#ConvRoadTrip Unbounce Conversion Road Trip Recap

 In Business, Event Recap

Everyone loves when their favourite musicians go on tour, let alone when they do a kick-ass collab. Maybe it’s the boy bands, the country crooners, or the revival of a favourite rock band that gets you going. But when they do their thing (and join forces with other stars) – it’s delightful. In my case, I recently got to see a favourite company of mine spearhead the ultimate geek chic marketing/tech collab during a stop on their summer tour. Here’s my Unbounce Conversion Road Trip recap for your reading pleasure.


Session 1: Oli Gardner – The 12-Step Landing Page Rehab Program

Being the knowledge junkie that I am, I came across Oli ways back during a webinar he did with User Testing (another favourite company in my marketing toolkit). Oli answered a couple of my questions, and it was a pretty awesome webinar. But seeing him live in action and uncensored – that was a great way to kick off the day. As a co-founder of Unbounce, here are his epic 12 Steps to help you come to terms with weak ass landing pages:

  1. Admit that you actually have a problem
  2. Give the gift of simplicity to those you have wronged
  3. Understand the role design plays in your recovery
  4. Get your story in order before you tell it
  5. What the fu#ck are you talking about?

Re: #5 – there was a hilarious example Oli shared about a portal for Disney’s movie Aqua. The registration ask was simple (or so it seemed) – the password you set must contain at least six characters. Yet the errors on the site were astronomical, not because people were forgetting that they’d typed Password123, but that they were instead literally typing six animated characters (think BelleArielleSimbaElsa…). Be careful what you ask for!

  1. Recovery starts with building a solid foundation
  2. Create search intent pages for eCommerce
  3. Don’t bet your shirt on what others tell you
  4. Fields are for farmers not forms
  5. Design for your *ideal* customer
  6. If they’re about to buy, keep your f#@king mouth shut!
  7. Make amends by being a delightful marketer

At the core of everything he preached, there are two take aways I think you need to keep in mind:

  • A lower attention ratio beats bombarding your user with “stuff” (lower the attention ratio, increase the conversions).
  • DESIGN rules vs. design RULES – design for your ideal customer and don’t build friction for them

Follow Oli and make sure you get in to one of his webinars or speaking engagements to witness his conversion badassery.


Session 2: April Dunford – Marketing Strategy Hacks

I really enjoyed getting to meet April after her session. Her style is like a straight-up reality check, and she tried to share how she’s had to deal with situations we’ve all faced…like what to do when your marketing attempts have failed. April is a start-up star with a crazy track record (check out RocketWatcher), so her sage wisdom was something I was looking forward to.

Sometimes you have situations where everything you’ve planned and executed just seems to fall flat. Conversions are low, lead quality blows, and things just can’t seem to get traction. April shared one example where she sat in on a sales call and realized that the difference between her best rep and all the others was that the rep was asking to speak with the prospect’s decision maker (while other reps continued to blame an economic downturn). The lesson here is not that all economies have problems, but that April realized that she had all this awesome marketing stuff – but that it was optimized for the wrong buyer.

According to April, sometimes who is important shifts as the market itself shifts – and selecting the target has to be based on resonance, reach-ability, influence, and audience opportunities. The example she shared was shit.

Literally – manure.

To some, they see a heaping pile of stinky poo. But to others, it is repackaged in to a shiny, shiny offering of composted manure. I guess it’s that classic example of perception and positioning.


Session 3: Christi Olson – Save Quality Score, Save the World

With the cutest swagger, Christi wove her love of hit TV show Heroes in to her presentation about quality score (QS). Though her presentation was way too technical for me to do justice in recapping, one of the key things she said of QS is that it shouldn’t be viewed as a KPI, but rather as a diagnostic tool for account optimization.

Like any good superhero squad, there are several components that make up QS – keyword, ad copy, and landing page – that all lead to relevance. Christi spoke a lot about visible QS and how QS fits in to optimization by sharing examples of different formulas and multipliers.

She also gave the tip that Google doesn’t save historical QS in your account, so to use scripts to track historical values. She provided a handy breakdown of how QS affects your CPC, which is enough to make you want to dig in to your campaign performance ASAP!

Score of 10 – decreased by 50%

Score of 9 – decreased by 44%

Score of 8 – decreased by 38%

Score of 7 – decreased by 29%

Score of 6 – decreased by 17%

Score of 5 – Google’s Baseline

Score of 4 – increased by 25%

Score of 3 – increased by 68%

Score of 2 – increased by 150!

