Who Attends Traffic & Conversion Summit

As marketers and entrepreneurs, customer research and feedback should be at the heart of everything we do.

And as an event that basically only serves marketers and entrepreneurs, we thought we should probably take a whack at eating our own dog food. 😉

In the wake of 2020 and many, many shifts in the industry, we set out to understand three things.

  1. Who is our main audience?
  2. What are the “Big 3” challenges and opportunities they see?
  3. What kinds of help and solutions are they looking for?

Here’s what we found.

What industry or vertical do they work in?

  • Agency/Consultant – 35%
  • Education & Training – 25.17%
  • Speaker, Author or Expert – 18.54%

Marketing Agencies & Consultants


A BIG chunk of this audience is a marketing agency. 

Just like everyone at T&C, they need the most cutting edge marketing tactics and strategies available. But agencies need all that and more!

They have unique challenges associated with client acquisition, onboarding, and fulfillment. They need:

  • Solutions to save them time and money in their business (project management tools, design tools, marketing automation, you name it); 
  • Systems that run efficiently for their teams and clients; and 
  • Time to network and share knowledge with other agencies, so they can continue to grow and scale!

Coaches, Course Creators, and All-Around Educators

Another quarter of the audience focuses on education and training. 

This means they are running content creation, online courses, challenges, and other education-based tools to help people grow in their marketing and entrepreneurship skill sets. 

Like with agencies, this business model also depends on learning cutting-edge marketing techniques — not only to help them acquire new customers and scale in their OWN business, but to teach and pass on to their clients and students. 

What else do they need?

  • Any and every kind of content creation and management tool that allows them to systemize and productize their content with more polish and more proficiency. 
  • A way to provide seamless customer journeys that allow for simple upgrades from course sign ups to high-ticket coachings. 
  • Payment management and the same marketing automation tools that any online business would use! 
  • Tools to develop a successful personal brand, and all the social media coaching and automation available to help them scale their reach.

Speakers, Authors & Experts 


Now, what about the Speaker, Author or Expert segment? 

Because this was a multi-select question, we think it’s safe to say that this is a secondary role fulfilled by agency owners, consultants, and educators. 

Our audience uses stages, authorship, and thought leadership to grow their business and personal brand by reaching new potential customers and strategic partnerships. 

This means our audience is very willing to show up and share knowledge at events across the industry, contribute to collaborative content opportunities, and step into a position of expertise to grow their business. They need platforms, publishers, and new ways to present their thought leadership.

What is their role in the company? 

Top 3 roles:

  • Founder and/or CEO – 58.98%
  • Marketing Professional – 16.61%
  • Marketing/Sales Executive – 12.54%

Founders & CEOs


The MAJORITY of our audience are the decision-makers in their business. Combined with the first question, it’s safe to say we have a bunch of agency owners at T&C. 

This means that our agency owners have all the needs listed above for agencies, plus the added pressure of being the captain of the ship. They need: 

  • Community support and mentorship on leadership. 
  • A future vision and a viable path for scaling and exiting a successful agency
  • The same project management, design, and marketing automation tools listed above, and 
  • Business scaling and business management solutions from payroll and accounting to legal and insurance. 

Marketing & Sales Professionals

In addition to showing up to T&C to learn the best techniques and find the best solutions, our Founders & CEOs are bringing their marketing teams to “divide and conquer” the event content, networking, and technology research. These teams are the boots on the ground in the business, and they’re swimming in data management, social media strategy, and customer satisfaction on a daily basis. These marketing and sales professionals need the best training T&C has to offer, as well as the opportunity to meet new clients, strike up new strategic partnerships, and shop for new time-saving tools. 

What geographical area(s) do they work in?

  • North America – 78.57% 
  • Europe – 21.09% 
  • Australasia – 9.86%

This was no surprise to us. T&C was founded in Austin, Texas and moved to San Diego, California to accommodate massive growth. With all the content presented in English and a long history of primarily English-speaking attendees, we continue to attract our largest audience segments from countries where English is one of the top 2 languages. We tried to go global in 2020, and well… you know what happened there.

What are the biggest challenges for their businesses? 

While this was a multi-select question, here are the top 3 answers: 

  • Lead generation – 39.04%
  • Acquisition – 29.82%
  • Increasing Customer Lifetime Value – 24.12%

The Big 3


It’s no secret that lead generation, acquisition, and increasing customer lifetime value are the biggest growth levers for any business. 

But why are they the top challenges? Are they heavily weighted because of their importance and impact in the business, or because they’re actually the most challenging?

