It was Maven Collective Marketing’s first year at Unbounce’s Call-to-Action (CTA) conference and they did not disappoint. Beyond the great content that was presented at the 2016 CTA Conference, every attendee was celebrated, swooned and appreciated.
While the primary reason we attended the conference was to gain new insights and knowledge, we can honestly say that the CTA Conference is the best customer experience we’ve had at a marketing conference ever.
But here is what you, our esteemed reader, really want to know…what are the actionable takeaways from this conference? To alleviate your FOMO anxiety, here are the 5 takeaways we have put in action from the outstanding content presented at the CTA Conference:
1. Test Your Assumptions
Testing was a common theme amongst many speakers at the conference. And while most marketers know this is best practice, you likely aren’t doing it enough. Business owners and marketers make many day-to-day decisions based on our assumptions and gut instincts, through the faulty lens of our own prospectives. The fallacy here is that these perspectives likely don’t accurately align with our buyers’ perspectives.
This means you must test! Test your assumptions on every landing page, call-to-action button, headline, form length…every decision you haven’t tested. Oli Gardner (@OliGardner), co-founder of Unbounce, talked about using Usability Hub to test new headline ideas and content ideas to get feedback in 5-minutes in order to provide quick evidence to make important changes that positively impact conversion/lead generation rates.
Morgan Brown (@MorganB) of Inman talked about how his team uses the old school scientific method, literally the 7 steps to testing hypotheses. Before you undertake any new marketing initiative use this method:
- Ask a Question
- Do Background Research
- Construct a Hypothesis
- Test your Hypothesis with an Experiment
- Analyze Your Experiment Data
- Draw a Conclusion Based on the Data
- Implement Your Conclusion or Start with a New Question
We took this best practice home to test our own theories and questions on what works for each client and each project we work on. What works for one client doesn’t necessarily work the same for another client, even in the same industry and with the same target audience.
Morgan also brought up a great point about testing your assumptions using the example of how he has always hated pop-up calls-to-action on websites he visited. He assumed everyone did, especially those who visited the Inman website. His team challenged him to test that assumption and he has been driving conversions with full-page pop-up calls-to-action ever since.
It makes you wonder how we are limiting our potential audience reach just by constraining ourselves with our own assumptions. Again, test everything, even the things you think will never work for your business.
2. Let Data Be Your Guide
At Maven Collective Marketing, we have always been creatives driven by data. We have always placed greater weight and importance on statistical results than our past experience. And honestly, it has always been more reliable in the long run. Years of experience will likely lead you in the right direction, but data will drive the best results.
Even with this mind, we learned more ways we could be leveraging data from data expert, Andy Crestodina (@Crestodina), co-founder of Orbit Media. The single most valuable piece of information we took away from Andy’s presentation was to “Put Billboards on Highways”.
How do you know where your highways are on your website? Using Google Analytics there are a number of ways you can find your highways. First, you can look at your top paths into your website, discovering the pages beyond your homepage that drive the most traffic. Look into your > Behavior Flow report in Google Analytics to view your highest traffic webpages as well as which pages users are most frequently exiting your website. Place your “billboards” (relevant calls-to-action or offers) on these high traffic webpages and be sure you are providing ample conversion opportunities on the exit pages of your website.
Second, you can reverse engineer your > Goal Paths to see what pages are leading to the greatest number of conversions for you. Then dissect the best practices that are driving the most conversions from those pages to apply to other pages on your website in order to drive conversions from more pages. Consider the following when you are dissecting those top performing conversion paths and pages:
- Is it the offer or call-to-action (CTA)?
- Is it the placement of the CTA on the pages?
- Is it the contextual relevance of the CTA to the page?
- Is it the design of the CTA (color scheme, layout, graphics)?
Which Highways Are You Leaving Untapped?
Request a Lead Generation Website Audit to learn where and how to convert more prospects on your website to drive more business with call-to-action analyses, conversion path dissections/reformulations, call-to-action pairing and much more!
3. Leverage Psychology Heuristics
There is a flutter of information out in the market today about neuromarketing and the neuroscience behind marketing today, including fantastic books we recommend like: Brainfluence, Buyology, Webs of Influence and Unconscious Branding, just to name a few. However, as you read these books you often think to yourself how can I use this information in practice.
Andre Morys (@Morys), founder of Web Arts, delivered the “goldmine” on leveraging these mindmaps through execution level ideas of appealing to heuristics. Here are a few that we’ve put in play:
1. Reaffirm Decisions with instant gratification (e.g. “Congratulations, you’ve taken the first step to measurably improve your marketing results.”)
2. Drive Curiosity with Mystery and Questions (e.g. “Why aren’t your webpages converting? Request our Conversion Audit to find out today!)
