David Kirkpatrick

Event Recap: Notes from the Optimization Summit 2012 roundtable sessions

June 14th, 2012

On the afternoon of the first day of the MarketingSherpa and MarketingExperiments Optimization Summit 2012 in Denver, attendees had the chance to interact with ten expert practitioners in a roundtable format.

Event participants were able to choose an expert, sit at the table for a quick presentation, and ask questions and interact with each other on the topic at hand for 15 minutes before switching to a new table and a new subject.

Topics at the different tables ranged from optimizing social media to high-impact call-to-action button copy that converts.

I wanted to provide SherpaBlog readers with a sample of some of the high-impact material the experts shared during this roundtable session. These examples of roundtable content illustrate the wide variety of advice Optimization Summit attendees were presented during the session.

 Here are some key takeaways from several of the roundtable experts:


Jessica Meher, Enterprise Marketing Manager, HubSpot

Jessica’s topic was “How to Do Email the Right Way,” and she provided the top discussion points, ideas and challenges facing email marketers.

–          Segmentation

She says segmentation is an issue, particularly for small marketing teams with limited resources. One of the top ideas that came from her roundtable was segmenting by “persona.”

Jessica adds this segmentation is being seen at companies that are transitioning from “batch and blast” to a persona-based approach.

“Still, top challenges are around what type of content to send to each persona. Also, the fact that personas and segments behave differently, so it’s important to be able to build a different email calendar — and different goals — for each person and per each campaign,” Jessica explains.

–          Personalization

Jessica says, “People know personalization can have a positive impact on email, but many attendees are looking for examples and good use-cases — specifically, how to do effective personalization besides just using ‘first name.’ I explained how HubSpot uses MarketingGrader to send personalized emails based on companies’ scores when they run their reports, as a good use-case example of personalized data.”

–          Testing and  measuring success

Jessica says she fielded a lot of questions on standard best practices — how to run A/B tests, what to test, what to include in the subject line, how to avoid spam traps, appropriate length of copy, using images vs. plain text, how to avoid email fatigue, etc. She explains the overall outcome was that no best practice is best for everyone. The goal is to test and see what works for each individual company.

“The number one thing I noticed overall was regarding ‘what makes an email campaign successful.’ Each email and each campaign needs to have a different metric or goal to determine its success,” says Jessica.

She continues, “For example, you could send the same email to two different segments, and each segment might perform very differently. So, a one percent CTR (clickthrough rate) might be really good for one segment, but very poor for another. It’s also helpful to assign specific objectives to email campaigns beyond open and clickthrough rates, by looking at the full sales and marketing funnel.”


Mary D’Alatri, Director of Account Services, Ion Interactive

Mary’s roundtable topic was “Reducing Friction on Your Landing Pages,” and she provided bullet points on five landing page optimization opportunities:

Reduce Content

  • Keep the most important content above the fold (5-Foot Rule!)
  • Track user behavior to know what content/elements can be deleted
  • Test different layouts for high-content experiences: microsites, tabbed content, rotators, etc.

Decrease Form Complexity

  • Ask only for what’s necessary — is the offer worth the ask?
  • For longer forms, test multiple steps
  • Test progressive profiling for longer buying cycles

Create Highly Targeted Experiences

  • Ensure tight “message match”
  • Use dynamic content substitution to improve relevancy
  • Make sure you give the gorilla the banana!

Stay Focused

  • Choose one call-to-action and focus only on it
  • Eliminate competing calls-to-action
  • Make sure your desired action is clear, prominent and easy to complete


  • Don’t make your visitors jump through hoops
  • Reduce number of required clicks
  • Build intuitive landing experiences


Joy Billings, Director of Optimization, Experian Consumer Direct

Joy covered conversion, and her topic was “Top 10 Ways to Increase Conversion Rate: Finding the key elements to focus on to optimize your marketing program.”

She provides the key takeaways from her roundtable:

“The goal of my roundtable session was to give actionable tactics that attendees could grab and go test on their websites. We launched over 120 tests last year, and had a lot of great findings about the key elements on our site that increase conversions,” she explains.

