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Growth marketing’s definition is pretty straightforward – marketing your business with growth in mind. But executing it properly isn’t as simple as you’d think.

In such a crowded digital environment, it can be hard for any organisation to stand out. In order to break through the noise, it’s become increasingly important to have a marketing strategy that is creative, iterative, and compelling. A strategy that not only helps with customer acquisition, but one that is a breeding ground for virality, word of mouth, and organic growth. This new and powerful way of building a loyal user base has a name: growth marketing.

Let’s start off with a brief introduction of growth marketing.

Growth marketing is marketing 2.0. It takes the traditional marketing model and adds layers such as A/B testing, value-additive blog posts, data-driven email marketing campaigns, SEO optimisation, creative ad copy, and technical analysis of every aspect of a user’s experience. The insights gained from these strategies are quickly implemented in order to achieve robust and sustainable growth.

Some big-name companies that have achieved that kind of growth include Amazon, Google, Facebook and Netflix. Countless others have tried to mirror that trajectory using various growth marketing strategies hoping to capture, grow and retain a customer base that launches them into the stratosphere of success.

Read more about growth marketing in our previous post – What Is Growth Marketing?

Depending on the kind of company you’re building, your growth strategy might include aspects like:

  • Adding new locations
  • Investing in customer acquisition
  • Franchising opportunities
  • Product line expansions
  • Selling products online across multiple platforms

Your particular industry and target market will influence your decisions, but it’s almost universally true that new customer acquisition will play a sizable role.

Not sure what that looks like for your business? Here are 5 examples of a successful growth marketing strategy.

Start by learning from the most successful companies. Identify their strategies, test them in your niche, and see what works best for you. Here are three companies and their primary growth strategies to get you started.



1) Dropbox

Growth strategy utilised: Viral loops

As a trailblazer in the cloud storage software landscape, Dropbox launched in 2008 and introduced the world to the ease of keeping files in the cloud, rather than on a physical device. We take that convenience for granted today, but it wasn’t always the case. In fact, Dropbox faced an uphill battle to convince users to abandon their trusty USBs and external drives in favour of the “cloud” which was a new and unknown idea back then.

Dropbox knew it had a premium product that everyone from students to executives would find invaluable. It just had to get the word out. But it eventually succeeded. The service hit its million users milestone by April 2009, doubled that figure five months later, and made it to three million just two months after that. Currently, Dropbox boasts over 500 million users worldwide.

How did they do it? Viral loops.

Source: Dropbox grew 3900% with a simple referral program. Here’s how!

The basic premise of a viral loop is straightforward: Someone tries your product > They’re offered a valuable incentive to share it with others > They accept and share with their network > New users sign up, see the incentive for themselves, and share with their networks > Repeat

At its best, a viral loop is a self-perpetuating acquisition machine that operates 24/7/365.

Dropbox works on a freemium to a premium model, offering all users 2GB of storage with a free account. But its incentive? An additional 500MB for every friend they successfully refer, allowing users to get up to 16GB for free.

The result? The service grew by 3,900% over a 15-month span.

Viral loops are not guaranteed to go viral, and they’ve become less effective as they’ve become more commonplace. But the potential is still there. Part of the appeal is that the viral loop flips the traditional funnel upside-down. Instead of needing as many leads as possible at the top, a viral loop funnel requires just one satisfied user to share with others. As long as every referral results in at least 1.1 new users, the system continues growing.



2) Slack

Growth strategy utilised: Word-of-mouth

In less than six years, Slack has become the go-to platform for online collaboration and communication for both professional and personal users. From just 8,000 users at launch in 2013, Slack hit one million daily active users in late 2015. Today, the service boasts over 10 million daily active users. That’s a pretty stellar growth metric. But how did Slack do it?

In the beginning, Slack made itself available to large, established companies generating plenty of early press coverage. The company focused on user satisfaction above all, answering thousands of help tickets and tweets each month. This attention to customer service led directly to positive word-of-mouth amongst its early adopters.

Even Slack’s leadership team was blown away by the success of its word-of-mouth approach. In 2014, co-founder Steward Butterfield stated, “The growth has been completely insane and almost entirely on word of mouth. In fact, we just hired our first marketing person, but he doesn’t begin until next week.”

Word-of-mouth is organic and effective. The secret of word-of-mouth’s effectiveness lies in a deeply rooted psychological bias all people have. We subconsciously believe the majority knows better. That’s why social proof remains the #1 instrument in both sales copywriting and overall marketing content, and that’s why most brands draw focus toward their online reputation.



3) WhatsApp

Growth strategy utilised: “When They Zig, We Zag”

WhatsApp wasn’t the first cross-platform messaging app when it launched in 2009, but it has gone on to become one of the most successful. Over 1.2 billion monthly active users can vouch for that. Its founders, Brian Acton and Jan Koum, wanted to create a product without the baggage that came with similar apps at the time. They intentionally opted for no ads, no marketing, and a free first year to attract users fed up with other providers.

And it worked. WhatsApp stood out by being dramatically different from every other option at the time. They created a product that was brilliantly simple for sending and receiving instant messages. People started to use and share it as a result, so much so that WhatsApp’s growth outpaced the likes of Facebook, Skype, and Gmail in its first four years.

Use this tactic by first asking what’s wrong with the current options in your niche? Can you improve or eliminate it entirely? Highlight what you find, and get users talking.




When it comes to growth marketing, there’s a difference between knowing what you need to change and how to change it. You might know that you need to increase your traffic, but not how to do so, in which case you’ll delegate that task to a specialist or team with more experience in that area.

Learn everything you need to know about growth marketing (not just the theoretical aspects, but also the practical aspects) with our 2-day course – Professional Certification in Growth Marketing.





What Is Growth Marketing? (And Why You Need It)

5 Growth Strategies Used By The Most Successful Companies