What does growth marketing and lemonade have in common? 🍋
Both start with a few simple ingredients to make something great.
So if you’re looking to build a great career as a growth marketer—or even if you’re just trying to learn a thing or two about this topic, here are 5 actionable tips that I’ve picked up over the last 11 years that can help you become a better growth marketer.
1. Get certified
It has never been easier to learn what you need to know as a growth marketer, thanks to literally thousands of mini-degrees, courses, online workshops, books, and certification programs.
At the same time though, it’s never been more important to take advantage of these kinds of resources so that you stand out in a crowded field. I can tell you from personal experience, that the right marketing certifications can open doors that otherwise wouldn’t have been available.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you go spend thousands of dollars on just any old course. In fact, a lot of the best marketing certifications that I recommend are free.
Here are a few of my favorites that I think every growth marketer should consider:
Google Analytics Individual Certification — This free certification from Google is where I suggest that almost everyone starts if they want to understand the technical side of growth marketing. Let’s face it, no matter what you end up doing in this field, there is a pretty good likelihood that you’ll be engaging with Google Analytics data at some point. It’s just that ubiquitous.
HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Certification — This training program from HubSpot is so good, it really shouldn’t be free, but it is. In 10 lessons that are broken up with over 30+ videos, you’ll learn timeless inbound marketing techniques from content creation, social promotion, lead nurturing, and more. And HubSpot is continually updating the content to keep it relevant.
Facebook Blueprint Certification — Now this one is a bit different, in that it’s much more challenging than the first two certifications I listed above, and it comes with a cost of around $150 USD (if you actually want to take the certification exam). But if you have what it takes to become Facebook Blueprint Certified—and you plan on working with any type of paid media campaigns in the future, this program can set you lightyears ahead of the competition.
Other than certifications, there are also a whole bunch of free training programs on a variety of topics that I recommend you check out. I’m partial to certifications first though since you walk away with something you can put on your LinkedIn profile, resume, or website, but nevertheless, the right training program can help you gather the skills you need too.
Here are a few of my favorite free training programs for growth marketers:
Webflow 101 Crash Course — You may have heard of Webflow lately. It’s the latest and greatest no-code development tool that everyone is talking about. If you want to learn more about it, Webflow offers this 2-hour video course absolutely free.
The Cold Email Masterclass — My friend Sujan Patel is a growth marketing genius, and one of his projects called Mailshake offers a free comprehensive guide on everything you need to know about cold email marketing. Check it out!
ManyChat Master Chat Marketing Course — Chat marketing (also called Messenger marketing) is a popular subject among growth marketers. Learn what you need to know about it in this free video course from one of the biggest names in this space, ManyChat.
Hotjar Resource Library — Just like Google Analytics, Hotjar (or a similar qualitative analytics and feedback tool) is a core part of many growth marketing stacks. If Google Analytics tells you what happened on a site, Hotjar can tell you why it happened. So understanding the world of qualitative analytics and feedback is an important skill to have. Thankfully, Hotjar put together a complete resource library that takes you from beginner to expert, all for free.
2. Create a side project
Okay, so let’s say you’ve completed some of the certification programs and courses above. If you never put any of this into practice on real projects, you’ve only done half the work.
The best growth marketers are constantly testing what they’ve learned with real projects. And one of the best ways to do this is by creating a small side project of your own.
Did you know, my growth marketing consultancy started as just a side project?
Yes, I was working at an agency and wanted to create a blog to share some of the stuff I was learning. This helped me get familiar with WordPress, blogging, list building, content marketing, and so much more. And when it came time to go out on my own, I had a platform and an audience to help me launch my freelance business.
You don’t have to do anything fancy. You can start a blog in less than an hour these days using tools like WordPress, Elementor, or Medium.
And one of the best ways to showcase your skills while picking up new ones is to start a newsletter. Tools like Substack make this very easy. Or you can go the custom route as I did for my growth marketing newsletter (which you should subscribe to by the way 😉) and use a tool like ActiveCampaign.
Maybe writing isn’t your thing. No worries. Start a YouTube channel, or a podcast.
Or maybe you’d rather focus on a side project that lets you test your skills on real projects from the start. In that case, finding a simple service that you can offer on a site like Fiverr is a great start. No, you probably won’t make a ton of money, but you will have the opportunity to refine your skills and solve real problems. And that’s the whole point.
