What is Growth Engineering and What Exactly Does a Growth Engineer Do?

Did you know that marketing has an engineering side?

The term “growth hacking” might ring a bell to startup teams, but what about “growth engineering?”

In this article, I will share with you the details of growth engineering, what growth engineers do, their salary, and several growth engineering examples from real-life companies.

Let’s get you acquainted with this data-crazed, growth-focused field.

What is Growth Engineering?

Growth engineering, which is a technical field pioneered by Facebook about a decade ago, is technical, and systematic approach to growth. Growth engineers constantly brainstorm new ideas and experiment with metrics and data to improve conversions and user experience. Simply put, they track everything to understand what works and what doesn’t.

Growth Engineering = Growth + Software Engineering (+ Data)

Growth engineering applies a scientific approach to growth by producing custom growth solutions and doing metric-driven experiments instead of a gut-driven approach.

While every business has a primary metric it’s aiming to grow, a growth engineer breaks down that metric into stages of a funnel.

In other words, growth engineering is a systematic approach and method to:

●  Build, manage, and improve software, organizations, processes, and content

●  Improve on conversion, customer retention/expansion

●  Increase visitors, users, customers of a self-serve business within the available budgets or capabilities

Who is a growth engineer?

A growth engineer works as a part of a Growth Team to help innovate and improve the product or service at hand. They deliver highly data-driven experiments to accelerate growth and improve metrics.

What are the responsibilities of a growth team?

They are responsible for:

  • User onboarding
  • User acquisition
  • Tooling
  • Analytics
  • Referrals
  • Features improvements

A growth team is a cross-functional team consisting of engineers, designers, and product managers. It first appeared in consumer startups. More and more B2B startups today are starting to bring together their own growth team.

Growth engineering, on the other hand, is a sub-part of Growth. They are responsible for technically implementing and experimenting with growth solutions on:

  • User acquisition (SEO / PPC)
  • Conversion (A/B Testing / Onboarding)
  • Product improvements
  • Building internal tooling to support the growth process

A Growth Engineering Framework

As a growth engineer, you will often see terms like BoFu (Bottom of the Funnel), MoFu (Middle of the Funnel), ToFu (Top of the Funnel).

Although every organization often has its own user funnel and names for each stage, we can simplify it with a general idea of a user funnel and break it down into four steps.

  1. Awareness: This stage is ToFu, where users discover your product/service.
  2. Consideration: This is the MoFu stage where users evaluate and explore.
  3. Conversion: BoFu, involves decision, purchase, and action.
  4. Retention: Occurs after conversion for engagement and loyalty.

Each of these funnel stages has specific goals. Depending on the company, Growth Engineers work on some of these steps more than others.

For example, at the early stages of a company, a growth engineer might focus more on awareness ideas and experiments.

However, at later stages of a company, they might spend more time on customer retention.

Growth Engineer Job Description

Growth engineers are full-stack engineers who were founders before or are wannabe SaaS founders.

Strategizing and executing growth experimentation are also vital components of growth engineering. Essentially, any developer tasked with marketing or any marketer writing code is doing a form of growth engineering.

Growth Engineer Job Description

The world’s fast-growing companies employ developers in their marketing teams to configure existing solutions innovatively or invent their own tools to get ahead of the competition.

Today, so many ambitious marketers are learning how to code in their free time to solve their own problems without relying on developers.

  • Growth engineering arises from the combination of two forces: marketing and programming.

Whether it is a developer in the marketing department or a marketer who knows how to code, the combination is often considered a Growth Engineer.

Note that, unlike Growth Hackers, Growth Engineers are “engineers.”

They don’t look for shortcuts to hack the growth process and expect results.

They are incredibly driven by a scientific approach and data-based experiments to optimize the growth process.

Growth engineers materialize ideas and instincts into work. Their tasks can range from minor user experience improvements to building add-ons, standalone tools, and adding new features to the core product.

There are usually two types of growth engineers;

  • Marketers who learned to code (a.k.a. Growth hackers): Growth hackers can perform tasks like automated flows through Zapier and Autopilot and building websites with tools like Unbounce.
  • Growth engineers with technical knowledge: They work on complex engineering projects, which require a wide range of skills, including backend, frontend, data pipelines, infrastructure, and artificial intelligence. They are Full Stack++ engineers.

Skills of a Growth Engineer

Essential skills of a growth engineer include:

  • Frontend and backend developing experience
  • Growth mindset (have a detailed understanding of business KPIs and the end goal)
  • Good communication skills
  • Ability to write clearly about technical and product-related subjects
  • Pragmatic thinking – the ability to take tactic decisions when needed
  • The ability to keep a long-term strategy
  • Experience with analytic software and methodology such as R and Python (libraries such as Pandas, Scikit-Learn, and SciPy), as well as data visualization experience (e.g., Tableau)

In addition to these, you should:

Be an excellent engineer and advocate for testing, analytics, error tolerance, and observability.

Have a growth mindset – the ability to challenge growth experiments, propose more straightforward implementations, and technical decisions to optimize the user experience.

Be a terrific communicator – comfortable working in a cross-functional team with several functions such as data, copywriting, and design.

Be a self-starter – as an experienced developer, growth engineers are expected to take their own initiatives and get things going without much guidance.

Growth Engineer Salary

The average annual pay for a growth engineer in the United States is $126,500 a year. It is approximately $60.82 an hour, equivalent to $2,433/week or $10,542/month.

