Combining Data-Driven Marketing with Growth Hacking

Combining Data-Driven Marketing with Growth Hacking
Jesse Heslinga

Superfast learning and long term thinking lead to Sustainable Growth

You want to grow. Otherwise, you wouldn't be on this website now. You want to grow your business and you want to be able to use both growth hacking and data-driven marketing, because those two seem to deliver the best results. But what's the difference? When do you use which, and how do you get the most out of the combination?

In this article, we discuss definitions of Data-Driven Marketing and Growth Hacking, the similarities and differences. We explain how we at BAMMBOO apply Growth Hacking Agency, using our proven approach with which we have helped over 150 organisations grow in five years. We'll also show you where and when to deploy Data-Driven Marketing.

But most of all, we will focus in this article on how to use these two forms in combination for maximum results in terms of fast and at the same time sustainable growth. Finally, with a number of cases, we will show you what the results are if you do this effectively.

"Implementing growth hacking techniques has made a significant difference to our business. We feel like pioneers as we do this as a B2B SaaS platform within the music tech industry. We have seen a wonderful +35% increase in conversions on our website and more engagement on every digital channel."

  • Grazia Carlone, Sono Suite

Let's go.

Summary & Content 

Data-driven marketing and Growth Hacking are very similar in terms of tools and tactics. They both aim to stimulate the growth of your business. If done right, both are data-driven and focused on the long term. Yet we can disentangle them.

Namely by realising that Growth Hacking is first of all about experimenting to learn what works. And that successful paths to growth that you discover through Growth Hacking can be incorporated into your long-term Data-driven marketing strategy.

In this article:

  • Data-Driven Marketing and Growth Hacking: similarities and differences
  • When and how do you use Growth Hacking?
  • Data-Driven Marketing: When and how to use it?
  • How do you create a Data-Driven Marketing Strategy?
  • What data should you use when combining Data-Driven Marketing with Growth Hacking?
  • How to combine Growth Hacking and Data-Driven Marketing for the best results
  • What does it profit you to combine Growth Hacking and Data-Driven Marketing?

Data-Driven Marketing and Growth Hacking: similarities and differences

Data-driven marketing and Growth Hacking are very similar. However, there is a difference in the approach that these two approaches take, when it comes to growth.

That is how it is:

What is the definition of Data-Driven Marketing?

"Data-driven marketing is the use of (primarily quantitative, ed.) data obtained through interactions with customers and third parties to understand customer motivations, preferences and behaviours. Data-driven insights allow organisations to improve and personalise the customer experience."

What you see here is that data-driven marketing is about improving the customer experience, with the aim of achieving better marketing results. The name says it all. Using data to market better. In addition, the term data-driven implies that data must be leading. We think differently: Purpose (or your higher goal) should be leading; that gives direction. 

So you then usedata as GPS, which helps you to reach your destination.

Finally, data-driven marketing is mostly about quantitative data; data that says something from and about relative numbers, things that can be expressed as quantities or numbers.

How is this different from Growth Hacking?

What is the definition of Growth Hacking?

"Growth Hacking is a method based on conducting data-driven experiments with the aim of growth (opportunities) to find growth (opportunities).

The process revolves around the continuous testing and validation of hypotheses. These hypotheses are derived from the insights gained from quantitative and qualitative data analysis. So: figures and conversations with actual human beings."

  • You can find more about the definition of Growth Hacking here.

    what's the difference with data-driven marketing?

    Not just marketing
    Growth Hacking is first and foremost about finding growth opportunities for your business - and it's not just about marketing. It can also be about your product, your sales, or other (internal) processes that you improve. Growth Hackers use the North Star Metric (NSM) of your company as the highest goal.

    North Star Metric
    The North Star Metric is the metric that best summarises how your business is doing; if this metric grows, your business grows by definition. For example, for Facebook, the NSM is the number of meters scrolled on the feed per user per day. For AirBnB, it is the number of nights booked. If all goes well, your NSM is linked to your mission/Purpose, and it will impact all aspects of your operation if this number changes.

    And finally, compared to data-driven marketing, Growth Hacking is less about long-term strategies and more about short-term experiments that show what works for your company, in your market and with your target group. You can then use the results of these experiments in a long-term growth strategy. And in your long-term marketing strategy.

    We will come back to this.

When and how do you use Growth Hacking?

In our vision, Design Thinking and Growth Hacking are both pillars for growth and scalability. BAMMBOO was one of the first Growth Hacking agencies in Europe. With the goal to help organisations grow, with a vision and a process for continuous growth and value creation. Our experience over the past five years has made us realise a number of things.

Along the entire continuum from idea to scalable growth, you need to continuously validate assumptions and hypotheses. Whereby you do this initially via Design Thinking and later via Growth Hacking.

