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How Kula Partners Followed A Structured Conversion Optimization Process Using VWO

The need for a structured, process-driven approach to conversion optimization (CRO) cannot be stressed enough. A structured CRO program is essential to deliver consistent and repeatable improvement in conversion rate and user experience (UX). Only a few organizations and agencies have adopted this approach to optimizing conversions; even fewer have been able to master it.

Kula Partners is one such agency that has actively practiced and advocated a structured CRO program. This story aims to highlight the optimization process followed by Kula Partners and how VWO helped it achieve success at each step of the process.

Based out of Nova Scotia, Canada, Kula Partners is a certified partner with VWO, offering services such as conversion optimization, inbound marketing, and web development. While optimizing conversions for its clients, Jeff White, Principal at Kula Partners, discovered that following a rigorous optimization process is what leads to success.

Synopsis of Kula’s Way of Optimizing for Success

The optimization process at Kula begins with identifying optimization opportunities on a client’s website or landing pages. It is done by closely analyzing website data and user behavior, using a variety of tools. Next, it hypothesizes ways to capitalize on each optimization opportunity. Hypotheses are then prioritized based on a few factors such as potential of improvement and effort in implementation. The hypotheses undergo A/B tests for validation, per its priority list. The results of A/B tests are thoroughly examined, and the learning is documented in a common knowledge repository. This repository is used to generate more hypotheses to optimize the website further. The cycle continues.

As Jeff puts it, “Optimizing a client’s site for conversion always starts for us with listening. We begin by implementing VWO heatmaps, clickmaps, and visitor recordings to see how people are using a site. Combined with analytics from tools such as Google Analytics and HubSpot, we’ll look for the pages that have the biggest opportunities for conversion optimization based on total number of visits and current conversion rates. Once we have a good understanding of how people are using those pages, we’ll implement a series of tests to see how best to improve the conversion rate. Sometimes this takes the form of simple changes to the body copy, button position and format. In other cases, it may mean making much larger bets and designing a wholly different, alternative landing page.

After we’ve an opportunity to implement revisions on a client site, we’ll continue to monitor the results to see how site visitors interact and refine the interface to improve the user experience even further.”

Since 2014, Kula has been trusting VWO for its optimization strategy. It has been using new features as they come up to achieve better conversions for its client websites.

Step-by-Step Process-Oriented Approach to Conversion Optimization

Let’s talk about how Kula puts its well-defined process into practice.

cro-process1

Step1: Identifying Optimization Opportunities

The first step in optimizing a website for more conversions is to establish baselines. This means setting up key metrics or goals that clearly indicate visitor actions and conducting quantitative analysis around these goals. Visitor actions leading to completion of a final goal (such as Checkout in case of eCommerce) are tracked as funnels. The website conversion funnel is extremely effective in spotting leaks—pages from which most users drop off.

Kula uses robust tools such as Google Analytics and HubSpot to track key metrics and discover potential leaks. These tools also point to high-value pages on a website—the pages that attract the highest traffic and the pages that contribute to many conversions.

Jeff says, “We identify opportunities for testing through a number of ways. We establish website funnels in tools such as HubSpot, Google Analytics and MixPanel. We then monitor conversion rates across the funnel to see areas that may be ripe for improvement. “

Step 2: Analyzing Visitor Behavior

After identifying potential leaks, the next step is to analyze how visitors are interacting with these pages on the website. This calls for a qualitative analysis of how visitors behave on the website. Such analysis provides significant insights about why visitors are behaving in a certain way. For example, if a lot of visitors are abandoning sessions on a eCommerce home page, a heatmap or visitor recording can be used to find out what category of products they were looking for and what specific problems they faced while searching for the product. Knowing what deters users from completing a conversion step is an opportunity for optimization.

At Kula, the team takes help of VWO capabilities such as Heatmaps, Scrollmaps, Visitor Recordings, and Form Analysis to understand the usage habits of visitors. It also uses VWO On-page Surveys to directly ask visitors for feedback.

Jeff shares, “As stated above, we always start our tests by observing the present usage habits of site visitors through heatmaps, clickmaps, and visitor recordings. If it makes sense, we may also gather subjective data through exit surveys. Once we have found where users stumble, we formulate specific tests to try to improve conversion.

