Digital Marketing vs. Growth Marketing: Which Delivers the Best ROI?

Mackenzie | November 24, 2020 | Digital Marketing

Welcome to the world of marketing — every agency has a different claim to fame, and everyone calls their marketing strategy something a little different. With terms like inbound marketing, growth marketing, digital marketing, content marketing, and even growth hacking, how are you supposed to know what's what, and which of all of these terms are right for your business?


We've been systematically tackling some of the most common marketing terms, so if you've got questions on outbound marketing vs inbound marketing, digital marketing vs inbound marketing, or inbound marketing vs. content marketing, be sure to check out our blog


In this article, we're going to take a look at digital marketing vs. growth marketing. 

Digital marketing has been around for a while, but growth marketing is a newer term that's getting a lot of buzz, especially if you call it by its cool name — growth hacking. Sounds mysterious doesn't it?

It doesn't have to be. 






If you're looking to grow your business by bringing in and closing more qualified leads, faster, you'll need to know what both growth marketing and digital marketing are, how they differ, and how they can work together.

But you're probably most interested in which delivers the greatest ROI — I'll get to that too. Let's jump in: 


Digital Marketing vs. Growth Marketing: What's the Difference?


The biggest difference between digital marketing and growth marketing is methodology. Digital marketing is a set of marketing tactics that are applied digitally. Everything from SEO to email marketing to PPC and digital advertising is considered digital marketing. Growth marketing is a marketing methodology that places a high value on goal-setting, data analysis, and testing & experimentation. Growth marketing often uses a number of digital marketing techniques, but its primary goal is to deliver measurable growth for your company. 


Let's take a deeper look at both digital marketing and growth marketing and the difference between them. 

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What is Digital Marketing?


Like I mentioned, digital marketing is a set of marketing tactics. There are no "rules" to digital marketing, and no methodology that necessarily guides it. 





There are many types of digital marketing, which makes "digital marketing" a great, umbrella term that means any kind of marketing action you take online or on a digital platform. In general, digital marketing encompasses marketing tactics like: 


Basically, if it's a marketing effort, and you implement it on a digital platform, it's digital marketing. What digital marketing doesn't have is a methodology, or a mindset behind the tactics, that guides how you implement each of these marketing tools to deliver success to your business. 


What is Growth Marketing?

Growth marketing has the methodology that digital marketing lacks. Growth marketing is a way of marketing, rather than a set of tactics. It's an approach to marketing that's designed to strategically grow your company according to a specific set of goals. Your growth goals might be: 


  • Revenue centered — you want to achieve a certain revenue number by the end of the quarter or year. 
  • Industry centered — you want to grow your company's presence in a certain industry or market. 
  • Company centered — you want to grow your company or your dealer network to a certain size in the next quarter or year.


With specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely goals (SMART goals — see what we did there?) in mind, you can apply a range of marketing tactics — digital or otherwise — to help you achieve those growth goals. 





Growth marketing provides the framework your company needs to put strategic growth at the center of your marketing strategy. It places specific emphasis on: 


  • Making data-driven marketing decisions
  • Using experimentation and testing to boost company growth
  • Marketing tactics that boost revenue and overall company growth. 


While digital marketing offers a set of marketing tactics, it's not a methodology that brings strategy to your marketing decisions. Growth marketing, on the other hand, starts with strategy and enables you to implement the marketing tactics that support your company's specific growth goals. 


(If you want to learn more about setting up a successful growth marketing strategy, check out this blog on 7 Steps to Developing a Growth Strategy That Delivers Results.)

Digital Marketing vs. Growth Marketing: Which Delivers the Greatest ROI?


Now that we've got a better understanding of both digital marketing and growth marketing, it's time to get to the important point for you — which delivers the greatest ROI?


While ROI is entirely dependent on how your company implements and optimizes marketing strategies, I can say with a high degree of confidence that growth marketing will deliver the greatest ROI. 





Why not digital marketing?


It comes down to the strategy portion of growth marketing. 


You can absolutely implement a range of digital marketing techniques and see serious ROI. But, when you implement those same digital marketing tactics with a growth marketing mindset, your company is more likely to see the return you're looking for. 




Because you know what you're looking for. 


Growth marketing forces your company to set clear, specific goals that you can measure constantly. If one digital marketing tactic — say email marketing — isn't pushing your company to your growth goals, you know you need to either change your approach, or put that time, money, and effort into a marketing tactic that will get you to your goals. 


Growth Marketing Uses Digital Marketing Tactics to Reach Your Goals


One last thing you should know to have a clear understanding of digital marketing vs. growth marketing — growth marketing and digital marketing aren't mutually exclusive. 


Here's a handy example that does a great job of illustrating how these two marketing schools align. Pretend you're headed on a road trip:


Growth marketing is the map you use to plan your route, and digital marketing is the vehicle that gets you to your destination.




Digital marketing is the wheels of your bus, the fuel, and the engine powering you to that strategic growth goal. Your growth marketing strategy is the map you use to identify that destination and make sure you're still on course. 


So, when your company adopts a growth marketing mindset, you're not throwing digital marketing out the window. You're just using those digital marketing tactics more strategically, in a way that optimizes your budget to get you exactly the results you're looking for, from the first time a visitor lands on your website, to retaining and upselling existing customers. 


In the end, though digital marketing and growth marketing are two different schools of thought, you need them both to achieve success in today's digital world. Digital marketing and growth marketing go hand in hand. 


New to growth marketing? A growth agency could help. If you're looking for ways to grow your company, the Evenbound team has plenty of answers.

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