3. Introduce Scarcity & Exclusivity with Time Limited Offers (e.g. “Only 2 More Digital Performance Website Audits Available for July – Schedule Your Audit Now!)
There are hundreds of ways to use the heuristics of affirmation, curiosity and scarcity throughout your website. With a little bit of research, here are few more ideas to leverage heuristics in your marketing by reviewing the Wikipedia article on “Cognitive Bias“, which reveals a wealth of bias mechanics to use:
- Spacing Effect
- Fading Affect Bias
- Generation Effect
- Primacy Effect & Recency Effect
- Von Reststorff Effect
These are only 5 of +30 memory biases that you can leverage and test in your marketing practices. Put yourself in the mindset of your target personas to leverage these to drive action.
4. Fundamentals of SEO Still Apply
Well-known SEO expert Rand Fishkin (@RandFish) of Moz did not deliver an earth shattering talk at the CTA conference, but did deliver a reaffirming message that the fundamentals of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) still matter (perhaps this is a slight confirmation bias of ours at play here).
While our long-standing SEO Maven at Maven Collective Marketing can attest to these practices working year-over-year for our clients, it is always nice to have resourceful organizations, like Moz, test and retest these theories to provide with uncontestable evidence on a larger scale that these principles still apply:
1. Your Internal Linking Structure Is Still Critically Important – these are the links you control amongst your own webpages. Use this to your greatest advantage.
2. Target Long-Tail Keywords Are Often Overlooked – everyone wants to rank for the highest traffic search terms in their industry (e.g. “business software”, “accounting software”, etc.). This is hard to do for small-to-medium sized businesses new to the industry and new to online marketing. You have a greater chance of ranking for the longer tail keywords (e.g. “accounting software for hardware distributors”) with lower traffic and lower competition no matter what size of business you are. Not to mention, these long-tail keywords often need to more qualified searches than the broader based keywords.
3. Convert Brand Mentions into Equity-Passing Links – using a brand mention tool (e.g. Mention.net, Fresh Web Explorer) to find all those instances your brand was mentioned, but not linked to, and simply ask for the link to a contextually relevant page on your website (e.g. “Maven Collective Marketing delivers both strategy and practical execution level recommendations in their Lead Generation Website Audit” – ask for link to https://mavencollectivemarketing.com/b2b-marketing-services/b2b-website-audit/). Don’t forget to provide keyword rich anchor text you’d like to accompany that link.
These longstanding SEO and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) best practices that you should already have been place, but it is a great reminder to implement, audit, review and sustain these principles everyday.
5. Authenticity Over Mechanics
The theme of authenticity and personalization rang throughout the CTA conference, but were really driven home in a few presentations that provided key takeaways to put in place immediately:
- 1.CLEARLY DEFINE YOUR PURPOSE – Mackenize Fogelson (@MacFogelson), founder of Genuinely, spoke passionately about defining your Purpose as a business owner to drive focus, strategy and growth for your business. Your purpose lies between your “Brands Best Self” and the “Cultural Tension” it interacts with and desires to solve – this in essence is your “Big Ideal” = Your True Purpose. Defining your purpose for your business is critical and will drive authentic marketing.
- 2.OVERTLY PERSONALIZE – Cara Harshman (@CaraHarshman), from Optimizely, took personalization to new level with her team at Optimizely by customizing their homepage for +26 different personas/users. It was an enormous undertaking that not many teams have the resources to accomplish, but the takeaway is that personalization for your prospects drives curiosity and ultimately action. How can you further personalize for the industries, demographics and geographic locations you serve in your marketing?
- 3.PLAIN TEXT OVER HTML IS AUTHENTIC – Mathew Sweezey (@MSweezey) of Salesforce, threw the book at HTML email marketing to say it has no place in authentic messaging. Mathew argues the only authentic messaging, that can even be delivered via automation, comes through rich text/plain text emails from person-to-person, delivering value with each interaction. We heard a number of marketing practitioners release a collective sigh of relief not to have to toy around with finicky HTML email code any longer. Woohoo!
Take Action from the CTA Conference
Overall, the CTA Conference delivered in relevant valuable content and was a heck of a good time. Those Unbouncers know how to party! The only critique we would have for next year is to have every presentation relevant to driving calls-to-action/conversions, after all the name of the conference is the Call-to-Action Conference. Just a simple, gentle nudge to the conference organizers. Thank you and we love you!
In any case, my friend, you can see there is much that can be immediately implemented from the brief 2-day conference we attended. We’d love to hear from you if you also attended the conference, what were your key takeaways? If you didn’t attend the conference, what ideas did our top 5 takeaways inspire you to take?
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