We think it’s both.

With recent updates to regulations, privacy changes, iOS14 (and 15 looming ever closer…) the quick-fix hacks just aren’t cutting it anymore. With ecommerce seeing a decade’s worth of growth in 2020, the competition online is fiercer than ever, and the old email ascension campaigns just aren’t cutting it. Customers are jumping to competitors after seeing a single ad and it’s going to take more than just proficient media buying to turn your customers into raving fans.

So when it comes to staying successful and competitive for the future, our Founders, CEOs, and Marketing & Sales professionals need the latest and greatest content, training, and tools for creative lead generation, acquisition, and increasing customer lifetime value. Not just because they’re the biggest growth levers in any business, but because they are more important and more challenging than ever before. 

Notable Non-Issues:

I know you’re curious, so here’s what DIDN’T make the top 3:

  • Paid Media – 22.40%
  • Tracking & Attribution – 21.35%
  • Entering / Expanding into new markets – 20.31%
  • Content – 16.67%
  • Email – 13.54%
  • iOS 14 updates – 13.02%
  • Social media – 13.02%
  • AI/Automation – 11.46%
  • Partnerships – 11.46%
  • Affiliates – 9.38%
  • Diversification – 8.33%
  • Personalization – 7.81%
  • Influencers – 5.73%
  • Privacy laws – 5.73%
  • Mobile / In-app tracking – 5.21%
  • Voice Search – 5.21%





These two in particular caught my eye:

  • # 8: iOS 14 updates. Rather than get stuck in the weeds, our audience chooses to see the forest through the trees. They understand iOS updates have a huge impact, but they stay focused on the acquisition channel as a whole, rather than get bogged down in the industry’s latest headline.
  • # 16: Voice Search. Another trending topic that industry experts are sounding alarms about didn’t register for our attendees. Did it rank low because it’s not a challenge? Or because it’s not even on their radar? It’s impossible to tell, but until voice search’s impact on SEO starts to affect the Big 3, our audience is happy to carry on. 

What are the biggest opportunities for their businesses?


While this was a multi-select question, here are the top 3 answers: 

  • Lead Generation – 42.20%
  • Increasing Customer Lifetime Value – 38.24%
  • Acquisition – 37.21%

Wait, WHAT? Is that a typo?

You mean to tell me that this audience said the top 3 challenges and the top 3 opportunities are the SAME!?

Yep! I know. Crazy, right? 

We don’t mean to brag, but our audience at T&C is super smart.

This goes back to knowing the Big 3 growth levers in any business:

  • Lead generation
  • Increasing CLV, and 
  • Acquisition

Challenge = Opportunity


Our audience (remember, mostly CEOs and Founders) understands that the biggest opportunities often present the biggest challenges, and they never take their eye off the ball. They know that new business and repeat customers are their bread and butter. And although they sometimes claim to suffer from shiny object syndrome, when asked, they know the Big 3 off the top of their head. They know where their focus should be.

There’s one more interesting tidbit I want to point out.

They said acquisition was a bigger challenge than increasing CLV.

But when it comes to the bigger opportunity… CLV beat acquisition.

Why CLV?

Customer experience and satisfaction becomes the name of the game in the post-iOS14/Google Chrome 3rd party cookie ban (whenever it happens) world. Although acquisition still made the top 3 opportunities, because of the challenges associated with the channel, CEOs and Founders are slightly shifting focus towards capitalizing on the opportunity with CLV. What does this mean? Branding and positioning, staying top-of-mind with great content, and aligning with a cause customers resonate with are the keys to turning first-time customers into repeat buyers and raving fans.

Translation: CEOs, Founders, and Marketing/Sales professionals need help making acquisition easier, but they know that increasing CLV is the key to profitability in 2021 and beyond. Anyone who can help them with that has their attention.

Notable Non-Starters:

Here are the opportunities that didn’t make the cut:

  • Email – 28.24%
  • Entering / Expanding into new markets – 27.49%
  • Content – 26.90%
  • Paid Media – 26.90%
  • Social media – 23.21%
  • Affiliates – 20.96%
  • Partnerships – 20.83%
  • AI/Automation – 18.34%
  • Tracking & Attribution – 11.90%
  • Influencers – 9.64%
  • Personalization – 9.70%
  • Diversification – 9.09%
  • Mobile / In-app tracking – 4.17%
  • Voice Search – 4.22%
  • iOS 14 updates – 2.40%
  • Privacy laws – 2.40%



These two surprised me:

