In the digital world, if not in any niche, a continuous drive for self-improvement is the only trait that guarantees professional survival. The digital landscape is evolving constantly. Pause for but one moment and you might miss it. At Digital Web Properties we do our best to remain informed about the latest trends and to check out how others are doing business online. Sometimes, this means taking a step back from the computer.
Our team recently attended the May 2017 GPeC Summit and loved it. We think you will too. Here are 10 reasons why you should consider attending the GPeC Summit at least once in your lifetime.
1. The (International) Speakers are Awesome
I was really impressed by the number (and high level) of international speakers who shared their know-how with us, but if I had to choose just one presentation, it would be the workshop of Karl Gilis. Dubbed the ‘Conversion Comedian’ for his entertaining speeches, his style is the perfect balance between flamboyant, funny and information-rich. I especially liked how almost every slide of his presentation featured a left-vs-right comparison of the same web page, optimized differently, up to tiny little details which can greatly impact the conversions. If this won’t get me to amp up my split testing game, I don’t know what will.
This was my first eCommerce conference so I was pretty hyped. The first day also kicked off on a great note, with exclusive statistics about the state of eCommerce in Romania. It was a pleasure to hear about values that I hold dear (transparency, humanness, personalization, customer segmentation, and AR) from the influencers that have the power to shape the market. I thoroughly enjoyed the international speeches, especially Erkan Soy’s diffident presentation about omnichannel eCommerce. Nevertheless, if I’d have to choose a favorite speech from the first day it would be 20+ Tips & Tricks for a Successful Online Shop. This speech was in Romanian, but if you’re a foreigner you needn’t worry. GPeC provides international attendees with real-time translations! 🙂
2. You Get the Chance to Meet the Local Elite
The international speakers were a great addition to the conference. Karl Gilis made us laugh and cry, Tomi Ahonen raised great points about the 8th mass medium, and Jon Wolske touched our hearts from thousands of miles away. However, I feel like I could really resonate with the local speakers. The Stage on Fire sessions fostered fruitful conversations and tackled real problems that eCommerce owners have (from payment processing to refining the customer’s journey). The workshops on day 2 and 3 were also very educational.
I mentioned earlier the prestigious speakers coming in from other countries to share the knowledge here in Bucharest. But in the dazzle of these famous names, it’s easy to forget the hidden gem of such events, which is precisely the local elite in ecommerce. The networking opportunities are endless, not to mention simply the fact that you can compare yourself to others, in the healthy and constructive way.
3. You can Network with People from Various Backgrounds
It’s not just about the local who’s who in eCommerce attending, it’s also about the variety of backgrounds pouring in. Some people are online shop owners, some are beginners and others are more experienced, some are service agency representatives, some hail from the business of logistics, while others are simply digital experts in various focus fields (conversions, AdWords campaigns and so on).
The GPeC Summit is an opportune place to network with store owners & service providers, find out about new software, and ask for advice. You will meet hundreds of people, with varying levels of experience, who share your passion. There is something to learn from everyone. If you confine yourself to an office space it can be very difficult to look at things from a different perspective. GPeC gave me the chance to see how store owners, software providers, and other agencies think.
4. The Workshops are Packed with Actionable Advice
I loved how the speakers at GPeC were driving their points and opinions across based on their actual experience in various businesses. Many of these guys (a nod here to Valentin Radu, Matei Psatta, Andrei Georgescu and Sorin Sfetcu) have went through more than 5 companies and or/jobs during the past 10 years, some of them had founded companies, failed and founded new ones and so on. If anyone would be qualified to talk about conversion and business growth issues to an audience of budding businesses, it’s definitely them.
Short disclaimer- I am confident that there was know-how behind every workshop, but I didn’t find all of them equally actionable. This being said, I would like to thank Horia Neagu for his neatly organized and down-to-earth presentation: “Serious CEO Looks for SEO for Serious Relationship”. This workshop was extremely useful, especially for tech savyy store owners. The interactive workshop answered many important questions about semantic search, keyword mapping, site architecture, duplicate content, link-building, and social media (for SEO). More importantly, I feel that it helped to dispel certain misconceptions that people have in regards to SEO. I also want to give Kudos to Liviu Taloi for the comprehensive guide to Google Analytics. I hope people managed to keep up with the workshop. The 5-minute tips are really useful for bench-marking the performance of an online store.
5. You Will Find out About the Latest Statistics in Digital eCommerce
Reality check with @KarlGilis at #gpecsummit via @gpecro pic.twitter.com/sak1prWdRi
— Liviu Taloi (@ltaloi) May 17, 2017
Almost every presentation we had the pleasure of attending has used up-to-date figures and statistics about the current state of ecommerce, both locally and internationally. Therefore, the bits of wisdom or advice handed out by speakers were always backed by hard data. No one said simply ‘do this’. Instead, they said: ‘X percent of users decide to leave or stay after the initial Y seconds spent viewing your website, and if you do this, split testing has shown that you can reduce your bounce rate by 33%’. Everything was deriving from facts and data, and you could also get a better overview of how challenging online commerce really is, insights into consumer behavior and so on.
Indeed, most presentations included mind-blowing statistics. But when statistics are not put into context they are simply numbers. I love statistics, but I advise people to take them with a grain of salt. Andrei Canda’s stats from the opening presentation were collected in March-April 2017, so they were extremely up-to-date and relevant. However, some of the statistics presented throughout the Summit dated back to 2015. In the digital world, two years is a very looooong time. Statistics and trends should never be taken for granted. As many speakers so eloquently mentioned, eCommerce stores should never rely on general statistics or vanity metrics. They should take the road of personalization and make decisions based on their audience.
