Growth Marketing: A New Methodology For Startups Looking To Scale

Illustrator: Adan Augusto

"If you're not growing, you're dying" - William S. Burroughs

For startups, growth is essential for survival. The competition is fierce, and you need to deploy cutting-edge strategies to elevate your business from the crowd.

This is where growth marketing strategies come into play, a methodology used by some of the most successful startups in the game. 

But what is growth marketing, and how do you implement it in your current marketing strategy?

That is what you'll walk away with from this article, read on to find out the details that might take your brand to the next level!

What is Growth Marketing?

Growth marketing is a process whereby startups and businesses scale their operations by using a number of tactical marketing frameworks such as the AARRR or Product-Led Growth Flywheel frameworks, we'll get into one of them in a moment.

what is growth marketing

The goal of growth marketing is to increase the number of customers or users a company acquires through sustainable methods, and the word sustainable is key here. 

It's not just about pushing in as many leads as possible to the top of your funnel, but the focus is to retain the customers and even turn them into super-fans.

This can be done through a number of means such as increasing the visibility of a product, optimizing the customer journey, improving the product experience, boosting engagement, and growing the customer base through referrals, ambassadors, and word-of-mouth marketing.

Growth marketing in essence is the next evolutionary step in the game we call digital marketing.

How Growth Marketing Differs from Traditional Digital Marketing

Unlike traditional digital marketing which focuses on acquiring new customers through tactics like search engine optimization (SEO) and paid advertising, growth marketing is additionally all about activating your current users and getting them to do more with your product or service.

It's about understanding your user base, finding ways to engage them, and then scaling those methods so that you're acquiring more customers at a lower cost.

The increasing popularity of User Generated Content (UGC) utilized by brands like Coca-Cola and GoPro are perfect examples of how customers provide third-party testimonials and advertise your product for free in social circles, all while spreading the word about your brand as ambassadors. 

GoPro especially is known for its UGC campaigns and the most recent one was the #gopromilliondollarchallenge. 

UGC marketing is what allowed GoPro to explode in growth in the last decade and has resulted in one of the most popular YouTube channels around (10.6 million subscribers and rising).

In other words, growth marketing utilizes most of what you have. Think of growth marketing as a heavy flywheel, once it starts to pick up momentum there will be a positive feedback loop where customers bring in more customers and the flywheel spins faster on autopilot.

But growth marketing doesn't end there, as it's not enough to "just" increase customer retention and engage them. Growth marketing aims to almost scientifically optimize the entire marketing funnel with measured data points and statistics through a variety of digital marketing software.

It's a methodology that especially startups can use to great effect as they grow their businesses.

The Importance of Measuring KPIs Successfully

measuring LPIs
Source: Hubspot.com

A foreword before we dive into the framework for growth marketing is the importance of being able to measure Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) successfully for each stage.

Without accurate measurements, you won't be able to determine how your funnel, website rankings, acquisition channels, click-through rates, or any of the marketing steps are performing.

You won't be able to optimize them accordingly, and this is a key part of successful growth marketing:

Test, Measure, and Adjust.

You're just as much a data analyst as a copywriter at this point, utilizing a data-driven approach to not only get more leads but also increase engagement, retention, and distribution.

Growth marketers wear many hats and gone are the days of specific roles such as "PPC marketer" or "SEO specialist", it's only the tip of the iceberg.

There is a variety of KPIs that you can measure depending on what part of the funnel we’re looking at and I'll cover them each step of the way, but for now, keep this in the back of your head as you read on.

Key Principles of Growth Marketing with the AARRR Framework

AARRR growth marekting
Source: Ahrefs.com

As the real world and user behavior are changing rapidly thanks to global events and social media, it makes sense to get a good understanding of the basics of what drives rapid growth, especially for startups.

When we boil down growth marketing to its bare essentials, the core causes that lead to the desired effects (The Causality Principle) are these three areas:

  1. Identify and understand your key user acquisition channels.
  2. Create and optimize for engagement, not just clicks or leads.
  3. Scale what's working using a data-driven approach.

