When discussing marketing strategy and tactics, there are two significant umbrellas where these strategies are distributed. This article will  discuss these two umbrella strategies.

If there was an award for buzz phrases, I believe “Growth Hacking” and Growth Marketing would have quite an impressive collection of plaques by now. 

Too many times, I hear people describe themselves as growth hackers, but does this then mean that they have expertise in growth marketing strategies? Or are these two terms mutually exclusive?

Before we get into the struggle of choosing between these two strategies, I’ll first define what a marketing strategy is.

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What are Marketing Strategies and Tactics?

A marketing strategy or tactic can be defined as an idea or action or a series of ideas and activities to promote a product or service. The tactics adopted must be in line with the goals of the whole marketing campaign. 

Examples of marketing strategies and tactics include: 

  • Sending emails. 
  • Writing targeted articles and blog posts. 
  • Taking advantage of traditional media (Prints, TV, radio, and billboards).
  • Campaigns on social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter). 

What is the Most Effective Digital Marketing Strategy and Tactics?

As someone in the marketing industry, you would have, at one time or another, entered a discussion about growth hacking and growth marketing and which is better for your goals.

Sometimes, you could get so confused that you’d start giving funny explanations to your team members like this man in the picture above. Which marketing strategies & tactics are getting the best results? Growth hacking or growth marketing?

Before we start comparing, first a definition of terms;

Clearing a Few Things Up

I’ll start with a definition of terms. A general description of these two terms is the approaches used in developing and executing experiments that trigger company growth through marketing.

The growth marketing strategy involves applying methods to promote a product or service to get long-term results. The goal is client retention and revenue growth.

Growth hacking, on the other hand, is the process of experimenting rapidly and cross-functionally to accelerate market growth.” The goal is majorly sales and revenue growth.

Based on the work of Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown, growth hacking is composed of the following elements: 

  • Marketing and product development skills integrated into a cross-functional team.
  • A survey of user behaviors and preferences utilizes qualitative and quantitative data.
  • Results are evaluated and acted upon using high-speed testing and rigorous metrics.

They also point out that growth hacking is more than simply acquiring customers. It involves activating, retaining, and monetizing them. 

Furthermore, despite many people associating growth hacking with specific tactics such as Google Ads, an original definition suggests that any experiment that leads to rapid, measurable profits can be considered a growth hack.

Conversely, growth marketing uses branding and performance marketing to build a customer base that refers other potential customers to your product, which will keep them coming back for more.

Wow… try saying that five times.

I think it’d be better for me to break down this mouthful into crucial components as I did with growth hacking: 

  • Brand marketing combines strategic brand positioning (differentiation) and tactical performance marketing (content marketing).
  • An agile development process based on growth hacking principles and techniques. 
  • Sprint processes prioritize tactics based on their perceived long-term impact.
  • Activating, retaining, and monetizing customers helps companies achieve sustainable revenue growth.
  • The goal is to serve your ideal client profile, not just anyone who needs your service.

These separate definitions aren’t to say that growth hacking and marketing are irrevocably different, and to vindicate me; I will subsequently discuss the four fundamental similarities between these two. 

Differences Between the Two Approaches

Differences Between Growth Hacking and Growth Hacking


First, growth hacking has nothing to do with the brand, and growth marketing is all about it. These two terms have fundamentally different views on brands, which are the main difference between the two approaches. 

The brand is vital to growth marketers, whereas hackers aren’t interested in it.

Growth marketing has the issue of being hard to measure. It’s about building a consistent, positively perceived brand for those who see it. So it’s hard to gauge the business impact of just one tactic.

For a better way to explain this, I got this idea of an analogy from an article I read. Let’s say, for instance; I lost my basketball. I have two options, either to go straight to the nearest Wilson outlet or to compare the different factors between it and other brands. 

It is safe to say that, like me, most of everyone will choose to walk up to a brand they like rather than starting a comparison process with others. 

Now how did I know I wanted a Wilson ball? Simple, it’s a brand I like and am loyal to. I agree it costs quite a buck, but I don’t care about that. Summarily, what the author and I are trying to say is:

  • Growth hacking alone has not led to any iconic brands. I mean, the legendary Thomas.E. Wilson was many things, but he wasn’t a growth hacker. 
  • Wilson grows through growth in marketing, but so do all the other brands. 
  • It’s hard to measure the profitability of brand marketing, but it’s worth it. 


Another way these two concepts differ is in their method of approach. Growth marketing, for instance, adopts a data-driven approach, while growth hacking adopts a more aggressive approach. 

Growth hackers also aim for rapid growth, while growth marketers objective for sustainable development.

They most often work for startups, prefer to grow fast, get immediate results, and move on to the next project, unlike growth marketers, who are more interested in long-term growth. 

Simply put, growth hackers emphasize revenue growth, while growth marketers emphasize both client retention and revenue growth.

Selling Point

Do you remember when Sean Ellis created Dropbox’s famous referral loop that promised free cloud storage to anyone who invited others? Sounded enticing, yeah? 

