iPhone 13: How Apple builds Growth Loops into its products

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It’s common practice to build the product then market it. But with growth loops, you build the marketing into the product.

On September 14, Apple announced the launch of its newest flagship iPhones! The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini.

There was a lot of buzz surrounding the event that caused the hashtag #AppleEvent to reach over 25 million impressions and 4.9 million interactions within almost one week.

But that’s not the impressive bit.

What’s amazing is that they got all of these impressions without spending a penny! 

Usually, the CPM (Cost per 1000 impressions) on Twitter is $6.46. Which means you'd have to spend around $161K to get that number of impressions.

So, how does Apple manage to generate this annual buzz without opening their wallet?

The answer is in one of the most valuable growth marketing frameworks: Growth Loops.

What are Growth Loops?

Growth loops are closed systems where the input, through a series of actions, generates more of an output that can be reinvested in the input. 

Here’s a quick example using Netflix:

Source: Untaylored

The diagram above shows a perfect example of a growth loop generating customer retention. The customer (the input) receives tailored and curated content recommendations (the action) which leads the customer to consume more content than before (the output). 

There are growth loops present in most of the fastest growing companies we see today that create all kinds of value. In Apple’s case, the value created would be in the form of new (or returning) iPhone users.

For a deeper dive on growth loops, check out this article.

Loops vs. Funnels

Traditional marketers often use funnels when trying to drive growth. However, funnels alone are no longer enough.

Here at Growth Tribe, we love the Pirate Funnel framework, created by Dave McClure. We even added a whole new step to it. 

But we also know that funnels have their limitations. 

Funnels operate in one direction. There’s no process of reinvesting what comes out at the bottom to get more at the top to feed growth over time.

Growth loops overcome this problem by creating a self-sustaining system of compound growth.

Breaking down the iPhone’s Growth Loop

Now that we know what a growth loop is, we can look at how Apple has perfected this framework.

Apple expertly optimises each stage of the customer experience to create compounding growth instead of linear growth. 

Let’s break down Apple’s customer journey and explain how they’ve done this.

Small disclaimer: It would take a whole book to fully map out all of Apple’s customer journeys. So, we’ll use one of their main personas - an iPhone user.

1. The input

Launch events

People always know when a new iPhone has been announced, because it’s all everyone will be talking about around the time of the launch events.

If we do a quick search in Google trends, we can see how every year in September there’s a clear peak of searches with the keyword ‘Apple’ or ‘iPhone’. 

Apple is one of the few companies (they might even be the only one) that can get away with being silent on social media (or pretend to be so). Just check their Twitter account with literally no Tweets. However, Apple is quite active on Youtube (more on that in a bit 😉).

The truth is, they don’t need to make noise. Because we do it for them

2. The actions

Product features

Apple activates you by centring its new features around current trends. The most recent one being  video content creation.

It’s hard to ignore that in 2021, content is king. And short video formats are becoming the standard.

With the latest iPhone, we now have options for better night recording, focus control, and ProRes delivery. This will open new doors of creativity and encourage more users to become creators. 

Don’t believe us? Just look at how Apple introduced its new “Cinematic Mode”.

After you get a sneak peek at the latest iPhone’s new features, you’ll most likely end up on its product page. This is where you’ll find the specific content intended to influence your decision to buy.

The product page is an experience in itself. Every section serves a purpose, from the visuals to the hard-hitting copy. A fully optimised landing page is key to

By the time you’ve scrolled to the bottom, you would understand that the product is different from its predecessors (although, this is something Apple has been criticised for).

Payment options

Let’s be honest, these iPhones are not the cheapest. And Apple knows that very well. So, they make it easier for you by offering different payment options.

You can pay in installments, or even trade your old iPhone and “get a $100 - $790 discount when you trade in an iPhone 8 or newer model”. This is great for retention.

Experiencing the product

At this point, you’ve successfully purchased the latest iPhone.

Now you get to experience the new features that convinced you to buy in the first place.

Apple relies heavily on user-generated content to stay popular. When you see how good the features are, you’ll most likely share and promote them on social media without even realising. 

This user experience is a key reason why Apple has an adoring fan base of intensely loyal users. Their whole experience is just one big wow moment.

3. The output

Creating the next cohort of iPhone users

By providing premium features (iPhone trade-ins) for existing users, Apple is able to continually turn their existing iPhone users into the latest iPhone users, generating compound growth.

People often want to brag or share a good experience with their network. Which is why most fast-growing products help you share your experience, use a hashtag, or send referral links to other people easily.

iPhone users are notorious for highlighting their iPhone-specific features across social media. Whether it’s making use of the latest batch of Apple emojis, or using the #ShotOniPhone hashtag when posting their latest instagram masterpiece.

These voluntary advertisements influence the next generation of iPhone users.

And the loop continues.

Sent from my iPhone

Interested in learning more growth marketing strategies?

Growth loops are just one of the many ways businesses use to accelerate growth.

If you want to master the strategies, tools and techniques used by the world’s best marketing teams, our 12-week Growth Hacking course can give you the knowledge you need to grow both your career and business at a sustainable pace.