From a Fun Experiment to a Full-Blown Learning Community: How Growclass Empowers Thousands of Marketers

From a fun experiment to a full-blown learning community: discover how Growclass empowers thousands of marketers. If you're a course creator and community builder struggling to sustain your community in this ever-changing world, then we promise you'll get valuable nuggets from the Growclass story.
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Growclass delivers an 8-week deep dive into digital growth marketing, turning theory into action with an emphasis on practical skills, a community of peers, and direct mentorship.

This program sets you apart in the dynamic field of digital marketing, ensuring that you’re not just another marketer – you’re a growth specialist equipped for today’s digital challenges.

Growclass digital growth marketing course

How Growclass was built

Behind every great community lies a visionary. For Growclass, that visionary is Sarah Stockdale, a growth marketing maven with a passion for inclusivity and empowerment.

Sarah’s belief in the pivotal role of a supportive community in online education led to the creation of Growclass. Her experience at Tilt, acquired by Airbnb, where she trained newly hired marketers to fill the void of skilled marketing talent, laid the foundation for Growclass.

The genesis of Growclass echoed the need for a specialized marketing education platform. The first version of the in-person growth course sold out within 24 hours. Today, Growclass is:

  • An inclusive network of tech professionals and allies
  • Offering different types of educational products such as certification programs, sprint courses, membership community, and self-paced courses
  • Full of practical, value-added content for growth marketers
  • Fostering a diverse and enriching learning environment

How does Sarah define a community?

"A community is a safe space where you can come and build relationships with people who are actually interested in building non-transactional relationships." - Sarah Stockdale, Founder of Growclass

Top 6 Secrets Behind the Growth of Growclass's Community

If we can summarize the Growclass community in 5 words, it's Human, Disruptive, Practical, Innovative, and Experimental.

1. Turn Learner's Demands into Educational Products

Growclass kicked off with a six-week adventure in growth marketing mastery, which quickly leveled up to include self-paced learning and live sprints. They've built their educational products based on learner's demands and the immediate market changes.

For instance, learners asked for snippets of their six-week growth marketing course, so they've turned that into a self-paced course. Meanwhile, people were panicking about GA4, so they did a Google Analytics Bootcamp testing out the live Sprint approach.

A look inside Growclass's member space

On the other hand, the Gather community, a vibrant crew of over 800 marketers, is a buzzing hive of collaboration. They hang out in Slack channels, co-create in co-working sessions, and sharpen their skills in mastermind groups.

They've carefully selected the founding members of their community, focusing on helping them build networks and connections.

"We joke that we're like a relationship company that does training. So we're very, very focused on helping people build networks and connections." - Sarah Stockdale

2. Design The Onboarding As If You're Throwing a Grand Party! 🪩

Growclass welcomes its members with the warmth and attention of hosting a grand party, ensuring everyone feels at home from the start.

They prioritize a personalized onboarding experience, akin to making sure your favorite drink is ready and introducing you to fellow attendees, so no one stands alone.

A cornerstone of the Growclass ethos is responsiveness; queries are addressed with impressive speed, with a commitment to provide answers within an hour. This reflects their dedication to every team member’s needs and the importance they place on being responsible for the experience of each individual who joins.

"At Growclass, we compare the onboarding experience to hosting a grand party. When we onboard new members, we make sure their favorite drink is there and we make sure that we introduce each member to a couple of people at the party, so that they have someone to talk to. If they have questions, we answer them right away. " - Sarah Stockdale

Members are not just numbers; they are valued participants whose contributions and queries are met with immediate support. The community is designed to be a safe space where members can share vulnerably, seek help, and even express when they're having a tough day.

The strategy behind Growclass’ community is intentional and thoughtful, focusing on the quality of member experience over the mere existence of a Slack or Facebook group.

It's this attention to detail and commitment to each member's journey that sets Growclass apart, ensuring that the community is not just a framework, but a thriving, welcoming, and responsive environment.

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3. Create Unique Member Experience with the "Welcome Waterfall" Approach

Another aspect that sets Growclass apart in onboarding is their grand tradition called the “Welcome Waterfall,” where each newcomer is given a voice and celebrated through a structured introduction.

This part of the initiation ensures that no one feels like an outsider, and the Growclass team ensures that no one feels left behind in the community.

"We are reaching out actively in the DMs and we are keeping track of who is falling off, who hasn't introduced themselves, who hasn't shown up to office hours, we send them a personal email to make sure they feel comfortable and they know that they can engage in the community." - Sarah Stockdale

An additional quality of the uniqueness in their member experience is that Growclass don’t operate like a traditional school. Attendance may seem important, but it’s secondary. They fully understand that every member has their own lives outside Growclass and things can happen.

Whenever there are unpredictable situations that pull a member away, Growclass remains their door open for their members to rejoin when the time is right.

For Growclass, they are not just offering a course where you can leave after you get your certificate. They are creating a supportive community where every member’s experience is the forefront of what they do.

"We don't operate like a traditional academic institution; that way, we're like, 'Just join the cohort when it makes the most sense for you to be able to properly engage and get the most out of this experience because you paid for it. And we want to make sure that you get all of the value of the thing that you paid for.'" - Sarah Stockdale

4. Figure Out What Makes You Stand Out from the Crowd

Growclass emerged as a response to the dire need for practical marketing education. The course begins by instilling core values and setting expectations for a collaborative learning environment.

