lauren crystal

Co-founder of Hassl

Tech Start-up Insights From Turing Fest 2019

From growth leaders from Shopify, UnBounce, Yoast and Monzo.
If you haven’t heard of it before, Turing Fest is a cross-functional tech conference. But in reality it’s so much more than that. It’s a melting pot of ideas, pioneers and industry leaders — bringing together 3,000 great minds to facilitate building and scaling remarkable technology.
Some of the world’s leading technologists and marketers took to the stage to share their insight and how we can all adopt some of the insight they use. Some of the speakers included growth leaders from Shopify, UnBounce, Yoast and Monzo, as well as Chris Messina the inventor of the hashtag.
For those of you who didn’t get the opportunity this year to venture to Edinburgh, we’ve put together our top takeaways for scaling start-ups.
1. Digital Marketing Facelift.
Clicks are dead, Cookies are dead, Wordpress is thriving.
Digital marketing has seen huge growth over the last five years with social media offering a low cost, high eyeballs channel to market. These emerging channels allow any business to target specific audiences and measure their successes in click rates. But the ship has sailed, somewhat.
Both Jono Alderson from Yoast and digital marketing specialist Ariane Donoghue believe the concept of the click is dead.
On both social media, digital advertising and search results — getting clicks isn’t the be-all and end-all. Clicks are cheap but engaging a user and converting is much harder. And with new Google updates and voice assistant software, users don’t even need to click to get the information they need.
There has been a drastic change in user search behaviour in recent years. With over 50% of current Google results providing Rich Snippets, allowing users to access information without clicking through to the site. You can either go with the tide or drown trying to fight it.
Make sure your content is easily indexable so that your brand’s search results are shown to the people who matter, potential customers. Optimize your website with the like of SEO tools such as Yoast and Google Sitekit (wordpress).
Which brings up another point made by many leaders in the SEO world — Wordpress is King. 14.7% of the world’s Top 100 Websites are WP-based. Front-end builders like Wix and Squarespace are great, but Wordpress is the far superior choice for customisation and SEO.
Jono Alderson from Yoast also made an important note about the use of Advertising blocking software. Adblocker has become a mainstream tool with 41% of UK internet users enjoying an Adfree internet. With the majority of Adblocker users aged between 16–35. This means digital marketers can no longer rely on the notion that they serve ads to their target audience across the internet.
Doing this means a brand may miss out on over a third of its audience. To overcome this 41% audience hole, experts recommend mixing up your digital marketing tactics with traditional methods of advertising. Try a poster, a TV ad or maybe drop-in flyer.
Or swap some of your advertising budget with content creation — provide value and let your customers come to you instead of yelling at them.
2. Don’t Over Complicate It. Be Simple.
There are a lot of data-related acronyms thrown around these days and it’s quite overwhelming, even to the experts. Oli Gardner, Cofounder Unbounce recommends simplifying your customer data. Because you are only as good as the data you understand. One tactic for digestible data is to manually control and understanding your customer data.
Whether you are growing a SaaS platform or an eCommerce store, once a month you should put your core metrics to a baseline in a spreadsheet like Google sheets or Databox. Using analytics tools like Google Analytics and SEMRush are great, even necessary. But they have so much data that it can become overwhelming and counter productive. Find the data that is most important to you and your business and focus on them Then you know your baseline standards and don’t need to rely on a ton of data sources.
3. Be Human. Not a Digital Marketing Robot.
There’s a real need for brands to continue to drive conversions online, but they don’t need to be a prick about it. Unfortunately, marketing budgets aren’t always paired with creative budgets. Leaving us with a lot of imaginative and spammy ads that just make us annoyed rather than inspired. However, there are some methods to creating high-converting ads without pissing-off your potential users.
Remarketing campaigns are effective, purposeful and less annoying as they are only served to those who have already engaged with your brand — reminding them of their initial curiosity. However, this could change (we will talk about that later in this post).
On the other hand, pop-ups with minimal incentives, autoplay videos with sounds and large sticky ads are driving the general public bonkers. To overcompensate for these downfalls it’s predicted that programmatic creative, where brands try out different creative elements of an ad to optimise for their audience, will see an increase. Which is good news for the little guys with smaller ad budgets, strive for authenticity and creativity instead yelling into a megaphone from a rooftop and throwing business cards at people while they’re trying to read.
Aiden Carroll from The Coloring in Department says that Video marketing will see further growth with less emphasis on optimisation. The big ad firms have proven over the last few years of analysing the impact of video marketing that in reality, video content should have no optimisation limits in terms of length, screen size or schedule. Instead marketers have to delve deep into the audience’s desires and create engaging narratives. In simple terms, there is no perfect formula for videos — they just have to be engaging for the target audience.
