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    The rise of the growth marketing platform in 2023

    As the need for growth-related roles and hiring continues to accelerate, the platform, tooling and software requirements for these roles, functions and teams continues to evolve.

    Growth marketing managers and chief growth officers are among the roles most in demand
    Source: Marketing Week

    Today there are a number of leading growth marketing platforms, such as Truenorth, GrowthHackers Experiments, our own Growth Method. Additionally a number of teams and companies are using Airtable for growth-related functions, a host of growth experiment templates exist for a wide range of more horizontal platforms.

    What is a growth marketing platform?

    When it comes to growth marketing platforms, there is no industry standard definition, no core set of functionality and no Gartner magic quadrant. There are however a small number of companies, us included, forging a clear and separate path to the plethora of more generic marketing project management software.

    Let’s start with what is not, in our opinion, a growth marketing platform:

    “A great growth marketing platform will be an all-in-one platform that has great analytics capabilities, social media planning, new landing page creation, and email automation to start.”

    https://sharpspring.com/marketing/what-is-growth-marketing/

    “Growth marketing platforms use data-driven techniques to identify and activate your most valuable customers. They offer a suite of marketing tools to help you grow your business, including social media, email marketing, lead generation, website optimization, and more.”

    https://landbot.io/blog/growth-marketing

    There are two main areas we disagree with definitions such as these:

    1. A platform provides a foundation that other products can be added to, or stacked on top of. Platforms are not unified “one stop shop” offerings from a single vendor. At best, SharpSpring is a suite of growth marketing tools.
    2. A growth marketing platform should enable growth through the ability to connect a variety of tools, teams, data and processes. This means the ability to support the implementation of agile marketing and growth marketing best practises.

    Why use a growth marketing platform?

    We have written previously about marketing project management in general, the challenges of a waterfall based approach and the need for more agile practises. Unfortunately, many of the commonly used task management tools, such as Asana, Trello, ClickUp, Teamwork etc etc, and great more general task and project management, but weren’t built for the needs for more modern agile and growth marketing teams.

    There are 3 main problems that we typically see when marketing teams decide to implement generic project and task management tools.

    1. Outputs over outcomes

    The biggest problem with traditional task management solutions is that quickly employees fall into the output versus outcome trap. “Work” quickly becomes focused on creating and assigning tasks, responding to notifications, joining team calls, communicating status updates and discussing the next sprint cycle. Before you know it, high impact work gets replaced with work about work, and goals start shifting towards outputs as opposed to outcomes – because they’re easier to measure.

    According to a 2021 study of 10,223 global knowledge workers, workers now spend 60 percent of their valuable time on work about work, or metawork, as its become known. That’s equivalent to spending January to mid-August on work that doesn’t really move the needle.

    For more information on this topic, see our review of marketing project management software.

    2. Feature bloat

    We believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to project management. The needs of a modern marketing team (for example) are vastly different to the needs of an architectural practice. And yet, most project management tools are completely industry agnostic – jack of all trades, master of none.

    As a result, a race for feature parity has resulted in ever-increasing complexity and feature bloat. Work about work features such as custom fields, annotation, proofing, resource allocation functions, workload distribution reports, AI auto-scheduling, timesheets, time tracking, message boards and auto check-ins adds enormous complexity and does very little (if anything) to improve business outcomes.

    3. Jack of all trades, master of none

    Many project management tools want to be the “all-in-one toolkit” (Basecamp) and to “replace 6-7 apps with one project planning software” (ProofHub). They want all work to happen in one place.

    However, this results in lots of very average “jack of all trades” software:

    • Mediocre file storage, not Box/DropBox
    • Mediocre task tracking, not Trello
    • A mediocre chat solution, not Slack or Teams
    • Mediocre video calling, not Zoom
    • Mediocre document storage and collaboration, not Microsoft Office or Google Docs
    • Mediocre image editing, not Photoshop
    • Mediocre version control, not Jira or GitHub

    We believe in the right tool for the job, and one built for modern marketing teams.

    Growth marketing platform features

    First of all, we believe a good growth platform should be light on features. The goal should be to minimise (not maximise) the amount of time users spend in your app. The best marketing project management platforms get out of the way and enable team members to focus on execution.

    The goal of any marketing project management platform is to empower the team through ownership and accountability, not to enable micro-management.

