Tag Archives: conference

"There Aren’t Enough Qualified Women Speakers" and Other Garbage Excuses for Why Your Marketing Event Isn’t Gender Diverse

Blog images by Alejandra Porta.

I’ve attended enough tech and marketing events to make a few generalizations:

  1. Women are hugely underrepresented; whether it’s a panel or a conference speaker lineup, chances are it’s overrun with white men.
  2. Sexism is prevalent, and it spans from subtle (think underrepresentation, pinkwashed girls’ lounges) to overt (think harassment, non-consensual advances).

There are exceptions (there always are), but this is the general rule, and it’s a huge stain on the industry you and I are both a part of.

Now I want to make it clear, I’m not here to chastise anyone. As a used-to-be conference organizer, I’m guilty of it too.

When I ran Unbounce’s first-ever Call to Action Conference (CTAConf) four years ago, I invited four women to speak, two of which spoke on a panel. The other seven were — you guessed it — white males.

My reason was an all-too familiar one: “There aren’t enough qualified female speakers.”

This is garbage. It’s unacceptable. And it’s not a reason at all — it’s an excuse. What it really came down to was, I wasn’t trying hard enough.

I wasn’t asking my network for recommendations. I wasn’t doing enough research. I wasn’t making the extra effort required to widen the pool of speakers. I wasn’t committed to gender diversity.

Fast forward to today and my perspective has completely changed. Not only because it’s important to me on a personal level, but also because it makes business sense.

See, when you pull from the same pool of speakers as other folks in your industry, everything starts to look like white bread — bland and borderline junkfood. Your conference looks like that other conference that happened a few months ago. And the content? Yep, it’s the same, too.


When you use the same speakers, your lineup looks like white bread—bland and borderline junkfood.
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By digging a little deeper and expanding your search a little wider, you can discover fresh up-and-coming talent with new perspectives, new things to teach. And you show female attendees that their voice and their professional development matter.

And did I mention you sell tickets and attract more female attendees?

Moz, which hosts its own conference (MozCon), reported that as the percent of female speakers increased so did the percent of female attendees. What else can I say but duh?

I see a lot of progress being made around improving gender diversity in marketing and tech. People are asking questions, they’re holding companies accountable, they’re having those tough conversations, which is a great start.

But what are people actually doing about it?

This post will dig into specific steps you can take to improve gender diversity at your next event. They’re the result of an honest-to-goodness desire to do the right thing and our own cringe-worthy fumbles (more on that later).

It’s my hope that these tips and tactics will help to alleviate any hesitation you or your organization might have about taking the leap.

Commit to gender parity

At Unbounce, we’ve been having conversations around gender diversity for months, so when Unbounce CEO Rick Perrault challenged us to commit to gender parity at CTAConf 2017, the response was a resounding YES, YES, YES.

Making progress one Slack convo at a time.

It’s as simple as this. And yet it’s a bit more nuanced as well.

The truth is, achieving gender parity did take a bit more time and a bit more effort. But the result is a more dynamic lineup of speakers and an opportunity to tap into an audience that otherwise might’ve passed on your event.

Forget ROI — talk about RO why not?!


Commit to gender parity at your #marketing event—the result is a more dynamic lineup of speakers.
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So how did we do it? How did we stack our lineup with talented male and female speakers? (And more importantly, how can you?)

  1. Leverage your social network and ask for recommendations via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (like Unbounce Co-Founder Oli Gardner did for the Unbounce Road Trip in 2015).
  1. Pull from existing comprehensive lists such as this list of 1,000+ tech speakers who aren’t men and this one featuring 100 influential women marketers.
  2. Trade past speaker lists and ratings with your network of event organizers. I sent personal emails to every event organizer I knew asking them for their past speaker lineups and ratings, and in exchange I shared our list and ratings. This tactic is one is my faves, and it’s how we scored a ton of speaker leads for CTAConf.
  3. Email past presenters and speakers and ask them for recommendations. It’s how we found Claire Suellentrop, who’s speaking about creating high-converting campaigns using Jobs To Be Done at this year’s conference.

Sponsor the women at your own company

I honestly believe that everyone has something to teach. EVERYONE. Regardless of gender, regardless of age, regardless of job title, everyone is an expert in something.

It’s this belief that gave me the courage to raise my own hand and ask to speak at last year’s CTAConf.

But I wasn’t a quote unquote speaker. I guess you could have called me a speaker in residence. I spoke at a few small-time events here and there, but I am not famous like Seth Godin. I don’t travel the world speaking at industry events or conferences.

I was caught in a classic Catch-22: I couldn’t become a speaker without experience, but I couldn’t get experience because I wasn’t a speaker.

But rather than focusing on what I didn’t have, our speaker selection committee focused on what I did have: enthusiasm and a whole lotta event marketing experience to boot.

Once the committee deliberated, I spent two hours whiteboarding my talk with Oli. He and Unbounce Senior Conversion Optimizer Michael Aagaard also reviewed my slide deck multiple times, providing constructive feedback.

Their expertise helped fill the gaps in my resume, so that when I stood up on that stage I felt prepared and supported.

And guess what? It went really well.

So this year we reserved one CTAConf speaker slot for employees, and we sent a callout asking for applicants. The response blew my mind: Four applicants, all women. And though the choice was a tough one, I’m pleased to say Alexa Hubley — Customer Communications Specialist and first-time conference speaker — will be on stage at CTAConf 2017 with her talk “Master Customer Marketing By Watching Romantic Comedies.”

So what can you do to improve gender diversity at your upcoming event? You can start in your very own backyard. Encourage high-performing women at your company to speak at events, and offer them mentorship and support to get them up on stage.

And if you’re a man who’s been asked to speak at an event, consider if there’s a woman you know who is equally qualified to speak on the subject. If there is, offer up your slot. In fact, Oli already did this, when he recommended me to speak at CIMC 2017.


For every man asked to speak at an event, there’s a qualified woman who hasn’t been. Find her.
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Create a code of conduct

A clear code of conduct helps create a safe environment for your staff and your event attendees by setting expectations for what is and what is not acceptable behavior.

From a diversity perspective, a code of conduct is an especially helpful tool for making women feel at ease, because there are strict policies in place to deter discrimination and harassment.

Creating a code of conduct out of thin air might seem intimidating, so I suggest pulling inspiration from existing codes and adding your own personal flavor.

When we created our code of conduct, we looked to other companies we admired, specifically Moz and Atlassian.

Wistia has written an exceptional post about how and why they created their code of conduct for WistiaFest, including how they made it visible. Humble folks that they are, they highlighted where they could have improved (so you can learn from their mistakes!).

You’ll notice three core principles outlined in all these codes:

  1. Be nice/respectful/kind/inclusive
  2. Be professional
  3. Look out for others
Wistia’s “Golden Rules.” Image via Wistia.

Including these three core principles and your company’s core values is a great place to start.

And remember, there are no rules when it comes to creating a code of conduct, except one… you have to be prepared to enforce it.

Enforce your code of conduct

A code of conduct is like insurance; you hope you never have to use it, but in those unfortunate circumstances, you’ll be glad you have something to back you up.

At this year’s conference, we’re making our code of conduct front and center with printed posters hung around the venue.

You’ll also find the code on the CTAConf website as well as in our conference app. And we’ve made it simple to report a violation by including a direct phone number to our event marketing coordinator in our code of conduct.

While I can’t go into the specifics of every reported incident, I can tell you we’ve enforced our code multiple times, with attendees and speakers.

Yes, speakers.

Remember when I mentioned cringe-worthy fumbles? Well read on, readers.

See, live events are a tricky beast. You have this very passionate person up on stage who’s pumped up and maybe a little nervous. You have no idea what’s going to come out of their mouth. You hope it won’t be anything offensive, but you really have no idea.

You do, however, have control over their content, specifically their slide deck. This is something we learned the hard way:

Props to Annette for calling us out. It wasn’t our slide, but as event hosts, the content that gets projected for all our guests to see is our responsibility. Period.

So what did we start doing to make sure this never happened again? We leaned on our code of conduct:

  1. We send all our presenters the code of conduct beforehand via email
  2. We include the code of conduct in our Speaker Field Guide, which contains everything a speaker needs to know, such as contact information, travel and accommodation info and slide deck specs
  3. (This one’s a biggie.) We review and sign off on everyone’s slide decks, slide by slide, to ensure there’s no offensive or discriminating content
  4. We don’t invite back speakers who’ve broken our code of conduct

And next year, we’ll take a page out of Moz’s book by including our code of conduct right in our speaker and sponsor contract.

So does all of this “extra stuff” add to our workload? You bet it does. But it’s something we account for now. And the payoff is invaluable.

We’ve still got growing to do

You may have noticed this post is focused on how to create a gender diverse event and not a diverse event. The truth is, we know we can #dobetter at elevating folks who aren’t typically asked to speak at events — not just white women, but people of color, non-binary folks and members of the LGBTQ community.

We know we have more growing to do and we’re committed to it, just as we were committed to achieving gender parity at this year’s conference.

I think we’ve come a long way as a company, and I think I’ve come a long way as a champion for women. The excuse I gave as a conference host nearly four years ago — that there weren’t enough qualified women speakers — is no longer an excuse.

We’re welcoming 10 exceptional men and 10 extraordinary women to the CTAConf stage in June, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Hope to see you there :)

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"There Aren’t Enough Qualified Women Speakers" and Other Garbage Excuses for Why Your Marketing Event Isn’t Gender Diverse

What Facebook Advertisers Are Doing Wrong: Q&A with Mari Smith

Facebook has over 1.28 billion daily active users.

To have more than a billion prospects in one place, literally at your fingertips, is a marketer’s dream (thanks, Mark Zuckerberg!). But turning those prospects into customers… well that’s another story.

As marketers, we know that a stellar Facebook campaign is made up of a lot more than clever copy, snazzy design and a hefty PPC budget. In a constantly changing environment of new features, products and ad units, it can be tricky to stay ahead of the pack — let alone stand out.

Facebook’s granular targeting makes it more possible than ever to reach the right person, in the right place, at the right time. But only marketers who are committed to making connections with real people and then maintaining those relationships will come out on top.

If there’s one person that knows this best, it’s Mari Smith.

Named Forbes’ #4 “Top Social Media Power Influencer,” Mari is one of the world’s leading social media thought leaders and educators in the world of marketing. Her knowledge of Facebook runs so deep that she was personally hired by the folks at Facebook to teach SMBs throughout the US at the Boost Your Business series of events.

Mari’s speaking at our Call to Action Conference this June, and here’s a quick word from the Facebook Queen herself.

