CTA Conference 2017 – What I learned

Posted on August 11, 2017

This was my first time attending CTA (Call to Action) Conference and it was such a great experience! I’ve attended many conference and even planned my own and I can honestly say this was a great, well-organized, high quality content conference.

Attendee experience was considered at all times, speakers were engaging and intelligent, and food was phenomenal. They had over 7 food trucks pull up in front of the venue for you to order from for free! Picnic tables scattered around and you can easily meet lots of new people. Attendees were all very friendly and interesting, wonderful crowd. Also, night events were so fun!

#CTAConf resources

I’ve included my notes from the event below, you can also:

Data driven design, Oli Garner

  • Base decisions around data
  • If you want to implement a new feature/function, create 1 page and watch people’s experience using it. Test for glitches thoroughly
  • Do informal user testing around the office. Ask coworkers to try it out/complete a task, ask them to narrate as they do it
  • Do they understand what we do from the homepage in 5 seconds? Are the photos representative of what we do? Can the blurb be read in 5 seconds? Is the font clear & big enough? Does your hero shot, headline effectively convey what your product does?
  • Where are users getting stuck? Find out:
    • Usability hub, five second test
    • Squint test
    • Flesch Reading Scale (readable.io)
    • Scroll map
    • Click map
    • Lead data
    • Session recording
    • Usability test
    • Mobile QA
    • bit.ly/test-length
  • Is a design trend causing your users frustration and ultimately hurting conversions?
  • Try https://readable.io/ to improve readability of content
  • Whole team should look at data together to analyze

Reading your customer’s minds, Joel Klettke

  • Dry boring copy (written by marketers and copywriters) vs. specific, engaging copy (written by customers). We get stuck behind our screens and start writing about synergies and features and things people don’t actually care about.
  • How do we motivate someone?
    • Pain points
    • Anxieties
    • Outcomes
    • Priorities
  • We need these, all in customers’ own words! Listen to users and understand their pain points.
    • Do interviews, surveys. Don’t ask for their opinion, ask for their experience.
    • Tools: Uberconference (free), Typeform (logic-mapping, self-segmenting)
    • Look at online reviews, testimonials, chat logs, feedback emails, comments, tweets
    • Steal phrases/wording from users to speak their language
  • Turn features into benefits for the user
  • Restructure page to talk about things customers talk about most


  • Can we better leverage our stories for more clicks and conversions?
  • Want to show value of what you do? Tell it with a story
  • Facebook ads that promise of a story if you click through
  • We have a hard time identifying stories. Stories don’t sound like marketing – they sound like life.
  • Data is not a story. Data is a treasure trove of story opportunities but not story. Data will tell you what stories you need to tell
  • A story is not catchy copy or cool infographics
  • The biggest storytelling mistake: We allude to the story but don’t actually tell it

UnMarketing, Scott Stratten

  • Don’t use vanity metrics. “Reach” is useless. We don’t want metrics, we want money
  • Real metrics would be: Total reach on Facebook video minus 3 second views (only count 10 second views) minus people watching without sound or captions = actual engaged users, not just that they were scrolling by the newsfeed
  • Don’t try to capitalize on totally unrelated things to seem “cool” or relevant. Careful what you newsjack
  • Do nice things for people, focus on customer service
  • It’s more important to be accurate than first. Always verify and fact-check. Marketers have a lot of power on the internet, we need to use it responsibly.
  • Beware of using fake reviews (getting employees to write reviews for your app)

Improving email conversion, Jessica Best

  • Have a <3% bounce rate. Use an email system that auto removes junk email addresses. Repeat emails to them make you look like spammers.
  • Re-engage or trim inactive emails
  • Test if emails will go to spam filters. Test before and after sending emails. Test mobile views.
  • Examples of which subject line worked better
  • Create great content
    • Balance images and text (500 characters minimum of text)
    • Go easy on symbols and all caps
    • Use clean, email-friendly HTML code and design
    • Watch that you sound like a human

Doing SEO better with human (not machine) signals, Wil Reynolds

  • Be the answer people are looking for
  • Find out what people are googling and be the best resource to answer the question
  • Use google suggestions to see what other related questions are and answer them as well. Include as “related content” at the bottom of the first page.
  • Stop trying to get more traffic, do more with the traffic you have
  • Track the journey, understand what path users are taking and improve it
  • Make better PPC ads (pay per click, AdWords)

Copywriting, Lianna Patch

  • Don’t use adjectives that don’t mean anything, “fluffy” words. Words that your reader don’t understand the way that you do (that probably don’t mean anything to them)
  • Edit in inverted pyramid – look at structure, paragraphs and sentences before the words
  • Look for sentences that aren’t doing enough work, doing too much work, and variety of sentence length. If you took a sentence out, would your piece be stronger?
  • Use the free Hemingway App to test copy for readability

Landing pages, Allison Otting

  • Your ads should match the landing page the ad leads people to, keep consistent with same graphic, look, words, and CTA button
  • If it’s gated content, show people what they will get before they sign up. Ex. Show what the PDF looks like, what the newsletter will be like
  • Turn features into benefits so users don’t have to figure out if you solve their problem. Focus on how your offering affects the life of the user rather than how great it is.
  • What questions are your customers asking? Sit down with your customer service reps, social media managers, sales reps etc. They can give you key information about what users want to know

Facebook, Mari Smith

  • Do square videos. Optimized for mobile is square > portrait > then landscape
  • Do live streaming
  • Running out of “ad inventory” because 90% of users are on mobile and you can’t fit that many ads on that screen. Getting more competitive to cut through
  • Facebook “will be definitely mobile and probably all video” in 5 years. – Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook VP for EMEA
  • 40% of Facebook video views come from shares
  • Use lookalike audiences to supercharge your Facebook ads.
  • An Evergreen Facebook post that links to an Evergreen blog post
  • Negative feedback on posts/ads will affect reach/algorithm. 1 negative feedback wipes out 100 positive feedbacks
  • Install Facebook pixels to increase conversions and lower your costs. They’re the beating heart of an effective FB campaign.

