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  Inbound Marketing Vs. Growth Hacking

If you’re familiar with the trends and buzzwords in marketing you’ve most likely encountered growth hacking and inbound marketing. Instead of debating which one is better I want to share how you can integrate both strategies to take your marketing to the next level.

The term “growth hacker” itself was coined by Sean Ellis through his blog about startup marketing. The core concept is that growth hacking is a process of continuously experimenting to scale exponentially as quick as possible. Whereas traditional marketing experts; growth hackers focus on the entire marketing and sales funnel.

The term “inbound marketing” was coined by Brian Halligan who’s the CEO of HubSpot. Inbound marketing provides information, an improved customer experience and builds trust by offering potential customers information they value via company sponsored newsletters, blogs and entries on social media platforms.

Now let’s analyze both the growth hacking funnel and inbound marketing funnel to see how we can scale your startup.

Here’s The growth hacking funnel:

Here’s the inbound marketing funnel:

As a startup the first two things you want to focus on is developing your business model and getting product market fit. Then you can focus on scaling your company through digital marketing initiatives.

Attract (Acquisitions)

Regardless if you call it acquisitions or attract the goal is the same, send people to your website. This can be the result of seo, pay per click, blogging, social media, optimizing your website, and guest posts (getting featured on authoritative websites). Any techniques used to exploit loopholes in these inbound marketing strategies at this stage in the funnel can be considered a growth hack. One example is Brian Dean from Backlinko skyscraper technique.

I will caution you to make sure you're attracting the right people to your website or you will have a problem with converting your website visitors into customers. We will focus on solving this problem later on within this course so don't stress.

Convert (Activation, Retention)

Now that you have an increasing amount of monthly website visitors you can begin to optimize based on your conversion goals (contact form submissions, online purchases, demo registrations, etc.). Some common methods include:

  1. Optimizing your website page speed
  2. Auditing your website for technical seo errors
  3. Using heatmaps to monitor the user experience
  4. Running A/B tests on emails and landing pages within your website

One example of this is at we noticed our conversion rate for registrations was low on mobile devices which didn’t match the ratio of website visitors on mobile vs. desktop. To solve this problem we changed the button functionality and updated a web page that wasn’t optimized for mobile devices.

Close (Revenue)

Now this is what you been waiting for! After attracting website visitors and optimizing your site to convert visitors into leads we can now focus on generating revenue. This step is also where sales and marketing collide.

When we gain leads we must nurture them until they're ready to purchase. This can be done through providing a personalized user experience and tracking leads within a CRM. As a rule of thumb the higher the price of your product or service the more nurturing will be required due to longer sales cycles.

Growth hacks that can be performed at this stage mainly revolve around using social selling software, email drip campaigns, and finding ways to shorten the traction to complete a purchase.

Two techniques used include integrating popular payment checkout options such as Apple Pay, PayPal, etc. and pursuing subscription based business models which allows you to auto bill customers.

Delight (Referral)

The best form of marketing is done via word of mouth when we recommend products to our friends. This also holds true online as well which is why companies like Uber and Airbnb have referral programs integrated within them. Besides looking to exploit viral loops within your actual product you should provide value after the sale. This could be strong customer support or an educational resource for example.

I’m a fan of Fitbit, even though I can get a step counter anywhere they provide great customer service for me on several occasions. From my one purchase I have been able to receive a new Fitbit which they upgraded me to as a complementary option.

Closing Remarks

If you find this information useful but need a plan to help you escape the headaches of trying to grow your startup on your own then let me help. HubSpot is a powerful marketing automation tool which can become a blessing or a curse depending on if you know how to use it.