CTA Conference 2016 Review – The Best Of The Best In Digital Marketing

Image credit: Georgia Straight

The Unbounce CTA Conference was a 3-day whirlwind and it’s taken a few weeks for us to settle down, get our thoughts together and discuss what our major takeaways were.

First of all—WOW! Talk about the cream of the digital marketing crop all under one roof! This conference was jam-packed with one engaging and informative speaker after another.

There were frequent breaks and great snack offerings—Lara Bars and fruit snacks galore all day (yum), food trucks and to top it off, we walked away with some cool swag as well!

Knowledge Grows from Sharing

Building on the momentum of the conference, we are writing this article in the spirit of ‘marketers share tips and tricks with each other and then use those tips and tricks to beat each other’.

So without further delay, here are 3 things we are dying to share as we reminisce on the 2 days invested in dancing with the celebrities of the marketing industry:

Machine Learning is creating algorithms that are smarter than the collective intelligence of over a thousand marketers.

Machine learning refers to writing software which can learn from past experience.

Marketers currently invest considerable time in creating and optimizing site pages and landing pages, looking at elements such as content quality, design, colours, and user experience.

A/B testing allows marketers to discover best practices for conversion rate optimization. Data scientists are now using the massive amounts of data collected through years of research to create highly sophisticated algorithms which will be capable of analyzing pages and identifying gaps and opportunities to optimize for conversions.

In the age of technology, being human is the secret sauce to the best strategies.

With Machine Learning becoming more developed and widely used, we must remember that machines can’t think on their own and they can’t be creative. So, while we strive to make data driven decisions, it is important to remember who your marketing is directed to.

The real person you are trying to converse with does not like bots or even marketers. He/She prefers having real conversations with real people. So maybe it is time to ditch the email templates and start sending emails like the ones you receive from your mother – plain text.

Perhaps it is also time to go beyond the data and actually meet people who fit the buyer personas you create.

A goal without a plan is just a wish and an opinion unassisted by data is just an opinion.

‘Don’t bring an opinion to a data fight’, exclaimed Andy Crestodina from the stage. Remember this every time you are pitching ideas to your team or your manager or even bickering about any topic with your colleagues.

Data has become fundamental to all decisions – from strategy to design.

Phew, with that now out of my system, let us move on.

Unbounce did a great job in organizing this event. I was impressed by their attention to detail and especially impressed when they said they had an official note taker assigned. This meant that the audience could keep their laptops and notebooks at bay and really pay attention to the speakers.

Digital Marketing Nuggets

However, there are some statements and quotes we felt compelled to write down during the presentations and here they are:

1. ‘What is the best place to hide a dead body? – The second page of Google’ – Andy Crestodina | Applied Analytics: Insights & Actions from 13 Reports | @crestodina

2. ‘Our goal is not to shove content into Inboxes; it is to provide the right content to the right people’ – Anum Hussain | Re-thinking Blog Subscribers: The Playbook Nobody Told You About | @anum | anumhussain.com

3. ‘Don’t spam people and don’t waste their time by sending emails that don’t say anything’ – Susan Su | Open Rate: 100% | @susanfsu

4. ‘If you have a bad product and you invest in marketing, you will just be pissing off more people faster’ – Morgan Brown | Lessons Learned from Building a Fast-Growing Subscription Business | @morganb

5. ‘A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week’ – Morgan Brown | Lessons Learned from Building a Fast-Growing Subscription Business | @morganb

6. ‘2001 Space Odyssey: Nobody knows what the movie is about. It answers a question you never asked with an answer you don’t understand. This is what makes it brilliant and my presentation will be like that.’ – Andre Morys | The Growth Canvas – Stop Searching for Nuggets – Build a Goldmine | @morys | web-arts

There were so many more nuggets flying from the stage, but my hands could not possibly keep up while my brain and ears were engaged in learning. Besides, remember there was an official note-taker (can’t say this enough).

Finally, in the interest of all the savvy readers who have made it this far, I am including a table of the conference schedule with links to all the talks. It’s your lucky day, have at it –

MONDAY, June 20, 2016TUESDAY, June 21, 2016
Oli Gardner – The Conversion Equation

Co-Founder, Unbound

Rand Fishkin – The Measure of a Marketer’s Worth

Wizard of Moz, Moz

Andy Crestodina – Applied Analytics

Co-Founder, Orbit Media

Mackenzie Fogelson – Evolve or Die: How Authenticity Builds Durable Brands

CEO, Genuinely

Anum Hussain – Rethinking Blog Subscribers

Senior Growth Marketer, HubSpot

Brian Davidson – Syncing Facebook Ads with Mobile Landing Page Conversions

Partner, Matchnode

Erin Bury – 7 Key Marketing Lessons I’ve Learned Growing 20+ Brands

Managing Director, 88Creative

Mathew Sweezy – The New Psychology Behind Top Performing Campaigns

Principal of Marketing Insights, Salesforce

Kevan Lee – 10 Lead-Gen Strategies from the World’s Best Social Marketers

Content Crafter, Buffer

Kristen Craft – Video Analytics: What to Know About It

Director of Partnerships, Wistia

Susan Su – Open Rate: 100%

Partner, 500 Startups

Johnathan Dane – The 5 Best-Kept PPC Secrets

Founder, Klientboos

Morgan Brown – Lessons Learned from Building a Fast-Growing Subscription Business

COO, Inman News

Cara Harshman – The Homepage is Dead

Content Marketing Manager, Optimizely

Andre Morys – The Growth Canvas

CEO, Web Arts AG

Aaron Orendorff – 3 Counter-Intuitive Tactics for Successful and Brand-Defining Content

Content Strategist, iconiContent

Annie Cushing – Five Tips To Get Your Google Analytics Account Ready

Founder, Annielytics

Stefanie Grieser – Marketing Tips to Pack the House

International Marketing Manager, Unbounce

Hana Abaza – Myths about High Converting Content

VP Marketing, Uberflip

Amy Harrison – Is Your Copy Selling you Short

Founder, Harrisonamy Copywriting

Michael Aagaard – The Psychology Behind Terrible Conversion Experiences

Senior Conversion Optimizer, Unbounce

Closing Ceremony

With all the videos, slides and notes from the conference made publicly available, it is fair to question the need to pay for the ticket and physically attend a conference such as this.

During the after party (which was at the Telus Science World and reason enough to attend), we met Carl Schmidt, the founder of Unbounce.

When we commended him for organizing official note takers, he shared a gold nugget. He said he never liked making notes of what the speakers were saying or presented on the slides. Instead, he carries his notepad and tries to jot down three actionable ideas that can be implemented at work. These ideas are inspired by the presentations made by speakers.

Presentations are the nucleus of the conference but equally important are the people you meet and the ideas and inspiration that the entire ambiance creates. We highly recommend that you facilitate your marketing team members to attend at least one big conference a year.