PSST: Blog readers get 15% off tickets to Call to Action Conference until May 25th — just use promo code “blogsentme” at checkout

Despite her packed schedule, Mari recently took the time to sit down with Unbounce Marketing Educator Christie Pike to reveal some of her best kept Facebook advertising secrets. In this interview you’ll get Mari’s actionable tips and insights into:

  • Some of the biggest missed opportunities for marketers advertising on Facebook.
  • Companies that are crushing it in the social advertising space and what you can learn from them.
  • The next big thing on the horizon that Facebook marketers should be preparing for and investing in.
Christie Pike: You’ve been active on Facebook long enough to see its evolution from social media network to a performance tool not unlike AdWords. How has this changed the way that marketers run Facebook campaigns?

Mari Smith: The main thing to consider is the enormous amount of data that Facebook gathers, not only on the platform itself but in partnership with data companies. So every time you use your credit card, every time you make a purchase, surveys that you complete, any information that’s out there is moved into a kind of personal dossier that then gets matched with your Facebook ID. Because of all of this, people get scared and freaked out, Big Brother and all that, but it’s all anonymized and encrypted, so from a user standpoint I always say, “caveat emptor”, just recognize that in today’s day and age of privacy, everything is out there.

From a marketer’s or advertiser’s standpoint, it’s an unprecedented time that we’re in.  It’s a paradigm shift in terms of being able to reach the exact person that you want with Facebook’s granular targeting. Down to zip code, down to propensity to possibly make a certain purchase, from going on a cruise in the next six months, buying a BMW in the next three months, income, the number of kids you have, what you do for a career — all of this is just extraordinary.

So, we really do have to think of Facebook as a platform in which to get our message, our products and our services in front of our target market, but done so in a very relationship-oriented way. I think the businesses that are really standing out are the ones that can make us laugh or cry or go “awwww” and tear at the heartstrings — you know, create something that has viral shareability as opposed to how some business send a message that says “Hey, sign up for our stuff,” “Buy our stuff.”  It’s a cold market, you know.

CP: What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen on the ad platform itself?

MS: I would say that a big change is in terms of ad units, which initially were just a link and some basic visuals, but over the years they have a much, much, much more visual emphasis. I especially love the carousel ads you can swipe. I think Amazon is one of the best at doing retargeted multi-product ads. I remember seeing one of its ads that had about 32 cards on the carousel that you could swipe and I asked myself, “How did they know I like all this stuff!?”

And then what they call slideshow, which is really just images made into a video, but definitely the prevalence of video is key. One of Mark Zuckerberg’s favorite words is “immersive,” and so the introduction of more immersive type of content like canvas ads has huge importance in the current ad space.

I worked directly with a video creation company, and they shared a great case study from Brussels Airlines that pull up a canvas ad advertising flights to Mumbai in India. They got something like 27 times more time on site after doing this beautiful canvas ad, whereas their previous Facebook campaigns led to an average of three seconds on site. The reason behind this was because back in the day, ads were just a link with a tiny wee thumbnail, and then they got bigger and turned into GIFs, slideshows, animations, interactive content and full-screen content.

So, between (1)  the ad products (2) the placement and (3) the targeting, I would say those are the three key areas where there are the biggest changes. Placement being whether it’s Instagram, mobile news only or if it’s right rail (which still has its place), but users are in mobile more than anything else.

CP: Who is doing Facebook advertising particularly well? What do you like about their ad campaigns? Can you provide some examples?

MS: My favorite video ad that I include in almost every single one of my presentations is by a fun company called Chatbooks. It’s a simple app (a subscription service) that takes your Instagram and Facebook photos and prints them in a book format, it’s really clever.

They worked with a really good PR/creative agency and hired a professional actress/comedian. From there, they created this three minute and forty-second ad. The ad was first put out on their Facebook page, which had just over 100,000 fans (now over 200, 000). And when I last checked, that video ad had 69 million views and almost 500,000 shares.

This is what I love to teach — when you can craft your content to be visually appealing (ideally video). When people are engaged with it they’ll share it with others.


When you craft your content to be visually appealing, people are engaged + will share with others.
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I’ve never found a better example than Chatbooks. In fact, I originally saw it in my News Feed as a shared organic post by a friend of mine, and after I watched the full three minutes and forty seconds, I was ready to sign up and buy the subscription!

Another great example is from our friend Rand Fishkin from Moz,  who I know is speaking at CTA Conference this year.

Rand is doing these really great video ads called Whiteboard Fridays. I see the most recent one from April has over 4,600 views and 15 shares.

Whiteboard Fridays. Image source: Moz.

It’s so good because it’s educational and it’s the kind of video ad that you can stop and watch or at least save and watch later. It’s really cool what he’s doing because he’s not saying, “Hey everybody, sign up for Moz, see what we can do for you!” Instead, he’s like, “Hey here’s some education on SEO,” and it’s the kind of stuff that people will stop and save and consume.

One last shout out to my good friend Ezra Firestone and his company called Smart Marketer. He does really amazing stuff with video ads and lead gen.

CP: Unbounce cofounder Oli Gardner estimates that 98% of AdWords campaign traffic is not being sent to a dedicated landing page. If you had to guess, what percentage of Facebook marketers do you think are sending their traffic to mobile optimized landing pages? Do you see this as a missed opportunity?

MS: I would have said it’s probably a lot lower. My guess is that 65% is going to a dedicated landing page on Facebook — I get the sense that Facebook advertisers, for the most part, are a little more savvy. They realize you can’t spend all this money and have a captive audience and then just send them away to figure it out for themselves.

But to Oli’s point, I do see a missed an opportunity — especially when marketers are not really thoroughly checking and having a small test group. It’s important to invest a small amount — about $60 – $100 dollars — towards some A/B testing to see which ad gets better conversions. Doing the pixel and tracking the standard events, all of these components are key.

The second part is mobile optimized websites/landing pages. If someone’s clicking through and it’s too wide for the phone,  or the pop-up appears and you can’t find the ‘X’ on it it takes less than a second and they’re outta there.

CP: Are you seeing good examples of Facebook campaign landing pages? 

MS: I think my good friends over at AdEspresso – they were recently acquired by Hootsuite, a fellow Vancouver company —  they’re doing some really good stuff. I love their blog. In fact, they quote you there.

I’d have to think really hard to narrow down a specific landing page example, but in terms of components, or landing page elements, less is always more, something simple that’s really congruent with the ad itself.


Drive FB ad traffic to a landing page that’s simple & consistent with your ad. Less = more.
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The job of an ad and the job of an email is to get people to a landing page, and the job of a landing page is to convert, whether I’m asking for your email or I’m asking for you to make a purchase. And the beautiful thing about Facebook pixels is if someone doesn’t decide right then and there, you’re able to do some retargeting campaigns to refine further.

CP: Are there certain verticals that are more successful with Facebook advertising than others?

MS: I was just speaking at Marketo’s conference last week and they are, as you know, almost exclusively B2B, and so my talk was very geared towards the B2B audience.

I think Facebook has a reputation for being known to perform better for B2C, but I always like to say that businesses are running as “people to people.”

In terms of verticals, it’s probably easier to say what verticals are more difficult to reach, which are the highly regulated ones like insurance or finance —  but otherwise with every conceivable small business and niche or industry there’s a market that can can take advantage of generating leads on Facebook.

CP: When we talk Facebook ads, what are some missed opportunities?

MS: This comes back to the subject that’s close to my heart, which is really that relationship component: customer care, really engaging well when people are actually commenting and engaging on your ad.

I think what happens — especially with marketers that do the dark ads — is these ads can be very effective and you can be really selective in who you’re reaching without populating your wall, but then what often happens is out of sight, out of mind.  I’ve seen many major household brands where people are posting negative comments on the ad. There’s spam, people are asking questions about their products, and nobody is responding or acknowledging. I see that as a massive missed opportunity.

I think that’s one of the best investments that companies can make is having trained, qualified, passionate social customer care moderators. I always like to say that technology is moving at warp speed and it’s hard to keep up — but human beings, we’re not changing that much, and we want to know that we’re important, that we matter.

CP: What’s on the horizon?

MS: Right around the corner is Facebook television and that’s launching next month. Mark Zuckerberg is absolutely adamant that they’re not a media company, but just watch — just watch that space, they’re absolutely moving into that.

In the United States, the TV advertising industry is worth about $70 billion — it’s over $200 billion globally. And so Facebook now has licensed/paid for original content to be aired on video. And remember, they also have that app that they brought out not long ago that you can stream through your Apple TV or Amazon Fire.

So what’s coming next month are full one-hour shows that are highly professionally produced and then also small episodes — three to 30 minutes that will refresh every 24 hours, from what I’ve read.

For advertisers and marketers, we have to be thinking about quality video ads because that’s where Facebook’s next monetization horizon is (monetizing this digital streaming video with mid-roll ads). They swear they’re not going to do pre-roll, so let’s hope they stick to that.


Think quality Facebook video ads — for @MariSmith, that’s next on FB’s monetization horizon.
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It’s all about being in that frame of mind — somebody’s watching a show they’re really engaged in and all of a sudden, just like television, it interrupts and your ad comes in.  So when it comes to video, it’s about how can you make it quirky, or fun, or entertaining, or emotional — I don’t think those things will ever go away as long as we’re human.

At the F8 conference, within the first 30 seconds Zuckerberg was talking about camera, and camera platform and developing for the camera. I saw some really cool augmented ads by Nike, and they were incredible.

Facebook is also really pushing live and they’re also deploying a lot of resources to combat fake news. They also announced two weeks ago that they’re they’re going to hire 3,000 more employees to make a team of 7,500 employees dedicated to watching for fake news plus anything untoward happening on Facebook live.

Really the key is for businesses and marketers is really education. I can’t stress that strongly enough. That’s why I just I love that you guys are doing this conference — you can’t get enough quality education.

PSST: Catch more from Facebook Queen Mari Smith at the Call to Action Conference this June. Blog readers get 15% off tickets until May 25th — just use promo code “blogsentme” at checkout.

See more here – 

What Facebook Advertisers Are Doing Wrong: Q&A with Mari Smith

Save the Date for Unbounce’s Call to Action Conference 2017 [Discount Code Inside]

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I know you’re busy, so let’s cut to the chase.

Unbounce’s Call to Action Conference is back on June 25th – June 27th in beautiful Vancouver, Canada.

What’s in it for you?