Continuous Value Creation
We call this the process of Continuous Value Creation. Note that this is not a linear continuum. It is a quest of continuous validation of assumptions and hypotheses. In which the value you want to deliver is continuously tested with the user:

Do (potential) customers experience this problem themselves? Do they see the added value of the product or service we have in mind? Does the product meet the expectations of the people for whom we have intended it?

This is what Continuous Value Creation looks like when we visualise it as a continuous process:

Design Thinking, Growth Hacking and Feedback

Growth and the continuous creation of value consist of two important phases: the Idea Phase and the Growth Phase. Design Thinking and Growth Hacking are the methods you use to achieve scalable growth in the specific phases of this growth cycle.

Design Thinking is used in the idea phase: in the service of designing a proposition by discovering customer value (a problem or need). While Growth Hacking is about accelerating and scaling growth; catalysing and improving value (where possible very quickly) into a scalable proposition. Both have an equally important role because they complement each other in achieving growth.

Data-driven Marketing: When and how to use it?

Sustainable growth is about two things: a clear, lucid strategy for long-term growth, and data-driven experimentation. That strategy is built on insights about your customer; the experiments are necessary to validate those insights (how you think about your customer) (what does that customer apparently find really important?).

Data-driven marketing is ultimately used in two ways in this spectrum:

  1. Data-driven growth experiments around traction
    Think of SEO, SEA, social media, email, and other digital channels for Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation - and all the data you can collect and analyse around them when conducting growth experiments.
  2. Setting up and executing a data-driven marketing strategy
    Whereby the learnings from successful experiments in particular are taken on board and implemented in your long-term strategy for sustainable growth. How you do that, you can read below.

How do you create a data-driven marketing strategy?

A data-driven marketing strategy is not built overnight. There are a number of basic conditions that your organisation, your marketing team, and your marketing toolstack must meet.

A number of questions you should think about beforehand are:

1. Is the leadership in this organisation set up for data-driven decision-making?

2. Are the data collection and analysis skills sufficiently present in my team?
3. Is the mindset and culture in my team set up for data-driven thinking and working?

4. Do we have the technical infrastructure in place well enough for data-driven marketing?

If you can answer these questions with a resounding 'yes', you have the best chance of success with a data-driven marketing approach. Based on these preconditions, you can build your marketing strategy in the following 12 steps:

How to build your data-driven marketing strategy in 12 steps

1. Make sure your brand identity is in order.
Think of up-to-date, widely supported Brand Story, Visual Identity and Management.

2. Know what is going on in your market.
means of desk research, surveys and customer interviews.

3. Determine your focus propositions.
line with strategic plans and goals, and in close cooperation with sales.

4. Define your Objectives & Key Results.
strategy without a KPI. From North Star Metrics, to Objectives, to Key results.

5. Build a model of your customer journey
You can map your customer journey well using the Growth Model Canvas of BAMMBOO. In the lower part of the canvas, you will recognise the Awareness, Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral and Revenue phases of the AAARRR model.

The Growth Model Canvas by BAMMBOO

6. Analyse your current data
How well do your current funnels convert? Where do you see clear opportunities for improvement?

7. Determine your content strategy
What topics and themes should you be talking about, from what angle?

8. Don't forget Employee Advocacy
How can you improve the quality and effectiveness of your content, while seriously increasing the engagement, motivation and expert status of your people?

9. Complement your strategy with Advertising
Make sure that the messaging of your online ads is fully aligned with your broader (content) strategy, your brand, and your messaging.

10. Link KPIs to your OKRs, track, analyse, experiment and adjust
How much traffic do you need to generate 100 leads? How many social media views do you need to generate more web traffic? Track your important KPIs and use them to adjust - and improve with the help of experiments.

11. Plan cycles for content creation, review, publication, and distribution
At what points does who need to do what to create the content and campaigns you need?

12. Get everyone on the same page
Make sure that everyone who should be involved in your marketing strategy and activities is actually involved.

Do you want more information on how to practically set up your marketing strategy?

What data should you use when combining Growth Hacking with Data-driven Marketing?

It is clear that you need to use data, to be able to adjust at any moment and to get the learnings from Growth Hacking experiments. But which data do you actually need? There are three main categories of data that you need, depending on what you're using Growth Hacking and data-driven marketing for:

  1. Market & Customer Insights
    This includes data about your TaM, Sam, and SoM (Total Addressable Market; Serviceable Available Market, and Serviceable Obtainable Market), but also data about your target group from existing research, your own surveys, and customer interviews.

    You mainly need these types of data when setting up a growth strategy and growth experiments for a new service or product. And as a starting point for creating a long-term data-driven marketing strategy.

  1. Online marketing metrics (traction metrics)
    This concerns the first phases of the customer journey, say the Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation of the AAARRR-funnel. Think of data about your website visitors; sources of website traffic; social and ad engagement, reach, and conversion; conversion on your site, bounce rate, and the like.

