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You think you know, but you have no idea. Diving into Growth Marketing: Week 1 Review.

Updated: Jul 29



They say (whoever “they”) are, that your twenties are all about trying different things and exploring what you want to do in life. Well, I’m 31 now - and I’m officially not twenty anymore, and I’m hungry - hungry to hone in and jump-off!

Let me introduce myself - Oh hello! I’m Andrea, a Seattle-based career seeker with a “unique” resume. I’ve held different job titles across different industries - you know, a recruiters dream. But throughout my very different professional experiences, there has always been my underlying modus operandi - branding. From seeing how brands across various industries startup, their logo & design, their operations, their customers, their channels, sales, where they excel, where they fall short, and where their opportunities are. Branding is my M.O. and the line that connects my random dots.


But it is time…time for my random dots to unite! In order for that to happen, I need to fill some holes. The first step to doing so was sent to me on a random day in quarantine...


That Text


I received a text from my BOSS of a friend Marjorie, Growth Marketing Extraordinaire - “Yo! Just came across this. Not that you need it at all!!!! But could be interesting.” It was a link to CXL Institute.


CXL Institute is the only skill-building platform for marketers that uses the world's top 1% practitioners as instructors. When you're looking to upskill in digital marketing, you've got a lot of options. You should only choose CXL Institute when you're serious about furthering your career.


Well, I’m serious about furthering my career! I scoured through their website, started watching their free courses, and was hooked. I chose Growth Marketing out of their 6 Mini-degree programs. I applied for their scholarship program, and got accepted. So here we begin...


For the next 12 weeks, I’m diving in and learning what Growth Marketing is all about. Every Sunday I will review my experience with CXL Institute and share with you some takeaways I've learned, in hopes that maybe you learn something new too.


Traditional Marketing vs. Growth Marketing


Let’s first start by pointing out the funnel - something that is constantly referenced throughout the course. Created by Dave McCure, the Pirate Funnel, also known as AARRR (Get it? Like a Pirate?) put simply is a metric system for start-up growth:


Now that we have that, let’s talk about some of the many differences between brand marketing or traditional marketing vs. growth marketing:


  • Brand Marketing focuses on awareness & acquisition (top of funnel).

  • Growth Marketing focuses on the whole funnel.

  • Growth Marketing is driven by experimentation. If you are not consistently testing, trying, analyzing, adapting, you are failing. This is how you drive growth across the funnel.

  • Brand Marketers think they know what their customers want, come up with a campaign, and run it.

  • Growth Marketers admit they have no idea what their customers want, understand customers are always changing, hypothesize, run tests, analyze the data, and then run a qualified campaign based on the feelings and needs of their customers.


Growth Marketing is about constantly learning, and constantly doing better. Even if an experiment doesn’t go as you thought it would, that is still a useful data point that can guide your company forward and know what not to do in the future.


I don’t know why the word experiment carries so much weight for me. When I hear the word experiment, I think of something big, life-changing, and something that is extremely time consuming and tedious. This is not the case for growth marketing. It’s about testing quickly, and knowing the smallest shifts can have a huge impact on your acquisition and revenue.


Here’s an example - let’s take email marketing. A simple test you could run is geared towards messaging - trying to understand what messaging will work the best. So you send out a couple emails - one message is geared towards pricing, and one message is geared towards convenience. Which one performed better? From there you can see which message had the greater impact on conversion. Eventually, you can even take it deeper and deeper to segment your clients, and target your customers with specific messaging based on what resonates with them and their specific needs. Put simply, treating and thinking your customers are the same is wrong. You gotta talk their talk.


There is so much to share! So here’s the high level - you need to identify your growth process, your growth model, identify your goals and have the goals be transparent and company wide (cross functional). Prioritize what is important now, run your experiment, ANALYZE your results, test, test, test, and find where you can double down. Don’t forget to put the data in a place that is easily accessible for your organization and where you can easily reference past tests - and definitely don’t shove findings in your desk drawer.


User Centric Marketing


Getting to know your user is the biggest theme in growth marketing. Yes, yes, we know. But I mean REALLY know them. And no, it’s not knowing how old they are, what occupation, what car they drive - it’s deep diving into what makes them tick, their feelings...yes, feelings.


So what is User Centric Marketing? It draws on user research and user centric design to bring marketing, management, and campaigns to the 21st century. Are you testing your campaigns on users before they’re released? Are you adapting your campaigns after they launched? If not, you are not taking advantage of the digital realm!


Here are some important take-aways about understanding your users:

  • In person, 1 to 1 interaction is ideal. You should be interacting with your users in person once every 3 weeks. Going to their house, seeing how they live, how they interact with your product or service - this is where the biggest insights can occur.

  • The most important thing to understand your user is understanding their objections.

  • Understanding and researching your audience does not need to be expensive.

  • You should consider user research when planning a campaign or project, creating the campaign or project, deciding whether to run it, and evaluating the success after it was run.

