The Traffic & Conversion Summit held in San Diego, California last February 26 to 28, 2018 was very large marketing conference that was attended by over 6,000 people. The event was packed with information and content with a theme that centered around new traffic channels, new conversion breakthroughs, new selling models, and ultra-current breakout sessions on topics such as Facebook Messenger, Facebook video, Live video, email marketing, web blogging, content marketing, podcast strategies, and more. Tom and Tracy share their takeaways and top hacks and tips to attract traffic and increase conversion rates.
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Traffic & Conversion Conference 2018 Recap
We are bringing you slightly schizophrenic, all-over-there notes that I have from Traffic & Conversion. It felt like being constantly distracted by a squirrel. It was like, “That’s cool. I want to go that one.”
In one of the keynotes that I attended that you didn’t, this major person who has high connections at Facebook gives this keynote and something happened to her onstage and she went, “Squirrel.” She actually said squirrel because somehow she got distracted. We’ve got to try to paint a mental picture for those of you that have never been to Traffic & Conversion. I happen to know a few of our listeners were there because we saw them there and that was a lot of fun. This is the preeminent, biggest and best trade show, conference for anybody in the digital marketing space. It’s also overwhelmingly crazy so it’s not for everyone. It is gigantic and distracting, so if you’re all over there with what you’re doing, it may not help you. It may feed the addiction.
There were over 6,000 people there at this venue, which was at the Marriott on the harbor in San Diego which is a big venue and can handle 6,000 people but barely. It was really at its capacity. It felt like the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in terms of the density and volume of people in the space, watching seminars and attending things, although that is a much bigger convention but in terms of the density, that’s what it felt like. They ran out of space in many of the breakout sessions and they shut the room. I missed a talk I wanted to because I was a couple of minutes late walking up. That’s legit because the fire marshal in San Diego was there and rooms have capacities and they planned for it. There were always at least four or five different seminars, lectures, keynotes going on at one time, so you had to pick and choose. I think there were 107 sessions and the only amount you could have ever possibly gone to was about 25 or six of them. We hardly saw each other for three days because we’re each going to different ones trying to absorb as much information as we could.
You women out there will empathize with this. I very quickly switched to my flip-flops after the first hour because I realized how far everything was and you were walking from one side to the other to back again and that was too much. They have two towers there at the Marriott. It was all over the place. It was amazing and there were some great talks. We’ve been doing this a while in podcasting, blogging, authority site building if you want to talk about it from the website side. We’ve been doing this for almost four years and I’ve been blogging before that. I had a previous blog, the old school blog. I mean it’s not being aware of what’s going on in the industry or what was going on or the power of it or how to passive income podcast or how to passive income blog and doing all those things was certainly something I was up on all throughout that time period and are right now. One of the things that I found was that it was a little bit old. The information they’re giving presentations on is maybe about a year old in terms of the actual how it was working or what was converting, but that’s good because it means that they have case studies. They’ve proven it. It’s not just this new trendy idea of what’s going on. It’s not cutting edge which is good. It means it’s working, and so that’s what was good.
I expected it to be more of these edgy digital marketers who are out there like day traders, and some of it is that. There was definitely some element of that. There were a few lectures that are definitely talking about tips and tricks and hacks which they even admit aren’t going to work long term. You had maybe nine to twelve-month window of using some of those tips and tricks, and then they weren’t going to be that advantageous anymore. Even when it came to certain types of Facebook marketing. There’s a lot to be debated in all this but certain types of Facebook marketing involving Facebook Messenger and that was one of the big things you heard over and over again, “Facebook Messenger, Facebook Messenger. There were a lot of good seminars that walked you through the process, showed you specifically and tactically the steps to create a sales funnel that’s almost entirely within Facebook Messenger, and this is a big trend. The advertising cost in order to reach those people is incredibly cheap on Facebook. That’s another thing they were saying that it is not going to be the case twelve months from now.
They had a nice balance of the things that are working, the good principles of email marketing, of web blogging or of whatever that might be, or podcasting. I found a couple that I did go to, especially the e-commerce ones that I went to, about Amazon selling and other things were very out of date though. The principles of how it works were there but the metrics and the how much business you can do and where it’s going we’re out of date. In some respects, I wanted to jump up and go “No, don’t do it.” It’s a little disingenuous. That’s where you start to risk it and wonder when you’re in the ones where the algorithm is shifted you have someone up there teaching you, because they can’t do any more. That’s the ones that I worry about and there wasn’t a whole ton of those; there were a few though, and more on the e‑commerce side than anything else.
