On March 11th, Kim Thomas and Maddie Cary (wonderfully pictured here with some conference food) set out on an adventure—spending three straight days watching enthusiastic, savvy, passionate industry leaders present at San Jose’s SMX West 2013. Session after session was jam packed with new ideas and smart strategies, particularly following the recent announcement of Enhanced Campaigns from Google. Along with some desperately needed Vitamin D, we left the conference with new PPC, SEO, Social Media, Local, and Retail insights that we found truly buzz-worthy. Here are our Top 10 Takeaways from SMX West 2013 that all search marketers could benefit from:
- Google + Reviews: Don’t Copy Word-for-Word!
If you have a stellar review on Google+, DO NOT use it word-for-word on your site, landing page, or any other place that Google will crawl. Once Google sees that you have a word-for-word copy on another site, it will pull your stellar review off of Google+.
- Using Rapportive to Create Personas
Use Rapportive to look at your email subscribers. You can see the social networks that the email address of a subscriber is associated with in Gmail and then you can start looking for patterns and trends in their demographic, in the things they like and in their other interests. After identifying these patterns, use them to start building personas that you can use strategically in your Facebook targeting.
- Link Everything to One Thing…Yourself
When building out your brand and digital marketing strategy, link everything to yourself/your brand. While a lot of things are out of your hands and you may not be able to control how YouTube functions or how Facebook targets, you can still link back to the one thing you can control – your website, your blog, your brand. Making this as relevant and user-friendly as possible will only help you; linking everything back to your brand will remind those that click through why they were interested in the first place.
- Do Your Job Like A Boss! Be More Strategic
Do your job like a boss and be more strategic. In today’s PPC industry, we are no longer in a silo – adding some keywords and ad copy to a campaign and leaving it alone is no longer effective or acceptable. With today’s age of remarketing, display, and enhanced campaigns, begin strategizing around the demographics and psychographics of your target audience, rather than just selecting keywords that will drive volume (discussed again in takeaway #9, it’s so important).
- Tactic vs. Strategy
Facebook is a tactic, not a strategy. It is just a piece of your digital marketing puzzle. While your strategy may be to gain users, your tactic, then, is to engage users. But before you can engage users you must first identify why you want to engage users and who you really want to engage. For example, on Facebook, Pepsi’s competition is not Coke – it’s you, it’s me, it’s your best friend, it’s your grandmother. Your competition is not necessarily the other brands, but rather the users for whose attention you are vying for.
- Don’t Beat it, Impress it!
Rather than trying to beat the system, impress it. A lot of companies spend a lot of time, money, and resources trying to work around the Google algorithm. But rather than trying to work around or beat the Google algorithm, impress it, and impress the crap out of it. That way, when something like the Panda update happens, you will be prepared. In addition, the Google algorithm updates are done based on what is best for the user experience, so trying to work around what is best for the user experience will only hurt you in the long run.
- Tailor How You Present Content to Complete Conversion Goals
First and foremost, set up a process to schedule content between different channels. Creating a content calendar or weekly content process will eliminate your headache of trying to manage multiple content channels. If your goal is to get users to your blog through various channels, make it easy. Got a promotion on your blog you want to bring them to? Don’t direct your Facebook posts to your website hoping they’ll find it. Your entire social media strategy should center on your blog. Create personas to determine how to engage, captivate, and create awareness to your target audience. Tailor your user experience (design, content, product path) towards that persona you want to capture. Reuse content to stimulate engagement or complete your particular conversion goals. Reinvigorate an old blog post by adding new points and pushing it out through your social media channels. It will increase the visits to your blog and reengage your consistent followers. Or, create a collection of blog posts to advertise as a free or for pay download. Streamlined, digestible, and useful content will spark more engagement than expecting readers to weed through your archive of posts.
- Don’t Be Creepy With Remarketing.“Be the Good Witch. Be Glinda” – Marty Weintraub
As Marty put it simply, but smartly: “Remarketing does not replace a good marketer”. Set impression caps that make sense for your offering. While on his laptop at the conference, Marty noticed that StubHub showed him remarketing ads more than 5 times to buy tickets he had already purchased. Not only should you change messaging based on where you place particular remarketing pixels, but change it often. Consider the segments you’re marketing to and what type of conversion you want them to perform. Has your customer bought you product and it will last for 2-5 years? Then look at targeting them with messaging that encourages a different conversion type rather than to purchase the same product again. Prompt them to like on Facebook or follow on Twitter to create brand ties & loyalty. Ask for an email conversion to connect the customer to other marketing channels like your newsletter, promotions, etc.
- How We Structure and Optimize For PPC is Changing
It’s time to start thinking about improving performance in our PPC campaigns with location targeting, time of day targeting, and demographic targeting vs. just keyword targeting. You can see in how they were structured that Google’s Enhanced Campaigns are pushing us in this direction. The new question rising in the PPC industry is how can we go beyond keywords? Companies that have the resources to use big data to improve what you know about each conversion path and/or the intent of their users should be using it.
- Though It Doesn’t Always Feel Like It, You DO Have Control Over Your PLA Campaign
There are a few simple adjustments you can make and test on your PLA campaigns to improve performance. Add trusted store icons to set you apart, giving you authority. Stand out – use a different image than the one provided by the manufacturer to optimize your PLA performance. Add negative SKUs to particular campaigns so that correct price point is showing for more generic queries you’re hoping to show up on. During the conference it was announced that Product Listing Ads are now available on mobile devices across all countries – if you aren’t in the PLA game or aren’t planning to enter it soon, you’re missing a huge opportunity.
- Bonus Takeaway: More Women Need to Represent at Search Marketing Conferences!
Of the 51 speakers we saw, (including sessions, keynotes, and special presentations), only 23% of them were women. In a 2012 SEOmoz survey to determine demographics within the SEM industry, of those surveyed, 77% were male. While the SEM industry is growing in terms of the total representation of women, we need to hear more of our fellow ladies’ smart points of view! We were hugely impressed by all the speakers at SMX West, and were thrilled to see the presentations of innovative female leaders in our industry. We also continue to be impressed by the intelligent female leaders within the Point It office we work with who remind us to keep thinking forward.—Blog Authors: Kim Thomas, Client Manager & Maddie Cary, Assoc. Client Manager