Notes from PubCon 2009 Las Vegas

Click on any image to enlarge.
Brad Geddes, PubCon-Brad_Geddes-Notes
Tim Ash, PubCon-Tim_Ash-7_Deadly_Sins
Kristine Schachinger, S@schachin
Heather Lloyd-Martin,
Alison Driscoll,
Michael McDonald,
Mark Robertson,
Gregory Markel,
Gillian Muessig, SEOmoz image

Books to Read

When I first started doing conversion science back in 2006, I ruined several laptop screens. You see, it is very important that I be able to markup pages for my clients.
I started with crayons. However, it became more and more difficult to get the colors off of my laptop screen. Plus, the markup didn’t travel with the image.
Eventually, the crayons left ghosted images on the screen, like a burned plasma display.
Then, I found the pen computer. Now, I can create, markup and take notes analog style, with instant conversion to digital.

A Snapshot of Pubcon

One benefit of the modern pen computer is the ease with which analog input can be shared. So, I thought I would share some of my notes with you.
I chose these based on the following criteria:
1. I took notes
Many presenters don’t realize this, but you have to be “note-worthy.” You have to tee us up to take notes. You’re presentation has to be somewhat logically organized. You can’t throw too much at us too quickly, because we’ll just give up.
2. I was able to take notes on my computer
Props to PubCon for providing extension cords and power strips for us.
3. My notes are somewhat legible.
You be the judge.

Some People Prefer This

Some people prefer this mix of visual cue and text. You may find it helpful.
Click on any of the images to see a full-resolution version.

Some People Prefer Summaries

Here are some of the things I gleaned from notes that didn’t pass the three-point test:

Tools to Check Out

Organic Keyword Search
SEO “Quake” Plugin
SEO for Firefox
Yahoo Site Explorer
Adwords Preview Tool
Google Insights (Excel)
SEM Rush (Mark Jackson)
Google Trends
MSN Commercial Intention Tool
Bing Webmaster Tools
Landing Pages Lead Management
Social Evaluation
Trackur (Andy Beale)
Tracking Twitter
Facebook Apps
Sprout Publisher
Facebook Notes
Site Design
MeasureIt Firefox Plugin
Aardvark Firefox Plugin
Colorzilla Firefox Plugin
Firebug Firefox Plugin
Headspace2 WordPress Plugin
WordPress Themes
Thesis ($)
Flexibility 2
Affiliate Theme
eArtisteer (random theme generator)
OneTrueMedia Video Editing and hosting
TrafficGeyser (use with care)
YouTube Insight
Google TV
YouTube Wonder Wheel
Handbrake Video Compressor

Teach a man to fish and you feed him for life. Teach a woman to fish and you feed a village.

Every entrepreneur should come to understand what microcredit is teaching us. This movement is teaching us about the very foundation of our free enterprise system. It is teaching us where compassion lives within our framework of self interest. It is showing us that we are right to believe that opportunity brings out the best in us in ways that charity does not.
In terms of providing “aid” to struggling countries, the US is quite generous. However, the results of our aid are often heart breaking, with much of it being wasted by the governments that are supposed to get it to their people.
Charity has its place. Opportunity, however is the jet engine that moves charity to increase a person’s standard of living. As Americans, we believe that opportunity is the seed from which freedom springs.
Microcredit is opportunity. It is the process of making small loans to individuals in countries that do not share our freedoms… yet. These loans are given to individuals who wish to build businesses in their communities. Initial loans are often no more than US$50.00. Payback rates are well above 90%, and typically approach 100%. It is women who are taking the most advantage of microlending opportunities. This is good, because they tend to invest their profits in their children and their community.
DiscoverHope is a “blended” microcredit organization headquartered in Austin and focusing on South America. I support DiscoverHope because they don’t just loan money, but have built education centers to teach their clients how to build and run a business.
I love the thought that my donations to DiscoverHope will create value over and over and over. This is what we want in our businesses. Why not demand it of our giving?
image DiscoverHope is home-grown goodness, started right here in Austin, Texas. In classic Austin tradition, DiscoverHope is using music to express their gratitude and raise more funds for sprouting entrepreneurs in Peru. It’s Saturday, September 26.
You should buy a ticket. The $25 you pay goes right to DiscoverHope activities.
You should also plan to come. You’re going to meet people who have a positive, expansive vision for how we can give back some of the bounty we enjoy here in America.
Do you give out of guilt, or give out of gratitude? Come mingle in a room full of the grateful, and see if you don’t start the next day with a fresh attitude.
Conversion Sciences is a proud sponsor of Band Together for Hope and a donor to DiscoverHope.
Brian Massey's social graph