I sat in on one session that was about creating content for your website, but it was definitely all about old school blogging, and there wasn’t much for me to learn there. It was more of 101 if you were a writer who is wanting to create more content. There were a couple of things like that. Those were the ones where I didn’t stay for the whole thing and I stepped out, and then I went to see some of the exhibitors, checked out some of the things going on there, or just generally got involved in business networking. To me this Traffic & Conversion is an incredible show. There is information overload if you partook of everything that you could but there was valuable information there. I got enough valuable information in the first day that more than justified the cost of the ticket, and it’s not a cheap ticket. It was pricey but it was worth it in terms of the amount of content and the amount of exposure to things in one short period of time that you could do. You take a whole lot of courses and listen to a whole lot of podcasts and blogs and not be able to filter through as quickly as you could in that right space.
There were a couple of things that I found that were the most fascinating. One is that they haven’t caught up to the model of what we’re doing ourselves in terms of smoothing out and making content generation easier. They’re still following like “We are SEO guy,” or “We’re a podcast guy.” They stay in their silos a little bit and they aren’t looking at it from a broader perspective of how to do all of it faster and more smoothly. That’s one of the things that we’ve brought to our process and we’re sharing with you on here as ways in which to make it much more in your business instead of the business about doing that particular marketing technique. Traffic & Conversion confirmed we are absolutely on the right track and still on the leading edge of content creation to market and grow your business. That’s not a trick or a hack. It’s not gaming the system. It’s fundamental, it’s valuable, and it continues to pay off, but we did get to experience and learn a lot of other things to make what we’re doing even better which was fun.[Tweet “It’s not just this new trendy idea of what’s going on. It’s not cutting edge which is good.”]
Some of the things that it confirmed for me were that the sweet spot of content generation is 26 pieces a month which we’ve known that is around 25 or 26 pieces a month. Those are all types of different content. They don’t all have to be podcasts, they don’t all have to be long-tail blog posts. They don’t all have to be that, but if you can generate 26 different touch points essentially with your audience in different ways, that’s the sweet spot of content generation. Some should be visual, some should be video, some should be podcast, some should be blog posts. When you split that up and you look at that, that’s more than one a day. You’ve got to be prolific about this and committed to it. That is when heavy digital marketing and digital marketing is your business, like if you’re an agency. The majority of attendees were like different agencies that do digital marketing in general and do it for clients or whatever.
That style of it is like when you’re not that and you’re trying to operate and run a real business underneath that and you have a different business model that is what makes you money and not the content itself, this is a hard thing to achieve. That’s how we approached it. When we looked at it and said, “We see that this is the magic number and I’m competing against these digital marketing people who are doing this at other businesses and who are bigger brands who have teams who do this for them, who pay companies to do this, how am I supposed to compete against that when I don’t have time to do 26 pieces of content in a month?” That’s where we looked at it and we said, “This is not working for us. Let’s find another model and streamline the process,” which became podcasting your way to blogs. Brandcasting, which became Brandcasters. This validated that for me. The other thing that it validated is that absolutely what we are doing with the long-tail blog post, with blog posting properly from your podcast, from the voice, it’s the voice that’s working, it’s the length that’s working. It’s the natural SEO and not crammed SEO that’s working. So many of the digital marketing groups and the content generation groups have been dropping like flies. All of their content generation companies that do blog posts in Romania or 400 and 600 word posts for $5. They’re just dropping them because they don’t work. It’s a waste of money. It’s not getting what they’re trying to do.
The other number that I thought was interesting is that there was this moving 30% to 32%. This was this number which makes me question it, but it was saying the email marketing guy said 30% to 32% of your business should come from email. The Facebook guy says 30% to 32% should come from your Facebook. The Pinterest woman said 30% to 32% of your traffic. That’s where I question it, it’s all in your silo? We should approach it differently. This is what I was saying, 30% to 32% of whatever you are most comfortable in, whatever you are your core self in, whatever resonates with you and matches with your audience, if you’re not doing a third of your conversion from that piece, you’re spending too much time on it.
