Growth strategy, startups and innovation

Previously, we covered the biggest misconceptions European companies have when it comes to growth. We've seen European startups fail because of their belief in either a one-person growth team, the mythical "growth hacker", or a growth team in silo that's responsible for all-things-revenue. Their decline was because they failed to understand what growth is.

There are, however, a lot of European companies that have gotten or are getting growth right. Growth, for them, is a goal that is worked on by the entire organisation. They put their best brains behind growth and they focus on their expertises. They have Growth Engineers, Growth Product Managers and Product Marketers in their teams. They invest in the whole user experience by bringing Lifecycle Marketers aboard and they don't let acquisition drop by hiring SEO specialists.

For this essay, we've researched a list of top-of-class 30+ European startups, the likes of Spotify, TransferWise, CataWiki, N26 and Deliveroo. I looked into: what growth and marketing roles they are searching for and what are the responsibilities/requirements for these roles.

I listed the 8 most common growth roles in Europe today. We summarise what each of these hires is usually responsible for and what to expect of them. For each of these 8 roles, we also: 1) include alternative job titles used by companies; 2) a real life job post where you can check out how the successful brands write these roles; and 3) an example of a professional (and their LinkedIn profile) that performs that role currently.

I hope this essay will help European companies understand how different expertises can (and should) contribute to growth, as well as provide insights on how the most successful players are growing. The roles are in random order.

Product Marketing Manager

Alternative titles: Head of Product Marketing, Product Marketing Lead

When we looked into what growth positions European tech startups are hiring for (researched in July 2020), Product Marketing positions were the most popular. Both B2B and B2C companies - GoCardless, Deliveroo, Cabify, and N26, amongst others - are currently searching for Product Marketers.

A Product Marketer is responsible for either (or both, depending on the company's stage) go-to-market strategy (GTM) and product-market fit (PMT). They're in charge of distilling insights from multiple sources (customer success, acquisition, data science, competitor/market analysis) to develop positioning and messaging for products and product features.

How you position a product has always been crucial to consumer facing companies. With the advent of product-led growth for B2B (and specially SaaS), product marketing has become even more important.

Role example: Senior Product Marketing Manager, Commercial at

Professional example: Edon Ophir from Deliveroo

Growth Product Manager

Alternative titles: Product Lead Growth

A Growth Product Manager would be the closest to a traditional "growth hacker" or full-stack growth marketer. Although they usually don't focus on acquisition, they will touch multiple parts of the funnel that impact revenue and growth like: activation, referral, retention and up-selling. Spotify, for example, is currently hiring a product lead just for activation.

They're usually data-driven jack of all trades who can both 1) identify areas of opportunity and 2) understand engineering/data/design complexity of new features. Since they're product managers (or product leads), this is the type of role that requires great communication and stakeholder management skills.

You can expect a Growth Product Manager to lead a multi-disciplinary product team and manage the launch of new features (and internal projects) that impact revenue or parts of the customer journey based on the current data.

Role example: Growth Product Manager at Gitlab

Professional example: Giulia Meyer from Fixico

SEO Specialist

Alternative titles: SEO Manager, SEO Copywriter

This one requires little explanation, as if you don't know what SEO is, you're probably at the wrong place. Evergreen content marketing strategies and technical SEO improvements have made organic search an important source of acquisition for companies all sizes and industries.

Because SEO knowledge is not necessarily related to other growth activities (the likes of product optimisation, performance marketing, go-to-market strategies, etc), it is a marketing area we have professionals highly specialised on. Technical SEO specialists often have decades of experience and it's hard to compete with these folks on their domain.

You can expect your SEO Specialist to create an URL/sitemap structure that prioritises your high conversion pages, to find ways to optimise your page speed, to comprise a list of low competition keywords your content marketers can focus on, amongst other activities.

Role example: SEO Specialist, Partner Sites at Transferwise

Professional example: Marine Solignac from BlaBlaCar

Digital Marketing Manager

Alternative titles: Head of Digital, Growth Marketing Manager

A Digital Marketing Manager or Head of Digital is an umbrella hire that strategises and executes on several different digital marketing activities. This is an all-around professional that could be the first Marketing hire for a startup or a project-specific hire for a startup. If you do hire this role early stage, please pay close attention that the person is able to execute herself, don't hire a strategic DMM if you don't have hands on execution power in your team yet.

