Nearly our entire Digital Marketing crew took the drive down 95 to Boston last week for the annual SearchLove conference, a two-day event chock full of search, analytics, content creation, and more. Since yours truly didn’t go, I wanted to see what everyone learned from the show…and to ensure they didn’t skip it and head to Fenway Park or something.
Here’s what they came back with, and what we learned last year.
Luke Michel, Content Strategist:
I saw some big themes coming out of SearchLove Boston 2015. The first was the continued growth of mobile apps, websites, and websites that “act like apps.” Brian Massey set the tone when he declared that “you can have as many as 20, 30, 40 or more mobile websites” due to the endless permutations of new devices, legacy devices, operating systems, etc. He also pointed out the advantages of maintaining a separate “m.site” for tailoring acquisitions, behaviors, and outcomes for mobile experiences.
Justin Briggs emphasized the urgency of moving beyond being “mobile friendly” to enabling a mobile search strategy that includes deep linking to apps and leveraging structured data and schema to surface music, shows, etc. and launch an app.
Another theme that emerged was aligning teams, goals, and data. Tim Wilson, Amanda McGowan, and Jeremy Goldman discussed strategies and tactics for setting objectives, defining KPIs, and establishing better processes for collecting and analyzing data. Ian Lurie expanded on the theme of “working together” with methods for replacing the question, “Why should we?” with “Why not?” and moving clients toward their goals.
Heather Atwater, Digital Marketing Specialist:
SearchLove busted some commonly believed myths in the digital marketing world.
Myth: “Having a responsive site means my users will have a positive experience on my website from a mobile device.”
A responsive site provides a nearly identical website on both desktops and mobile devices. From a budget and management perspective, this may be the most efficient approach to site design, but it does not mean that a mobile user will have an ideal experience. Brian Massey of Conversion Sciences explained how mobile users may have completely different goals than desktop users on a website and page load times can also impact mobile user’s experiences. A mobile-specific site can prioritize mobile user needs and provide a better experience.
Myth: “I won’t know what my achievement metrics are until I start my marketing campaign.”
Tim Wilson pointed out that to start a digital marketing campaign with no achievement metrics means setting up your campaign for failure. Wilson suggested using a whiteboarding session to hone in on success metrics for a campaign. For example, if a campaign is created to increase contact form submissions, start with a number range from 10-10,000 and begin to move towards the middle of the range when the number feels achievable. Ten leads may be too few and 10,000 leads may seem unlikely, but a number of 2,000 might feel achievable. The concept is to estimate a number than would indicate success and work towards that number.
Myth: “Search engine optimization will make my website successful.”
Relying only on SEO tactics to bring in traffic and leads is a mistake. Speakers at the SearchLove event emphasized the importance of using a mix of marketing strategies to improve website performance. Leveraging traditional advertising, like billboards and print, can increase brand awareness and direct users to a company’s website.
Jordan Remmes, Digital Marketing Specialist:
SearchLove Boston wasn’t just some SEO conference — it really encapsulated the digital marketing experience and touched on ways companies and marketers can better navigate the waters.
All the same, I went home with mounds of fresh ideas for creating the right content, tracking behaviors, and ways to satisfy the online user. SearchLove prophesied some of the latest trends and understanding of search engine behavior that have yet to be canvassed all over Moz and Search Engine Land. The whole thing felt pretty exclusive.
A stand-out bit of advice in my mind occurred on Day 1 which covered a lot of honest mobile insights based on the latest known usage of mobile devices. One speaker implicated a preference for mobile stand-alone websites to (buzzword alert!) responsive design. Claiming that responsive design assumes you want the same interaction from one device to another, consumer behavior reports prove that people react differently to varying incarnations of a web page. On top of that, Google changes search results based on the device you search on. One size definitely does not fit all.
Abby Blakslee, Digital Marketing Analyst:
Tim Wilson stressed the importance of setting KPIs before beginning any campaigns as many clients/marketers do not know what their KPIs are, but you need to work with them to at least narrow it down. Bracketing, setting ranges, and continuing to narrow them down is a good method to use with clients that have no idea what “good” results/performance would be.
Sean Waters, Digital Marketing Strategist:
Some of my key takeaways:
- Invest in offline advertising such as outdoor and TV ads to help boost your rankings and build brand awareness.
- It is crucial to align brand and customer personas across all marketing channels in order to have a consistent brand voice.
- Google is starting to treat brands as entities and entities as answers in organic search.
- Popular brands are showing up in search results and search suggest for related non-brand search terms.
- There were also some great tools that were shared, including: FAQFox, Crystal, Hemingway Editor, Skitch,Quora, WebPageTest, WhichTestWon, SEO Theory, and Keyword Guru.