I’ve been here for almost two weeks now (and will be here for pretty much the whole month), and recently attended the Traffic & Conversions Summit 2016 in San Diego, California, with the amazing Digital Marketer team – just one of the many planned highlights of my trip.
It’s been a real blast, and I’m really looking forward to sharing with all of you my biggest takeaways, action steps and shifts from all 3 days.
Get ready for a super-long but totally awesome post!
My Biggest Takeaways, Action Steps and Shifts From Traffic & Conversions Summit 2016
Day 1 Summary – Marketing, Branding and Social Media
Takeaway #1 – A Really “Good” Goody Bag
First things first – the physical takeaway. You’ll want to check out the video above and have a look at the sweet goody bag I brought back from the event.
It was pretty awesome – a lot of very targeted advertisements, but it was a pleasant surprise to see that there was a bunch of stuff that I was actually interested in.
It wasn’t a total pitch fest though – there were many different types of events, and it’s mainly just content.
But more importantly, what I got out of the goody bag was this lesson in marketing:
There was initially a $1 bill attached to the goody bag, saying that if you wanted to get a free T-shirt, all you needed to do would be to bring the $1 to a booth and you would be able to redeem a T-shirt for the event (for free!).
Now, who doesn’t love the chance to be able to redeem free stuff, right?
But more than that, I thought this was a really good marketing technique, because before you’d be able to redeem that free T-shirt, you would need to sign up for their membership… which recurs at $38.
That’s a great example of what marketers do: a free trip wire at the start, a loss leader, in exchange for a recurring that pays off on the long term.
(If you don’t know what a “trip wire” or “loss leader” is, you can check out my earlier blog post to learn about them.)
One thing I’ve learned from attending so many events (and even from doing my own events for the past 5 years), is that you shouldn’t just take the advice of other marketers, but actually watch what they’re doing.
In other words, don’t just listen to what the gurus are saying, but really model and watch what they’re doing, because that is where you can learn a whole lot more.
Case in point, this lesson with the $1 bill on my goody bag.
Takeaway #2 – Ryan Deiss: The Biggest Shifts in Digital Marketing
There were many great speakers on the first day, and one of them was Ryan Deiss, who started off with “The Biggest Shifts in Digital Marketing”.
The biggest thing I learned from him was this: In 2016, there’s going to be a merge between branding and direct response marketing.
What does that mean?
Well, for a really long time, there have always been these 2 different schools of thought, between direct response and branding.
The first school of thought is that whenever you submit an advertisement or start a campaign online, you do it in a way that you can measure their direct response immediately.
For example, if you spent $10, would you get more than $10 back in sales immediately?
Or should you go for the branding strategy, where you spend $10 and you don’t really know where it goes in terms of direct sales?
Kind of like having a Super Bowl ad on TV – you never really know the exact amount of sales that it will generate.
So the question is: How do you have a balance between these two things?
Branding is important, and at the same time so is knowing your numbers.
Ryan gave a very good example:
When he was growing up, his car got stuck while he was with his dad. They were stranded in the middle of nowhere, and a stranger came up to them and offered to help them out.
And just as he offered to help, he said, “You know what? I’m a little tight on cash right now. It’s going to cost you twenty bucks up front.”
It was basically ransom, you know? They had no choice, so they had to pay the guy $20, just so they could get their car out from where it was stuck.
That’s the example of direct response – where you go for the sale, and only give value in exchange for money.
Now branding on the other hand, is like this:
You’re stuck, but someone comes up to you and says, “Hey, let me just help you out”, and after you help the person out, they feel grateful, right? And then they offer you a tip for your time and assistance, and then they take you out and you become friends for life.
From a business perspective, however, you can’t rely on a person’s kindness, because that’s not a business.
What if the person doesn’t give you anything at the end, after you’ve exchanged your time?
So with branding, you can’t really put a dollar amount to it. But you still need to find that balance between branding and direct response marketing in 2016 and beyond.