The curriculum is designed to address the common shortcomings of existing marketing courses by prioritizing hands-on, useful skills and tools that marketers can immediately apply to their work.

The founders even went so far as to relearn Google Ads from scratch to guarantee the course's effectiveness.

"When we were building the practical pieces of the course, we asked ourselves, 'If someone was given this as an assignment at work tomorrow, what would they need to know to actually do it? What are the things that will make their job easier? What templates can make their job easier? Which tools can reduce the friction of learning something new?' We really focus on walking people through it." - Sarah Stockdale

5. Survive The Ever-Evolving Digital World Through Adaptability

Growclass understands that innovation and adaptability are the two most important factors to survive the ever-evolving digital world. 

By revising course materials every few months and leveraging rich student feedback, Growclass ensures that both new and returning students are equipped with the most current skills.

Amidst economic shifts, such as the recent job market downturn, Growclass adapts its content to provide robust support for job seekers, giving its alumni a competitive edge.

"The needs of the community are different than they were in 2020 and 2021. So we have to design the programming differently to meet the needs of folks who might be job insecure or being laid off. How do we make sure that as a Growclass member, if you're given a growth marketing exercise, that you're going to nail that better than anyone else who could possibly come through the process?" - Sarah Stockdale

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6. Personalize the Learning Experience Through Data-Driven Insights

As automation becomes prominent in building digital businesses and online connections, Growclass distinguishes itself with a personalized member experience, tailoring each need from their community analytics.

They typically ask for feedback from their members and transform it into a valuable asset to provide tailored solutions to their needs. 

While they combine manual work and automation, the Growclass team is still figuring out how to scale their operations while retaining that human touch in the experience.

💡 Make data-driven decisions with Disco’s Community Analytics!

💜 Bonus: Growclass Shares Their Own Marketing Strategies

Strategy #1: Create a Persona With a Real Person

Growclass faced a saturated market filled with noise and 'guru' promises. The breakthrough came when they honed in on their audience, creating copy that spoke directly to a specific person.

By imagining a conversation with an ideal community member, like Maya, a beloved Growclass alumna, their marketing transformed into personal, engaging dialogues.

This targeted approach allowed them to stand out, appealing not to everyone, but to those who would truly benefit from their unique offerings. It's a strategic lesson in marketing with authenticity and precision.

Strategy #2: Transformative Experience -> Ambassadorship -> Growth Loops

The Team Growclass has crafted a unique approach to ambassadorship by first ensuring a delightful learning experience that compels graduates to naturally become advocates.

The secret lies in providing real value before inviting members to promote the program. Ambassadors are then supported with an array of resources like PDFs and presentations to share their positive experiences effectively.

True conversion happens in private conversations within professional circles, where genuine one-on-one interactions lead to conversions, rather than public social media posts.

Understanding what truly motivates their ambassadors, Growclass tailors incentives that resonate and maintain engagement within the community.

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Strategy #3: Find Your Audience Outside Their Work Routine

Beyond their alumni, Growclass seeks partnership opportunities with non-marketing communities that share a similar ethos, such as the culturally rich and feminist newsletter Friday Things.

This strategic alignment with compatible communities amplifies their reach, ensuring the Growclass spirit thrives through authentic connections and shared values.

"If you're going after HR professionals, they're probably not reading a bunch of HR newsletters all the time. It's really boring. That's like you're making them do work all the time. So, find them in their social life." - Sarah Stockdale

Strategy #4: Repurposed High-Quality Content Still Wins

Growclass employs a strategic content approach anchored by a regular newsletter. This newsletter not only keeps the community engaged but also acts as a catalyst for more extensive content later featured on their website.

Growclass Newsletter: The Grow Op

The team is committed to keeping their course material fresh and relevant, while externally, they repurpose newsletter content into social media posts and quarterly product launches.

When a community member's request led to the creation of a strategic planning template, it became a valuable content piece and a tool for driving engagement and growth for Growclass.
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Where Is The Future of Learning Going?

Lastly, we've asked Sarah what she thinks about the Future of Learning: She thinks the outdated model of traditional education, like MBA programs, fails to deliver on promises of success.

Sarah argues for a shift towards more practical, accessible, and community-focused alternatives like Growclass that provide relevant skills for today's job market, filling the gap left by higher learning institutions unable to keep up with rapid innovation.

"We need more practical approaches to business learning. And that's where I think virtual academies can really fill that gap, as MBA programs and business schools age out of their usefulness, we will come in and be a new and different way of getting that education in a cost-effective and community-focused way." - Sarah Stockdale

To wrap up our chat, we asked Sarah for some simple advice for those starting their own courses and communities:

"If you are going to build a course, you're in the service industry, you're in the business of helping, that's your job. You're in the service industry, act like it and it'll make your community so much richer, so much better." - Sarah Stockdale

We hope you get valuable tips from this interview! If you want to access relevant content in community building and community management, join our community in Thrive by Disco for FREE!

Apart from these tips from Growclass, you will be surrounded with like-minded people and you will have the chance to transform your community in 21 days with a cohort. See you!

Published on
February 27, 2024
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