Building Science and Discipline Into Your Growth Marketing Strategy

Why would Instagram hide the ability for users to see the number of likes on a post? The answer is simple: They are trying to make Instagram the “safest place on the internet,” which means their product should match that vision.

But, what’s interesting about it is how they are going about this change. Instead of a previous culture of “move fast and break things,” Facebook and its group of apps have turned into experimentation.

Old Facebook would have rolled out the new design with a “We think this is best for you based on our intuition, take it or leave it,” type of attitude. Now, they use an experimentation and testing approach with a small group, and roll out the tests to a wider group as they collect more data.

If the resulting engagement data doesn’t satisfy them, they will pivot the idea into something better, or not do it at all.

This shift in thinking has changed how companies build products, and as our team adopted a growth marketing mindset, we’ve seen a significant performance increase in our clients’ digital platforms. This has led to more revenue, more loyalty members, and more brand awareness through increased traffic to their sites.

So, I wanted to share how we view growth marketing and how we incorporate science and discipline into our growth marketing strategy as well as our clients.

But, first: What is growth marketing, exactly?

I finally found a definition of growth marketing that really resonated with me:

Growth Marketing is the process of designing and conducting experiments to optimize and improve the results of a target area. If you have a certain metric you want to increase, growth marketing is a method you can utilize to achieve that.

Growth marketing is more focused on the data, analytics, and experimentation, and not necessarily on the creativity, aspect of marketing. It’s less about how nicely-designed the product is, and more about how well the product converts into more revenue. I’m not saying that non-growth marketing is bad, but it’s a different thing altogether. They can live in conjunction with each other.

Growth marketing is not growth hacking. Some engineer in the basement coding a program to automatically access customers’ phone book contacts without permission. That’s called deceptive marketing. So, I’m glad we moved away from that term.

Also, if we look at the data from Google Trends (remember, growth is all about the data), you will see that the term ‘growth marketing’ continues to grow in curiosity.

interest over time


I prefer to focus on the processes of achieving growth instead of a hidden trick to grow customers.

To achieve this type of growth, it requires an entire shift of mindset from you and each level of your organization. I’ve narrowed this down to three concepts:

  1. Turn the obscure into quantifiable action.
  2. You should run at least 50 experiments a year.
  3. Everyone is responsible for growth and failure. No questions asked.

Measure Everything -- Turn the obscure into quantifiable action


The discipline of growth marketing is equally as important as the science. Growth can’t be a “feel” thing. Remember, growth marketing is not about creativity, It’s all about growth. It’s about seeing metrics grow.

What part do you want marketing to grow exactly?

For example, do you want to:

  • Drive higher eCommerce conversion rates from existing customers?
  • Make more money per transaction?
  • Drive more people to see your home page? (without using lots of paid ads)
  • Receive more contact form leads?
  • Retain customers for longer by reducing churn?
  • Convert more free trials into paid customers?
  • Increase more customer referrals to your business?

We split metrics into two categories:

    1. Core growth metric (1 or 2) - This is the single metric that tells us we are hitting our goals.
    2. Leading indicators (5 to 7) - These are the supporting indicators that let us know we’re on the right path to hitting our core growth metric.

For example: The core growth metric can be increasing the amount of times an existing customer purchases from your business within a six month period. The leading indicators can be “website views from returning customers” and “time in app.” If both of these numbers are up, it’s a good sign that the core growth metric will rise.

Once that these metrics are identified, you’re ready to come up with experiments.

Growth is all about experimentation: you should run at least 50 experiments a year.


Science = Experimentation and Discipline = Measurement

To solve a hypothesis, you must start by experimenting in the lab. Essentially, these are educated guesses. To see if you’re going in the right direction, you must consistently measure the progress.

The most powerful question to start each experimentation is “What single, trackable metric are we trying to improve?” Followed by “What experiments can we try to improve that metric?”

The first question allows the team to focus on a single growth metric as opposed to the 5-10 that a marketing team tracks on a daily or weekly basis. And the second question allows the team to come up with basic and also wild experiments.

This is the core of growth marketing. It’s experimenting and measuring. It’s the understanding that we simply can’t predict how to grow a metric without trying and failing a bunch.

We recommend at least 50 experiments a year. It sounds like a lot, but in reality, a solid product should run at least 100 experiments a year. Remember, every small change, even as something a small as changing a call to action, is an experiment.

Here is how it would work in real life. This is admittedly a high-level example since there’s a lot more that goes into it.

Let’s say our core measure metric is increasing loyalty rewards members. Here is how we would do it.

First, we start with a few hypotheses.

  1. What if we created a call to action post-purchase? Would that result in more memberships?
  2. What if we created five different copy variations for the call to action post-purchase? Would that result in more memberships?
  3. What if we created a checkbox on the checkout screen to join the loyalty membership?
  4. What if we required them to sign-up prior to purchasing?

Now, you do have to be a little careful. The last one would probably end up with more loyalty memberships, but it could also cause more drop-off on the purchases and impact revenue. So choose your experiments wisely. It’s all connected.

Now, once we figure out our experiments, we execute and start tracking them. The tools we use to run experiments are at the bottom of this article.

Every weekly or stand up meeting should focus on the core metric(s).

  • What were the results of the experiments? What were the core metrics and leading indicator metrics?
  • Did any experiment prove to be more successful than the others?
  • If so, how can we amplify this experiment? Should we place more time and money behind this experiment?
  • If none were successful, why? Should we create more experiments? Are we measuring the right metric?

Everyone is responsible for growth and failure. No questions asked.

You don’t simply say, “Make this product grow.” Engineers are going to engineer with or without the data to back up what they’re building.

Everyone from designers to product managers, engineers and QA, need to know that the product is driven by experimentation, not intuition. This starts all the way from on-boarding new hires.

That’s why we start every single project by incorporating analytics into the digital platform as we’re building the product for our clients. We identify core metrics the digital product is trying to achieve, and then we identify the leading metrics that serve as indicators that the core metric is going to be improved.

For growth marketing to work, experimentation must be embraced by everyone. This means that out of ten experiments, nine will fail. You must build a culture around failure to support a data-driven approach to growing your products and increasing your desired metrics.

Why rely on intuition, when you can rely on cold hard facts? Growth marketing is the way to go.

We help businesses find the fastest path to growth. Let's make it happen.


Appendix: Growth marketing tools we enjoy