There are many different marketing strategies, growth hacks, and frameworks that all somehow incorporate the above key points under the umbrella of "growth marketing".

One of those that have stood the test of recent time is the AARRR framework. It visualizes the entire customer journey from a simple lead entering your marketing funnel, to becoming a raving fan that spreads the word of your brand identity to your target audience. Let's take a closer look!


The first step in the growth marketing methodology is acquisition. This step is all about acquiring new customers and subscribers from different platforms where your target audience is most likely to hang out.

There are many different tactics that you can use to achieve this goal, but the most effective approach will vary depending on your business and industry.

Some of the most common acquisition tactics include:

  • Paid advertising
  • SEO
  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Cross-channel marketing
  • Content marketing

Anywhere you can turn readers or viewers into leads are the target for the acquisition stage. Hiring a copywriter to work on your lead generation works wonders here.

Stats to measure for success:

  • PPC - PayPerClick
  • CPA - Cost Per Acquisition
  • SEO - Search Engine Optimization
  • CAC - Customer Acquisition Cost
  • CR - Conversion Rate


Converting a lead to a customer is one thing, but making the customer realize that your product is the perfect product fit for their problems/desires is the goal here. 

This is when the customer understands the true value of your product and becomes someone who can't live without it.

It's the similar feeling of going from an old and slow Windows-based PC to the latest MacBook Air, a stark contrast of value and quality that fulfills your needs perfectly.

There are multiple ways to achieve this "aha-moment" for your customers, but it all starts with a product-market fit and actually having the best possible product for a specific problem or desire.

Some other strategies involve:

  • A personalized onboarding process
  • Personalized emails
  • Excellent and responsive customer support

Essentially you'll dive deep into anything that elevates the customer experience throughout their journey with your brand.

As part of your activation process now that you're a data-driven growth marketer, you'll need to collect data from new customers and optimize this process in iterations in order to continue the improvement of both your product and the experience.

Stats to measure for success:

  • DAU - Daily Active Users
  • Abandonment Rate (this can be any part of your product cycle)
  • Activation rate (define an action a customer needs to take in order to qualify as engaged to a satisfactory level)


As the name implies, this step focuses on keeping your current users and customers and is a part of turning customers into super fans. This step is crucial as it's 5 times easier to sell to an existing customer than to acquire a new one.

You need to have a good product and a great ongoing user experience to keep users engaged which might take up most of the effort, as keeping them engaged never ends.

Thankfully, there are a number of tactics you can use to achieve this, and most can be automated to a high degree such as personalized email marketing campaigns, instant messaging apps, chatbots, or social media campaigns.

You can also incentivize users to keep using your product by offering rewards or discounts for referrals or for being a long-time customers. 

The entire point of the retention stage is to strengthen customer loyalty and build relationships while reducing the churn rate.

Stats to measure for success:

  • CRR - Customer Retention Rate
  • Reactivation Rate
  • Churn Rate
  • LTV - Life Time Value
  • AOV - Average Order Value


The referral stage is an exciting part of your growth marketing efforts as this is where the flywheel starts turning that we mentioned at the start of this article!

You've nailed the customer acquisition process with targeted customers, blown them away with value, and kept them engaged and delighted throughout their experience with your brand. Now it's time to leverage that built-up loyalty to get them to spread the gospel of your brand.

What makes this stage wonderful is the fact that customers usually belong to a similar group or community of people. By them recommending your product you attract the same demographic of customers that now can be considered warm leads.

True reviews and testimonials from real customers that act as third-party sources work wonders for growth. This is where UGC (User Generated Content) comes into play on different social media platforms.

Strategies to incentive these activities include:

  • A referral or affiliate program
  • Reaching out to influencers in your customers base
  • Running UGC campaigns and competitions
  • Following up with your most engaged customers with added perks

Stats to measure for success:

  • Number of reviews
  • UGC content generated
  • Customer referrals
  • Affiliate sales
  • Number of influencers recommending your product


Some startups that use the AARRR framework puts 'Revenue' before 'Referrals'. But it makes more logical sense to focus on getting the flywheel turning through the power of your referrals, which feeds the feedback loop of increased customers and hence more sales.


