I went to Traffic & Conversion for the first time this year, and it exceeded my expectations. But to be clear, I didn’t have very high expectations. Let me explain.
Traffic & Conversion (affectionately known as T&C) is a conference hosted by Digital Marketer each year. Digital Marketer is maybe the best known brand tied to Ryan Deiss. Ryan Deiss is the author of Invisible Selling Machine, and is a fairly well known guy in the digital marketing space.
This conference happens in San Diego each year, and each year my social feeds are blown up with people from my network who are there singing the praises of digital marketer. This year a close friend of mine finally talked me into attending with him (later he bailed on it, but I went anyway).
As the event approached, I wasn’t really excited about it. I realized that I just don’t want to like Ryan Deiss. I don’t have any reason for this, he seems like a fine guy, maybe a little smarmy, but obviously he’s had his fair share of success. I can’t put my finger on it, but I just don’t really care for him. In part it’s because a lot of the content they put out feels, to me, like pretty basic common sense with a really fancy wrapper.
But this post isn’t about me, and it isn’t about my inexplicable resistance to liking Digital Marketer or Ryan Deiss. It’s about, despite my best efforts, acknowledging a well run conference with some really valuable presentations.
So, without further ado, here are 7 take-aways from T&C 2017:
1. Lifecycle Marketing should be at the root of everything you do.
This isn’t news to me. Infusionsoft beats the LCM drum hard, and I have fully embraced it for my own business. Heck, my favorite course I offer is the LCM: Real Life course. But it was interesting to hear how Digital Marketer framed it up for their audience, and how the language they use differs slightly even though the concepts are really similar. LCM was definitely a theme at T&C this year.
2. The future is AMP.
On day three I got to hear a friend of mine, Dennis Yu, speak on the subject of AMP and Facebook Instant Articles. When I hear him talk, sometimes it feels like Dennis’s brain fires on a whole different level. But here was my take-away from the conversation: Search engines (like Google), crawl the internet, index the information, and then cache the results. That way when you perform a search, it can quickly serve up relevant entries. It’s not actually performing the search as you type in “How many teaspoons in a tablespoon”, it’s pulling up results it cached earlier.In a normal search, you see the search results immediately, but then when you click through on one of them it takes time for that page to load, because it has to go and retrieve the page, and load all the assets on the website.
Amp takes this to another level. It’s a set of standards that your website can adhere to, so that in addition to caching the results, search engines can also cache the content. This allows users to see results, and then instantly load the page that they click on because google has already retrieved that too.The reason this is so important is because Google has made it clear that they prioritize speed, and page load time in terms of choosing what content they serve up to users. Amp means that your page will be faster. And therefore, Google will be more likely to send traffic to it.The critics of AMP say that it affects tracking, and that you can’t do as much with design (because AMP standards require much less CSS than a regular website). But, if it’s a choice between tracking, design, and traffic; well, I think I’d choose traffic. Sidenote: There are three teaspoons in a tablespoon.
3. Tell Stories to help share your message and build your brand.
On Day 2 of the conference, I attended a session where Perry Belcher was talking about how you can and should be using stories to connect with your audience. His presentation was solid, and the take-away message was that people respond well to stories. Even if you’re a lousy story teller, it’s still the most effective way to have your message heard. He shared the following story arc as a template for crafting your story, and used the plot of popular movies Tommy Boy and Die Hard as examples that follow this format.
I left this session thinking about how I can better convey the story of my brand, and how to position the story that led to the creation of each of my courses and offerings. I encourage you to think about the way you help people connect with what you do, and if maybe your story could use a little refining?
4. Invest in running a really seamless event.
I’ve been to a fair number of conferences, and this one was run really well. There were probably too many emails promoting things before the event, but once I got there, everything went smoothly. The registration was well staffed, clearly marked, and the process was intuitive and painless. The event booklet was high quality, loaded with content (and ads), and easy to read and navigate. The sessions ran on time, there were minimal technical difficulties (that I saw), and I felt like the speakers were delivering value, not just pitching. The expo area was easy enough to navigate, well laid out, consistently busy, and again, well staffed.
I really liked that T&C had hired temp workers (in some cases marketing students from local universities) to help answer questions and make sure everything was smooth.I guess my point is that it makes a difference. I felt like they didn’t cut corners, and that they were creating an intentional attendee experience.
5. Drive and measure community engagement.
I had the pleasure of hearing a close friend of mine, Christina Kehoe, present on the topic of boosting community engagement through events. Christina is awesome, and many of you know her from her committed work with the Infusionsoft Partner Communities (or from connecting through the OG Membership). One of my key take-aways from her presentation was the concept of a community commitment curve.
