Summary of my experiences and learnings at CXL institute's Growth Marketing Minidegree

Note: This review is only for the first 2 courses. For all the others please head over to the index here

Read this first: I have tried to aggressively condense the actual course content to share them with you. Almost everything that you would learn from Growth vs Traditional Marketing course by CXL is on this page. It's free for you to use, forever :) 

  • Know exactly what you're going to be paying for. 

  • Refer to my notes anytime you need to.

  • If you want to read a critical review of the minidegree, here's the article that I posted on Medium detailing pros, cons and alternatives to CXL. 

Course #1: Growth Mindset: Growth versus Traditional Marketing by John McBride

This course is taught by John Mcbride who was employee #100 at Lyft, a ride sharing company that took away a major chunk of Uber's first-to-market advantage. 

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Uber's CEO Dara Khosrowshahi takes a dig at Lyft

YSK (You Should Know)

This course was by no means my first introduction to growth marketing but it did a great job at identifying my blind spots and things that I may have missed along the way.

YSK that can't take this course as a one-off. You will need to sign up for the entire growth marketing minidegree.  

I enrolled in CXL institute’s growth marketing course during the pandemic. Here’s 

What I learnt

What is Growth Marketing?

  • Relying heavily on data, experiments and marketing knowledge to rapidly grow a company, especially an early stage startup. 

  • Ideal for early stage start-ups who want to scale and grow the 'data-driven way' 

  • The end goal of Growth Marketers is to increase revenue using all stages of the funnel. 

  • It is also known as  performance marketing.

  • I didn't learn this in the course but it something that I came across accidentally -- "growth marketing is basically marketing on steroids. It's cheating" Why? Because - 

  • "Half of the money on advertising is wasted, you just don't know which half". Except, with growth marketing you DO know which half!

The Difference between Traditional Marketing and Growth Marketing

  • The whole funnel and not just the top: Traditional marketing focuses on awareness and acquisition stages whereas Growth marketing focuses on the entire funnel.

  • Growth marketing follows the research-test-optimise-repeat plan of action. Traditional marketers follow research-implement-review. Tests don't hold the same amount of significance with traditional marketing as it does with growth marketing.  

  • Traditional marketers pour in all their energy on a single campaign. If the campaign performs well, then they would get promoted. But if it doesn’t, then they may have wasted an entire quarter’s budget. 

  • An example: Growth Marketers first conduct research, then they come up with hypothesis, A/B test to find a winner, track analytics such as scroll time and eventually find the best performing copy. Traditional marketers take weeks to come up with the perfect design and roll it out. 

  • Growth marketers also have a considerably lower chance of personal bias in the decision making process. It's more data and less intuition. 

One of the things about growth marketers is that they know that they don't know everything which is why they keep researching and testing aggressively. 

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Creative credits:  Allison Otting

Growth hacking is not the same

Growth hacking hasn’t garnered a good name for itself in the marketing community in the recent years. John McBride believes that all growth hacking is an MVP of a marketing campaign ie hacking something together quickly to learn whether it is working or not. Nevertheless, it is important to hire a growth marketer and not a growth hacker. 

Starting your career in growth marketing

Who are successful growth marketers and what’s better than a growth marketer? 

According to John, success for growth marketer lies in any of these 3 domains. 

  1. Channel level expertise - Email, SEO, PPC etc

  2. Analytical ability - SQL, Excel, Bigquery and so on. 

  3. Strategic Thinking/Product Management 

To start with you should select one of the 3 domains where you can and where you want to specialise in. 

Here are some ideas to get started that are not mentioned in the course but are inspired by: 

  1. Google now offers a Rs.2000/- free advertising budget. Visit as many nearby mom-&-pop store as possible Advertise for them for free. 

  2. Learn the tools of the game. There is great content out there for excel but if you’re looking for something specific, CXL has a Advanced Excel Training course for Marketers. I took lots of courses over the years all from a certified microsoft trainer at uni to a 4 month course on financial modelling and the one on CXL pretty neat. 

  3. If you like reading words on paper, and listening to podcasts at 1.5x, then you’re good to go. For recommendations, say hi to me on Linkedin


What's next? 

There’s a growing demand for t-shaped growth marketers and full stack growth marketers. Eventually you want to move on to become one of those. T-shaped marketers have a broad understanding of all marketing disciplines and tactics and in-depth knowledge in 1-2 specific areas. Full stack marketers are very similar. Full-stack marketers are capable of wearing multiple hats rather than just specializing in one area of marketing. They do not have expert knowledge in all areas of marketing but they do not have a weak spot as well. 

You are a T-shaped marketer operating as a full stack marketer to be working at your full potential. 


Course #2: Building a growth process by John McBride

Give it to me, quick:

This course outlines a 8 step growth process

Foundation steps

  1. Define your growth model: Know which inputs you have and discover all the areas you can grow.

  2. Map out your customer journey: to learn the effectiveness of all channels at each stage of the journey. Use sticky notes or a user persona template to start with. 

  3. Identify growth channels: I found 24 social media channels. Select one of those if you'd like

High-level steps

4.  Explore Data: Deepdive into your analytics accounts. Start with asking the right questions. CXL does a great job at teaching us how measure what matters. 

5.  Identify Quarterly Goals: Objectives and Key Results; find the place where the leak is the biggest

6.  Build a roadmap: weekly or biweekly.  

7.  Execution: the hardest part but the most important

8.  Automate - look at G2 or capterra for automation solutions. 

The course will take you through each step one lesson after another. The rest of the minidegree has dedicated courses for each step. You have a Project Management course for the 'Build Roadmap Step' and a 'User-Centric Marketing' course for the second step. 

If you liked this article and wish to purchase a course, please consider using my link while doing so. We donate to covid-related charities.  Happy to send a gift to you after :)

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I am a professional growth marketer and an absolute tech geek. I intend to deploy data-driven tools to drive revenue. Visit my site or connect with me on Linkedin