  • # 13: Influencers. If your idea of ‘influencers’ includes a Kardashian, this isn’t entirely surprising. Our top industries represented are agencies and education/training. Their target audiences don’t exactly match that of top influencers. However, several DTC and ecommerce moguls who found success with the first wave of mega influencers have started to point out the new frontier of ‘influence.’ Read: micro-influencers and user-generated content. So for those agency owners who have been leveraging customer testimonials in their marketing funnels, they have a network of ‘influencers’ waiting in the wings.
  • # 14: Personalization. “Hey, [FIRSTNAME], have you seen this yet?” Along with other quick marketing hacks, personalization just doesn’t impress audiences much these days. The general public understands now that basically any feature can be automated now, and they’ve learned to glaze right over their names in email subject lines and copy. Again, our audience has realized that the key to connecting with customers is all about branding, positioning, taking a stand, and providing an incredible customer experience. In the wake of privacy updates, they’re happy to let it go. Personalization is just so 2012.

What other business challenges/opportunities will they face in the next 12 months?

With over a hundred responses, the three main themes were:

  • Growing a team
  • Changing landscapes in marketing
  • Scaling and taking advantage of new opportunities

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, so here’s a picture of 164 words. Close enough, right?

What type of solutions or help are they looking for at T&C?

  1. Customer Acquisition – 52.66% 
  2. Automated Lead Generation – 49.11% 
  3. Funnel Building – 49.11% 
  4. Email Marketing – 48.52% 
  5. Paid Traffic – 47.93% 
  6. Business Development – 46.15% 
  7. Content Marketing – 46.15% 
  8. Analytics & Tracking – 39.64% 
  9. Social Media – 39.05% 
  10. Copywriting – 37.87% 
  11. SEO – 32.54% 
  12. Landing Page Design – 31.95% 
  13. Video Production – 30.77% 
  14. Branding – 27.22% 
  15. eCommerce – 26.04% 
  16. Website Design – 20.12% 
  17. Coaching & Consulting – 20.12% 
  18. Consulting – 15.98%

The top two should come as no surprise, because they’re part of the Big 3 growth levers of any business, the top challenges and opportunities for our audience. 

  1. Customer Acquisition – 52.66% 
  2. Automated Lead Generation – 49.11% 

Next we have Funnel Building, Email Marketing, and Paid Traffic. These are three make-or-break pillars of digital marketing.

  1. Funnel Building – 49.11% 
  2. Email Marketing – 48.52% 
  3. Paid Traffic – 47.93% 

While our audience is largely made of marketing experts, they’re looking for help on these three. They might try and use T&C to recruit team members with expertise in these areas to free up the Founders and CEOs to work on the business rather than in it. This may also be made of marketing professionals that want to hone their craft and increase their skill set.

Looking further down the list, there isn’t much that our audience doesn’t need help with. They are either very eager learners, overworked and understaffed, or both. 

TAKEAWAYS

The Big 3 Reign 


Lead generation, acquisition, and increasing customer lifetime value will continue to be the top 3 growth levers in any business. Our audience is laser-focused on these three things, and they see them both as their greatest challenge and their greatest opportunity. Improving one or more of these three would be invaluable to our audience.

Thought Leaders Are Among Us

We were surprised by 19% of our audience tagging themselves as a Speaker, Author, or Expert. Personal branding, thought leadership, and online education or coaching models are on the rise in this industry — and our audience already has a piece of that pie. How that thought leadership impacts their business as a whole remains to be seen, but it’s clearly here to stay. 

What’s Old is New

While iOS and Google Chrome updates seem to have the industry in a tailspin, our audience isn’t falling for the doomsday headlines. They know exactly what’s going to pull through for them. 

Increasing CLV is seen as a bigger opportunity than acquisition. And it’s no wonder! Paid media profitability is dropping. The quick hacks are simply not cutting it anymore.

And There You Have It

The audience at Traffic & Conversion Summit is an extremely unique group of people — all marketing experts, most are key decision makers, and most are business leaders and thought leaders. They’re basically the most interesting people in the world.

If you want to get to know them, you know where they’ll be.

Traffic & Conversion Summit 2021
September 13 – 15, 2021
San Diego Convention Center

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Bethany Cowan

I set the stage for expert marketers to connect with eager learners. Together with DigitalMarketer, our audience and attendees at Traffic & Conversion Summit get most relevant, proven and actionable techniques available. When I'm not swimming in spreadsheets or running backup batteries to our speakers, you'll also catch me hosting, emceeing, and speaking from time to time.
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