Starting a 12-week journey. CXL Institute Growth Marketing Minidegree Review

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Work like a slave; command like a king; create like a god.

Constantin Brâncuși. Romanian sculptor, considered a pioneer of modernism.

This article is written as part of the CXL Institute scholarship and covers my first-week of studying the Growth Marketing Minidegree.

For the next 12 weeks, I will be posting a new article every Sunday where I will be writing about my understanding of the content as well as my thoughts on the content. So if you are interested, feel free to come back on Mondays and read about growth marketing.

Why a Growth Marketing certification

After I’ve built my first website (around 2008) and realized that getting visitors and customers is a different game, I’ve reviewed most of the advice you can find online on various marketing topics.

I’ve learned the hard way that there is no silver bullet for growth. At the same time, this learning journey helped me realized that there is more to the “traditional” path of doing marketing. And is all about the mindset.

The motivation to get a minidegree certification for growth marketing from CXL Institute is to learn from industry experts what are the methodologies and processes.

Accordingly, I have a plan to get the certification. There are around 114 hours of content for the Growth marketing minidegree. I need to pass the exam within 12 weeks time frame. On top of this, I have access to event videos from CXL Live and Elite Camp. In total, I guess I need around 12 hours/week to get through the content.

What is CXL Institute?

I’ve been reading the CXL blog and following Peep Laja on Linkedin for a while. The content made me feel like the second smart person in the room so I know that the courses and minidegrees are the best in the industry. 

For those that are new to CXL Institute, they offer paid training programs including recognized certifications. All the programs are taught by industry leaders and top marketers for those seeking to learn new technical marketing skills and tools highly useful to growth professionals, product managers, UX/UI experts, or any other marketing person.

Courses vs. Minidegrees. Courses are put together in a well-organized form to illustrate different topics like marketing, analytics, optimization, advertising, content marketing, management, psychology, SEO, A/B testing. There are around 49 online courses that give digital marketers a general insight into tools, trends, and everything in between.

The minidegrees are programs that cover specific areas of online marketing. As of now, CXL provides minidegrees for:

  • Conversion Optimization
  • Customer Acquisition
  • Digital Analytics
  • Digital Psychology and Persuasion
  • Growth Marketing
CXL Institute Minidegree

First week lessons and thoughts

The way the content is setup is that I have access to talks from the CXL Live and Elite Camp events. I jumped first into these talks and just like a black hole, I realized my hourly budget was starting to fade on another type of content.

Therefore I got back to the main content of the degree and I was looking to find out if a growth process is a more flexible way to plan for a marketing campaign, execute it for an entire quarter, and still deliver results.

The first subject of the minidegree started with the difference between Growth vs traditional marketing. The lean startup methodology was also mentioned and made me realize that just calling it growth marketing is not the best route since there is a lot of B.S. articles and advice that promise 10X growth. But at least having a growth mindset is key.

Growth marketing - not great, not terrible

Most of the online marketing advice

I also watched talks from Sean Ellis (OG of growth hacking), David Arnoux, and Morgan Brown (one of the original growth hackers).

Something that stuck with me, is the short answer to the following question: “Have you ever seen growth hacking models successfully executed at large companies in mature markets with complex product portfolios?” -> “NO”.

This doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t be done for large enterprises, but when the short negative answer comes from an industry expert, it made me think about what type of clients or employers might be interested in this type of service and where you can actually deliver on the promise. 

Another piece that stuck with me is that the optimizing approach should be company-wide and should infiltrate the product team, not just the marketing department.

Also, using listicle articles is probably the most dangerous way to start with growth marketing. Just reading about “using social login will increase user registrations”, doesn’t mean it actually works. By A/B testing the hypothesis, you might realize that by removing social login you might get a lift in accounts converted.

Don’t take best practices as absolute truth. Always test them.

Here are other key takeaways I want to share from the first week:

  • Unpopular opinion: growth hacking != silver bullets 
  • There is no predetermined path to becoming a growth marketer, but one should have a combination of the following: channel expertise, analytical capability (Excel and/or SQL skills for extracting data), strategic thinking, and project management.
  • All of the above skills are not as important as being hungry to learn. This is something that cannot be taught.
  • Having a T-shaped marketing foundation helps.
  • I would add that stakeholder management is as important since a lot of the work is to establish trust and probably interest in bigger companies impact different departments.

What is growth hacking

Another point I wanted to touch during the first week is to learn a definition for this term. I know there are a lot of them, every leader might have one, but I needed one for myself to explain to customers or employers what does it mean. 

At the end of the first week, I decided to go with this one: Growth hacking (marketing) is a process and it relies on optimization.

Simple yet I feel it addresses the core learning from week one. Looking forward to seeing who this definition changes during the 12-week journey.


For me personally, it seems that the role of growth marketers is being recognized by the clever employers to combat the ever-changing business environment.

I am super excited after the first bits of content, and even if there is lots of videos, the experience sometimes feels very passive. There is no interaction with the teachers. Although there is a community link I received and wanted to explore to see if there is an opportunity for feedback /questions with other marketers or even with the instructors. I will share more on this next week.

This article is the first in a series of 12 reviews of studying Growth marketing Minidegree at CXL Institute.

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