In return for this salary, growth engineers try new technologies, new tools, undertake experiments, and repeat the process quickly.

A growth engineer’s tasks can range from building a Chrome plugin from scratch, developing a mobile app, a notification system, an email digest pipeline, and so on.  

How Do I Become a Growth Engineer?

How Do I Become a Growth Engineer?

Whether you are a marketer who is learning coding or a software engineer looking to become a growth engineer, you need to qualify for the necessary skill set of a growth engineer.

Know the basics of marketing, all the key metrics to measure the impact of your work, necessary technical knowledge about software engineering, and always be growth-driven. 

Depending on the company you are working for, you should understand and build funnels well while collaborating with others. As a growth engineer, you need to engage across all parts of the growth process:

●  Empathize with users and find out their product usage patterns in depth.

●  Look at the user experience from both qualitative and quantitative perspectives.

○  A quantitative approach involves using objective metrics.

○  A  qualitative approach relies on more subjective feedback and customer interviews.

●  Be able to prioritize ideas and experimentations: There will be many different opportunities a Growth team can work on. You should know which ones to prioritize.

●  All ideas are often prioritized via frameworks like RICE.

●  Experiment through A/B metrics: This is how growth engineers measure the impact of the changes they make.

Growth Engineering Examples

By this part of the article, you must have got a grasp of the growth engineering definition. If not, then I can simply say that growth engineers are software engineers or full-stack engineers focusing on product growth, marketing, and improving it in experimental ways.

I have dug out Growth Engineering examples from the industry leaders to help you visualize the job beyond words.

Netflix

Growth Engineering owns the business logic and protocols that allow our UI partners to build lightweight and flexible applications for almost any platform. – Netflix

It’s no secret that millions of people visit Netflix every single day.

Many of them are already Netflix members, and others are trying to better understand the service before signing up. These prospects come from over 190 countries worldwide with different sets of intentions and preferences.

Through successful marketing, PR, social, word-of-mouth, Netflix creates awareness and turns it into demand. This is where growth engineering gets to the stage.

Growth engineers collect this demand by helping people sign up while optimizing essential business metrics, including conversion rate, revenue, retention, and so on.

How do Netflix growth engineers manage that?

They build, maintain, and operate the backend services that support the signup and login flows that work across different platforms like mobile phones, desktops, tablets, and connected televisions.

Offering millions of users a flawless signup experience for thousands of devices in over 190 countries can be an incredibly challenging task, but Netflix’s growth team handles it excellently.

They experiment on the signup funnel, different partnerships, payment methods, user experience to perfect the flow.

Here’s a visual to help you understand where growth engineering takes place within the Netflix  microservice ecosystem:

Jira

Another industry-leading company capitalizing on growth engineering is Jira, a proprietary issue tracking product developed by Atlassian.

Jira Software Cloud Projects have a feature page called “Pages.” This feature lets customers link a Confluence Cloud Space to their Jira project.

With Pages, users can see a tree of all the Confluence Space content on Jira. That basically means that users don’t have to switch between the products to see both.

So, where does growth engineering fit in this?

The first version of Pages was developed as an experimental feature by the Growth team.

Growth engineers at Atlassian partner with Product engineering teams to experiment, deliver and share insights. Initially, they focus on improving the customer experience in products, with a mindset that favors progress over perfection.

They understand the user pain points well and engage in both quantitative and qualitative research shaped around them.

Moreover, growth engineers at Atlassian validate improvements through experimentation and A/B testing.

Growth engineering example jira

While undertaking all these tasks, they continuously collaborate with other colleagues like product managers, other engineers, and designers. So, what is the secret behind Atlassian’s growth engineers’ collaboration success?

They state three main collaboration pillars in the Growth team:

Clear accountability: The team needs to agree on who needs to do what by when. (No room for ambiguity.)

Frequent and clear communication: It’s vital to communicate frequently with teammates, especially when working remotely.

Finding ways around roadblocks: Team members should act upon problems and not wait for things to come to them.

Keep these in mind because these key points are essential for any growth engineer.

Conclusion

A growth engineer is like an all-in-one offer: marketing, product development, and analytics.

The role is highly important for all those teams to work together smoothly and in accordance with each other.

Also, being a growth engineer is not easy, but it’s highly prestigious and rewarding.


FAQs


What is the average salary of a growth engineer?

The average annual salary of a growth engineer in the United States is $126,500. At the same time, it might vary depending on your skill set, industry experience, and the company you will work for.


What is the difference between a growth hacker and a growth engineer?

Growth engineering, unlike growth hacking, is more of a methodological and systematic process and experimentation is at its core. While growth hacking is the intersection of software engineering and marketing, growth engineering takes this a bit further by including “data” in the process and acting upon it.


What skills do you need for growth engineering?

  • Have a growth mindset
  • Understand business metrics and KPIs
  • Frontend, backend development experience
  • Know the marketing basics
  • Pragmatic thinking
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Understand analytics, testing, and experimenting for product growth

What does a growth engineer do?

  • Brainstorm, define and carry out growth experiments
  • Optimize product features for better user experiences and conversions
  • Build features and measure the impact
  • Build internal tools

Mert Aktas

Mert is the Marketing Manager of UserGuiding, a code-free product walkthrough software that 2000+ companies trust in their user onboarding.

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