Growth Hacking and Digital Marketing: what is the difference?

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  • March 23, 2016
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Growth Hacking and Digital Marketing: what is the difference? Discover how Marketing can make your Company grow, even at 0 budget!

This article originally appeared in Italian on MD – Marketing Digitale Blog.

Growth Hacking and Digital Marketing are not the same thing. Both trending, both innovative concepts. Yet different. Not only because the former is younger (appeared only in 2013) while the other is more mature.

Google Trends

Source: Google Trends

There are other differences, that can be explained by understanding what these two activities are referring to.

The common question is indeed: “What do they exactly make?

It appears that the same mistrust about Social Media Managers being both professionals and useful professionals, it is now poured on so-called experts of “Digital Marketing”.

Digital is the new black” 😉 Meaning that it’s cool to be digital, first of all!

Digital Business is changing the game, and this is epochal. It therefore cannot (and should not) be underestimated by any Marketing Department, from that of SMEs to that of Multinational Companies. In this game, Growth Hacking can be defined as the transition point between Traditional Marketing and Digital Marketing.

It is useful to remember, to better explain what Growth Hacking means, the difference between outbound and inbound marketing: the first concerns all actions made to attract new customers, mainly in the traditional channels such as TV, radio, print, road signs, etc.; while the second relates to all the actions that help brand/product to be found by customers, as the right brand/product at the right time to the right person. The inbound marketing actions are all those that relate to SEO, SEM, blogging, content marketing, social media and so on.

Do not confuse Digital actions with Growth Hacking by any means, because even digital actions such as e-mail marketing for example, albeit made for digital channels, serve to attract users exactly how outbound marketing ones.

We can say that Growth Hacking lies somewhere in between Marketing and Technical knowledge.

The Growth Hacker is a Digital Marketing Manager experienced at technical level too, able to use new technologies for growth to ensure that the product/service can be easily found in digital channels, even with smaller budgets.

He knows how to work on Web pages to ensure that the user flow follows a certain path; he knows how to ask the right message at the right moment, and how to respond in a personalized way to not expressed needs that user may have at that moment. It’s an ambivalent figure: an expert of development and a marketing professional, able to customize and leverage digital technologies to enhance the product/service on the market and beat competition.

Recent studies show that the ROI deriving from inbound marketing is clearly beating the one generated from outbound.

This fact should prompt Managers, who had great success with outbound also thanks to availability of substantial budget, to understand that the market is changing rapidly and that the consumers have turned out very different. In particular, it should get them to understand that you can no longer just rely on budget, because that is not as efficient or effective as it was before.

A Guy Kawasaki sentence sums it all up:

If you have more money than brains, you should focus on outbound marketing. If you have more money than brains, you should focus on inbound marketing.

And this is especially true in start-up context, where resources are limited with no budget to be allocated on marketing activities, and energies are focused on product and growth first of all. If a Company can consider an annual 5% growth as a good result, a start-up has to grow by 200% in the first year if it wants to be successful on the market.

In the next article we will analyze some data to understand what evidence and results the Growth Hacking strategy has brought. We will see that the results in some cases are amazing, and it’s really exciting to have a demonstration that is possible to create Added Value by being creative, having new ideas, improving communication, transparency and listening to customers or prospects, rather than just using economic resources.

That is a Shared Value, not only to brand but also to users themselves, being more and more aware of Marketing and of their own consumer experience.

If you did not know what was the Growth Hacking, we didn’t know either! And we must say that we were delighted to find it out, especially because it has finally defined the type of Creative Marketing (driven more by ideas than budget) that we like the most. This is the reference guide.

Did you already heard about it or are you already using it in your marketing strategy? Write it in the comments! We’d love to hear about your experience.

Thank you!