Growth Hacking Vs. Growth Marketing

Growth hacking is a sub-set of a growth marketing strategy, and at the same time, it goes beyond that. Indeed, growth hacking is primarily focused on achieving growth by leveraging product development/engineering, data analysis, and marketing tactics. A growth hacking strategy can be framed as part of a wider and effective growth marketing strategy.

AspectGrowth HackingGrowth Marketing
Definition– Growth hacking is a marketing strategy focused on rapid experimentation and creative techniques to achieve rapid and sustainable growth, often in non-traditional and cost-effective ways.– Growth marketing is a holistic approach to driving sustainable and scalable growth by combining traditional marketing techniques with data-driven strategies and customer-centricity.
Primary Focus– Concentrates on quick, unconventional, and innovative methods to acquire and retain customers. – Emphasizes short-term, high-impact tactics.– Prioritizes long-term, sustainable growth through a combination of traditional marketing and data-driven strategies. – Focuses on creating and delivering value to customers.
Approach– Involves continuous experimentation and testing of ideas, channels, and campaigns to identify what works best. – Often relies on A/B testing and data analytics.– Utilizes a more structured and data-driven approach, integrating traditional marketing channels (e.g., content marketing, SEO, social media) with advanced analytics.
Customer Acquisition– Growth hacking often seeks to acquire a large number of users or customers quickly, sometimes through viral marketing or referral programs.– Growth marketing aims to attract and retain high-quality, engaged customers who are likely to provide long-term value to the business.
Retention and Engagement– May prioritize acquisition over retention, leading to a potential churn issue in the long run.– Emphasizes customer retention and engagement strategies to build long-lasting relationships.
Metrics and Analytics– Focuses on specific metrics like viral coefficient, conversion rate, and customer acquisition cost (CAC). – Relies heavily on quantitative data and A/B testing.– Considers a broader range of metrics, including customer lifetime value (CLV), customer satisfaction, and Net Promoter Score (NPS). – Utilizes both quantitative and qualitative data for a comprehensive view.
Time Horizon– Often aims for quick wins and rapid growth within a short time frame.– Takes a more patient and long-term view of growth, focusing on sustainable and steady progress.
Channels and Tactics– May use unconventional channels and tactics such as guerrilla marketing, social media stunts, or referral programs.– Utilizes a mix of traditional marketing channels (e.g., content marketing, email marketing) and digital strategies (e.g., SEO, paid advertising).
Customer-Centricity– May prioritize growth at the expense of customer experience, leading to potential user dissatisfaction.– Puts the customer at the center of marketing efforts, aiming to provide value, build trust, and create positive customer experiences.
Examples– Dropbox’s referral program that offered extra storage for referring friends. – Airbnb’s Craigslist integration to reach a wider audience.– HubSpot’s inbound marketing strategy that provides valuable content to attract and engage prospects. – Amazon’s personalized recommendations based on user behavior.
Key Characteristics– Agility, creativity, and rapid experimentation. – Focused on early-stage startups and products. – High-risk, high-reward mindset.– Data-driven decision-making and a customer-centric approach. – Applicable to businesses of various sizes and industries. – Emphasis on sustainable and scalable growth.


Growth Hacking

Growth hacking is a process of rapid experimentation, coupled with understanding the whole funnel, where marketing, product, data analysis, and engineering work together to achieve rapid growth. The growth hacking process goes through four key stages analyzing, ideating, prioritizing, and testing. 

Marketing Strategy

A marketing strategy is the “what” and “how” to build a sustainable value chain framed for a target customer. A powerful marketing strategy needs to be able to manufacture desire, amplify the underlying value proposition, and build a brand that feels unique in the mind of its customers.
Customer segmentation is a marketing method that divides the customers into sub-groups, that share similar characteristics. Thus, product, marketing, and engineering teams can center the strategy from go-to-market to product development and communication around each sub-group. Customer segments can be broken down in several ways, such as demographics, geography, psychographics, and more.

Key Similarities between Growth Hacking and Growth Marketing:

  • Focus on Achieving Growth: Both growth hacking and growth marketing are focused on achieving rapid and significant growth for a company.
  • Customer-Centric Approach: Both strategies aim to understand and target the needs and preferences of the target customers to drive growth.
  • Data-Driven: Both growth hacking and growth marketing rely on data analysis and experimentation to identify effective strategies and tactics.
  • Cross-Functional Collaboration: Both approaches involve collaboration between different departments, such as marketing, product development, engineering, and data analysis, to achieve growth goals.