Here’s how Kula analyzed visitor behaviors for their clients, using VWO’s advanced capabilities:

Using Heatmaps to Improve Traffic Flow

Kula Partners was working on optimizing the Halifax International Airport Authority (HIAA) website by highlighting information for airport visitors at the forefront: arrivals and departures, parking information, and directions. Although the new website saw major traffic increase (more than 300%), the team continued to scout for more optimization opportunities.

A heatmap report of the HIAA home page revealed interesting insights—68% of all clicks on the home page were on the Departures tab and only 6% clicked back to the Arrivals tab.

screen-shot-2016-06-01-at-8-54-27-am-1024x650

Kula realized that this made perfect sense. Most of the traffic on the website home page would be coming to check when their flight is scheduled to depart. Far less people would look at the arrivals; they would do that only before receiving someone at the airport.

Based on this insight, Kula decided to make Departures as the default view on the home page. As a result, it saw a 20% drop in the number of visitors that clicked the other tab, which was Arrivals in this case.

Using Website Surveys Directly Provides Insights from Actual Visitors

This time, Kula was optimizing the website of Tirecraft—a company providing superior tires, wheels, accessories, and automotive services. The objective in this case was to increase the number of quotes users submit on the website.

To do that, it first tried to understand what prevented visitors from submitting a quote. It went ahead with a website survey and asked the website visitors, “What stopped you from submitting a quote request today?”

Visitors could choose their answers from the following options:

  • I prefer to purchase this product in person.
  • There was no pricing information available.
  • I need more information.
  • I can’t buy the product I want online.
  • Other.

The result of the survey highlighted the major pain points that users faced.

tirecraft-exit-surveys

An overwhelming number of visitors responded with the second option “There was no pricing information available.”

Using Visitor Recordings to Optimize User Experience

Jeff shared an example of how Kula is using visitor recordings to help its clients.

We recently completed a large UX analysis project with a series of visitor recordings for a luxury extended stay apartment company with a national presence in Canada. Through this process, we’ve been able to develop a series of over 100 recommendations for improvement of the user experience. Our plan is to begin a series of extensive innovative A/B tests, starting with their product pages and moving to other areas of the site from there.”

Step 3: Planning and Prioritizing Testing Hypotheses

The insights and observations collected from quantitative and qualitative analyses act as fuel for the optimization engine. Our next key task is to manage this library of insights and build hypotheses for testing based on data insights.

A typical hypothesis statement looks like: Based on the observation that visitors are abandoning cart because they can’t find security seals on the checkout page, I expect that adding security seals on the checkout page will address the trust issues for visitors not completing the purchase.

There is a hypothesis aimed at addressing each optimization opportunity. Just as a thorough website analysis brings up multiple optimization opportunities, the hypotheses are also numerous. At most instances, it is not possible to validate all these hypotheses through A/B tests simultaneously. At that point, the hypotheses are prioritized on factors, including the potential to deliver positive results and ease of implementation. Prioritizing these hypotheses helps us pinpoint which tests to run first and which ones to park for future.

Kula also follows a similar prioritization model. Jeff adds, “Although we don’t specifically follow any single prioritization framework, our process most closely aligns with the PIE framework. As an agency with considerable dev chops, we’re lucky in that we can implement nearly any level of test no matter how complex. The question at that point is whether or not there’s enough potential lift in conversion to make the adjustment worthwhile.

The prioritization is usually implemented with the help of project management tools.

We record and detail our hypotheses for client tests using our project management tool, JIRA. We also maintain detailed notes about how to conduct tests and implement them in VWO, using Confluence, so that all Kula team members can quickly reference the correct processes.” explains Jeff.

Step 4: Validating Hypotheses with Testing

After the hypotheses are created and prioritized, it is time to test them. Testing a hypothesis helps you validate your thought process, and a winner assures the percentage of gain you’ll achieve by executing the change on the website. Based on the complexity of the change to be implemented, you should choose the type of test to run. For instance, it makes more sense to experiment with multivariate tests on websites with heavy traffic than on pages with low traffic.

Jeff talks about his experience with testing while he was working with rest of the team on creating a new version of the website to match the new positioning.