She continues, “One of the top findings we learned was that trust badges are a must on our landing page and order funnel. By placing trust badges near our call-to-action on our landing page, and then again near our credit card field in our order funnel, we had double-digit increases in conversion rate.”

Joy says that another highlight of their testing was finding that customers like to compare themselves. Customers like to guess an answer, and are willing to go through a process to find out the actual answer. They also like to compare themselves to the average or baseline. By showing customers an average score, and asking them how their score compares, her team was able to increase conversion rate.

Joy concludes, “Other test tactics to increase conversion rate include use dynamic dates to display current day, bold exclusive ‘I’m special’ messaging, use market research to customize landing page images, and apply winners to mobile.”


Jessica Collier, Product Evangelist, Ion Interactive

Jessica covered “Landing Page Copy That Converts.” For this blog post, she provides an actionable, 10-point checklist for landing page copy:

  1. Perfect your “message match”
  2. Pay off your promise
  3. Appeal to emotion. Be authentic
  4. Kill the buzzwords … words must mean something
  5. Know your audience. Give a compelling value proposition
  6. Test your headline
  7. Benefits, not features
  8. Clear and singular call-to-action
  9. Maintain message “scent” through entire experience
  10. Support your copy with design


Meghan Keaney Anderson, Product Marketing Manager, HubSpot

Meghan covered “How to Attract More Qualified Leads Through Inbound Marketing,” and she offers the four main points from her roundtable discussions:

  • Attract leads with quality, search-friendly content
  • Use analytics to determine the stages of your leads decision process, and map relevant content to each stage
  • Inbound marketing doesn’t stop once you’ve converted leads.  To ensure leads become customers, continue to send leads quality, relevant content across their decision process. Don’t push the sale before they’re ready
  • Make sure your content includes calls-to-action to move readers to the next stage


Michael Lykke Aagaard, Online Copywriter / Landing Page Fanatic, Online-Tekstforfatter.dk

Michael traveled from Denmark to attend the Summit and provide his knowledge to attendees. His roundtable topic was “High-impact Button Copy: How to write calls-to-action that convert.”

He offers SherpaBlog readers his three key takeaways from the session:

  1. While your call-to-action (CTA) copy has minor impact on the page itself, it has major impact on the decision-making process of your potential customer. It’s the last thing standing between your prospect and your conversion goal.
  1. The more value and relevance you can convey via your CTA copy, the more likely you are to get a conversion. The main thing is to focus on what the prospect is going to get – not what he/she has to do to get it: “Get free account” vs. “Sign up for account.”
  1. Before you write your CTA copy, ask yourself: What is my prospect going to get, when he/she clicks this button? What is my prospect’s motivation for clicking this button? These answers will represent the core message you need to focus on in your CTA copy.

Michael says, “The roundtable sessions are a great way of giving the audience quick, actionable advice.”

Photo credit: Jessica McGraw


Related Resources:

Plan Landing Page Tests: 6 Steps to Guide Your Process

MarketingSherpa Webinar Replay — Optimizing Landing Pages: Three Keys to Increasing Conversion Rates

Research Chart: In-house expertise challenges to landing page optimization 

Research Chart: Inbound lead sources more important to marketers

Marketing: Inbound strategy pulls in 25% more revenue, 70% more leads

Landing Page Optimization: 3 quick recommendations from the stage at Optimization Summit 2012

What to Test: 4 sample landing page treatments from Optimization Summit 2012

David Kirkpatrick

About David Kirkpatrick

David is a reporter for MarketingSherpa and has over twenty years of experience in business journalism, marketing and corporate communications. His published work includes newspaper, magazine and online journalism; website content; full-length ghosted nonfiction; marketing content; and short fiction. He served as producer for the business research horizontal at the original Office.com, regularly reporting on the world of marketing; covered a beat for D/FW TechBiz, a member of the American City Business Journals family; and he provided daily reporting for multiple LocalBusiness.com cities. David’s other media and corporate clients include: USA Today, Oxford Intelligence, GMAC, AOL, Business Development Outlook and C-Level Media, among many others.

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