Review: CXL Growth Marketing MiniDegree (Week 1)

Shwetha Ashokumar
6 min readMay 23, 2021


If you are a marketer, you would have for sure heard stories about how Hotmail acquired a lot of customers by adding a tag line at the end of every mail that said “This email was sent via Hotmail” or how AirBNB reverse engineered themselves and got into Craig’s list. And, not to forget how Dropbox acquired users by offering free storage spaces for those who referred their friends and family.

In today’s world, we are all looking out for easy ways by which we can get to the user and make a difference. A few years ago, it was enough for you to have a few strategies up your sleeve to be a great marketer. But, the times have changed. Your competitors out there are fighting for the same space as you do. By this, I don’t mean to say that you should stop bidding on ads or write great content that will bring traffic to your website. While all that is necessary, you do need to have a strategic plan that builds a space for yourself in the digital world. This is where Growth Marketing comes in.

With the whole lock-down in place, I decided to learn something new to keep me occupied. That was when a friend suggested, I read the book — Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown. This book was an eye-opener of many sorts and was hard to put down.

After completing the book, I had the basics covered. But, I still had a lot of questions on how to implement my learnings. That was when I started looking out for courses online. When it comes to a course on growth marketing, one can be spoiled of choice, there are so many courses and books out there that explain just the bare minimum.

I did some research and spoke to a few colleagues who were already in this field to understand what I should be focusing on. Then, I went through the course syllabus to know if they have covered everything that I wanted to learn. Finally, I zeroed it down to two courses.

Why did I choose CXL’s minidegree on Growth Marketing?

Having just completed the book Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis, I wanted a different voice and perspective.

Dropbox’s idea was incredible, so were AirBNB’s and Hotmail’s. But all these are one in a million hacks that work great for you. My area of interest was more around, how I can implement marketing strategies using these foundations and ensure that I am doing things right. So, I wanted to learn more about how fellow marketers are doing this.

Growth Hacking and Growth Marketing, although might sound similar, have a thin line of difference. I am going to break this down to make it easier for you to choose the stream that you want to learn.

Growth Hacking focuses around:

  • Setting up a growth team that comprises of people with different areas of expertise such as marketing, design, data analyst, and engineering who constantly strive to find a hack that will help them solve the problem in an easy and cost-effective manner.
  • They use data to identify user behavior and preferences.
  • They have a north star metric that they use to test the effectiveness of the campaign.
  • It is about rapid growth.

Growth marketing on the other hand is:

  • A combination of brand and performance marketing.
  • It is built on top of growth hacking practices and follows the sprint model where the ideas are prioritized based on their effectiveness and time to implement.
  • It focuses on how you can combine growth hacking ideas into the day-to-day marketing strategies that will help you acquire, activate and retain users.

To make things simple, Growth hacking has nothing to do with the brand, whereas growth marketing is all about it. I wanted to learn about a sustainable way of increasing growth, and solve complex business problems. Therefore, I decided to go with CXL’s mini degree in Growth Marketing.

What is this blog about?

This blog is going to be a series on what I learn from the course. Every week, I will post my learnings and takeaways from the course. I have also added a snapshot of the syllabus below.

The total time duration of the course is about 112 hours and has 33 courses. I would recommend that you create a schedule and adhere to it if you plan on completing it within a specific time. Each course comes with few event videos that will help you gain more insights on the topic that you are listening to.

In this blog, I am going to review the first 2 courses.

Course 1: Growth Mindset: Growth vs traditional marketing by John McBride

John McBride is a data-driven growth leader who loves working for innovative startups in high-growth, emerging markets. He is an early employee at Lyft (first 100), Eaze (first 100), and Calm (first 60). His diverse range of startup experiences spans across growth, product, marketing, strategy, and business operations. He is currently leading B2B marketing and growth at Calm.

In this course, he talks about how growth marketing focuses on the whole funnel whereas traditional marketing just focuses on the top of the funnel. He insists on following the “research — test — optimize and repeat” cycle to get the maximum from your growth marketing efforts.

In this course, you will learn about:

  • Types of marketing campaigns that are well-suited for experimentation.
  • Where growth fits into T-shaped marketer formation.
  • How the Lean Startup Methodology aligns with your growth marketing efforts.
  • How to lay a strong foundation for your growth career that balances analytical capability, channel-expertise, and strategic thinking.
  • Common mistakes made in interviews for growth marketing positions.
  • Qualitative skills to prioritize when hiring and building out your team.
  • More tips to boost your career as a growth marketer.

Course 2: Building a growth process by John McBride

In this course, John McBride helps you define the growth model. He talks about the need to map the customer journey and why it is important. He also helps you unearth the channels that will help you achieve your business goal and how you can identify growth opportunities using a data-driven approach.

In this course, you will learn about:

  • The three phases of growth management: high-level strategy, quarterly planning, and in-quarterly planning.
  • The most important metrics to monitor in your overall growth model.
  • How to identify growth opportunities on a quarterly basis.
  • Important ways small, dedicated teams boost your metrics, as opposed to large teams.
  • Brainstorming tactics to ensure you get the most out of your ideation process.
  • The ICE framework: impact, confidence, and effort.
  • Ways to incorporate the build, measure, learn cycle on a quarterly basis.
  • How the experimentation process works through real-world examples.

I hope you found this useful. Watch out this space to get a weekly review of the course.



Shwetha Ashokumar

T shaped marketer and Author of Insider’s guide to Technical Documentation