Score of 1 – increased by 400!

All in all, the emphasis of Christi‘s (and Oli’s and April’s) presentations goes back to the need to be as clear as possible with your campaigns and the actions you ask of your users. Here’s a link to her blog, Search Marketing Corner.


Session 4: Full Stack Marketing Panel

This panel was moderated by Unbounce’s Georgiana (Gia) Laudi, and featured advisor of too many to list (but favourite of mine, The Coveteur) Sean Power, start-up wunderkind Nemo Chu, and Hana Abaza of Uberflip. Although the panel assembled was a mass of talent, it was a bit tricky for the audience. What worked well was when the audience heard about creating content around success stories, and how, for example, Hana’s stack includes Uberflip, Hubspot, Salesforce and a layer of goodies like webinars and video. The biggest nugget for me was the identity crisis-solving moment when Gia and Sean defined a full stack marketer as a growth engine, as a general marketer that can do A-Z from start to execution. And that made a heck of a lot of sense to me.


Session 5: Nemo Chu – My 5 Biggest Hyper-Growth Lessons from Supercharging My Marketing Career to Semi-Retire at 26

If the title isn’t enough of a sign, Nemo is a burst ball of hyperkinetic energy. He can come off a bit polarizing, and I would venture to say not very relatable to the audience at the event. The presentation was a bit confusing between personal stories contrasted against his hyper speed persona. It’s hard to be boxed in as a young success story, but he did share five things he has learned from his journey:

  1. Profits trump all
  2. X vs. Y? That’s the wrong question to ask
  3. Right processes = go in to hyper speed
  4. It’s ok to be a copycat
  5. Work harder on making a profit for yourself than making a profit for others

While employers will likely cringe at point #5, it does touch on his wish of doing well to provide for your family.


Session 6: Karl Gilis – How to Create Better A/B Tests Based on User Research

The fan favourite of Conversion Road Trip’s Toronto stop was by far the testy, sarcastic Karl Gilis of AG Consult. In from Belgium, he delivered a very passionate presentation about A/B testing – and just how angry he gets about stupid things (like people who don’t drink Belgian beer). He shared his extensive experience and debunked myths ranging from testing colours, using green checkmarks, and text vs. bullet-points (the latter increased conversion rate for a Suzuki website by 78%, actually).

He vehemently pleads with you to do the following:

  • Don’t test if you don’t have enough visitors
  • Measure the right goals
  • Don’t test stupid things or every idea that pops in your head
  • Set a hypothesis

He also shared some best practices for you to take in to consideration:

  • Slider sucks – unless they are just image slides
  • Remove clutter
  • Use bullet lists, especially on pages that navigate to product pages
  • Put a reassuring message near your CTA (don’t scare people)
  • Tell users what you want them to do
  • Repeat your CTA at the bottom of the page
  • Use the same words your users do – not the ones you use internally

If you want to see this live in play, here’s his ebook, 10 Conversion Tips that Work on Any Website.


Session 7: Luke Summerfield – Brain Based Conversions

At the end of a long Conversion Road Trip day, you would think a theatre full of people would be wilting in to the aisles with brains exploding from knowledge. But, Luke Summerfield’s session was a great TED-like way to close the day. His presentation got down in to the core of what marketers do (cue the Heroes theme song for Christi) – that our role is to illicit actions. And Luke’s presentation got in to some of that psychology and science behind the conscious (rational, planning) vs. unconscious brain (emotions, memories). And how by even the tests that we run, we can struggle to get the true responses from either side. It’s the two prongs of brain based messaging and brain based design.

Brain based messaging can target based on: authority, social proof, scarcity, and even showing people “just like us.” Luke was able to share some examples from his role at HubSpot to show some these different types of messaging – and how in some instances social proof had better conversion results than a header with a testimonial or features/benefits content.

Brain based design takes in to consideration that there are over 2 billion bits of data we consume in a day, and that behaviour and consumption is different when 77% of us use multiple devices when doing something as a simple as watching TV. Getting back to some of the things mentioned by Oli and Karl – make it easy for your user.


A special shout out to Stefanie and Cheryl at Unbounce – thanks for the sweet Mail Chimp kitten ears; Piper the cat doesn’t know what to do with herself. And for the handy Unbounce tee that gets worn even at the horse stables.


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