Takeaway #3 – Gary Vaynerchuk: Snapchat and Social Media
The last speaker for Day 1 was Gary Vaynerchuk, whom I once saw on stage many years ago.
He spoke constantly about Snapchat and social media.
Personally, I never really understood Snapchat. It seemed more like an app for teens or something. But I love Gary V. and his stuff.
Basically, he says that Snapchat is like YouTube for 2016, and it’s really going to explode over the next two years – and so the people who are already on it now will have a huge advantage.
Why? Because of the engagement.
In today’s busy world of social media, with all the noise and stuff clogging up the Internet, this is where you’ll really be able to get your engagement – because on Snapchat, it’s all just really short, 5-10 second videos, where a person will give you 100% attention.
But the reason marketers aren’t all over Snapchat right now is because you can’t put a dollar amount based on the time spent, unlike email.
You send an email out, you get results, you make money immediately – literally overnight.
So again, how do you find balance between these two things? You need to think on that.
Bonus Takeaway – Ryan Deiss’ War Room
Ryan Deiss had a mastermind for this event, called the War Room.
Basically it’s their mastermind where they accept about 100 people every year, and you get to attend all their events. They have about 4 exclusive events, and that’s their highest-level program.
Day 2 Summary – Offers, Building Megabrands and Scaling the Business
Takeaway #1 – You always want to think about your offer first.
Many times people get so focused on thinking about their website, and all the technicalities that come with it (building it, hosting it, the content) – but the first step for those of you starting out should actually be to think about your offer.
What is it about your offer that makes it irresistible?
You need to think about that first and decide what you’ll be offering people before considering anything else.
Takeaway #2 – Building a brand
My second biggest takeaway from Day 2 was about building a brand.
In Day 1, we learned about the difference between branding, and going straight for the sale.
Now, branding is something that’s long-term.
Branding is something like the ads you see on billboards, TV… and many marketers don’t like going that route because they don’t see immediate results.
Now, here’s the thing about branding and direct response marketing: Direct response marketing can make a person money, but branding is what makes a person wealth.
So the question is how you juggle branding, which is a long-term strategy, with direct response, especially when you’re just starting out and need to pay the bills? How do you find balance between these two things?
And when it comes to branding, what is it that you’re ultimately striving for?
So if you’re building a content-based, media site (like a WordPress blog or something), what is the objective? It would probably be to dominate the keywords in your market.
If you have a site that sells physical products, then your objective would be to create a sense of lifestyle so that people will be familiar with your products.
And finally if you’re selling products (Perry’s example was knives) on your website, ultimately you would want to create trust and credibility.
So ultimately, branding is something that many marketers overlook, because, as mentioned earlier, they don’t see an immediate payoff. And yet, it is so crucial for creating wealth and trust.
Takeaway #3 – Long-term strategies for getting traffic
They also spoke about long-term strategies for getting traffic. Like what will search engines like Google look at in 2016 and beyond? Cause the game is constantly changing.
It’s very different now that it was 5 years ago, when people could still try to game Google and stuff keywords and things in their site source code and whatnot.
For 2016 and beyond, it’s all about the user and how much they actually enjoy their experience on your website.
When it comes to user experience, here are a few things that people look at:
1. Clickthrough Rate
Basically, you need to sell people on why they need to click through to your website by optimizing every single webpage to tell them the benefits if they should click and visit that page.
For me, I have a plugin called Yoast SEO. It’s a great way to really optimize each of my website pages.
2. Scroll Rate
People actually want to see how often they actually scroll on your website.
3. Time spent on website
You want to make sure that you have great content that engages your site visitors, because the longer they are on your website, the more engaged they are, the better your site’s rank on Google.
4. Bounce Rate
This is how often people come to your site and bail out immediately after. It goes without saying, the higher your bounce rate, the lower your site will rank.
5. Grammar/Spelling Mistakes
Finally, they’ll look at how many grammar or spelling mistakes you have on your website, because once again, it’s all about user experience.