Either way, the revenue stage focuses on increasing the overall customer lifetime value which is done by boosting retention as much as possible, upselling them, increasing order value, and more.

Collecting data and feedback from your current customer base allows both for optimization of the product's pricing, and creating additional features that can be launched either as upgrades to the existing product or new separate products as well.

Stats to measure for success:

  • MRR - Monthly Recurring Revenue
  • ARR - Annual Recurring Revenue
  • ARPU - Average Revenue Per User
  • LTV - Customer Life Time Value

How Startups Can Implement Growth Marketing Tactics to Scale

growth marketing for starups

Source: Brianbalfour.com

Unlike traditional marketing, which is often focused on awareness and top-of-the-funnel activities, growth marketing is about getting the most out of your customer base by using techniques like churn reduction, upsells, cross-sells, and customer activation/retention.

In order to get started with the AARRR framework, identify your "growth levers," or the areas of your business that offer the most potential for growth based on the framework.

Once you've identified these levers, get to work on those and start collecting data and KPI measurements. This will over time paint a picture of how your marketing funnel is performing and how you can tweak different factors.

Create a plan, execute the plan and track your progress so that you can continue to optimize and improve your results for KPIs like LTV, ARPU, DAU, and more that we have covered so far.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a growth marketing example?

Growth marketing is where a startup can rapidly expand its customer base and revenue.

Achieving explosive growth generally requires a different set of marketing tactics and strategies than what is used in more established or saturated markets.

The goal of growth marketing is to find and exploit these high-growth hacks, in order to achieve rapid scale for the business.

One growth marketing example is the case study of Zoom, a video conferencing platform/app that exploded by 728% in first-time installations on the app store.

Reportedly, they achieved these staggering results through:

  1. Being customer-driven (Activation + Retention)
  2. Having a world-class product that users love (Referral)
  3. Investing in their brand (Referral + Acquisition + Revenue)

And it makes sense. By concentrating on being customer-driven, activating, retaining, and focusing on referrals, Zoom almost entirely eliminated the need for acquisition! 

What is a Growth Marketing Platform?

A growth marketing platform is an all-encompassing term for the growing number of software and services that help companies acquire, engage, and retain customers.

Growth marketing platforms use data-driven techniques to identify and activate your most valuable customers.

They offer a suite of marketing tools to help you grow your business, including social media, email marketing, lead generation, website optimization, and more.

What is the Role of a Growth Marketer?

The role of a growth marketer is twofold.

The first (and most obvious) responsibility of a growth marketer is to help a company grow. But growth isn’t just about acquiring more users or customers; it’s also about deepening engagement and loyalty among those users and customers you have.

This means the second responsibility of a growth marketer is to create and optimize experiences that drive conversions and loyalty. In order to do this, a growth marketer needs to have a deep understanding of customer psychology, marketing strategy, product development, and data analysis.

How Do you Become a Growth Marketer?

So you want to become a growth marketer? It's not as simple as just sending out a few tweets or updating your LinkedIn profile.

Like in any other field, growth marketing requires specialized skills and knowledge. Growth marketing is all about using data-driven techniques to increase a company's revenue and user base.

It goes beyond the traditional marketing funnel and focuses on long-term sustainable growth rather than short-term gains.

Growth marketers use tactics such as A/B testing, viral marketing, and product evangelism to drive user acquisition and engagement.

If you're willing to put in the time and effort, learning growth marketing is definitely worth it. There are plenty of online resources and courses available, so there's no excuse not to learn the skills required.

Wrap Up

Growth marketing is a new and constantly evolving methodology that helps startups to scale their business.

By using a variety of growth tactics and frameworks such as AARRR, SEO, content marketing, onboarding, and UGC, startups can increase their traffic, organically grow their customer base, and measure success through analytics. Implement the AARRR framework, collect data, and test, test, test!