Role Basics: What is Growth and Growth Marketing?
Growth teams use experimentation to optimize user and revenue growth. They brainstorm, prioritize, run and measure experiments designed to make the product or company grow faster. Growth is always very analytical, fast-moving, and results oriented.
Flavors of Growth Marketing roles:
While growth teams are always quantitative and outcome-oriented, they tend to focus either on product or marketing. Product-oriented growth teams focus on changes to the product that improve user or revenue growth (things like improving conversion or referrals from the product), while marketing oriented teams (typically called growth marketing) focus on acquiring users and might use email or other non-product channels to grow.
Example projects in Growth and Growth Marketing:
- A/B test whether requiring a credit card up-front, for a 14-day free trial, or allowing a trial without credit card converts more site visitors into paid customers
- A/B test product landing page copy and design to increase clickthrough rate, conversion rate, and customer acquisition cost (CAC)
- Run a minimum viable product for a referral program over email, designed to reduce CAC
- Experiment with newsletter segmentation, content, and messaging to increase newsletter open rate, clickthrough rate and engagement (weakly active users, WAUs)
- Design a new onboarding flow and/or “contextual education” to increase user adoption
- Analyze user data to identify what “Aha! moment” is correlated to user activation and retention (a simple behavior in the product, after which users are likely to become active users)
Common activities in Growth:
- Brainstorm ideas for growth tests
- Analyze data to estimate the impact of an experiment, and estimate the time required to implement it
- Prioritize test ideas based on expected impact on users or revenue
- Write product requirements for product-oriented tests
- Design and implement A/B tests – in product, using email, on marketing or landing pages
- Work with other teams (i.e. sales, customer service, email marketing, etc.) to brainstorm, plan, execute, and measure results of experiments on key business outcomes
- Help define requirements for and manage data collection infrastructure required to measure the outcomes of growth tests
- Annual recurring revenue (ARR) / Monthly recurring revenue (MRR) – The recurring revenue from subscriptions or long-term contracts
- Customer acquisition cost (CAC) – the total cost required to get a new customer
- Month over month retention – the percent of customers, licenses or revenue retained from one month to the next
- Users or ARR per day of work
Entry jobs pay $80-130K, though they’re very hard to get without prior work or entrepreneurial experience.
Growth career path:
Growth is a great career – you can move into growth from product, quantitative marketing roles, or being an entrepreneur. Leading growth is lucrative in itself, or can transition into product or marketing leadership roles.
How accessible are Growth jobs?
- Time to learn. 1-2 years. Growth requires product, marketing, analytical and communication skills.
- Selectivity. Very selective. Few if any growth teams hire growth managers as a first job, unless they have specialized growth engineering or growth data scientist roles, which still require 2+ years of training and internship or entrepreneurial experience.
- Ease of working remote. Medium – it depends on the company.
Job Requirements: What you need to be competitive for Growth roles?
Growth and Biz Ops are similar in function and in requirements. The biggest difference is that growth tends to be maniacally focused on one outcome (revenue or users), while Biz Ops is more broad. And growth tests tend to be smaller in scope, while Biz Ops projects are bigger.
Key skills for Growth and Growth Marketing:
- Understand product concepts, business concepts, marketing concepts
- Data analytics – very comfortable with excel; SQL and R even better
- A/B testing frameworks
- Data infrastructure
- Good writer
Professional background for Growth:
Often, growth team members have started their own companies or have worked as product managers or performance-oriented marketers. A growth team lead will look for the ability to brainstorm, prioritize, plan and execute tests to optimize growth with minimal guidance.
Personal characteristics for success in Growth:
- Comfortable with a “move fast, break things” ethos – would much rather ask forgiveness than permission
- Tolerant of risk and of failure – expectation is that 80% of growth tests will fail
- Learning-oriented, scientifically minded, think in hypotheses / tests / experiments
How to prepare for and get a job in Growth?
Projects to learn and prove yourself:
- Start a company and grow to 50,000+ users or $5,000+ MRR.
- Manage a growth backlog for another business, and deliver 20% Month over Month growth. (To deliver these results, the company will need to have some operations to work with – a mailing list to improve, a website with significant traffic and conversions, staff to work with)
- Create a growth backlog for a product you like. Make sure to define the expected outcome in users or ARR, the logic behind that outcome (based on back-of-the-envelope assumptions and any data you can find), estimated scope, and % chance of success.
- Run a series of A/B tests for a business’s website, landing page, or mailing list to improve customer acquisition or another key metric.
- Learn how to use common tools: Mailchimp, Unbounce, Google Analytics, SQL, Excel, Airtable.
- Also, see ideas from Biz Ops.
- Or see the SEO projects, to create your own blog with 10,000+ monthly visits and then run growth tests on that blog and audience.
Key growth concepts and resources:
- Almanac’s complete guide to growth marketing
- Guillaume Cabane’s hiring notes regarding growth roles
- Guillaume’s sample growth backlog
- Ivan Kirigin’s 5-stage growth process
- Reforge blog (to find insights from growth leaders at successful tech companies)
- Key writers on growth: