Growth Marketing

Marketing framework for maximising acquisition and growth using clearly measurable initiatives. Growth marketing can be a within enterprise marketing as well. | Business Stage: Virality.

Growth Marketing Mental Models

Two aspects

  1. Make prospective users aware of your product and acquire them via multiple channels.

  2. Convert users inside your funnel into paying customers.

Magic Wand

Here is a magic wand to instantly transform you into a growth wizard:

  • There is no overnight virality, success. You stay disciplined with the process

    under pressure ("where are the leads? marketing is not working!").

  • Select the right channels in the beginning and later at every stage while balancing the expectations about growth rate, financial viability and other constraints that you operate in (including your own lack of expertise a channel).

  • Optimize marketing efforts and experiment big things* at every stage - acquisition, conversion, retention, and referral. [ * I am not really sure if testing the color of a button with 1000 variations is good idea for every business out there 🤷‍♂️ ].

  • Logical, and critical thinking is far more important than being a data wizard or being an expert in every channel. I say this from my experience of working with founders who slogged for years without much funding, focused on basics and ultimately created and sold something valuable.

😁 Cool?

Gradual build up

  1. Start at the bottom of the funnel: When the product is new, find success with few channels which offer high control on measuring effectiveness in acquiring leads at the bottom of the funnel - potential customers ready to buy with a sense of urgency. Channels could be primarily paid advertisements aka Google Ads. The focus in on immediate sale, assurance with immediate benefit and social proof.

  2. Move to the middle of the funnel: It will become difficult to sustain the high CAC (customer acquisition cost) that comes with bottom of the funnel channels. At this stage, focus on educating the potential customers via SEO and content marketing.

  3. Then move up to the top of the funnel: Focus on creating awareness with a large customer base which you would not have contacted when the product was new - they are difficult to reach, convince, difficult to reach (in terms of channels). Here, broad awareness channels such as brand advertisements can be looked into.

Contrary to the above mentioned mental model, I have seen success where in non-paid channels were used - emails and seminars - to acquire users. It was a two way platform - an online community. So, I am still debating this! 🤔

Growth Loops

Prompt and trigger users to repeat key actions at all possible opportunities in the funnel / stages - to get a new users / customer or purchase again from you.

Here is the Pinterest's growth loop: Users create boards, pinning and repinning the best content > Engineers aggregate the “best-of-the-best” content to create new boards > Google surfaces those (of course because of SEO done) > New users discover these boards and sign up for Pinterest > Loops back into step 1.

Refer to reference articles explaining examples of growth loop under 'Good Stuff'.

Content growth loops.

I had referred to the below article to come up with recommendations on SEO and content loop strategies for my client CohortPlus which got acquired by Upgrad.

Growth Hacks

A large body of books and articles already exists with a list of great hacks; refer to those. (Tip: repeatedly you will come across the famous DropBox and AirBnB hacks. Growth experts have beaten them to death by quoting them over and over 😄 ). No growth hacks listed here.

Instead, let me pose a question here: Once a coder from my team did some hack - he got the email IDs of all the customers who have given positive feedback in the ticketing software. These customers were then reached out via emails asking them to review the product positively on G2 and Capterra and were given some monetory rewards. Can this be called a "growth hack". If yes, under what circumstance? If not, why not? Hint: answer is straight forward :-)

Keep looking for that one smart hack which will give your product a sudden boost. Yet, process is more important than hacks. No, really! It is true everywhere.


Step 1: Set up foundations.

Customers, Product, Competitors

  • Define the target personas.

  • Write down the value proposition.

  • Dissect the competitors.

  • Carry out keyword research.

Channels, Targets, Budget

  • Do your math for Revenue, MQLs, CAC, foreseeable LTA.

  • Determine initial set of channels with focus on bottom of the funnel.

Website, Onboarding, Tracking

  • Prep up your website, app store listing with sales copy.

  • Determine your onboarding flow and set it right.

  • Set up data tracking and reports.

[assuming you are starting with a paid ad channel]

Step 2: Prepare for acquisition.

  • Revisit researched keywords.

  • Prepare landing pages / optimize existing ones.

  • Design ad creatives.

  • Set up ad channels - Google Ads, Facebook Ads.

  • Take actions to be ready for other chosen channels.

Step 3: Fire up your acquisition channel.

  • Start paid ad campaigns on any one channel.

  • Prepare for activating other chosen acquisition channels.

  • Keep monitoring performance on the first channel. Make changes.

  • Activate other channels as per your bandwidth.

Step 4: Track conversion and ramping up.

  • Analyze ad performance - before and after.

  • Compare channel performance if you had fired up more than one.

  • Optimize your entire ad sets, individual ads on each of the channels.

  • Revisit the budget.