SEO and CRO, Rand Fishkin

  • 50% of searches don’t result in any clicks because answer is already showing in the results. Google would rather lose clicks and ad money to help users find what they need faster and better.
  • Tip: typeform is a better (prettier) survey tool than survey monkey
  • Survey to ask users what they want to know when searching keywords
  • Use related keywords that show up on Google results to boost relevancy
  • Optimize your content for the snippet
  • Try: Usability hub for user testing of website design
  • Understand user journey and when they’re more likely to convert. Not all visitors are created equal. Higher lifetime value when someone visits 8-10 pages vs 3-5 pages, plus trial. Use CRM to trigger the right users.

Influencer marketing, Tyler Farnsworth

  • Start with brainstorming the PR headlines you want to have, what would you want blogs to say?
  • Most advertisements are disruptions to our daily life
  • When influencer marketing is done right: authentic stories, brand buzz, access to new/hard to reach audiences, social follower growth
  • If you don’t believe in influencer marketing, attend BitCon (conference for youtubers) and see massive crowds of people going crazy after these YouTubers. CMOs trying to market to 14 year olds need to see how much influence these YouTubers have!

PPC, Jonathan Dane

  • Create lookalike audiences
  • Prefer to do “dark posts” that don’t show up on the timeline
  • You can pre-promote dark posts, share the link with friends and family to get a base of likes and comments so the ad doesn’t look so empty
  • Use as smoke tests to see level of interest, ex. Ad to sign up for course because you create the course
  • In sign up forms, put name and phone as the last fields you ask for. Small ask first.
  • If marketing to different locations, create location specific landing pages customized to each area

Personas, Claire Suellentrop

  • People don’t buy a quarter inch drill, they want a quarter inch hole
  • When _____, help me ________, so I can ________

Content marketing, Andy Crestodina

  • Questions received by email > turn into blog post > book > Quora
  • Interview > record and turn into a blog post
  • Add headlines to testimonials with title and company of person
  • When including other people in content, notify them after and leverage their digital reach
  • Changing URL of a webpage is bad for SEO
  • Collaborate on blog posts, use old content as contribution, provide a diagram with source link back to your blog for “exact match anchor text”
  • List everything you have knowledge of > turn into blog > table of contents for future book

Customer disconnect, Amy Harrison

  • A breakdown in understanding between: what you think, what you say, what prospects think you mean
  • It’s not a copy problem. It’s not a headline or CTA problem, it’s usually a story problem. Happens when you focus on what you want your prospect to do and no why prospects want to do it
  • Get your quote now -> you’ll be connected soon? But you don’t get your quote now, they get their lead now.
  • Build a story that connects
  • Here’s what’s happening in your world. Here’s what hurts
  • You may have tried to solve it (but that’s a terrible idea)
  • There is an alternative and I can prove it works
  • Here’s what’s possible when you eliminate the hurt
  • It’s easier than you think (Don’t lie about ease of use, but come up with things that can kill those objections)

Reports that matter, Dana Ditomaso

  • Before starting: get your baseline (conversions by channel)
  • Standard reports aren’t good reports.
  • Google tag manager
    • Tag absolutely everything – even if you’re unsure. Capture it as an event.
    • I.e. 10% of people download a PDF, but of the paid users for the client, for example, 22% download a PDF (so it should probably be a goal).
    • You can then see what’s valuable to certain audiences vs. others. You only get this via Google tag manager.
  • Session duration only works if someone visits a second page. If someone is super engaged on a landing page, you’ll get inaccurate number for session duration as there may not be a second page. So you need to supplement Google’s data with Tag Manager.
  • Is there a time or day where people are more likely to convert on your ads?
  • Metrics to look at: profit per click, user conversion rate, unbounced rate, conversions by keywords, events by day/hour, page load speed, scroll depth and conversion rate, keywords by intent and conversion rate
  • Set PDF downloads as goal, print button
  • Find popular PDFs and promote them more

Customer marketing, Alexa Hubley

  • Unbounce case study: Launching a new (higher) pricing structure to customers. Creative email and video marketing campaign
  • Get intimate = segmentation. 14,000 customers > turned into 7 cohorts with 7 landing pages and 7 emails each > 3500 thumbnails with customized names in video!
  • Building trust and empathy – humanize your message
  • Price increase done well, increased number of annual plans

Product distinction, April Dunford

  • Context will change the way we think about a product
  • There is more than one way to market a product
  • New products require new thinking, position in a way people can understand
  • Cakepops as cake on a stick vs grown up lollipop

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