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Anatomy of a Growth Marketer: Michael Cleyn, Shopify

Written by: Juliana Casale, Director of Marketing

Anatomy of a Growth Marketer is an ongoing blog series showcasing top talent in the field of digital advertising.


When Shopify’s founder and chief executive, Tobi Lütke, told investors that “This company will never ever be limited by its ambitions,” he meant it. The commerce software business has rapidly made a name for itself through a number of timely innovations, smart acquisitions and going public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2015.

What’s it like to work at a company that’s made Fast Company’s list of Most Innovative Companies, CNBC’s Disrupter 50 list, and Deloitte’s Fast 500 of North America? We asked Shopify’s Michael Cleyn to share his insights.

[staff title=”” name=”Michael Cleyn” image=”” ]

What is your role at Shopify?

I’m on the Growth team at Shopify but I do a lot of different things that fall out of the marketing spectrum. I work directly with our CMO who is responsible for Marketing, Product Management and the Shopify Toronto office so I have the opportunity to touch many aspects of the business:


  • Interviewing
  • Committing code
  • Digging in on data
  • Moving the needle on different growth projects

I collaborate with several departments — from marketing and product to culture and human resources.

What’s the biggest challenge of being a growth marketer?

Prioritization and time management. It’s something that not all growth marketers are good at but it’s core to successful growth. You need to be really good at knowing what to prioritize and what to focus on. When you decide to do something, it means you’re also deciding not to do something else – and when it comes to growth marketing it can be a challenge to know what to focus on first.

When you decide to do something, it means you’re also deciding not to do something else.

Just keep moving the needle. As a rule of thumb you can start to prioritize things that have high impact and low effort. For example, a little UX tweak that could 2x conversion is much more valuable than re-designing a new page as a compromise from varied opinions that could end up only having a 1x increase.

In what ways does Shopify support your professional development?

Shopify has all the fancy perks for personal development that you could imagine but the reason I still work at Shopify is because of the opportunity to be a part of something very big. We’re competing with some of the biggest commerce companies in the world and in many ways we’re growing and shaping our industry.

It’s awesome to be part of this. We’ve had the success to attract insanely smart people and it’s a privilege to work with them every day.

What would you suggest to someone who wants to start working in growth marketing?

Strive to be a t-shaped marketer. Understand the marketing funnel and learn how to optimize each stage of it. Learn a little bit of SEO, paid search, code, data, etc. Successful growth marketers are strong generalists in the realm of marketing. Join a startup or start your own company, even if just to learn these different things.

What is your one piece of advice for someone just starting out in their career?

Focus on learning. An obstacle a lot of people face is focusing on title and climbing the career ladder. Consequently, learning and personal development take a backseat and it will eventually compound and catch up to you where you realize you haven’t been learning or ‘doing’ but have waded in the distraction of extrinsic rewards like title, compensation and public image.

An obstacle a lot of people face is focusing on title and climbing the career ladder.

So, focus on learning; the rest will follow.

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