Key Differences between Growth Hacking and Growth Marketing:

  • Scope and Approach: Growth hacking is a subset of growth marketing and primarily focuses on achieving growth through creative and unconventional tactics, rapid experimentation, and optimization. Growth marketing, on the other hand, encompasses a broader set of marketing strategies and activities beyond just rapid experimentation.
  • Rapid Experimentation: Growth hacking is characterized by its emphasis on rapid experimentation and quick implementation of tactics to test their effectiveness. Growth marketing may also use experimentation, but it may not be the sole or primary focus.
  • Focus on Product and Engineering: Growth hacking places a strong emphasis on leveraging product development and engineering to drive growth, such as through product optimization, user experience improvements, and feature enhancements. Growth marketing may involve product considerations but might not prioritize engineering-related tactics to the same extent.
  • Integration with Marketing Strategy: Growth hacking can be seen as a tactical component of a broader growth marketing strategy. While growth hacking focuses on quick wins and short-term growth, growth marketing involves a more comprehensive and long-term approach to sustainable growth.

Use in Achieving Growth:

  • Growth Hacking: Growth hacking involves a rapid and iterative process of experimentation with a focus on quick wins and short-term growth. It often includes tactics such as referral programs, viral marketing, A/B testing, and user acquisition hacks.
  • Growth Marketing: Growth marketing encompasses a wide range of marketing strategies and activities aimed at achieving sustainable growth. It includes elements like branding, content marketing, customer retention, customer engagement, and customer lifecycle management.

Examples of Growth Hacking vs. Growth Marketing in Different Contexts:

  • E-commerce Platform: Growth Hacking:
    • Implementing a referral program where both the referrer and referee get discounts on their next purchase.Quick A/B tests on checkout buttons to see which color or text converts more users.Pop-up messages offering limited-time discounts to users who are about to leave the website.
    Growth Marketing:
    • Developing a content marketing strategy that includes regular blog posts, how-to guides, and videos related to the products sold.
    • Partnering with influencers to showcase products and build brand trust.
    • Launching a loyalty program that encourages repeat purchases and builds long-term customer relationships.
  • Mobile App Startup: Growth Hacking:
    • Offering in-app rewards for users who share the app on social media or invite friends.Implementing gamified elements to increase user engagement and retention.Running limited-time promotions to encourage in-app purchases.
    Growth Marketing:
    • Regularly publishing user testimonials and case studies to build credibility.
    • Engaging in community management, answering user queries, and gathering feedback for continuous product improvement.
    • Implementing email marketing campaigns to re-engage inactive users.
  • Online Education Platform: Growth Hacking:
    • Offering the first course for free to attract new users.Implementing social sharing features that allow users to showcase their certificates on platforms like LinkedIn.Rapidly launching new courses based on trending topics to attract users.
    Growth Marketing:
    • Establishing partnerships with educational institutions or corporations for bulk course purchases.
    • Offering mentorship or tutoring programs as added value for users.
    • Running webinars or workshops related to course topics to engage and educate potential users.
  • Digital News Portal: Growth Hacking:
    • Implementing a “read later” feature that requires users to sign up.Offering exclusive content or early access to subscribers.Running flash polls or quizzes that can be shared on social media, driving more traffic.
    Growth Marketing:
    • Collaborating with guest writers or influential figures in the news industry to reach a wider audience.
    • Offering premium subscription models with added benefits like ad-free browsing.
    • Engaging in consistent community management, addressing user feedback, and tailoring content based on user preferences.
  • Fitness and Health Brand: Growth Hacking:
    • Offering a free trial or sample of a product.Creating a challenge (like a “30-day fitness challenge”) that encourages users to share their progress and tag the brand.Quick collaborations with micro-influencers for product giveaways.
    Growth Marketing:
    • Launching a comprehensive content strategy, including blog posts about health, fitness routines, and nutritional advice.
    • Organizing offline events or workshops to build community and trust.
    • Collaborating with well-known fitness experts for product endorsements or content creation.

