High tech companies need growth managers to pinpoint their products’ growth opportunities, develop strategies to fill those opportunity gaps, increase company revenue, and motivate customers to adopt the product.
The growth manager (GM) role cannot be understated. It feels more like hacking growth.
After growth manager Chamath Palihapitiya discovered Facebook’s key driver for retaining users, Silicon Valley was suddenly all about growth hackers, better known as growth managers.
Why? This one key took Facebook to a billion subscribers!
It became apparent that product development and marketing are integrated functions. And between these two functions stands the growth manager.
They are more than just the bridge between product development and marketing. They bring together every department’s efforts in the company to increase revenue and minimize expenditures.
If you want to be a high-tech job manager, it takes practice to be effective, but growth managers thrive on challenges. Read on to learn more about growth manager careers.
This article will cover:
What Is a Growth Manager?
A growth manager is in the business of anything that increases business revenue.
This includes everything between gaining new customers and turning them into active customers. A GM will also find ways to revive inactive customers and simultaneously minimize expenditure costs (like marketing costs).
The growth manager cannot increase the business revenue based on a gut feeling. They should rely on hardcore data to derive patterns.
Based on user patterns, the growth team determines worthy growth ideas and discovers growth opportunities.
The growth manager participates in and approves suggested growth initiatives. Then, they create an accurate and detailed business presentation on the suggested growth initiatives, including how to implement them and track their performance.
The growth manager reports to an executive like the CEO. In our example, the GM should report to the Director of High Growth Accounts.
In summary, the growth manager analyzes user patterns to increase active users. Increasing active users results in more revenue generated, less money spent on marketing, and more upsell opportunities.
They look at data and see patterns. The growth manager needs full access to product data, sales data, and marketing data to drive growth. Every growth initiative should be based on data-driven conclusions.
Working closely with the company’s growth team and other teams, the growth manager analyzes customer behavior to find the user’s ‘aha moment.’
The ‘aha moment’ is when a user understands the value of your product, and it’s when one-time customers turn into active users.
For example, in Facebook’s early days, the growth team led by Chamath Palihapitiya set about determining what retained users in their platform (the aha moment).
Based on customer behavior data, they noticed new users who made at least seven friends within the first ten days after sign up would keep using the platform, as opposed to users who made no friends within the first two weeks.
The growth team hypothesized that new users needed to connect with at least seven friends within ten days after sign up.
Chamath Palihapitiya passed this insight to the product development team, who developed a feature that helped new users connect with their friends as soon as they signed up.
This skyrocketed Facebook’s growth to what it is today, and Chamath Palihapitiya was part of the whole process.
What Do Growth Managers Actually Do?
A growth manager’s specific roles may vary between organizations, but the main responsibility is to identify growth opportunities and engineer initiatives to fill gaps.
A GM is expected to make moves that increase business revenues and decrease expenditure.
Gather User Insights
High-tech companies employ growth managers to find opportunities to increase revenue and minimize expenditures by gathering user insights.
The growth manager’s duties revolve around crunching user behavior data using analytics tools, A/B testing tools, and other business intelligence tools.
When the available user data is limited, the growth manager will coordinate efforts to get customer feedback using surveys, questionnaires, etc.
Ensure the Business Is Winning in the Market
To ensure a business is winning, the growth manager has three main responsibilities:
- Identify and define the growth plan that will take the business to the next level. The growth plan is based on data-driven insights.
- Coordinate the growth team and other department teams to execute the growth plan. The growth manager works closely with the analytics team, marketing, product designers, product development, and other teams to implement the growth initiatives.
- Optimize the sales process (i.e., moving users down the sales funnel).
Customer Acquisition and Retention
Growth managers draw user patterns and lead experiments and growth initiatives to acquire new customers, push leads down the sales funnel, upsell, and nurture existing customers.
This initiates strategies that motivate product users to adopt the product, like real estate buyers and sellers, to discover the digital platform’s value.
Define Growth Objectives
The growth manager should help a company define its growth objective. By analyzing user data, the growth manager will help the company determine where to focus on growth.
For example, if many users churn a platform after sign up, should the company focus on customer retention strategies?
Prioritize Growth Initiatives
The growth manager is responsible for prioritizing growth initiatives based on the success probability, the potential gain from the initiative’s success, and the cost of testing the idea.
Create a Growth Plan
The GM will then create a roadmap of growth initiatives to test. This roadmap of growth ideas makes up the growth plan.
The growth manager also defines key performance indicators (KPIs) that will measure the growth plan’s progress.
