Pubcon New Orleans 2013: Marketing Optimization is Getting Attention

I just got back from Pubcon in New Orleans. If you’ve never been to a conference geared at Internet marketing ninjas, allow me to paint a picture. Many of the conversations involve the finer points of Google’s latest algorithm tweak, or whether having any paid links at all is inherently bad, or comparisons of hosting services that are particularly adept at serving WordPress sites. It’s geeky stuff, but “geeky” in a way that deals primarily with promoting content and brands so that they have the greatest opportunity to generate sales, not “geeky” as so often describes issues around software-level code or the (to me) dizzying world of hardware and networks. In other words, the subject matter expertise is an odd-duck intersection of web technologies in a broad sense, user experience and interaction metaphors, copywriting and persuasion skills, and core business fundamentals.

So it’s no wonder these conferences draw such a colorful crowd.

Pubcon has largely grown up around search marketers, served with a generous side of affiliate marketers. But more and more lately, analytics and marketing optimization content has been slated on the agenda coming from folks like myself, Tim Ash of SiteTuners and Conversion Conference, Andy Beal of Marketing Pilgrim and Trackur, Adam Proehl of NordicClick Interactive, Brad Geddes of Certified Knowledge, and Janet Driscoll Miller of Search Mojo, just to name a few.

I thoroughly enjoyed speaking on a Conversion and Landing Page Optimization panel with Brad Geddes and Tim Ash, who are truly some of the leading experts in these topics. Brad addressed improvements that could be made on even average websites and landing pages. He showed an example where merely highlighting a phone number in yellow increased conversion considerably. Tim talked about the irrational brain and how to use knowledge of it to improve your calls to action and overall design. I particularly enjoyed his “brain funnel” illustration spoofing the traditional metaphor of sales and marketing and pointing out that the real marketing process has to progress through the brain stem to the limbic system to the neo-cortex.

The focus of my talk was on how to think about marketing optimization in an incremental way so that it can scale with your organization. I used “cat wings” as an example of a product the market would have no prior knowledge of or existing demand for, so that you have to start from documenting your assumptions and hypotheses, and test those to understand what’s going to work. The slides from my presentation are below.

It’s exciting to see marketing analytics, marketing optimization, and marketing intelligence as a whole come along and develop acceptance in the Internet marketing community. I’ve been speaking about these topics for years, and the audience definitely seems to be getting savvier based on the questions they ask and the follow-up discussions we have.

Meanwhile, though, for marketers out there struggling with making marketing more effective, take heart: it’s not difficult to develop sophistication in marketing practices; it just takes awareness and intention to follow a process that will lead to insight, the discipline to repeat the steps and refine them, and then the good sense to use the insights you gain to improve your marketing overall.

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