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Growth marketing

Build Your Growth Marketing Framework for 2021

Written by Matt Cunard / March 17, 2021

Matt is a Growth Marketer at Lean Labs, working with brands to ignite their growth engine through conceptualizing, implementing, and optimizing growth marketing strategies.

Marketing is essential for your company, but it needs a strategy. Random acts of marketing don't work when you're aspiring to be a high-growth company.

If you're pursuing a growth marketing strategy, you may not know where to start, what to measure, or how to organize your process. A growth marketing framework helps with all that and more. In this article, we'll talk about the benefits of using a growth marketing framework. 

Additionally, we'll walk you through the growth marketing framework we've used to 10x our clients' growth in 36 months and provide some additional resources to help you implement the framework in your company.

Why You Need a Growth Marketing Framework

Why do you need a growth marketing framework? 

First, it helps set guardrails when you are developing your marketing and growth strategy. There are infinite numbers of tactics, strategies, and channels you can use to grow a business. So many it may be intimidating to sit down and try to build a growth strategy. 

Your growth marketing framework brings clarity to the things you need to focus on to pursue growth:

  • Tracking the metrics and KPIs that influence your growth rate.
  • Where your company’s strengths and weaknesses concerning your buyer journey.
  • Get everyone in your company aligned around the same plan.
  • The tactics and channels that are the primary drivers of your company’s growth (i.e., where you should focus your time and budget).

Growth  Marketing Kit

Your Growth Marketing Framework - The 6 Levers of Growth

The 6 Levers of Growth make up the AAARRR growth marketing framework. Each lever feeds off of and depends on the lever next to it. Sales and marketing must own the entire framework together. The most common problem with traditional marketing is that the ball gets dropped between the three A’s and the three R’s. For this framework to succeed, your sales and marketing teams must be aligned and work together to ensure each lever is optimized.

1. Awareness

Awareness is the most well-known and used lever of the growth marketing framework. At its most basic, awareness is the amount of traffic you are getting to your website. However, there are some caveats to this.

Getting traffic for traffic’s sake is where many brands turn awareness from a valuable metric into a vanity metric. You want to get the right kind of traffic, meaning the people most interested in what you offer and therefore most likely to buy from you.

This makes awareness a vital piece of the growth marketing framework. It has a heavy influence over the five other levers. If you bring the wrong people to your website:

  • Acquisition numbers will be low or will produce low-quality leads.
  • Low-quality leads mean Activation initiatives won't be as effective, leading to low conversions of MQLs to SQLs.
  • Fewer or low-quality SQLs means fewer conversions to paying customers and lengthy sales cycles in the Revenue stage.
  • Poor fit customers are most likely to churn, causing Retention to suffer.
  • Poor fit customers are also not likely to recommend you to others or offer a testimonial, causing your Referral engine to stagnate.

2. Acquisition

Acquisition is all about turning your targeted website traffic into leads through forms, offers, and lead magnets.

When done well, Acquisition sets your Activation activities up for success. However, if your offers and lead magnets aren’t targeted to the website visitors most likely to buy from you, you’re sabotaging your Activation efforts. Untargeted offers and lead magnets crowd your sales pipeline with unqualified leads. At this point, leads become a vanity metric until you optimize your Acquisition tactics to produce qualified leads. 

Acquisition feeds Activation, but it also guides Awareness. If you’re getting a good amount of traffic, but they aren’t converting on your lead magnets, two things could be happening. First, your offer may not be targeted enough or exciting enough for your visitors to take action. 

But it may also signal an issue with the type of people coming to your website. If the bulk of people coming to your website aren’t the right fit, they either won’t convert on your lead magnet, or they will convert but will ultimately be a bad fit. This is why Acquisition has to be well-planned and thought out, not just a form slapped on your website.

3. Activation

Activation is about nurturing and qualifying leads further as a good fit for your product, and then get them to “raise their hand” to convert to a paying customer. An easy way to picture what happens in Activation is thinking of leads in terms of temperature (cold, warm, and hot).

    • Cold. A person who comes in cold — they have little to no knowledge of your brand — to your website and converts on a lead magnet is not ready to be sold to. You need to further qualify them as someone likely to buy from you.
    • Warm. Warm leads are your marketing-qualified leads, or MQLs. They’ve taken another step toward learning about your solution, further qualifying them as someone likely to buy from you.
  • Hot. At this point, your MQL has taken some action — attended a webinar, attended a demo, completed a needs assessment call — that means there is a near certainty that they will buy from you, not a competitor. They have moved from MQL to a sales-qualified lead, or SQL.

Activation’s success relies on both the tactics and plays you use AND the quality of your Awareness and Acquisition efforts. If you’re getting the right traffic to convert on lead magnets, Activation will most likely be successful, as will the  If you’re getting the wrong traffic and low-quality leads, Activation will suffer.

4. Revenue

Revenue is all about the number of SQLs you close compared to the total number of SQLs in your pipeline. 

Why is Revenue important? The obvious answer is that you’re getting new business in the door in the form of paying customers. But it’s also a way to vet the performance of Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation. Each of the previous levers influences the success of your close rate and vise versa. If you’re closing 2 out of 10 product demos, it’s possible the people making it to the demos are non-buyers. In this case, you need to assess your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities. 

Is this where a lot of marketing and sales teams stop. They convert the lead to a customer and then focus on the next lead. But that leaves out two key pieces of our growth marketing framework: Retention and Referral.

5. Retention

Why is Retention such an essential part of our growth marketing framework? Let’s rewind to the goal of growth marketing to answer that question.

Growth is your goal. But it’s hard to grow if you’re continually churning more customers than you’re bringing in. Additionally, a paying customer doesn’t become profitable for you right away. They need to stick around for a few months to be worth the amount you paid to acquire them (your customer acquisition cost).

If you churn 2% of customers per month, your Awareness, Acquisition, Activation, and Revenue efforts have to get that many new customers each month to replace those churned customers. Then you have to go above that number to grow your user base.

Your retention efforts should focus on the customer experience and getting them deeper into your product. It’s not only about preventing churn, but upselling and even cross-selling current customers. The more you please your customers and keep them around, the more likely they will be to help you build your Referral engine.

6. Referral

Referrals may be the last on the list of our growth marketing framework, but it can be a great place to start. Using your own customers' positive experiences in their own words as a marketing tactic is a great play for a few reasons.

First, you don’t have to create content, just capture it. Second, it’s a positive claim about our product or company from an objective third party. People are very good at ignoring marketing messages saying, “Our product is the best, buy it now!” Customer testimonials on your website and word-of-mouth referrals bring with them the credibility of that person giving their personal seal of approval. 

Finally, it provides context for other people considering your product. They see that Dave, who also works in the same industry or has the same challenges they do, found success using your product. 

An established referral engine allows you to use your current customers to feed Awareness and Acquisition. It also helps guide your Retention efforts. If we know what’s causing our customers to share and promote us, we can work that into our Retention playbook. 

Your Growth Framework is Your Starting Point for Success

The 6 Levers of Growth aren’t just a theoretical growth marketing framework. We’ve employed it for our clients, resulting in over $100 million in generated revenue and helping them acquire over $90 million in funding. 

What we’ve done in this article is merely a brief overview. The next step is our Growth Marketing Kit. It provides video tutorials and bonus resources to put you in a better spot to implement your company's framework. 

Growth  Marketing Kit

Chris
Growth marketing

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