Imagine you have an unlimited budget to get more purchases, subscriptions, votes, or whatever. Now imagine the year is 1970. What do you do? If you’re most marketers of the time, you spend money on radio ads, mailers, and maybe billboards.

But if you’re a great marketer of the time, you might rotate the callback numbers in the radio ads, vary the sizes of the mailers you send, and get feedback on your billboards. Even 50 years ago, great marketers hypothesized about what might work, experimented to see if it did work, and iterated based on results. These were the early beginnings of growth marketing.

But what is “growth marketing”? Growth marketing, as we will explore in this playbook, is about creating true, sustainable growth through a variety of techniques. It’s about crafting unforgettable user experiences, writing emails worth opening, but most importantly, it’s about applying the scientific mindset to economic problems.

The Growth Mindset as the Scientific Method

The characteristics that make great scientists – curiosity, observation, creativity, a willingness to be wrong, and a desire to learn – are also what make great growth marketers.

The growth marketers from the 1970s pioneered A/B testing (on mailers), focus groups (for ads), and behavioral tracking (for phone calls). They took the tools available to them, tapped into their natural curiosities and explored the possibilities – taking the chance, even when they were unsure. They trusted in the power of experimentation for growth. As much as we may look at their methods as primitive,  I can only imagine what marketers 50 years from now will think of our innovations. These past marketers set a precedent.

The very first step towards developing a science-powered growth mindset is being honest with yourself about your state of affairs. How is the business, or non-profit, or political campaign, doing? How do you measure that? And where can you improve? It is possible to fool yourself and be successful, but it’s a lot easier if you take a sober, scientific approach to assessing your situation.

With this playbook, we hope to equip you with the necessary tools and knowledge to begin and/or continue your journey into growth marketing.

A Tactical Growth Playbook

This playbook is made up of five central chapters: segmentation, acquisition, product, testing, and measurement and analysis.

Our goal is to give you actionable insights into cultivating a growth mindset. As such, each article is written so that you can get started right now.

Just like in the scientific method, the key is to take action – to try, to fail, to learn and eventually prevail.

The best growth marketers have epic stories of failure, and embrace those learnings to further optimize their operations. Let’s dive deeper into what each section focuses on.

Segmentation

Segmentation is the process of finding the right audience and it’s critical in growth marketing. Segmenting helps you answer questions like “which leads should I qualify” or “which visitors should I expect to do x” or “who is most likely to churn?”. Predictive marketing tools like Clearbrain, MadKudu and Infer fit here. Event-based analytics tools like Heap, Amplitude, and Mixpanel, also fit here, as do tools like Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, and so on. This is where you’ll learn to define the “who.”

Acquisition

You can target people with banner ads, search ads, emails, website personalization, chat, direct mail, events, SMS, billboards, telephone calls, and so on. If you have the segmentation correct, and are targeting the right people, then, provided that your offer is compelling, it is possible to succeed on any of these channels. In this chapter, we’ll learn how to acquire the right customers and keep them interested.

Product

No growth strategy can substitute a good product. However, all products can grow faster with a good growth strategy. Whether you have a SaaS product, ecommerce store, or a retail shop, the first impression matters the most. In this chapter, we’ll explore how to better understand your users so you can engage them using the right in product experiences and messages. And for those employing the freemium business model, we’ll explore how – and when – to best monetize your users in order to attract a customer for life.

Testing

In growth marketing, optimization is one of our main goals. But we can’t optimize our business just by following our guts. Customers change, and we need to keep up with their evolving needs. We achieve this through testing and experimentation. This chapter focuses on equipping you with the necessary information to get started: from running your first A/B test, to creating an environment where a scientific mindset can thrive, we’ll top off this chapter with a step-by-step guide on how you optimize your pricing strategy .

Analysis

Just like scientists, growth marketers use various techniques to measure their growth. They set out with a well-defined growth plan, track their results over time and allow learnings from various experiments inform their future strategy. In this chapter, we will explore how you can measure your growth and ultimately optimize your strategy.

Let’s get started

A good scientist is equipped with the right tools to make good observations and gather good data. The same is true for growth marketers today, and I predict it’ll also be true for growth marketers 50 years from now. 

If you’re not already a better growth marketer than the authors of this guide, you can be. By choosing to read the tactics in this playbook, you’ve already demonstrated two of the fundamental characteristics of a great growth marketer – curiosity, and a desire to learn. So let’s dive right in.