3. Start a swipe file
Have you ever heard of a swipe file? If not, it’s a digital folder where you keep all the amazing marketing ideas and resources you’ve found over the years. Many of the greatest marketers have swipe files, and for sure copywriters do, since that’s where this term originated.
My swipe file is organized using a tool called Dropmark, which lets me quickly save images, text, links, videos, and more. But you don’t need a fancy tool to create a swipe file of your own.
Here are some popular tools I’ve seen marketers use to create swipe files:
And if you need some inspiration or a place to start, check out these free, public swipe files that can help you get started with your own:
Note: I’m working on making my swipe file public. It’s quite the project and still in the works, but if you want to get notified when it’s ready to go, sign up for my weekly marketing newsletter, and I’ll be sure to let you know when it’s live.
4. Specialize in something
Let’s get real for a moment. You can’t do it all. There are just too many different parts to growth marketing these days, that one person cannot possibly know everything there is to know.
That’s why it is super important that you specialize in a subset of growth marketing. But do it in a way where you still have a broad understanding of the general rules of growth marketing.
As Brian Balfour calls it, become a T-shaped marketer. As Brian explains:
Go broad by knowing the basics including pros/cons of most channels. Then choose to go really deep on a couple channels. Generalists are useless in most work environments. As an expert in certain areas you will be able to build a brand around yourself and stand out from the crowd.
But what should you specialize in? That’s the million-dollar question, and only you can answer that. I can help by showing you a few common options though and sharing my personal path along the road of specialization.
I started out specializing in social media marketing. This eventually evolved into inbound marketing, and then for the last 6 years or so I’ve focused almost exclusively on conversion optimization (landing pages, copywriting, and A/B testing).
That path has worked for me, and I find that there is always more to learn in the area of conversion optimization.
But by no means is that the only path. While this is nowhere near an exhaustive list, here are some other common areas of specialization that growth marketers can consider:
- Affiliate Marketing
- Branding & Positioning
- Chat Marketing
- Community Management
- Content Marketing
- Conversion Optimization
- Email Marketing
- Graphic Design
- Growth Strategy
- Lead Generation
- Marketing Operations
- Outreach & PR
- Paid Advertising
- Search Engine Optimization
- Social Media Marketing
- User Experience
- Video Marketing
Maybe you’ll end up mixing a couple of these areas together to create your own specialization, or maybe yours isn’t listed here at all. Whatever the case may be, if you’re not already specializing in something as a growth marketer, I hope you’re at least thinking about it now.
5. Get active on Twitter
I hear a few of you laughing as you read this final tip. But I’m serious about Twitter. When used correctly, this can be an amazing platform to connect with some of the biggest and brightest marketers on earth.
It is also a fantastic place to build an audience.
The things to keep in mind with Twitter is that its very easy to get lost in the noise.
Here are a few quick tips on how to get more out of Twitter as a growth marketer:
- Don’t follow too many people — Keep your follower list well-managed. I try to keep mine around 1000 people tops. This will let you actually get value from your Twitter feed. Twitter is not a numbers game, it’s a quality game. Quality over quantity every time.
- Be consistent — Make sure you’re sharing something at least every few days on Twitter. Pick a few core topics and focus on them, just like I talked about with the specializations above. People don’t want to follow random profiles that are all over the place. You have a better chance of building an audience if you’re consistently on-topic.
- Be human — I don’t know how else to say this, but the idea is to actually engage with people on Twitter. Don’t just share links and never reply. Links are one of the worst things you can tweet actually. Share your thoughts, reply to other tweets, start informative threads, participate in Twitter chats, and more. That’s how you stand out.
- Connect with me — Okay, okay, this is just my shameless plug for you to follow me on Twitter. But hey, I try to practice what I preach, so if you like this article so far, you’ll probably like my Tweets. 🤓
Putting it into practice
Well, that’s pretty much everything I wanted to share on this topic. I spent a lot of time and several late nights writing this article and tried to make it as actionable as possible.
If the recommendations seem overwhelming, just pick a couple of them and get started right away. You don’t have to try to do everything. Small steps in the right direction are what matter most.
If you found anything above helpful even in the smallest of ways, please do me a favor and share this post with others on social media.
Bonus tip 🔥
And finally, if you want to get even more actionable insights like these on how to become the smartest marketer in the room, I encourage you to subscribe to my once-per-week growth marketing newsletter called GrowthMarketer Weekly. 🚀