Preetham Parvatam

Has over a decade of experience as a Business & Marketing Growth Consultant with leading global brands like Adobe, IBM and Oracle. He is a Co-Founder of Winnerbrands and actively consults B2B startups

Growth Marketer vs Digital Marketer Dilemma!

More often than not, we see Growth Marketing being used interchangeably with Digital Marketing. Why is this happening?

A Growth Marketer’s KPI in a startup world is to optimise the complete business funnel by:

  1. Maximising Lead Generation
  2. Maximising Customer Conversion Rates
  3. Maximising Customer Retention and Lifetime Value

A seasoned Digital Marketer, on the other hand, is also focused on driving awareness, lead generation and customer conversions across digital channels

Image source – Google

Digital being the most favoured approach for acquisition & growth today, is evidently contributing to the transition of Digital Marketer into a Growth Marketer, considering the overlap of KPI’s and skills.

However, fundamentally for Growth Marketing roles, the approach needed is vastly different. Engagement cuts across working with product, brand marketing, website, UI & UX, campaign automation and digital teams. This requires deep generalist or full-stack marketer skills.

Let’s look at a few successful Growth Marketing strategies to get things in perspective:

1) HubSpot: One of their most successful growth strategies has been offering a range of free tools designed to capture leads from marketers and start a lead nurturing process that leads them to paid products

2) Dropbox – Their referral campaign aimed at 2-way rewards helping existing users with earning extra space as well as new user signups, which boosted 3900% increase in signups in 15 months (source: Viral-loops)

3) Tinder – They held events at colleges and universities to introduce the dating app to students, in person. With a smart mix of offline tactics, Tinder tripled their userbase with a low-investment strategy that gained the initial traction the platform needed to scale their marketing efforts.

4) Twitter – Struggling with user retention (time spent) on the platform, they were quick to experiment & understand the lack of known friend list as a reason for a bailout. An auto-suggestion feature was introduced suggesting a list of known people. This led to a significant boost in user retention on platform

To be a successful Growth Marketer, one has to leverage and optimise tactics beyond paid acquisitions starting from product features, email marketing, website, brand, offline, content, customer data to drive significant impact.

Above all what sets them apart is an obsessive urge for experimentation across marketing funnel, knack for driving insights from data and most importantly growth hacking mindset to run parallel to all functions.

Doesn’t this make the obvious choice for any startup to hire a Growth Marketer? Not all businesses are ready. There is a level of organisational and product maturity required to gain from growth marketers expertise. Top three watch outs when a startup is not ready or should avoid hiring one:

1) Limited marketing budgets. – Yes, Growth Marketing is about finding scale with limited budgets, but to get there Growth Marketers need to experiment. Paid acquisition channels are most likely to play a central part and need budget appetite. Don’t spend on hiring a Growth Marketer if the budget for experimentation is not aligned to business priorities.

2) Lacks basic team setup – Success of Growth Marketer is to drive rapid experimentation and optimisation across the business process and funnel for growth. Without product, sales, creative, digital & campaign & support structures, return on Growth Marketer’s time is wasted. Instead of hiring team to support your Growth Marketer, first, get comfortable with the basic structure and supporting agencies.

3) Unsure of Product-Market Fit -By pumping money into channels before the product & need is validated, will be an unwise decision to take. Establish your product-market fit before scaling growth activities

Next time when you plan to hire Growth Marketer validate their skills beyond digital & more importantly know if you are ready for one!

Preetham Parvatam


Has over a decade of experience as a Business & Marketing Growth Consultant with leading global brands like Adobe, IBM and Oracle. He is a Co-Founder of Winnerbrands and actively consults B2B startups


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