12 years ago I started a career path in manufacturing management that took me to amazing new places and taught me many things. Then about 2 years ago the market provided an opportunity for me to pursue more education, a new career path, and a lot more growth. On Sunday, July 25th, 2017 I found myself sitting in the Salt Lake International Airport with mixed feelings of nervousness and excitement. I was about to get on a plane to attend the Call To Action Conference, the first digital marketing conference of my new digital marketing career.
The Call To Action Conference, hosted by Unbounce, started in 2014 and celebrated its 4th iteration in June of 2017. This conference has seen tremendous growth, fueled by big-name keynote speakers, terrific after-parties, and great attendee experiences.
The 2017 conference consisted of three days of instruction, networking, and parties. The first day included several optional workshops, each with some facilitated discussion and group learning. The next two days were jammed packed with incredible speaker after incredible speaker. The format for this year’s conference had each speaker take between 20-40 minutes for their presentation in a set, one-track agenda. This allowed for every conference attendee to attend every session without having to pick and choose which session would be of the most value. Here is a quick recap of the lessons learned from just a few of the many amazing speakers.
Oli was dynamic and excited as he presented on Data-Driven Design. Key takeaways include:
- Use a framework to make informed design decisions rather than designing from a purely artistic perspective.
- Test and understand whether popular design trends are effective or if they cause user frustration and a poor experience.
The Irresistible Power Of Strategic Storytelling
Author & Former Director of Marketing
Kindra is a storyteller, and a good one. She opened with a personal story about high school physics class and gravity that captivated the audience deeply. Key takeaways include:
- Realize that even as marketers, at the end of the day we are talking to people.
- A story is not awesome data, features, and benefits of a product or vague high-level principles. A story:
- Happens in a particular moment
- Has a beginning, middle, and end
- Carries emotion, not just information
- Contains characters to care about with something at stake.
UnMarketing: Everything Has Changed & Nothing Is Different
Author & President, UnMarketing
If there is one thing I learned from Scott’s talk, it is that I never want to be responsible for my company being in one of Scott’s talks. Scott was extremely engaging and shared the following key takeaways:
- Avoid unethical practicing to falsely elevate reviews and ratings. Scott uncovered such a play that led to the company at fault being given a $1.25M fine. Integrity is not a renewable resource.
- It’s more important to be right than first. We need to be more journalistic and verify and fact-check. Is this the right thing for the brand? Is this the ethical thing? Marketers have a lot of power on the internet, we need to use it responsibly.
- “Reach” is useless. You don’t want good metrics, you want money. Avoid vanity metrics and drill down to the important stuff.
Show Dogs & Dead Horses: How to Edit Your Copy to Effectiveness
Copy Director, SNAP Copy
Lianna was hysterical, yet incredibly insightful. She was able to take one of the least favorite parts of my job, copy editing, and turn it into an exciting topic with great key takeaways that include:
- Ask the right questions
- Are there any jumps in logic or breaks in flow? (Don’t overwork the brain)
- Is this the way my reader understands, speaks, and cares about this concept?
- Do I need to eat something? (You might miss stuff #NeverEditHungry)
- Edit in an inverted pyramid in this order:
- Hack your brain
- Make your work as unfamiliar as possible
- Edit later in the day
- Take time away from the copy
- Read it out loud (in different voices if possible)
- Blow it up (change text size, font size — better for spotting typos)
- Print it out
- Write it by hand
You should go to 2018 CTA Conf
These are just a few of the many incredible speakers Unbounce brought in for the Call To Action conference, there is just too much to share. The conference notes totaled around 159 pages of pure gold. Unbounce is generously sharing the talks from the conference, so check them out. Aside from the speakers outlined above, I highly recommend you watch Wil Reynolds, Rand Fishkin, Amy Harrison, Andy Crestodina, Alexa Hubley, and Michael Aagaard. While every speaker was fantastic, these are the ones that stuck out the most to me.
If you are in the digital marketing space, consider attending the CTA Conference next year. This one is well worth the price of admission. Aside from the fun aspects of attending in a great city like Vancouver, the parties, and the fun games; CTA Conf provides incredible networking opportunities and chances to learn from the best and brightest in the industry.