CXL Institute Growth Marketing Minidegree review Part 9

9 min readNov 8, 2020


Understanding Email marketing, PR and Growth Program Management


During this course I spoke to one of my friend. He was actually struggling with his email campaigns and since I was running hot from the Email Marketing course from CXL Institute I offered some free pointers.

Below is our conversation, let’s call my friend to be Olli for this article.

So, Ollie asked me (after I stressed the importance of email campaigns) Why email? It’s 2020, the decade of the social media platforms.

My answer was simple : For every $1 invested email returns $38. What is the return on social media?

Now after I won round 1 of our discussion, I saw Ollie trying to dig into the best practices so that he can compare to what he is doing right now.

So, I gave him some pointers that he should always do and never do:

Since he is a friend, I threw in some points that can create a WOW factor:

  1. Use video in emails (Ollie was shocked at this)
  2. Pre-headers can be a great to sell (Ollie did not know this)
  3. Don’t just sell. Tell stories (He does it but from a selling angle)
  4. Journey based emails drive ROI (Ollie had a WOW moment on this point)
  5. Give your users the power and reward (Speechless)

He then said, “Alec, this is all great but tell me how can I grow my list?”

In the most CXL fashion, I told him to first look within. Look at the current email list you got, let’s first optimise it?

So in order to grow your email list Ollie, you need to make sure:

  1. Send regularly (at least 1x a month) the reason is that at the beginning of every month you don’t want to be in a position of infinite complaints but no send history (30 day refresh).
  2. Deliver valuable, relevant and engaging content.
  3. Monitor your inbox placement.
  4. Welcome your new subscribers, stay warm and give incentive to buy off the bat.
  5. Clean out your bad emails in your list.
  6. Consider removing dummy or unengaged subscribers or play with frequency for the unengaged subscribers.

I had to let him know about all the unethical ways that needs to be avoided on all costs. So no harvesting email id’s, no assuming permission, no buying lists.

Ollie then asked me, “So how can I grow my list with $0 and only with lead generation form?”

This conversation was now picking pace. As a marketing graduate I loved 4P’s and saw familiarity (at least in the abbreviation) here:

  1. Prominence: This refers to the placement of the email grabbing opportunity. This can be an exit intent lightbox or a side rail on the page but has to be implemented in conjunction with the larger team. Also, the sources to grow email is not just through website but through other social media handles or even when you meet people in case of a B2B scenario.
  2. Promise: Let subscribers know about the value, frequency and privacy conditions or promise. Live upto that promise too.
  3. Proof: Adding proof in the opt-in forms helps to make the offer meaty.
  4. Progressive profiling: Stay progressive and don’t just ask for all the information in the first go.

After this, I advised Ollie to spend sometime on thinking some of the ideas of how he will increase the sign ups from the existing list or will he launch a new campaign?

I spoke with Ollie after few months, he was super happy with the optimization. He also had grown his list without spending any money. But, he wanted more….

Ollie: Alec, I now have a budget, tell me how I can really crank it up?

Glad you asked Ollie.

Email list can’t be grown through emails. We need other sources, channels and Partners.

  1. Scale through partners. Offer value to the subscribers and don’t swipe lists. Stay exclusive to the subscribers of the partner.
  2. Use that budget for paid media. Give some reward with a sponsored post. Use custom audience and lookalike audience.
  3. Get creative Ollie.

One more time, Ollie’s attention was drawn towards customer journey and complimentary products. He was off for the next few weeks trying to implement all the knowledge. I did leave him with some other advices:

  1. Send to your most unengaged list less frequently
  2. Or, let subscribers choose the frequency
  3. Or, run a re-engagement campaign, get creative

With best practices applied and email list grown, Ollie was starting to see the benefits of email marketing. He was starting to get replies and compliments on his structure about the outreach. The guy even got a partnership with a cool complimentary product. We caught up to discuss more on the copy and the other cool stuff now.

Ollie asked: Apart from the basics of the email anatomy comprising the subject line, pre-header, branded graphic content, main message, call to action, supporting message and compliant heavy footer what are the other elements through which I can opitmize my email design?

I was impressed with the basics being covered by a guy who a few months and weeks back questioned the existence of email campaigns. So, I told him all that I learnt at CXL institute:

  1. Segment the email into grids. Make columns of 1 or 2 and then fill those columns with elements.
  2. Pre-headers and subject line should work together. All image emails might lead to this unknowingly.
  3. Keep the email skimmable. Clear, concise and clickable.
  4. Email style should fit the message and product.
  5. Consider accessibility when designing emails.
  6. Use true font style and use min 14px font size.
  7. Use vertical images and background colours but try to avoid.
  8. Use whitespace to your advantage and big buttons with min 40px.
  9. Move it with animation and personalize it with text and images

And as Ollie consumed all this, I smiled and said, “Ollie, always get creative”

Ollie was already throwing ideas for his pancake mix:

So many flavours of pancake mix that you won’t miss the 90's.

Now, after a few weeks we spoke again and man Ollie was a changed guy. He knew a lot about his customers, had a better grip on the customer journey through multiple segmented and targeted email campaign. So we happen to discuss the role data can play in his understanding of the future of email campaigns.