First off, we’ve carefully curated a star-studded speaker lineup that includes the likes of Mari Smith, Scott StrattenKindra Hall and Rand Fishkin. See the full agenda here. (Fun fact: We made a pledge to have 50% female speakers this year, and we stuck to it.)

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Additionally, unlike other conferences where you’re torn between tracks, this conference is single-track. No need to miss a thing or weigh up your love for PPC or CRO. You can have it all and bring back stellar takeaways to your team on each of their respective specialities. #Teamplayer

We’re also working closely with our speakers to ensure talks are as actionable as possible. (This is our conference’s promise).

Explore the topics below to see featured talks and get a sense for the ones most exciting to you:

PPC
SEO
Copywriting
Social
CRO

Jonathan Dane — The PPC Performance Pizza

Jonathan DaneIn this session, Johnathan will cover 8 ways to make any PPC channel work with positive ROI. He’ll guide you through a simple framework, The PPC Performance Pizza, that will double performance on any PPC channel, from Google Adwords to Facebook.

You’ll learn:

  • How to use search, social, display, and video PPC to your advantage
  • Which channels and offers work best in tandem for more conversions
  • The frameworks KlientBoost uses to double your performance within 90 days

Rand Fishkin — The Search Landscape In 2017

Rand FishkinMuch has changed (and is changing) in SEO, leaving us with an uncertain future. In this talk, the one and only Rand Fishkin will share his view on the search landscape 2017, dive into data on how users behave in search engines, explain what the election of Donald Trump means to site owners and, most importantly provide you with the essential tactics every marketer should embrace to be prepared for the changes.

You’ll learn:

  • How has search behavior changed and what does it mean for marketers seeking organic search traffic
  • What new tactics and strategies are required to stay ahead of the competition in SEO
  • How might new US government policies affect the web itself and future platform and web marketing opportunities

Amy Harrison — The Customer Disconnect: How Inside-Out Copy Makes You Invisible

Amy HarrisonWhen you write copy, there are 3 critical elements: What you KNOW about your product, what you WRITE about your product, and what your customer THINKS you mean. Unfortunately, it’s too easy to have a disconnect between all three, and when that happens, customer’s don’t realize the true value of what you have to offer. In this talk, you’ll identify any disconnect in your own marketing, and learn how to write copy that breaks through the noise, differentiates your brand, and speaks to your customers’ desires.

You’ll learn:

  • How to recognize if you even HAVE a disconnect
  • How to beat the blank page – know what to include for every piece of copy you create
  • How to make even commoditized products sound different and fresh to your customer

Mari Smith — Winning Facebook Advertising Strategies: 5 Powerful Ways To Leverage Your Results & ROI

Mari SmithFacebook is constantly adding new features, new products and new ad units. What works today and what’s a waste of time and money? How should marketing teams, agencies and brands focus their ad spend for maximum results? In this dynamic session, world-renowned Facebook marketing expert, Mari Smith, will answer these questions and more.

You’ll learn:

  • Simple processes for maximizing paid reach to build a steady flow of top qualified leads
  • How to make your Facebook advertising dollars go much further, and generate an even higher ROI
  • The top ten biggest mistakes marketers make with their Facebook ads and how to fix them

Michael Aagaard – Your Brain Is Lying To You: Become A Better Marketer By Overcoming Confirmation Bias

Michael AagaardHave you ever resisted or ignored a piece of info because it posed a threat to your worldview? If you answered “yes,” you’re like most other human beings on the planet. In fact, according to the last 40 years of cognitive research, favouring information confirming your worldview is extremely common human behaviour. Unfortunately, being biased towards information confirming what we already believe often leads to errors in judgment and costly mistakes in marketing. But how can we overcome this?

You’ll learn:

  • The facts about confirmation bias and why it is such a dangerous pitfall for marketers
  • A framework for becoming aware of and overcoming your own confirmation bias
  • Hands-on techniques for cutting through the clutter and getting information rather than confirmation

Did we mention the workshops?

We’re bringing back workshops (see Sunday’s tab on the agenda) and we’ve tailored the topics based on your feedback. We’ll be talking hyper-targeted overlays, how agencies can leverage landing pages and getting people to swipe right on your landing page. The best part? They’re all included in your ticket price. Most importantly, marketers who purchase CTAConf tickets, get notified first once registration for workshops opens. Workshops were standing room only last year and we’re bringing them back bigger than ever, so first dibs on registration’s a real bonus.

Finally, we want you to have a ton of fun while you learn. We’re talkin’ 8 food trucks, incredible after parties, all the dog hoodies you can handle, wacky activities and full access to the recordings of every session. SPOILER: we’re looking into renting a Ferris wheel (seriously, this is a thing).

Convinced? Grab your tickets here.

(Hey, blog reader. Yeah, you. We like you. Get 15% off ticket price when you use discount code blogsentme.” That’s cheaper than our early bird price.)

Want to see the excitement in action?

Here’s a peek at what we got up to last year:

The countdown is on

Regardless or whether you’re a PPC specialist, conversion copywriter, full-stack marketer or living that agency life, we’ve got something in store for you. Our workshops and talks touch on everything marketing: pay-per-click, agencies, copywriting, conversion rate optimization, landing page optimization, branding and storytelling, email marketing, customer success, search engine optimization and product marketing.

Check out the full agenda here.

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See you at the conference (and on that Ferris wheel)!

Grab your tickets here and remember to use discount code “blogsentme” at checkout for 15% off that ticket price!

Read the article: 

Save the Date for Unbounce’s Call to Action Conference 2017 [Discount Code Inside]

The 17 Best Digital Marketing Conferences of 2017

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Does the word conference bring up memories of suited professionals droning on about… well, you can’t quite remember what? Awkward socializing, shameless sales pitching, lined paper and branded pens — some conferences can be very beige indeed.

But not all conferences are made equal. In fact, some can lead you to completely change your marketing game for the better by giving you the opportunity to learn firsthand the tricks of the trade from the smartest minds in digital marketing — from SEO royalty Rand Fishkin to Unbounce co-founder Oli Gardner.

We worked our way through the colossal number of upcoming digital marketing conferences to uncover the gems and roundup what we think are the 17 best digital marketing conferences in 2017.

Warning: what you see and learn at these events may totally transform the way you do your digital marketing.

Conference Date Location
SearchLove February 23-24; June 5-6; October 16-17 San Diego; Boston; London, UK
Domopalooza March 21-24 Salt Lake City
ConversionXL Live April 5-7 San Antonio
Hero Conf April 18-20; October 23-25 Los Angeles; London, UK
Marketing United April 19-21 Nashville
Marketing Nation April 23-26 San Francisco
C2 Montreal May 24-26 Montreal, QC
WistiaFest June 11-13 Boston
Unbounce Call To Action Conference June 25-27 Vancouver, BC
MozCon July 17-19 Seattle
Content Marketing World September 5-8 Cleveland
Dmexco Conference September 13-14 Cologne, DE
INBOUND September 25-28 Boston
B2B Forum October 3-6 Boston
RD Summit November 2017 Brazil
Dreamforce November 6-9 San Francisco
Internet Summit November 15-16 Raleigh
Advocamp December 6-8 San Francisco

1. SearchLove: February 23-24 (San Diego) | June 5-6 (Boston) | October 16-17 (London)

searchlove

SearchLove is the creation of online marketing agency Distilled. As the name implies, this conference is all about search marketing; topics covered span from SEO to PPC and content creation. Over two days, learn actionable tactics to get your website ranking higher. Sessions run one after the other, so you won’t have to miss out on anything.

2. Domopalooza: March 21-24 (Salt Lake City)

domopalooza

This one made its way onto our list, as the content is worth more than gold to any marketer who wants to step up their data game. The organizers, Domo, are business intelligence wizards and creators of a data-driven business management platform.

If you fancy going deep into business analytics and learning how to get data insights to inform your marketing activities and your business as a whole, check Domopalooza out. Plus, with performances from Flo Rida, T.I. and Nelly last year, the entertainment bar is set dang high for 2017.

3. ConversionXL Live: April 5-7 (San Antonio)

conversionxl

CXL Live promises to help marketers achieve their ultimate goals: drive more conversions, grow their businesses faster and make more dough. How? Attendees get the opportunity not only to watch “hardcore practitioners” wax lyrical about conversion marketing, they can also chat to the pros in person.

The event lasts three whole days — plenty of time to get as much advice as you need from your favorite conversion marketing experts and start racking up leads like a true conversion pro.

4. Hero Conf: April 18-20 (Los Angeles)  | October 23-25 (London)

heroconf

Not to be confused with a gathering for superheroes of the comic book kind, Hero Conf is “the world’s largest all-PPC event”.

If you’re a pay-per-click fanatic, this one’s for you. Make connections with the best in the PPC business and learn how to optimize your PPC campaigns; for example, which strategies and trends can help you drive more conversions. Besides, when else could you chat about your favorite subject over some nosh with PPC industry experts?

5. Marketing United: April 19-21 (Nashville)

marketingunited

Marketing United is a digital marketing showdown hosted by email marketing connoisseurs Emma. This will be Emma’s third event and, like its previous events, it promises to be full of “ah-hah” moments spanning all areas of digital marketing such as marketing psychology, customer experience and brand building.

Attendees can expect to marvel at inspiring presentations from a killer lineup including speakers from Netflix and Pixar. They will also get the chance to discover the vibrant and unique city of Nashville, renowned for live country music and an iconic food scene (bring on the fried chicken!).

6. Marketing Nation: April 23-26 (San Francisco)

marketingnation

Marketo’s four-day event will equip you with the knowledge you need to improve the way you interact with customers and help you get better results from your marketing efforts. You can also improve your knowledge of Marketo and get Marketo certified by attending University Day, where you’ll learn about the market-leading marketing automation tool through a series of workshops and presentations.

Some big names will be there (previous years’ speakers included Arianna Huffington and Will Smith), as will 6k+ marketers, so you won’t want to miss out!

7. C2 Montreal: May 24-26 (Montreal, QC)

c2montreal

Much like its host city, C2 Montreal is a fusion of creativity and commerce. This three-day international business conference, dubbed the most innovative of its kind, focuses on exploring the impact of current digital trends on business. It will get you thinking outside of the box to reignite your creativity and change the way you do business for the better.

Expect to be challenged and connect with your peers in innovative ways. Expect to come away with a new way of thinking and plenty of inspiration. Expect to discover how marketers will adapt as digital evolves.

8. WistiaFest: June 11-13, (Boston)

wistiafest

This Boston-based event, run by Wistia, is a coming together of the great minds in video marketing. Why should you care? Video marketing is recognized to be one of the most effective marketing tools out there, and WistiaFest will teach you all you need to know about this medium including future trends and, most importantly, how to create ludicrously effective videos for your business. And going by what last year’s attendees tweeted, you’re in for a visual spectacle and an all-round cracking time.

