Growth hacking vs. digital marketing – which is better for you?

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I’ve been in the digital marketing arena now for about 12 years. A lot has changed. A lot hasn’t.

Today, many company’s today are stuck in the mindset that they need to hire someone to handle their “digital marketing”. It’s easy to get sucked into this trap by listening to speakers at conferences or other “experts” that spend most of their time writing or speaking about these topics, but not actually implementing them.

I’m not taking a jab at every writer or speaker, but there’s no question there are a lot of influencers in this space that have their own biases. These biases not be what’s right for your company.

I’d like to challenge the notion of whether you should hire someone, or an entire team, to handle your digital marketing.

First, let’s first peel back a layer of the onion starting with why you might think you need digital marketing.

When you decided you needed help with digital marketing, what made you come to that realization?

Are you trying to generate more qualified leads?

Are you trying to protect your brand reputation?

Are you trying to generate more referrals to qualified leads?

These types of questions stem from actual business results you are looking for. What made you think that hiring a social media manager or digital marketing experts will help you achieve these goals?

I ask these questions not to deter you from considering digital marketing as a method to growing your company, but rather to reframe your way of thinking for how you came to the conclusion that you needed it.

Digital marketing takes certain factors into consideration for growth such as search engine optimization, paid search marketing, re-marketing, reputation management and a number efforts involving digital channels.

Growth hacking offers a different way of thinking. The growth hacking mindset considers methods that effectively and efficiently get the results you need to grow your company quickly.

Growth hacking may or may not include digital marketing.

Growth hacking focuses on the business objective (bigger picture) first whereas digital marketing focuses on the marketing process within each digital channel (SEO, SEM, social media, etc.). 

For example, if one of your main business objectives right now is to increase revenue from your existing customer base (i.e. land and expand), then social media and search engine marketing (i.e. digital marketing activities) might be taking focus, time and dollars away from your objective. You might consider a very personalized automated drip email campaign instead. You might consider using social networks as a referral channel, but a online customer community with built-in gamification to give referral incentives to existing customers.

My point here is that the mindset of growth hacking gets you to think beyond “optimizing digital channels” and the process behind it.

Growth hacking gets you away from “thinking” that people are paying attention to your posts on social media. It gets you to understand the analytics and ROI behind your actions and holds you accountable to qualifying and quantifying the time and dollars spent in implementing each action.

Growth hacking utilizes digital marketing in a way that gets you to your end goals faster.

Growth hacking considers the entire landscape of resources that can help you grow your company.

Growth hacking combines creativity with engineering to reach your key performance indicators (KPI’s). It involves implementing the right set of people, platforms and processes working together in the most efficient way to:

  • Lower cost of sales and marketing
  • Ensure ROI for marketing and branding efforts
  • Cut out unnecessary operational costs
  • Create massive increases in efficiency and higher productivity
  • Rapid generation of qualified business opportunities
  • and much, much more!

Don’t believe me? Read the case studies from companies that have growth hacked their way into the billions, quickly!

Next time you find yourself wondering how to improve your digital marketing strategy, consider taking a step back and re-framing your thinking.

Intrigued? Let’s chat 🙂

Jason Verdelli

Jason Verdelli

I'm Jason :) I build bridges between the digital world and achieving your mission. I love blending together marketing, technology and smart ideas to help people and organizations serve a greater good. Over the past 13 years I've helped thousands of individuals, small businesses and nonprofits achieve their mission utilizing digital marketing and platforms. There's no better feeling I get than when a client achieves their goals and by achieving those goals, the world becomes a better place.

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