I apparently have set off a new fashion trend

Tom Bennett sporting his new Lab Coat During my presentation at Innotech Portland on Social Conversion Twitter was alive with chatter about my attractive Lab Coat. In generous Conversion Scientist fashion, I provided @tom_bennett of The New Group with a coat of his own, as well as @bryanrhoads and @kellyrfeller of Intel.

Brian Massey, Kent Lewis and Dylan Boyd at Innotech Portland
Brian Massey, Kent Lewis and Dylan Boyd at Innotech Portland

Clearly, a I’m not the only one that looks good in a lab coat.
But, lest you believe that the coat is only a fashion statement, be assured that it is an important protective garment for any Conversion Scientist.
In my letter to Tom,  Bryan and Kelly, I tell them that the new addition to their wardrobe is functional as well as stylish.

These coats are woven from mono-filament engagium for strength and protection. The cloth is designed to protect the wearer from all forms of marketing chemicals no matter how acidic or overblown. The material will resist most toxic marketing, including email ribonucleic flaccid, copy hydro-inflate, and Flash fires.

However, there is a danger to the appearance of unbounded intelligence intimated by such an outfit.

Be forewarned that, when wearing the coat in public, you will be expected to have intelligence far beyond normal human capacity. Nonetheless, making up answers to questions about genetics or the proper operation of an electron microscope will harm the image that we try to convey with the lab coat. It’s OK to say “I don’t know.”

Needless to say, such a garment doesn’t come cheap. Safe marketing my friends.

You can still get a discount with the code TPH200 today

The last time we played What to Test! The Conversion Quiz Show, we were throwing balls and learning about content that converts.
I’m teaming up with Alissa Ruehl of Apogee Search at Interactive Austin 09 bring it back.


  • They tell you that you should test copy, but what will your visitors respond to?

  • They tell you to test different button text, but which ones?

  • They tell you to try different headlines, but how do you choose?

Brian Massey and Alissa Ruehl present What To Test! the Conversion Game Show
We’ll be covering the “Conversion Stack” which is the levels and kinds of conversion you can consider based on your resources and experience.
Join us at Interactive Austin ’09 where everyone that is anyone will be … interacting. Use code TPH200 to get $25 off of your registration fee TODAY ONLY.

Find out at the Door64 Tech Fair and Extraordinary Interviews Seminar

A/B Testing of Toilet Paper at CupprimoFor a Conversion Scientist, life is full of A/B tests. You find them everywhere. We are naturally curious creatures, always wondering why people behave the way they do. The answers are rarely obvious.
For example, I have been monitoring a sort of A/B split test happening at a local cupcake and coffee shop called Cupprimo. For some unknown reason, the proprietors have consistently provided both quilted and unquilted toilet paper in their men’s room. As you might expect, the quilted TP roll is consistently smaller than it’s unquilted competitor. But, as a Conversion Scientist, I have to ask: is it because the position of the quilted roll is more convenient to right-handed bomb-droppers? Is it because the luxurious quilted TP is thicker, and that the roll only appears to shrink faster? Perhaps it is a test error? Are the hapless managers not replacing the rolls at the same time? Here’s the real kicker: are these results consistent with the ladies’ results?
I know that, like me, you’re just dying to find out what the test really tells us. But right now, I’m going to spend the next few paragraphs trying to tie this example to my presentations at the Door64 Tech Fair and the Extraordinary Interviews Seminar for Technology Professionals. You want to go, you just don’t know why yet.

