Understanding The Difference Between Growth Hacking And Inbound Marketing

Growth hacking was a popular buzzword in 2017, and has real applications for business, but how does it differ from traditional inbound marketing and your tried and true methods? Learning more about the growth hacking approach and how it can be used to rapidly grow your following can help you properly deploy each method in your marketing arsenal.

What Is Growth Hacking?

At its most basic level, growth hacking is focusing every and all efforts you make on growing your brand and following as rapidly as possible. Every piece of content, blog, advertisement or connection needs to be solely focused on one goal: rapid growth.

While “Growth Hacking” and “Inbound Marketing” are occasionally used interchangeably and do have some overlap, understanding the differences between them is crucial for your marketing strategy. This is a short-term strategy that can be employed as needed – during a startup, when you want to jumpstart your following, reveal rebranding or simply need to increase your presence. Activities are highly focused, and during a growth phase, your team may be diverted from their regular schedules and activities if you are already up and running.

Related: How To Manage The Growth Of Your Marketplace

Growth Hacking vs. Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is one approach to positioning your brand for long term success; it may be included or co-opted into your growth hacking efforts. In terms of timing, inbound marketing may be the opposite of growth hacking, because it takes a long-term approach. You can use your collateral, team and content created for inbound to jumpstart your growth hacking efforts.

Growth Hacking is:

  • Performed for a set period
  • Highly focused on a single goal
  • Designed to build a rapid following
  • Temporary work with permanent results

Inbound Marketing is:

  • Long term
  • Focused on building connections and engagement
  • Designed to create lifelong, lasting customers and connections
  • Permanent work with permanent results

If you have been focusing on inbound for even a few months, you have a valuable library of assets and rich data to draw from. A look at each approach can help you determine how these distinctly data driven approaches differ, and more importantly, how you can use them together to help your brand succeed.

Growth Hacking

Narrow focus on growth – where every action you take is focused on growing your brand—defines your growth stage. This is not a replacement for marketing, simply a different, highly focused aspect using specific tools.

Using growth hacking means identifying and making the most of the efforts and initiatives that resonate best with your target prospects – in other words, using data to drive results. If you are an existing brand, reviewing your relevant data about past campaigns can reveal which methods and content performed best. You’ll know your starting point, simply by seeing what performed well in the past.

For startups, employing a few different techniques and then tracking performance can reveal which methods work best with your targets. If you send an email, post on social and share a blog, you’ll likely see one method outperformed the others and know where to invest. Using data to drive your efforts and deliver “more” of what worked with an eye towards growth will help you rapidly build your brand.

Related: How To Gain New Users For Your Marketplace

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing takes a different approach, but some of the content you create or have created can be used in your growth hacking campaign. Think or growth hacking as a sprint (a highly focused on) and inbound marketing as a marathon.

You’ll create content that reflects your brand and appeals to your target prospects, instead of immediate conversions, your goal will be to position your brand as an authority and a place to turn to. You’ll do this by informing, educating and sometimes, simply delighting your followers.

Used correctly, inbound can give customers the information they need to make buying decisions (and influence those decisions), boost brand awareness and allow you to form lasting connections with customers and prospects. Inbound also has the benefit of a much lower cost; in most cases, this “slow burn” courting costs less but outperforms traditional paid marketing.