Konverzija 2019 recap - Lessons and Takeaways
"A Bosnian, a Croat, and a Serb walk into a conference room" sounds like a start of a bad joke. Konverzija, however, was everything but, even though it saw its fair share of people from Bosnia, Serbia, or Croatia. More than 20 expert speakers and over 400 attendees, to be exact, which makes Konverzija one of the biggest digital marketing conferences in the region.
This Konverzija was my third. By now, I’m more than sure that Konverzija doesn’t aim to motivate or provide aspirational models as other regional conferences do. That’s not what it’s about. Konverzija is all about providing the attendees with hands-on tips and tricks, guides and strategies they can easily apply in any market.
It’s the place where you go to check the relevance of your skillset and your toolbelt.
The other major reason why I keep coming back to Konverzija is that there are no sponsored keynotes. Most speakers get here by recommendation. Only people with a proven track record in PPC, SEO, or analytics get an invitation. This concept works nicely - the quality of keynote speakers is always top-notch.
What made this Konverzija special whas that I finally heard speakers telling us about the “why” behind their advice. It’s easy for me to grab a certain practical technique and implement it. But knowing the “why” behind it shifts my perspective or understanding of a problem. There’s tremendous value in this.
What Is Konverzija?
Konverzija is a digital marketing conference organized by Grape.ba and SEO.ba that takes place every year in Banja Luka, Bosnia. This year, It was a two-day event, and it featured 24 keynotes and two panel discussions.
We saw some of the best speakers in the fields of PPC, SEO, analytics, social and content. They presented a lot of insightful concepts and case studies and gave us plenty to unpack in the days to come and implement in our day-to-day work.
Here’s a recap of some of the sessions our team attended and what we heard, arranged by topic for your convenience.
1. Hot Tips For SEO
What’s happening in the world of SEO? Turns out - plenty. There were talks of user-generated content, topic clusters, and the obligatory tips on how to play nice with Google. We learned a thing or two about SEO strategies and techniques, but also about having the right mindframe and motivation when doing things.
Here are some of the highlights we found interesting.
User-Generated Content + Automation = A Big Win
Who doesn’t like high-quality content that also happens to be free? User-generated content surely fits the bill. But if you could automate the process of creation and publishing of UGC, that would be even better.
One of the payoffs of Investing time into building a passionate community is that it becomes very easy to invite some of the members to create content for you. With email sequencing and drip campaigns, you can automate the process easily. Once you do, you’re left with free content to publish and time on your hands. Enjoy both.
Set Your Priorities Straight!
SEO specialists know all too well how important it is to set priorities. But they are as keenly aware of how difficult prioritizing is in SEO. There are just too many things to do.
Creating a model that analyzes goals, strategies, tactics, and individual tasks would surely help. Run it and figure out your cost/benefit dependencies and other criteria. It will get you grounded, and help focus your attention on the things that matter the most.
It’s great to be able to react to new trends. There’s also a great sense of joy and pride in being able to create content as soon as you see a search topic starting to trend. But it’s even better to be proactive.
Do your research. Prepare content in advance. Notice trending topics. Publish the high-quality content you prepared beforehand. Be ready. Know the keywords, the seasonal trends, the competitors’ activities, and the intent behind the search.
Use the Power of Internal Linking and Topic Clusters
No matter how much SEO professionals like to neglect internal search, it never stops being an awesome SEO technique. You’re never creating a single piece of content. You’re always adding members to an ever-growing system.
If you want to rank for a topic, you can use internal linking and topic clusters to your advantage. This means that every piece of content needs other pieces to relate and connect to. Create content in clusters, use internal links to group them, and reap the results.
Watch Out for Google’s Moves and Think E-A-T
Google is always doing something to make your job more challenging, whether you know it or not. The SEO community knows it. But it just doesn’t know what that something is. Right now, we know the movement is from “string to things.”
Google is no longer looking for exact places where a certain phrase is mentioned. Context and the true meaning of a search query are where its attention lies. Google is looking for answers instead of occurrences of a keyword. Give it what it wants, and showcase your authority, expertise and trust (E-A-T) in the process.
2. Over in the Land of PPC
If you thought for a single moment that conference talks about PPC would be filled with phrases like “funnel,” “automated bidding,” and “targeting strategies,” you were right. That’s what PPC specialists work on, or at least that’s what they say they’re working on when they come to conferences such as Konverzija. Let’s see what we learned from this year’s speakers.
Avoid the “Convert, Convert, Convert!!!” Deathtrap
Cue Admiral Ackbar. No one would argue that conversions aren’t important for PPC. But there’s so much more to a purchase funnel than just the conversion step. You need to focus on each of the segments of the funnel. Start with understanding the intent behind the query.