The Job Search and Conversion

While the toilet paper question is important, I’ve had to focus my attention on the problem of job search for the past few months. As in our toilet paper split test, I am dealing with incomplete information in the job search. Elusive are the conclusions we would draw from our job search data.
The ultimate conversion is a job offer. However, it turns out that the resume-to-job-offer conversion rate is fraught with trouble, the most significant being that once we get one or two conversions, we stop caring. We take a job and stop searching.
What we need for the job search is predictive metrics. For most job seekers, the most important predictive metric has been number of resumes sent. But this approach is no different from that taken by any number of companies who’ve spent like drunken sailors buying clicks for search terms that have little to do with their business, hoping that someone might actually become a lead or buy something–anything. This is not conversion.
A more important measure is number of interviews. For the sake of conversion, we measure it as the number of interviews booked divided by resumes sent. I call this the resume-to-book rate. The drunken sailor set will say, “So the more resumes we send, the more interviews we will get, right?” Well, since the resume-to-book rate is a percentage, throwing resumes against the proverbial wall will actually decrease your conversion rate (unless you send each with a substantial sum of money, which is also true in pay-per-click search).
The key is to send fewer more targeted resumes. When you do this three things increase your resume-to-book rate:


  • You decrease the number of resumes sent, which will mathematically increase resume-to-book rates.

  • You increase the likelihood of getting more interviews by spending more time on each application and cover letter.

  • You target only those jobs for which you are somewhat qualified.

In other words, your doing the exact opposite of what most search marketers do.

Meaningful Job Search Conversion Rates

It turns out that, like our quilted toilet paper test, our resume-to-book rate has some built-in issues. Since 80% of all jobs offers are garnered from a personal contact, sending resumes is actually the least effective way to apply for a job. The number of postings available via job boards is too small and there’s too much competition. In short, it doesn’t scale. The Conversion Scientist ranks #1 on all search engines for “conversion scientists with lab coats.” However, the number of searches is small, so it really doesn’t help. Job postings have the same problem.
Since personal contact is the way to get interviews, then our predictive conversions must be tied to the number of people who are actively helping us look for work. For most of us, that is our parents (motivated to get us to move out of the house again) and that one new recruiter who hasn’t yet learned a tactful way to tell us they don’t really have anything for us.
As it turns out, it’s our old friend “opt-in rate” that is the most powerful predictor of our job search. Most of us have low opt-in rates. ‘We’ve Twittered, “Got laid off. Let me know if you hear of anything.” That doesn’t invite an opt-in. A few of us have sent emails to our professional contacts detailing our qualifications. Then we end by saying “Let me know if you hear of anything.” Not an opt-in either. In short, we don’t give our personal networks anything to opt into, and our opt-in rates would be zero if not for our parents and that one green recruiter.
Why is opt-in important? Because the higher your opt-in rates, the larger your personal job search network gets. The larger your personal job search network, the more unpublicized jobs you’ll be privy to. The people who know how to engage their personal network have the following advantages:


  • They uncover jobs that aren’t posted

  • They get inside information on the jobs they apply for

  • They find champions to walk their resumes into the hiring manager

  • They circumvent the trolls in HR whose main job is to protect the hiring manager from tidal waves of resumes

Learn How to Put Your Personal Network to Work for You

If you want to enjoy the benefits of an active network of friends, relatives and colleagues joyfully working day-in and day-out to help you find a cherry position, then you need to come out and see me. I’ve written the book, and we’re working on the software, but you can’t get either right now, so this is your only option. There are two opportunities in Austin:
[UPDATE: This has been cancelled] April 28 at the Extraordinary Interviews for Technology Professionals Seminar. This is a full day that covers the gamut–networking, resume writing, cover letters, and interviewing skills. Those who attend this event are going to be taking all of the good jobs for a while. The rest of you can relax.
April 30 at the Door64 Tech Fair and Austin Brain Party. If you don’t think you have a personal network, let Matt Genovese and Door64 get one started for you at the Tech Fair and Brain Party. I’ll be talking about the ten attitudes that you will need to succeed in the job market for the next 20 years. For a list of the participants you want to know visit

We were throwing balls at the audience during the Conversion Optimization and Testing Panel at PubCon South in March. Why balls? Because we were focused on reducing the amount of traffic that bounces off of the audience’s Web site, of course.
Along with panelists Taylor Pratt and Bill Leake, and our moderator Christine Churchill, we gave the audience the best practices for reducing bounce rates and increasing leads and sales.
I decided to have some fun with my segment of the Panel. Several brave members of the audience volunteered to answer the query “What to Test!” for the chance to earn a smiley ball compliments of Smiley Media.
Now you can play as well!

