Feb 2, 2023
Startup Growth
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 min read

5 Steps to Teach Yourself Growth Marketing (Part III)

Without customers there is no business. So how does an owner drive new customers to their startup, or keep existing ones engaged? The answer is simple: Growth marketing.

It’s not a secret that growth marketing is a valuable skillset to possess in the current job market. Taking a look at LinkedIn in October of 2022 for the available jobs with the search phrase “growth marketing”, shows that there are more than 50,000 openings spread across a variety of employers from small startups to 30,000-employee behemoths like Uber

The inevitable next question becomes, how does one learn the skills for growth marketing?  I am here to tell you that the best growth marketing course isn’t an actual course.

As a growth marketer who has honed this craft for the past decade and been exposed to countless courses, I can confidently attest that with this subject, doing is the best form of learning. However, I am not saying you need to immediately join a series-A startup or land a growth marketing role at a large corporation, who can then afford to teach you. 

Instead, I have broken down how you can teach yourself growth marketing in five easy steps. Sit back, relax, and I hope you will enjoy this series!

Teach Yourself Growth Marketing-Part II: Launching email marketing

In part three of my five-part series (Teach Yourself Growth Marketing), we’ll examine how to set up email marketing to push consumers through your funnel and drive conversions. For the entirety of this series, we will use the example of learning growth marketing with a direct-to-consumer (D2C) athletic supplement brand.

Your growth funnel

Even with the most premium product that has an amazing product-market-fit, if you aren’t leveraging email marketing there will be huge leaks in the bucket. You can think of email marketing as plugging the holes in a bucket where consumers are leaking out at various stages of your funnel. 

For our athletic supplement, our funnel would look simple in comparison to something like getting someone to sign up to drive for Uber. I’ll show what both these funnels look like below.

Athletic supplement funnel:

Ad view > website view > add to cart > email entered > checkout process (i.e., adding payment and shipping information) > purchase.

Uber driver funnel: 

Ad view > website view > email entered > basic identity questions (i.e., date of birth) > sensitive identity questions (i.e., driver’s license, SSN) > KYC background check consent > download mobile app > complete first drive.

As a funnel gets more complex, the more potential leaks in the bucket occur, as do the opportunities for email marketing to plug them up.

For our athletic supplement brand, I would start with three automated email campaigns:

  1. Consumers who enter email but don’t purchase,
  2. Consumers who add payment/shipping info but don’t purchase,
  3. Consumers who purchase but haven’t repurchased in 30 days.

These campaigns would address both consumers who expressed interest in purchasing and those that have purchased, but not come back after 30 days. The reason for using 30 days assumes that this athletic supplement contains 30 days’ worth of product in a single order.

In the next step, outline your growth funnel, start to identify the leaks in the bucket, and get creative on the types of campaigns that can be sent to recapture those consumers.


There are hundreds of email marketing platforms, from the large Braze to smaller players such as MoEngage. Instead of recommending the right platform for your startup, I will instead list some key criteria that you should use in order to sign up for the right one to meet your needs:

  • Price / sending limits 
  • Canvas capabilities 
  • Editor / customization
  • Integrations 

While this is not an exhaustive list, these four criteria should help you make a qualitative evaluation of each platform. Outside of pricing, it is imperative that you investigate how much customization you’ll have with the email template editor and the setup of workflows. The last thing you want is to sign up for an email marketing platform that has very limited editing capabilities, which can leave conversion emails looking bare. Equally important are the capabilities with the creation of workflows through a canvas editor which helps with the creation of various email sending branches that are based on criteria, time delays, and more. Finally, you’ll need to ensure that there are sufficient integrations with the method that you’ll be utilizing to ingest customer data into the email platform.

Segmenting is key

While I may have selected three campaigns based on consumer behavior for our athletic supplement, there are various others we can make. This is what is called segmenting. In the world of email marketing it is crucial to distill user segments as much as possible for one essential reason-we need to make sure that our messaging is specific to the consumers we are sending it to. Imagine if we had two different supplements, one for males and one for females, it could be much more impactful to send specifically targeted emails to each these segments

As an advanced example of segmenting, while I was leading driver acquisition at Postmates, we had over twenty separated email campaigns that were geared to all the different stages located across our funnel. Our outreach was so specific that we had an email series for those users that were stuck in the background check part of the funnel just to help alleviate their concerns and prompt them to consent to the check.

For learning email marketing, it’s okay to start with a few email campaigns with the major segments in your funnel. My reason for providing you the Postmates example serves only to further enlighten you with the wide spectrum of possibilities of all your email marketing strategies.

Types of content 

After segmenting your prospective consumers, all brainstorming should shift to content-mode in crafting all the communications that will be sent. The advantage to starting a new email marketing campaign is that content types have already been rigorously tested by thousands of startups. Below are a few of the major content pillars to consider for your startup:

  • Promotional
  • Features
  • Guides/blog
  • Loyalty/rewards
  • Testimonials
  • Surveys

If I were writing the emails for when consumers drop at the checkout process for our athletic supplement brand, I could consider this sequence at the following time intervals:

  • 12 hours: Testimonials
  • 24 hours: Features
  • 48 hours: Guides/blog
  • 7 days: Promotional
  • 14 days: Features
  • 30 days: Promotional

This may seem like a simple setup, but it consists of six emails throughout the course of 30 days of one single drop-off point in the funnel. It also tests four content pillars, which helps us in understanding the propensity of consumers based on the type of communication they receive. We’ll get into testing these content pillars in the next part of this series.

A great resource for inspiration from the styles of emails sent out by major brands that we all easily recognize is reallygoodemails.com.

Now that you’re armed with an understanding of segmentation and types of content pillars, write your first few emails in a Google document or in the email marketing platform you’ve selected.

Metrics that matter

When measuring the performance of the email marketing campaigns you’ve launched, the one metric that will likely receive the most attention is the amount of goal conversions being driven. However, it’s just as important to measure the CTR and conversion rate, as that data will have major impacts on your conversion count. Imagine having a poor subject line in your email which drives your open rate down to 1%. In that scenario, the number of conversions you achieved would be heavily limited due to this factor. 

Below is a sheet framework that you can use to measure performance on a weekly basis for each funnel step. For our athletic supplement brand, I would have three separate sheets for consumers who enter email but don’t purchase, consumers who add payment/shipping info but don’t purchase, and consumers who purchase but haven’t repurchased in 30 days.

Example lifecycle email campaign tracker split by funnel step. Image courtesy of Jonathan Martinez.

Two metrics were left out of this sheet intentionally as they were more advanced-the unsubscribe rate and lift percentage. At a higher level of growth marketing, the unsubscribe rate becomes necessary when sending emails to thousands of consumers. While I was employed at Coinbase, we tracked the unsubscribe rate for every ad-hoc email that went out, including for product announcements and for all our email series. This was done to ensure we weren’t hurting ourselves with the type of content we were sending, or the frequency in which it was sent. On the other hand, the lift percentage is a metric that is used by later-stage startups to gauge how many consumers are converting solely due to email marketing. This is measured by implementing holdout groups of consumers that don’t receive the email, measuring their conversion rates, and comparing their data with those that do receive the email campaigns.

Now that your email campaigns have launched, we’ll next learn how to go through running methodical and accurate growth marketing tests in the next part of this series.

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