6. You Will Learn Why, How, and What to Measure
“After mobile comes #AugmentedReality. VR closes up from the real world; AR opens up the real world.” @tomiahonen #GPeCSUMMIT
— ioana sima (@SimaIoana1) May 16, 2017
One of the speakers spoke an universal truth: what matters is not what changes, but what never changes. Customers will always want cheap products and quality products. They will always want free shipping and helpful customer support. With this in mind, store owners have to define their value proposition. GPeC speakers encouraged attendees to monitor their store’s performance on various channels continuously to define relevant measurables.
I also really liked the way the speakers encouraged everyone to measure the performance of their websites continuously. We were shown what to measure and how to measure it, depending on what really helps our business in its current stage. It’s easy to scoop up as much data as possible through analytics tools, but not all data is equal: some insights are more helpful to a particular business than others. Also, a point which really stuck with me was one made by Valentin Radu: ‘Whatever you do not evaluate does not matter, or you will lose’. Monitoring your portal’s performance reflects the importance you place on it, and the future it has. The things which you don’t accurately measure out and verify can never be improved.
7. You Will Finally Understand How to Make your Customers Happy!
Speaking of monitoring parameters and measurables, I was pleasantly impressed by the focus on monitoring various parameters immediately before and after implementing a change (also known as split testing). I’ve always felt that this kind of thorough follow-up on implementing your ideas is the highest form of self-evaluation, and also a true openness towards your user’s experience. Thus, in a way, split testing was always, for me, sort of a true measure of one’s professionalism. This was one of the main reasons I was so positively charmed by the presentations at the GPeC summit.
Split testing is all well and good… if you have something to split test on. As much as I enjoy discussions about micro-moments, audience segmentation, and A/B testing, I believe this should be done as soon as major technical problems are resolved. It would seem that the experts at GPeC agree. The conference strikes a good balance between the ideal and the real. It will open your eyes to the benefits of split testing. However, it will do so while reminding you about that annoying pop-up on your home-page or the under-optimized mobile version of your site. As Karl Gilis mentioned: optimizing a shitty site will result in an optimized shitty experience. Thankfully for you, at GPeC you can learn how to overcome the shitty experience before attempting to optimize for conversions. Many of the tips shared are also applicable for our site, since we are still working on it! 🙂
If you have a shitty website and you add personalization to it, you just get a shitty personalized experience. @AGConsult at #GPeCSUMMIT
— Cristian Andrei (@CristianAndrei) May 16, 2017
8. The Event is Very Well Organized
I was blown away by the level of organization and I attended several conferences in my life-time (not related to digital marketing/ecommerce). With one exception, all the workshops started on time and ended within the time limit. The first day of speeches also ran smoothly and without incidents. Networking with the experts at the booths was a pleasure. Despite the fact that I forgot to register online for the workshops (sorry!) I had no problems attending the ones that interested me. There was more than enough room for everyone and people were also happy to share their seats.
Everything was run pretty smoothly, and considering how many people attended it, this is quite the organization feat. Beyond this, one particular aspect of it all piqued my interest: the set of 2 workshops going on at the same time. Initially, eager to absorb more info, this was a little frustrating, since I didn’t want to have to choose between them. Still, after the initial weighing of options, I realized that this way of organizing the workshops really forced me to choose between what is really important to my activity in the near future and what is something I would eventually like to learn more about.
It forces you to admit your priorities to yourself, and that’s one of the first steps of optimizing your work process. Also, if you’re attending the GPeC summit with a colleague (as we did), it’s easy to simply divide your attentions to the simultaneous workshops and exchange ideas later.
“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts.” Jeff Bezos, Amazon. #GPeCSUMMIT #eCommerce #Customers pic.twitter.com/5tH5u74upm
— Agile Media (@agilemediacom) May 16, 2017
9. The GPeC Summit is Budget-friendly!
I believe that the accessible price is also an important reason to attend the GPeC Summit in Romania. For 159€ (standard) or 119€ (early-bird) you gain access to three days of information packed speeches and workshops. That’s over 10 speeches and 18 workshops. Catering services are also included. If i’m not mistaken, prices for marketing conferences start at $600 and can reach $2,500. GPeC also hosts a 5-day summer school for approximately $700, all-inclusive.
Don’t let the affordable registration fee fool you into thinking this is a low-brow event. The high level of the presentations delivered and the nice location are every bit as high-standard as you could possibly want from an event reuniting East European who’s who in ecommerce and international elites. The fact that this is a high-level event but also one with a non-prohibitive price makes it more inclusive and welcoming to all categories of professionals. That includes beginners and freelancers; we’ve actually encountered one or two while mingling in the coffee break room.
10. Everyone is Super Friendly
As I mentioned earlier, this was my first eCommerce event so I didn’t know quite what to expect. I am also a bit shy. I had no idea if I would befriend anyone. Our portfolio consists mostly of international clients. We manage very few sites in Romania, for now. Miriam and I wanted to attend this event get a feel of the market and meet new people. I was happy to see that people were so open towards me. I made a few friends, exchanged ideas, and even won two books. Woo-hoo! The people I met made the event even more worthwhile.
From the organizers and speakers to the participants and the coffee-serving personnel, everyone seemed so genuinely excited and proud to be there. While the actual content of the presentations of course comes first, having been made to feel right at home is also invaluable. Since people really had their hearts into this, we’re definitely charmed and looking forward to their next events.
We hope that our first-hand experience will encourage you to consider attending the next GPeC summit. The next event is scheduled for November 2017. We are thinking about joining the summer school as well. If you have further questions about the event or anything related to it feel free to contact GPeC. If you feel like it, you can also get in touch with us. 🙂