A CXL Review: Understanding Growth Marketing
The promise to be a part of the world’s top 1%, be it in anything, would be an overwhelming experience. And to join the league of top 1% digital marketers without a degree in Marketing for absolutely no cost? I would close my eyes and accept the challenge any day. Yes, as part of this endeavor, I’m obliged as a CXL Scholar to pay my due in sharing and evaluating what I’ve learned as a Growth Marketer in the course of the next 12 weeks. And this is the first of many such CXL Review posts to follow.
First thing first, Why CXL?
While in search of an opportunity to widen my scope of understanding the science of digital marketing, I stumbled upon the CXL Institute. Highly skeptical of taking the schooling path (online courses) to achieve my career goals, a fellow digital marketer insisted I try the CXL Institute as it was considered the crème de la crème of modern marketing and widely differed in its approach.
A cursory first glance of CXL’s online website had me hooked for it was hard to stomach the fact that a Digital Marketing Institute run by the top Marketers of the world was not hard selling its courses. Taught by professionals rather than trainers with not even the customary outreach campaigns had something to convey to its audience — they know the success mantra of good marketing. And after the first few introductory classes, I can vouch for the same. But a detailed analysis shall follow as the mini degree progresses.
Understanding Growth Marketing
As much as there is to learn and be updated in this fast-evolving career choice as a Digital Marketer, more frightening are the numerous jargons that pop up each day, especially if you lack formal education in Marketing. One such term has been ‘Growth Marketing’. John McBride, founder of WeTheFuture and a senior digital marketer, through his introductory course to CXL Growth Marketing, has laid the foundations lucidly in spelling out what exactly growth marketing stands for.
Unlike conventional marketing or brand marketing which focuses primarily at the top of the sales funnel, namely awareness and interest creation through massive marketing campaigns, growth marketing aims at improvement at every stage of the funnel and therein driving a continuous collective growth across the business cycle. Be it an e-commerce website, SaaS provider, or any other model of online business, growth marketing walks you through each stage of the sales cycle from a customer’s perspective to effectively address issues, reduce friction, and therein increase conversion and revenue.
Digital Marketing vs Growth marketing
What then is the difference between the two? Emphasis. While both intend to serve the same purpose of driving businesses, growth marketing can be said to be an extension of digital marketing in that it lays additional emphasis on retention, experimentation, and learning from failures. This is where, I fall in love with the subject because it is so much like life where growth is aligned with consistently playing with ideas, finding solutions, failing, and learning from your failures.
Peep Laja, the former champion of optimization and the founder of CXL, plays a crucial role (as part of the course) in helping growth-hungry marketers to run successful growth experiments based on sound research and testing. Before we dive deep into the topics of experimentation, there is one fundamental aspect to address — the growth mindset.
The Growth Mindset
What is the growth mindset? The constant hunger to optimize, find solutions, experiment, and learn. Unfortunately, the Growth Mindset was just briefly touched upon by the CXL instructors and is grossly undervalued in our daily lives. Intent, or purpose, is fundamental to driving growth in businesses. More so, be it a startup we are working on, a business we are trying to scale, the career progression we are trying to make, or a problem we are desperately trying to fix, without an intent to grow and become better, there will be no clear outcomes. My understanding is — without that hunger to learn and excel, one cannot be a good growth marketer just like no good athlete is made without a burning desire to win. The sooner we cultivate ‘the growth mindset’, the faster we are on the track of fulfilling our goals.
Experimentation: a method to the madness
Peep Laja begins his Conversion Optimization lecture with unusual enthusiasm and a question for us to ponder upon — “How do we know we are doing the right optimization? How do we optimize optimization?”, answer to which is ‘by asking the right questions. If we kept implementing every idea that crossed our mind assuming it would lead to increased conversion, experimentation would become a trap — a never-ending process with no quantifiable outcomes.
By asking the right set of questions at every stage of the customer lifecycle we would be in a better place to leverage data, conduct groundbreaking analysis, and come up with a hypothesis that can be effectively tested using modern marketing tools and techniques available. CXL lays down a thorough roadmap, The ResearchXL Process, involving a set of technical, heuristic, and hard-data driven analytics among other things that provide a step-by-step guide in fixing major and minor leaks.
Just as not all hypotheses need to be tested, not all solutions arrived at should be experimented with. Some just-do-it issues which hardly cause any downturn in conversions can be implemented right away. But for the rest which requires testing, CXL has come up with its PXL Prioritization Framework based on the impact, importance, data availability, and ease of implementation.
One sure thing from this particular lecture that will stick on throughout my time as a professional would be Pepe Laja’s endless ‘emphasis on data’ to arrive at unbiased decisions. Data, data, data, and the resulting insights, hypothesis, testing, and learning from failures are the only method to this madness. Measuring and analyzing every action taken is one more golden rule for future optimizations that cannot be looked away at.
Of course, all this was delivered while walking us through an exciting list of practical examples and real-life projects implemented by top growth experts throughout their careers.
A key takeaway for aspiring growth marketers
“Hire for slope, not Y-intercept” was Sam Altman’s number one advice to recruiters. This is especially true for growth marketing where channel-specific expertise (that keeps evolving with time) can be easily gathered if one is a fast learner. Industry experts broadly agree that ‘the hunger to learn is the most important quality one must possess to succeed as a growth marketer.
“Play to learn, not to win, and you will end up winning”.