Growth Team vs. Product Team (& How They Can Work Together)


High-growth companies tend to have one crucial mindset that sets them apart: they avoid silos at all costs. 


The old way of doing things– building separate departments for marketing, sales, product, and customer success, each accountable to their own KPIs, with no process or incentive to collaborate– is dead. Instead, to thrive in today’s climate, a business must build a cross-functional growth team that ties all these functions together. 


But how is a growth team different than a product team? And how can these teams work together and avoid the same silo problem legacy companies struggle with? This article will give you the answers and set you up to build a robust, cross-functional team that works together to serve the most important person: The User. 

Growth Teams and Product Teams: Key Similarities and Differences

The main differences between product and growth teams may seem evident from their names. 

The product team optimizes and improves the product for existing users. They gather customer feedback, own the product roadmap, test new features, and manage the product experience at a high level. 

The growth team is responsible for measuring and improving full-funnel growth by optimizing the six levers of growth. The growth team works cross-functionally to attract and convert new leads, nurture leads into customers, and ensure a positive customer experience to drive retention and reputation. 

Growth teams and product teams have different functions, but they also have a lot in common. They’re both deeply committed to facilitating exceptional user experiences. Both work to ensure users love the product and get significant value from it. 

In this article, we’ll explore what a growth team is, including defining the common roles. Then we’ll look at what team members make up a product team. Finally, I’ll give you three actionable tips for helping the product team and growth team work together to achieve extraordinary results. 

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What is a Growth Team?

A growth team is a cross-functional group that strives to improve the six levers of growth: awareness, acquisition, activation, revenue, retention, and reputation, also known as the pirate metrics (AAARRR). 

Growth teams differ from traditional marketing teams in their commitment to full-funnel growth. Using a traditional marketing approach requires you to focus only on driving awareness and lead acquisition. Growth teams identify high-impact activities to improve at each level of the sales funnel and work closely with marketing, sales, product, and customer success team members to achieve these goals. 

Related: 5 Steps To Building A Growth Team To Maximize ROI

What Roles Are on the Growth Team?

Growth teams can be as small as 1-2 members or much larger, depending on the organization's size. Typically, any growth team will include at least a head of growth, a growth marketer, and a design/developer role. Let’s take a closer look at each member of the growth team.

Head of Growth

The “captain” of the team, the Head of Growth is responsible for determining what metric to focus on each campaign, which growth plays to run, and who’s responsible for which activities. They strive to ensure that projects remain on time and under budget, and drive tangible business results.  

Growth marketer 

A marketer who is an expert in the full-funnel approach, the growth marketer is often responsible for analyzing metrics to identify high-impact opportunities. Activities may include: planning and writing blog content, creating landing pages, building email/SMS nurture campaigns, optimizing sales pages, or collecting testimonials to share on the site. 

Designer

The designer is responsible for building aesthetic and effective visual experiences. They make sure that all collateral produced by the team is aligned with brand guidelines and design best practices. Activities may include: designing website pages, creating lead magnets, building sales decks, or making graphics for blog posts and social media. 

Developer

The heart of any effective growth marketing strategy is a soundly built, well-performing website. The developer ensures that the website is technically sound and bug-free. Activities may include: building new pages or adding new experiences to existing pages such as an exit intent popup. 

Pro-tip: if your website is built on an intuitive drag-and-drop CMS like Hubspot, your growth team may not need a developer for every page build

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) specialist

The CRO leverages the power of growth-driven design to optimize page experiences for conversion. They dig deep into metrics like time on page, exit rate, and conversion rate, and leverage qualitative data like screen recordings and heat maps to identify areas of friction in the buyer’s journey. They then develop experiments to test whether strategic changes can improve key metrics.

Videographer

Video marketing can be a powerful tool for communicating your brand's unique value, overcoming objections, and showing your product in action. The growth team videographer may work on creating compelling videos for landing pages, making videos to post on social media to drive awareness, or crafting onboarding videos to help users get the most value out of the product. 

