Growth Marketing and Growth Hacking – Similarities and Differences

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Growth marketing and growth hacking are two terms that are often used interchangeably in the digital marketing world. But what do they mean and how are they different? In this article, we will explore the definitions, strategies, examples and tools of growth marketing and growth hacking, and highlight their similarities and differences.

What is growth marketing?

Growth marketing is a type of marketing optimization that goes beyond marketing a product and instead helps businesses grow by enabling customer loyalty. It is a long-term marketing goal and focuses its efforts on the consumer, specifically by reaching new customers, retaining current customers and finding ways for these customers to help you grow the business³.

Growth marketing is a holistic and data-driven approach to marketing. It focuses on the entire funnel (rather than just the top of the funnel) and applies the scientific method —formulating hypotheses, testing these hypotheses, then refining or eliminating them².

Growth marketers spend an incredible amount of time understanding their buyers and customers, whether in formal customer interviews or listening in on dozens of sales calls each month. This enables them to develop powerful insights on where big pain points are and where they go for solutions¹.

Some examples of growth marketing strategies are:

– Creating referral programs that incentivize existing customers to invite their friends and family to use your product or service.
– Implementing email marketing campaigns that nurture leads, increase conversions and encourage repeat purchases.
– Optimizing landing pages and website design to improve user experience and reduce bounce rates.
– Leveraging social media platforms to engage with your audience, share valuable content and drive traffic to your website.
– Conducting A/B testing and experiments to find out what works best for your target market.

What is growth hacking?

Growth hacking is a subfield of marketing focused on the rapid growth of a company. It is referred to as both a process and a set of cross-disciplinary (digital) skills⁶. It started in relation to early-stage startups that need massive growth in a short time on small budgets, but also reached bigger corporate companies.

The goal of growth hacking strategies is generally to acquire as many users or customers as possible while spending as little as possible⁵. Growth hackers are a hybrid of marketer and coder, one who looks at the traditional question of ‘How do I get customers for my product?’ and answers with A/B tests, landing pages, viral factor, email deliverability, and Open Graph²⁴.

A growth hacking team is made up of marketers, developers, engineers and product managers that specifically focus on building and engaging the user base of a business. Growth hacking is not just a process for marketers. It can be applied to product development and to the continuous improvement of products as well as to growing an existing customer base⁶.

Some examples of growth hacking strategies are:

– Integrating your product or service with other popular platforms or websites that have a large user base, such as Airbnb’s integration with Craigslist²⁴.
– Creating viral loops that encourage users to share your product or service with others, such as Dropbox’s referral program that gave away storage space for each new referral².
– Using gamification techniques that reward users for completing certain actions or reaching certain milestones, such as Duolingo’s streaks and badges.
– Leveraging influencers or celebrities to endorse or promote your product or service, such as Uber’s partnership with Lady Gaga that offered free rides to her concert⁷.
– Launching creative campaigns that generate buzz and word-of-mouth, such as Spotify’s Wrapped feature that showcases users’ listening habits at the end of each year.

Similarities and differences

Growth marketing and growth hacking have some similarities, such as:

– They both aim to achieve business growth by acquiring and retaining customers.
– They both rely on data and analytics to measure results and optimize performance.
– They both require creativity and innovation to find new ways to reach and engage with potential customers.

However, they also have some differences, such as:

– Growth marketing is more focused on long-term goals and customer loyalty, while growth hacking is more focused on short-term goals and customer acquisition.
– Growth marketing is more holistic and covers the entire funnel, while growth hacking is more specific and targets certain stages of the funnel.
– Growth marketing is more strategic and systematic, while growth hacking is more experimental and opportunistic.


Growth marketing and growth hacking are two related but distinct approaches to marketing that can help businesses grow their customer base. Depending on your business goals, budget, resources and industry, you may choose one or the other, or combine elements of both. The key is to always test, learn and iterate based on data and feedback.

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