In this post I will give an honest review of the Conversion Accelerator program offered by Growth Tools. I had some likes and dislikes, and I won’t be pulling any punches.
My Honest Review of the Growth Tools Conversion Accelerator
Bryan Harris and his Growth Tools team created the Conversion Accelerator.
Bryan had been popping up on my radar for three or four years. I no doubt stumbled across several excellent Videofruit posts like this one about building an email list or this one about creating products.
Bryan’s 10kSubs launch email swipe file is in my Resources folder, along with a bajillion other things I have downloaded over the years, and that swipe file is probably how I ended up on Bryan’s email list in the first place.
Or perhaps the $50 webinar product I bought in 2019 set email automations to whirring and dumped me into a Conversion Accelerator pitch sequence.
Regardless, when the Conversion Accelerator program popped up on my radar in February 2020, I briefly considered it then deleted the email. Later, like the classic product launch statistic I am, I opened and read a “Cart Closing in 2 Hours” email, changed my mind, and bought the program for $500. That last email got me. Well done, Bryan.
Why did I choose the Conversion Accelerator program?
One of my major projects this year is designing and implementing a predictable prospecting process for Balernum, my branding and marketing studio.
Conversion Accelerator seemed like some good spice to throw into that mix. My reasoning for coaching programs goes like this:
- If I pick up one new insight, strategy, or tactic, then the $500 is worth it. What I learn will pay for itself in the long run.
- If I don’t pick up new ideas but the program itself helps me to take action with my own ideas more quickly, then the $500 is worth it. Moving faster will help me see ROI sooner.
- If I don’t pick up new ideas or move faster, I will at least meet new people. Relationships often prove more enduring and valuable than ideas or implementation.
Historically, coaches and coaching programs have helped me shrink the pool of available options, simplify my workflow, find the signal in the noise, and polish valuable skills.
For example, back in 2011, I spent $10,000 on a Mastermind group. That investment netted me a $2,500 writing program (from a fellow member), and between April 2012 and April 2015, at least $250,000 in revenues was directly linked to what I learned and to relationships formed during the program. The profit put me in a position to co-found a tech startup (Closeup.fm) in 2013.
I figured that, at the very least, the Growth Tools Conversion Accelerator would make me smarter or more focused. New relationships with interesting people would be gravy. Conversion Accelerator delivered in all respects, and the rest of this post will take you through the nitty gritty details.
What is the Conversion Accelerator program?
The Conversion Accelerator runs for four weeks, and the format is straightforward with a few small but significant Growth Tools twists:
- Duration: 4 weeks
- Meetings: Three hours per week (1-hour sessions on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday)
- Homework: 3-8 hours of homework per week that students must finish by Sunday afternoon
- Communication: Unlimited Slack access to a dedicated coach (in our case, Andy Traub)
- Coaching: Delivered via Zoom presentations, along with occasional work in pairs in Zoom break-out rooms
- Content and Progress Tracking: Custom Growth Tools dashboard for accessing tools and resources organized into weekly sprints
- Accountability: If you don’t finish your homework one week, you pay a $100 penalty, which goes to charity. If you don’t finish your homework two weeks in a row, you get kicked out of the program, and you don’t get a refund.
The accountability and prospect of getting kicked out may seem heavy-handed, but too many studies have proven that we humans are more motivated by short-term losses than long-term gains. (If you still need to be convinced, read Nudge by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein.)
I don’t think it’s possible to separate Conversion Accelerator’s 89% success rate from high standards reinforced by the penalties.
If you don’t like the idea of not doing the homework (which you paid a coach to assign to you), not finishing the program, and not getting your money back, then Conversion Accelerator isn’t good fit for you.
If, on the other hand, you can appreciate the obvious connection between financial penalties and the long-term value of finishing a program and reaping the benefits of your own gumption, then I recommend that you keep reading.
The long and short of it is that the Conversion Accelerator workload was never onerous. I never had any trouble finishing the weekly tasks, even the one week when I was technically on vacation.
What does the Conversion Accelerator program teach?
If I went back to 2005 when I was a high school English teacher—he pauses to shiver in less-than-fond remembrance—then I would explain what a thesis statement was and sum up the Conversion Accelerator like this:
Everyone with an online business wants more conversions. Though you and I may define or measure “conversions” differently, Conversion Accelerator focuses on the gold standard: growing your email list. One of the more effective ways to do that is to create something of value that solves a real problem quickly (that is, a lead magnet), offer it to web visitors in exchange for an email address, and make that offer in more places on your website, at more opportune times.
The Conversion Accelerator helps you accomplish that in four one-week sprints. You will create a lead magnet people in your target audience actually want. You will make strategic changes the layout of your homepage. You will add clear calls to action to your top blog posts. You will leverage various tools and tactics to convert more of the traffic your site already gets.
As for getting more traffic and persuading more subscribers to part ways with their money *after* they opt in, well, that’s up to you, pardner.
