Just as mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell, marketing is the powerhouse of your business. Well-executed marketing efforts can lead to people actually knowing about your brand, and to inbound lead after inbound lead knocking down your door. But maybe most importantly, marketing can be a powerful tool for actually helping your business reach the future state of success you know it’s destined to reach. 

This is called growth marketing.

What exactly is growth marketing? Growth marketing uses data, analytics and other information gathered from your current marketing efforts to actually drive real, concrete growth in your business. This is done through taking an experimental-like approach to marketing efforts, using a long-term strategy.

Growth marketing turns traditional marketing on its head. It’s a world of constant change, of testing, and of using data to continuously make marketing efforts better. And while the outcomes of growth marketing efforts can be revolutionary for your business, they can be challenging to nail. In order to master growth marketing, you have to know what it is, understand how to deploy, and have the resources to do it right.

The Growth Marketing Funnel

Growth marketing utilizes an expanded marketing funnel, appealing to buyers at every stage. Often called the “pirate funnel,” it extends from awareness to referral and every step in between. The pirate funnel is not your mama’s marketing funnel. It’s an entirely different — and more effective — way to guide your customers through their journey. But the end goal here isn’t simply conversion — it’s creating loyal customers who will tell others about your amazing brand, turning your funnel into a never-ending growth engine.

Growth Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing

Most businesses today understand just how critical their marketing efforts are to their success, and data shows that this is indeed the case. In 2021, Nielsen reported that “increasing awareness and consideration by one point drives a 1% increase in future sales.” And despite recent challenging economic conditions that have sent businesses scrambling, most marketers expect their budgets to increase in the coming year.

Sure, marketing matters. But as it turns out, some marketing might even matter more than other types. 

Aspects of growth marketing might be similar to traditional marketing. But these two types of marketing are very different in both goals and approach.

Let’s start with traditional marketing. The goals of traditional marketing have often been to raise brand awareness. The idea was that this general brand awareness would lead to things like more sales, increased revenue, and even more engagement. 

While traditional marketing might sound good on paper, it has its downsides. We won’t fully dive into them, but some of the major cons of traditional marketing efforts include the fact that they might not be effective at precisely targeting audiences, and they don’t allow you to quickly adapt to changes. In today’s fast-paced digital day and age, this can be an Achilles heel, and has the potential to lampoon even the most carefully crafted marketing efforts. 

On the other hand, growth marketing is experimental, flexible, and results-driven. It’s specifically designed with revenue in mind, and uses data, analytics and feedback on marketing efforts. When growth marketing is in play, you take the results of one marketing effort, and look for ways to make it more effective going forward. It may include things like social selling, which is outside the standard marketing realm.

In an ever-changing digital world, growth marketing is one of the only marketing strategies that can help you pivot and adapt. When a once-successful marketing effort starts to become stale, you can adapt and adjust. 

Growth marketing can be executed any number of ways, but some of the most common are with SEO marketing, A/B testing, and by analyzing data. 

Why does SEO fit into this model?

Yes, the rumors are true: SEO and growth marketing go hand-in-hand (it’s us, we’re starting the rumors). That’s because SEO marketing, or the process of using search engine optimization practices to increase organic inbound traffic, is an excellent method for actually putting the ideas of growth marketing into practice.

SEO marketing involves using keywords which your customers are actually searching for in your web content. By mastering SEO, you can put your content and webpages in front of people who actually want to see them, and who are actually your target audience.

SEO marketing is also well-suited for the growth marketing landscape. You can easily test keywords and see how they’re performing, for example, and test different types of content. You can also quickly pivot, adapting your strategy at the drop of a hat (more or less). SEO for startups is its own beast, but also falls in this category.

Five Core Aspects of Growth Marketing

Growth marketing has a few distinct core tenants. Here are the five main aspects of growth marketing you should be aware of:

  1. Growth marketing consists of a strategy fueled by data

Growth marketing is anything but haphazard. In fact, it uses concrete data and analytics to inform decisions, leaning on certain marketing metrics. For example, growth marketing might incorporate engagement rates, bounce rates, keyword rankings, and conversion rates, to see how marketing efforts are performing, and where improvements could be made.

  1. It’s as flexible as an Olympic gymnast

We said it before and we’ll say it again: growth marketing is incredibly flexible. With growth marketing, you can respond almost instantly to new ideas, revelations from data, and exciting new opportunities. No need to be stuck in your old ways, or stick with an idea that simply isn’t working. When you’re using growth marketing, you’ll quickly have a good idea of what’s working and what’s not,

  1. It doesn’t happen in a silo

Traditional marketing efforts only involved an organization’s marketing team, more or less. But growth marketing typically requires the input of many aspects of an organization. For example, input from the product development team can help inform marketing decisions, by indicating which features or products to highlight. It might also take efforts from developers to get the analytics you’re looking for.