“We rolled out a version of the new layout for our HubSpot landing pages four months before we began designing the full site. The result was pretty solid—on our most popular asset landing page, we saw a conversion lift of nearly 10%. This gave us the confidence to deploy the design more widely.

Here is a screenshot of the test variations with the old version on the left and the new one on the right:”

kula_innovative_ab_testing-1024x987

Step 5: Analyzing Test Results and Documenting the Learning

The last leg of the optimization journey focuses on analyzing how the test results tie to visitor behavior and on saving learning from this analysis for future optimization.

Jeff explains, “When running tests, we review the results from VWO but also look at how GA and HubSpot are reporting on the changes in conversion or traffic behavior. We definitely document our results from previous tests in order to inform our future tests. These are also used in our presentations to clients on why/how we should implement CRO for their businesses.

Key Takeaways

  1. A process-driven strategy for optimizing conversions is the key to long-term success.
  2. To run the optimization engine for long-term growth, businesses need to adopt a structured approach that generates insights and learning that to act as fuel for this engine.
  3. The optimization process begins with first putting the baselines in place and finding areas of potential leaks. Next comes an in-depth view of how the visitors are behaving, that is, qualitative research. This is followed by recording and prioritizing hypotheses, which are validated through structured A/B testing.

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Building Production-Ready CSS Grid Layouts Today

Industries often experience evolution less as slow and steady progress than as revolutionary shifts in modality that change best practices and methodologies seemingly overnight. This is most definitely true for front-end web development.

Building Production-Ready CSS Grid Layouts Today

Our industry thrives on constant, aggressive development, and new technologies emerge on a regular basis that change the way we do things in fundamental ways.

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Building Production-Ready CSS Grid Layouts Today

Hybrid Apps And React Native: A Time To Transition?

Accomplished musicians often talk about how, at certain moments in their careers, they had to unlearn old habits in order to progress. This process often causes them to regress in performance while they adjust to an ultimately better method.

Hybrid Apps And React Native: A Time To Transition?

Once the new approach is integrated, they are able to reach new heights that would not have been possible with their previous techniques.

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Hybrid Apps And React Native: A Time To Transition?

How To Increase Website Conversions With The Right Messaging

 Note: This is a guest article written by Josh Mendelsohn, VP of Marketing at Privy. Any and all opinions expressed in the post are Josh’s.

Let’s cut right to it. We all suck at conversion. According to E-marketer, 98% of online traffic leaves a site without filling out a form or completing a purchase. That means you have missed a chance to start building a relationship with potential customers. While it’s easy to shrug off a low on-site conversion rate, imagine if you owned a physical store and 100 people walked in… and 98 walked out without interacting with a represented or making a purchase. You’d be pretty sad, right? Yet, that’s what most of us are doing in our online stores and are not able to increase website conversions.

Why Do We Do This To Ourselves?

For starters, most organizations are thinking their product far more than they are thinking about conversion. If you’re a publisher, that might be the articles you are producing. If you’re an online store, it’s literally the products you are sourcing, merchandising, and selling. If you’re a non-profit, it’s the services you are providing to the world.

They are also likely thinking about how to drive site traffic. Whether that is through building a social media presence, paid search, radio, or even print ads.

And they may have even hired someone to think about the customer or member experience and how to keep those people engaged and generating word of mouth. But they often forget the middle, critical piece of the funnel, which is on-site conversion.

For the (much) smaller group of organizations who are actively trying to drive conversion, most fall into one of two camps. They either take a very passive approach because they don’t want to be too salesy. Or they take an overly aggressive approach with forms coming at a visitor from all angles, blocking a site’s core content.  But that’s not what good salespeople do. They take what they know about a prospect (in this case, a site visitor) and they use that to craft a message.

What We Know About Site Visitors

Through the magic of digital marketing, we know a lot about a site visitor without having to ask. While some people may find this creepy, for marketers it is an untapped goldmine of messaging opportunity.  For example, we can usually answer the question:

  • Where did they come from?
  • Is this their first visit?
  • What page are they on?
  • How many pages have they looked at?
  • What language do they speak?
  • What device are they on?
  • How much is in their cart?

What Do You Do With That Information?

