One of our roles in our businesses is to stay on top of new technological things. Tom recently attended the Traffic & Conversion Summit 2019 in San Diego. He talks about the latest podcast news, digital marketing, the Traffic & Conversion Summit, and some of what he experienced at the most recent one. He also delves into the opening keynote to the conference which directly applies to the podcasting industry. If you want to know more about that, join us on this episode.
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Podcast News at Traffic & Conversion Summit 2019
The Traffic & Conversion Summit
What I want to share with you is some of what I experienced at the Traffic & Conversion Summit in San Diego. Tracy didn’t go to that. That’s my role in our business is to stay on top of new technological things. This year we had to divide and conquer. Tracy’s been speaking a lot of other stages. I’m excited to share for those of you that don’t know a little bit about Traffic & Conversion Summit. I want to share with you the story of the opening keynote to the conference because it directly applies to the podcasting industry. I thought that many of you who couldn’t attend the conference would enjoy that. The Traffic & Conversion Summit takes place in San Diego every year, although they’re actually expanding it to other dates. They’re going to do an East Coast one and they’re going to do some in other countries, it’s going global. The conference has been around for several years. This was their tenth anniversary and it is a massive conference.
It’s one of the biggest ones that I attend each year. The only bigger conference that I know of or that I attend, and I’m sure there are others, is the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. That’s probably the biggest one I attended. I know some other big ones in Chicago and some other cities. The Consumer Electronics Show takes place over massive amounts of buildings and it’s more of an exposition of companies showing off their latest technology, innovations and is less of a show where you would go to learn things. Although they do have some of that, whereas the Traffic & Conversion Summit is definitely more of a place for anybody, especially any marketing professionals. People who have digital marketing agencies especially are probably their primary focus of who they attract and who wants to attend. There are also a lot of business owners that have to use digital marketing as a part of their everyday doing business to try to succeed in business.
I don’t think there’s any business that doesn’t touch digital marketing in one way or another. Even if you’re not actively realizing that you’re doing digital marketing, if you have a website, if you have social media feeds, if you have any email reach you’re doing, you’re doing digital marketing in one way or another. It is something that every business needs to pay attention to. In our business, it’s my role to go and stay on top of the latest techniques and technologies. I’m not what I would consider to be a digital marketing expert per se. I’m certainly an expert in certain aspects of digital marketing, especially as it relates to podcasting, but I am not this overall global expert in digital marketing. I don’t have an agency and I don’t know all the tech. I need to stay on top of things as much as I can so that I can make smart decisions for my business.The very first banner ad that ever existed was the birth of digital marketing. Click To Tweet
That’s true for a lot of other attendees as well. Certainly, a lot of people I know who went and there were a lot of podcasters there. I saw a lot that I know either ones that I work with directly or ones that I don’t. There were a lot of podcasters there and there was a huge podcasting meetup, which was the middle of day of the show. To give you an idea of how big and how many people were at this conference and how big it was, on the first day toward the end of the day was an interview with Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin brands. Virgin Records became Virgin Airlines and all of these different Virgin companies, including his one that’s doing Virgin Galactic which is the space thing. Sir Richard Branson flew directly from his island between the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico or something like that, all the way to San Diego for this end of day interview with Roland Frasier, who is one of the Cofounders of the Traffic & Conversion Summit and DigitalMarketer.
We all had to wait. The previous session happened in the main ballroom and they had everybody exit so they could set up for this. There were so many people at this conference. There was more than 6,000 in a venue that can handle that much. We all got put outside that main ballroom and we had to wait. Many people kept coming up, packing, piling and waiting to get in to get a seat to hear Sir Richard Branson speak that it was unlike anything I’ve experienced in fifteen years or maybe even twenty years, where for about twenty minutes we were packed in like sardines and waiting to get in. I only experienced that confinement for a period of time once in my life. It was in New York City going to Times Square on New Year’s Eve. That’s the only other time I’ve been in that situation and I’ve never done it again because while it was something to be experienced, that confinement is not necessarily a fun thing that you want to repeat a lot. It’s been this time all of us waiting to see Sir Richard Branson got thrown into that accidentally. I’m trying to give you a mental picture of what this was like and how many people attend this conference. It’s very popular and it’s been increasing in popularity.
I want to share with you the overall theme or tone and intent of the conference. Certainly, the Traffic & Conversion Summit is a place where you can go and learn from experts that are implementing strategies and have had great success in digital marketing and are doing it. They’re sharing tactics, successes and cautionary tales. If you want to know what’s working and some of the tips and techniques that can help you succeed, it’s a good place to go. I’m also for full disclosure, I got to say that DigitalMarketer, which is the company behind Traffic & Conversion Summit and I’ve already mentioned Roland Frasier and Ryan Deiss is the other gentleman, who are the Cofounders of this. They have their company, DigitalMarketer. They are also selling training and services for digital marketers. There is that aspect of it but it’s not a heavy push salesy feel.