Key Takeaways:

  • Growth hacking is a subset of growth marketing and is characterized by rapid experimentation, data analysis, and unconventional tactics to achieve quick and significant growth.
  • Growth marketing, on the other hand, involves a broader and more comprehensive approach to achieving sustainable growth through various marketing strategies and activities.
  • Both approaches aim to drive growth but differ in their scope, focus, and long-term objectives.
ContextGrowth Hacking ExampleGrowth Marketing Example
E-commerceAn online retailer encourages customers to share their recent purchases on social media in exchange for discounts, creating viral buzz and driving immediate sales.An established e-commerce platform invests in SEO optimization, content marketing, and email campaigns to increase organic traffic and enhance customer loyalty over time.
Mobile AppsA new fitness app offers users rewards for hitting daily step goals and challenges them to invite friends to join, rapidly expanding its user base through gamification and referrals.A well-known meditation app maintains a blog with in-depth meditation guides, attracting organic traffic and establishing itself as a thought leader in the wellness space.
Tech StartupsA tech startup uses a waitlist model for its product launch, creating exclusivity and anticipation among early adopters who refer friends to move up the list.A mature tech company invests in building brand awareness through targeted advertising, sponsorships, and participation in industry events to expand its customer base.
SaaS CompaniesA software-as-a-service (SaaS) company offers a limited-time, heavily discounted subscription plan to early users, creating a sense of urgency and driving quick sign-ups.An established SaaS provider develops comprehensive user onboarding resources, including tutorials, webinars, and customer support, to improve user retention and satisfaction.
Content PlatformsA new content-sharing platform incentivizes users to share content across multiple social media platforms, increasing user-generated content and platform visibility.A content marketing agency consistently produces high-quality blog articles, infographics, and videos to establish authority in its niche and attract organic traffic.
Subscription ServicesA subscription box service offers a referral program that rewards subscribers for referring friends, leading to rapid subscriber growth through word-of-mouth marketing.A streaming service focuses on producing original content, securing exclusive licensing deals, and optimizing its user interface to provide a compelling and long-term entertainment experience.
Hospitality IndustryA boutique hotel offers guests significant discounts for booking directly through their website, encouraging repeat bookings and direct customer relationships.A well-known hotel chain invests in loyalty programs, personalization, and online reputation management to enhance the guest experience and foster customer loyalty over time.
B2B SoftwareA B2B software provider creates a viral marketing campaign around a free tool, attracting businesses that later convert to paying customers for the full suite of services.A leading enterprise software company employs account-based marketing (ABM) to nurture and build relationships with key decision-makers in target businesses, focusing on long-term partnerships.
Retail IndustryA fashion retailer launches flash sales and limited-time offers, driving immediate foot traffic and online sales through the fear of missing out (FOMO).A well-established retail chain uses a combination of online and offline advertising, in-store experiences, and customer loyalty programs to build brand trust and customer retention.
Healthcare StartupsA telemedicine startup gains initial traction by offering free virtual health consultations for a limited time, attracting a large user base and monetizing through upselling premium services.A healthcare provider focuses on building a strong online presence through informative health content, patient reviews, and online appointment booking to establish credibility and attract patients over time.

Read Next: Growth Hacking, Marketing Strategy.

Related Strategy Concepts: Go-To-Market StrategyMarketing StrategyBusiness ModelsTech Business ModelsJobs-To-Be DoneDesign ThinkingLean Startup CanvasValue ChainValue Proposition CanvasBalanced Scorecard, Business Model CanvasSWOT Analysis.

More Strategy Tools: Porter’s Five ForcesPESTEL AnalysisSWOTPorter’s Diamond ModelAnsoffTechnology Adoption CurveTOWSSOARBalanced ScorecardOKRAgile MethodologyValue PropositionVTDF Framework.

Related Growth Concepts

Business Development

Business development comprises a set of strategies and actions to grow a business via a mixture of sales, marketing, and distribution. While marketing usually relies on automation to reach a wider audience, and sales typically leverage a one-to-one approach. The business development’s role is that of generating distribution.

Market Development

Market development is a growth-centric strategy that businesses use to identify or develop new market segments for existing products. Companies utilize the market development strategy to discover new potential buyers of their products or services.

Growth Engineering

Growth engineering is a systematic, technical approach to the improvement of conversion and the user experience. Combined with business engineering it helps business people build valuable companies from scratch.

Growth Hacking

Growth marketing is a process of rapid experimentation, which in a way has to be “scientific” by keeping in mind that it is used by startups to grow, quickly. Thus, the “scientific” here is not meant in the academic sense. Growth marketing is expected to unlock growth, quickly and with an often limited budget.

Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset

fixed mindset believes their intelligence and talents are fixed traits that cannot be developed. The two mindsets were developed by American psychologist Carol Dweck while studying human motivation. Both mindsets are comprised of conscious and subconscious thought patterns established at a very young age. In adult life, they have profound implications for personal and professional success. Individuals with a growth mindset devote more time and effort to achieving difficult goals and by extension, are less concerned with the opinions or abilities of others. Individuals with a fixed mindset are sensitive to criticism and may be preoccupied with proving their talents to others.

Sales vs. Marketing

The more you move from consumers to enterprise clients, the more you’ll need a sales force able to manage complex sales. As a rule of thumb, a more expensive product, in B2B or Enterprise, will require an organizational structure around sales. An inexpensive product to be offered to consumers will leverage on marketing.

STP Marketing

STP marketing simplifies the market segmentation process and is one of the most commonly used approaches in modern marketing. The core focus of STP marketing is commercial effectiveness. Marketers use the approach to select the most valuable segments from a target audience and develop a product positioning strategy and marketing mix for each.

Sales Funnels vs. Flywheels

The sales funnel is a model used in marketing to represent an ideal, potential journey that potential customers go through before becoming actual customers. As a representation, it is also often an approximation, that helps marketing and sales teams structure their processes at scale, thus building repeatable sales and marketing tactics to convert customers.

Pirate Metrics

Venture capitalist, Dave McClure, coined the acronym AARRR which is a simplified model that enables to understand what metrics and channels to look at, at each stage for the users’ path toward becoming customers and referrers of a brand.


The general concept of Bootstrapping connects to “a self-starting process that is supposed to proceed without external input.” In business, Bootstrapping means financing the growth of the company from the available cash flows produced by a viable business model. Bootstrapping requires the mastery of the key customers driving growth.

Sales Cycle

A sales cycle is the process that your company takes to sell your services and products. In simple words, it’s a series of steps that your sales reps need to go through with prospects that lead up to a closed sale.


Distribution represents the set of tactics, deals, and strategies that enable a company to make a product and service easily reachable and reached by its potential customers. It also serves as the bridge between product and marketing to create a controlled journey of how potential customers perceive a product before buying it.

Zero to One

Zero to One is a book by Peter Thiel. But it also represents a business mindset, more typical of tech, where building something wholly new is the default mode, rather than building something incrementally better. The core premise of Zero to One then is that it’s much more valuable to create a whole new market/product rather than starting from existing markets.

Digital Marketing Channels

A digital channel is a marketing channel, part of a distribution strategy, helping an organization to reach its potential customers via electronic means. There are several digital marketing channels, usually divided into organic and paid channels. Some organic channels are SEO, SMO, email marketing. And some paid channels comprise SEM, SMM, and display advertising.


RevOps – short for Revenue Operations – is a framework that aims to maximize the revenue potential of an organization. RevOps seeks to align these departments by giving them access to the same data and tools. With shared information, each then understands their role in the sales funnel and can work collaboratively to increase revenue.

Logrolling Negotiation

In a logrolling negotiation, one party offers a concession on one issue to gain ground on another issue. In logrolling, there is no desire by either party to advertise the extent of their power, rights, or entitlements. This makes it a particularly effective strategy in complex negotiations where partial or complete impasses exist.

Win-Win Negotiation

Win-win negotiations first rose to prominence during the 1980s, thanks in part to books like Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton’s bestseller Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. Having said that, there was also a shifting mindset at the time as negotiators saw win-win negotiations as preferable to the then-dominant win-lose approach. A win-win negotiation is a negotiation outcome resulting in a mutually acceptable and beneficial deal for all involved parties.


In negotiation theory, BATNA stands for “Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement,” and it’s one of the key tenets of negotiation theory. Indeed, it describes the best course of action a party can take if negotiations fail to reach an agreement. This simple strategy can help improve the negotiation as each party is (in theory) willing to take the best course of action, as otherwise, an agreement won’t be reached.


In negotiation, WATNA stands for “worst alternative to a negotiated agreement,” representing one of several alternative options if a resolution cannot be reached. This is a useful technique to help understand what might be a negotiation outcome, that even if negative is still better than a WATNA, making the deal still feasible.


