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The 6-Step Growth Marketing Process Explained

Article originally published in June 2019 by Stuart Brameld. Most recent update in February 2023.

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The 6-step growth marketing process

“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.”

W. Edwards Deming

The HubSpot team adopted the 6-step growth marketing process below in order to maximise progress towards marketing goals:

  1. Research – perform ongoing customer research
  2. Gather – gather insights to generate new ideas & opportunities
  3. Prioritise – prioritise insights to find the highest impact ideas
  4. Test – run fast, agile tests to validate hypotheses
  5. Analyse – analyse the results, find out what works and what doesn’t
  6. Systematise – create repeatable playbooks and systems

How the growth marketing process works

Let’s describe each of the 6 steps above in a little more detail below.

1. Set Objectives

Set quantitative objectives for your team. For new teams we suggest 3 objectives:

  1. Growth Process
  2. Traffic
  3. Engagement

A growth process OKR helps to support a healthy transition to the growth culture by prioritising momentum. New growth teams should aim for a healthy cadence of idea submission and experiment execution that prioritises constant iteration, feedback and learning.

2. Find Opportunities

This is where your team come up with and store new ideas – these may come from team meetings, speaking with others in the company, attending conferences, reading online, customer research or competitor analysis. Ideally, your experiments and opportunities should be based on a hypothesis rooted in a strong understanding of your customer.

Ideas may just be a sentence or two long but should follow a standard format. In order to Ideas should include a hypothesis that predicts the results of the test.

This forces team members to think through their assumptions and why they think the idea is worth spending time on.

What To IncludeExample
What is your idea?We should create individual retargeting sequences for our product pages.
What you think will change?We’ll get more website form completions and enquiries.
Why you think this will happen? We can further educate people as they browse other websites and bring them back to our site.
How much you think it will increase by?Based on industry standards and research from Adroll form submissions will increase by 10%, equating to 10 new leads per month.

Once all opportunities are aggregated in a single place, they can be prioritised effectively to find the highest-value opportunities.

3. Prioritise High-Impact Opportunities

What are the first few opportunities you see in your business that you can execute on? Where is the low-hanging fruit? Where are the biggest leaks in your existing lead generation funnels?

Ideas are prioritised on a regular basis to ensure every team member always knows the next most important thing to work on. Ideas are scored based on 3 criteria:

  1. Impact – the likely impact if the experiment is a success
  2. Confidence – confidence that the experiment will succeed
  3. Resource – The amount of resource required to run the experiment

In addition to keeping the team focused on high impact activities, the prioritisation process forces the team to be honest, and avoid human nature where people tend to:

  1. Overestimate the probability of success
  2. Inflate the impact of something that has just been delivered
  3. Underestimate the amount of effort required to implement something

4: Design Agile Experiments

Once an idea has been selected to be run as an experiment, consideration is given as to how to design the experiment.

The goal is to try and avoid large code changes, or the involvement of other teams, and to think through what is the smallest thing that can be done in order to prove or disprove the hypothesis in the shortest amount of time (usually 4-6 weeks). This is known as the Minimum Viable Test.

Team members record the following information at the design stage:

  1. Hypothesis
  2. Outline of the experiment
  3. Time to complete the activity
  4. Data & Success Metrics
  5. Next steps

5: Implement

At this stage a member of the team implements the experiment.

Team members keep a record of the main steps taken to implement an experiment as this builds retained knowledge within the team. Any team member should be able to re-run an experiment based on the previously documented steps.

Being explicit with documentation also makes it easy for others to see what everyone is working on, without the need for frequent team updates and phone calls.

6: Analyse / Review

Did the experiment succeed?

The team member checks to see if the experiment achieved the targeted improvement goal. The owner of the experiment then initiates discussion in the next team meeting around the analysis and learnings from their test. This often results in new iterations and experiments to add as new ideas (See Step One). Team members should record both:

  1. Impact – the results of the experiment
  2. Accuracy – how close the results were to the hypothesis and why

Most experiments will not succeed, but as long as the team is learning (failing forward) these learnings can be used in order to build towards more success next time. This is how growth teams uncover big wins.

7: Systemise

After a successful experiment the goal is to either Productise or Systematise. Where possible, technology or engineering is used in order to productise a successful experiment. If this is not possible, step-by-step processes are created (or existing processes updated) in order to produce better results next time. Think of your playbooks as instructions for scaling.

The goal of the team is to build retained knowledge and expertise within the team, and to create a repository of proven and repeatable marketing processes.

Want to learn more about the growth marketing process?

We have provided Brian’s 30 minute talk below which describes the complete Growth Marketing process in detail.

Brian Balfour at 500 Startups (the well-known Silicon Valley technology accelerator)