Channel-Specific Growth Skills: Retention, PPC Audiences, SEO, LinkedIn Advertising, and YouTube Ads (Review)

CXL Growth Marketing Minidegree: Week 8

Week 8 of CXL Institute’s Growth Marketing Minidegree covered more marketing channels including retention as a channel, PPC Audiences, SEO-driven editorial calendars, LinkedIn advertising, and YouTube ads.

Retention: the most underrated growth channel

Seeing retention listed as a channel surprised me. Of course retention is a key generator of business value, but I always considered it to be a goal more than a tool. I’m not sure the course convinced me on its classification as a channel, but it certainly communicated the immense value to be found in focusing on retentions strategies.

Retention is more efficient, faster, and 7x cheaper than new user acquisition.

Increasing customer retention by 5% can lead to an increase in profits of 25% to 95%.

The likelihood of converting an existing customer into a repeat customer is 60% to 70%, while the probability of converting a new lead is 5% to 20% at best.

Average retention for mobile applications is 40% in 3 days, dwindling to only 5% after 3 months.

The average ranges are wide, so companies can benchmark against 1) their own performance and 2) competitors. Performance data is usually private, though, so industry reports are the next best source of relevant external benchmarks.

Bending the steep drop off curve happens through activation: getting users to actually use the platform. If customers explore all the features and functionalities of the application, software, or platform, then they’re more likely to become consistent users beyond the critical first 90 days.

A big factor in a “sticky” (successful) onboarding experience is knowing why that customer is using your product. Features are worthless if they don’t address the person’s reason for being there in the first place. These insights come from customer interviews and resulting customer lifetime maps. Once you get enough data, you can create segments for best results.

On average, 80% of a company’s revenue comes from 20% of their customers. But if you can identify the different segments of users, then you can tailor messaging to prevent churn and increase retention.

Retention optimization has key points of focus but isn’t a science.

First, there’s onboarding (the first 90 days). 75% of drop off typically happens between weeks 0 and 1, so there’s plenty of room for improvement and potential for impact.

Beyond onboarding for short term retention, continued customer engagement is what realizes value from your SaaS product.

So what does this look like? Emails are the biggest way to access inactive users, while in-app messages can prompt product tours, notification bars, and onboarding checklists to push people forward. There’s no set steps, though, which is where testing comes in to what applies to your customers.

The goals for each stage of retention are for customers to:

· Short term retention (week 1): use product more than once

· Mid-term retention (week 1-week 4): establish a pattern of usage

· Long term retention (week 4 and beyond): rely on the product as an indispensable tool

Once customers convert and become users, you have two sources of information about them.

1. Buyer attributes: what information do we know about them?

2. Behaviors: what do their actions tell us?

By combining both, you can notice patterns and start to map predictive segments. What do people who become inactive have in common? Which customers are likely to customers power users with upsell potential?

Without segmenting, you can’t see how to tailor your approach to be most helpful. Once you nail which customers need to receive which messages at which times, you can automize necessary communication flows from there.

Maximizing audiences for PPC campaigns

Similar to retention, audiences for PPC campaigns isn’t a science. This course was harder to follow without a storyline or demo connecting the different modules, but the instructors covered target audiences, retargeting, intent-based audiences, audiences in search network, funnels, and leveraging audiences to get a better return on expensive PPC marketing campaigns. Again, it all comes down to understanding your audience and leveraging each platform to reach the right people with the right messages.

SEO-driven editorial calendars

So far, I’ve loved all the content marketing modules in the minidegree. This course dove into brainstorming topics, content prioritization, and content calendars: so everything except the actual creation and publishing of the content. I appreciated the walk-through of how each step in the process is done, from seed topic generation to evaluating keywords and finding ranking gaps to fill.

LinkedIn and YouTube ads

Although each ad platform has its unique elements, these two courses started to reveal the patterns in the approach to advertisement across platforms. Both touched on the psychology behind ad creation and testing. I’ve run LinkedIn ads and watched many YouTube ads, so learning the best practices and unique benefits of each was interesting.

For example, LinkedIn allows you to target by title/industry/seniority in ways that are impossible with search display ads but doesn’t offer valuable retargeting like Google Ads.

The YouTube course didn’t fully convince me on the ad platform. I came in with bias because 1) my experience with watching YouTube ads has been terrible, and 2) I’ve spoken with several marketers and agencies who avoid YouTube ads entirely. There’s little to no relevancy with the video I’m about to watch and me as a user, and most ads follow the same format or script. The course presented a good case for how to best use YouTube’s ad platform, but I wish it had addressed the weaknesses and why some marketers choose to invest their ad dollars elsewhere. As a user, I’m conditioned to auto skip or mute ads because most are so bad, so I would have liked to see more statistics on ROI and effectiveness relative to the numerous other online ad platforms.

Looking ahead

There are three more courses left in the channel module before moving on to the growth program management and management sections. I’ve enjoyed all the connections I’ve been finding between the individual courses and look forward to zooming back out to the big picture in the upcoming weeks.

P.S. :)



Recent undergrad business graduate with a passion for personal growth, professional development, and tech marketing.

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Sofia Sulikowski

Recent undergrad business graduate with a passion for personal growth, professional development, and tech marketing.