7 Key Takeaways from #CTAConf

I found out I was going to #CTAConf about 4 days before the conference began. So this conference wasn't any old conference. It was an adventure. I learned everything about everything there is to know about marketing, shifted my focus to results, instead of "shallow, wide-eyed, on purpose, trifling-ass vanity metrics," and met a few new marketing geek friends.

And since I took a whopping 41 pages of notes, I learned A LOT. Besides the biggest takeaway—I want to come back to Vancouver—here's some tidbits of the vast amount of knowledge I have just acquired:

The first rule of CTAs: have a f***ing CTA!
— Oli Gardner, CEO of Unbounce

Oli rocked the house for the opening keynote with this #truthbomb. So often we don't think about our goals when we do our jobs. Instead, we move forward blindly because "we've gotta be on Snapchat," or "that's what everybody else is doing!" We forget why we're really there: to drive revenue. To drive revenue, you have to drive action. To drive action, you need to ask. If you can't communicate, you can't sell. Make sure there's a call to action on every page—but not so many that it's distracting.

Find the rest of his presentation here.

Find the rest of his presentation here.

Never bring an opinion to a data fight.
— Andy Crestodina, Co Founder/Strategic Director, Orbit Media Studios

Andy Crestodina's talk blew me away, leaving my head spinning with how-to after how-to on Google Analytics. More often, we see "data pukes," dashboards and other beautiful visualizations, but we don't often know what they mean. And we rarely actually act on the data, content on the status report. What worked? Do we know? The best marketing takes the analytical and connects it to the creative. Based on the data, what can we build? Why will it work?

Your great marketing ideas will never see the light of day without a culture of risk.
— Erin Bury, Managing Director, 88 Creative

What I loved about Erin's talk was that she addressed one of the most difficult things in marketing: ideas. To be our most creative, we have to generate lots and lots of ideas. But even if they're great, if you can't get buy-in, they won't go anywhere. We hear it time and time again that the most innovative and risk-friendly brands are the most successful, but when it comes time to implement it ourselves, we balk. We need to build cultures that allow you to take that leap and follow your idea.

It’s not just about up-and-to-the right graphs, even though they do look pretty. It’s about finding effective targets that impact the right metrics.
— Rand Fishkin, Wizard of Moz

Rand (and his most epic 'stache) talked about how in analytics, we make a lot of assumptions: that we know the right inputs and that we already know what matters. But often, our obsession with outcome metrics rarely shows the work that goes in behind it. What work created that outcome? We need to measure the inputs that contribute to those results and do that work. We focus so much on reporting that we forget to do the work.

Authenticity is heuristic. That means you learn it by living it.
— Matthew Sweezy, Salesforce Insights

When we talk about customer-centric business models or "being more human," we talk about building an authentic brand. The only way to be authentic is to live it and breathe it. Our environment has dramatically changed from the Don Draper era to new media, new channels, and new environments for marketers. No one ever said, "Wow, I want content." Being authentic now is about discovery: when I find something myself, I trust it; when someone tells me, I don't. We need to make our marketing more authentic by living it, not by pretending.

Every interaction you have with your audience is an opportunity to delight or disappoint.
— Stefanie Grieser, International Marketing at Unbounce

You've got two choices: perform or fail. In event marketing, everything that can go wrong, will. If we stop treating events as marketing campaigns and start treating them as products, we can start building experiences that delight at every possible touchpoint, whether that's a personal touch in an email or giant confetti cannons at #CTAConf. Most meta talk ever. 

Related: How To Use Email Marketing For Events

We have to remove the wall and get to a place where we’re all on the same side.
— Michael Aagaard, Senior Conversion Optimizer at Unbounce

In marketing, we have one way of thinking. This is dramatically different from the way our customers think. We just know too much about our products, solutions, and services that it's impossible to speak the same language. Marketers often talk from an analytical perspective, not from an intuitive perspective. Yet we as consumers think intuitively most of the time, building a wall between us not just of thought but of action. We need to get on the same side of the wall.

This conference was chock-full of even more nuggets of wisdom and a ton of practical advice. I'm bursting with ideas to bring back to my team. Good news! Unbounce is really cool and published all the notes for anyone to use, so check it out!

If you're interested in seeing recaps of previous conferences, see the full series.