That’s what I took away from it rather than this number that, “You should have 32%.” I hate email. It doesn’t work in today’s world. I can see how writing the right email and in certain industries it could work, but it’s not for me. For me to get mine working up to 30% would be crazy like I would have to put so much energy, effort, and money into it to get a team to build it and do it. It doesn’t make sense, but when I can do it here in podcasting and easily convert, I know I’m in my sweet spot. We convert about 37% in our podcasting. I know I’m in the right place for me and we also do around 30%. It varies but we can do even higher from Google traffic, so we also have a high conversion over there because we’re comfortable in blogs. The majority of our traffic is coming in there and a more majority of our conversion. I feel comfortable in those two places that I’m up on it, I’m on the edge, I’m doing what’s right there and this validated that for me. What do I do with that other third? This is where I want to have some experimental things going on and where going to Traffic & Conversion has given me some ideas about what we might experiment with. We have a great graphics team, we should be experimenting more on the graphical side of things, doing more infographics and more Pinterest. Pinterest and Instagram were shown at the Traffic & Conversion to be incredibly highly used and highly beneficial, meaning that there seems to be a great return on investment for creating content on those platforms. If your audience would tend to frequent those platforms, you can have some very effective marketing and I agree even from podcasting. We have a few new clients that are using Pinterest in a bigger way, and so that’s a trend.
We’re going to bring you some new information about Pinterest and what’s going on there and how it works. We’ll bring you some experts about that in a future episode. That’s definitely one of the areas. Of course, Facebook Live is another area which we do, we just don’t do enough of it and that’s an expansion that we know and we have recognized internally that we have to make an effort for. When you go to approach something, it’s good to get the techniques, learn how you should do it, what you should do. We have an upcoming expert who’s going to talk about Facebook Live in an episode within the next couple of weeks. We’re going to be bringing you those people we’ve learned from or we’ve modeled after.
The issue is how do you fit it into your schedule? How do you make something new a part of your marketing and smooth part of how you’re working on an everyday basis? That’s what hasn’t been smooth for us. I got pinged six times from Alexandra saying “You need to go live. You’re at the show, go live.” It took us until the third day to take another break and go live. It’s not a part of your core thinking. It’s not a part of your habit and the way that you process, it doesn’t work so well now. Scott Carson who was there with us is amazing and he’s constantly on Facebook Live, Facebook Live-ing the events and I see him in the corner over the noise doing his own little notes to his Note Closer’s and I love it, but it’s a part of who he is and he’s better at it. We have to make that concerted effort to insert it into our process because it is the future.
Video content was reinforced. Video content on Facebook is what you need to do if you’re going to get any kind of organic reach there on Facebook. It is what a lot of digital marketers are focused on and I went through a couple of these very informative, technically detailed in terms of showing you tactics and how to do something. They let you download the slides as long as you attended where you would be taught, “Alright. If you’re going to market on Facebook properly, you’re going to create a series of nine videos.” Each series is of three, and they’re all 30 seconds to 90 seconds long, not very long videos, and they’re for different purposes. You’re going to split test them and you see what trends resonate. It’s this whole process of these digital marketing agencies go through that I’m thinking “I definitely can’t do that myself if I’m going to get it. I’d have to make that my full time job if I’m going to figure out how to do that.”
It’s great to learn about it and understand some things about it and appreciate the value of it, but for us to execute ourselves wasn’t practical. It does reinforce, like you were saying Tracy, we got to go on Facebook Live more especially when we’re at events like that because that is going to get a lot of organic push or bigger reach. A shout out to our previous episode, our guest Dustin Mathews, if you have gone to the Feed Your Brand Facebook page at all and see the live stream we did on day three of Traffic & Conversion, you’ll see that Dustin videobombed us. He came in toward the end of the video. It was the equivalent of a photo bomb on a live stream video. That’s the other thing that was fun about it. If you’re in business networking circles at all and you attended this show, there were people that you knew who were there and that was fun too.
Let’s end this episode with the top five hack tips, the stuff that’s a little smaller and easier to do, that you heard while you were there, and I will do my top five. Hack kind of tips, something that’s simple and easy to execute that might increase traffic or conversion.[Tweet “Create as much content as you can possibly justify that was reinforced over and over again.”]
Definitely create as much content as you can possibly justify that was reinforced over and over again. You’ve got to be a content creator or at least have people creating content on your behalf. It’s not a question of “Should I?” It’s “You have to,” and figure out a way to do it, so pick your poison as to whatever is the easiest way to do it.
You should separate content and commerce sites. You should break them up separately. The example was a large site like L’Oreal which can inarguably sell tons of beauty products because they have an audience for it. Their e-commerce is completely separated from their blog, video and photo which is called Beauty.com which is a great URL. They keep them separated. You know that L’Oreal runs it and sponsors it while you’re there, but the sites are totally separated. Separating content and commerce, I thought that was a great tip.
