Growth Marketing: How the Biggest Online Brands Create Scalable Marketing

by | Feb 27, 2020

15 min read

For our latest Google Marketing Platform meetup I spoke about Growth Marketing and how the biggest online brands create scalable marketing.

Today, we’re going to talk about “standing on the shoulders of giants”, a summary of what I’ve learned from some of the fastest-growing companies and how you can learn from them.

What we’ll cover:

tl;dr skip to the slides.

Before we begin, a little about me:

Growth Marketing Framework: Growth Engineer


  • Commercial Partner @ IMWT
  • Growth Engineer First. Executive Second

What is a Growth Engineer?

  • Someone that designs and builds growth into businesses 
  • We’re not sales, marketing or product – somewhere in between 
  1. We analyse – we can analyse data (SQL)
  2. We solve problems – figure out how to create opportunities
  3. We create solutions – workflows, systems
  4. We optimise performance – measure, improve

About me:

  1. From Wales  
  2. Live in Sydney 
  3. Work Global

Skill and Experience Acquisition

20 years experience:

  • Analysis
  • Product 
  • Sales 
  • Marketing
  • Design

Multi-award winner

    • Design: New Designer Award 
    • Marketing: Chartered Institute of Marketing 

Diverse experience

  • Startups, scale-ups and enterprise
  • Consumer, business, charity & government 
  • Global experience

Growth Marketing: Lessons from Marketing Giants

Growth Marketing: Lessons from Marketing Giants

What I’ll cover:

  1. Why I started watching giants 
  2. What I learned about growth marketing
  3. How you can mimic giants

View the slides below and read on to learn more:


Search for Consistency


  • 2013 started a digital agency
  • Range of customers 
  • Our results varied significantly
  • Our input was consistent 
  • 70/30 success

Bad experience:

  • Online baking accessories company
  • Signs were good – it turned out bad 
  • I did everything right or the same as previous

My questions:

  • What are the factors which drive results?
  • What can I control?
  • How do I only work on successful projects?
  • How do I only work with growers?

Finding answers:

  • Mapped my processes = fairly consistent
  • Mapped client projects = not consistent at all 
  • Clear trends emerged
    • Not budget 
    • Attitude, product, strategy, execution, consistency

Only work with growers and giants

  • Stack the odds of success in my favour
  • 90/10 success

Growth Marketing Formula

Growth Formula

The output of my mapping

  • Revenge Formula  
  • Formula for growth marketing
  • Any fast-growing company can be mapped against it
  • Following the list you will become a “Grower”
  • I run through this formula with every company I speak to
  • Stack odds in my favour

So what’s in this growth formula?

5 characteristics Growers share

  • Top-down traits adopted and promoted by organisations
  • These are visible in most growers

3 areas growers focus on 

  • The building blocks of systemised growth 
  • The building blocks are at work in most growers 

In this presentation:

  • Summary of each 
  • Deep dive into the most relevant area for our community

Revenge Formula

5 Characteristics of Growers

1. Reverse Engineer
  • The most important element 
  • This is all about designing successful outcomes at a macro and micro level
  • Act like an engineer 
  • Research and define successful outcomes 
  • Design the solutions, systems and process to achieve them


  • Business operation
  • Business KPIs


  • Team operations 
  • Team KPIs
  • Personal tasks 
2. Marginal Gains

Long term success is compounding margins.

  • Relevant for startups and established companies
  • Companies work hard for larger wins
    • Inconsistent growth 
    • Inconsistent results
    • Absorbs focus, resource & capital
    • High risk

Whereas marginal gains – low risk & high impact

  • Continuous focus
  • Consistency provides a rhythm
  • Consistent results 
  • Compounding growth effect MoM, QoQ, YoY 
  • Low risk & high impact 

An example of success in the margins:

  • Margins are very obvious at the top of your game
  • Who has heard of Richard Thomson? 
  • Who has heard of Usain Bolt?
    • Can you guess how much slower Richard is?
    • 0.24 seconds (9.58 vs 9.82)
    • 2.5% 
    • Yet few people have heard of Richard Thomas
    • Usain gets all the glory

Compounding effect is interesting to growth companies.

