Leveling up with CXL’s Growth Marketing Minidegree - Review

I was passionate about growth marketing before I had an understanding of it. It started my junior year of high school in my best friend’s basement when we decided to throw a house party while his mother worked overnight at a hospital as a registered nurse. Think Kid and Play.

Although we had a great time, I was more impressed with how many people showed up from different schools and parts of the city.

Whenever we had an open window, we would throw a party.

Our attendance grew as we got more sophisticated with our promotions. Eventually, we reached capacity and decided it was time to move to commercial venues.

We almost got caught one morning, which was a significant factor as well. But that’s a story for another time.

Although the transition wasn’t horrible, throwing events in commercial venues came with a new set of problems. They were more massive and costly.

We went from throwing parties in a basement with an approximate capacity of 80 people to warehouses that easily held 300.

And then there were the expenses. We had none in the basement, but we still charged $5, so we always made money. We had to pay for everything in the warehouse, including the sound system, DJ, security, off-duty police officers, refreshments, flyer design, flyer printing, and the warehouse.

Shit got real, and $5 ahead wasn’t going to keep the party going.

We quickly realized what worked for us in the past wasn’t going to do now, and we needed to adapt quickly or risk going back to our dull lives. I wasn’t having that.

We began to brainstorm ways we can cut costs and attract more attendees to our events.

One adjustment we made was with our marketing collateral. I took a graphic design course at the local community college my freshman year in high school and decided we could save a lot if I designed the event flyers.

We could also decrease our print costs by designing smaller flyers that only highlighted the essential information needed to get people in the building.

Early on, we discovered that our attendance correlated with the number of flyers we distributed. We turned out approximately 5 percent of flyer recipients to our events for every thousand flyers we handed out.

Printing smaller flyers afforded us the ability to print more flyers for less and inevitably turn out more attendees.

As our attendance grew, I realized that although we were distributing our flyers to critical areas in the city, attendees from certain regions were turning out more than attendees from others. Also, the places where people were turning out less were more costly for us to get to and promote.

If we relocated our flyer distribution to the areas where we were getting the most attendees, we could increase our turnout. It worked out.

However, we lost attendees in areas where we stopped distributing flyers. And although we gained revenue, we weren’t satisfied with the lost attendees.

Part of our success was due to the diversity of our attendees. Kids from all over the city attended our events.

We had to find another way to reach the people in the areas where we stopped distributing flyers without significantly increasing our cost.

Myspace was the thing back then, and although we utilized it to promote our events, it wasn’t our primary channel for marketing.

However, occasionally speaking with attendees, I discovered that they found out about the parties through Myspace. I also noticed a trend. People who found out about the events through Myspace didn’t live in the areas where we distributed flyers.

If I could find a way to target people in the areas where we stopped distributing flyers on Myspace, maybe we could get back the attendees we lost and pick up ones we never had.

After trial and error, I found a way to target people on Myspace using their Top 8 Friends. Soon after, I discovered an application that allowed me to automate posting the digital flyer under the comment section of people’s profiles.

Eventually, we stopped distributing printed flyers altogether, and I continued finding ways to utilize the internet to grow our events.

Since then, I’ve become obsessed with digital marketing. The journey has allowed me to help myself and help others eager about growing their businesses or organizations.

Clients have been satisfied with my services, but there has always been a thought in the back of my mind that my efforts weren’t enough to help their businesses significantly grow. I was missing something, but I didn’t know what it was.

I searched the internet and got introduced to User Experience Design, brought into everything I discovered, enrolled in an intensive UX course with General Assembly, learned a lot, gained valuable skills, got certified, and still the disconnect remained. WTF?

Although the education and hands-on experience acquired were great, the program focused on designing intuitive applications, not increasing revenue and profit, my north star.

One day, while falling down the rabbit hole, I came across a blog post by ConversionXL. I read it and then sat in my seat quietly for a few minutes, thinking about everything I just learned.

I was blown away by the level of knowledge and detail.

I read another article, and then another, I couldn’t stop. After reading for hours, all my siloed experiences and lessons began to come together. The dots were starting to connect.

Once I picked up my jaw, I continued exploring the blog and came across a post on recognizing great optimizers written by Peep Laja, founder of CXL.

You should check it out.

To summarize, great optimizers are polymaths, critical thinkers, understand human behavior, not afraid of numbers, persuasive copywriters, good with people, know good design and user experience, and possess basic coding skills. Checking those boxes wouldn’t be difficult.

But what stood out most was that great optimizers think in terms of processes and not copy-paste tactics.

Fast forward to today. I’m currently 10-hours in on ConversionXL’s Growth Marketing Minidegree program and couldn’t be more excited about the future of my career.

So far I’ve completed the Growth mindset: growth vs traditional marketing, Building a growth process, User-centric marketing, Identifying and amplifying growth channels, Research and testing, and Conversion research courses. All filled with the right proportion of theoretical and practical instruction.

I’m finally building the skills and learning the processes needed to become a T-shaped marketer and help take businesses to the next level.

Admittedly, I’m pretty embarrassed to have called myself a marketer or a consultant in the past.

Nevertheless, here’s what I have learned so far:

Unlike traditional digital marketing, experimentation is at the foundation of growth marketing. Assumptions are welcomed but taken with a grain of salt.

A growth marketer’s goal is to identify opportunities through research and test their ideas’ validity.

It’s a constant cycle of building, measuring, learning, and iterating to grow a business in a way that reduces bias and risk in decision-making while incrementally increasing revenue and profits.

The more you test, the more you learn, and the smarter you are when making decisions.

However, prioritizing your test is crucial to a successful optimization program. Unfortunately, all ideas arent created equal, and resources aren’t endless.

Expending resources on the wrong test could cost you time and money unnecessarily. And that’s where user-centric marketing lead by a well-organized conversion research process comes in.

User-centric marketing allows you to better understand and engage your audience, saves you time and money, allows you to spend your budget better, and accomplish more with less.

It acknowledges that users (people) are the drivers of a business’s growth. And it focuses on optimizing the customer journey map.

Most importantly, it gives customers and prospects a seat at the collaboration table to influence messaging and how, when, and where they will receive it.

Conversion research is the base for both growth marketing and user-centric marketing. Without it, everything falls apart. It’s the tool to identify problems, why they are happening, and whom they are affecting.

Before you do anything else, start with conversion research.

Conversion research breaks down into three parts, experience-based assessments, qualitative research, and quantitative analysis.

Collectively they enable you to find insights on how your customers’ experience your marketing, identify problems in your funnels, locate technical issues that are hindering your users’ experiences, and understand their perception of your products or services.

And there you have it, a very high-level overview of what I’ve learned within the first 10-hours (still have 101 to-go) of ConversionXL’s Growth Marketing Minidegree program, which is only the tip of the iceberg. The real highlight is the practical advice that went along with it, some of which I’m already applying.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to sharing more in the weeks to come. If you have any questions or comments regarding the program or my experience so far, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Until next time, respect!

I help people plan, design, and build customer journeys that convert.