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Swamp Thing: Clicks and Conversions in Fort Lauderdale. A review of Conversion Conference Florida 2012.

South Central Florida: famous for sport fishing, mangrove swamps, 100% humidity and alligators. A few miles from the submerged sawgrass estuaries and the famous “River of Grass” the great and the good of the Conversion world gathered in the plush setting of the Weston Bonaventure Resort, just down the road from Fort Lauderdale.

This was the first time that chairman/curator Tim Ash had brought Conversion Conference to the far South East of the US, and Floridians were amply represented by local businesses and sessions moderated by SFIMA (South Florida Interactive Marketing Association). Delegates from as far afield as Brazil, New Zealand and the UK mingled with conversion experts from all over North America.

The keynotes were as usual impressive. Tim Ash himself opened on a few priniciples of Neuromarketing: the science of selling. His paper presented some very interesting observations and tips on how to present multiple offers and guide users to subconsciously “read” the most attractive offer. Conversion Scientist Brian Massey offered a compelling view of the best practise in using video on websites. And to wrap up the Brain Lady herself- Dr. Susan Weinschenk- offered 10 tips to make people click based on her own research as a behavioural psychologist, before encoring with a Jazzy take of “Fly Me To The Moon”. No, really.

The programme was packed with other interesting speakers and topics including case studies from PayPal, a ping pong themed presentation on customer profiling from the suitably raucous Arjan Haring of Science Rockstars and some great best practise tips from Jenny Halasz at Archology. Emerging formats were well represented with an interesting take on how Tablets/iPads are affecting behaviour change (“do users click or swipe ?”) from John Whalen at Brilliant Experience, and 10 great social media usability case studies from Jay Berkowitz at 10 Golden Rules.

Your own correspondent introduced delegates to the joys of UK car hire brand Ling’s Cars. Introducing this site into a usability conference could be seen as the equivalent of letting off a stink bomb in a lift. However, the delegates went crazy for it (“Jeez, she’s got a mobile site too!”) and it soon spread around the conference. The point being, I guess, is that a conversion conference is not the first step in creating an homogenised experience for all visitors. It’s about understanding best practise, ignoring it when and if it’s not appropriate, but really drilling down into what your customers like about your brand assets and above all responding to conversion data and being flexible.

There were also at least three presentations with the ubiquitous iceberg picture. The iceberg, Neuromarketing fans, representing the human unconscious. Anyone for a new visual metaphor?

 

In summary, a great event with lots of new and interesting contacts being made by all, and as all the social activity centred around the resort a good opportunity to get together with the leading thinkers in conversion and swap phone numbers and ideas. Next stop: the Conversion Conference roadshow heads to Europe. See you in London?