We recently welcomed over 900 marketers to Vancouver for Unbounce’s third annual Call To Action conference. This year was our biggest year yet — with three full days of insightful talks, networking, workshops, and parties.

We handpicked the best and brightest in the world of digital marketing to teach our attendees all about the strategies and tactics that make them successful in business. This is what we like to call “actionable insights” — all of our attendees walked away with actionable marketing tactics that they could utilize the very next day.

The full-length speaker videos, slides and comprehensive notes from the talks are available online for free on the Call To Action website. But before you dive in, we’ve pulled together 8 key takeaways from thought leaders and experts that will make you a better marketer:

  1. Invest in machine learning algorithms.

Data has become more accessible and important than ever as the foundation of important marketing decisions. With a multitude of data points to dig through, analysis can often take time and resources away from other initiatives.

The solution, according to Unbounce co-founder Oli Gardner, lies with machine learning algorithms. With advancements in machine learning technology continuing to accelerate, Gardner reveals that we’re approaching an era where marketers won’t need to be so hands-on with data.

Machine learning tools will help marketers identify what’s broken, discover opportunities, provide testing recommendations, and massively increase the scale and impact of conversion optimization.

You can check out Gardner’s talk here.

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  1. Rapid experimentation is the key to fast growth.

With over 15 years of startup marketing experience, Morgan Brown, COO of Inman News, believes rapid experimentation is key to fast growth. He discovered this by interviewing the head of growth at some of the world’s fastest growing and most profitable businesses, including Facebook, Uber and Airbnb.

The one thing these companies do differently, regardless of their business model, is they learn faster. The key, Brown points out, is that the entire company must buy into the experimentation and optimization culture.

Learn more about Brown’s growth model (including how to put together a growth team) here.

  1. Analytics require action.

According to Andy Crestodina, co-founder of Orbit Media, less than 30 per cent of small businesses are using analytics, and most people are using them incorrectly.

Many marketers are not getting value out of Google Analytics because they are only using it for reporting purposes. Crestodina believes analytics require action, and those who are proactive about collecting data will have the competitive advantage.

To be successful, a business shouldn’t make analytics just one specialist’s responsibility — everyone should be responsible. Crestodina suggests instilling a culture of analysis through a simple meeting agenda: (1) get brief updates from teams (2) review current activities and look at time/cost (3) consider new initiatives (4) end with action items.

Watch Crestodina’s talk for more actionable analytics insights.

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  1. Every conversion is the result of user motivation.

Andre Morys, CEO and co-founder of Web Arts AG, makes an important point: conversions are people, and if businesses forget that they won’t succeed.

Data can tell marketers a lot in terms of user behaviour, but what motivates users  is harder to distil down to pure numbers. User motivation relates to an individual’s implicit goals (owning a BMW for status) versus their explicit goals (owning a vehicle for transportation needs).

In order to tap into these implicit goals and find out what motivates people, Morys suggests marketers ask themselves “Who is your customer? What real problem are you solving?” This enables marketers to not lose sight of the people behind the clicks.

To help better understand the key principles behind user motivation, watch Morys’ talk here.

  1. Disappointment is an opportunity for delight.

As Unbounce’s international marketing manager, Stefanie Grieser knows that mistakes happen all the time, and she describes these moments as opportunities to delight.

For example, Unbounce recognizes that they send more “oops” emails than they’d like to admit. Whether it’s an apology for a swag mix up or forgetting to replace “NAME” with someone’s real name in a subject line, these followup emails have had 3x the opens and 5x the clickthroughs of standard emails.

Grieser suggests ‘oops’ emails get engagement because they are clearly from one vulnerable human to another, and remind us that we’re speaking to a human rather than a company. For marketers, this provides an opportunity to reconnect with your audience with an apology and provide even more delight, but don’t get caught making mistakes on purpose just to increase engagement rates.

Watch Grieser’s talk for more event marketing tips to pack the house.

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  1. Track work, not just progress.

Moz founder Rand Fishkin believes the greatest analytics challenge facing marketers today is that they are not adequately measuring the work that maps to success. Marketers measure results, but ignore the inputs that create those results.

Rand believes uncovering what works is hard, especially since the process of experimentation, failure, and discovery is rarely embraced by clients or managers. But, marketers need to know what works in order to create success. If you can figure out the work that maps to your success in a repeatable fashion, you can keep investing in it.

Rather than just measuring the output of various tasks, marketers should rely on everyday actions that are consistently improving your marketing performance.

Learn more about how to adequately measure work and progress from Fishkin here.

  1. More content doesn’t necessarily mean more results.

With more online content than ever, marketers have to think beyond the content that’s being created in their own industry, and think about the type of content that unites people. Hana Abaza, VP of Marketing at Uberflip, believes more content doesn’t necessarily mean more results. It might just mean more wasted effort.

At Uberflip, the team stopped producing content for three weeks and instead focused on how they could optimize their existing content for more conversions. That meant putting better calls to action on high-traffic, low-converting content, and driving more traffic to posts that were already converting well.

Get more great insight into content marketing from Abaza here.

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  1. Conversion experiences must facilitate cognitive ease.

Identical situations can warrant different outcomes depending on how they’re presented. Michael Aagaard, Unbounce’s Senior Conversion Optimizer, believes marketers must understand the psychology behind terrible conversion experiences in order to avoid creating them.

Aagaard draws on the work of behavioural psychologist Daniel Kahneman who discovered that there are two fundamentally different modes of thinking: intuitive thinking and analytical thinking.  Aagaard explains how marketers can use mental shortcuts to create a conversion experience that achieves the desired end results while facilitating cognitive ease. He explains that in order to achieve a logical progression of information marketers must examine their “primes” — information used to stimulate and encourage and end result — and “funnels” — the steps and processes in place to achieve the desired end results.

Aagaard recommends that marketers (1) conduct usability tests to understand their “primes” and (2) use session recordings to find critical points in the funnel.

Learn more about cognitive biases and mental shortcuts from Aagaard here.

Call To Action

If there’s one thing attendees learned at the Call To Action conference this year, it’s that every piece of great content needs to end with a CTA, so here’s yours: head on over to the Unbounce blog for more great actionable content and advice.

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Dustin Bromley

Dustin Bromley is an event marketing coordinator at Unbounce, where he specializes in building and planning engaging events such as customer meetups, Digital Agency Day, and Call to Action Conference. You can follow him on Twitter at @DustinJBromley.

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