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Three key takeaways for the future of growth marketing

Laura Colton
Laura Colton
Content Communications Specialist
8 min read
31 August 2022

Marketing strategies have shelf lives, and gone are the days when marketing can rely solely on the traditional marketing funnel. Consumer behavior has changed – they have rapidly become savvier, more informed, and more digitally connected than ever before. While a bottom-of-the-funnel focus may lead to quicker conversions, data has shown that this strategy is no longer sustainable in the long run, as the customer journey has shifted and become far less linear than it once was. As a result, brands need to adapt, evolve, and adopt a growth marketing mindset to navigate the changing landscape.

What is growth marketing, and why is it important

But of course, we must learn to walk before we can run. The first step toward practicing growth marketing and embracing a growth marketing mindset is learning and understanding what growth marketing is in the first place. When we refer to growth marketing, we are talking about a long-term holistic strategy that focuses on finding new ways to impact the entire funnel and seamlessly integrate brand (upper-funnel) and performance (mid-to-bottom funnel) marketing strategies. The goal of growth marketing is to improve brand perception and more effectively attract, retain, and engage consumers throughout the entire marketing funnel. Once you have an understanding of what growth marketing is, you can then begin to adopt a growth marketing mindset.

DEPT®’s 2022 Growth Marketing Report examines three specific areas of the growth marketing journey: envisioning (understanding and mindset), investing (budgetary spend), and operationalizing (putting into practice). We surveyed 400 marketing leaders across the United States in four distinct industries: retail, technology, healthcare, and financial services.

The goal of the assessment was to obtain a comprehensive understanding of how well marketers grasp the definition of growth marketing, to give brands a benchmark of how their growth marketing maturity compares to others, and to provide an in-depth breakdown of what these results mean for growth marketing maturity across the board. In the report, we answer questions like:

  • How well do the respondents understand the overall meaning of growth marketing?
  • Which digital marketing activities is a brand allocating their budget toward, and how are those prioritized in relation to the competition?
  • How well are brands implementing and executing their growth marketing practices?

This quick read will provide readers with a high-level overview of our three key takeaways from the report. For a more in-depth look at our findings – including specific industry breakdowns – download the full report here.

Key takeaway #1: Your growth marketing needs to be data-driven, not gut-driven

Gone are the days when marketers could rely solely on their gut instincts and intuition when making important decisions. Savvy marketers know that to keep pace with today’s fast-moving digital landscape, they must take advantage of the valuable data available to them to make the most informed decisions and drive the best results.

To take a more holistic approach, brands need to place a heavy emphasis on data management and activation. Data management and activation relate to how a marketing team is maximizing the full potential of their data by tracking, storing, and operationalizing it to make the right decisions. A brand needs to not only collect and segment their data, but they must also be able to successfully analyze it to improve their marketing strategy and tactics. When a brand can consistently utilize their data well, they ultimately enhance outcomes throughout the marketing funnel and create a better experience for their customers across the entire customer journey.

Our survey results revealed that while 73% (293 out of 400) of marketers are tracking data above average, there is still room for improvement for the 27% (109 out of 400) of marketers who scored average or below in this area.

Our solution: A growth marketer is data-driven, not gut-driven. It’s important to track and monitor KPIs (key performance indicators) in everything that you do and to make data a top priority. As the old adage goes, “You cannot manage what you cannot measure.” A brand must:

  • constantly collect insights to measure the overall health of the business and optimize the marketing strategy to drive company goals.
  • realize the importance of creating value and engagement at every step along the customer journey.
  • track, share, and utilize their data to better connect with their customers and anticipate their customer’s next move.
  • analyze data at different stages of the customer journey so that they can focus on specific areas that need to be improved to create a more personalized experience.
  • factor in every metric–from the return on investment of a specific campaign to customer churn rate and lifetime value–in addition to anything connected to the overall health of the company. Leverage all data to help build an informed approach to retain and target new customers.

Key takeaway #2: Have a well-balanced marketing investment strategy

To practice growth marketing, it’s important that brands make the right investments, but it’s also important to mention that there is no one-size-fits-all marketing approach. Each brand is different and requires its own unique adaptive strategy for sustainable long-term growth. Investing in the right mix of upper-, middle-, and lower-funnel tactics is a recipe for successfully attracting, retaining, engaging, and ultimately converting customers.

To understand how effectively brands are investing with a growth marketing mindset, we presented respondents with three growth drivers and 15 digital marketing activities across the entire funnel and asked which of these activities their company had allocated their budget towards. In the upper funnel, we found that 49% of marketers are relying too much on programmatic (display, video, audio, podcast, and native) to build brand awareness, while the rest (emerging media 31%, connected TV 29%, and out of home/digital out of home 22%) are either under-prioritized or deficient. In the mid-funnel, we found that 25-40% of respondents are investing in paid social, influencer, and affiliate marketing and that they are all being under-prioritized.

Our solution: If you want to be a growth marketer, brands must be careful not to over-prioritize one activity and neglect other potentially valuable tactics. The last thing that you want to do is inadvertently place a ceiling on your brand’s growth potential by failing to invest in the right areas. Rather than putting all of your eggs in one basket, be sure to have a well-balanced and diversified marketing investment strategy. Additionally, make sure you’re constantly testing to find out which areas work best for your unique brand. Once you determine what’s working and what’s not, optimize those areas and continue to test, experiment, grow, and evolve.

Key takeaway #3: Don’t let siloes become your Achilles’ Heel

Knowledge is power, and silos can play a big part in harming your brand and limiting your growth if left unchecked. A brand with a unified vision encourages more collaboration and information sharing, leading to better decision-making and more long-term goals being met. Here are a few ways in which brands may be working in silos:

  • Many brands work with various different agencies to execute projects or campaigns. This results in a lack of coordination at both the campaign and project level and can often lead to a disjointed brand experience for consumers.
  • Many marketers still rely on the traditional marketing funnel which encompasses a siloed structure, with brand and performance marketing separated from each other and not aligned in terms of goals, information, and priorities.
  • Many marketers are tracking limited and siloed metrics, which reduces their ability to make better strategic decisions.

The potential pitfalls of this include an uncoordinated strategy, misaligned priorities, and a lack of information and direction. When data is scattered and siloed across different teams and agencies, it becomes harder to track metrics, measure performance, and build a comprehensive view of customers.

Our solution: It’s crucial to invest in a strong culture of learning and collaboration where everyone on the team works together and is committed to growing their skills and finding ways to improve processes and workflow efficiency. It’s also beneficial to invest in data integration efforts, or a single agency with an aligned strategy across all channels in order to gain a unified view of customer insights and lifetime value. The bottom line is that when you remove department silos and collectively share data across teams, you can vastly improve your brand’s overall business performance.

Interested in taking a deeper dive into everything covered in this blog – and more? Download the 2022 Growth Marketing Report for strategies, statistics, and insights to help you kickstart your brand’s journey to new heights.

We also encourage you to take the same assessment this report is based on to benchmark your performance and see how you stack up against the competition.

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Content Communications Specialist

Laura Colton