    FeatureDescription
    Goal TrackingSet KPIs and goals to keep everyone aligned. Whatever your goal (traffic, MQLs, revenue etc) your entire team should be focused on that goal.
    Custom DashboardsDisplay how core metrics are trending, both input metrics (such as marketing experiments started) and output metrics (such as traffic, MQLs, revenue etc).
    Idea RepositoryCapture ideas in a central repository so that opportunities can be analysed and prioritised (see Idea Scoring below)
    Idea ScoringThe ability to accurately score and prioritise ideas enables teams to make strategic work decisions and to focus on this high-leverage work.
    Agile ExperimentationPromote a fixed-time over fixed-scope mindset. Agile marketers break down large projects into smaller testable ideas that can be improved upon and scaled once they have been proven to be successful.
    Custom ReportingReports should provide growth marketing teams with a 360 degree view of everything that matters allowing you to gather and visualise what you need – quickly and easily.
    Sharing & CollaborationSecure sharing and collaboration features are an efficient way to keep all your stakeholders on the same page and up to date with your teams progress.
    Learning KnowledgebaseReduce time-consuming work, on-board new team members fast, and minimise human error by optimising and refining repeatable processes.
    Templates LibraryA pre-made templates and playbooks can be used as inspiration to kick-start your marketing projects, ideas and experiments.
    App IntegrationsEnable a team to integrate metrics from popular third party tools such as HubSpot, Pardot, Salesforce, Google Analytics and more.
    Custom NotificationsKeep your entire team updated as things change, no matter where they are. Ensure growth team meetings focus on learnings and insights rather than activity review.
    Growth marketing platform features

    *Not* growth marketing platform providers

    A number of software providers, particularly in the marketing automation space, have tried to reposition as growth marketing platforms in previous years causing a fair amount of confusion. We have listed a number of these below, alternatively just skip ahead to real growth marketing platform providers.

    Klaviyo

    “Boost ecommerce revenue with Klaviyo, a marketing automation platform for email and sms with a built-in CDP at no added cost. Get higher ROI. No risk.”

    https://www.klaviyo.com/

    At one point Klaviyo was positioned as “the growth marketing platform built for online businesses” but are now focused on E-commerce marketing automation. Both g2 and Trustradius put Klaviyo as marketing automation category though at the time of writing they appear to be pivoting to include Customer Data Platform (CDP) functionality.

    Image source

    Adroll

    “AdRoll provides a single platform for ecommerce brands to easily launch display ads, social media ads, and email that engages existing customers, attracts new customers, and grows revenue.”

    https://www.adroll.com/

    Despite trying to position themselves as a Growth Marketing Platform in 2020 and 2021, Adroll are now firmly in the AdTech category.

    Image source

    Act-On Software

    Act-On is a similar story to Klaviyo, despite positioning as “the growth marketing platform for the modern marketer” in 2020, Act-On are now firmly in the marketing automation space.

    Act-On has all the marketing automation features you need without making things overly complicated (ahem, Marketo), or making you pledge undying allegiance to an entire product suite (mm-eham, HubSpot). We give you the complete marketing feature set you need without over-inflated hard to use platforms that cost too much.

    https://act-on.com/
    Image source

    SharpSpring

    SharpSpring was acquired by Constant Contact in 2021 and position themselves as “revenue growth platform” though most customers would describe them as a CRM or marketing automation suite.

    Fuel your growth & drive more leads with SharpSpring’s sales, marketing automation, & CRM features in an all-in-one, affordable Revenue Growth Platform.

    https://sharpspring.com/
    SharpSpring revenue growth platform

    Iterable

    Iterable is a marketing automation platform turned customer engagement platform. Similar to Klaviyo they are focused on Ecommerce and enable customers to manage advertising campaigns across multiple channels. The growth marketing platform positioning and messaging was pushed heavily in 2019 but is far less prominent now.

    “Iterable is a cross-channel marketing platform that powers unified customer experiences and empowers you to create, optimise and measure every interaction across the entire customer journey.

    Iterable.com
    Growth marketing platform from Iterable

    According to Gartner Peer Insights they sit alongside Salesforce, Mailchimp and HubSpot. Similarly Capterra list them in the marketing automation category.
    analyse campaign performance across channels

    Insider

    Insider arguably made the most noise with their Growth Marketing Platform (GMP) messaging initially, but at the time of writing seem to be repositioning as a cross-channel campaign management platform (CCCM). Similar to Iterable and Klaviyo, Insider is heavily focused on DTC and Ecommerce.

    Image source

    “Insider connects data across channels, predicts future behavior with AI, and individualizes experiences from a single platform with the fastest time to value.”

    https://useinsider.com/

    True growth marketing platform providers

    There are currently 3 real growth marketing platform providers that we know of:

    Truenorth

    “TrueNorth is the only growth marketing platform to plan and track marketing in one place, with everything and everyone focused on the goal.”

    https://truenorth.io/
    Growth Marketing Platform from Truenorth

    Growth Software

    Despite the frequent name and branding changes (GrowthHackers Canvas, GrowthHackers Projects, GrowthHackers Northstar, GrowthHackers Experiments, Growth Software), the GrowthHackers software platform was one of the first true growth marketing platforms.

    For more information see our in-depth review of GrowthHackers Experiments.

    Growth marketing platform from Growth Software
    Growth marketing platform from Growth Software

    Growth Method

    We help growth marketing teams to track marketing objectives, run revenue experiments, engage stakeholders and build in-house expertise.

    growthmethod.com
    Growth marketing platform from Growth Method

    Final thoughts

    Keep an eye on our Airtable database below which we update in real-time.

    Got questions? Ping me on LinkedIn or on Twitter.

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