  1. With growth marketing, we put ideas to the test

In the mindset of growth marketing, the best way to see if something is good is to actually test it. A/B testing is the process in which two versions of the same material are tested against one another. This can be done for anything from advertising graphics to landing pages. 

  1. Growth marketing values customer feedback

When it comes to growth marketing, customer feedback isn’t something to shy away from. In fact, it’s often sought after. Customer feedback can be obtained through surveys and other interactions, and can help gauge sentiment of your efforts. Does a welcome email perform better than an email outlining all of the main features of your product? When you have burning questions, there’s no need to guess – you can simply ask. 

Clearing Up Growth Marketing Misconceptions

We’ve told you that growth marketing is not the same as the approaches listed below. Now we’re going to tell you why. While there are some similarities, especially between growth marketing and growth hacking (like being data-driven and experimental), these are some of the ways growth marketing stands apart.

Growth Marketing vs…

traditional marketing

Traditional Marketing

  • Only focuses on part of the funnel
  • Is not holistic or comprehensive
  • Numerous, disconnected goals instead of one overarching, data-driven drive
inbound marketing

Inbound Marketing

  • Focused only on organic growth
  • Should be leveraged in combination with paid media as part of an effective growth marketing strategy
  • Driven by data analytics to achieve sustainable, measurable results
performance marketing

Performance Marketing

  • Focused only on revenue rather than overall growth
  • Concerned more with acquisition than the rest of the funnel
  • Short-term approach
growth hacking

Growth Hacking

  • One-off tactics as opposed to long-term strategy
  • Aims for quick results rather than ongoing growth
  • Looks for the lowest cost, fastest implementation
demand generation

Demand Generation

  • Primary focus on awareness stage
  • Aims to fill pipeline rather than nurture buyers
  • Uses more PPC and paid channels to achieve goals

There is nothing “wrong” with any of these strategies, and elements of each should be incorporated into a robust growth marketing plan for any ambitious brand. On their own, they won’t likely deliver the results you want to see. Together, they can work as part of your overall growth marketing strategy to deliver long-term, sustainable growth.

How Do We Do Growth Marketing?



SEO is critical to achieving growth. Technical, on-page, and off-page SEO all play a role in getting buyers to your site, moving them through the funnel, and driving them to convert (and tell their friends).



Killer content drives growth, but it needs to be guided by your other strategies to deliver results. Content, as part of a big-picture growth marketing strategy, builds brand awareness and positions you as an authority.



Without conversion, there is no growth. We leverage tactics like marketing automation, A/B testing and careful positioning of CTAs to drive your audience to take action. Email nurture campaigns keep customers’ eyes on the prize, and paid social ads capture and convert leads in the places they frequent.

Lead Generation

Lead Generation

Lead generation is about a lot more than getting people into your funnel. It’s about making them want what you have to offer. Lead gen builds awareness, raises interest, and gets your leads ready for activation.

Email Marketing

Email Marketing

Getting the right message to the right people at the right time isn’t possible without email marketing. We leverage your amazing content, package it up, and nurture your audience through the funnel from awareness to consideration to decision with the messaging they need to convert.

Data Analysis

Data Analysis

We rely on the numbers to identify opportunities for growth, track progress and develop new experiments to test our strategies. We’ve developed a tech stack with the best analytics tools on the market so we always know what’s working, and what can be improved to deliver you the best results.

Paid Advertising

Paid Advertising

Paid advertising works, but only when it’s used in conjunction with a rock solid organic/inbound strategy. We focus on growth marketing for the organic search side, so we don’t do PPC. However, we have a robust Paid Social Advertising service to deliver high-converting messaging to your audience, where they are.



Text-only content doesn’t cut it anymore. To achieve growth, you need to leverage engaging and valuable multimedia assets, like infographics, video content, gated downloads, and more.

Social Media

Social Media

Chances are, your buyers are on social media. And if you aren’t (or don’t have the right presence), you aren’t going to reach them with the same ease or impact.

Growth Marketing Strategies That Deliver:



The scientific method is key to growth marketing. Form a hypothesis, test it out, and if it doesn’t work, try again. A/B testing is critical to help you learn what works and what doesn’t.



Set it and forget it? Not exactly, but the goal of growth marketing is to discover tactics (through experimentation), find what works, and repeat through automation to achieve long-lasting growth.

market penetration

Market Penetration

Find a niche where your competitors aren’t answering buyer pain points, then own it. What do you offer that no one else can? Look for your brand differentiators and make those the focus.

hockey stick growth

Hockey Stick Growth

The “blade years” are for building your strategy and experimenting with new tactics. The inflection point is when growth begins to curve upward, and the rest is all stick (sustained upward momentum).



