What You Missed at Conversion Conference Chicago 2014

charles nicholls keynote preso


The third Conversion Conference in Chicago wrapped up on June 19th –  the biggest gathering so far of digital marketing and CRO geeks in the history of the conference.

The event was a great success: attendees reported going home with lengthy to-do lists for testing and improving their web sites. But the best thing was seeing a lot of new faces mingling with the veterans in the conversion optimization battlefield, and knowing that we’ve accomplished our mission of spreading CRO practice:

Learned so much at #convcon, can’t wait to get back to work to try out all these new ideas.

— Paul Klodzinski (@paulklodzinski) June 18, 2014


Read on for the highlights!


Stepping Up with Conversion Rate Optimization

In his keynote presentation, Conversion Conference chair and SiteTuners CEO Tim Ash debunked popular myths about conversion rate optimization, including:

1) The need for everyone to adopt responsive design

2) Testing volume and velocity as the best measure of CRO

3) Web design is best left to the pros (web designers)

According to Tim, responsive web design can actually hurt conversions since it simply reformats the website to fit multiple screen sizes but ignores visitor context and intra-day usage patterns. Tim advised marketers to consider creating dedicated smartphone, tablet, and desktop experiences instead, bearing in mind users’ specific contexts and multi-screening habits.

Next, Tim cautioned attendees against thinking that CRO is all about testing, noting that tests are subject to law of diminishing results. He told them to focus on testing areas that lead directly to profit improvements:

Bigger test gains from experiences (buying process) vs elements (buttons). Hard work = more rewards – @tim_ash #convcon

— Hunter Boyle (@hunterboyle) June 17, 2014


Lastly, Tim decried the current practice of designing websites primarily based on the aesthetic of the designer, which often neglects the needs of online visitors. He reminded everyone to put the visitor’s needs and goals front and center and discouraged attendees from visual fads that often damage a website’s usability and user experience.


“I buy the way I buy, not the way you sell.” – @tim_ash #convcon

— Alexandra Gibson (@gibsondm) June 18, 2014


SeeWhy Chief Strategy Officer Charles Nicholls echoed Tim’s emphasis on the visitor context and usage patterns in his keynote presentation about mobile conversion optimization. Charles argued that the rapid growth of the tablet segment, along with changes in consumer purchasing habits (eg. consumers now use multiple devices before converting), means that mobile will soon outpace desktops and become the primary conversion device. This necessitates optimizing for the entire customer journey, which spans multiple sessions, devices, channels and time.


65% of email is opened first on a smartphone per @webconversion at #ConvCon

— Tom Bowen (@WSOMarketing) June 18, 2014


However, as Charles pointed out, there are still numerous obstacles preventing visitors from converting on mobile. First, an overwhelming majority of users still distrust mobiles as shopping channels. Second, users also don’t consider their phones or tablets as a converting device, using them mainly during the early stages of the customer journey (eg. researching purchases, comparison shopping, “webrooming”).

Hence, digital marketers to totally re-orient their marketing practices in order to convert more on mobile. For instance, they need to make sure that their sites have the 3 key elements of mobile conversion:

1) Simplified browsing & search

2) Email remarketing carries context across channels

3) Stored account details + payments


Mind-blowing Sessions with the CRO experts

The speakers – well-known experts in eCommerce, content marketing, testing, neuro web design, analytics, usability, user experience, and growth hacking – provided attendees with lots of insights on improving the effectiveness of their web sites. Below are just a few of the tips that attendees picked up at ConvCon Chicago:

“Are you going to be a better answer or are you just rearranging stuff?? Focus on being the best answer.” @aschottmuller #CRO #convcon

— Kate Gwozdz (@KateGwozdz) June 18, 2014


People will buy your product if they think it will help them become better versions of themselves. #convcon from @TaliaGw

— Jenny DeGraff (@JennyDeGraff) June 18, 2014


Listening to @TaliaGw merge psychology and web Analytics. I’ve never felt more at home. #convcon

— Jono Dykstra (@JDD10) June 18, 2014


This Content, Conversions and Lead Generation session is my favorite so far! So many ideas to take back to @MxGroup! #ConvCon @crestodina

— Cristina Sarnelli (@CMSarnelli) June 18, 2014


Customize your site search no results page and add a CTA #convcon @TopSpotIMS

— Harrison Jones (@hgjones2) June 18, 2014


“Avoid speed-dating your prospects. Don’t ask for that phone number too fast!” —@CaseyChesh Good progressive form advice #ConvCon

— The Mx Group (@MxGroup) June 17, 2014


Holy phone optimization batman! Getting seriously schooled by @joeljharvey at #convcon Awesome stuff here.

— Dan Bonomo (@d_bonomo) June 17, 2014


Check out the #convcon tweet stream for more insights and takeaways from the CRO experts at Chicago.


Live Blogs and Links

Live from #ConvCon Chicago 2014 – Marketing Apps: The Next Must-Have Weapon in Your Conversion Arsenal by Jenny DeGraff, Marketing Mojo

Live from #ConvCon Chicago 2014 – Driving your Multi-Device Strategy with Customer Experience Maps by Jenny DeGraff, Marketing Mojo

Live from #ConvCon Chicago 2014 – More Leads, Sales & Engagement: Your Email Optimization Action Plan by Jenny DeGraff, Marketing Mojo

Takeaways from Conversion Conference Chicago 2014 by SiteTuners

Don’t Think Of The Market — Think As The Market by Cristina Sarnelli, The Mx Group

CRO & Insights from Conversion Conference Chicago 2014 by Kevin Udy

Powerful Marketing Fuel From This Year’s Conversion Conference by Greg Geodakyan

Conversion Conference Chicago Caricatures by The Draw Shop

Conversion Conference Chicago in pictures by Tim Ash, SiteTuners


Join us in Conversion Conference Las Vegas 2015

We are immensely grateful to the amazing crowd of speakers and digital marketers who joined us at our final stop in the Windy City. If you missed the event, you can catch up next year during the Conversion Conference re-launch. So make your plans for ConvCon Las Vegas 2015 – get a full pass for only $797 when you register by October 4th!

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