Follow up with relevant ad copy and landing page content. Avoid trying to sell where there’s no commitment to purchase. Establish brand authority. Always be able to delight the customers. Build trust slowly, and people will eventually buy from you.
Make Google AI Work for You
Google’s AI system is such a great asset. Don’t follow Google’s recommendations for automated bidding and smart campaigns. Don’t listen to your own instincts telling you some things are impossible. Give the AI a challenge, and watch it rise to the occasion.
You might be a great PPC marketer, but don’t shy away from accepting defeat when Google’s automated bidding strategies bring five times lower CPAs or ten times more conversions. Give the AI an opportunity to beat you, and be grateful when it does.
Change Your Targeting
It pays off to shake things up in the targeting department every once in a while. If you are constantly targeting by demographic criteria, for example, you might be losing a big chunk of the potential audience.
The Targeting vs Observing setting in Google Ads is very deserving of your attention. It’s a super hot topic right now, so test it and see if the system might be able to help you. Observing doesn’t restrict the reach of your campaign or ad group, but it could provide you some incredibly useful insights and ideas for targeting.
3. Tips to Analyze Your Socks Off!
Where would we be without our ability to analyze this and that and everything in between? We wouldn’t know the pitfalls of believing in the existence of true averages. We wouldn’t know about the dangers of following vanity metrics.
We would probably know of the importance of testing, to be honest. But we’ll give that one to the analysts too because they are thankfully always there to remind us of it.
True Averages Are a Lie
No time to circle around this one: forget about the lie that is true averages! When you see averages for a certain metric and you believe you’re seeing something that might give you a relevant insight, remember it’s all false. They do not exist.
Focusing on analyzing averages will lead you down a path of double loss. You’ll lose valuable time doing it. You’ll also lose sight of the true behavior of your website or app visitors. Look for insights everywhere, even in the extremes.
The True Purpose of Metrics
Metrics are not there for us to flash them around and impress our boss or client. They are there to help us bring home the bacon. Coincidentally, that’s something vanity metrics consistently fail to do. Even though they look and sound good.
Do not communicate metrics that don’t mean anything. You know which ones - the controversial metrics that could be easily manipulated, such as traffic, CRT, or social shares. If we shift our focus onto the real metrics such as revenue, our strategies would bring true value.
Don't Assume - Test Everything
You know what they say happens when we assume something, right? You can’t just guess the needs of an audience. You can’t assume that your gut feeling is always right. You need data, and you get data by testing.
So make a hypothesis and test it. As time passes, narrow down the things that work and the things that don’t. Working against real data is a time saver in the long run, and it yields much better results than whatever else you were basing your actions on.
4. Conversion Rate Optimization - Where the Magic Happens
Conversion rate optimization is a field that’s rife with misconceptions, misinformation, and bad ways to do things you shouldn’t be doing in the first place. Coming to Konverzija will help you set your compass to true north, help you remember what really matters, and knock a false idea or two out of your head.
What CRO Is, and What It Isn’t
Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re doing something incredibly important and valuable while you’re changing button colors or the layout of elements in the header. That’s not CRO.
CRO is when you know the context of your potential lead’s journey. It’s when you feel the market you are competing in. It’s when you find that “sweet spot” between your product, the market, CPA and LTV.
Optimize a Step at a Time
Conversion is a process, and as such it has steps. This is great for us as CRO specialists because it allows us to focus on each step separately and improve it.
Here’s a set of steps most CRO specialists are familiar with:
Collecting leads > Prospecting > Demo > Proof of concept > Contract > Close
Most of us probably have a weak link or at least a link that’s weaker than the rest. Identify it. Find a new approach for it. Test it. Challenge yourself to make that link stronger.
Simplest Is Best
There aren’t that many products or service people for which people will jump through one hoop after another. People want simple conversions. So do CRO specialists.
Make conversion simple. Sometimes the best call-to-action is not the obvious one. Test and optimize conversion methods to find the ones that will be most convenient for your users. Yours, or the convenience of your manager, is not the goal. Don't assume - test everything.
5. Social - Because Everyone and Their Grandma Is on It
You can’t have a digital marketing conference and not talk about social media. It’s an incredibly dynamic field where culture, politics, money, and espionage all influence what’s going on. Someone should make a movie about that. In the meantime, here are a couple of things about modern tribes, time spent on platform, and how to best use Instagram.
It’s Like Making a Tribe, Really
Seth Godin seems to have it right again: it is about building tribes. It’s just that on most social networks people are probably more comfortable with the term “community,” but it work in the same way.