The Five Phases Of Technology
It definitely is a place where they’ve got four to six sessions going on simultaneously throughout the day, where you can go, listen to an expert and learn something on the different areas of digital marketing that interest you. There’s also the State of the Union if you will in digital marketing. Ryan Deiss who is one of the Cofounders of DigitalMarketer and Traffic & Conversion Summit gave the opening keynote. It has direct relevance to all of us in the podcasting world. Of course, this podcast is focused on trying to help you market and grow your brand but using podcasting or video as a tool. I didn’t expect this from Ryan Deiss’ opening keynote but I was pleasantly surprised. Ryan took the stage and started to talk about history. He started talking about five phases of technology. Through some stories, some examples, he started with the invention of the steam engine in the early 1800s. He said, “Every technology goes through these five stages.”
The first being discovery, usually the invention of something completely new. He was talking about the steam engine in the early 1800s, the discovery phase in inventing and perfecting the steam engine. Fast forward a decade or two and the technology gets into the proliferation stage, where it’s been invented and it’s being adopted by more and more companies and individuals. It’s in this rapid growth phase. That’s what he called proliferation. That happened in the railroad industry. After the steam engine was invented, there were many different railroad companies regionally throughout the United States. It gets to this stage of standardization where it’s more mature, it’s trucking along or in this case steaming along on the railroads. It is now the standard mode of technology or for whatever it is. In this case, if you’re going to travel a long distance, you’re going to take a railroad. You’re transporting cargo and it’s going to go on the railroad.
He continued to go through history and showed within another decade or two, it goes through this phase of consolidation, where there are a lot of mergers, acquisitions and a lot fewer companies participating or serving the community, serving the market with their technology. It can get to a point where it gets monopolized by fewer companies. The last stage, which he called innovation or disruption and this one’s a little counter-intuitive. He talked about when technology goes through that consolidation phase, there are fewer choices in who provides the service or the technology. That then every technology gets to the point where there’s this fork in the road. They’re either going to innovate and further evolve the technology and give it new life, where it gets out of this consolidation phase and goes into a new cycle beginning again with more discovery and more proliferation. It goes around these five stages, which is like a wheel or a circle again.The more you engage with a community, manage it, or participate in it, the more you'll get out of it. Click To Tweet
The other option is that technology goes through disruption. Here’s where it’s counterintuitive because disruption is a word that is often seen as a positive thing. It may be an overused term where it’s seen as positive, “That company has disrupted the industry.” Netflix disrupted the video cassette industry, the Blockbusters of the world. We don’t have to go out to the store anymore to get a movie we want to watch on Friday or Saturday night. It can be seen as a positive thing or as certainly an innovative thing. In this case, Ryan Deiss it was his talk and he could do whatever he wants. He used disruption as a negative that if the technology gets disrupted, it gets obsoleted and it ends up on a path to dying and to being overtaken by new technology. He used a couple of examples in history. The steam engine and the railroads were one. He used another one of the telephone industry starting with Alexander Graham Bell inventing the telephone, which in later 1800s, he did that.
For roughly twenty years, while his patent was in effect, his company was the only one. He was definitely the discovery phase that invented it. He had a legal monopoly on it while its patent was in effect but once its patent expired, all of a sudden there were hundreds of companies that got into the space of telephone and communications. That was the proliferation phase. All of these different new entrance and they saturate the market over the entire United States with different telephone companies and it becomes standard. It goes through that standardization phase. Fast forward a few more decades and then you get into this consolidation phase. I’m sure there are many who will remember when AT&T dominated the market. I’m sure there may be some that are not young enough to remember that. You go through the 1960s and 1970s, AT&T was gobbling up every other telephone company around the country.
Over the 20th century, AT&T dominated the market, acquired every other little telephone company that existed and had a virtual monopoly on the telephone services market. It came to a point in 1983 or 1984, I forget exactly what year it was but in that early mid-‘80s time period where the government came in and disrupted the telephone services industry by breaking up AT&T into many different regional telephone providers all over the country. It was determined by the government that AT&T was a monopoly. It wasn’t in the best interest of the consumers and the government had the power. They did break up AT&T and all these regional carriers, which of course are all but extinct with modern mobile telephone service. It shows how the industry went through these five phases and got to that point of either innovation or disruption.
In that case it certainly was disrupted, broken up and then eventually a different technology came in and made landlines obsolete. How many households have a landline? It’s decreasing tremendously, it’s not completely dead but it’s definitely not what it was. I don’t think landline telephone companies are what you want to be investing your 401(k). I found that these stories that Ryan was telling about the steam engine technology, the telephone technology. He went on and also referenced the automobile technology, which went through the same five phases of technology. I’m not going to go through all the nitty-gritty of that one. I was actually surprised to learn that in the 1920s in the United States, there were over 460 automobile manufacturers in this country. Almost 100 years ago there were 460 automobile companies during the proliferation phase.
