A dashboard of important growth marketing metrics.

Performance Marketing vs. Growth Marketing: What’s the Difference? [Updated]

A dashboard of important growth marketing metrics.

Marketing is a broad field, but let’s clear up some distinctions. You’ve got your traditional marketing, brand marketing, digital marketing, performance marketing, growth marketing, and quite a few more terms out there. It can be a bit confusing and nuanced, right?

Now, here’s the interesting part: while growth marketing and brand marketing are pretty distinct, you might come across performance marketing and growth marketing being used interchangeably. That’s because they do share quite a bit of common ground.

So, what’s the deal with a performance marketing agency? And is there any difference between a performance marketing agency and a growth marketing agency, if at all?

Let’s dig in. 

The TL;DR: 

Performance marketing agency —marketers that focus on paid channels and typically take a cut of the profit or ad spend. 

Growth marketing agency —marketers who create holistic marketing strategies centered on sustainable business growth.

What is a performance marketing agency?

A performance marketing agency is defined by its primary focus on driving measurable results and impact through various digital advertising and marketing campaigns.

Let’s dive into what makes a performance marketing agency tick:

  • Fee Structure: Performance marketing agencies often operate on a “results-first” model. They get paid when specific outcomes occur, like new leads, sales, or other agreed-upon KPIs. It’s all about achieving a positive return on ad spend (ROI). Think of it this way: if you invest $500 in a campaign, you want to see $1000 or more coming back. This type of marketing demands constant fine-tuning, especially in pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, to ensure your clients get the most bang for their buck. Growth marketers, on the other hand, explore both organic and paid channels and dig into conversion rate optimization (CRO) to find that perfect mix. But performance marketing really hones in on paid channels to hit their clients’ marketing targets.
  • Approach: Data and analytics are the name of the game for performance marketing agencies. They rely on these tools to make smart decisions. It’s all about tracking, measuring, and optimizing marketing campaigns using data, with the end goal of hitting specific objectives and delivering a strong ROI.
  • Capabilities: While a performance marketing agency might offer various services, their core focus revolves around paid media strategy and management. That means they’re pros at handling paid advertising campaigns, budget allocation, and keeping a close eye on ad spending to ensure it’s efficient.

What is a growth marketing agency?

At Tuff, we certainly leverage typical performance marketing channels like paid, but we also layer on a lot more to achieve a holistic growth strategy. Growth marketing focuses more on long-term growth for your business. A growth marketer is sharply focused on new customer or client acquisition (how to introduce more people to your business) and conversion.

We do this by deciding what areas are ripe for growth and which ones your business uses but could be using more effectively. A growth marketing team will dive headfirst into the data and analyze it for the best growth opportunities. The growth team may start with the lowest hanging fruit and target people already looking in your market. 

They also look for ways to expand your business higher up the funnel by engaging new audiences, educating, informing, and encouraging them throughout the customer journey. A growth marketing agency will make sure that you have a solid foundation to build upon. Growth marketing at Tuff  typically doesn’t include managing a sales team, community management, retention specialist, or public relations. 

While those can be an integral part of a company’s larger growth strategy, at Tuff we focus on getting the right people to your site and having them convert. In short, we keep you from throwing money at solutions that won’t grow your business.

How does growth marketing work?

Growth marketing, like performance marketing, is all about pinpointing where your investments will have the most impact, integrating them into your overall plan, and putting them into action. While there are various growth marketing frameworks out there, at Tuff, we typically follow a four-step approach:

  • Assess: We kick off every project by identifying the hurdles holding back your growth. We firmly believe that defining the problem is half the solution. Our collaborative process ensures that your organization grows effectively, efficiently, and sustainably by addressing the core issue.
  • Prioritize: Once we’ve nailed down the core issue, we create our “areas of focus.” These serve as the guiding light for our strategic approach in resolving the core problem. This focus keeps our tactics anchored and ensures that pivots are purposeful and well-thought-out.
  • Strategize: Next up, we craft a strategy and prescribe the necessary tactics to execute it, helping you conquer the core issues that stand in your way.
  • Execute: We’re all about delivering results. Every channel undergoes rapid testing and optimization (some more than others), and if we don’t see tangible, measurable improvements towards your revenue goals, we’re quick to pivot and explore other options. In the end, we’ll land on the right mix of channels that paves the way for sustainable growth.

Performance vs. growth—which one is best for your business?

A performance marketing agency is great if you have a well-established business model and attract new customers. Your business has a healthy website, a high DA, and your organic is thriving. This is where a performance marketing agency can help you jump over some of those low hurdles.

But if you’re a start-up or an established growing business that needs more than just lead generation, that’s where a growth agency like Tuff comes in. A growth marketing agency acts as an extension of your business. It focuses on where your business needs to be in three months, not three days—a growth marketing agency focuses on all areas of the sales funnel, not just the bottom. Going back to that oak metaphor, you’ll never see a 200-foot tomato plant, but with enough attention, you can see a 200-foot oak.

Think a growth marketing agency is right for you? We’d love to work with you. 

Schedule a call with our team, and we’ll analyze your marketing, product, metrics, and business. Then, present a Growth Plan with actionable strategies to find and keep more engaged customers.