Let’s take a look at a company…

Marginal Gains Example: Growth Framework Marketing

Starting at the same point:

  • Users: 1000 
  • MRR: $49K

By focussing on margins:

  • Increasing acquisition by 2%
  • Reducing churn by 2%
  • 2 very different businesses are created

2 years on – focus on marginal gains:

  • Acquisition is 31.5%
  • Churn is 6.3%
    • Acquisition has improved >50%
    • Churn is reduced by >25%


  • 9K 
  • 36K


  • $439K 
  • $1.8M


  • Acquisition: +2%
  • Churn: -2%
3. Power of Systems

Observed in failures:

  • Marketing is ad hoc 
  • Marketing is inconsistent 
  • When people change marketing strategy and priorities change
  • There are no systems to deliver objectives or strategies 

Observed in growers:

  • Marketing is always on 
  • Marketing is consistent 
  • When people change the system continues 
  • There are systems to deliver the objectives and strategies

Red flag:

  • Don’t work with companies that are unwilling to build system 
  • The company will fail – You will fail 
4. One Function

A good customer experience is a single experience

  • Growers know and optimise for this
  • Seamless integration between functions:
    • Marketing
    • Sales
    • Product
    • Customer Service
  • Think & act as one experience

Red flag:

  • Don’t work with businesses with a hard divide and no connection between sales, marketing and product
  • It may not fail, but it will be hard and likely not a leading company in the niche
5. Deep Expertise

Marketing is more complex than ever. 

Good marketing takes deep expertise:

Generalists deliver mediocre results:

  • Don’t hire them
  • Build a team of specialists
    • If your budget is restricted: take 5 experts 1 day per week over 1 generalist 

Red flag:

  • No deep expertise in-house is dangerous = do not understand what needs to be done or the context of what experts are doing. 

Revenge Formula

What I’ve Learnt from Watching Giants

Growth Marketing: Revenge Formula

This is what I’ve learnt from watching giants:

  • Growth can be split into a formula
  • 3 Expressions

Growth is equal to:

  • FIT divided by 
  • ACTION multiplied by 

Fit Expression

Growth Marketing: Fit Expression

Have something that people want.

Fit is equal to:

  • MARKET NEED divided by

PMF (Product/Marketing Fit) is THE most important factor in the formula. 

  • I don’t work on anything which doesn’t have a clear PMF

Market need:

  • What is the need?
  • How big is the need? 
  • What are the market factors?

Compatible solution:

  • How does it meet the need? 
  • To what degree does it meet the need?
  • Is it the right price?

Action Expression

Action Expression - Growth Marketing

Doing the right things to get results.

Action is equal to:

  • OBJECTIVES divided by 
  • STRATEGY multiplied by 

This is where many businesses fall down

  • People good at setting objectives
  • People NOT good at building systems to accomplish them
  • Lack of reality and follow-through

Rules of thumb:

  • Mediocre strategies consistently executed beat incredible strategies which have been poorly executed
  • Think “Is it realistic?”
  • Think about HOW
  • Build the HOW


  • WHERE are we going? 
  • WHAT do we want to accomplish? 
  • SMART objectives
  • Measurable


HOW will we get where we’re going?


  • WHAT are you going to do? 
  • WHEN will it be done? 
  • WHO will do it?
  • HOW much will it cost? 

Momentum Expression

Momentum Expression: Growth Framework

Build momentum behind your marketing operation.

  • Improve experience 
  • Improve performance 
  • Reduce cost

Momentum is equal to:

  • Multiplied by DEVELOPMENT 


  • All of your marketing assets 
  • Data, Technology


  • Processes for all of your operations
  • Document everything: 


Maturity of your operation

Digital Marketing Maturity


  • Development is important
  • Development is maturity
  • Maturity is a multiplier factor 
  • This is understood by the fastest growing and biggest brands
  • Covers how you use: 
  1. Data 
  2. Technology

Operational Impact: 

  • Data integrations, workflow automation, automated decisioning

Business Impact:  

  • Lower operating costs, increased performance

What is Digital Marketing Maturity?