9. Unbounce Call To Action Conference: June 25-27 (Vancouver, BC)

ctaconf_blogpost2

Familiar with the Unbounce blog? Then you’ll know that Unbounce is all about giving marketers actionable advice across the hottest topics in marketing and — just as importantly — providing a truly delightful experience.

CTAConf is like the Unbounce blog on steroids, featuring some of the best people in the business to give 100% fluff-free, practical tips that attendees can bring into play the next day. And you can be assured there will be a LOT of laughs throughout the day. Prepare to walk away from the day with a shedload of invaluable notes and some hilarious anecdotes.

Thinking of attending CTAConf 2017?

Subscribe to Unbounce Events and get exclusive discounts and the latest conference updates delivered to your inbox.

10. MozCon: July 17-19 (Seattle)

mozcon

MozCon is hosted by search engine marketing powerhouse Moz. (If you’re a marketer who doesn’t know Moz, it’s time to crawl out from that rock you’ve been hiding under.)

Get on top of your search marketing game and learn what’s hot in the world of SEO, social media and community building, straight from the mouths of industry leaders. This is a three-day conference that promises tons of actionable takeaways and socializing opportunities including MozCon’s very own pub crawl, #Mozcrawl. Hop on for some free drinks and great banter.

11. Content Marketing World: September 5-8 (Cleveland)

cmw2017

Content writers far and wide, this is your cue get excited. The biggest gathering of content marketing front runners, CMWorld will give you an overview of upcoming content marketing trends and plenty of ideas for rolling out an effective content strategy. Over the two days, you’ll have a ton of opportunities to network with the industry leaders and your fellow content peers.

12. Dmexco Conference: Sept 13-14 (Cologne, DE)

dmexco

Taking place in the historical German city of Cologne, Dmexco Conference is a two-day event defined as the “global meeting point for the digital economy”. A truly global conference, Dmexco is an outstanding opportunity to meet some digital economy big dogs from some leading global companies (think Bloomberg and Google). Keynotes, seminars and work labs that cover diverse themes in digital are offered in English or German.

13. INBOUND: September 25-28 (Boston)

inbound

Inbound is a mammoth-sized four-day event with over 19,000 attendees and a star-studded list of speakers (last year’s line-up included Anna Kendrick, Alec Baldwin and Serena Williams). It’s an opportunity for sales and marketing pros to rub shoulders with some of the biggest names in the industry and get tips and inspo on taking a business to the next level.

Four days jam-packed with talks, keynotes, workshops, some serious networking and partying. This year’s event promises to be bigger and better than ever.

14. B2B Forum: October 3-6 (Boston)

b2bforum

MarketingProf’s B2B Forum promises to give you the knowledge you need to build a sustainable marketing strategy. Headed up by Ann Handley, it’s also a unique opportunity to network with B2B businesses from across the globe and learn from their successes.

This event is pretty unique as it offers full-day workshops on one of four marketing topics (to be confirmed). So if you want to learn a lot and fast, come along for a marketing crash course.

15. RD Summit: November 2017 (Brazil)

rdsummit

RD Summit in Brazil is the biggest marketing and sales event in Latin America. With more than 5,000 attendees, 50 exhibitors and 120 presentations, this is a large-scale event, yet organized to the finest detail.

If you’re looking to get solid advice on your inbound marketing and sales strategy and network with a large community of marketers, why not head to Brazil in November? Plus, you can sample the delights of the vibrant Brazilian culture, including its iconic food and long beaches.

16. Dreamforce: November 6-9 (San Francisco)

dreamforce

Dreamforce is a behemoth of a conference that attracted nearly 200,000 attendees from over 83 countries last year. We simply couldn’t leave it off the list for its sheer size!

Run by Salesforce, Dreamforce promises to adorn you with the knowledge you need to significantly increase your ROI. Marketers will learn ways to create amazing brand experiences and better connect with customers. They’ll also discover how to make the most of Salesforce in their marketing strategy. With over 2,000 sessions, there’s something for everyone, whether you’re an SMB or a Fortune 500 company. Just make sure you check out the agenda beforehand to select the content that’s relevant to you.

17. Internet Summit: November 15-16 (Raleigh)

internetsummit

Internet Summit is a forum that brings together a whole host of thought leaders in the field of digital commerce.

If you’re looking for practical solutions to apply to your marketing, analytics and user experience strategies and to learn about the latest trends in digital technology, this event has got your covered. And get ready to network with some of the world’s leading brands including Facebook, AOL and The Onion.

BONUS! Advocamp: December 6-8 (San Francisco)

advocamp

You know the old adage: it can cost 5x more acquiring a new customer than retaining an existing one. This is why we recommend Advocamp — a conference that’s all about the customer experience.

Although not strictly a marketing event, Advocamp will give you some great ideas on engaging your current following and fostering a loyal customer base. After all, your marketing efforts will become even more valuable if your leads become happy, long-term customers and advocates of your brand.

There were some top-notch speakers from leading global companies last year including world-class author Daniel Pink and “The most re-tweeted person in the world among digital marketers” Jay Baer. Expect the same in 2017.

Over to you

Whether you’re a content writer, SEO buff or PPC manager, 2017 has got a standout marketing event that can give you the knowledge and contacts you need to be an even better marketer.

So if you’re set on making 2017 your most successful year yet, we encourage you to bite the bullet and sign up for the most relevant event for you. You’ve got nothing to lose and a whole notebook’s worth of valuable insider industry information to gain.

Is a certain awesome marketing conference missing from this list? Don’t be shy. Share it with us in the comments section below.

Jump to original:

The 17 Best Digital Marketing Conferences of 2017

Rand Fishkin’s 5 Simple Experiments for Improving SEO Health

Improve your site's SEO health
Content not ranking on Google? Nurse it back to SEO health with Rand’s five experiments. Image via Shutterstock.

What do you do to get fit, lose weight or improve your overall health? You snack on fewer candies and munch a few more salads. Maybe even hit the gym. Then you cross your fingers and hope to reap the fruits of your labor.

Us marketers tend to adopt a similar approach when working towards our goals. When we want to optimize our content for search, we may “stuff in a few keywords” and “add some internal and external links” to our website.

Somewhere down the line, we expect to see our website creep up in Google. It may… but it may not. And with all the time we spend crafting thoughtful content to drive our business objectives, what’s the point if NO ONE FINDS IT?

The reality is that we — fitness fanatics, marketers, hell, human beings —  assume we know what work is required to achieve our goals. But how can we be sure to get the results we want when our actions are based on what we think works rather than what we know works?

According to Rand Fishkin, co-founder of Inbound.org and self-proclaimed “Wizard of Moz,” the key to achieving results is to run experiments, track our work (not just our progress) and find out what helps get the results we want. And of course, reiterate on the work that brings success.

During his talk at the Call to Action Conference, Rand walked us through five simple SEO experiments that can help us measure the input that creates our desired results. And lucky for you, we walk you through each one below.

So, are you ready to improve your SEO health? On your marks, get set, GO!

Experiment 1: Bolster internal linking

SEO marketers from far and wide recognize that linking to various pages on your website can help improve your Google ranking. Someone lands on your website and will happily delve deeper and deeper through a clever web of internal links, all the while boosting your website’s credibility. Good times… right?

Well, it depends. We can’t just assume that stuffing our webpages willy nilly with internal links will push us up the ranks — even if it seemed to work a dream for someone else. We need to experiment to find out if and how internal linking affects our Google ranking.

Step 1. Choose the webpage you want to rank higher for (a.k.a. your target page). This may be an important page that currently isn’t ranking well. In Rand’s case, he wants his “Keyword research tool” page to rank higher.

Step 2. Decide which term(s) you want your target page to rank for in Google. Then bring up the pages on your website that Google considers to be the most important for this search term by searching in Google for [the term you want your target page to rank for] + [:] + [website name]. As per Rand’s example, he wants his target page to rank for “keyword research tool”. So he would run a search for [keyword research tool] + [:] + [moz.com]”, as per:

Slide from Rand Fishkin’s CTA Conf talk. Click for full size.

Step 3. Find out if you’ve already linked to the target page in these pages. If not, add a link:

Slide from Rand Fishkin’s CTA Conf talk. Click for full size.

Step 4. After a predefined amount of time (e.g., two weeks, one month, etc.), track the outcome. Did the target page’s rank drop, improve or stay the same?

If the specific action of adding internal links to your target page positively affects the page’s ranking, repeat the action to boost your other website pages.

Rand’s buddy Shaun Anderson from Hobo Web carried out this experiment over a month. Check out his results:

Slide from Rand Fishkin’s CTA Conf talk. Click for full size.

Just 10 days after he added internal links to his target page, the page shot up the rankings. And when he removed the links later on, it shot back down again.

Experiment 2: Create new content targeting long-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords are the new(ish) kid on the SEO block. They’re keywords of at least three words and are more specific than your regular keyword. Think “soccer boots for kids” rather than a simple “soccer boots”. They’ve also been proven to drive more qualified traffic to websites and therefore increase that all-important conversion rate.

You may have already started optimizing your webpages with these babies (brownie points to you). But it’s now time to start testing out their impact to see if they’re really improving your page rankings.

Step 1. Type in a keyword phrase you want to rank for into a keyword research tool such as Moz’s Keyword Explorer, Uber Suggest or Google Keyword Planner (you’ll need to set up a free account for the latter).

Step 2. Once the results are up, identify long-tail keywords that have low volume, low difficulty and high opportunity. You’re looking for a volume and difficulty level of anything less than around 30, and an opportunity level of 80+. In Rand’s example, “geek gadgets for her” and “cool unique electronic gifts” are good options.

Slide from Rand Fishkin’s CTA Conf talk. Click for full size.

Step 3. Create and publish helpful content that targets your chosen long-tail keywords. Use the keywords in the page headline and make sure your content directly relates to the keywords.

Step 4. Track the outcome over time. Hopefully, a couple of weeks or months down the line, you will see a result as good as this one:

long-tail2
Slide from Rand Fishkin’s CTA Conf talk. Click for full size.

Experiment 3: Turn mentions into links

If you’re doing good business, people are likely to be saying good things about your brand on the web. If these mentions don’t link to your website, you’re missing out on a prime backlinking opportunity, which can help boost your website’s SEO. Let’s see how you can turn simple brand chatter into into fuel for your search engine ranking.