Build an audience around a topic that they care about. Set yourself as a medium that transmits their message to the world. Make each member of the community a direct contributor and an ambassador. Increase loyalty, reduce churn rates and get other awesome results.
Instagram Is Where It’s At
Instagram beats Facebook in the time spent on the platform. There, it’s been said. You can get an almost palpable sense of hunger for content on Instagram. Also, the smell of opportunity permeates the air.
The problem with Instagram is that no approach works every time. If you are ever on your own in the social world, it’s when you try to make it on Instagram. And don’t try copying the competitors, because that usually doesn’t work.
Get to Know Instagram
The one way you surely won’t find success on Instagram is by not knowing the first thing about it. A lot of people don’t, because the first thing about Instagram is the social tools it offers. All four of them.
Yes, it’s true - Instagram has four social tools. There’s the Feed and the Story. It also has Instagram Direct Messaging for, you guessed it, direct messaging. And then there’s IGTV, or Instagram TV, a standalone video app. You better get yourself acquainted with them one by one because each requires a unique approach and strategy.
6. Email. Still.
The only communication channel people will use even after years of bombardment with offers to enlarge body parts they might not even own. Its Majesty the Email is alive, thank you very much, and kicking like a mule. We’ve heard about that at Konverzija, and a couple of other nifty ways to use the apparently indestructible communication channel, long may it reign.
Email Is the Best Digital Currency
Don’t be surprised. When someone gives you their email that actually means something. It’s the closest you’ll get to having a green light to contact someone as much and as often as you’d like. It’s the closest because, well, you can’t contact someone like that. They’ll unsubscribe.
Be aware that, the moment someone enters their email into the form, they are opening a communication channel that’s of immense value to you. Use it wisely and you will be able to send your brand messages for free to a big part of your audience for a very long time.
Humanize Your Emails
People cannot get a sense of you or your personality from an email. Email is different that way from communication in person, or even over the phone. But you have to do what you can to show the real face of your brand. People appreciate that.
Add a touch of empathy to all the segments of your emails. That includes the subject line, the body of the email, and the call to action. Don’t use fake, stock, or unrealistic images. Nobody likes cold emails. Keep it real, acknowledge it, and make it easy for people to consume your message.
Two Quick Email Usage Tips
When is the best time to use email? Early on. Why? Because email is direct. It has no gatekeepers. You have some leeway to try things out.
Also, always follow up. It costs nothing, and you can get so much by doing it. Do yourself a favor.
7. The Golden Child of Content Marketers
You know we’re referring to video, right? Of course, you do. Everyone’s been delighted with video for a while now, even though, as we’ve heard during Konverzija, companies are having a hard time getting used to YouTube. We also heard about storytelling and going where the audiences are. Useful stuff.
What’s Up with YouTube and Companies?
All the analysts are saying how video will become the dominant form of communication any moment now. But companies aren’t listening. Or if they are, the news hasn’t made them flock to YouTube yet.
The main reason is the lack of understanding of the rules of the platform itself. But the lack of understanding of YouTube’s users also plays a role. YouTube isn’t only a streaming service or a video platform. It’s a social network too. And a search engine.
It’s Story Time, All the Time
We are hardwired to use stories in our communication. For a very long time, most of the knowledge we accumulated as a species was kept alive through stories. They are an incredibly powerful tool you can harness in your videos.
Using stories to convey a message is a sure way to solicit a reaction from your audience. Use storytelling to engage with your audience meaningfully, and they won’t say no.
Follow the Audience
It really doesn’t matter how great your video production is if you’re posting your content on a platform your audience doesn’t use. Every social network has a video service. Most of them even have live streaming services. Plus there are tons of content delivery networks.
All of them are different from one another. YouTube is different from Instagram Stories or IGTV. Twitch is different from YouTube. Adapt to the medium. Include video as a standard element of your content strategy. Possible side effects include increased discoverability, likeability, and shareability.
Put video on your landing pages. It increases rankings.
Instructional how-to posts rank good with videos.
People love and enjoy videos, which is great for them, but they also tend to share them, which works much better for you.
Other parts of the world might have had a head start with digital technologies. But we’re a resilient, bright and creative bunch. We think outside of the box. We question things. We’ve made finding alternative ways to do things into an art form, and a way of living. That seems to make us especially adept at digital marketing.
And that’s surely an important part of the puzzle that comes together to make Konverzija a true hidden gem of digital marketing conferences in Europe.
So to Banja Luka, the Konverzija team, and our fellow marketers, we send our thanks. We hope all of us will find much success in the coming months. I’ll be at the same time and the same place next year to talk about it, that’s for sure.
Photos courtesy of Konverzija