There are countless techniques, tests, and tools to help understand your users better. Here are 7 that stood out to me:

  1. Your Frontline Staff: Talk to your sales team who interact with your clients daily. They have a wealth of knowledge on what your user is missing, what your users want, and what their pain points are.

  2. Empathy Mapping: This is something that is always used in user research and design. It’s different than a marketing persona in that the information you are targeting is: What questions do the users have? What tasks do they want to complete? What is influencing them? What are their goals and pain points? How do they feel during the overall process on your site?

  3. The 5 Second Test: Show users your marketing material or campaign for 5 seconds, then take it away. Ask your users what they remember and take note the order in which they remember things, and what they forgot. This works well to see if users get the key information, and makes sure you’re communicating the right message quickly.

  4. A/B Testing on Low vs. High Traffic Websites: For low traffic websites, limit the number of variations - test only 1 or 2 variations. Go for big changes instead of little nuance changes. If you have a high traffic website do the opposite. Try and test a bunch, go for large variations and small incremental changes.

  5. Build a Picture Using Surveys: Have an objective for each survey, keep it short, ask closed questions. Focus on users’ objections, tasks, goals, pain points.

  6. Top Task Analysis: Top task analysis was originally created by Gerry McGovern who used it to identify what tasks users most wanted to complete on a website. This is important because user attention is limited and they spend about 6-8 seconds on your website to quickly address questions and concerns. If you focus on the wrong things, or if they do not understand what you’re about, you will lose them.

  7. Customer Journey Mapping: It is a visualization of a customer's purchase journey. This will be highly simplified and won’t be 100% accurate but it will be a story of an archetypal user journey. You want this journey to be max 6 steps. This takes into account the customer’s experience and how it changes over time. Can users find what they need quickly? Do they understand what you do? Where do they drop off? How are they feeling? What are their questions?

Of course there are analytics and screen recorders, and so much more but I’ll dive into that another time.


Ok! On to Growth Channels!


Your Growth Channels


It’s important to not spread yourself too thin. Pick the right channels where your users are and keep an eye on your competition. It’s always important to see where your competitors are, and what they are doing. But if your competitor has success in one platform, and your users are not there, take it with a grain of salt and do you! If your users are not using Facebook, don’t waste your time or energy. Be one with your people! Know where they are spending their time and what their interests are. If they are watching the Superbowl, you should be there with them (well maybe not physically). Know what they are sharing, reposting, and what matters to them. But don’t get caught up in vanity metrics. Likes, and shares don’t necessarily mean a higher ROI.


What are your Growth Channels? 1st step is to identify:

  • SEM (Search Engine Marketing) also known as PPC (Pay Per Click): this is all about keywords and with PPC you can get MQL (Market Qualified Leads) straight to you!

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization): SEO is the process of improving your website's ranking on the search engine results page in order to get more people on your site.

  • Social & Display Ads (Banner Ads): Ads on social media and other sites.

  • Email Marketing: One of the best ways to convert new prospects.

  • Content Marketing: Blogs, Forums etc.

A couple important takeaways:

  • Content Gap Analysis: All about finding opportunities. Compare competitors strategies, assess your current approach, build a roadmap to fill the gap.

  • Audience Fatigue is REAL: When channels become too crowded, they might increase the cost of your strategy and decrease effectiveness.

  • Find New Creative Channels: Sophia Eng mentions looking out for Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality as new upcoming channels. What a concept! Start to think how can you infiltrate. What other creative ways can you reach your audience?

  • 70% of consumers would rather know a brand through articles than ads. They want to feel like they know you - as if you’re engaging in a conversation and giving information that is useful.

  • SEO is not dead. It is alive and breathing. Google will crawl your site faster with the following with: 1) Domain authority: How your site compares to peers. 2) Page Authority: How well your site is set up for success. 3) Content Schedule: How frequently do you post new content. 4) Popularity: Combination of Site traffic, CTR (click through rate), and time on site.

  • Make sure that your keywords across all platforms and branding completely align. There is so much to test on all fronts. With Social Media, you can test time of day you post, photos vs. videos vs. gifs, test the CTA (call to action in your profile), the long vs. short link, and what offers resonate with your users.

I will go into more detail regarding these channels throughout the next 12 weeks. There is so much to learn and to cover!


That’s a Wrap!


If you read this whole post, give yourself a pat on the back. You are the real MVP. That is barely scraping the surface people! I hope you will dive deeper with what resonates with you on your own, and we will continue to do so together for the next 12 weeks. So far, I am super impressed with the CXL institute. I love to constantly learn and grow, and this program is fully giving me that just within the first week. It’s even better when learning from experts and the crème de la crème if you will.


Within the first 2 lessons, I specifically loved learning about what makes a good growth marketer, and how to prepare for an interview. It truly gave me this feeling of, wow, I think I found my thing.


Until next week!


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