The Digital Marketing Industry
It’s definitely gone through consolidation and maybe it’s going around the technology phase as a couple of times but now there are only fourteen major automobile manufacturers worldwide. He was giving us all a history lesson and making some good points, which then he related to the digital marketing industry, his primary industry and what Traffic & Conversion Summit is all about. Talking about how digital marketing in early internet became a new thing. He showed the very first banner ad that ever existed on the internet. He actually was able to find that and trace it. The very first banner ad that ever existed was the birth of digital marketing. It had an amazing conversion rate because it was the very first banner ad ever. Ryan Deiss went on to say how in his opinion, the digital marketing industry has gone through the discovery phase of being invented and coming to life. Going through proliferation as more and more people get into it.
They started doing it for their own businesses or become agencies servicing others to do it. It went through standardization being that if you’re not using digital marketing in your business, you’re losing in the market. Then going through consolidation and he was of the opinion that they’re at that point of at that innovation or disruption phase. Digital marketing is either going to innovate, evolve and start going around the five phases of the technology again or it’s going to be completely disrupted and be yesterday’s news. He personally is of the opinion that it is going to continue to go around the phases again. He also was talking about how it has changed and this is where it got interesting for me. I think you will see that as well. When he was talking about digital marketers, they’re generally data hungry people, very analytical people, people that run digital marketing agencies for a living.Serving and providing value to your market will produce increasing returns and make people want to buy what it is you have to sell. Click To Tweet
Things are pretty absolute; either techniques work or they don’t work. You’re getting conversions or you’re not, your ads are getting traction or they’re not. The things that are working really well but might not work very well next year. Things that worked amazingly well last year are in decline and not working as well this year. Their data hungry people that don’t like to make decisions on gut feel or on assumptions. Generally, digital marketers don’t like to make guesses. They like to follow models and innovate and find out a new trick that works and then capitalize on that. It was very interesting where Ryan Deiss was saying that what they’ve done in the past is not what they’re doing nowadays and not necessarily what they recommended doing. As a company, DigitalMarketer is starting to do things differently in some ways, completely opposite to what they used to do in the past.
When you think about digital marketing and all the data you think about tracking, you think about analyzing the numbers. What he was saying is whereas they in the past never would’ve done anything unless it was trackable, justifiable and definable. Now, they’re doing more and more things that are un-trackable. These un-trackable ideas are what he was talking about. He gave some five or seven or so examples. He stated that he’s gotten to this comfort level and he thinks that digital marketers in general need to get comfortable with the idea that not everything they should be doing should be absolutely trackable, should be justifiable, have necessarily a specific ROI or result that you can point to. It has to do also with how markets have evolved and consumers have evolved.
Obviously, there are variations to this, whether you’re doing more of a business to consumer marketing or a business to business marketing. There are going to be varying stages or levels of this that are going to apply to your business. There’s a point to this and it comes back to podcasting, which I was so excited to hear. He went through all these different un-trackable ideas and examples. One of them was for marketing your business and getting the word out, go on to Quora.com and answer ten stupid questions about your niche, your area of expertise, your market whatever that is. It’s a 101 series of questions because a lot of people go on Quora and search for things of their areas of interest or their pain points when they want to learn something. If you answer ten questions on Quora while there are no absolute trackable results to that, you’re probably going to get quite a bit of traffic from people that go on there. They read the question you’ve answered and then seek you out as an expert in that field.
I thought that was actually a pretty brilliant idea. It doesn’t cost much to do it. I thought it was great. Another un-trackable idea is to write a book, certainly that’s not a new idea. He obviously was quick to say that but books are still relevant and they provide a lot of value. It’s a way for you to serve and to get your name out there. It’s still valid. Another interesting one was to send emails with no links in them. I found that fascinating because anybody who has an email list and you send a newsletter or you send marketing emails or solicitations, I probably can’t even remember one that I have not sent a link in months and months. If it’s truly to my email list like a newsletter or some other part of an email marketing campaign, everyone has a link in it. I’m not talking about the unsubscribe link. I think you always have to do that. In terms of the message of the email, he was saying, “Send an email with no links. Don’t be so overtly selling or marketing in your email and it will have increase in returns to you.”
Another one may seem elementary but has a good point. He said, “Answer emails personally.” A lot of us have email sequences that have automated responses or we’re sending mass emails to a list, even if it’s not a huge list. Instead of having it be a more personal email that you’re sending and they’re saying, “Consumers like more individual attention and more engagement with real people.” That is working in getting more traction so answer emails personally. The next two are the most important and starting to get more interesting. The second to last was foster and manage a community on Facebook. I think many of us have certainly social media profiles. A lot of us have Facebook groups or Facebook pages. We’re trying to build a lot of people that like our business page or that are a part of our group but very few of us actually foster and manage a community.