Arianne Donoghue told of that dreaded emoji that can lead to tech giants tracking you online. As scary as the stalker emoji sounds there is good news for privacy on the horizon. Cookies are under threat with new e-privacy regulations set to launch across the EU and likely to become a global benchmark.
Without cookies, data-driven marketing is missing the ability to follow the user — which will make remarketing almost impossible. The future is looking slightly more unknown. Unlike current digital marketing trends where users are tracked extensively, we’ll see a swap back to more traditional marketing data analysis where we only know our start and end points.
This new environment will further place the importance of creativity, authenticity, value and community for brands. Dead-brands can turn to culture-driven marketing channels such as influencer marketing. Getting to grips with today’s tribe mentality and internet facilitated sub-cultures will be key in a digital ecosystem powered by groups.
4. Sponsorship Is The New Mentorship. Invest in Your Team.
Meri Williams from Monzo spoke on improving workplaces by getting the most out of your differences. Amongst Meri’s practical ways to create inclusive workplaces was the importance of role models and a need to go beyond traditional mentorship programs.
Instead, offer sponsorship where a superior in your organisation and/or team gets really, really involved in your success and vouches for it. Other methods Meri highlighted were auditing your job specifications and reviewing your brands general use of language.
The ultimate question to answer when it comes to inclusivity is simple; does your team feel like they can be themselves and be successful here? By removing barriers and increasing inclusively, businesses can build a better team, and a better team means better business.
5. You Can’t Market Yourself Without Understanding Your Position
Hana Abaza, Director of Marketing at Shopify delved into the peculiarities of marketing premium-products. Unlike Shopify, the purchase decision for Shopify Plus involves multiple touch points and decision makers, creating a longer sales cycle than the average SAAS offering. April discovered that not everyone across Shopify understood exactly what marketing was.
She emphasised the need for a whole organisation approach to understanding and value marketing, realising the function lives across planning, business operations, product development and sales. Marketing isn’t just a single strategy that you implement, everything your business does and communicates needs to be the same.
April Dunford CEO of Ambient Strategy sums up marketing and positioning nicely;
“Marketing is about making it easy for people to find, evaluate and buy your products. Positioning is figuring out what your product is in the first place.”
Once you’re team understands what the hell marketing is, it’s best to tackle the foundational elements of positioning you’re your brand. These foundational elements include branding, messaging, segments and output assets like sales decks and your website.
Use as much relevant data points as possible to inform your positioning, including, but not limited to, customers you won, website data, product usage, search data, campaign data, sales information, internal team FAQ’s.
Once you’ve gathered the information, answer the following 6 questions:
  • What is it?
  • Who is it for?
  • What category?
  • How are you different?
  • Why should I care?
  • Who are the alternatives?
Once you’ve nailed down positioning and the whole team understands the importance of marketing, you’ll be less likely to have sales teams making shit up and more likely to have growth.
6. No One Complains About Bugs But They’re Really Important
Bug hunting just got sexy. Craig Sullivan from Optimise or Die made the case for better device, and UX bug testing. What the industry as a whole has seen is that large corporations and highly funded tech companies are spending millions on digital marketing whilst often bug testing is but a blip in a project.
Craig believes bug testing needs to be recognised as a fundamental way to optimise your conversion rate. The first step is to understand that bugs are not just errors you are informed of. Quite the opposite, actually.
Customers, users, consumers are not likely to report a bug or a UX issue — they have no time to complain, instead they’ll just stop using your product or if you’re lucky, they’ll continue to do so begrudgingly.
The solution? It’s really simple, businesses should focus on device performance and prove their product and service works. We should act like car manufacturers, Nissan did so well by focusing on product quality and reducing defects. So how do we do this? Delve into your site or app analytics and separate usage by device, screen size and browser. Look out for discrepancies, extra load times, increased exit rates and reduced time spent on page.
Find the screen size where the button is hidden or the lazy load takes up half the screen and fix it. This goes for marketing websites too, which applies to every modern business out there. If you are the lucky owner of an app or your website is the sole revenue barer for your business, consider creating a device wall.
To do this you buy a bunch of varied, old devices and stick them on the wall. Every time you change/edit/add to your website or app check it works consistently across all devices. Rinse and repeat. Invest in bug-testing, increase your conversion rates, make more money, have happier customers.
So that’s it folks. Our summary of Turing Fest highlights.
If next year you find yourself near Edinburgh, Scotland we’d highly recommend attending, if not the insights and networking, then do it for the whisky.

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