For me, this was particularly valuable because I love the membership program I’m building, but I’m also very conscious of how it can consume my time. So, I’m interested in ways to help scale this group, and measuring commitment overtime will provide some valuable insights.
6. It’s important to disrupt your routine.
I’m an entrepreneur, and I work from home. I love what I do, and I love the customers I’m able to serve. But from time to time, there’s real value in disrupting your routine and looking at things from a different perspective. Most days I work on my own, and that can certainly be isolating. So I found a lot of value in surrounding myself with 4000 people who are all involved in digital marketing in some capacity. It provided a great forum for me to connect and reconnect with other marketers and other entrepreneurs. I loved catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while, and being away from the Monkeypod Worldwide HQ (aka, my back yard).
Just chatting with other people forced me to talk about what I’ve been up to, what Monkeypod is doing, and where I want it to go. That was really helpful in a few ways, but mainly, it forced me to think about what my vision is for Monkeypod, and it also forced me to acknowledge and appreciate how far I’ve come over the past two years.
7. Stay Humble, and Stay Hungry.
I feel like this is something that most of us have heard before, especially most entrepreneurs (or anyone who read this post a few weeks ago). But this conference helped serve to remind me just how many areas I still can grow.
I consider myself an expert on Infusionsoft, but it takes a lot more than that to successfully run my business. And spending a few days around T&C was a valuable reminder of all the different types of experts that are out there, and all the things I’m not great at yet. Or, to put it another way, all the untapped opportunity I have for growing my business. You may have seen my blog post the other day, but the opening session on Day 3 was more or less an hour straight of one guy listing tools that Digital Marketer uses or endorses. It was humbling to hear just how many of them I had never used, or even heard of.
Before I wrap this post up, I want to be totally transparent and balance this post with things that I thought were less than stellar:
- I attended a session and sat next to a pillar so I could plug my cell phone in, after 5-10 minutes of charging I was approached by a staff member who said I couldn’t charge my phone. She didn’t give a reason and just insisted that it was their policy. Um, okay, not the end of the world, but really rubbed me the wrong way.
- There wasn’t a lunch break. I’m not saying I expect them to feed me (though that’d be nice), but I am saying that it’d make sense to take a break so that I don’t feel like I have to miss out on content if I want to go have a meal. Though they really were pushing the video recording library pretty hard, so maybe this was just another way to drive home how much content there was and why you should take that upsell.
- I attended at least two sessions that ended 20 minutes early. Remember, these were 45-minute sessions and they ended 20 minutes early. That felt a little off.
- I also attended a few sessions that just didn’t feel valuable overall. Part of it was definitely the presenter, but part of it was just an underwhelming presentation and concept. I’m not too hung up on this because that’s bound to happen at any event you attend, and part of it may have been me just choosing the wrong session (I know there were some awesome sessions I didn’t get a chance to see).
Okay, that’s it. That was my T&C experience in a nutshell. I’m glad I went. Overall my favorite part was definitely connecting with my friends, customers, and former colleagues. I wrote this post because I know many of you are in the boat I was, unsure as to whether or not this event would be a good fit, so I wanted to share my experience, and give props to the team at Digital Marketer for putting on a well run event.
If you have questions or want to share your own experience, please feel free to leave a comment below!
Great post, Greg! Thanks for the info. I’ve been getting inundated with emails from Ryan’s crew about the event. Annoyingly getting emails. Though to be honest, I’ve come to expect that from Digital Marketer.
I want to ask you in 4 weeks (after you’ve gotten over the buzz of the event), but I’ll likely forget, so I’ll ask now: Would you go next year if you had to fly in to the event and rent a hotel room for the duration?
Yeah, I mean, I’d probably recommend coming to San Diego even if there wasn’t an event, simply because San Diego is awesome, especially this time of year.
But for real, yes, the event was good. It was professional, and loaded with content. I agree with you, I’ve been drowning in digital marketer emails: Reminders about the event, upsells to bring my team, upsells for pre-day events, upsells for the video library, upsells for their VIP passes, or their VIP evening events, etc. That part was a major turn-off, and definitely colored my impression of the event going into it.
Despite me wanting it to be a big old flop so I could say “I knew this would be waste of my time”, it wasn’t. It was good. And I’d recommend it. But, the emails have persisted after the event, and if they’re still flooding my inbox in 4 weeks maybe I’ll be singing a different tune, haha.
Similar feelings, though I think the content that Ryan Deiss’ team puts out is actually quite good for agency type folks. For me, it’s an ‘Every other year’ conference (I went two years ago as well). Most of the content presented seems to be regurgitated from their blog posts and other paid course material.
If you’re in the Infusionsoft space, it’s definitely one of the top conferences because the similarity in audiences (small businesses and marketers).
To be honest though, I was just going to see Greg 😉
Well said. Especially the part about me.