What is a Growth Product Manager? A Beginner’s Guide

Author headshot for CareerFoundry blog writer, Natascha Asberger.

“Growth” is a word that we’ve been hearing a lot in the tech world during the last few years, mostly in connection to marketing though, with growth marketers, growth managers and growth hackers

Now there are growth product managers, who are also working on growing business metrics.

Will all of these roles continue to be relevant or has the focus of growth shifted from marketing to product management? And if so, what is the reasoning behind it?

This article will guide you through all aspects of growth product management, which skills are necessary to succeed in the field and how to become a growth product manager.

We’ll cover the following:

  1. What is a growth product manager?
  2. What does a growth product manager do?
  3. What’s the average growth product manager salary?
  4. Product manager vs growth product manager: What’s the difference?
  5. How to become a growth product manager

1. What is a growth product manager?

While a “traditional” product manager (PM) could be described as a generalist, taking care of a range of topics and tasks, a growth product manager (GPM or Growth PM) is specialized on the topic of business growth. 

At the moment, growth PMs are mainly seen within product-led growth (PLG) businesses. PLG businesses use their product as the main driver of growth. This means that the features of the product sell themselves. 

The users have a chance to test some of the features for free and then are willing to pay for more features and all of this without a sales person pushing them into anything. Sales and marketing are basically built into the user product.

A growth product manager is needed in these kinds of businesses to monitor user behavior metrics, identify areas in which there are growth opportunities and then enhance these metrics. 

Usually, the Growth PM is part of a cross-functional team of software developers, business analysts, designers, marketers or any other relevant role, in order to solve these issues collaboratively.

2. What does a growth product manager do?

Depending on the size of the organization, a growth product manager might be responsible for the complete user journey or they might be responsible for just one specific metric.

What are the metrics that we are talking about here?

Product-led growth businesses are usually monitoring the following metrics related to user behavior:

  • Acquisition – How is the user being introduced to the product for the first time?
  • Activation – Is the new user taking the desired first steps?
  • Retention – Is the activated user coming back and engaging with the product?
  • Referral – Are users referring the product to other people?
  • Revenue – How much money is being generated through users?

After identifying opportunities for growth in any of these areas, a growth PM will try to find out why the area in question is not performing so well and how it could be enhanced. 

This will be done through quantitative and qualitative research. Quantitative research focuses on numerical data analysis and qualitative research focuses on non-numerical data analysis.

The next step will be to design and then test changes to the product that could enhance the metric in question. For this, the growth product manager will use A/B testing, which is a fast and easy way of testing out a solution on a group of people and gathering feedback, before actually developing it.

Whenever the research has shown that a certain change can have real impact on a metric, the growth PM can decide to implement that change. They either have their own team of developers, which can take care of the work, or they hand it over to a traditional product manager.

Growth product manager tasks

The tasks of a Growth PM might vary, depending on the size of the business, but here are the most common ones:

  • Defining a roadmap and strategy
  • Defining, tracking, analyzing and reporting on key performance/growth indicators
  • Analyzing user behavior and market trends
  • Identifying inefficiencies in user funnels
  • Communicating with stakeholders
  • Managing a cross-functional team
  • Planning and running A/B test, user interviews and surveys to validate hypotheses

Growth product manager skills

Having looked at several growth product manager job ads, these are the most sought-after skills:

  • Analytical
  • Data-driven
  • Methodical
  • Creative
  • Innovative
  • Strong communication skills

Growth product manager tools

Growth product managers use general product management tools to manage and document tasks or experiments. They further use whiteboard tools for team collaboration, to visualize user journeys or to do wireframes. 

Another important thing for a GPM is to analyze data. They therefore need to regularly check tools that pull and visualize data. An addition to these are tools that collect user data through heatmaps, recordings, surveys and A/B tests.

Here are some of the most commonly used tools:

General product management tools:

  • Jira
  • Asana
  • Confluence
  • Miro

Data analysis:

  • Google Analytics
  • Source Medium
  • Power BI
  • Mixpanel

A/B testing and other user insights

  • Optimizely
  • Visual Website Optimizer
  • Hotjar

2. What’s the average growth product manager salary?

As per job site Glassdoor, the average yearly salary for growth product managers in the following countries are:

A software engineer and growth product manager talk to each other beside a laptop.

3. Product manager vs growth product manager: What’s the difference?

Traditional product managers and growth product manager both do very similar work but they are responsible for different things. 

Traditional PMs are responsible for a specific part of the product and work on solving user or customer problems within that part. They plan ahead and create a mid- to long-term strategy to improve that part of the product. Traditional PMs usually manage a cross-functional team.

Growth PMs on the other hand are responsible for enhancing a specific business metric. They work more experimentally and are rather focused on short-term strategies. Growth PMs ideally manage a cross-functional team but depending on the size of the organization, they might not have resources assigned to them.

4. How to become a growth product manager

A good starting point to becoming a growth PM is to become a regular PM and then move into the field of growth. However, this is not the only way of moving into the role.

Most job offers are currently asking for prior experience in either product management or growth marketing, as this job position is basically a mix of the two fields. Since it is a very analytical and data-heavy role, prior experience in data science or business analytics is also a great asset.

That means potential candidates for the role of growth PMs can come from many different fields within tech. 

5. Final thoughts

The field of product management is constantly changing and the roles in the field become more and more specialized, which is why we can see the rise of the growth product manager. 

Another reason for the role to emerge is that many organizations are moving towards a product-led growth strategy. Therefore, people with in-depth knowledge on product-led growth are in high demand right now.

If you are looking to move into the field of product management, then CareerFoundry’s free product management short course should help you get started. 

You can also check out some other guides on the topic of product management:

What You Should Do Now

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  2. Take part in one of our FREE live online product manager events with industry experts, or check out CareerFoundry graduate Farley’s product management portfolio project.

  3. Become a qualified product manager in 3-6 months—backed by the CareerFoundry job guarantee.

  4. This month, we’re offering a partial scholarship worth up to $1,365 off on all of our career-change programs to the first 100 students who apply 🎉 Book your application call and secure your spot now!

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