18 Oct, in a spanking new campus at Cardiff and Vale College with a fully booked house of marketers and a fantastic list of speakers, it had all the ingredients for a great day of learning. And WOW, what a day it turned out to be with so many valuable and practical insights.
So much so, that I won’t even try to include all the insights into this blog as it can take weeks to write. So, I will try and distill into a few main learnings.
Be prepared to welcome another member to your family if you haven’t already (Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant, Alexas of this world)
When Vikas Arora from Bing very eloquently spoke about the future of search, what drew my attention most was the how search has become an important enabler of information and how the Cortana’s, Siri’s, Alexa’s of today will become our companion (or in some case have become our companion) reminding us of things. It was pretty clear that Bing wants to position itself as a leader in the voice search market. Vikas also mentioned how search was becoming not about keywords but what customers want in the language they want.
It’s all about Performance, but wait, have we decided on what good looks like?
Daniel Lewis from web agency Spindogs (www.spindogs.co.uk) correctly pointed out the importance of the brief and the briefing process but what struck me was how poor we all were at agreeing on the parameters of success. On reflection, it made me think of the number of times we have clearly agreed with the clients on what good looks like and I can’t think of many instances. With the world talking about performance-based pay for agencies, this becomes even more important. Dan also talked about stakeholder involvement and how important it is to get everyone concerned in the project and clarifying their expectations of the project as they might be very different. Clarity, agreement, and partnership were the other key themes that came out of his presentation. Dan’s checklist for the briefing process can be found by clicking here.
Fluffy to technical, marketers still need to be become and talk more commercial
The biggest moment of the day came for me when Sam Roberts from Liberty Marketing (http://www.libertymarketing.co.uk/) was talking about Google analytics and attribution modelling and mentioned the importance of business goals and commercial metrics. It suddenly made me realise that, as marketers, have we started to move from talking about brand and creative to bounce rates and impressions share. As before, none of these metrics finance or business execs care about or want to know, all they care about is the value in £. So, lessons for us is to definitely talk more in money terms and relate everything that we do to an impact on £ (and of course the impact on the customer experience but finance will not understand this).
Customer is shaping the future direction of Google and Bing search engines and don’t even know it
You can really do so much with small budgets if you know where to invest and Gareth Morgan’s (from PPC and SEO agency Liberty Marketing http://www.libertymarketing.co.uk/) talk was all about that giving us different options on how to invest your budget. The key takeaway was how targeted Facebook and Google have become on PPC with affinity audience (age, gender, parent), similar audience and Facebook with language targeting (not available on Google), relationship status, financial status, job titles, lookalikes, interests etc. But, the biggest takeaway from Gareth’s presentation was how the balance has shifted from products to customers. Companies like Bing and Google are constantly learning from customer habits, search, queries etc. and tailoring their answers and products. This implicit crowdsourcing is happening and the customer is charge without realising. Sam and Gareth’s blog can be found by clicking here.
Does your webpage exist for a purpose? If not, bin it
When Stephen Kenwright from SEO agency Branded3 (https://www.branded3.com/) came to the stage, one of the key questions he asked was ‘Decide on the purpose of the page and be clear on why your website exists?’ I am not sure I can answer that for every company I have worked with. Steve then talked us through various SEO tactics such as landing page, title tags, links, URL structure, page speed among many others. He also very elegantly compared the OLD and the NEW techniques and how we have moved from keyword stuffing to keyword variants. Also, great idea on merging the existing blogs to ensure the final blog stand out more. Steve’s presentation can be found by clicking here.
So, to round it all up. It is clear to see how staying close to the customer by understanding who they are is mission critical for the likes of Google and Bing. The more you search, the more they know you and they can tailor their answers towards you. It will not be late before they know us better that we do ourselves (I hope not).