Takeaway #4 – Converting customer service into a revenue stream
For many businesses, customer support is seen as an expense. That’s why many companies don’t focus on customer service, and are lacking in that department.
So one of the things you want to do is convert that department into a revenue stream. For example, by having a livechat.
There’s a site called SnapEngage, which enables you to add a very simple plugin, so that upon checkout, it offers customers the option to “Click Here for Livechat”.
This helps create trust and increases your conversions.
As a direct result of that, you’ll have people clicking on it once in a while (and even if they don’t click on it, you’ll see an increase in conversions) and when they do, you’ll be able to save sales, and also be able to build your list at the same time.
Why? Because they need to enter their email before they can ask a question.
So this is a very interesting plugin, which you may want to implement in order to get sales from your customer support department.
Takeaway #5 – Scaling
This was the keynote talk which I found most interesting, which was on scaling: How you take a business and make it ten times bigger.
I’ll give you some examples like Apple, Starbucks – many of these great companies have been around a long time. They only had a huge growth – where they 10x their business – after being in business for about 25 years.
So here are my takeaways about scaling:
1. The #1 question
The #1 question is basically: Whatever business you are in, who are the top 25 businesses or people that will be able to help you if they could promote you?
You need to be very clear with these strategic partners out there.
You’ll want to list them down, so that you’re clear about the direction and your strategic partners.
2. Two words that you can own
This is HUGE in branding. You want to think about what these two words are that you can own – whenever someone mentions those words, your company or your name/brand should be the only logical choice that comes to mind.
It could be people like Timothy Ferris. He owns the two words “4 Hour”.
Or Apple, “Think differently”.
Or BMW, “Ultimate Driving Machine”.
At the end of the day, you need to think about just two words that you can own and dominate in your niche.
3. Focused effort
Ultimately, if you want to be great at anything, you gotta have that consistency – which is really 1-3 hours each day of really devoting your time, getting to be good at it, allowing yourself to suck and being patient.
One of the best ways to do this is through reading to improve yourself.
For example, some of the greatest thought leaders like Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates – they all spent time reading books.
Personally, this is something I’ll need to work on, as I’ve always struggled to do this. Of all the different learning styles, reading is the one that resonates the least with me. That’s why I love going for events – because I’m more of a visual learner, and video+visual+audio is what helps me learn better.
Out of every 100 books I buy, I usually only finish one. That’s how bad it is. But it’s something I’d like to change, starting with a commitment to read a book a week.
Day 3 Summary – The #1 Investment, Build a Rockstar Team and 10x Your Business
Takeaway #1 – The best investment someone can make is an investment in themselves
One of the biggest takeaways I had on Day 3 involves my huge belief in educating yourself. I’ve always believed that the best investment that a person can make is an investment in themselves.
This weekend, I spent close to 6 figures investing in more programs and systems, both for myself and my team.
Let me share a few of the things I’m now a part of:
1. Ryan’s Deiss’ War Room
I invested in this because in marketing, it’s not just about what you know, but who you know.
This is Ryan’s highest-level mastermind as mentioned above, and I figured it would allow me to learn more and network with like-minded people, some of whom are likely experts in the field.
2. Training and Certification (Digital Marketing)
This is basically a certification program that will enable me and my team to be trained at a very, very high level on the 8 most important pillars of digital marketing.
My team will be going through the entire course along with me, which will be just great.
This is one of the best CRM softwares available out there, but it’s also known as Confusionsoft, because not everyone knows how to really use it to its full capability.
So anyway, those are just a few of the many programs and systems I invested in over the weekend, because I really believe that it’s far better to invest in yourself than in anything else.
Most people tend to spend their money on short-term things like vacations and expensive watches, cars, etc.
But I believe in delayed gratification, which means investing in yourself and your future rather than splurging on short-term benefits like everyone else.
Takeaway #2 – How to hire and retain a superstar team
Now, one of my other strong beliefs is that nobody can do everything on their own.