I am going to go into the Facebook Messenger world for this one. There is a lot you can do yourself or if you have a good assistant, especially one who’s a millennial or very techie on your team. There are systems that appear to be very easy to use, much less complicated than Infusionsoft, where you can create an auto response sales funnel that’s tailored to be more of a conversational marketing effort within Facebook Messenger. That is all the rage in digital marketing right now. I’ll tell you a tip why. One of the reasons is because Facebook Messenger, messages get opened at a rate of 96%. Compare that to email open rates that are like one-tenth of that. The conversion rates on Facebook Messenger funnels calls to actions to click through are north of 25% whereas in email, that’s down to 1.5% to 2%. There are lots of other cons and I know Tracy’s already a skeptic.
I’m not going to rain on your parade. I’m just going to be like this is one of those hacks that will be gone because the minute that your Messenger box gets inundated with messages that are badly done and it will happen, then it will be cut, the conversions will start to drop, so your opportunity is right now. The noise will get in the way and ruin it at some point, but if you’re an early entrant and one of these tools is called ManyChat and there are a lot of these other chat bots.
I was blown away by these things and the numbers in the case studies are incredible as to why this is working, but I agree, every digital marketing agency is going to get hooked on this Facebook Messenger drug and it will get overdone here at some point, but Facebook Messenger is going to be much bigger here in the next month as a tool for marketing.
My next one, YouTube video. Being cautious about this idea of lots of Facebook Live, make sure you save your videos and put them out onto YouTube and then insert them in your blog posts. That’s what we always tell our people to do but many people, they sort of leave them native into Facebook. Facebook tries to encourage you to put it directly into your blog with a share that way. Don’t do it because your website is getting ranked by Google, not by Facebook, and Google owns YouTube. A blog post will rank faster if it has a YouTube video in it. It won’t stay there but it will get to the first page quicker but long term, it’s the long blog post that will last and will keep it on the first page or keep it wherever it does end up ranking, but the video can help catapult you there quicker. If you want a quick hit of being noticed especially if you’re hitting a hot trendy topic, put a YouTube video into it. Fast way to do it, take your Facebook Live and put it on YouTube. That’s my second of top five.
My next one is going to show you one of the values of an exhibitor at the show. First, when I got to this show, I thought “With all these seminars, who is going to have time to visit all these tradeshow booths and check out what’s there?” There were a lot of them, but I ended up having some time to at least see what I thought was important and get to some of them. Anyway, one of them is Proposify, and this is a very interesting cloud-based service. If you have a business where you send invoices to close people, and at times we do that, we create PDF invoices and send them to people, and they can link to our shopping cart and close them, but if you use this service, which is very inexpensive on a monthly basis, you can create all your proposals and through this system. It still can get emailed to your customers and communicated the normal way you would. The difference is it gives you active data where you know when somebody opened up your proposal and maybe you thought a lead was kind of cold, and then a month later it will inform you when they open up the proposal again, and so you can know “I’m on their mind,” go call them back and close them. I don’t know everything about it. There’s a lot I’m still researching on this. I’m not completely gung ho in recommending it yet, but I found it very interesting and I’m going to be checking it out.
Also, there was something else about the integrations that it has to do so many things like integrate with QuickBooks or integrate with what you might be using for your CRM, so like Infusionsoft or any of those things. They had lots of integrations and it was pretty broad, so I was impressed by that too. I agree with you. Integrates with your merchant accounts system. They’re doing more and more integrations in terms of accepting credit cards directly from in there. I thought that was interesting.
My next one, I thought this tip was brilliant. If you are having trouble competing against something that’s saturated or has a lot of people vying for that top position and you’re an author, if you take your entire e-book and you put it in one single post, one power post, it is likely to outrank all of the others and be very hard for them to compete against that and outrank you because you’re talking about tens of thousands of words depending on how long it book is. That is how some of the Power Pages are holding spots, especially if it’s an older book. Why not?
I did attend some of the seminars where the speaker was a podcaster. I attended one from John Lee Dumas and one from Pat Flynn. These guys come from a little bit different school of thought. We’re doing a lot of the same things and we agree on most things, but these guys are doing passive income podcasting. It’s sort of podcasting for podcasting’s sake. That’s a whole another subject that I don’t want to burn a lot of time on but each had some good tips in terms of different ways you can structure podcast episodes. I’m going to review a bunch of those and we’re going to make a different episode out of that, but one of the things that is underdone is to podcast on location. I don’t recommend it for a newbie but there are definite opportunities to invigorate your audience with some fresh content, maybe from a trade show. You could do it whatever business sector you’re in, go and do some actual live on-the‑street type of recording that’s applicable to your subject matter, and it is a nice change of pace for a podcast. That may not even be the best tip, but there’s a whole another episode at some point on suggestions for different ways to structure your episodes that I will bring to you from a lot of things that I was exposed to and learned at Traffic & Conversion.