For example, if the growth initiative focuses on customer retention, they could measure Orders Per Active Customers (i.e., the average amount of orders customers placed in the platform within some timeframe) after making product improvements.
Execute the Growth Plan
The growth manager involves the whole organization in executing, tracking, and processing growth initiatives.
Each growth team will have a systematic way of driving growth initiatives depending on the company objective.
Generally, the growth manager and the growth teamwork with user data and analytic tools, like Google Analytics, to segment users based on user patterns. User patterns are based on different possibilities like:
- The channel used to get to the product, e.g., email referral, Google search, social media referral, etc.
- The action taken on the platform, e.g., signing up, uploading property to sell, viewing a property, etc.
- The time spent on the platform.
The growth team can use myriad other possibilities, including location, age, job titles. They then combine different possibilities to create buyer personas.
These buyer personas are then tested (using A/B testing tools like Optimizely), and based on the conclusions, the growth manager will pass customer insights (growth initiatives) to the product development team, answering questions such as why users are not making any orders.
Growth management is an iterative process that involves testing growth initiatives, analyzing results, adjusting accordingly, and repeating the process.
Data Infrastructure Before Growth Management
Clearly, the job of a growth manager relies on customer data and analytics. Without customer data, the growth manager’s first role will be to develop data infrastructure to analyze customer behavior and conduct experiments.
Most high-tech companies create their own data infrastructure, but many companies use Data Software as a Service (SaaS). They have everything the growth manager needs to experiment with the data.
When outsourcing a product, the growth manager chooses and integrates outsourced products with the existing data infrastructure. A growth manager should know about various data infrastructures.
Product Development Before Growth
In a product development life-cycle, the growth manager comes in at the last and iterative stage: maintenance and improvement.
Commercial products go through 5 stages of life, including:
- Product Development
The growth manager’s efforts sustain the product in the maturity stage to avoid the decline stage. At the maturity stage, the sales increase and stabilize on a high note.
The GM’s focus is to identify opportunities, new markets, or product improvements the company has not yet explored to keep the platform competitive.
Since technology advancements are inevitable, growth managers need to stay up to date with the technologies they use,
Characteristics of Successful Growth Managers
From the growth manager’s job description, you can already draw some vital skills like knowing how to use data tools and designing experiments, coordinating teams and presenting ideas, understanding user behavior data, etc.
One thing sets apart a successful growth manager and a mediocre one: the growth manager’s mind.
A growth manager needs to train their mind to be strategic, analytical, objective, creative, and sharp.
Here are the characteristics that make a successful growth manager:
- Fluent in data analysis and data processing tools like analytics tools, data visualization tools, A/B testing tools, Excel, etc.
- Ability to analyze customer behavior data accurately.
- A deep understanding of various customer acquisition channels, e.g., search engine results, paid ads, email referrals, organic traffic, social media referrals, etc.
- A good grasp of customer behavior and how to walk a customer through the buyer’s journey
- T-shaped skills: they have a general knowledge of various things and are experts in one or two skills.
- Knowing how to translate data into insight; growth managers combine user behavior data with their understanding of user needs (based on research and customer feedback) to diagnose the sales funnel.
- Experience in leadership to coordinate cross-functional teams to achieve a shared objective.
- Experimental at heart; a good growth manager embraces failure and uses the results to draw actionable conclusions.
- Has a background in online and offline marketing, statistics, and funnel building.
- Self-starter1: has demonstrated an ability to make initiatives and see them to the end without supervision.
- Experience in project and product development.
Where Can You Work as a Growth Manager?
Small, medium, and large technology companies need growth managers. You can work as a growth manager in any tech-oriented company, from real estate technology startups to financial tech companies. All you need is experience with acquiring and pushing leads down the sales funnel.
Your growth manager’s focus will be acquiring new customers, leading customer activations (helping customers realize the value of the product), upselling (persuading customers to buy your higher-end products), and retaining existing customers. All these increase the company’s profits.
How Can You Become a Growth Manager?
Do you have experience working with analytical tools like Google Analytics? Can you identify and manage growth opportunities? Can you upsell? Have you led a successful marketing strategy before?
Though a marketing degree or business degree is favorable, it’s the experience and skills that matter.
You don’t need to go to school to be an effective growth manager if you can teach yourself. In fact, some leading growth managers are self-starters and entrepreneurs.
If you are passionate and experienced in sales and marketing, but don’t qualify for a growth manager position, consider applying for the sales enablement manager position.
High tech companies also need sales enablement managers to lead their dedicated sales enablement teams.
In a sales enablement manager position, you can take advantage of business tools and opportunities to develop growth manager skills. Learn more about the sales enablement manager career!