Related: The Ultimate Growth Marketing Playbook For Reliably Scaling Growth

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What is a Product Team?

A product team generally owns the experience and performance of a particular product. The best product teams are small, multidisciplinary, and collaborative. They own the product roadmap and are responsible for implementing product improvements.

Great product teams are constantly seeking to understand the problems, emotions, and needs of their customers. As customer experts, they’re able to implement product improvements that users love.

Unlike growth teams, product teams tend to focus most of their energy on just two levers of growth: retention and referral. Most of the product team’s activities focus on improving the product experience for current users. 

What Roles Are on the Product Team?

There are many ways to structure a product team. Larger organizations may have several product teams organized around different products, different customer segments, or customer journey stage. Regardless of structure, most product teams include these key players. 

Product Manager  

A product manager typically heads up product teams. This person is responsible for the vision and end-to-end experience of the product. They also own success metrics like daily active users, churn, and NPS score. 

The product manager ensures that product improvement projects run on time and under budget. They must be excellent communicators and leaders. 

Product Designer

The product designer must deeply understand and represent the voice of the user. They work to improve the UI and UX of the product. Product designers may conduct customer interviews and review screen recordings to identify friction points and opportunities to improve the product experience. 

Product Engineer

The product engineer is a developer responsible for implementing designs in the live environment. A great engineer knows how to bring designs to life in a bug-free experience. The product developer is also responsible for maintaining the product's codebase to ensure the code stays clean and functional. 

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3 Ways Product Teams and Growth Teams Can Work Together to Maximize Results

The most successful technology companies don’t create false dichotomies of growth team vs. product team. Instead, they blend the growth and product teams together into a super team. At the end of the day, both product and growth teams have the same objective: to drive consistent business growth by facilitating exceptional user experiences and solving real customer problems. By getting (and staying) aligned on this core focus, growth teams and product teams can work together to accomplish their shared mission. 

The following are three ways the growth team and product team can collaborate to achieve their goals.  

1. Growth Team Suggests Data-Driven Roadmap Items

The growth team addresses every aspect of the end-to-end customer experience. They talk to prospects and customers. They understand the problems, pains, and desires that drive prospective customers to take action. The growth team also tracks the “reputation” metric and pays attention to what motivates users to leave positive reviews and recommend the product to friends. 

Armed with this knowledge, the growth team can suggest data-backed product improvements that will not only make the product better for active users but will also help attract and convert new users.

2. Product Team Uncovers Potential Tests for Growth Team to Run 

The product team works closest to the active users. They know what the best customers care about most. They know which features users love and frequently use.

Based on this understanding, the product team can recommend features, benefits, and use cases for the growth team to test in their messaging. If 90% of active users love a particular feature, then maybe highlighting that feature more prominently in marketing assets will help attract more new users. 

3. Continuously Share Learnings 

Both growth teams and product teams are constantly learning from users. By continually studying user behavior, both teams become experts in different aspects of the ideal customer. 

Sharing these learnings across teams with a routine cadence will help both teams build better experiences for the end user. By maintaining the free flow of information into a “shared pool of knowledge,” both teams can be more effective. 

Growth Team and Product Team: United

When your growth and product teams work together, everyone wins. Tear down siloes, unify your data, and facilitate the free flow of information, and you will see results. The best way to unify the two teams is to align on a shared north star objective. What shared metric can both teams track and improve over time through their efforts? Quarter over quarter revenue growth? Monthly active users? 

Another tip for maintaining alignment between your product team and growth team is to schedule routine check-ins between each team’s leadership. A regular cadence of communication helps information flow freely and builds a habit of inter-team transparency. 

Lastly, the most successful growth and product teams leverage a proven methodology to evaluate data, execute strategic plays, and measure results. And you’re in luck! We are giving away our most valuable growth plays, absolutely free. Download the Growth Playbook today to ethically steal our most effective plays that you can run to achieve reliable, scalable business growth.

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