This post discusses my personal experience in earning a Growth Marketing minidegree from the CXL Institute. In my previous post on Building a Modern Marketer, I identified 8 areas to focus on from a training standpoint: Data, Insights, Analytics, Media, Content, Conversion, Product, and Innovation. Because the CXL Growth Marketing program covers ample ground in at least half of these areas, that’s where I started the journey.
The Growth Marketing minidegree is an extensive certification program that teaches the methodologies and processes to be able to execute campaigns for exponential and continuous growth. Graduates should be able to gain a holistic understanding of growth marketing across all channels and be rooted in the processes, tools, and techniques to establish a high-velocity testing program and growth team.
Courses are taught by actual practitioners rather than theoretical academics (generally, the instructors are fantastic). And, instruction is delivered through videos and is self-paced. This works well, especially for people like me who are already maxed with work (minus the usual drawback of zero interpersonal learning).
Most courses provide extensive resources like spreadsheets and guides. I found these to be incredibly valuable for applying the learnings, and to continue to utilize the learnings outside the course.
Minidegrees at CXL are collections of individual courses, grouped together around a theme. The Growth Marketing minidegree contains over 100 hours of instruction across 30+ individual courses within 7 focus tracks:
- Growth Marketing Foundations
- Running Experiments
- Data and Analytics
- Channel-specific growth skills
- Growth Program Management
Growth Marketing Foundations – Track 1.
Track 1 sets up the differentiators of growth marketing versus more traditional marketing practices. For an experienced digital marketer, this tract is going to be redundant, but it does set up some conceptual ‘growth’ principles and is time well-spent. Read my Growth Marketing Foundations post and User-Centric Fundamentals post for more details.
Approximately 5 hours of instruction:
- Growth mindset: growth vs traditional marketing
- Building a growth process
- User-centric marketing
- Identifying and amplifying growth channels
Running Experiments – Track 2.
Track 2 provides testing strategies and skills for experimentation in the growth process. I absolutely loved the conversion research and testing courses. Inversely, the statistics course is so poorly done I could barely stomach it. Read my Growth Marketing Research & Testing post and Statistics Fundamentals for Testing post for more details.
Approximately 12 hours of instruction:
- Research and testing
- Conversion research
- A/B testing mastery
- Statistics fundamentals for testing
Data and Analytics – Track 3.
Track 3 sets up fundamental data analytics skills. Attribution modeling was a fascinating overview at a conceptual level. In-depth courses for Google Analytics and Tag Manager were solid but provide a follow-along challenge given the platform versions recorded are now slightly dated. Read my Growth Marketing Attribution post for more details.
Approximately 30 hours of instruction:
- Google Analytics for beginners
- Intermediate Google Analytics
- Google Tag Manager for beginners
- Excel and Sheets for marketers
Conversion – Track 4.
Track 4 was my favorite part of the minidegree. Given the critical importance of conversion in growth marketing, I hoped there would be even more significant course work here, but overall it’s solid material in this track. Read my Landing Page Optimization post and Growth Marketing Product Messaging post for more details.
Approximately 10 hours of instruction:
- Landing page optimization
- Product messaging
Channel-Specific Growth Skills – Track 5.
Track 5 is what many people think of when it comes to ‘digital’ marketing. Much of the course work is specific and tactical, and although I’m quite familiar with content and SEO, those are still the courses I found most valuable (with SEO driving content planning for growth). Read my Content Strategy for SEO and Lead Generation post, Google Ads post, SEO-Driven Editorial Planning post, and Technical SEO post for more details.
Approximately 40 hours of instruction:
- Email marketing: from basics to best-in-class
- Messaging strategy in public relations
- Facebook Ads
- Google Ads
- Content strategy and SEO for lead generation
- SEO driven editorial calendar
- Technical SEO
- Retention: the most underrated growth channel
- Maximizing audiences for your PPC campaigns
- LinkedIn advertising
- YouTube ads
- Data-driven influencer marketing
- Account-based marketing
Growth Program Management – Track 6.
I was most looking forward to Track 6, as the implementation of a growth team and practice inside organizations is of great interest at this point in my career. Unfortunately, a meager 2-hour repetition from the rest of the program is all that was delivered. Very disappointing, and a missed opportunity to provide value to mid-career marketers like me.
Approximately 2 hours of instruction:
- GrowthMaster training workshop
- Optimizing your growth process
Management – Track 7.
Track 7 is confusing. Not because of its content, but rather because of its existence. The marketing technology course is great, but the marketing strategy and project management courses are afterthoughts (and for people currently in marketing, these topics are likely already engrained).
Approximately 10 hours of instruction:
- Optimizing your marketing tech stack
- Marketing strategy
- Project management for marketers
General Experience & Feedback.
Because I’ve worked in marketing for close to 20 years (most of it in some form of digital marketing), I knew that any growth program would be at least a little redundant – and that was certainly the case with the CXL Growth Marketing minidegree. But, I was pleasantly surprised that even redundant course elements still felt like ‘refreshers’, and some of the courses on conversion optimization and testing were entirely new.
There were a few clear filler courses and one or two that were just plain bad (looking at you, Statistics Fundamentals for Testing), but I’d say roughly 80% of the instruction was above average.
The minidegree is no small undertaking, requiring a few hundred hours of commitment. But as a whole, it’s well worth the time and effort if a significant growth marketing upgrade is what you’re after.
As a note to mid-career marketers, many of the growth marketing processes taught in the program will be difficult to translate to traditional corporate environments. It’s still great knowledge to have, but CXL might consider creating additional courses that address corporate implementation vs. startups and agile businesses.