What is growth marketing and why is it different?


8th November 2023

It’s time to stop relying on your gut: the data-driven, iterative approach of growth marketing

Growth marketing refers to the use of experiments to test what works and what doesn’t, then using this data to inform future growth strategies. Really, it’s a fancy way to describe something that most marketers are already doing, but marketing entrepreneur Sean Ellis did well to give it a name. Well done, Sean.

If you (unlike Sean) aren’t making the most of your data, now’s the time to start. By keeping an eye on metrics and optimising along the way, you can take your campaigns from good to exceptional.

So, why is data necessary?

Testing and user research can reveal what your customers want (what they really, really want), so you can develop a deeper understanding of their journey along the marketing funnel. From the discovery stage to conversion, you can produce tailor-made content that fits their needs. This nurtures loyalty, so they keep on coming back for more.

Data makes it easier to find and directly target niche business audiences, helping smaller budgets go further when marketing complex products and services. This is of particular value to B2B marketers, who know all too well the difficulties of both.

The clue is in the title: with growth marketing, growth is more sustainable. Testing and iterative processes generate ongoing feedback that can be applied in real-time and serve as valuable feedback for future activities. It’s a more well-rounded approach to growth compared to short-term strategies such as discounts, for example.

Thought fallacies in marketing content: when you can’t trust your gut

We know better than anyone – experience is important. But an overreliance on gut instinct or anecdotal evidence can lead to issues being overlooked, and see marketers entangle themselves in flawed arguments to support their ideas.

This is what is known as a thought fallacy: when someone’s reasoning or judgement is informed by psychological persuasion rather than fact, and can ultimately be revealed to be false or deceptive.

Is this an excuse for the writer to use her Philosophy degree? Maybe. Are thought fallacies a real problem in marketing? Definitely.

Let’s take a look at some thought fallacies that marketers might encounter – and consider how data can dispel them.

Burden of proof fallacy

This involves avoiding the responsibility of providing evidence for your argument by shifting the burden onto someone else to disprove it.


Skincare company: ‘This product removes wrinkles in a week!’

Savvy consumer: ‘Do you have any evidence to support that claim?’

Skincare company: ‘No…but no one has proven that it doesn’t.’

With the right data, the skincare company’s marketing team could have found that unsubstantiated claims like this aren’t a great sales tactic. Testing helps the brand sell to consumers and ensures nobody ends up with a nasty rash.

Tu quoque

Sometimes referred to as ‘whataboutism’ (‘what about their idea – isn’t that worse?’), this occurs when someone focuses on the mistakes of their opponent in order to deflect from the issues of their own argument.


Two companies are pitching to a potential client.

Company A: ‘Company B’s previous campaign wasn’t as successful as they claim.’

Company B: ‘Er…your campaign wasn’t a huge hit either…’

Neither company looks good in this scenario. With some data to support their claims, companies A and B could have had a proper chat about success – and how they are measuring it.

In both of these scenarios, growth marketing can really come into play to solve the issues at hand. Standoffs between teams, clients and consumers are always best solved objectively, emotions removed. And what’s more objective than data?

‘Testing, testing, 1-2-3’…how to collect data

If data is the key to growth marketing, then testing is the lock. To be able to use data, we first need to plan how it will be used – and select the best method of collecting it.

The types of test used can be split into two categories:

  1. A/B testing (aka split testing)

You’ve got a couple of versions of something you’re working on, but you just can’t decide which one’s the winner. Maybe it’s the title that’s giving you trouble. By presenting both titles to a focus group, you can directly test and compare their performance.

  1. Multivariate testing

Instead of just tweaking one thing, you experiment with different combinations. Take the layout of a newsletter; should you go with a featured article with a big title, or opt for smaller, bite-sized articles? How about a mixture of both? Trialling all the available options and seeing which gets the best open-rate helps you see what clicks best with your audience.

Once testing is complete, the results are analysed. Testers can explore what the results show about you and your users, how they engage with your marketing and where improvements can be made.

It’s a foolproof strategy. Your customers respond more positively to Comic Sans than to Times New Roman? Questionable taste…but fill your entire webpage with it and watch your engagement soar.


There are plenty of tools you can use to test and monitor your marketing campaigns.

With 8.4 million websites equipping it as of March 2023, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is one of the most popular – and can be plugged directly into your browser.

From predictive capabilities (a projection of what your audience will and won’t take interest in) to detailed analyses of event-based data (data that tracks user activity beyond unique visitors and page views), GA4’s features make testing and data collection a lot easier.

GA4 also uses cookieless measurements, a new approach to tracking that doesn’t use personal data to track users.  

It’s like a backstage tour of users’ behaviour on your site, revealing their journey, hangout spots and where they make their exit – a goldmine of insights for you to use to elevate your content. If you’re looking to give growth marketing a go, it’s a great place to start. Read more here

Case study: BSI Promoting Standards campaign

We rolled up our sleeves and put growth marketing practices into action with our BSI Promoting Standards campaign. On a mission to investigate how SMEs interacted with standards, we trialled different styles of imagery, content formats, messaging, ad sizes, videos, tone of voice and more to see what clicked with their audience.

By feeding the results of this testing back to BSI, we were able to develop materials that really resonated with their audience and could inform future marketing strategies.

The results speak for themselves; we achieved 2,032 downloads and a 17.6% conversion rate. What’s more, the campaign has taken home multiple awards, including one in the highly-esteemed B2B Content Campaign of the Year category at the European Content Awards. Not too shabby.

Our Director Liam Bateman had this to say about the campaign:

‘This was a masterclass in digital testing, monitoring and optimisation to provide BSI with valuable insights for future campaigns. The team put in the time to ensure it was a great success, whilst also digging deep into the data to understand audience interactions.’

Doesn’t all this squeeze the fun out of marketing?

No. And here’s why.

The marketing process always begins with an idea; a feeling or an instinctive spark. To experiment with different ideas we need to have ideas with which to experiment in the first place. It goes without saying, really.

Testing gives us creative freedom. We can play around with new ideas; even those disruptive, off-limits and downright dangerous ones.

And there will always be times when your gut knows best.

Beyond the numbers

Marmite’s iconic ‘love it or hate it’ campaign is a great example.

The campaign flopped in testing; focus groups hated the idea. But the advertising bigwigs threw caution to the wind, ran the campaign – and one of the most famous taglines of all time was born.

Without the gusto of a marketing team that trusted their gut, we’d all feel a lot less passionately about yeast extract.

The takeaway

The value of experience can’t be disregarded. But don’t let it cloud your judgement. Data helps you keep a clear eye and make sure those brilliant ideas of yours take flight.

As marketing continues to be diversified with the addition of new platforms, you don’t want to waste precious time and money. Testing and analytics can help you select the most effective methods.

A combination of gut instinct and data is your best shot at creating a bulletproof marketing strategy.

And if you’re stumped, you can always ask us. We’ve been in the game for 30 years and have the perfect mix of experience, big ideas and analytical tools – why not make use of them?

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