Ever wonder what growth marketing really involves? One specialist explains how what she does is different than traditional marketers.

By Kate Swanberg (Growth Marketing Specialist, Koombea)

With all the different types of marketing positions out there, throwing out terms like “product,” “agile” and “growth marketing” can make it all the more confusing for anyone looking to hire a marketer — and these terms even confuse marketers themselves!

Plenty of so-called experts are calling growth marketing, or growth hacking bull. I’ve even had people tell me, “Hey Kate, growth marketers are jerks, and you’re not one, so don’t use it.”

So, is growth marketing just another way to say online or digital marketing or is there more to it?

The answer is: It’s a little bit of both.

In the beginning of my career, I used to simply call myself a “marketer.” Keeping it simple. But as my marketing network grew, I realized what I did was completely different than what other marketers do. When working with a growing tech company, like Koombea and Dashable, I started categorizing myself based on what results I could bring to the table.

I now call myself a growth marketer, which all comes down  to the engineering and execution.


No matter the type of marketer you are, you’ll always look for KPIs and objectives to measure to achieve your end goals.

Some marketers don’t show results. Based on the industry or business they’re marketing, it might be okay for the result to be something as simple as an increase in production of content or more marketing materials for nurturing leads. And that’s okay; some people can settle comfortably with setting up those foundations.

For other marketers, focusing on bringing numbers and tangible results to the table can differentiate your type, and perhaps quality, of marketing. For me, growth marketing is a combination of product, digital and engineering marketing.

It’s a little psychology, a little math, a little copy and a whole lot of effort and effect.

My Day-to-Day Growth Marketing Tasks

One of my largest focuses revolves around high-converting websites; I concentrate on what will make users click here, go there, read this, fill out something here. Ultimately, I want conversions. I also want to start conversations, so I measure contact forms and signups depending on the company I’m marketing. I set up funnels of clicks and places to the points of purchases.

This is the math and the psychology. It’s about finding out abandonment rates in Google Analytics, figuring out the URLs of exit paths and working with developers to optimize sites for users. This can mean anything from a design color change and more CTAs to fewer pages in the funnel process.

My Growth Marketing Focuses

Traffic and User Acquisition

As I said above, I’m focused on conversions. Attracting traffic and users (the RIGHT users) are the first steps. My attentions then turn to user retention and acting a little bit as a product manager to update an application or services site to get users to do something (or ideally make a purchase.)

Growth marketing isn’t easy. Increasing a conversion rate by just 0.02% can actually be a huge deal. Tracking metrics for optimization is the next step.


A lot of the time I’m focused on making improvements to get a better, more qualified end result. So if 253 people sign up for a trial of a product, but only two of them purchase it after that trial, this tells me something. Perhaps the product has hit a dead end, the funnel path wasn’t directing the way it should, it wasn’t bringing users to the right place or the user source is not in my target market.

So what do I do? I shift things. I tweak the CTA. I suggest more, fewer or different visuals. I target ad spend to different audiences or interests.

10 Growth Tips

If you’re interested in switching over to the growth marketing world, you can start with some of these tips to shift your online strategy in the right direction:

  1. Create stronger calls to action
  2. Gamify your blog
  3. Make sharing easier
  4. Offer a free e-course
  5. Test share button positions
  6. Write 25 awesome headlines
  7. Create longer copy
  8. Grow your Google+ audience
  9. A/B test your About page
  10. Get more aggressive

I also absolutely love these content marketing growth hacks from Unbounce.

Regardless of What You Call It, Everyone Wants Growth

When it comes down to it, growth marketing is really just a term and people can perceive it however they want to. Getting results has existed since the creation of man. People have been doing it for years, which perhaps that’s why there’s negativity surrounding the word itself.

My guess is that a marketer started marketing the “growth” term to satisfy some sort of objective of his or hers. And so be it! It gives a little more clarification and categorizes niche marketing attempts.

To learn more about growth hacking for your startup, check out our panel at our upcoming HowTo Conference. It’s next week — So get your tickets now!