Use Google’s date query ranges to research mentions of your company, brand or product on the web. (You could also invest in a tool like Mention, talkwalker or Moz’s Fresh Web Explorer to receive mention alerts.)

Step 1. In the Google search bar, enter the search terms you want to find mentions for. In his example, Rand searched for “keyword explorer moz”.

mentions1
Slide from Rand Fishkin’s CTA Conf talk. Click for full size.

Step 2. Next, tell Google how far back you want to search. Either select the date range from the drop down list (shown above), or manually enter the number of days by simply replacing the last number at the end of the URL:

mentions2
Slide from Rand Fishkin’s CTA Conf talk. Click for full size.

Step 3. In the pages that Google pulls up, look for keyword mentions that don’t link back to your website:

mentions3
Slide from Rand Fishkin’s CTA Conf talk. Click for full size.

Step 4. This next step requires a bit more creativity. To get that keyword backlinking to your site, you’ll need to contact the mentioner. You could email them or reach out to them on social media and ask them to link back to your website from these pages.

mentions4

Step 5. Once that backlink has been in place for a few weeks, have a look at your webpage’s ranking. Has it changed?

Experiment 4: Test new titles and headlines

Title element testing has shown to be a rather effective way to optimize web content for clicks. It’s definitely worth experimenting with these short but important nuggets of text. They can be the difference between a user clicking on a webpage or skimming past it, uninterested.

Step 1. Identify the pages of your website that use the templated language for titles and headlines, for example:

titles2
Slide from Rand Fishkin’s CTA Conf talk. Click for full size.

Step 2. It’s time to find out: Are people searching for the keywords in the headlines of these pages? Or are there more popular keywords you could use? Use a keyword planner tool to find the most commonly searched keywords related to your page topic.

titles3
Slide from Rand Fishkin’s CTA Conf talk. Click for full size.

Step 3. Update the pages in question with your new, more popular keywords.

Step 4. Analyse any changes after a predefined amount of time.

UK-based online marketing agency Distilled did this for their client concerthotels.com. They changed the title and H1 used across a bulk of webpages from:

Title: <<Location>> Hotels, NY | ConcertHotels.com

H1: <<Location>> Hotels

to:

Title: Hotels near <<Location>> Rochester, NY | ConcertHotels.com

H1: Hotels near <<Location>>

As the graph below shows us, they reaped some seriously impressive results:

titles1
Slide from Rand Fishkin’s CTA Conf talk. Click for full size.

Experiment 5:  Add related keywords to your pages

Think you can rank well for a keyword without any related keywords on the same page? Don’t underestimate the power of context, especially when dealing with Google. When you talk about SEO on your website, Google expects you to mention search engines, ranking, keywords, etc. Try adding some related keywords to your content and the search engine big dog may well thank you by upping your webpage’s ranking.

Step 1. Choose the webpage you want to optimize. Identify what the page is about and decide on the most fitting keyword.

Step 2. Find terms that Google associates with this keyword. Use a tool like nTopic or Moz’s related topics tool to get a list of related keywords.

relatedkeywords
Slide from Rand Fishkin’s CTA Conf talk. Click for full size.

Step 3. Work these new keywords into your webpage’s content, making sure that they sound natural when you read over the text.

Step 4. As always, make sure you measure your results! Has your webpage climbed the rankings after a few weeks or months?

Conclusion

No-one would deny that classic analytics — analyzing the results of our actions — is totally essential for tracking marketing progress. But when it comes to understanding which marketing actions work, we need a different approach.

We simply must stop assuming we know what work will help us achieve our goals. By not only measuring the results, but also experimenting and measuring the actions that you take, you can figure out exactly what you need to do to move the SEO needle, time and time again.

Follow this link – 

Rand Fishkin’s 5 Simple Experiments for Improving SEO Health

Making Marketing Analytics as Simple as 1, 2, 3

Google Analytics reports

Every smart marketer on the planet gets just how important data is in marketing.

But answer me these questions, and answer them honestly: Do you know how to analyze your marketing data? Do you know how to use your analyses to improve your results?

During his presentation at Call To Action Conference, co-founder of Orbit Media, Andy Crestodina, revealed that many data-driven marketers are not getting any value from their analytics. They tend to admire data charts rather than analyze the data and act on it. Unfortunately,

Pretty charts don’t actually do anything for you unless you take action.

Crap. Who else thought that looking at a few neat graphs in Google Analytics was enough?

Analyzing data can be as easy as 1 2 3

To increase traffic and conversions, marketers need to know how to interpret their own data and turn data insights into action. Andy debunked the myth that you’ve got to be Einstein to analyze your data. This is jolly good news for those of us who break out in cold sweats at the mere thought of number crunching.

He laid out a fool-proof three-step approach to help marketers analyze their own data and turn their analyses into action. It involves using the ever-trendy (but actually invaluable when you know how to use them) Google Analytics reports: Audience, Acquisition, Behavior and Conversion.

Here is said approach:

1. Turn ideas into questions

What do you want to find out?

2. Find answers

Look for a report that can help you validate or reject the idea.

3. Take action

Take what you’ve learned and use it to optimize your marketing results.

By using these simple but effective steps, you can find the answers in Google Analytics to some of your most pressing marketing questions. You’re going to learn how to decrease bounce rate, rank higher in Google, boost reader engagement and increase conversions. Trust me, this is game-changing stuff.

Make sure you’re logged into Google Analytics and on the Reporting page. Let’s do this!

Audience reports

Google Analytics Audience reports don’t just tell you who your users are, they also show you how sticky your website is. If you want to find out how well your website is working across various devices and browsers, this report is your new best friend.

Example: How to decrease your bounce rate using Audience reports

Sometimes bouncier can mean better, but this is definitely not the case in marketing. If you have a high bounce rate (whether on your website or blog), then it’s likely that your content isn’t very relevant or user-friendly.

For smart marketers, the aim of the game should be to get bounce rates as low as humanly possible.

Using Google Analytics Audience reports, Andy shows us how to find out our website’s bounce rate across different browsers.

1. Ask a question

“Is your website working well in every browser?”

2. Find the answer

Click on Audience reports > Technology > Browser & OS. This will give you an overview of the bounce rates for users of every browser.

Audience report Google Analytics

All these numbers look pretty similar. So now what? Let’s go one step further by clicking on the Comparison view. This option pitches the site average for bounce rates for each browser against each other to give you a clearer picture of which browsers your website is working on.

Audience report Google Analytics

Bingo! It seems the poor souls visiting Andy’s website from an Android or Opera browser were having a particularly tough time. Which browsers have the highest bounce rate on your website?

3. Take action

Don’t stop now that you’ve identified any problem areas. It’s time to take cold, hard, remedial action. Why are the bounce rates for users or certain browsers higher than others? What can you do to find out? Simple. You can start by testing your website pages on these browsers to see why people aren’t sticking around on your site. You could check out page loading time, browser responsiveness and usability. And then, if necessary, optimize your pages for these browsers.

Acquisition reports

In other words, where are your website visitors coming from? Are they arriving at your website via Twitter or Facebook, or are they landing on your pages directly from Google? An Acquisition report gives you a detailed view of your traffic sources, so you can work out where you need to ramp up your marketing efforts.

Example: How to rank higher in Google using Acquisition reports

For Andy, people who arrive on your website through search engines are much more likely to convert than those who reach you via social networks. In fact:

Search traffic converts into leads 600% more than social traffic.

Holy cow. So when your goal is to drive conversions, focus on optimizing your website for search engines rather than driving traffic from social media. Andy suggests that you can creep up the search engine ladder by finding out how you currently fare in Google and turning your findings into action.

Sneaky.

1. Ask a question

“What phrases are we ranking for?”

2. Find the answer

If you haven’t already, activate Search Console in your Google Analytics settings. Then go to Acquisition > Search Console > Queries. You will not only get a list of all the phrases you rank for (under Query), but also how highly you rank for them in Google (under Average Position).

Acquisition report Google Analytics

Andy recommends that to be even more cunning, you should find the phrases you rank for on page 2 of Google.

It’s not that hard to move up a tiny bit in your rankings. If a tiny bit means going from page 2 to page 1, trust me you’re going to quadruple traffic next week for that page.

Do this by adding an advanced filter. Select Include > Average Position > Greater than and enter the value of 10.

Acquisition report Google Analytics

These are Andy’s results:

Acquisition report Google Analytics

What about yours?

3. Take action

Now it’s time for you to search for these phrases in Google, confirm the rankings and see which web pages you’re dealing with. It’s down to you to improve these pages to push them further up the Google ranks. You could for example create longer pages, add more detail or add video. If you’re short on ideas, Hubspot gives you a few in a post on how to improve your website’s user experience.

Behavior Reports

These reports show marketers what people are looking for, engaging with and doing on their websites.

Example: How to boost reader engagement using Behavior reports

It’s every content marketer’s dream to create content that people want to engage with. Andy kindly shows us all how to use the Behavior reports to find out which of our blog posts people love the most.

1. Ask a question

“Which of your blog posts are the most engaging?”

2. Find the answer

Go to Behavior > Site Content > All pages.

Search for “/blog” in the filter field to view posts on your blog page only. Then organize the results by the Comparison view.

Behavior report Google Analytics

Select “Avg. time on page” from the drop-down list in the third column. This shows you which blog posts your readers are engaging with most compared to the site average.

Behavior report Google Analytics

Look for similarities between the most engaging posts. Do they talk about the same subject? Are they the same type of post (e.g., a how-to or a guide)? In the example, the posts with the highest engagement all cover Google Analytics. Hey, what a marvellous topic for a blog article!

3. Take action

The actions are pretty obvious. Once you know which posts your readers dig, you need to deliver more of the good stuff. Invest some time in promoting these posts. Create and publish more content on the same or related subjects.

Conversion Reports

If a marketer’s ultimate goal isn’t to convert, then what is? Conversion reports give you valuable insights into which of your website pages or posts push people to convert. It may not be rocket science. But it certainly is pure 24 carat marketing gold.

Example: How to increase conversions using conversion reports

1. Ask a question

“Which blog posts inspire action?”

2. Find the answer

For this one, you need to have goals set up in your Google Analytics account. If you haven’t, there’s no time like the present.

Go to Conversions > Goals > Reverse Goal Path. This shows you which pages your converters were looking at before they completed an action, or goal.

Select the goal from the “All goals” drop-down list. In the example, Andy selects “Newsletter subscribers”.

