Growth hackers…growth managers…growth marketers — startups these days are all about growth. But are these titles just different names for the same kind of job? And if you’re in the startup world, which type should you hire and why?
This article will help shine some light on one of the hottest and most lucrative jobs in the marketing field today, while taking a closer look at how to hire the right kind of person to propel your company forward. Let’s jump right in:
Growth Manager, Growth Hacker, Growth Marketer?
At their core, all of these types of jobs have a singular focus: growth — both of revenue and reach. According to Steven Walling, former Product Manager for Wikimedia, “growth” in this case is, “a shorthand term for the cycle of acquisition, activation, retention and reactivation of users or customers.”
Every company, particularly startups, attach a different meaning to these terms. But the overall concept is the same:
If you’re a growth manager, you balance your time between initiating and nurturing the growth of the company. The manager part of the title implies that you may also be responsible for a team.
“Growth hacking” is more of a mindset than a position. People who embrace this idea are not afraid to stretch boundaries and think outside the box to get results. They may be growth managers or growth marketers or basically anyone who has an experimental mind.
Growth marketer is more of a “catch all” phrase that refers to someone who dabbles in growth hacking, but may also leverage more traditional marketing methods as well to get the intended result.
What Does a Growth Manager Do?
Back in the early 2000s, simply having a business on the internet did a lot of the heavy lifting for you. Companies were growing at breakneck speed and having investor money thrown at them from every corner. Things were happening so fast that there was an avalanche of bad judgements, questionable decisions and weak foundations.
Even the big companies were not immune. Amazon invested in Pets.com, which is now widely considered to be one of the biggest dot com failures. Some companies shut their doors, others stumbled but managed to hang on. It was simply too much of a focus on growth for growth’s sake.
Enter the growth manager.
Rather than build companies that are fueled by hype and publicity, growth managers look at data and results. They find ways to rise — sometimes aggressively so, mostly because of the “hunt or be hunted” competition online. Rather than hope that the playing field is leveled, growth managers are out there with digital tractors, making it happen.
Some of today’s most well-known companies, including Uber, Dropbox and even Google are hungry for growth managers. So what exactly do they do?
In essence, growth managers set achievable company growth goals, then set about making them happen. This can be done by way of data collection tools (like Kissmetrics) to determine a baseline for what’s happening on your site. They reach out to customers, look at trends, and ask themselves “how can we build upon this?”
But it’s not enough to simply grow, nor do you want to hoard data to go through later. Growth managers use the data they’ve collected to create customer personas, improve revenues and minimize costs and expenditures where possible.
Finding these actionable gold nuggets is, in itself, a full-time job. Having a growth manager on hand to not only sift through the data, but also get other departments such as product development, sales and marketing to work together as a cohesive unit, is a smart choice that nearly every company, especially startups, can benefit from.
What to Look For When Hiring a Growth Manager
According to Ivan Kirigin, who was an early growth manager at Dropbox, understanding both the skills and the role your growth manager will play within your company is vital to getting the best possible results with one.
Kirigin explains that there are no “silver bullets” in the world of growth marketing, so zeroing in on the most important areas of focus will help your manager and team work together more effectively and efficiently.
He continues in elaborating that, off course, hiring someone who can understand not just the alphabet soup of online marketing – like SEO, PPC, PR and CRO, is important, but so too is realizing that one person cannot do everything.
He recommends finding someone with a core layer of skills, such as a background in statistics, UX or branding, along with other helpful skills like split testing, copywriting or funnel building. Then concentrate on their specific knowledge channels, like Facebook ads, social media, PR and so forth. Here’s a helpful chart showing the different layers of expertise for a growth manager’s career.
From a skill-set perspective, understanding the different types of customer acquisition channels – including paid and owned media as well as earned media (PR, word of mouth, organic SEO) are vital to the growth manager. Knowing how to understand, filter and work with data, including visualization tools, are a definite plus, as are having strategic thinking skills. There is no real “growth manager checklist” – but using these requirements as a baseline can help you find a growth manager who is flexible as well as data-driven.
How to Help Your Growth Manager Do Their Best
Of course, simply having a growth manager on your staff won’t make magic happen. You’ll need to have proper data infrastructure in place so that they can gather the right details and craft a plan of action. Being able to accurately analyze user behavior as well as prepare and understand experiments, are crucial to growth success.
In addition, your growth manager will likely work alongside and with other departments, ranging from design and sales to engineering and marketing. Once different growth initiatives are in place, the growth manager will go back and look at the results, then course-correct or tweak campaigns and funnels as necessary.
Realize that by bringing on a growth manager, you’ll need to keep an open mind and open line of communication with them and the growth marketing team as a whole. They’ll no doubt have invaluable customer feedback and insights, including changes that should be made to the product or service, the website, and so on. They’ll operate on a mindset of deciding which tests will have the most desired results, how much of an impact will the changes have when implemented, and how much will it cost to make those changes.
Any avenue where the company can make big changes while minimizing costs and broadening brand and reach are changes that are worth prioritizing.
Have You Hired a Growth Manager? Share Your Thoughts Below!
If you’ve hired a growth manager, or you are one, we’d love your thoughts! What has your experience been like? If you’re looking to hire one, we’d welcome your questions! Share your thoughts and comments below!
About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!