Product, Growth, and Marketing Strategy
photo and rights are by Blue Shift
A couple of months ago, I saw a tweet from a marketing colleague that said, "What even is growth marketing?"
If you're in the marketing space, you'll probably know that a ton of growth marketers come out of the woodwork and a ton of things to say. Some were very precise and hit all aspects of the growth marketing role, but others misinterpreted it a bit and said it was more inter-related to 'growth hacking,' SEO, and the like.
But, it isn't any of those things. I like to think of growth marketing as the brother to product marketing. Growth marketing moves people down the funnel, whereas product marketing is a more educational and use case for potential customers. But, they have to work hand-in-hand for it to be a successful marketing strategy.
I like to approach growth marketing by directly intertwining it with different stages of the purchase journey and creating product collateral to help educate the buyer to move down the funnel.
For example, at my most recent consulting position, I focused on creating content that focused on a few different business elements. This was mainly the product marketing aspect of the role, but a lot of product marketing material can also be used for growth marketing.
Product Marketing as a strategy
One, I focused on their different "buyers" they were looking to target. I wanted to focus on how we can pose their product as a solution to their pain points. After listening to roughly a Gong call a day, talking with the customer success team and the co-founders, I realized a few things that mattered to specific buyers. They weren't getting that with their current marketing strategy (or non-existent one). This then focused on creating top-of-the-funnel content that focused on educating and becoming a thought leader on the subject.
The second element I focused on was their purchase journey to see where we could fill in the gaps that potential buyers could use. Their process is pretty typical for B2B SaaS products, but there were a ton dropping off. That was until I researched the marketing and content collateral they utilized in the sales process. Their sales enablement material didn't touch on nor synthesize the pain points their extensive enterprise clients focused on. From that point of view, I was able to help create sales one-pagers that they can utilize in between demos and pilots to help close the deal a bit faster. If you think of it from a COO, CEO, or department head perspective, those potential stakeholders don't have a ton of time to really read through large pieces of content: they want you to lead the way for them and give them data, stats, and something easy to grasp. When you're creating collateral like that, I found that it's better to keep it short and sweet, rather than long and lengthy in the sales process. Those people already understand what they need; they want to know how you provide it.
The third element I focused on is how we could re-market and use this material for growth marketing. For example, we used some of these materials for paid ads (social + Google ads). We utilized both top-of-the-funnel, consideration, and acquisition types of content for these ads to A/B test the best result for getting demos. I realized that different industries call for different types of content for growth marketing.
Side note: For example, those buyers know what they want; they need results and understand how to use this software. I think in different industries, they probably require more top-of-the-funnel content that highlights themselves as thought leaders.
As I was saying, different stages of the buyer's journey call for different types of content. Not only was I learning this from listening to Gong calls and getting an understanding of the customer, but I was learning that from keyword research. In my keyword research, there were a lot more low-hanging-fruit keywords that were getting better traffic (more relevant leads) and were the majority for that specific software. That can only mean that the people in that industry are relatively smarter and faster at understanding their needs, and it's probably better to give them what they need to decide than inform them.
Over time, I've learned that growth marketing is a genius subset of all the work we put into marketing collateral to show it, just specializing in different stages of the purchase journey.
Now, the hard part: ads
The other part of this conversation is how to create ads after creating content that focuses on different aspects of the purchase journey.
What I found after A/B testing different ads, the industry, the buyer's experience, and how vast the content experience is out there on the Internet is that the best ads out there are very good at illustrating how the(ir) product solves your specific problems.
I noticed in research and from my own experience that percentages, usage of adjectives, and colors affected how buyers booked a demo. For example, we used the same three ads on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Ads with some differences. We noticed, the ads that use percentages had the color 'blue' and used case studies as the ad resonated with our buyers more than the ads that had dark colors, top-of-the-funnel messaging, and the main product page as the landing page.
What I gathered from this is what I've said before: sometimes, your buyer has specific needs, specific tastes, and specific problems they need help solving. A case study is a great way to move someone down the funnel because they see a direct change for a business like theirs, and it most likely touches on problems they were also having.
For instance, I love these ads from Semrush lately.
They bring you down the purchase journey into a case study about a particular niche subject that affects their customer base. They essentially say that they are the tool to use if you ever have to deal with this specific SEO problem - Google penalties. Their case study landing page is straightforward and only has one CTA. I don't know the exact ROI on this, but if it re-targeted me 6 or 7 times and it was due to things I was searching in congruence to this, they found the right customer who was researching the subject.
When I read the congruent case study, it helped me get concrete ways to utilize the product for my specific need and informed me more on the information I was finding as I was researching this subject. If I were a buyer that just came across Semrush, I'd probably propose it to the SEO manager as a tool we should invest in so we can get the job done much faster.
For reference, here's the landing page if you'd like to read through it.
My point is that they found a specific pain and illustrated how their product is a solution for this pain. They're probably also getting higher quality leads turning over to paid customers (if you don't already know - Semrush is a freemium model).
So, growth marketing is not SEO. Growth marketing is not growth hacking. But growth marketing is a direct way B2B SaaS products can move people down the funnel in congruence with product marketing teams.