CXL Institute Growth Marketing Review [Week 1]

Emely Valadez
6 min readNov 16, 2020

This was my first week as a growth marketing student at the CXL Institute. I am very happy that I made this decision, the curriculum is very interesting and the professors teaching the classes seem very knowledgeable.

This first week I learned what growth marketing is, and what it takes to excel in this role. A few things that I’ve learned is that in order to switch career paths and go into growth marketing, I need to first find out and determine what I’ll be good at. There are three different fields to choose from: analytics, channel specific, and going into strategy management. From these three skill sets, it is best to select one and go from there. I learned that it is also great to find or identify someone within a company who has a similar background to mine, and has gone into growth marketing.

I prefer working in startups, and I learned that as a growth marketer if I can anticipate what problems will emerge, I can spend time obsessing over it and learning as much as I can. This way, I’ll be prepared to work on retention, for example, later down the road. During the present, I can start looking into gaps and holes within the business that I’m working at. This way, I’ll be putting myself in the best position possible and I’ll be spending my time wisely, investing in preparing myself on what will be needed from me as a Growth Marketer.

It isn’t just about anticipating problems, and looking at what is needed from me when I take this role, additionally, I also need to learn how to stay organized and manage my time better. I learned this week that I can start creating habits such as scheduling out my entire week, and investing time and money in having the right foundation.

A few of the classes that I’m taking at the CXL Institute are taught by John McBride, Senior Manager of B2B Growth at Calm. I enjoy his teaching style — he breaks down concepts, and defines terms that I’ll hear often in this role. He also provides a lot of examples and gives advice based on his personal experience.

In one of the classes with John, I learned that there’s three phases of growth management: high-level strategy, quarterly planning, and in-quarterly planning.

First, you need to think of defining your growth model, then mapping out the customer journey, and lastly, identifying all of the growth channels needed.
In the second phase, when making your quarterly planning, you will start exploring data, and identifying your quarterly goals, then building the road map in order to execute and achieve those goals. The third phase is when you will have your high-tempo growth process. This is where you’ll build experiments, analyze them, and then either automate or scale them. For the experiments that don’t work, I will need to throw them in the trash and then proceed with the next one.

To start building the foundation of a growth strategy and model, it is needed to first identify what the growth model will look like at the highest level. This means that I will have to look at all the inputs that I have available in order to achieve a company’s top-level growth goals — whether I’m focusing on user growth or revenue growth.

I also learned that the most common framework for a growth model is Dave McClure’s Pirate Metrics for startups, which is the AARRR framework. In this framework, I’ve got acquisition, activation, retention, revenue, and referrals. The AARRR framework will look slightly different for the business that you’re working with. But essentially this will be the entire view of the funnel, and now it is needed to figure out all the different ways growth can be affected by bringing on new users, getting those users to make their first purchase, or to take their first action on the website, then getting revenue from those users, and finally getting them to stay around longer “retention.” All these metrics represent opportunities for growth within a business in different ways.

The next step will be to walk through the customer journey. It is good to think about how the customer journey will look like from the perspective of the customer throughout the entire funnel. This is when you’ll start getting a sense of all the channels you have at your disposal in order to meet and increase those metrics. Focus on all the possible ways that your customers could find out about your business, drive awareness, and get acquired. Then you’ll be able to start identifying what you need to focus on, such as
SEO, SEM, paid advertising, content marketing, whatever is needed as your acquisition channels.

When it comes to activation, you could have email marketing, push notifications, mobile banner ads— ways to get your users to take their first action. Then you need to go through the same exercise throughout the entire funnel. The goal is to give the customer an overall better experience by increasing all the different types of key metrics.

Doing these exercises from the perspective of the customer is really valuable, you can’t just assume this. Rather than just looking at your growth model through the lens of “How can I increase value to my business” you have to think about “”How can I increase the value we are delivering to our customers.” This will put you in a better position. The goal as a Growth Marketer is to solve all the customer pinpoints, not just focusing on the growth metrics themselves.

I learned that by understanding the customer’s perspective, this will train my team and I to be very customer-centric and user-centric in the long run. Mapping the customer journey in a comprehensive way can generally be done through a white-boarding session and using sticky notes. In order to map the customer journey you start at the beginning and identify a couple of personas of who your customers are and what will be the key segments. Starting at square one, think about how the customer doesn’t know what your business is or what your brand is. First think about where your customers/personas are, and what other websites are they currently using.

You have to think about the following question: How did your persona or customer come to find out about your brand and your website in the first place? Then start walking through each step of their journey of associating with your brand, and going through the funnel, then going through the process, and making their first purchase. This journey is sometimes referred to as the golden path.

Within this path, think about the following:
- What is the best thing that they could possibly buy the first time they come to your site?
- How do you want them to feel after they buy it?
- What are the touch points that they get via email, push, etc… after they make their first purchase?
- What leads them to refer a friend?
- What does that communication look like that they’re sending to their friend?

Remember to think about the best way for a customer to experience all the different parts of your product and then start mapping it out with sticky notes of what that would look like from their perspective. This exercise should be done once a quarter. As you go through a ton of iterations of your website, adding engagement programs, and your email marketing, it will become easy to lose sight of how the customer journey changes. For your customer, using your service will be a wholistic connected experience, where every touch point is related, and all this will affect their perception of a brand.

When mapping out the customer journey, start with one persona. For example, start with how the customer journey will look like for an organic customer — someone who just found you organically. After, go through the customer journey of how it will look like for a referred customer. It is important to keep in mind that a referred customer will most likely know a little bit about the brand, compare to someone who just came to your site for the first time. At the end of the day, the goal is to create a personalized experience.

The first week was insightful and I learned a ton! I am ready to start my next week.