Lessons From Traffic & Conversion 2015: What You Need To Know

Traffic & Conversion has become North America’s biggest marketing conference with 3,000 delegates descending on San Diego for the three day confab packed with insights and revelations about the future of digital marketing.

Digital Marketer itself has multiple properties as well as its key Digital Marketer brand and through split-testing millions of emails and pages they’ve a pretty good idea about what’s working and what isn’t.

Jody Raynsford - Traffic & Conversion analysis

From a copy perspective nothing really changes. Great copy is the key to everything (“Phew!”, he says, wiping that errant bead of sweat from his forehead) but changes to Google and Facebook and the emergence of new patterns of engagement with digital media means the landscape changes each year. That’s why keeping up with these guys makes good business sense.

After recovering from the shock of returning to a snowy UK after a week in sunny San Diego, I’ve had time to go back over my notes, cogitate over what I’ve learned and pulled out what I found were my key learnings from the conference.

(If you want to get the full and complete notes from Traffic & Conversion, there’s an incredible offer available for the next few days – scroll down to the bottom of the page to find it.)

Here they are:

1. Everyone’s in the media business now (or should be, if you want your audience’s attention)

That’s right. You’re no longer an e-commerce retailer. You’re no longer a manufacturer. You’re no longer a brand. You’re future is as a media company. And by media, this means adding value to the user experience.

On the question of what companies will survive in the future, Digital Marketer founder Ryan Deiss said (ominously) “if you’re not adding any value, be very afraid”.

Offering just products by themselves is no longer enough. The market should be the centre of your activity. From this, I take that understanding your audience and delivering content of value to build their attention.

You’d be tempted to describe this as content marketing. However, I think it’s more a realisation that creating an experience has become more important, and for more people that means more content relevant to their buying experience.

Some niches and sectors have long understood this approach. In the area of health and fitness for example, content has long been a driver of traffic and user experience, leading seamlessly onto the buying experience.

2) Traffic is a commodity; you have to pay for it one way or another

Basic word on this is that the traffic question has – for good or bad – been simplified.

If you want traffic now, you have to pay for it or “earn” it. That’s the way Google has wanted it for a long time and they’ve won.

You’ve got to play by Google’s rules. No exceptions.

For paid traffic this is easy. For organic traffic that means creating engaging content which meets the needs of their Panda update.

After proclaiming “SEO is dead”, the next question of course is what replaces it: User Experience Optimisation (UXO), a combination of factors by which Google is rating the quality of your content for its users.

From the findings revealed by Digital Marketer, there are various ways Google is ranking engagement, the most surprising of which was scroll rate – their way of measuring whether people are reading further down the page.

Other relevant factors include bounce rate, click through rate and a calculation as to whether your content is ‘real’ content, which includes analysis as to whether your spelling and grammar is any good.

BIG TIP: Pixel everything. Send traffic to relevant content to pixel your audience segment, then use retargeting to put free or low-costs offers to them to win opt-in.

3) You’ve gotta do a ton of research before you write (or create) ANYTHING

That’s right, research is important to make sure you don’t waste time writing anything which doesn’t see the light of day. While this only applies to organic traffic in the context of the first few keynotes, it is actually relevant to the entire area of marketing.

Digital Marketer co-founder Roland Frasier advised to choose content based on existing data. He went into detail as to how he researches content and creates offers he knows will work even when he has no prior understanding of a market. It’s a combination of keyword research, competition espionage and a whole load of reverse engineering to arrive at offers and products which have a strong chance of success based on what existing players in the market are doing.

This was proper clever stuff. The kind of stuff which made you want to curl up in a ball, wish it wasn’t so complicated and hope someone else would do it while you were sat sobbing to yourself.

As copywriters we already know research is the basis of every good sales letter, value proposition and offer. Nothing has changed. But research into the data of what people are actively searching for and engaging with takes much of the guesswork out of content creation and curations. Which brings us onto this…

4) Original content is not as effective as curated content from existing high traffic sources

Ok, here’s one surprising finding. Writing brilliantly insightful original content is not as effective as leveraging the popularity of existing videos, comments, and other shareable media to curate posts which are more likely to become viral.

The whole ‘virality’ element is difficult to achieve for most businesses.

About 18 months ago, I attended a conference on Content Marketing run by an SEO organisation and attended by web developers. The whole thing was geared to creating ‘viral’ content, as if it was the be-all-and-end-all in terms of content, with very little focus on whether what you were creating was engaging to your audience.

Well, it turns out they were (partly) right. The traffic-obsessives won the battle and Google will reward you for bastardised, Frankenstein-esque, uber-length posts pieced together from others’ work.

(I’m moaning here but actually it’s good news for non-content businesses who need to produce content. It means you can concert less effort for more reward. Just after you’ve sold your soul…)

BIG TIP: Enrich your posts with as much media as possible, including video and infographics preferably edging out just above the fold to encourage the scroll down.

5) Great copy has never been more important

For all the changes, for all the ‘hacks’, for all the technology on show at the event to help marketers shortcut their way to better, more effective copy, the simple, valuable ability to pull out the major pain points of your market, deeply understand their motivations and then craft a headline and lead which hits them right in the craw is a skill that’ll never go out of fashion.

In every presentation I saw related to conversion, writing compelling, persuasive copy was king as you’d expect. In fact, it’s more important as ever with the crowded traffic space.

For example, once forgotten as an irrelevant SEO tactic, your website’s meta descriptions has once again become important – when your business appears in Google search results you’ve effectively got to use compelling enough copy to ‘win’ the click over all the other options on-page. This is huge.

The bottom line is this: learning and developing your ability to write great copy or having that capability to call on individuals who can write great copy will ALWAYS pay off.

Get all the notes and slides from Traffic & Conversion 2015

That’s right.

While I spend over £2,000 of my hard-earned cash to go half way around the world to discover what’s the future of digital marketing, some enterprising chap has cleverly written up a ton of notes from every session and is making these available to sell right here.

I’ve checked these out, bought these myself and it’s actually a really good deal. Plus they’re officially approved by T&C organisers Digital Marketer.

Oh, and did I mention they’re only $47. Take advantage while they’re still at this low price – you can grab them here.

They even include all the notes from the previous two Traffic & Conversion Summits.

Here’s the link again: Traffic & Conversion 2015 Summit Notes

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