How many of us actually have hired a community manager that’s actively participating and engaging with your community on Facebook? Large companies do probably, a lot of smaller businesses and individuals probably don’t but it is one of those opportunities. The more you engage with that community, manage it, participate in it or hire someone on your staff who can do that, the more you’ll get out of it. Build a community of raving fans that want to hear from you that are interested in your show, your company, your products or your services. The more you can do that, it would be more successful for you. It seems to make a lot of sense to me. The most exciting part of this opening keynote of Traffic & Conversion Summit was when Ryan Deiss said his final and what he seemed to be emphasizing as one of his most important suggestions for digital marketers was to publish a podcast and he gave some examples. DigitalMarketer has a podcast and he was telling this trying to be a little funny and tongue in cheek and it was lighthearted for the audience, “We started a podcast. I have no idea how many people listen to it.”Every digital marketer should be engaged in podcasting, whether they have their own podcast or recommending podcasting to all their clients. Click To Tweet
It’s true. Any of us existing podcasters know and any potential new podcasters will learn that, while there is a lot of data available regarding podcasts, there’s not the data we would all like to have. iTunes does not share with you how many subscribers you have. In fact, no podcast distribution network does. Those are closely guarded as their proprietary information. They know how many people listen to your podcasts, they’re not going to tell you. You can make a close estimate based on the data that’s available but you never know. As podcasters, we’re always trying to find ways to drive traffic to our own websites, to our social media channels and places where we can engage with them. Encourage and invite them to become a part of our community, our email list or like us on Facebook so we know who they are. There isn’t the hard data of a podcast like many digital marketing things are, “How many people are searching on this keyword in Google Search?” “I can go advertise to people that are searching on that keyword.” You don’t know who the people are who subscribe to your podcast. That’s the way it is.
He talked about becoming very comfortable with that. Un-trackable ideas are something that he and he believes the digital marketing community in general should be embracing. It can’t all be about the hard data and the absolute right and wrong, yes or no, win or lose that serving, providing value to your market will produce increasing returns and make people want to buy what it is you have to sell. He said, “I know so little about my listeners on my podcast that I started a second podcast,” and everybody chuckled a bit. In that one, it continued to not provide him a lot of empirical data so much so that he started the third podcast and everybody laughed a bit more. Here is DigitalMarketer, this company that has grown and lived based on marketing success in the digital world.
That’s largely based on absolute data and results that are definable and trackable. He’s recommending that every digital marketer should be engaged in podcasting, whether they have their own podcast or they’re recommending podcasting to all their clients as a way to create content that is going to produce very good returns for building a community, having an audience to market to and establishing authority and expertise. All the things that we have talked about on Feed Your Brand for years ever since we started this podcast. The fact that he emphasized that as the last and most important un-trackable idea and he did emphasize that all digital marketers should be using podcasting. That was very exciting to me on day one of Traffic & Conversion Summit. The opening keynote first thing in the morning, I was so invigorated and pumped up. I’m happy to hear that and happy that all 6,000-plus people heard that.
It’s very exciting for the podcast industry, for marketing and growing brands in general and set the tone for all of Traffic & Conversion Summit. Over the course of the three days, I went to a lot of different sessions, got a lot of great tips and learned a lot of things. There may be some deep dives I take into a couple of those subjects that I thought were important and relevant, especially for us podcasters in a future episode. Make sure you’re subscribed to this podcast and you will have some of that in the future. First of all, if you don’t know what Traffic & Conversion Summit is, a little bit about what it’s about and share with you about that opening keynote. If you have the ability in the future, there’s another Traffic & Conversion Summit that’s going to be in New York. That’s the first time they’re doing one on the East Coast.
There is a cost to it. These tickets to the show are not free, but if your business is relying on digital marketing in any way and if you have a podcast, it probably is. If you have a business at all, you might want to consider going. I certainly learned a lot. It was well worth my ticket and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s starting to go global, this Traffic & Conversion Summit. The organizers, Roland Frasier and Ryan Deiss, sold a portion of it. They’re still owners and involved in it but they sold a large portion of it to an event company out of the UK. They’re taking it global putting on a lot more events. There’s probably going to be a Traffic & Conversion Summit in your country or in your area soon or of course they have it annually in San Diego. They’re going to do it again in San Diego. I enjoyed it. I would recommend going to it and I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing this little story about this opening keynote and in general, the tone and spirit of what it was. You can reach out to us anywhere with any comments or questions that you have on social media, @FeedYourBrand. Thanks so much. I’ll talk to you next time. This has been Tom on Feed Your Brand.
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