to a company’s sales funnel. Traditional marketing often operates under a “set it and forget it” mindset, where you simply put content out and hope someone will bite. These strategies do have value, as they can be a great way to build traffic to the top of your sales funnel, building brand awareness in the process. However, once customers have passed the point of acquisition, traditional marketing doesn’t add much value. Growth marketing doesn’t stop at the top of the funnel though – it’s a holistic approach that aims to attract, engage, and retain customers, making them into brand champions.  

Growth Marketing Strategies 

 “For meaningful growth, startups must completely change the rules of traditional channels or innovate outside of those growth channels…. They have to dig deep creatively, and relentlessly test new ideas.”

Sean Ellis, Founder of

Growth marketing is heavily based around conducting tests and experiments in order to identify customer’s primary wants, needs, and pain points. From there, marketers can provide insights to help businesses improve customer acquisition, retention, and conversion rates, along with overall customer lifetime value. 

Some of the more common tactics used by growth marketers include: 

A/B Testing

A/B Testing involves making multiple variations of your content (with changes to graphics, copy, etc.) and determining which does the best job of engaging your audience or improving conversion rates. From there, you can adjust future campaigns based on the best variation, continually making improvements and enhancing performance with each test. A/B testing can take many different forms, from email newsletters to social media ads. 

Customer Lifecycle Analysis

As stated earlier, growth marketing is different from more traditional marketing because it touches on all aspects of the sales funnel and the customer lifecycle. After all, it doesn’t matter if you acquire a lot of customers if you aren’t also retaining them. To simply matters, Dave McClure developed the AARRR Startup Metrics (sometimes called Pirates Metrics) , which breaks down customer lifecycle into five important metrics: 

  • Activation – User comes to the website 
  • Acquisition – Users enjoy their first experience. 
  • Retention – User comes back to your website multiple times. 
  • Revenue – User buys the product. 
  • Referral – User likes the product enough to recommend it to others. 

Variations on these metrics are relevant to most products, and knowing how many people make the transition from one phase to the next will tell you where your budget is going and what parts of the customer lifecycle needs improvements. 


Post-purchase surveys give customers an opportunity to tell you exactly what they liked or didn’t like about their experience with your business. It’s a common strategy, but it always helps to have more customer data to work with.  

What Does Growth Marketing Have To Offer? 

There are many benefits that come from implementing growth marketing strategies into your business. A few of them include: 

  • Cost Efficiency: Growth marketing is designed to be a low-cost strategy, constantly tweaking your offerings to get the most out of your resources.  
  • Flexibility & Adaptability: Growth marketing is all about adjusting based on new information and shifting customer needs, so it is ideal for making changes during periods of disruption. 
  • Measurable ROI: Since growth marketing is based around data and experimentation, you can more reliably determine the exact impact of your marketing tactics and strategies.   

Is Growth Marketing Right For You? 

Growth marketing isn’t the right method for every company, especially if you’re just starting out. It requires a lot of planning, experimentation, and creativity. However, if you’re at the point where your main goal is to scale up your company, then you should definitely consider implementing some growth marketing experiments into your strategies. When done right, it can help drive growth with speed and efficiency. 

Mark Buckner
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Mark Buckner is a freelance writer and editor from Hammond, Indiana. A recent graduate of Purdue University Northwest, he has edited two books and written on topics ranging from social media to science fiction film. At this time, he is open to other freelance writing and editing opportunities.

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