SAN FRANCISCO — Startup Socials’ two-day Growth Marketing Conference kicked off today targeting digital and growth marketing professionals.

The sold-out event at Hotel Kabuki drew about a dozen vendors and 250 attendees, including growth marketers from LinkedIn, Lyft and Box. Produced by Startup Socials as part of its growth series, the conference lineup included topics on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) growth, metrics, growth hacking and leadership.

The message was loud and clear: Data plays a significant role in marketing. Many argued data-driven marketing get results and conversions, but according to Adam Metz, VP of TerrAvion and conference emcee, only about 25 percent of companies use data in their marketing.

Beyond the Buzz

Brant Cooper, co-founder of consulting firm Moves the Needle, led a session on what he calls lean growth marketing approach in his business. Cooper runs bootcamps with Fortune 500 companies teaching them to become lean marketers.

“Marketing is not about creating buzz,” Cooper said.

Track and test what matters, he said. Marketers sometimes make the mistake of thinking their role is getting the word out everywhere and putting money down on those efforts. Instead, spend money when you see organic growth, Cooper said.

Marketing success comes from capitalizing word of mouth and capturing those passionate customers.

“Passion is your growth engine. By building more features you don’t make people more satisfied,” he said.

Learning Opportunities

Cooper says he travels to conferences and events to generate new leads, selling bootcamp opportunities and building references with existing customers. He co-wrote “The Lean Entrepreneur” with Patrick Vlaskovits on case studies that move the needle at companies. His company measures output and input using what Cooper calls the three E’s of lean innovation: empathy, experimentation and evidence.

“Growth is just overcoming a series of bottlenecks. It never stops.”

More Metrics

Effin Amazing, an Orlando-based analytics consultancy, works with companies to see what they do wrong. “I figure out how to fix them,” CEO Dan McGaw said.

One of the major problems with tools like Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer is you’re only measuring one metric, like signups, he said. McGaw suggests measuring your A/B tests in your analytics tools.

The company also offers an online Urchin Tracking Module Tracking Code Builder to data pros wanting to look beyond Google Analytics. The pieces of text allows Google Analytics to look at a link and see where it’s coming from or how well it performs.

Focus on data and insights to promote long-term growth and use tools like ChurnSpotter, which just got acquired by Square, according to McGaw.