Podcasts, movies, blogs, YouTube videos… It is easy to get lost in the constant stream of mediums that facilitate communication in our modern world.
Just like with marketing, there are many sources of information competing for our attention but only one has succeeded at doing so for more than 20 millennia—books.
It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of print, audio, or digital books have proven to be one of the most effective ways to communicate and learn from each other. When it comes to growth marketing, books have some of the most valuable resources you can find to step up your game.
If you are not the kind of person who can focus while reading a book, or just don’t enjoy them at all… I understand. That’s why I’ve also have written a list of the 10 best growth marketing podcasts.
However, some of the books I will mention below are so quintessential that you might reconsider making the effort or getting an audiobook version.
From classics written back in the 1980s to some of the most revolutionary books from the past few years, it doesn’t matter…
I have books on this list that are sure to pique your interest and give you a whole new perspective on growth marketing. But enough introductions, let’s look at the 10 best growth marketing books I’ve compiled for you!
Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising
If you are looking for a book that works as an introduction to growth marketing, look no further. This book, while short, will provide you with insights into what growth marketing is, successful real-life examples, and what its principles/philosophies are.
Written by bestselling author Ryan Holiday, a media strategy well known in the marketing industry, the book explains how growth hacking has changed the marketing industry and provides you with some of the basic rules you should adhere to.
While the book has gathered quite a following, becoming one of the classics of Silicon Valley, it has also received mixed reactions. Negative reactions have mainly come from readers expecting an in-depth guide to growth marketing and advanced strategies, which this book is not about.
As so, this book is perfect if you are looking for a short reading session that works as a good introduction to the world of growth marketing.
Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth
As the name suggests, this book is all about gaining traction when starting your startup. Succeeding in today’s competitive world is more about how to gain customers more than the product itself.
Gabriel Weinberg, CEO & founder of DuckDuckGo; and Justin Mares, transmit this lesson perfectly in this book while providing founders and employers with a proven framework used by thousands of companies to gain traction.
This framework is not given at random but is meant to help you choose what matters most or your specific case. The book covers multiple topics from viral marketing to offline events, providing you with a holistic view of growth marketing for startups.
You will also learn from interviews with successful entrepreneurs like Jimmy Wales, Co-founder of Wikipedia; Alexis Ohanian, Co-founder of Reddit; Sam Yagan, Co-founder of OkCupid; Rick Perreault, CEO of Unbounce, and many more.
If you are looking for a book that teaches you how to gain traction for your startup, this is the right choice for you. Many founders fail due to trying random tactics that have proven successful for other companies. With this book, you will get a better idea of what will work for your startup and allow you to start creating your userbase.
Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen
Reaching customers in a world where everything is demanding attention has only grown more difficult each year. Cutting through this noise is the main objective of every marketer and to do so, being able to engage with existing and potential customers is key.
The StoryBrand framework has been applied by thousands of startups and companies to create a distinct message to reach customers. By applying the “seven universal story points” and other principles described in this book, Donald Miller aims to provide practical tips on how to get your audience to start paying attention.
The author is the CEO of StoryBrand, an online platform focused on teaching professionals how to grow their businesses. He has written several books and runs his own podcast ”The Business Made Simple Podcast”.
With practical and immediately usable information, this book will help you grow your audience and business at the same time. This book is perfect for anyone interested in communicating and engaging more effectively with their customers.
Hacking Growth: How Today’s Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success
A must-read for anyone who is looking to grow their business with no previous startup or product management experience, this book will provide useful insights learned from some of the most influential companies in the world.
The book was written by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown, co-founders of GrowthHackers.com and veterans of the startup-marketing industries. Both of them have held talks in major conferences and advised Fortune 100 companies on how to improve their business models.
You will find a lot of great ideas and methods that you can apply to your business, as well as inspiration on what to aim for. While the book will provide concrete strategies, it has a major focus on helping you test what works for you to find the best plan of action.
The book contents are as close as you can get to a scientific rigorous approach to growth marketing. If a solid explanation and understanding of the principles of rapid growth are something you are looking for while also getting inspiration, this book is for you.
Product-Led Growth: How to Build a Product That Sells Itself
I’ve previously said that growing your audience is sometimes more important than the product itself. While I stand by that, there is no reason why the product can’t also grow your audience if well designed. Well… This book is all about that: Product-Led Growth,
With captivating language and writing style, Wes Bush will take you through a journey in which you will learn how to create a product that sells itself. The founder of the Product-Led Institute has years of experience teaching SaaS businesses to grow their business by focusing on their product.
The book will talk about topics such as how and why launch a free trial in less than 24 hours, increase conversion rates, SaaS pricing strategies, use freemium models, how to fix leaky funnels, and much more.
