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What's the difference between growth marketing and digital marketing?

Date published: July 03, 2023
Last updated: July 3, 2023

There is a lot of confusion that can arise when contrasting growth marketing with digital marketing. When you compare most growth marketing vs marketing, the end goal is typically similar. You want to attract consumers, turn them into paying customers, and then retain them and build your customer base over time.

However, the way that a growth marketer goes about creating and executing a growth marketing strategy is unique. The things they focus on are different, too.

If you’re curious about what is the difference between growth marketing and digital marketing, here is a quick rundown of both forms of marketing and how they differ from one another.

What Does Growth Marketing Mean?

At its most basic level, growth marketing focuses on the customer. For a growth marketer, everything is about the customer experience, customer satisfaction, and customer journey.

This starts with things like brand awareness and customer acquisition at the top of the marketing funnel — but it doesn’t stop there. Growth marketing is a comprehensive approach to promoting a business. It holistically considers everything from acquisition to customer retention in order to obtain a larger market share.

Good growth marketers use a variety of techniques to accomplish this broad growth marketing goal, including:

  • Digital PR: This builds credibility through direct and indirect mentions and backlinks on high-authority publications across the web.
  • Content strategy: A planned approach to content marketing creates customer-centric resources that build your authority in the eyes of your target audience.
  • SEO strategy: This uses keywords, links, and technical SEO techniques to improve the visibility of your brand and encourages future growth.

Using these three pillars, growth marketers create synergistic marketing strategies. These use a variety of growth marketing channels from paid ads to referrals to email marketing and more to reach your target customers.

What Is Digital Marketing?

While not as comprehensive as a term like “traditional marketing,” digital marketing is a more generic term — especially when compared to the precise, customer-centric nature of growth marketing.

The email marketing experts at MailChimp cast a wide net for the term by defining digital marketing thusly: “Any marketing that uses electronic devices and can be used by marketing specialists to convey promotional messaging and measure its impact through your customer journey.”

HubSpot simplifies things even further by describing digital marketing as “any form of online marketing.” In other words, if you’re marketing online (i.e., using the internet), you’re using digital marketing.

The list of digital marketing tools and techniques is enormous. However, you can condense it into a reasonable handful of categories:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Content marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Data and analytics marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Mobile marketing

There are many benefits of digital marketing. It’s affordable. It enables businesses of any size to reach a potential customer. It encourages future growth. It can increase revenue. It can also open up the doors to market in any geographic location.

What’s the Difference Between Growth Marketing and Digital Marketing?

Growth marketing and digital marketing aren’t the same. Nor are they opposites. Instead, they overlap in several ways — and are distinctly different in others.

Remember, a growth marketer focuses on a new customer as well as existing customers. Growth marketing creates strategies that emphasize demand generation by aligning company products and services with consumer needs.

In comparison, its vague definition makes the concept of a “digital marketing strategy” a bit nebulous. Sure, you can create a marketing strategy that utilizes digital marketing and call it such. But it’s better to think of digital marketing as a term for a collection of marketing tools, techniques, and channels, many of which growth marketers use.

How Do You Know If You Need Growth Marketing?

Everyone needs (and most companies already use) digital marketing these days. All you need is a Facebook page or an email list, and hey presto! You’re a digital marketer.

Growth marketing is a bit more complex, and thus most brands aren’t using it, even if they should be. If you’re wondering if you need a growth marketing strategy, here are a few questions to help you gauge its usefulness for your brand:

  • Are you growing? This is the easiest point to start. Look at the latest data. Are you seeing any signs of steady growth?
  • Have you been growth hacking? Growth hacking sacrifices long-term gains for short-term results. It’s a bad idea, and you should swap it out for an organic growth marketing strategy ASAP.
  • Do you have a clear vision for your marketing? Growth marketing brings credibility, visibility, and authority together in a synergistic effort to spark genuine, sustainable growth for a company.

Ask yourself and your team these questions. If the answers point toward the need for improvement, growth marketing may be your solution.

Using Digital Marketing and Growth Marketing

Digital marketing and growth marketing aren’t mutually exclusive. On the contrary, with the right time, effort, and experience, you can craft a growth marketing strategy that uses digital marketing tools to meet your brand’s specific needs.

If you find that creating a strategy is outside of your wheelhouse or you’re not seeing the results you were hoping for, reach out. Our team at Relevance has the experience, knowledge, and tools to give your company both a growth-oriented vision and the long-term growth strategy framework to turn that vision into reality.

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