CXL Institute’s Conversion Optimization Mini-degree Review

I got my Conversion Optimization certification from CXL Institute about two weeks back. And pursuing this course has been quite a journey for me with a lot happening alongside — dealing with the layoff, supporting my daughter’s online schooling, starting this blog and starting off as a freelance consultant. So I am really reveling in the sense of achievement at least for now! It’s also that time of the year. :)

As the conversion optimization (CRO) field matures, I am finding more folks interested in figuring out ways to get some formal education and potentially pursuing the mini-degree. I am hoping this review post helps them decide if this mini-degree is right for them. Please feel free to leave a comment below or reach out on Linkedin if you have any questions. I am also on TLC and Measure communities on Slack.

What is the mini-degree?

The Conversion Optimization Mini-Degree is a collection of courses curated by the CXL Institute for CRO professionals. These courses cover A/B testing statistics, neuromarketing, qualitative research techniques, digital analytics, conversion copywriting, behavioural design, optimization program management etc. The mini-degree is pretty comprehensive and you can find more information about the curriculum on the mini-degree program page.

CXL Institute offers these courses ala carte as well so you can do them without going the mini-degree route. However, completing the mini-degree earns you a certificate and of course, bragging rights for life!

As with most online courses, the mini-degree is self paced which provides much needed flexibility. The content includes video lessons, reading material (mostly blog posts) and additional resources. Majority of the courses have downloadable decks.

There are no assignments since the course is asynchronous (not “live”) but courses typically have quizzes and final exams. The passing percentage for them is usually 90%!

Is it any good?

An emphatic yes and I’ll explain why.

I think one of the most important contributions of this program is in defining the role of a CRO specialist or a CRO function at an organization. The program seeks to establish a baseline of knowledge, competence and infrastructure that is required for CRO to be a success.

Most CRO practitioners transition into this field from other fields such as digital analytics, marketing, product etc. While some organizations have dedicated CRO positions, in many others, existing teams have expanded scope to handle CRO as well. What this means is that a lot of us lack the necessary knowledge to start with or lack the primary focus to build that knowledge and experience. “Learning on the job” is the default plan which can work but it can also backfire if there aren’t any visible uplifts. This could eventually lead to disillusionment with the CRO program itself.

By drawing from many different fields, the mini-degree essentially helps plug the gaps in the required knowledge, helping practitioners become more well-rounded and performant. I believe that this role definition will lead to better hiring decisions for both applicants and organizations.

Further, the mini-degree provides a great opportunity to learn tested frameworks and approaches from the very best in the field. The roster of faculty includes leading practitioners such as Ton Wesseling, Georgi Georgiev, Chad Sanderson, Andre Morys, Peep Laja, Michael Aagard etc. I felt it was years of CRO experience packed into a few months!

Finally, the program is tool and platform agnostic. So, if you are looking to learn more about specific testing tools or setting up tests on say, mobile apps, you will be disappointed. The program also doesn’t go into the use of AI in experimentation and personalization or how to code your own tests but there is another course for that.

It is important to have the right expectations when committing to a program like this. A good way to view it is that it focuses on experimentation as a strategy and doesn’t get too tactical in terms of the above.

Is it right for me?

All in all, I am happy with my decision to pursue this program as I learnt years worth in a few months. However, the mini-degree is a large time commitment. The website says you can knock it out in 3 months if you spend 10–15 hours per week but it took me longer even with a similar time commitment. So, have good reasons for undertaking it.

To determine if this is the right program for you, try doing the following:

  1. Take stock of your current knowledge and experience. Are you switching to CRO from say digital analytics or have a few years of CRO experience already?
  2. Are there opportunities to learn or are you learning enough in your current role?
  3. Where are the gaps and what do you need to learn?
  4. How much time can you commit weekly?

I would recommend the program if

  • you are a newbie or are transitioning from a different field altogether
  • you feel that your current role provides limited opportunity to learn but you are deeply interested in it
  • your organization is just foraying into CRO

If you have extensive experience or are working in a fairly mature experimentation program, you may want to pick and choose specific CXL Institute courses to plug the gaps.

Some useful tips

  • If you do decide to pursue the mini-degree, know that not all tracks are created equal. Although there is a logical order to the tracks, you can skip ahead to courses more important to you to get the most out of this. In my case, I wish I had spent more time on track 3 (mainly statistics).
  • Not sure if you are a note taker but you will find yourself overwhelmed pretty soon with trying to retain all the information. Start documenting your learnings from the get-go.
  • Since the program is essentially a collection of independent courses, there is some overlap and repetition. That was helpful as a way to revise concepts.
  • CXL Institute has also recently launched a snazzy new community. This looks like a great resource where you can engage with instructors, alumni and other students. I’d definitely check it out and make good use of it.

Hope you found this post helpful. Please leave a comment below or reach out on Linkedin or Slack with any questions. As an extension of this review, I will be writing another post on my top takeaways from the program. Stay tuned!

On the path to learning all things insights and optimization (linkedin.com/in/bithikamehra) | Foodie | Environmentalist| Loves to travel | Player of a few riffs

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