I had the luck to attend the first conversion conference held in San Jose, USA, during the time 3-6 of May, 2010. The conference was in conjunction with Emetrics that has been around for a while so there were plenty of tracks to attend. I think in total there were somewhere over 100 tracks!
The theme of the conversion conference was to explore various aspects of website conversion such as videos, ab testing, copy writing, usability etc. The Emetrics part is more about web analytics and less on the conversion part but of course they overlapped a bit.
I and my colleagues Rickard and Jenny traveled all the way from small Stockholm to San Jose, the capital of Silicon Valley to see and hear the most prominent people within the web analytics field (a 16 hour trip…very tiresome). Unfortunately you have to travel that far if you want to listen to these people at the same conference. You rarely get this chance in Europe.
The attendance on the conference came all over the world. There were people from Germany, Israel, South Africa, Poland and another Swede.
The feeling I got was that most people there were some sort of consultants. I think less than 50% of the attendants were from end user companies. I was also surprised to meet so few big company representatives. Maybe they don’t do web analytics or they already know everything.
So, if I do a short recap of the conference here are my high and low points.
The high points
- Many tracks. A lot to listen to. As usual when you have such great variety the quality varies a lot but it was good to be able to choose what you want to listen to.
- The venue. It was held in The Fairmont Hotel, a four star hotel with large spaces and large rooms for such a conference. Unfortunately some of the rooms were small and got filled quickly. Also the air condition killed me some times.
- It was well organized. Everything run smoothly from the various sessions to the lunch breaks run smoothly.
- Famous speakers, top of the line. Some of the most famous people within the field was there as speakers. For example the much famous Mr. Avinash was there.
- Probably around 500 people or more attending both conferences. It was nice to see such large turnout, which indicates that people are getting more and more conscious of what web analytics can do for them.
- Networking. Like all conferences you get a chance to network, and I got to listen to various peoples “problems” which was interesting. I recognized many of the problems – like handling a vast amount of keywords or doing AB testing.
- My top 3 sessions.
- The presentation on how videos increase conversion if you do it right. From my own experience I know that videos can increase conversion but the two guys presenting was humorous and very down to earth. They also showed some interesting examples that can be used in various cases.
- The session about sharing knowledge within the organization was interesting to listen to.
- The Expedia presentation. Expedia must most likely have to most advanced web analytics and conversion program out there. They use software and manpower to maximize their efforts in various areas. It took them three hard years to get where they are but I bet they got their investment back with interest.
The low points
- Over half of the tracks were too basic from my point of view. Of course various people experience this type of conference differently but I think many of the tracks were to shallow for my taste.
- Too many consultants presenting and they tend to have a tone of voice that tells you that their findings is the rule. Especially the more famous ones were more or less preaching which I think if you are a bit experienced within the field you see through it.
- Too few company presentations. I like company case presentations. I think they give you a good idea on how you can solve your own problems while watching the likes of others. Unfortunately there were too few company case presentations. I would like to see much more but I guess they are hard to find.
- Many of the presented cases by the consultants did not hold to scrutiny. On questions from the audience many of the cases had not been implemented and were rather a suggestion from the consultant to their client, so the outcome had not been documented.
- I am not sure if this is a bad thing but the knowledge on conversion among the audience seem to be very low judging by the questions and the twitter chat.
I think this was the best conference I have attended so far. Would I go again? Yes, no doubt about it. That it was held in Silicon Valley was very interesting, I got the wibe that if you work with IT business development this is where you should be.
I keep asking myself how far along are we at Web Guide Partner on conversion and web analytics issues? Well, I truly think that we are among the most advanced companies out there but not on everything. We have explored most areas and have a broad spectrum of knowledge but we lack the marketing part such as ppc and offline advertising. Also our experience with social media is halting. The vast amount of websites we work with also limits us to the amount of deep diving we can do.
All in all though I am glad I attended the conference, it makes me a smarter web analytics and conversion guy, hopefully we can use some of the knowledge on our own websites.