CXL Institute Growth Marketing Minidegree Review Part 1

This is part 1/12 in my series reviewing the Growth Marketing Minidegree.

Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash

The concepts of Growth Marketing are so vast and constantly evolving that resources are to be found everywhere. However, with CXL Institute you can be rest assured about the quality of content as you are in the company of top 1% practitioners in the industry.

For the upcoming weeks, I shall be discussing my learnings and sharing some insights from the Growth Marketing minidegree.

So let’s dive in to Week 1.

Week 1 started off with laying the foundation of growth marketing taught by none other than John McBride. John talks about what defines “growth marketing”, how it stands apart from conventional marketing, what the discipline aims to accomplish, and how to get started.

What is difference between traditional and Growth marketing

  1. Growth marketing is focussed on driving growth across the funnel through constant experimentation whereas brand marketing is focussed heavily on top of the funnel majorly awareness and acquisition.
  2. Growth marketing explores multiple options to achieve the business goals rather than putting all eggs in one basket. However, in traditional marketing you come up with a big plan and utilise all your resources in bringing the plan to fruition.

Understanding similarities between the lean startup model and growth marketing

Drawing inspiration from the Lean startup model, we can understand a little more about the basic concepts of growth marketing:

  1. Defining a hypothesis up front about what a customer wants
  2. Finding the fastest and most efficient way to test that hypothesis
  3. Designing experiments that can validate or invalidate your hypothesis
  4. Analysing the learnings
  5. Continuing with experiments or decide to double down as per the learnings

Why do experimentation matters

With growth marketing the number of experiments differ given the hypothesis, objectives, platforms, budgets. Even if we conduct 10 experiments and get success in 4 of them then we end up:

  1. With a marginal gain in percentage points (related to that objective)
  2. All these percentage points add up over the quarter
  3. More learnings that can form basis for the next set of experiments
  4. Better understanding of consumers preferences
  5. Better understanding of channels

Understanding growth process

There are essentially 3 layers while defining the ideal growth process:

  1. What is the method? Is it sending an email campaign, sending a message blast vs no email or no communication.
  2. What is the messaging/offer? Is it a convenience based vs discount based vs competition based.
  3. What is the individual preference? Optimising the messaging for individual customers as not all customers are the same. This where the most powerful increment can be.

“Growth marketing is not a silver bullet, it’s a process, commit to it.”

How to become a growth marketer

There are many resources out there telling one how to be a successful growth marketer but John lays it simply into 3 categories:

  1. Channel level expertise: Understanding how SEO, FB, Email channel work
  2. Analytical Capability: Understanding of Excel or SQL, anything that allows one to be comfortable with Data and analysing data to take decisions
  3. Strategic Vision: A much broader topic that helps people to step into leadership roles so basically like project management, getting executive buy-ins and complete the project.

As John explains that people need to have a baseline in each of these 3 areas and can then decide to go deep in one of the areas.

“Crossfunctional ability, strategic thinking and hunger to learn is the key for breaking into and getting to the next level in growth.”

How to become a growth marketer

One of the interesting points, that I think a lot of learners including myself think is how to break into a growth marketing role. I was pleasantly surprised to know about John’s journey from a more traditional level of marketing, strategic thinking, project management, cross-functional relationships to growth marketing.

I think it is to show the desire to learn. It is not difficult in today’s day and age not to have baseline knowledge in any field or channel related to growth marketing.

Another thing that most of the candidates miss out on is to test the existing landscape of the company you are applying for and do a complete analysis. This gives you space to draft your own experiments when going in to meet the company. Focus on what can be done just on the past experience.

For existing Growth Marketing professional, looking at growth, John focusses on 2 main aspects:

  1. What do you like?
  2. What are you good at?

Generally, this can be the same thing but even if it is not then focus on the areas where you think you can add more value. Keep an eye on where the market trends are moving, talk to people and try to get a head start so that when the time comes you are ahead of the curve and can progress in your career.

“Setting the right foundation to growth is the hard part. Hard but essential.”

How to build growth processes

There are three main phases in building out a growth process.

Phase 1: Foundation level which includes:

  1. Defining your growth model: Like the AARRR model and understanding the metrics and different ways to grow the business.
  2. Mapping out your customer journey: Figure out how the process look from the customer side, what can be ways in which customers can find about your campaign
  3. Identifying all of your growth channels: Figure out the path which you can take to reach to the customers, for eg: for acquisition it can be SEM or SEO or content marketing.

The key at this stage to focus on customer journey and adopting a holistic approach where every touch point is connected. Map your channels according to the stage where a customer is within the journey. Channels might vary largely across different business models.

Phase 2: Quarterly Planning which includes:

  1. Explore data: Look at the customer journey and the funnel to explore data at each stage to understand the biggest opportunities.
  2. Identify your quarterly goals: Set up OKR’s that can ladder up to the overall company goals,
  3. Start building the road map to execute: Set up milestones and break it between teams.

The key is to find the most impactful things and prioritising them. Set goals which are ambitious enough to motivate people but achievable enough to not demotivate them. A great concept is to have baseline goals and stretch goals.

Phase 3: End-Quarter execution which includes:

  1. Designing experiments: Develop a good hypothesis that has 3 key elements — an independent variable, a dependent variable and assumptions.
  2. Ship your experiments: Once you have a good hypothesis, it is time to ship the experiment.
  3. Analyse them: If successful, consider automation. Automation increases the productivity by 5%. It is in this way you can move to different experiments and keep on automating and learning.

The key her is to always be on the top of a customer journey and limit the scope of brainstorming but not the scope of ideas. Brainstorming might also lead to developing creative themes rather than just ideas. These themes can then have multiple layers which can go into more tactical hypothesis and experiments.

How to prioritise and chose experiments

Once we brainstorm, we need to prioritise the tasks where the ICE concept can come into play. So, whats the ice framework?

  1. Impact of the experiment: This will consider how big the impacted audience is for this campaign.
  2. Confidence in the projected results: Confidence is the tricky part. The judgement improves as one’s experience improves in growth marketing. A good way to predict is to look at the past results from experiments within your company or other companies.
  3. Effort required to implement: Think on an overall scale including the resources required from engineering, design, copy, money and time.

The key is to prioritise campaigns that are not highest impact-highest effort but rather high impact-low effort. Think of it more on the terms of return on investment from those two angles.


Overall, I got a great understanding of growth marketing vs traditional marketing and the actual path taken by the growth team to launch successful campaigns. It opened up my eyes towards the simplicity and user focussed approach that needs to be maintained. It set me up to understand the nuances of growth marketing in the later topics.

If this makes you interested in growth marketing and you wish to learn more, I can definitely recommend CXL Institutes’s Growth Marketing Minidegree, or any of their other courses.

In part 2, I will be focussing on user centric marketing and talking about the different growth channels like (SEO, PPC, Content and Email marketing).




Startup Growth | Business Development and Sales | Creative thinker

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Startup Growth | Business Development and Sales | Creative thinker

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