While most organizations who have started thinking about conversion might have a simple opt-in form pop-up for visitors to their site, those who are focused on it can use the information we know to their advantage to create a more targeted experience for visitors to their site by crafting different messages based on who they are and what they have done. For the example below, I am going to imagine an E-Commerce company selling women’s clothing and I want to offer a 10% discount to new customers who sign up for my email list. While you probably wouldn’t want to hit someone with ALL of these messages, you can see how your core message might change based on what you know about a visitor.

Question What we know Messaging Strategy
Where did they come from? The visitor clicked on an Instagram ad featuring a specific blue swimsuit . Try featuring the product that they already expressed interest in within your message. “Looking for a new swimsuit? Get 10% off your first purchase by entering your email below.”
Is this their first visit? They have visited before but have never bought anything from you. Don’t treat them like a stranger! “Welcome back to my store! We’ve just launched a new product line. Sign up below to get 10% off your first purchase.”
What page are they on? They are on the “About” page of your site and not actually shopping. Try a “stay in touch” message over a discount. “Sign up to hear about new products and special offers.”
How many pages have they looked at?

AND

How much is in their cart?

They have looked at 7 different pages in your store without adding anything to their cart, which means they are browsing but are not yet sold. “Having trouble finding what you are looking for? Sign up and we’ll let you know when we launch new products and give you a 10% discount for your first purchase.”
What language do they speak? The visitor’s primary language on their browser is spanish. “¡Bienvenidos a mi tienda! Regístrese abajo para obtener un 10% de descuento en su primera compra.”
What device category are they on? The visitor is on a mobile device, which is a great cue to slim down your text. “Sign up today for 10% off your first purchase.”

How To Deliver The Message

There are two things that you need to think about when delivering the message to your site visitors: timing and format. Let’s look at the format first :

1- Targeted displays – There are three categories of display types that drive the most on-site conversions.

– Popups: Popups, also known as lightboxes, typically display in the center of the website, or sometimes as “fly outs” in the corner.

– Bars: A full width bar that typically sits either on top of your site, or at the bottom.

– Banners: A more subtle interaction that sits at the top or bottom of a site, but starts in a “hidden” state until triggered, then rolls into sight at the desired time.

Pop-Ups for Increasing Website Conversions
Pop-Up for Targeted Display


2-
Chat
More and more often, successful online stores are investing in automated and live chat to help reduce the anxiety that consumers feel before making a purchase from a new retailer. In fact, the availability of a “live” person on your site accomplishes two important goals:

– It allows people to ask any questions ahead of completing a purchase. Especially for larger ticket items, this inspires confidence that they are making the right decision

– It tells them that if something goes wrong with an order, there is a real person they can reach out to for help. The combination of those two factors makes shoppers more likely to hit the buy button.

Chat for Increasing Website Conversions
Engaging Visitors through Chat

3- Video
The third way of delivering the message that can have a huge impact on conversion is the use of video. Unlike static images and text, video helps bring your products to life and gives you the chance to both explain why someone should buy and put the product in a real life context. Or in some cases, lets you tell a broader story of how the product came to be in the first place.  Here’s an example of one I love (and am desperate to own.)

Product Videos for Increasing Website Conversions
Product Videos for Capturing Visitor Attention

Triggering Your Messages

The second consideration is deciding when to trigger each of your messages. There are four primary ways you can trigger a campaign to your desired audience.

  • Timer: The time trigger simply enables you to determine when to display your campaign, based on how long a visitor has been on your site. It could show immediately when a visitor lands, 10 seconds later, etc.
  • Exit intent: This trigger is growing in popularity. Exit intent tracks your visitors mouse movement, and if the visitor appears to be leaving or “exiting” your site, you can use that as a trigger for your campaign.
  • Scroll percentage: Show your campaign once a visitor has scrolled down your page a certain percentage.
  • Tabs: Tabs, or other visual calls to action can be customized to fit in with your site layout, and when clicked, trigger your campaign to display.

Which Converts Best?

Ultimately any combination of targeted messaging delivered through displays, videos, and chats will improve your conversion rate. We’ve looked at thousands of campaigns and found that each of the display types and triggers can be effective.  Because investing in video can take significant resources (time and money), I recommend starting with display and chat to deliver the right message at the right time. Once you have videos on hand, you can embed them on your product pages to level up your product content and add them into your displays to get them in front of shoppers as they navigate your site.