  1. Data for personalisation: This helps to connect a chord with the customer when the email content is personalised for them. This can include for eg — the headers, the SKU in the offer, the previous selection by the customer in a series of emails.
  2. Data for segmentation: The personalisation goes beyond including the name and segmentation is connected to it. It refers to the point to who gets which message. This backs what message works for which segment and what are the trigger points for that segment through data. Segments can also be created on the level of engagement and a calendar can be created on that basis.
  3. Data for automation: Automation takes into consideration that when to send the message and to whom. Automation executes the personalisation and segmentation. This can be onboarding emails, emails before a major event in the customers life, post purchase or determining the frequency of emails.
  4. Data for optimisation: With data, optimisation becomes easier. You can test multiple communication strategies based on content type, days, or time of buying cycle. Through this you can optimise the campaign and overall path of acquiring customers and increasing revenue through emails.

After this engaging course delivered by Jessica Best and presented here as a conversation, we moved on to understanding what PR is and isn’t.

So what is the difference between PR and marketing?

PR isn’t paid marketing. PR is earned media where the PR team sets the brand outreach program in conjunction with other marketing activities like SEO or other content channels. There are two types of PR:

  1. Negative PR: Where you are controlling a negative occurrence
  2. Positive PR: Where you are uplifting a brands image

Metrics that matter in PR

  1. Quality of mention
  2. Quality of article
  3. Number of articles

Defining Target Audience

This relates to what the goal is and where the business currently is. It is a lot of common sense and connections applied. The messaging needs to be specific for the target audience that ties with the goal and current business position.

Op-ed is opinionated and not sales oriented.

PR writing guidelines

  1. Subject lines matter the most
  2. Consult SEO specialists too
  3. Keep it sure and succinct


  1. Email is always appreciated but don’t shy away from using social media
  2. Consider the timings
  3. Stand out by keeping a pulse of what the news media or publishing houses are talking about
  4. Don’t send off, mass topic pitches to bloggers
  5. Conferences and events are a great way to build relationships and helps in being personable
  6. Expect to pay or compensate bloggers unlike news reporters

Media tours can be packed in one or two days and revolves around hitting as many media outlets as possible or they can be like booking a studio and arranging interviews with as many media outlets as possible.

Digital media strategy

  1. This needs to take PR into a holistic marketing approach
  2. Digital media is often more influential as compared to traditional marketing
  3. Size of the company matters and also the digital presence

I also dwelled on a very interesting track this week:

Growth Program management.

This track was delivered by Sean Ellis and John McBride.

It was so good to listen to such growth heavy weights. We started off by discussing the key growth fundamentals focussing on the way growth teams combine the different silos of levers and combine the customer journey to come up with experiments and increase the aggregate value.

This led us to the conversation about the north star metric that actually is the aggregation of value over time that makes the biggest impact for the growth of the company. Sean also briefed about different types of testing: testing to discover which revolves around doing something that hasn’t been done before and testing for optimisation which revolves around trying to figure a better way to do anything that is currently been done.

Try to find the leverage — the point where the biggest wins lies. Keep the objective specific and identify primary metric. Always record the baseline metric, goal for metric (absolute and relative) and start/end date.

We then moved to better understanding the growth process.

Like any traditional process the growth process focusses on analyse, ideate, prioritise, test and analyse.

  1. The analysis stage focusses around leveraging insights from multiple functions and helps you understand how to drive long term sustainable growth.
  2. You also need to constantly mine for ideas as against the leverage you have analysed. Include everyone on the team.
  3. Prioritise by including a process of nomination, pitch, decide and assign owner.
  4. Test with minimum viable test and ensure success metrics are defined and measured.
  5. Analyse with statistically significant sample size and keep objective top of mind.

I then learned about some of the basics of growth teams where two systems were the centre piece — autonomous (reporting directly to the CEO) and functional teams (reporting into other teams). Sean also talked about the role of growth master and the qualities of a successful growth master. I also learnt about how to run a growth meeting which was really insightful.

John Mcbride then took over the learning reigns and talked about how to optimise the growth process. Some of the key points from his course:

  1. Aim for better experiments focussing on quality of experiments
  2. Reduce the time to ship experiments to make the process faster
  3. Front load the planning to decide which experiments to plan and ultimately ship.
  4. Aim for a robust teams with multiple skills and experience in multiple areas. Spend time and resources on training the team.
  5. Get the tools in order.
  6. Don’t panic if more time is taken in robust analysis but engage in one after the basic analysis is completed.
  7. Push for experimentation for other functions too, so that buy-ins can be easier.
  8. Your growth team might start from generalists and then levitate towards the area you are focussing on depending on the product.
  9. Growth teams sit in between the marketing and product teams.
  10. Set clear goals and objectives for product and marketing teams as growth is all about experimentation faster and finding the true north star metric.


The email marketing course definitely gave great pointers to create, enrich and nail down some best practices. The PR course also gave a good introduction to PR and the differentiation between PR and marketing. The last part for this week I focussed on gaining knowledge about growth program management from heavy weights like Sean Ellis and John Mcbride. Overall this week’s training gave a great overview of the growth process and introduced me to new concepts.

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.




Startup Growth | Business Development and Sales | Creative thinker