What is Digital Marketing Maturity?


  • Siloed activity on Facebook & Google 
  • Data not connected 
  • Lack of attribution
  • Example – Local Plumber:
    • Running search ads – GA & Ads not connected
    • Running FB ads – no conversion pixel


  • Some use of data in media buying 
  • Examples – Plumber: 
    • Using Google Display to remarket website visitors


  • Data integrated, but not centralised 
  • Activity linked to ROI 
  • Example – Retailer Company
    • Retargeting product viewers 
    • Stop targeting at the point of purchase 
    • Enhanced Ecommerce to measure and report transaction values


  • Dynamic execution optimised to single business outcomes 
  • Personalised ad/message
  • Personalised experience

Digital Marketing Maturity Scarcity

Digital Marketing Maturity Scarcity

  • Only 2% of companies are multi-moment
  • Nearly 90% are in the middle
  • IRL we see more companies in nascent & emerging

Digital Marketing Maturity Benefits

Digital Marketing Maturity Benefits


  • Increased Revenue: 15%
  • Cost Efficiency: 12%

2% – Multi-moments

  • Increased Revenue: 30%
  • Cost Efficiency: 20%

One million budget

  • Power of $1.5M 

Digital Marketing Mature Brands

Digital Marketing Mature Brands

Multi-moment brands you know:

  • Not just consumer brands
  • Tech brands are very good at multi-moment 
  • Travel 
  • B2B
  • Ecomm

A connected example which should be multi-moment:

Growth Marketing: Multi-moment example


What happened:

  • Targeted
  • Visit Site
  • Download App
  • Signed up
  • Created List
  • Acquisition Messaging
  • Finished Bob’s Masterclass
  • Remarketed Bob’s Course
  • Acquisition Messaging  

My Expectation:

  • Targeted
  • Visit Site
  • Download App
  • Signed up
  • Created List
  • Activation: Start Course
  • Finished Course
  • Activation: List
  • No Activity 
  • Retention: incomplete course


  • Personalised: using my data
  • Journey Specific: uses behavioural data

Digital Marketing Maturity Funnel


Growth frameworkAt In Marketing We Trust, we create automated moment based messaging systems:


  • First-party and third-party data signals 
  • Where are they in the journey?
  • What is the next best action?


  • What is the call to action?
  • What happens beyond the click?


  • What is the right message for this moment?
  • Messaging matrix


  • What ad format is best for the job?
  • What channel is best for the job?


  • How do we measure success?

How to Become Multi-Moment

How to Become Multi-Moment: Growth Marketing

How do you become multi-moment?

Integrate data:

Optimise execution:

  • Deliver personalised interactions
  • Deliver outcome focussed interactions

Digital Marketing Maturity Pathway

Digital Marketing Maturity Pathway

BCG and Google have a digital marketing maturity pathway.

Includes 2 factors:

  1. Organisational steps
  2. Technical Steps

Digital Marketing Maturity Steps

Digital Marketing Maturity Steps

The pathway has 3 stages.

  • Technical steps
  • Organisational steps
  1. Set the foundations 
  2. Build connections 
  3. Make every moment matter

Digital Marketing Maturity Checklist

Growth Marketing Checklist: Digital Marketing Maturity

  1. Data-driven Targeting – What data and how you can use it?
  2. Automated Activation – How you can buy smarter and deliver the right content 
  3. Measurement – What are you KPIs, what technology and reporting requirements do you have?
  4. Organisational Collaboration – How do we work as a company to achieve transformation?

Growth Marketing Learnings

Growth Marketing Learnings

This is what I have learned from watching giants in growth marketing.

How can you apply this?

  1. Characteristics – Act like a giant
  2. Framework – Adopt a growth marketing framework
  3. Maturity – Focus on developing operational maturity 


Join us at our next Google Marketing Platform event:

Paul Hewett

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