What I Liked About Conversion Accelerator
For starters, I liked our instructor, Andy Traub. His dry sense of humor made me giggle.
Meanwhile, he struck the balance between fielding questions and giving personal attention and calling out excuse-making for what it was and not wasting everyone’s time with irrelevant questions and concerns. To teach people all across the spectrum of digital marketing experience, tech savviness, gumption, and chronic excuse manufacture takes patience and maturity.
Secondly, I appreciated what I will call “reinforced focus” that Conversion Accelerator brought. I had already set quarterly goals and weekly objectives, and the Conversion Accelerator program dovetailed nicely with my own planning, workflow, and time management structure.
I struggle with over-analysis, not inaction, so simplicity is more important to me than accountability. The Conversion Accelerator served to reduce options and help me bypass my own perfectionism. I could log in to my dashboard each Monday, reviewed a short list of tasks, follow step-by-step instructions, and beat the deadlines.
What I Disliked About Conversion Accelerator
I told you this was going to be a honest review, so I’d be remiss to not share my three main gripes: 1) boredom, 2) pace, and 3) lack of follow-on content.
1. Boredom. I got bored in some of the presentations. Andy did a fine job, and some students certainly benefit from understanding how all the pieces fit together. Having been in digital marketing for over eleven years, I already knew much of what the presentations covered.
To be fair, I can’t chalk up my domain expertise or my learning style as a fault of the course. I decided to make the best of my impatience by doing my homework during the presentations.
2. Pace. The Conversion Accelerator is organized into week-long sprints. If you finish the week’s homework on Monday or Tuesday, you cannot get a head start on the following week. Again, I can intuit why the program is set up this way. Coaches like Andy don’t want to spend time in Week 2 answering questions from some perky go-getter about Week 4.
I often found myself hurrying up to slow down. Yet, I can’t truly fault the Growth Tools team for this. If I were in their shoes, I would made the same choice and structure the program to accommodate 80% of their students.
In our post-program check-in call in April, Andy told me, “Conversion Accelerator probably wasn’t a good fit for you.”
Oh. Well, that makes me feel a little better.
3. Lack of Follow-On Content. Helping people grow their email lists is only half the battle. The other half is employing proven strategies to turn new leads into paying customers.
- What about writing and setting up nurture sequences?
- What about putting together enticing offers?
- What about the importance of strong calls to action, good copywriting, and consistent follow-up?
- What email metrics should you pay attention to?
- What is the best way to track those metrics?
- And at a high level, what are the most effective ways to monetize a list, broken down according to business model or industry?
I’ll admit that this gripe is a unfair. The Conversion Accelerator promise is “double your leads in 4 weeks or less,” not “harvest more sales from your email list.” Lead nurture and sales deserve a program of their own.
Maybe I’ll turn this gripe into a recommendation…
“Hey, Bryan, Andy, and the rest of the Growth Tools team, helping students turn more of their new leads into paying customers would be huge. Do you have any DIY resources you can share? Why not turn those into a drip campaign delivered after the Conversion Accelerator ends? With Love from Knoxville, Austin.”
My Results & Recommendations
At the point, you might be wondering what happened with the site I worked on during Conversion Accelerator—Balernum.com.
Balernum doesn’t get a ton of traffic, yet I was pleasantly surprised to see excellent before and after results.
In February 2020 Balernum.com produced 0 new subscribers.
In March 2020 Balernum.com produced 11 new subscribers.
The Growth Tools team promises that the Conversion Accelerator accelerator will help you double your leads in 4 weeks or less. The program delivered on that promise to me.
Parting Thoughts & Parting Shots
With Conversion Accelerator you’re not paying for top-secret tactics and earth-shattering insights. Bryan Harris would be the first to tell you that he has worked “out loud” on the Videofruit blog for years now. If you dig, you can probably get much of the Conversion Accelerator content for free.
The trouble is, that research take hours.
- How much do you value your time and traction?
- How much would you pay to already be finished?
The real benefits start once you cross the finish line.
I trusted the process and finished all the tasks. In March Balernum.com generated more email subscribers than in February, and through follow-up emails and ongoing conversation, I have been able to turn those new subscribers into legitimate leads. I’m excited to apply what I have learned to this website, AustinLChurch.com.
What Conversion Accelerator gets you is not a done-for you service, but camaraderie, accountability, clear goal-setting, realistic scheduling, support from a coach, and guidance through a step-by-step process that leads to a predictably producing more email subscribers. That was worth my $500.
If more leads is what you’re after, then apply to the Conversion Accelerator the next time it opens.
Do you want to build a profitable business you love?
Duh. Pony up that email address, and you can learn from my failures. You can laugh at my mistakes. You can envy my success at croquet, slow running, and modest bank accounts. Let’s make good money and leave the world better than we found it.
No-nonsense business advice for content writers and freelancers. Served warm with a side of dad jokes.