You can’t give away your best stuff for free? Or can you? You can, and you should. Freemiums, free trials, and ungated content get buyers in the door. Your amazing product keeps them there.

frictionless onboarding

Frictionless Onboarding

Buyers won’t stick around if adopting your product is a pain. Customer service and user experience should all come into play when creating a smooth, frictionless onboarding process.

referral programs

Referral Programs

You don’t just want loyal customers. You want brand evangelists. Reciprocal referral programs and incentives can build a near-viral campaign to get your brand in front of new eyes and compound growth.

influencers and collabs

Influencers and Collabs

Analyze trending topics in your industry and go after the voices your buyers are listening to. Form partnerships and collaborations to leverage their audience and build trust and authority.



Growth marketing fails without data. Continuous monitoring of KPIs and key business metrics will help you make informed decisions and adapt quickly when a particular tactic isn’t working.

Tracking the Success of Your Growth Marketing Strategy

“Growth” is a big word with many interpretations. You must understand what it means to you and how you’ll measure it to be sure your growth marketing strategy is on the right track. Here are some of the most important metrics to monitor:

Conversion Rate – Conversion rate is the number of visits or views, divided by the number of total conversions. Conversions can be email click-thrus, landing page form fills, or upgrades from freemium to paid plans. Walk through all your conversions and find the ones that are most important to you to begin measuring growth.

Customer Acquisition Cost – CAC is calculated by dividing your total expenses to acquire, nurture, and convert customers (both sales and marketing), divided by the number of new customers acquired. To achieve growth, be sure the CAC is always less than the Customer Lifetime Value. 

Web Traffic – Keep a close eye on traffic to your most valuable and high-converting pages. Also monitor bounce rate, pageviews, time spent on page, and new sessions for a big-picture perspective on page performance.

Leads Generated – Take a look at customer acquisition, new contacts via landing pages, and leads generated per unique offer to find what works to hook potential buyers and what doesn’t.

Customer Lifetime Value – CLV is the total potential profitability throughout the entire customer lifecycle. To calculate, multiply the average amount of purchase and number of purchases per year, then multiply by the average length of customer relationship (in years).

A/B Testing – A/B testing should be conducted for every experiment or tactic you try. This metric will change frequently, but it’s critical to understanding which growth marketing variants can be automated for sustainable growth and which need to go.

Four Examples of Successful Growth Marketing Campaigns

Growth marketing campaigns can take different shapes and forms, and the great news about growth marketing is that you can really get creative with it. And some of the best growth marketing campaigns out there today have led to their organizations growing leaps and bounds.

Don’t take our word for it: the proof is in the pudding. Here are four examples of (successful) growth marketing campaigns, which are definitely #goals.  

  1. Dropbox: making storage something to write home about

So you’re Dropbox, the now-popular cloud storage system, and you’re wondering how you can stand out from the pack, with no spend on advertising and lots of competitors. You come up with this genius idea: a referral program, which rewards referrals with the product itself. At the time, this led to Dropbox seeing 3900% growth. Today, successful referrals on Dropbox still get you valuable MBs of space, up to 16 GB for free. 

  1. Airbnb: because “Air Bed and Breakfast” just wasn’t as catchy

Airbnb is a household name today, but this definitely wasn’t the case when it was founded back in 2008 by its much lengthier name. This online marketplace for home rentals had some work to do, if it wanted to skyrocket to the success it has today. Much of Airbnb’s success can be traced to its growth marketing efforts, which took different forms: Airbnb launched catchy marketing campaigns (some featuring the hosts themselves), influencer programs, and referral programs, just to name a few.

  1. Lightyear: disrupting a niche industry 101

Lightyear.ai works with 400+ telecom and IT service providers (and is a RevenueZen client), and they wanted to see quick, powerful results. We turned to a few growth marketing methods we knew would work: actionable keyword research, laser targeted link building, and thought leadership style content. The result? +234% increase in monthly organic traffic, +644% new keyword rankings, and +145% increase in domain authority. 

  1. airCFO: best-in-class financial services

The airCFO team had big ideas for their company, and they wanted a better inbound marketing strategy to get more people to their website. They had plenty of existing clients and some referrals, but they weren’t quite getting the organic traffic they knew they could achieve. When they partnered with the RevenueZen team, we brought our technical marketing skills to the table, and launched a few growth marketing tactics, which focused on things like site health, SEO, and regularly scheduled blog content. We started with high-level content pieces, and later turned to progressively niche topics. The result? A huge leap in number of page one Google keywords (+4100%), and +350% organic traffic year-over-year.

We’ve built tons of success growth marketing strategies and are ready to help you

Growth marketing definitely works, that much is clear. But what’s not always as clear is how to execute it. Growth marketing takes full-time efforts, resources, trial-and-error, and a combination of both technical skills and creativity to get right. While it might sound like a heavy lift, it can be – for organizations that try to take it on all on their own.

That’s where we come in. We’re RevenueZen, and we help ambitious B2B brands break their records of organic-sourced revenue with our one-of-a-kind growth marketing strategies, which include things like SEO, LinkedIn marketing, content marketing, and verbal identity branding.

Interested in partnering with us so we can help take your marketing strategy to new heights? Let’s talk.