In terms of display types, banners are actually the highest converting format largely because they are less subtle than a simple “bar” but less frustrating to visitors than pop-ups that interrupt the browsing experience before a visitor has had a chance to consumer any of your content. In addition, we find that triggering a campaign in less than thirty seconds from the time a visitor lands on your site (or a specific page) is most effective in driving conversion.

Setting that data aside for a second, recent trends are showing that among the most impactful things you can do if you operate an online store is actually combining a pop-up with an exit intent trigger that serves as a “cart saver.” Simply put, if someone is visiting your store and attempts to leave by closing the browser tab or clicking the back button, you can show a message with a special offer that gets them to sign up and/or keep shopping while giving you permission to market to them in the future.

Exit Intent Pop-Ups to Increase Website Conversions
Exit Intent Pop-Ups

Walk. Jog. Run.

So, where do you get started? You don’t need to craft custom messages for every audience and every page on your site right out of the gate. We suggest thinking about one or two of your most common audiences and creating targeted offers and messages just for them that you can track, test, and adapt before rolling out a full on-site conversion program.

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How To Transform Your eCommerce Business With 11 Simple Tips

transform your ecommerce business

Online store owners swim in a sea of fierce competition dominated by Amazon and Best Buy, among others. You can’t always be number one. But with a strong desire and the right tools, you can become a leader in your niche. One of the best ways to get to the top is with a powerful content marketing strategy that blows the opposition out of the water. So, what are the secrets of creating and implementing an unsurpassed content marketing strategy that delivers the results you’re looking for? That’s what I’m about to reveal. Why Should You Prioritize Content Marketing Above…

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How To Transform Your eCommerce Business With 11 Simple Tips

The Crazy Egg Guide to Reddit Content Marketing

Reddit Content Marketing Guide

Possibly the largest group of self-contained communities on the Internet, it can be seen as a microcosm of the Internet in itself. It has its own lingo, its own inside jokes, its own history. Its special class of geeky, socially inept, smug, arrogant, yet revered users are called “neckbeards”, while everyone else are just called “Redditors”. It’s possibly the Internet’s greatest spawning ground of memes — only the dirtier, more underground imageboard “4chan” has as much influence in the subculture-sphere. It is, in fact, one of the most popular and heavily trafficked (not to mention plain old fun) websites in…

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How to Create, Track and Rank CRO Hypotheses So You Know What to Test

CRO hypothesis ranking

CRO makes big promises. But the way people get to those 300% lifts in conversions is by being organized. Otherwise, you find yourself in the position that a lot of marketers do: you do a test, build on the result, wait a while, do another test, wait a while… meanwhile, the big jumps in conversions, leads and revenue never really seem to manifest. That’s because only a structured approach can get you in position to make the best use of your testing time and budget. This isn’t something you want to be doing by the seat of your pants. In…

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How to Use Smarter Content to Build Laser-Focused Lists of Qualified Prospects

Laser Focus Content Marketing

Many companies invest a lot of time and money in content marketing. But very few are ever really successful with it. That’s because a lot of companies approach to content marketing as some sort of hands-off sorcery. They write blog post after blog post and then sit around and wait for something to happen (hint: nothing will happen). Instead, you should think of content as a type of currency – a strategic asset that you can use within a framework to drive business results. This requires a plan and a strategy for how you will use content and then which…

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"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 :)

Taken from:

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

How to Get Links For (Almost) Free: SEO Hacks For Tight Budgets

seo hacks

SEO can be expensive, but there are plenty of promotional opportunities that are free and cost-effective if you focus on value exchange and relationships. (Never invest in low-quality spam though — make sure any link building is strategic and carefully supervised). Warnings aside, there are ways to hack around tight budgets and achieve more for less with your link building. You don’t always have to invest in expensive advertising and publishing fees to gain good SEO traction. Here are some ways to get links, mentions, and shares without spending too much money (or time). Most of these tactics will help…

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How to Get Links For (Almost) Free: SEO Hacks For Tight Budgets