That’s the selling point for growth hackers constantly looking for one-time revolutionary actions that will snap up. This is not the same for growth marketers who conduct and analyze customer research. 

Growth hacking is focused on rapid experimental testing, while growth marketing entails strategic experimentation. These differences, crucial as they are, do not mean there are no critical differences between them. 

As such, I will discuss the similarities and other trends in growth hacking and growth marketing.

Similarities Between Growth Hacking and Growth Marketing

The first thing they both have in common is a goal. Both strategies have in common the goal of increasing revenue by acquiring new customers and activating, retaining, and monetizing them.

Then comes the process. Both practices rely on agile sprint models, encouraging experimentation, data-driven decision-making, and continual improvement.

The third is the data. Growth marketing’s success depends on qualitative and quantitative data, just like growth hacking.

And the last implementation linking these two approaches is the product. The product needs to be good enough for either growth marketing or growth hacking to work.

And right where is where their similarities end. Don’t stop now. Keep reading as we explore the trends in growth hacking and growth marketing.

Growth Marketing Trends In 2021

1. Zero>One/Featured Snippet: anyone in the lightning-speed SEO world has heard about Position Zero or Featured Snippets. 

The snippets are the blurbs that are visible when one searches for a topic on the internet—identifying Position Zero keywords has become all the rave. 

In fact, according to a survey by AHREFS, ranking on position zero vs. the first position saw 31% higher traffic. 

2. Voice Search Optimization: The number of smart speaker owners in the US increased by 39% to 66.4 million adults, according to a report by voicify.com. Interestingly, Gartner predicted that 30% of web browsing would be screenless by 2021. 

Now, isn’t that something?

Backlinko found some key factors that could be used to boost Google Home rankings. As to which method will optimize your website for voice search is yet to be ascertained. 

Now, this is not me claiming that voice search will replace text. All I’m saying is that it has increasingly become an essential portion of your current traffic, primarily if your devices rely on it, like smartphones. 

3. Video Marketing: According to a survey, 82% of internet traffic is from video content. As a tool, video marketing is quite a phenomenon. With the right gear and content, one’s audience can rise more steadily than other marketing tools. 

4. Personalization: I don’t know everyone, but I like getting pampered with personalized service. 

A study by Epsilon on personalization revealed that 80% of people are more likely to patronize a brand that offers customized services.

Top Marketing Strategy and Tactics for Digital Growth in 2022


6. Human vs. Bot: In a report by Drift, 14% of people would prefer filling out a form instead of talking to a bot. Although the chatbot does not have enough content to answer users’ questions, this is not disparaging the conversation with bots. 

Fixing this will make for optimal bot conversations.

Growth Hacking Trends of 2021

1. Visual Search and AR:

Scanning an object to live and providing users with information is a trend to learn from Pinterest and Google Lens. 

Given the conditions brought on by COVID-19, not very many people are eager to leave the comfort of their homes to buy things. In addressing this challenge, AR has soared in the past year.

2. Leveraging Referral Marketing:

Whenever I think of this subject, what comes to mind is Uber and the many treats one gets from referring the app to others. It is much easier to convert a prospect to a customer when their friend/relation is the one making the introductions.

3. Following The Competition:

In a race, we can only see the results of people running before us. Taking time to learn their strategy speaks favorably of the subsequent encounter. The same can be said for sales and marketing. Following your competition will broaden your horizons in your field.

4. Influencers:

The use of influencers to generate sales buzz about a product or service has become increasingly common. So, adopting this process will expand your audience base. 

The goldmine that is Instagram and TikTok provides excellent opportunities for marketers. Instagram is a force in influencer marketing, with over one billion users annually. 

TikTok, in 2021, overtook Google as the most searched website in the world. If that isn’t a reason to jump on the audience it provides, I don’t know what is.

5. Guest Posting:

There are very few things better than having something or someone else working for you. Producing guest posts with links is a great way to boost your visibility and audience on social media. 

Summarily, I’m the type of person who is always interested in learning more. As such, there is nothing I avoid more than limited knowledge. 

In this vein, I am entirely open to learning from your comments every other thing about growth hacking and growth marketing.

The Final Note 

Finding the right strategy or tactic to adopt for your business’ product or service should no longer be a cause of frustration for you. Growth hacking and growth marketing are two of the most common phrases and strategies for sales and marketing. 

Writing this article made me realize that they do not mean the same, although commonly interchanged. In simple terms, growth hacking is about getting results fast, without thoughts of long-term goals.  

On the other hand, growth marketing focuses more on sustainability than on immediate results. But one major thing common to all these strategies is the need for feedback. If you don’t know how your audience feels about your product or your system, making sales will be difficult, if not impossible.

Choosing the right tactics to adopt after selecting the approach that best suits your goals is another problem that many marketers face.

Under the umbrella of the major approaches (Growth Hacking and Growth Marketing) in these industries, different trends change with the advancement of technology.

Marketing professionals should explore these trends, such as influencer marketing, guest posting, zero>one featured snippet, and voice search optimization, as they will scale their campaigns and give the desired results.