You need to have the support of a strong team behind you as you work to build your business. In fact, I believe this is absolutely crucial.
That’s why one of the sessions which I found most interesting was on how to hire and retain a superstar team.
This is something I’ve always strived to do, which is why my company attracts the best of the best.
We have a pretty relaxed work atmosphere (beanbags, pool tables, gymnastic rings and a PS3, for starters), because I strongly believe that work should be fun. My team comes in wearing pretty much anything they like.
So the question is, how do you hire this superstar team?
It all begins with a couple of processes:
1. They need to be smart
If you really want to run a great business, there needs to be a certain level of intelligence.
2. They need to be curious
You want to find people who are constantly questioning. This is important because whenever they’re stuck or faced with challenges, they will be resourceful enough to find the answer.
3. They want to be measured
Great people are normally a little competitive, and want to know how well they are (or aren’t) doing.
So how do you find people with these three different criteria?
It all begins with your posting. You need to be specific.
Then comes the audition. How do you interview these people in a way that doesn’t take up your time, and which allows you to get the most out of it? Even before they come for the interview, you want to be sure they have a few certain skills – like a basic understanding of office skills like email writing, communication skills, and how well they fit into your office culture.
After the audition is the interview.
How do you handle the interview?
The most important thing is to be able to throw them off. This is something I do as well – you want to throw people off their rehearsed, prepared answers to your potential questions by asking really random questions.
For example, if you were hiring a copywriter, you might ask them what’s one of the most compelling headlines you’ve ever seen.
You just want to throw them off from their usual train of thought so that you can see how they deal with pressure.
After this, is the onboarding process after being hired. This is really crucial, and one of the things my project managers do is to give new employees a certain task that is measurable over the first 30 days.
One of the important things to remember is: Hire slowly, fire quickly.
Within the first 30 days (the usual confirmation period) is when you’ll get the best idea of whether a person is a good fit for your team or not.
Takeaway #3 – Structuring your marketing team
Now, this is probably what I loved the most in the entire course: the session on how you can structure your marketing team.
You’re in one of two categories right now:
– You have a business
– You don’t have a business
If you have a business, then know that every business (whether it’s a one-man show or a company) needs to have a marketing team, and learning how to structure your marketing team is crucial.
Now, I know some of you may feel that you can’t afford to hire anyone. Well okay, then do it on your own.
But eventually, once you’re ready to move to bigger and better things, you will want to have this big picture of how to structure your team. Because sooner or later, you will realize that you should be working on the business and not in the business.
This is how a marketing team for 2016 and beyond should look like. It should have 3 main departments:
- The content team
These are the people who create the content for your website, emails and sales letters.
- The acquisition team
This is the team that is in charge of your paid traffic. They’re not in charge of revenue, but rather in charge of acquiring customers. They’re measured based on a goal of how many new sales you want to have, within a set budget.
- The monetization team
This is the team that takes care of the bottomline. They look at the numbers based on your resources right now (the content, list-size and so on), and the project director who’s in charge of all the numbers will look at the daily sales and have the team send out emails.
Teamwork is just so important for success, and one thing you’ll realize when trying to scale your business to 7 or 8-figures… is that you cannot do everything by yourself.
I learned this the hard way, back when I was just starting out and trying to do everything myself.
Right, so that’s basically the summary of my biggest takeaways from this event.
At the end of the day, I would sum everything up with something my dad used to tell me:
The greatest investment you can make is an investment in yourself, because that is the one thing you will never be able to lose.
No matter how tough times are, or how bad the economy is, it doesn’t matter because your investment is right in here.
So whatever level you’re at, even if you can’t invest in seminars which cost a few thousand dollars, then invest in books, videos – as long as you invest in yourself and your business, you’ll find that you can’t possibly go wrong.
I hope this blog post has really brought you value. I know that I learned a lot, and I did my best to share as much as I could with you.
I’ll still be in the US for most of the month, but I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to leave a comment below, and I’ll see you in my next post.