Building a growth marketing process with the right model and mindset [Week 2 Review]

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Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.

Dwight Eisenhower

In the first article about CXL Institute Growth Marketing Minidegree I mentioned the difference between growth and traditional marketing. The main takeaway is that a growth mindset is key.

On top of mindset, we need a growth marketing process because we plan and execute around 5-10 experiments per quarter.

The argument behind the growth process is that essentially we need to accelerate learnings and find the right message or offer, to develop a better experience, and tailor the message for each individual customer (ideally).

How to build a growth marketing process

To build a growth marketing process, you need enough data to understand something about what’s working and what’s not working for your customers. There are three main phases to start a growth marketing process:

  1. defining the growth model
  2. mapping out the customer journey
  3. identifying all of the growth channels

Every growth marketing process needs to deliver on business goals. There are many ways to set goals, but a good method is to use baseline goals (to help keep people accountable) and stretch goals (to push you to get more results). There are three layers for implementing the growth marketing process:

  • defining a high-level strategy and identify quarterly goals
  • quarterly planning to build a roadmap and execute
  • in-quarterly planning and high tempo execution

Defining the growth model

Most of the time, a customer goes thru similar stages: awareness of the brand to the acquisition (e.g. signing up for the site for the first time, or visiting the site for the first time), activation which is taking that first action.

Retention is sticking around (e.g. coming back and using the site regularly), revenue is the first purchase (or repeated purchases), and then referrals are when they share with somebody else.

AARRR Framework by Dave McClure

Defining a growth model is essential for the growth marketing process because it sets metrics for each of the stages in a user’s journey. You could have main metrics for acquisition, activation, retention, revenue, and referral. Also, you can define sub-metrics that can drive growth like revenue per user, the number of users that are paying – with different tactics to increase revenue.

A good point is that you don’t start a growth team until you have product-market fit and you’re trying to accelerate an already existing and working business.

Growth teams can be split between the acquisition and activation side (demand team) and the engagement side (focus on retention, revenue, referrals) of the funnel because they operate differently and use different channels and different expertise.

Another way to do build a team around the growth marketing model is to focus on improving existing programs or look for totally new growth hacks. First optimize what you have currently, and then once you’ve squeezed every ounce of growth out of that, then find the next big growth unlock.

Define a hypothesis and start experimenting

You achieve goals by building and shipping experiments, analyzing them to either automate or scrap them.

The worst way to come up with experiments is to focus on growth metrics, rather than solving customer pain points that lead to an increase in performance.

So, walk the customer journey, and understand what is their perspective, focus down on a specific growth metric and come up with ideas to achieve the growth goals. Generated ideas with an effective brainstorming session:

  • never just look for inspiration at companies in your industry
  • don’t limit the ideas, it’s ok to have broad themes, but try to rephrase them into potential hypotheses for experiments: by doing x, we are going to see y improved in a metric because of z reason
  • prioritize ideas using the ICE framework – try to predict the return on investment
growth marketing process

If you don’t know what metrics to focus on in your overall growth marketing process go for either user growth or revenue growth.

The key components of any hypothesis are the independent variable, the dependent variable, and the assumptions.

Let’s take an example. The hypothesis would be: by increasing the number of emails about our premium membership in the first 30 days after signing up, we are going to see an increase in the percentage of new customers who make a purchase by 10% because people will be more educated about the benefits in terms of price, convenience.

The independent variable is the number of emails or communications that you send to new customers about the premium product. The dependent variable is the percentage of new customers who purchase. The assumptions are that people will buy more because they will be more educated about the benefits of that service to them, in terms of price, convenience.

Mapping out the customer journey

There is a chapter on user-centric marketing. This had so many nuggets of information I want to go over it again. The plan is to deep dive into the subject next week.

Now it is clear to me that the focus is on the customer journey, so having some tactics and frameworks is worth reviewing in a single article.

Before watching this chapter, I thought that you map the customer journey upfront and only once. It seems that we need to do it repeatedly in our growth marketing process. Maybe even once a quarter, because you can lose sight of what it actually looks after different iterations.

Key takeaways when you get deeper into the growth marketing process and customer journey:

  • a customer doesn’t care about your industry, they want the best experience. So for example, if you ever had an awesome experience with a service provider, all of the next experiences, no matter the industry, would be compared with this one.
  • to identify the biggest areas of opportunity and the biggest pain points for your customers explore the data and look at the AARRR funnel to find the biggest areas of opportunity: Where are people falling off the most in your funnel?
  • other ways to look at data, try to find some more qualitative data to look for opportunities: talk to your users, conduct user surveys, call your customers, do focus groups.

Identifying the growth channels

What varies across growth models is the channels that you use to influence the metrics, but there are very few examples of businesses that have different growth models.

The answer to the question: what is the channel that amplifies growth?like any other expert answer: it depends.

Generally, there are 5 main growth channels that can amplify your business growth: SEM (PPC), SEO, Social and Display Ads, Email Marketing, Content marketing.

When picking channels consider groping them by shared patterns. For acquisition, there is SEO, SEM, paid ads, content marketing, and for activation email marketing, push notifications.

Key takeaways for picking the growth channels when implementing the growth marketing process:

  • study the channels where users already spend time and exclude channels that are a big mismatch
    • Facebook works great for B2C
    • Linkedin is usually for B2B
    • Twitter can work for both most of the time
    • Instagram is great for eCommerce
  • when in doubt, pick SEO and social media marketing
    • always start with keyword research and content gap analysis
    • targeting the right keyword is more important the highest volume keyword
    • there is an overlap with SEO, UX, and CRO
    • link building guide:
  • main types of PPC campaigns
    • awareness campaigns
    • lead generation campaigns
    • pre-awareness
    • awareness & trigger
    • consideration
    • engagement
    • pre-sales
  • content marketing is not just about writing articles, it is about all of the content that a company and brand puts out there.
  • try new channels like mobile devices, apps, and virtual reality systems when you get to have fatigue channels.


This article is the second in a series of 12 reviews of studying Growth marketing Minidegree at CXL Institute. Follow the minidegree tag for the entire series.

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