Conversion report Google Analytics

This shows you which pages people were on before subscribing to the newsletter. Now click on “advanced” to add a filter:

Conversion report Google Analytics

And then filter as so:

Conversion report Google Analytics

Voilà! A list of the blog posts your visitors were reading before subscribing to your newsletter.

3. Take action

With this valuable info under your belt, you can now focus your efforts on driving traffic to the posts that convert the most visitors. Andy recommends promoting these posts using social media, email or even showcasing them on your website’s home page. You could also publish more content on your highest converting topics.

From passive marketing to active marketing

There we have it. A whole host of great examples — based on asking questions, finding answers and taking action — that we can all use to perform our very own analyses and improve the results of our marketing efforts.

Andy taught us that analyzing our own marketing data is fundamental to improving our marketing results and that anyone — dataphile or dataphobe — can do their own seriously valuable data analysis. All you need is a Google Analytics account and a no-nonsense approach.

As for the most valuable takeaway of them all? Inspiring marketers to not only act on their data, but also to adopt a culture of analysis, reflection and experimentation. Now you’ve got the tools you need to become an active data-driven marketer, the rest is down to you.

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Making Marketing Analytics as Simple as 1, 2, 3

Never Bring an Opinion to a Data Fight: Day 1 of the Call to Action Conference

Why do people come to marketing conferences?

Some might say it’s for the networking, parties, workshops and insightful talks… or for more wacky stuff, like a money tornado booth, t-rex VR simulations and human inflatable foosball.

Testing out important conference equipment #CTAConf

A video posted by Dustin Bromley (@dustinjbromley) on

But some of the juiciest takeaways come from presentations about A/B tests that thought leaders are running, and how unexpected changes can yield big results.

… However, these aren’t always the kind of insights that will move the needle for your business. Without context — without your own data sets — these types of “takeaways” are really just opinions.

Telling your colleagues, “So-and-so changed their button copy to increase conversions, and I think we should do the same!” just won’t cut it anymore. As Orbit co-founder Andy Crestodina put it:

Never bring an opinion to a data fight. Because the highest-paid person’s opinion (HiPPO) always wins… unless you have data.

CI1KDeKUMAApabp Many of the talks at day one of the Call to Action Conference broke down processes and tips for being a more responsible data-driven marketer: Google Analytics reports you can run and templates for building a tracking plan.

Juicy. Here’s a taste.

We’ve become comfortably numb

Morgan Brown, COO of Inman News, thinks that marketers have become far too comfortably numb with the little data they have access to:

Even if you use Google Analytics, you’re still missing out on a large part of the picture.

Clicks, visitors and time on page provide you some insights, but if you can’t see your customer from the moment they touch your company — from the beginning to the end of the lifecycle — you’re flying blind. But whose job is it to dig into the data to ensure your team isn’t flying blind? Andy says it’s on everyone:

Analytics isn’t something that’s just one specialist’s responsibility.

That said, it doesn’t hurt to build a bomb-ass team to manage your data and growth. Morgan advises against hiring “another marketer.” Instead, bolster your growth team with individuals who live numbers — people who treat new customer acquisitions (and customer churn) with the same diligence as accounts receivables/payables.

Eventually, machines will tell us what’s important

As advancements in machine learning technology accelerate, we’re approaching an era where we won’t need to be so hands-on with data.

Machines will identify opportunities and provide testing recommendations for marketers, massively increasing the scale and impact of conversion optimization.

The future of marketing and conversion rate optimization, according to Unbounce co-founder Oli Gardner, is in megavariate testing — mass split tests hypothesized and deployed by machines. CTAs will automatically be positioned to where they’re most likely to be clicked. Videos will be placed for optimal interactions.

Imagine a Slack bot that sends you a message with an A/B test recommendation — just type “yes” to switch the test live. That’s the future.

But…

We’re not there yet, so start hoarding your data

According to Andy, fewer than 30% of small businesses are using analytics — and those who are proactive about collecting data will have the competitive advantage. Morgan urged attendees to track all activity happening on their websites:

Stuff it into a data warehouse and let it sit there. It’ll at least be there when you need it.

If you don’t have the bandwidth to set up that kind of tracking, Morgan suggests you should at the very least be documenting important user flows — end-to-end tracking of your customer’s lifecycle:

Don’t settle for anything less than complete waterfalls.

Don’t have the time or know-how to set that kind of stuff up? Tough, says Morgan. Bribe an engineer colleague or friend. (… Or, uh, steal Morgan’s Tracking Plan Blueprint here.)

Develop a culture of experimentation

Tracking and collecting data isn’t enough. Here’s how Andy put it:

When you look at your analytics dashboard in the morning, the line goes up and you smile. Or the line goes down and you frown. And then you go back to checking your email. But you need to take action.

Morgan agreed that you’ve got to just do it. He’s found that all rapidly growing companies (think Uber, Airbnb and Facebook) have one main thing in common: a culture of experimentation and aggressive optimization.

Rapid experimentation — and the accelerated learning that comes with it — is key to fast growth.

Behind every conversion

While it’s tempting to get swept up in data and numbers, Andre Morys (founder of Web Arts AG) reminds us that every conversion is the result of user motivation.

Yes, data can tell us a lot in terms of user behaviour, but user motivation is harder to distil down to pure numbers. It relates to an individual’s implicit goals (owning a BMW for status) versus their explicit goals (owning a vehicle for transportation needs).

In order to tap into these implicit goals, Andre suggests asking yourself, “Who is your customer? What real problem are you solving?”

Morgan opts for a slightly different route, instead using surveys — such as pricing surveys, net promoter score surveys and customer satisfaction surveys — to get a pulse on his customers and prospects.

Whatever the route you take, it’s important to not lose sight of the people behind the clicks.

Because at the end of the day, Morys reminds us, conversions are really just people.

Psst. There’s one day of the Call to Action Conference left and we don’t want you to miss out on any of the learnings — sign up for all the notes here.

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Never Bring an Opinion to a Data Fight: Day 1 of the Call to Action Conference

The 4-Hour Website Optimization Challenge: What Would the Experts Do?

4-hour-challenge-blog
You’re being lowered into a pit of anacondas over four hours, and only a lift of 0.01% or more could stop it — best get optimizing! Image by Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.

As marketers, the clock always seems to be against us.

So when it comes to conversion optimization, most of us simply don’t have enough hours in the day to plan and execute a proper strategy — even if we do have the necessary skills and resources in place.

This led our team to a simple question: Is it possible to generate a sustainable lift for a website in just a few hours?

We each had our own opinions, but to dig deeper we reached out to five colorful characters in the CRO space — Brian MasseyAngie SchottmullerPeep LajaNeil Patel and Unbounce’s own Michael Aagaard — and asked them a simple question:

“If you could spend only four hours optimizing the marketing performance of a website, what would you do?”

The criteria

First, I must get this out of the way: There’s no such thing as a “get conversion-rich fast” approach.

Conversion optimization (CRO) is synonymous with continuous improvement, and with a few exceptions, simple changes won’t drive long-term results.

And further, mastering CRO takes time and a wide range of skill sets: analytics, marketing, user understanding, user experience, design, copywriting, development and project management.

So when I talk about having four hours to optimize a site, I’m not implying that a site could be fully optimized after a four-hour period. Rather, we wanted to know how our experts could demonstrate the power of optimization in a short period of time.

Will going to the gym five times get you into shape? No. But if you saw results after 5 sessions, would it inspire you to keep going? Yes.

And that’s the purpose of this post — to help marketers get their feet wet in CRO, so they can get excited about the awesome potential it holds.

So here we go!

1. Brian Massey: “Try a headline test.”

Brian Massey

Brian Massey is the founder of Conversion Sciences, a company that helps clients improve revenue and leads from existing traffic.

Brian is a regular speaker at corporate events, universities and conferences worldwide, and is the author of Your Customer Creation Equation: Unexpected Website Formulas of The Conversion Scientist.

When I first asked Brian the question, here’s what he told me:

If I had only four hours to optimize a website, I would spend five minutes making myself a coffee, then three hours and 55 minutes looking for another job. Optimization doesn’t happen in four hours.

Ouch, not a good start. But I took his advice, and spent four hours applying for “management” positions at Best Buy and Enterprise Rent-a-Car.

No dice.

I pressed Brian, and asked him to imagine he was being lowered into a pit of anacondas over four hours — and only a lift of 0.01% or more could stop it — surely there’s something he could do?

He relented, and offered me this:

Here are some ideas of what I could do in the four hours: Write 25 headlines for each of my landing pages. Pick the best for each and make the change. Setup Google Analytics and CrazyEgg on my site. Create some awesome, relevant content. Take a course in Web analytics. Spend four hours reviewing my ad campaigns to ensure I’m getting quality traffic. Collect the resumes of professional copywriters and hire one.

He then offered a strategy that involved breaking up the four hours.

Hour 1: Write 25 headlines for your best performing landing page and pick four that are very different from each other.

Hour 2: Create four pages (or four page variants), one with each headline.

Hour 3: Setup Unbounce, Optimzely, Visual Website Optimizer or Convert.com to send a quarter of the traffic to each. Up all of your ad spends to ensure you get several thousand visits over a week or two.

Wait at least one week, until the test reaches statistical significance.

Hour 4:  If there’s a winner, make the change permanent.


“If I had only 4 hrs for #CRO, I’d create and test 4 pages with different headlines.” ~@bmassey
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Our take

Content matters more than anything else, and within the broad content sphere, headlines and value propositions are the heaviest hitters.

Brian’s approach is perfect for time-starved marketers seeking CRO results, because it gets straight to the point: Testing how users react to changes in your value proposition.

If you perform A/B tests on your value proposition, I can almost guarantee your conversion rate will change. It may go down, but failed tests provide almost as much insight as winning tests.

2. Peep Laja: “Tackle pages with the biggest drop-off.”

Peep

Peep Laja is the founder ConversionXL — one of the most popular (and respected) online marketing blogs on the web. He’s a popular speaker on the CRO circuit, and if you happened to catch his presentation at CTAConf 2014 in Vancouver, you know he tells it like it is.

When I asked Peep how he would spend his four hours, he responded in less than five minutes:

I would check Google Analytics to find where the biggest drop-offs are happening and would focus all my efforts on those pages. Heuristic analysis would reveal a bunch of insights, and this combined with some user tests via Usertesting.com would give some validation to my experience-based assessment findings. All of these things would be doable within a couple hours.


If @PeepLaja had just 4 hrs for #CRO? “I’d tackle pages with the biggest drop-off.”
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Our take

We like Peep’s approach because it mixes instinct (developed from years of work in CRO) with qualitative data.