My next one is simple. We were talking about dates on podcast and blog posts episodes in a recent webinar. We were talking about how having dates is a little bit old school and your podcasts having your episode numbers and things like that, but sometimes that information is good and valuable and you don’t want to completely do a new episode because maybe there’s a minor change or something’s changed. One of the ways to do it is to change the title so it might have an old date to it, that’s okay, it might be last year, January 2017, and instead in parentheses put “updated 2018” so put it at the end of the post title. Now people won’t be bothered by the fact that it is an older date but you haven’t lost the power equity of the position of that post on the first page of Google especially if it’s there. It’s a great way for you to add an update to it and you can physically go up and update and edit it, but by changing the date on it, you destroy the SEO power. You’re keeping it back at its original and exciting people in that, “There’s new information here,” so they’re more likely to click it. That’s an easy one.
I’m going to give another tip learned from this Traffic & Conversion that’s a little unconventional. It’s not an actual something I learned at that show, but realizing that when you have a big show of 6,000 people, there are local meet-ups in that town that you can go to that are directly related to whatever your business is. There was a podcast meet-up locally in San Diego tied in with this event and that was a tremendous networking opportunity, a great way to get together. There were a lot of people that showed up for this and crammed into a small bar. Still, it was well worth going to, making new relationships and other contacts that are going to be beneficial. There was even an informal, not published, meet-up, but I want to shout out to Nicole Holland. One of the highlights of the trip was a dinner that I was able to attend. It was at least a dozen people who met up at a restaurant who were all connected in some way. When I got there, I knew two people before and had wonderful conversations and made some great contacts.
Nicole’s podcast is called The Business Building Rockstars Show and #BBR Show. If you want to look for her anywhere on social media, that’s how you would find her. I’ve enjoyed getting to spend a little more time with her although I have to admit I felt bad by the end of the night because there were so many people to talk to there and we talked to so many people. Nicole and I did spend some time talking and getting to know each other better, but it certainly wasn’t a whole dinner worth by the time we were done because of all these wonderful, interesting people to meet. I built some very valuable and what will be lasting relationships there that are going to be great for business. The tip isn’t specific about Traffic & Conversion but when there’s so much traffic, you can use other ways to try to convert it right there in person and that’s why it’s nonstop all day and all night long.
It’s not my next tip but I’m going to qualify that. I think the podcast meet-up missed the point because they did not capture the people that showed up. They didn’t get our name or information, and they are a podcast event company, and to have not gotten that was a huge miss for them. You should at least have some kind of “Check in at the door,” thing and they missed out on doing that. Don’t do that. You were all sitting down at dinner, you had an opportunity to like “Who’s here?” The dinner was like musical chairs the whole night, because we all were sitting in different places, pulling up chairs at the end of the tables, all the stuff, but it was well worth going to. I’m glad I did. Thank you, Nicole, for making that happen. I enjoyed meeting all of you. If any of you who are listening we’re there, I have your cards and I look forward to keeping in touch with you. I had a great time. It was a lot of fun in San Diego.
It’s hard to follow that up, but my last one, our last hot little tip is reformat your emails for the mobile devices. 92% of emails are checked on the phone. You have the ability to check that in MailChimp or whatever service you’re using, go with the mobile first model, and check it mobile first. We build it on our computer so we think computer matters, but it doesn’t for the people who are checking it. This is an easy fix. You could change your template. You can look at it that way. Every single one of those mail programs have something to be able to do it and it’s an easy fix for you to switch it up.
This is our first time at Traffic & Conversion. I had never been there before and I wanted to go as much to experience it as to get things out. It was very interesting seeing it. You’re definitely much more technical, you got your list of these key things you want to tell people, and I’m a little more about the experience about it. Not the excitement but the experience. I did get incredibly valuable stuff out of it and you did too. It was worth going and I’ll go next year, but it’ll be a different experience next year because I won’t be like a deer caught in the headlights, like “What is this? How do I figure this out? How do I get the most out of it?” It will be a little easier for me next year.
If you were at Traffic & Conversion and we missed you, send us a message on Facebook @FeedYourBrand and let us know what you learned. I’d love to hear what your takeaways were and how valuable it’s been or how you’ve even applied it since you’ve been back.
We’ll be back next week with another great interview and hopefully another great short subject like this. This has been Feed Your Brand.
- Traffic & Conversion
- The Business Building Rockstars Show
- John Lee Dumas
- Pat Flynn
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