WTF is the difference between digital marketing and growth marketing? There are 5 differences.

October 19, 2020

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Over the past few years the interest in 'growth marketing', keeps doubling. This search trend not only demonstrates a heightened interest in this marketing approach, but also suggests increased adoption rates by marketers too. So much so, that in the big cities such as London, New York and Berlin, this is the latest form of marketing that people strive to know more about.

As this term is quite new, it often also gets mistaken for digital marketing. I embarrassingly thought it was the same thing, but it is not. For this reason I wanted to share the 5 differences between the two. This took some time for me to put my finger on it, but glad I managed to put this in writing. ‍

So, what is Growth Marketing?

Growth marketing, also known as 'growth hacking', is intelligent data-driven marketing. It is used throughout the entire customer journey looking for opportunities to optimise scalability. And it happens through a number of tests, such as split testing, to be able to optimise results, or more accurately revenue. For example, using an A/B test to see which registration form drives the most registrations. When one works better than the other, it is leaned into and optimised. It is not about pretty looking marketing, it is data-driven. No bullshit. No assumptions.

What is the difference between digital marketing and growth marketing?

Risk

  • Growth marketers are more likely to take bigger risks because as they would have 'less to lose' or lower scale strategies. This could be because they are a start up or they have more to gain than to lose.
  • Digital marketers are focusing on long term growth and building a brand. They are meticulous and careful not to make any mistakes as the brand that they have been working on could crumble.

Budget

  • Growth marketers tend to work for start ups and have lower budgets. We are starting to see them in larger companies too, who run a lot of experimental tests throughout the consumer journey. When running tests they do not need big budgets as they are testing first to see what works before they scale.
  • Digital marketers tend to have larger budgets for paid media campaigns.

Goal

  • Growth marketers look at the full consumer journey, this includes acquisition, activation, retention, revenue and referral. This is also known as the pirate framework.
  • On the other hand digital marketers are more focused on brand awareness and only the first two steps of the user journey. Digital marketers focus more on the long term growth approach in building a relationship with customers and its brand power.

Team

  • Growth marketing heavily affects the product development, so much so they tend to sit quite close to each other.  If a growth hacker wants to run A/B tests on a landing page, sign up page, check out page etc they would need to work with the product team.
  • On the other hand digital marketers tend to sit in their own team.

Technical know-how

  • Growth marketers have a very strong technical know how where they can ideate and run the tests themselves.
  • Whereas digital marketers will ideate and have teams (developers, data analysts, designers, etc) to help them execute.

Now that I have it in writing, there is a noticeable difference between them that maybe it is not right to compare them. Then again, if one cannot explain the difference between them, this could be quite damaging. A growth hacker tends to be for younger, start up companies, or for large companies who want to constantly improve their customer journey. But this can only be done if they are willing to take risks. A digital marketer wants to ensure that the company keeps growing with as little risk as possible.

If you are a marketer, what is your style? I like to believe that I lie somewhere in the middle.

WTF is the difference between digital marketing and growth marketing? There are 5 differences.
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