  • Continue maximising what's working.

  • Consider adding another channel if you have maxed out (see 'gradual build up' above).

More on These Steps


Target Audience, Customer Personas, Ideal Customer Profile? 🤷‍♂️

Your ideal customer is someone who fits the product-market fit:

  • they have a problem which your product can solve.

  • they are unhappy about their current tools and are motivated to switchover.

  • they are capable of and are willing to pay for your type of product.

  • they are within your means and channels to reach out to.

  • most importantly they are likely to convert.

Your customer persona or profile is how you bring them to life by writing about them:

  • You know their objections, pain points, triggers.

  • Your sales copy reflects these and you are more likely to convert them.

  • A customer reading it says "yeah, that's me" or "yeah, I know someone who fits that description".

Your target audience is what you want to target on an ad platform or using a channel.

  • Facebook audience and targeting.

  • Database that you create to send your email marketing campaign.

Value Proposition

Define how your product solves the problem of your customers.

I once had prepared an exhaustive list of ideal customers across job-functions within target sectors, problems they face, and sales copies for an outbound email campaign for each one of those. It worked. We got leads. However, I could have done much better had I considered one missing piece - 'moments of pain with they are using now'.- Shantanu.

Follow this structure:

Here is an example of a HRTech SaaS application targetted at rewards and compensation managers within HR. Click on following tabs from left to right to see an example:

Too cumbersome to launch reward programs using Excel.

I have written just one value prop as an example. Include multiple for your product.

Also refer to 'value proposition canvas' section in this playbook.


Tear-apart your competitors' websites and other communication. Make a live document out of it. Include following points in your marketing tear-downs:

  • What are their key solutions (value props) and benefits?

  • What are the headlines, sub-headings; what body copy do they use?

  • What is their onboarding flow?

  • Where do you lag or where do you stand a good chance to win?

In a SaaS product company that I consulted for, good amount of competitive product tear-downs were done. However marketing tear-down were never done. Hence those difference, even though captured in comparative blog posts (with SEO content in mind), never really contributed in defining the product's competitive positioning. Don't make this mistake. 😇

Also refer to 'the environment map' section in this playbook.

Channels - List

Categorising channels gets blurry if categorised as paid, earned, own, organic, inorganic, inbound, outbound, etc. I have categorised the channels (see titles in blue) as we intuitively understand it rather than use industry jargon. [Below chart is best viewed on a computer screen than on mobile].

Also, use of words - medium and channel - creates confusion.

Although email is a channel, it is also a medium to convey your webinar or boast about a mainstream media mention that you firm recently received. Hence look at medium at this way:

  • 1 : 1 outreach: Email, Mobile (chat, text), Direct mail, Online ads, Chatbots, etc.

  • 1 : many outreach: Events, PR, Mainstream media (print, tv, radio), Digital media portals, Independent media portals (blogs, individual owned paid newsletters), etc.

Channels - CAC

Choose your channels such that:

  • enough volume on that channel.

  • easy to target people basis behaviour and intent.

  • your budget can afford the channels' minimum CAC [ cost of acquiring a customer ]

Channels and their respective CACs :




Suitable For

Google Ads



All businesses

Google shopping ads



Consumer products

Ad networks



Mobile apps, eCommerce, SaaS.

Apple Search Ads



iOS apps

Instagram ads



All businesses

Facebook ads



All businesses

Quora ads




Pinterest ads



Consumer products targeting women.

Snapchat ads



B2C mobile apps, location-specific.

YouTube ads



Products related to movement - fitness.

LinkedIn ads



Recruiting, Higher Ed, B2B with an LTV over $1,500.

Content marketing, events, referrals and outbound are the most important marketing channels, followed by SEO/SEM, webinars, and press - in that order. [source - Redpoint Ventures, June 2020].

Refer to the 'Marketing Channels' section to know more about some of the channels..

Channels - Business Fit

Type of business

Suitable Channels

B2C mobile app

Use Instagram Ads, Apple Search Ads + Try Snapchat Ads, Mobile Ads, Referrals

B2C SaaS app

Use Facebook Ads, Content Marketing + Try Google Ads, Affiliate Programs

B2C, B2B products

Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, Yelp Ads, Content Marketing, PR. + Try Snapchat Ads, Google Ads, Google Display Ads and Affiliate Programs.

Vertical B2B SaaS - monthly ARPU $1K+

Use Outbound sales, Facebook Ads, Google Ads + Try Instagram Ads, Content Marketing | Monthly ARPU $25? Difficult.

Horizontal B2B SaaS - ARPU $100

Use Content Marketing, Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Instagram Ads. | Monthly ARPU $25? Use Content Marketing, Google Ads + Try Referral Programs.

[source: various sources; modified as per my experience; use your own judgement.]

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