Google Analytics is still the best tool for finding actionable data that sets you on the path toward a successful treatment.

Thanks for the insight, Peep!

3. Angie Schottmuller: “Interview your customers.”

Angie

Angie Schottmuller is a growth marketing consultant, author and speaker. She was recently named one of Forbes’ top 10 online marketers to follow in 2015 — so she’s no stranger to CRO.

I first met Angie at CTA Conference 2014 in Vancouver, where she gave an incredibly informative and entertaining presentation called “Optimizing Persuasion with Buyer Modalities.”

When I asked Angie how she would optimize a site in four hours, here’s what she said:

I would use an hour or two to better understand the audience. That means interviewing actual customers or prospects to learn why they DO and why they DON’T buy. Talk with customer service or sales reps at the “business front lines” for insights as well. Review the feedback to surface top recurring questions, concerns, interests or objections. Score hypothesis opportunities using the PIE framework. (I adapt this model to PIER — where “R” measures reusability of the learned insight.) Then use the remaining time to implement a fix or A/B test for the top scoring hypothesis from opportunities the audience specifically called out.

Video via WiderFunnel.

A rapid fire four-hour fix isn’t quite practical. However, nothing is more practical than going direct to the source — the customer — for some actionable qualitative feedback. The underlying objective of conversion optimization is to learn more about the customer: preferences, pain points and interests. The more you understand about the customer and how you can assist achieving their goal, the more likely you’ll be to achieve your own.


“In #CRO, nothing’s more practical than asking customers for actionable feedback.” ~@aschottmuller
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Our take

We love how Angie dives straight into a very important — yet often overlooked — aspect of conversion optimization: Understanding your customers.

All high-converting websites do one thing really well and that is answering the customer’s questions. But without interviews, we’re left to guess what those questions are.

Altering your site copy to address the questions of your customers is one of the simplest, least expensive and quickest conversion-focused changes you can make to a web page or landing page.

4. Michael Aagaard: “Focus on heuristic analysis.”

Aagaard

Self-confessed “split-test junkie” Michael Aagaard lives and breathes conversion. He’s spent the past several years conducting hundreds of copy-based A/B tests, which he shares in the many interesting case studies on ContentVerve.

Michael recently joined Unbounce as its Senior Conversion Rate Optimizer (catch him live at CTAConf 2016!).

So how would Michael optimize a website in four hours?

If I had four hours to optimize a website, I’d spend one hour digging through analytics data to identify areas that represent the biggest potential lift. Then I’d spend an hour conducting a heuristic analysis. After that, I’d spend 30 minutes coming up with an optimization hypotheses. Finally, I’d spend the last hour and a half actually creating the treatment.


#CRO in just 4 hrs? “Check Analytics for areas with the biggest potential lift.” ~@ContentVerve
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Our take

Europeans always stick together, don’t they?! Michael echoes Peep’s sentiments by zeroing in on areas with the greatest potential lift.

Michael’s approach shows that even if you’re experienced in the CRO space, you still must test your assumptions. With time and experience, your “gut” will become more reliable in making assumptions, but will never give you a definitive answer without testing.

5. Neil Patel: “Focus on your tags.”

Neil

Neil Patel runs the well-known blog Quicksprout, and is the co-founder of both KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg. He’s a major influencer in all things online marketing.

Neil answered the question a bit differently than our other experts, instead choosing to focus on SEO and page performance. Here’s what he told us:

If I had only four hours, I would go through Webmaster Tools and fix any of the basic errors that they are showing. This would include crawling errors, 404 pages and even duplicate title tags or meta description tags. Sure these things seem small, but fixing them will help you generate more search traffic in the long run.

Next, he delved into performance.

In addition to that I would set up Google Pagespeed. One major reason websites don’t convert well is because they load slow. By using Google Pagespeed, you can improve your load speed, which should help increase your overall traffic and conversion rates.


“If I had just 4 hrs for #CRO, I’d fix crawling errors, 404s and duplicate title tags.” ~@neilpatel
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Our take

Neil gets right to the heart of an issue marketers often neglect. If your site is slow, or people can’t find it, it doesn’t matter how well you’ve optimized the on-page experience. Optimization should be about the bottom line, and sometimes you can get a tremendous ROI from looking at broader infrastructure or visibility factors.

Takeaways

A common thread throughout all our experts’ answers is the need to focus on changes that actually make a difference to your overall bottom line. When you only have four hours, you don’t have time to test low-impact hypotheses.

There are several simple and fast techniques to identify where you can get a large ROI. The right one for you will depend on what you have immediate access to.

If you can, start by talking to your customers. If that’s not an option right now, dive into Google Analytics and understand where people are exiting and if there are any slow pages.

Finally, you can’t go wrong testing vastly different headlines and value propositions. After all, conversion optimization is really about the art and science of communication, and your words matter.

So, if you had just four hours to optimize a website, what would you do? Drop us a comment.

And once again, many thanks to Brian, Peep, Angie, Michael and Neil for participating in this post.

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The 4-Hour Website Optimization Challenge: What Would the Experts Do?

Dear Abby: I Need (Marketing) Relationship Advice [PODCAST]

marketing-relationship-advice-650

We all have that friend we go to when we need relationship advice.

But it’s not always about heartache or that roommate who won’t do their dishes. Sometimes it’s your leads who are breaking your heart. You thought you made a great first impression, so why don’t they want a second date?

When your lead gen opportunities are resulting in the marketing equivalent of a one-night stand, let Mike King of digital marketing agency iPullRank be that friend.

In this episode of the Call to Action podcast, Mike tells you how you can create long-lasting relationships with leads – the kind that keeps them coming back for more.

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • The dangers of focusing too closely on conversions and what you should be focusing on instead.
  • How data-driven personas can help you get to know your leads before you ask for their number (or email address).
  • Why unqualifying leads is sometimes better than qualifying them.

Listen to the podcast

Mentioned in the podcast

Read the transcript

Dan: You said in your talk at Call to Action Conference last year that you appreciated having your landing page brutally critiqued on the Unbounce blog. First off, thanks for being a good sport about that. You then went on to justly critique our own Call to Action Conference landing page for being less than optimal. Thanks for that, too. Is it me, or are marketers a bit like rappers? They love dissing their competitors and peers, but they can’t really take the heat when it’s directed at them.

Mike: I don’t know if that’s relegated to marketers or rappers. I think that’s just people not really liking criticism. Me, I enjoy it because those are always opportunities for me to improve, so when you guys had written that post, my team was crying about it. I was like, “Yo, they’re right. Let’s take this as an opportunity to fix that landing page.” But whenever I can return the favor on something like that, I always love to do so.

Dan: Yeah, fair enough.

Mike: I figured it was gonna be a fun little intro. I like to start out by getting people involved or make them laugh a little bit or something like that because a lot of my stuff gets pretty technical, so I like to start pretty lighthearted, and it was just a really good way to get into the spirit of the things that you guys do and give you a taste of your own medicine.

Dan: Yeah, no, that’s totally fair, and I think it’s a good thing for marketers to look inward sometimes. At the same time you said that lead generation isn’t about us. It isn’t necessarily how marketers feel about it. It’s about how our audience reacts to it. Why was that something that you thought was important to put out there?

Mike: Yeah, I thought there was a lot of discussion around how brands are supposed to be or things that brands are supposed to do. It’s more about how do we do things that people are gonna react the way that we want them to? It’s not about how we feel about what it is that’s being created or how things are being positioned. It’s all about doing the things that work for the audiences that we’re going after, so one of the subjects of contention throughout the conference was things like pop-ups.

Dan: Right.

Mike: Well, yeah, I hate pop-ups, but we all know that pop-ups work, so what’s the point in even making an issue about, “Oh, don’t do this because that makes your brand look bad”? No, it doesn’t necessarily make your brand look bad because they work for people. So I think it’s really important to remember that we as marketers are in this marketing echo chamber where people are just saying things. They have opinions, and they let their personal opinions offset what data is telling them. This isn’t me specifically dissing any one person. I’m just saying that we as marketers just need to be aware of our own biases and remember that it’s about our audiences, not about us.

Dan: Yeah, that’s definitely good to keep in mind. You were kind enough to give some relationship advice in your talk as well. You pointed out that we do a lot of one-night stands in lead gen, but not enough long-term relationships. What did you mean by that?

Mike: Yeah, I think one of the things in marketing, especially digital marketing, is we’re very much focused on that last click, that last action of the user. So many of us work on things that are just completely low funnel, and then they forget about creating this relationship with the user. So what I’m saying is think about more of the funnel rather than just focusing on that last part where you’re just trying to get the prospect in bed with you rather than thinking about taking them out on a date.

Dan: Right, so once you fill that funnel, not forgetting about those people and continuing to serve them with relevant content that eventually gets them to convert.

Mike: Yeah, and I think you guys, or Unbounce rather, is a great example of that. You guys aren’t just doing things that are like oh, get people to sign up right away. You have tons of content that’s educating people, that’s showing the value of what you guys do and the industry in general. It creates a better relationship that you guys have with your customers. Looking at CTAConf as an example, I imagine there’s a lot of people that go there that aren’t Unbounce customers, but they respect what you guys do, and because of that you’re nurturing those relationships, and then they become a long-term customer because of those efforts.

Dan: Yeah, you suggest a model of lead gen that involves spending a lot more time getting to know people before they close the deal.

Mike: Yes.

Dan: What are some of the benefits of that approach?

Mike: Yeah, and I think it goes back to the last point in that the more that you understand who you’re talking to and how you can show value to those people, the more they’re gonna stick around and understand that you get them. Again, this is not about us. It’s about the people that are in these audiences, so how do we position the things that we want these people to do in that it becomes more valuable to them aside from just the actual transaction? So understanding your audience is gonna allow you to be really hyper-focused on the things that they want, and then you’ll be able to create those things and ultimately win based on the goals that you’re going after.

Dan: To get into brass tacks a little bit, what do you mean when you say that personas should inform qualification of leads?

Mike: So when it comes to qualification of leads, I mean typically everyone’s like, “Oh, this person spent five minutes on the site, and they looked at this page, and they looked at that page.” Well, that’s very vague. I mean, any person could do those things and then also not convert, so having a better understanding of who this person is or who these people are as they’re going throughout the process of conversion helps you 1) put the right messages in front of them and 2) makes sure that you’re getting people that are actually valuable to you.