The ZOPA (zone of possible agreement) describes an area in which two negotiation parties may find common ground. Indeed, ZOPA is critical to explore the deals where the parties get a mutually beneficial outcome to prevent the risk of a win-lose, or lose-win scenario. And therefore get to the point of a win-win negotiation outcome.

Revenue Modeling

Revenue modeling is a process of incorporating a sustainable financial model for revenue generation within a business model design. Revenue modeling can help to understand what options make more sense in creating a digital business from scratch; alternatively, it can help in analyzing existing digital businesses and reverse engineer them.

Customer Experience Map

Customer experience maps are visual representations of every encounter a customer has with a brand. On a customer experience map, interactions called touchpoints visually denote each interaction that a business has with its consumers. Typically, these include every interaction from the first contact to marketing, branding, sales, and customer support.

AIDA Model

AIDA stands for attention, interest, desire, and action. That is a model that is used in marketing to describe the potential journey a customer might go through before purchasing a product or service. The AIDA model helps organizations focus their efforts when optimizing their marketing activities based on the customers’ journeys.

Social Selling

Social selling is a process of developing trust, rapport, and a relationship with a prospect to enhance the sales cycle. It usually happens through tech platforms (like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and more), which enable salespeople to engage with potential prospects before closing the sale, thus becoming more effective.

CHAMP Methodology

The CHAMP methodology is an iteration of the BANT sales process for modern B2B applications. While budget, authority, need, and timing are important aspects of qualifying sales leads, the CHAMP methodology was developed after sales reps questioned the order in which the BANT process is followed.

BANT Sales Process

The BANT process was conceived at IBM in the 1950s as a way to quickly identify prospects most likely to make a purchase. Despite its introduction around 70 years ago, the BANT process remains relevant today and was formally adopted into IBM’s Business Agility Solution Identification Guide.

MEDDIC Sales Process

The MEDDIC sales process was developed in 1996 by Dick Dunkel at software company Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC). The MEDDIC sales process is a framework used by B2B sales teams to foster predictable and efficient growth.

Virtuous Cycles

The virtuous cycle is a positive loop or a set of positive loops that trigger a non-linear growth. Indeed, in the context of digital platforms, virtuous cycles – also defined as flywheel models – help companies capture more market shares by accelerating growth. The classic example is Amazon’s lower prices driving more consumers, driving more sellers, thus improving variety and convenience, thus accelerating growth.

Sales Storytelling

Business storytelling is a critical part of developing a business model. Indeed, the way you frame the story of your organization will influence its brand in the long-term. That’s because your brand story is tied to your brand identity, and it enables people to identify with a company.

Enterprise Sales

Enterprise sales describes the procurement of large contracts that tend to be characterized by multiple decision-makers, complicated implementation, higher risk levels, or longer sales cycles.

Outside Sales

Outside sales occur when a salesperson meets with prospects or customers in the field. This sort of sales function is critical to acquire larger accounts, like enterprise customers, for which the acquisition process is usually longer, more complex and it requires the understanding of the target organization. Thus the outside sales will cut through the noise to acquire a large enterprise account for the organization.


A freeterprise is a combination of free and enterprise where free professional accounts are driven into the funnel through the free product. As the opportunity is identified the company assigns the free account to a salesperson within the organization (inside sales or fields sales) to convert that into a B2B/enterprise account.

Palantir Acquire, Expand, Scale Framework

Palantir is a software company offering intelligence services from governments and institutions to large commercial organizations. The company’s two main platforms Gotham and Foundry, are integrated at enterprise-level. Its business model follows three phases: Acquire, Expand, and Scale. The company bears the pilot costs in the acquire and expand phases, and it runs at a loss. Where in the scale phase, the customers’ contribution margins become positive.

Consultative Selling

Consultative selling is a sales approach favoring relationship building and open dialogue to adequately meet the needs of a prospective customer. By building trust quickly a consultative selling approach can help the customer better meet her/his expectations and the salesperson hit her/his targets more effectively.

Unique Selling Proposition

A unique selling proposition (USP) enables a business to differentiate itself from its competitors. Importantly, a USP enables a business to stand for something that they, in turn, become known among consumers. A strong and recognizable USP is crucial to operating successfully in competitive markets.

Read: product development frameworks here.

Read Next: SWOT AnalysisPersonal SWOT AnalysisTOWS MatrixPESTEL AnalysisPorter’s Five ForcesTOWS MatrixSOAR Analysis.

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