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Reflecting on Traffic and Conversion Summit 2018

It’s flashy, sales-y, full of hype, and totally worth it.

I highly doubt that anyone really cares about what I thought about a particular session at a conference that I attended. And well, there are no shortage of those kinds of blog posts anyhow written by much more eloquent writers than myself. I encourage you to check some of them out for a full, detailed recap.

Instead, this event write-up will be short and to the point – and it’s a bit more personal.

As a I flew back to Michigan from sunny San Diego (sidebar: can’t wait for spring now) I was thinking about my time at the Traffic & Conversion Summit. What I liked, what I didn’t, and my plans for next year.

“Wait… what exactly is this event??”

The Traffic & Conversion Summit is a yearly event put on by the scary smart people at Digital Marketer. The sessions are marketing focused (naturally) and often include big name entrepreneurs that you have seen either online or on shows like Shark Tank.

This year the event had about 6000 people attend. It’s a whirlwind of activity, speakers, presentations, parties, and more.

If you are involved in the WordPress space, then let me tell you that this is the diametric opposite of a WordCamp. It’s flashy, high-production quality, expensive, and very sales-y. Personally, I find the change of pace enjoyable when comparing to the majority of events I attend in a year.

It takes place in San Diego each year, and this was my second time attending.

What I found of value.

Many people would probably put “the sessions”. While some sessions I attended were indeed quite good, I particularly find the time between the sessions to be the most enjoyable.

I am a fan of cruising the sponsorship booths and talking with the people that work them. In some cases I go through their demos, and other times I just strike up casual conversation. Funny thing is, the casual conversations often lead to them asking about my business and asking for my card.

But it isn’t just the sponsorship area that proved to be good for business… so was the bar.

I made a point to eat dinner at the event hotel bar every night. Each night I met fascinating people with interesting stories and businesses. You know, it’s easy to sit at the bar and look at your phone, but no one has ever found their next lead or business deal by checking twitter. I eat, I chat, and I meet entrepreneurs – the “old school” way.

To sum up the value I get out of T&C, it’s the people. It’s similar to what I liked most about WordCamp U.S., but not exactly the same. The backgrounds of the people are different and so is the environment. The people at this event tend to be further along in their entrepreneurial journey, and as a result the conversations are different than what would typically take place at a smaller WordCamp.

The event is also large enough to attract notable personalities. By way of example, I had the opportunity to meet Daymond John, which was pretty cool and unexpected.

While meeting Daymond was a nice bonus, his interview with Digital Marketer CEO Ryan Deiss was particularly insightful. It was neat to hear his advice around various entrepreneurial topics. Oh, and getting the inside scoop on Shark Tank was fun as well. 🙂

What I didn’t care for.

I am not one to complain too much. I typically get on just fine in nearly any environment. That being said, there is one thing about the event that I need to get off my chest (and no, it’s not the ever present sales pitches).

While I prefer to meet people in the sponsorship areas, I do make a point to attend sessions. The sessions at T&C for the past two years were hit or miss. There is no gray area. The presenters and the material are either interesting and deliver upon the topic or they just crash and burn.

The ones that I consider a hit get me thinking about our business. I learn a new tool or technique that is backed by evidence and case studies. Whether we end up using it in our business is yet to be seen but I appreciate being challenged to think about things differently. The ones that are a miss are quite frankly oversold with some kind of over the top (hype) title. You know, the kind of headlines that are too good to be true.

I am not going to call anyone out by putting real examples, but it isn’t uncommon to go to a session titled:

“10X Your Profits in 30 Days Using the NEW Facebook”

10X profits? Not likely. And in 30 days no less.

… And what exactly is “NEW” Facebook?

Yes this is a title I just made up now but honestly it’s not far off. There were 101 presentations this year at the conference and at least a third of them had titles that anyone would consider to set an unreasonable expectation.

Naturally, when you make promises like this then the presenter will struggle to fulfill it in any meaningful way.

Would I go to T&C again?

You bet!

I plan on going to my third conference next February as I find the entire experience to be positive. My gripe above is just a minor annoyance and doesn’t actually have an impact on my impression of the event as a whole.

I would encourage anyone with an online component to their business to attend this event at least once. It really is unlike anything else I have been to with regards to business conferences. It’s flashy and over-the-top at times, but that’s what I love about it. Plus behind all of the posturing and glitz you will find some practical (and actionable) business advice.

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