Our 9 best takeaways from conferences so far in 2013
One of the great things about working at Branded3 is that there’s usually a couple of B3 representatives at most major internet marketing conferences, whether it comes down to sharing our own insights or listening to other experts.
Now we’re over half way through the year we thought we would share some of our favourite tips, tricks and thoughts from some of our favourite speakers over the first six months of 2013.
1. Social Brands, London
Jeremy Waite, Head of Social Strategy @Adobe
The most valuable knowledge I took from the Social Brands Conference was the power and necessity of a responsive social strategy. Firstly, I learnt about SWATT – we learned the benefit of employing a social media SWATT (Social Weapons and Twitter Tactics) team. Jeremy Waite, Head of Social Consulting at Adobe UK, made the example of the Oreo Cookie responsive tweet at the Super Bowl power out:
Power out? No problem. pic.twitter.com/dnQ7pOgC
— Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) February 4, 2013
This example, though used in a lot of talks throughout the day, highlighted the power and effectiveness of real-time engagement. Secondly, I learnt about hash-jacking – the idea of researching an event that is either a country (or world) wide annual event (Christmas, the Royal Wedding etc.) or is an event that is relevant to your brand and using live tweeting/blogging strategies, is one that was not unknown to me at the time but the benefits were really entrenched at the conference.
Since attending the event in February, I have employed both of these strategies with one of my social media clients and have seen unprecedented success, not only in terms of engagement and growing audience on social channels but in terms of traffic and conversion on their site.
Wil Reynolds, Founder @SEERInteractive
LinkLove was such a smoothly run conference that even though there’s only one track it never seems short of variety. As the name implies it was primarily a link building conference, and as such it was packed full of suggestions that could and should actually be implemented.
The most useful thing I learned was courtesy of Wil Reynolds, whose presentation not only did a great job of demonstrating some innovative ways to acquire high quality links, but also what link builders should be doing once those links have been built. Reach out to new Twitter followers, users who mention you, and users who buy from you. It’s much more effective than “cold calling” a niche blogger who may or may not have heard from your brand, and they’re much more likely to be interested in your proposal.
Incidentally Wil and several others recommended a book called Nudge by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein, which I’ve since picked up – though not ostensibly a marketing book, it gives some great ideas that can be applied to your website that should really increase conversion rates…and like Wil says, get links.
Will Critchlow, Founder @Distilled
The fact that this was the last ever ‘LinkLove’ event really highlights how Distilled’s conferences are giving people an idea of how much SEO is changing, and how important it is to stay up to date.
My personal highlight from LinkLove 2013 was Will Critchlow’s presentation. He managed to sum up what we should be doing as marketers; not focusing so much on links, but rather the leads and traffic that those links drive. He did a great job of reminding link builders what skills they have that they could be employing, and how those skills will translate to becoming a “fully-stacked marketer” – or how we fit in working for an interdependent agency like Branded3.
Aleyda Solis, International SEO @SEERInteractive
My favourite conference speaker I have seen would be Aleyda Solis and it was at Brighton SEO April 2013. My favourite aspects of an SEO presentation are having something to take away and listening to a good speaker, Aleyda had both. She looked into international SEO and why you would need to set up an international site, when the best time to do it would be and how to do it.
Whether it was a small take away like setting up an alert in Analytics to let you know when you’re getting a certain amount of international traffic, or going through the benefits of TLDs compared to subdomains all of the insights were helpful and could be used in practice. There’s a video of her presentation on the Brighton SEO site.
Sam Crocker, SEO Director @OMD_UK
I was really looking forward to Sam’s ionSearch presentation and he didn’t disappoint – from the pre-pitch stage, right through to integrating with other teams and battling internal politics, Sam shared lots of hard-earned knowledge about dealing with the biggest clients.
Not talking like an SEO is something that’s been covered at plenty of conferences this year, but Sam gave some insights into how you should be talking in the boardroom, and with enterprise clients, that have actually helped me to get on the same page as some of my own clients much more easily. Dealing with “lifetime value,” understanding advertising equivalencies for content, and NOT calling it SEO are things that can really get big clients on board.
David Harling, Head of SEO @Razorfish
David Harling stressed the need to lose the ‘silo input’ of SEO. In the past SEO has been a completely separate add-on for a company’s marketing strategy. Agencies could be sent off to work on the SEO of a site without that brand involvement which is now critical to a natural SEO campaign.
It is more important now than ever that SEO becomes integrated into a business’s marketing strategy to be a success. The rise of Digital PR over traditional link building means that brands and search agencies need to work together to maximise opportunities and in-house PR and Marketing should be integrated and aligned with digital strategy.
David Harling talked about the value of taking all offline opportunities online – for both SEO benefit and to communicate the ‘real’ brand to the target market. Offline encounters lead to online mentions, so whenever possible involve journalists and bloggers with events and things they can physically experience. It’s more than likely they’ll be keen to reach out to their online communities afterwards which produces great coverage.
Dan Fielder, Managing Editor @StickyContent
Content reigns as king once again and not surprisingly this was supported by everyone. I think the most interesting thing I took home was that there is nothing more important than understanding your audience and knowing who really cares about your brand, and why. Do some research, offer smart and valuable content by using their language, jargon and tone. Nobody shares average content anymore. Plan ahead, invest time in research, in a unique and original campaign that will be attractive and naturally mentioned throughout the web. Build true relationships and second SEO and outreach. Start aligning your content with your business aims. Worry about your audience and stop worrying about what Google wants.
Also interestingly, a large number of audience members were from SEO and social media backgrounds, as were the speakers. Dan was one of the only long-term content marketers on the bill, and he provided lots of the insightful information above.
Simon Penson, Founder and MD @zazzlemedia
There were some definite recurring themes running through the Content Marketing Show, and plenty of speakers were keen to stress the importance of creating an editorial calendar, and getting the whole team involved in writing content. Simon Penson was pretty much the only person to go into great detail about data, and gave a really interesting talk.
Simon listed a number of sources for data that can really help to fuel content creation, in the same way that the SEO industry has traditionally used data to create targeted landing pages. Some tricks, like delving into semantics, were ones we knew – but they still add extra depth to the really useful tools I hadn’t previously used, such as Ad Planner and Zanran.
Simon also very helpfully transcribed his entire talk, which is hosted on Zazzle Media’s site here.
*Not actually Laura Crimmons and Felicity Crouch.
9. Future of Digital Marketing, London
James Carson, Director – Content Strategy at Carson Content
James Carson (Founder of Carson Content) was keen to stress that marketers and in indeed, CEOs, need to stop looking at content marketing as a ‘quick win’ and stop trying to assess the immediate conversion, but rather look at how it impacts each stage of the marketing funnel.
So, for example, we should be looking at things like brand traffic and engagement as indicators of success. This is something that CEOs / Directors in particular struggle to see, as they just want to see the immediate ROI, and that’s just not how content marketing works.
We’ll publish the second part of this post at the end of the year. You can see some of our own presentations from this year’s biggest digital marketing conferences here – be sure to check out our Head of Search Tim Grice’s manual penalty recovery workshop at Brighton SEO in September, and let us know if you’re going to any conferences and we’ll say hi.