Their responsibilities will vary depending on the company stage or acquisition sources, but it could entail in: managing social media accounts, owning PR, creating CRM campaigns, organising co-marketed content including webinars, product marketing amongst others.

Role example: Marketing Manager at Citymapper

Professional example: Lisanne Sanders from The Inner Circle

Growth Engineer

A Growth Engineer can be a frontend, backend or full-stack (both) that usually works in a Product or Growth team. Although their main responsibility is developing and deploying code, they are ideally also involved in the ideation and hypotheses processes that are core to growth marketing. Growth Engineers are usually data and commercially driven engineers, who are as passionate about user journeys as much as coding.

This hire is usually involved in projects that: 1) Makes changes to the existing product and is be A/B tested in order to see if it moves a certain KPI. 2) Launches a prototype from scratch or MVP that can be tested to a new group of users / audience / market.

Product Growth teams are usually formed by growth engineers, designers, data scientists and a product manager who leads the team.

Role example: Senior Backend Engineer, Growth Opportunities at Spotify

Professional example: Adrien Taravan from Slite

Growth Data Analyst

Alternative titles: Growth Marketing Analyst, Data Engineer Growth, Marketing Data Analyst

A Growth Data Analyst is in charge of the pillar of all growth: data. Their role is, at its core, interpreting data and translating those insights into actionable product (or marketing) next steps.

Their responsibilities may vary, but it usually includes: 1) leading tracking and attribution (building a data warehouse, naming convention, implementing events) and 2) data storytelling to relevant stakeholders. I often refer to the ecosystem of metrics at a startup, this role needs to own that entire ecosystem.

This hire works closely with Backend and Data Engineers in the Product teams on the tech implementation side. But, most importantly, the Growth Data Analyst works closely with the Growth Product Manager. By providing summarised data, they assist the PM quantify their decisions and prioritise on what to build. For e.g., by identifying the commonalities between the churned users, they can build something in specific for that audience and test their experiment with according assumptions.

Role example: Data Analyst, Growth at Cleo AI

Professional example: Siddarth Jain from N26

Lifecycle Marketer

Alternative titles: CRM Executive, CRM Marketer, Base Marketer

A Lifecycle Marketer is responsible for improving the user journey through direct messaging campaigns, which usually refers to email marketing, but can also include push notifications (for mobile apps) and in-app messages.

This hire will set up (maybe also write, design and/or track) messaging campaigns depending on user data: Is the user close to churning?, Have they stopped their purchase pre-check out?, Does this user act on promotions?, amongst other signals.

The focus of the role is usually to improve the average user lifetime value (LTV). By keeping users engaged and taking them through the whole funnel, CRM is a big weapon to increase retention, activation and to reduce churn. For e-commerce and marketplaces, this is a pivotal role that directly impacts revenue.

Role example: Head of Global CRM at Catawiki

Professional example: Samantha de Groen from Catawiki

Performance Marketing Manager

Alternative titles: Campaign Manager, Programmatic Trader, Channel Specialist

When I researched which growth roles European tech companies were hiring for, we saw little open positions for Performance Marketers. This could be a reflection of the current COVID-19 crisis, but regardless, it shows how growth is way beyond performance marketing today.

A Performance Marketing Manager is responsible for running paid marketing campaigns. For startups, this could be just the only hire, but for media-buyers and agencies, this role is usually specialised by channel (e.g. Display Advertising Marketing Manager).

Their responsibilities, likewise, will depend on the company size and industry. In startups, the Performance Marketing Manager could be in charge of copywriting, A/B tests, designing creatives, setting up attribution. For bigger companies, these responsibilities are split between multiple roles and the Programmatic Trader usually focus on setting up and serving the campaigns.

Role example: Performance Marketing Manager at Lydia

Professional example: Danielle Pereira from Revolut


Gone are the days where growth is something worked on by just one person or one isolated team. For the most successful tech companies, Growth is worked on and understood by the entire organisation. They hire Data Scientists and Engineers to discover and execute on new areas of opportunity. Growth, for them, works alongside Product.

At Off The Record, we help companies reach sustainable product-driven growth. We're a TechCrunch-recommended bureau that helps clients like Felyx, Ace&Tate, StoryTel create and craft multi-disciplinary growth teams.

Next essay: Assessing growth candidates

In this essay, we examined the different types of growth roles that are being hired by European tech companies. For our next essay, we'll cover how to interview and assess growth candidates, including how we at Off The Record evaluate seniority level and skills.

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