So rather than going after millions of people and then just filtering people out, it would be better to filter people out in the beginning so that people at the back end of the process are only dealing with quality. I think a good example of this is the difference between marketing-qualified leads and sales-qualified leads. A lot of times salespeople get upset at the leads that they’re getting from marketing because they feel like they’re not as valuable yet. They’re not as qualified or not as hot of a lead, so if everybody is thinking the same way like the sales team is thinking — that we only want the most qualified people — then you’re not wasting anybody’s time. What you’re doing is only giving people valuable stuff, so I’m saying if you qualify earlier and get more aggressive about that, then you’re only dealing with quality on the back end.

Dan: Right, I think sometimes it might be hard for people to have that perspective, especially if a marketing team is broken up in a way where the people driving awareness and generating those leads, their KPIs are all about more leads whereas the salespeople, they’re worried about qualification, so if you don’t make that connection to kinda take that holistic approach, then I can see how in a siloed structure you might run into some problems there.

Mike: Absolutely.

Dan: You make the connection between creating data-driven personas and something that I think not enough marketers talk or even think about, which is readability. Why is readability something that not just content marketers, but conversion-oriented marketers should care about?

Mike: Yeah, and we’ve made this connection kinda by accident just playing around with data. I’ve always understood what readability is because I’m a developer myself, and understanding content we’ve always played around with those metrics, but then what we did is we ended up comparing it with that page value metric in Google Analytics, and more often than not we’re seeing that things that are more confusing to read are way lower in page value. So ultimately they’re not converting, and that should be kind of an axiom, an obvious thing, but being that we can look at a specific metric, which is readability, and determine that changing that score for content has a direct impact on conversion. I think that that’s incredibly important, and it’s a very easy way to make more money out of your content.

As far as connecting that to data-driven personas, well, one of the outputs from demographic data is people’s reading level, so if you have an audience that has a very low reading level and your content has very low readability, then there’s a clear disconnect there. So one of the things that people don’t like about personas is that typically they’re just the output of some sort of qualitative group setting affinity mapping session, and then a lot of data-driven marketers just don’t believe in them. They don’t believe that there are ways to make personas measurable, and I counter that that’s absolutely false. There’s so much data now that allows us to do that even for free, so why not leverage that data to make this whole process measurable and then use that as a key component of determining how to convert or make people convert more?

Dan: Yeah, I think that’s another really good example of how using data helps inform the whole funnel and helps kinda break down those silos because content marketers may be looking at KPIs like time on page whereas the performance marketers are looking at things like conversion rate, but here you’re making the connection between those two things, and I think that empowers marketing teams to move forward much more collaboratively and confidently.

Mike: Yeah, and then the other component is we think of all these channels in very different ways, and obviously search is the one where we’re getting intent, and users have a very specific thing that they’re looking for, so generally speaking it’s gonna convert more, but the thing is if you’re able to measure these audience sites based on those different channels, you see that the impact isn’t as dramatic between channels when you see the audience as another data point.

So what you might end up seeing is that certain audience types still convert very well from social media or just as well as they do from search, but because the focus is so broad and you’re getting all types of people, you might see that generally speaking search is your best channel. So when you’re able to segment by audience and channel as multiple dimensions, you get to a point where you understand that it’s not just the channel itself, it’s also the type of person coming from that channel.

Dan: Yeah, I mean I think it goes back to what you said before — like we’re not just talking about rappers and marketers and leads. We’re ultimately talking about people here, and that’s important to keep in mind at every step.

Mike: Right, right.

Dan: You mentioned another model in your talk that involves unqualifying leads instead of qualifying them.

Mike: Sure.

Dan: What does that look like?

Mike: Yeah, and that’s kinda something that I noticed just looking around at people’s different conversion pages or their “Contact Us” pages, and I know that Wil Reynolds — who also spoke at CTAConf — their company actually has recently shifted to an unqualifying contact page as well. So the exemplar that I showed in my talk was from an agency – well, not an agency – it’s hard to describe because it’s like a distributed type of thing where this guy named Dan Mall – his company’s called SuperFriendly – he has no employees. He just pulls together a group of people to work on a given project at any time, and on his page there is no contact form. There’s a bunch of text that you have to read to then figure out how to reach out to them, and I think that’s a very interesting model in that it only brings the people that really wanna work with you.

So I think it’s a very interesting model, but at the same time I think it can also be a turnoff. Like, there are those people that would be very interested in working with you, but they may be turned off by your attitude because you’re kinda coming across as, I don’t know, what’s the word for how startup people act where they’re all condescending towards everyone and then just making some mediocre product? Whatever the word is for that, that’s how you come across when you have copy like that or a process like that, so it’s a double-edged sword. Ultimately it’s about: what do you want to be in the marketplace? How do you wanna be perceived? And it goes back to branding and things of that nature, but I think you need to be very careful with that because you may end up scaring off a lot of people that would be good quality leads, prospects, clients, partners for you.

Dan: Right, yeah. Oli Gardner, Unbounce’s co-founder, talks about good and bad friction and how if you want somebody to fill out a form, then typically you wanna reduce friction, but sometimes when you’re really trying to qualify people, adding a little bit more friction — another field or two — could be a good thing, but of course there are good and bad ways of doing that, and I think thinking about your brand is something that is an important consideration.

Mike: Exactly, exactly.

Dan: You make another distinction between low-effort and high-effort lead gen. Can you break that down for us?

Mike: Yeah, sure. So what we’re in the middle of doing, and it’s still ongoing, is a comparison of things that don’t take much work to do. So for example if you just wanna go after some keywords on paid search, you make a landing page, and you’re just capturing leads that way versus doing something that’s very content-driven and has some components to it that we have to custom build from scratch. And there’s a lot of analysis that went with that content that we created. In this case, what I’m comparing is what we did is we pulled a list of sites from Searchmetrics’s list of winners and losers, and we made landing pages that had messages to go for the winners and the losers, and this is specifically a list that they have of people who had the biggest negative and positive changes in visibility in organic search based on how they tracked things in their system.

So we just created a landing page for that, and then we also did this really in-depth study of the Inc. 500 where we took all 500 of the domains and did some analysis, put together predictive models around their propensity to be penalized by Google based on a variety of metrics that are available, and then we did this entire study. We did very in-depth prospecting of people at all those companies and really put together this concerted effort to reach very specific people through our marketing effort. We just wanted to see what yields the best results, so is it the thing that took a day to do or the thing that took a month to do just to see what impact it has on that target audience to get an indication of which of those is gonna be more valuable like is it even worth doing all the analysis that we did?

Dan: That’s such an interesting and important question, low versus high effort, and it’s something that I know that we talk about constantly. Often there’s a perception that more effort is gonna yield more results. You work hard, and it’ll pay off in the results, but often what it comes down to is working smarter instead of harder, and I think actually setting that up as an experiment is a pretty worthwhile thing.

Mike: It’s interesting because we do so much testing within the guess and check, but we don’t test our guess and check, if that makes sense.

Dan: Right.

Mike: Like rather than having two strategies and thinking like, “Okay, well, let’s try this one and then see what the other one does,” there isn’t as much of that. There’s more like, “Okay, well, I’m just gonna do my landing page, and I have my offer and my ad copy and leave it at that and just test within that.” Not whether different, more valuable – or not necessarily valuable – more high-effort approach might be worth testing against the low-effort approach.

Dan: How has this changed the way you guys approach things in your team?

Mike: I think generally speaking we’re always trying to think about how can we strategically do things differently. I think it’s largely because that’s just the way I am — like I like to question a lot of the status quo. I like to see if things can’t be done the other way, and maybe I’m just a stubborn person or what have you, but if people tell me this is the best practice, I’m like, “Well, why don’t we try the opposite of that and see what happens?” I think everything is based on who you are, how you did things, what have you, but more often than not I see that taking the other approach yields something different. It may not necessarily be better results, but whatever it is, I end up learning something from it, and then we apply it to other things.

Dan: Yeah, that’s a good point: that we as marketers talk about experimenting with and testing our campaigns and our marketing, but we rarely take a step back and put our own processes under the same amount of scrutiny.

Mike: Yeah, absolutely, and I think that being that the agencies I’ve worked in the past have been so strategy-focused, it’s been very easy for me to take that high-level look, but also because my background is in development and computer science and stuff, it’s very easy for me to look at the minutia and be like okay, how do we then turn this into something, like how do we execute on it? To that point, that’s something that we’re really trying to get better at is how do we turn this great strategic focus into equally great execution focus as well.

Dan: Okay, so before I let you go, I wanna ask you about pop-ups. You mentioned them a little bit earlier, and as you said, it’s one of these things that everybody says they hate, but the data shows that conversion tools like exit overlays and welcome mats usually work. Do you think it’s time for marketers to stop worrying about this stuff, or do you see these tactics working right now, but is that bubble gonna burst eventually?

Mike: Yeah, I think it’s interesting. In my talk I was kinda making fun of Neil Patel because of – well, I wasn’t kind of. I was definitely making fun of Neil Patel.

Dan: No doubt about that.

Mike: Because of the number of pop-ups he uses. But the reality of it is that a guy like Neil Patel does not care what I think. That guy is very focused on the data, and the data is telling him that he can do that, and it works very well, and despite whoever’s gonna talk shit about him – I don’t know if I can say that, but I guess I just did.

Dan: You did.

Mike: Whoever’s gonna talk about him in a negative way, he’s still gonna focus on the things that make him money, and I think the way that he works is kind of an indication of what really works rather than what any other marketers like, “Oh, well, I feel like that’s not good for your brand,” like whether it’s me, whether it’s whoever, so I think that we just have to continue to have a culture of testing things and see what works for our audiences. Generally speaking it’s to be expected that pop-ups, welcome mats and such are going to yield great results. It’s just what do you wanna do as a brand? What does your audience tell you you should focus on? And then use that as your true north rather than, “Oh, I feel like pop-ups are bad.”

Dan: Yeah, that’s a good point. Neil knows his brand, and he knows his audience, and that might work for them. He might not be speaking to the same audience that you are or that you were speaking to at the Call to Action Conference, but he’s made that decision, and it works.

Mike: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely.

Dan: Yeah, and I think on the other hand just because it works for Neil Patel and on his properties doesn’t necessarily mean it’s gonna work for other marketers.

Mike: Right, and I think, again, generally speaking best practices always need to be questioned. Again, I think they need to be ran through the lens of your audience to determine what’s gonna work for you, but it’s very difficult for me, and it should be for anyone, to really just take these “best practices” at face value. You need to always be testing. I guess that’s my sound bite.

Dan: All right, well, let’s end with that one. It’s a good one. Thanks so much, Mike, for taking the time to chat. This was great.

Mike: Yeah, thanks for having me.


Continued here:  

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