It’s going to be a busy Spring for me, and that means you have several chances to see me, Brian Massey, Conversion Scientist (applause). I’m speaking at several different conferences, three of which are in Austin and one of which is no charge. I hope to see you at one of these.

Austin Engagements

I’ll be presenting my Web Strategies Workshop at RISE Austin on March 4 at 10:00am. We’re meeting at the Thistle Cafe downtown. Check out all of the other presentations happening around town, too.
I’ll be part of a panel talking about Testing and Optimizing for Conversion on March 11 at 1:00pm. PubCon is one of the best search shows to come to Austin.
PubCon South in Austin with Brian Massey
Everyone who is anyone in Austin will be at Interactive Austin. I’ll be there too talking about my favorite subject: Conversion.

Elsewhere Around the Country

You may or may not know that I write a ClickZ column on Behavioral Marketing. I’ll be in Hollywood on March 23 to moderate the panel entitled BT Partners — Choosing Wisely.
I’ll be returning to Innotech Oregon on April 23 to discuss Social Conversion, a topic that Dave Evans and I have done some work on lately.
I look forward to seeing you in person.

Learn how to use Search, E-mail, Conversion, and Social Media to grow your business while your competitors are shrinking.

All in One Day

I’ve shown dozens of businesses how to use the most cost-efficient marketing methods available to increase their sales. There is no more cost-efficient way to market than online, and the top eMarketers in Austin will be in one place on January 29 to show you how it’s done.

Will you be there?

eMarketing Techniques for Business will show you how to use the bread-and-butter online marketing techniques in your business: E-mail, Search, Conversion, and Social Media. If you don’t know the names of these companies, you should:
Hubspot, Apogee Search, WorkSmart eMarketing, Aperio Marketing, IncSlingers, NLI Media Group, Writeous Words, and Conversion Sciences.
These are the companies that are writing the book on growth when everyone else is pulling back. How much would it cost to engage each of these online specialists? Not as much as you would gain, but a LOT more than a ticket to eMarketing Techniques for Business.

It’s Time to Take Action

The decisions you make in the next 30 to 60 days will determine your fate in 2009. Will you be one of the businesses with a shrinking customers base or one of the few with a growing prospect list, new customers, and more visibility in the market?
The good news is that you don’t have to get up the learning curve on all of these proven eMarketing Techniques. Everyone you need to know will be in Austin on Friday, January 29. All you have to do is show up.
As a speaker at the event I’ve been given a discounted rate. There won’t be another day on which you will be able to get so much decision-making insight as you will at eMarketing Techniques for Business.

Make visitors stick with Copy and Headlines

I’m going to be working with Amy Lemen to tell you exactly how you can change the copy on your Web site to make visitors stay and take action. No design changes. No new logos. Just change your copy. What could be easier? Well, it would be easier to just stay at home, but then you’d have a much less profitable year than you could.

It’s time you put E-mail to work for your business

Imagine owning a list of 5,000, 10,000 or 20,000 prospects who have shown an interest in what your company sells. How would that change your fortunes? You’ll learn how to build that list and then turn the members of that list into buyers with e-mail marketing.

Learn Only the Most Valuable Search Techniques

There are thousands of strategies for using search to drive your business. There are only a handful that matter to your business. Find out where you should be focusing when you seek to turn searchers into your customers.

Social Media is here. Are you a part of the conversation?

The conversations about your business are happening all around the Internet — if you’re lucky. What if you could be a part of those conversations? Social media is the newest tool for building brand, loyalty, goodwill, and more traffic to your Web site. If you don’t understand how it works, you can’t make good decisions about using it to grow your business.

There is more. Much More.

While this exclusive event could easily garner $2000 or more, it is being offered for just $199. Imagine the very people who know how to drive more sales for your business in one place, and you can get in for just $199. That’s just nuts.