If you are currently working on growing your SaaS business, you should consider this book as it will provide you with useful insights and strategies on how to build or transition to a product-led business model.
Growth Hacking: Silicon Valley’s Best Kept Secret
Most growth marketing books promise to reveal the secrets of the industry they are targeted to, especially silicon valley… They rarely do so. If you have been disappointed in the past by such promises, this book is for you.
In this book, Raymond Fong and Chad Riddersen work on deconstructing growth hacking, focusing on how Silicon Valley has used it.
The authors have backgrounds in Aerospace engineering and investment banking but turned to growth hacking as their careers progressed. They now are some of the best well-known personalities in the industry, teaching thousands how to apply growth hacking.
The book is focused on the author’s own framework: ASP. This framework focuses on creative and cost-effective methods to drive growth and marketing for your business. The book not only provides you with applicable tips on how and why to apply the framework to your business but also explains the philosophy and mindset of growth hacking.
Forget about superficial explanations of the parts of growth hacking. If you want proper explanations and tips on how to implement changes without any verbose, this book is for you. Anecdotes are short and to the point, while actual strategies are deconstructed for you to understand.
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
One of the classics of marketing, social psychology, management, and any other area that requires human interaction, “Influence” is one of the most influential books ever written. Despite having been originally written in 1984, its principles stand true to this day.
Don’t worry, the book has been updated by his author since then, keeping it fresh and relatable.
Written by Dr. Robert Cialdini, the book has a scientific approach to the study of influence. The book sold over 2 million copies and has been compared to “The Art of War” in the world of business.
This is a difficult book to summarize or make justice to, having been prized by Nobel Prize Laureates such as Daniel Kahneman and Richard Thaler.
However, it is safe to say the book will be the best resource when it comes to influencing others in any scenario, taking the right decisions despite manipulation attempts, and how to design products and services that attract consumers.
While persuasion is great for any growth marketing enthusiast or veteran, it has applications in many more aspects of everyone’s life, so I consider it a must-read for everyone. However, if you are looking for a book based on science and more than 2 years of study on persuasion, this book is even more important for you.
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products
This is another book that focuses on creating products that grow your audience. However, you will find that this book is more focused on scientific studies than the experience itself. The question this book tries to answer is “What is the role that psychology plays in product design?”
With concise language and no fluff, Nir Eyal explains what the Hook Model is and how it has been applied by important companies to encourage customer behavior.
The bestselling author has written extensively on psychology-driven marketing, as well as taught at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Hasso Plattner Institute of Design.
The book focuses on how to increase user engagement by implementing 4 basic principles in your products: trigger, action, variable reward, and investment. While highly based on research, the book is easy to read as it uses simple language and specific examples for each of the principles it highlights.
The book is perfect if you are designing software or other products you want to have your users return to constantly. While this could sound evil by itself, Eyal also discusses the ethical aspects of using the principles in a business model.
Contagious: Why Things Catch On
This New York Times bestseller explores how and why products and ideas become popular in our society. In an industry and society characterized by words like “viral” and “meme”; this book is now more relevant than ever for those interested in the growth marketing industry.
Written by Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger, the book provides concise and actionable strategies to help information spread by using new technologies and mouth-to-mouth. Berger expertly summarizes his findings in 6 principles that dominate every aspect of our life.
The book shares stories that exemplify the concepts the author explains as the book progresses, making the reading easy to understand while keeping it interesting and enlightening.
This book is perfect for any entrepreneur or professional looking to make their product, service, or brand “go viral”, while also understanding how different strategies can backfire if applied incorrectly.
This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See
Last but certainly not least is one of my all-time favorite marketing books, from Seth Godin. I probably recommend this book more than any other one on this list, for the simple reason that it focuses on the fundamental principles that every marketer needs to know.
There are so many amazing quotes hidden away in this book, such as:
“Marketing is our quest to make change on behalf of those we serve, and we do it by understanding the irrational forces that drive each of us.”
“The most important lesson I can share about brand marketing is this: you definitely, certainly, and surely don’t have enough time and money to build a brand for everyone. You can’t. Don’t try. Be specific. Be very specific.”
“Marketing is the generous act of helping others become who they seek to become. It involves creating honest stories—stories that resonate and spread.”
If you’re struggling with the foundational principles that go into great marketing campaigns, this is a great starting point. If you want even more insights on this book, I interviewed Seth on my podcast during his book tour.
So many books, so little time
Well, there you have it. A comprehensive list of some of the best books that every growth marketer should read. While not every book on this list is technically a growth marketing book, they all help us see the bigger picture of what growth marketing is all about.