    You use these types of data, for example, when looking for opportunities for growth. And when creating your baseline for assessing the effectiveness of growth experiments.

    You also use them to determine the effectiveness of your long-term marketing strategy and to make adjustments based on your analysis.

  1. User/Customer metrics
    This concerns data about your customers or users, in the Retention, Referral, and Revenue phases of the AAARRR funnel. But also the specific (personal) data from and about your users and customers. This data can help you firstly to serve them better, and secondly to use it for analyses in order to improve your products and processes.

    You use these types of data to spot growth opportunities and to set up growth experiments on the product side.

    In data-driven marketing, you use them mainly to be able to set up and optimise closed-loop marketing.

How to combine Growth Hacking and Data-Driven Marketing for the best results

Ok, great. You now understand what you use Growth Hacking for, and what you use Data-Driven Marketing for. You also understand that you get the most value out of it when you combine them. Great. But... how do you do it?

Nice of you to ask :)

How BAMMBOO deploys data-driven marketing skills from a Growth Hacking perspective

Data-driven, digital marketing skills are at the core of what we do when executing Growth Hacking projects. 

And vice versa, we always use Digital Marketing from a Growth Hacking perspective. That means we take a customer-centric view, with a full-funnel approach and a focus on increasing the value of your product. Data-driven marketing not only helps you to increase your Marketing KPIs, but also directly contributes to the sustainable growth of your business (and your North Star Metric).

So we don't just use Digital Marketing to market your products and services. You can also use digital content, landing pages and other channels to validate your products or services. And to conduct experiments to discover which combination of messaging and channels is most effective. 

Growth Hacking and Data-Driven Marketing: when to use what?

The two terms are, as I said, rather mixed up. So, in fact, do their uses. No matter how hard we try to disentangle them, there is a lot of overlap.

The difference in application lies mainly in the phase of growth:

Growth Hacking mainly for validation, fast learning, and rapid growth

Growth Hacking is mainly used at the front end (in combination with Design Thinking), for validating new products and/or services. And to learn how to sell a validated idea to as many people as possible as quickly as possible.

Many of the experiments that you perform with Growth Hacking will make use of one or more digital marketing tactics. Think of a landing page to validate whether there is any need at all for your latest top idea. And the accompanying lead magnet, and ad campaign.

Digital Marketing mainly for long-term growth
The growth experiments that prove successful in creating traction are included in our long-term marketing strategy. The typical Digital and Data-driven marketing skills, many of which are also used in Growth Hacking, are at their best here.

Think of SEO for long-term growth and findability; content strategy and publishing; organic social and social advertising; conversion optimisation, e-mail marketing, and so on.

Continuous learning and improvement
By experimenting and learning in a short cycle, we can continuously improve the performance of long-term marketing activities. This is how you ensure sustainable growth; more value, more leads, more customers, and more turnover.

What does it profit you to combine data-driven marketing and growth hacking?

Superfast results
What does this give our customers? Well, superfast learning, and fast and sustainable growth - as the subtitle of this piece actually promised. So what does it deliver in the short term, for example? Increased conversion rates, for example, through qualitative research and A/B testing, as with SonoSuite. Or the validation of two propositions in one month, as at ARAG.

Long-term growth
With our approach we can of course only claim a very small part of the credit for the long-term success of these brands. But one thing is certain: both companies are indeed achieving sustainable growth.

  • Read the Growth Hacking case of SonoSuite how the use of Growth Hacking techniques and digital marketing techniques, among other things, led to a 35% increase in conversion.
  • Read the Growth Hacking case of ARAG How we helped Flight Claim improve their overall look and feel, visibility, and targeting. Key building blocks were Growth Strategy, UX design, SEO, and Google Ads optimisation.

"[The] average benchmark in legal CTR is 1.3 and we're just hitting 5."

  • Douwe Wester, ARAG

Summary & Key Takeaways 

Data-driven marketing and Growth Hacking are very similar in terms of tools and tactics. Both aim to stimulate the growth of your business. If done right, both are aimed at the long term.

Yet we can disentangle them. Namely by realising that:

  • Growth Hacking is all about experimenting to learn what works. 
  • And that successful paths to growth that you discover through Growth Hacking can be incorporated into your long-term data-driven marketing strategy.
  • The data that you use to successfully combine Growth Hacking and Data-Driven Marketing are 1. market and customer insights, 2. traction metrics, and 3. user metrics.
  • Successfully combining growth hacking and data-driven marketing will give you the fastest and most sustainable growth.

Want to know more?

Do you want to know more about how you can use Marketing Strategy in combination with Growth Hacking as a driver for sustainable growth? Or how we can help you incorporate the most promising Growth Hacks into the marketing strategy for your company in a sustainable way? 

Then contact our Director of Sales, Thierry de Vries. During a no-obligation Growth Call, Thierry will be happy to discuss how we can help you further.

Jumpstart Your Road to Growth