My First Trip to MozCon Will Not Be My Last
I’ve been to multiple SEO-related conferences over the years. The first 2 in Europe that I went to really opened up my eyes to having an SEO thought process and approach. However, over the next few years I quickly grew tired of hearing the same things being said over and over again. They started to feel stale to me and I thought that perhaps I would just start skipping them and just read the takeaway blog posts and tweets that would follow. The truth is that so many conference sessions (and not just search marketing ones either) over-promise and under-deliver. It’s the exception, not the rule, to find a conference where a majority of the sessions are well-presented, inspiring and give practical, tangible, and actionable suggestions/ideas.
MozCon 2013 was one of those exceptional conferences.
I loved this conference. I really liked the format and prefer the single track model. I think it helps the organizers ensure that they deliver high quality presentations consistently. While almost all of the MozCon 2013 content is published live, so much of its value came from the people you’d meet and the dynamic energy and details from watching and listening to the speakers. I’m really glad that the session videos are available for attendees. I’ll definitely be going back to re-watch some of the presentations. There is so much information to take in, it is difficult to capture everything and absorb it all at once.
So, I suggest you look through the presentations, but I’d like to highlight the most important things that I learned.
Takeaways from MozCon 2013 (mostly following the conference agenda)
Bottom Line: Marketing is changing. If you want to succeed you need to build loyalty through long-term branded relationships. To do so you need to work relentlessly looking to be creative and authentic. Don’t accept a lack of resources as an excuse to not do something. You just need to be even more creative. Finally, start moving right away and iterate. Strategies not executed could be wonderful but they are worth no more than a paperweight. Start doin’ something because inspiration is everywhere.
Now, on to the show….
- Brand marketing & SEO have converged because “Web Marketing is Becoming Brand Dominated”. Google favors brands and if you want to compete in Google (and for social media followers) you need to adopt a comprehensive strategy to be authentic to your brand and turn up your creativity. “Create a brand that people know, trust and share” – @randfishkin
- Highly targeted outreach is very powerful and doesn’t have to be overwhelming and inefficient
- Followerwonk, and Topsy are indispensable tools for outreach and intelligent social media campaigns
- Always use a native speaker who understands the local language: @aleyda laid out a clear map on how to
find the lost ark,approach international SEO. I learned this first hand at my last job (Mecalux / Logismarket). Imagine a British transportation website targeting “lorrie” in the USA.
- See, Think Do: @avinash always brings the house down. That is how people engage in purchasing decisions and that is how marketers need to approach their audiences. Today, most online marketers only target the “Do” phase and are not doing much, and more importantly, measuring any success in the “See” and “Think” phases of engagement.
- Show me with a picture: Whether you like it or not from an SEO perspective, images are what people want and share most often. from @lenawest
- The object oriented web is here: If you are not tagging your HTML with meta-data (based on schema.org), you are missing an opportunity. Find a developer and start implementing this today. Help Google understand the web better and you’ll be rewarded. Leverage Freebase, Y! Glimmer and Fresh Web Explorer to find and map entity info to your content. From @MatthewJBrown
- Take the road less traveled: @dharmesh gave us multiple reasons and examples for why you should break from the herd. “Go places others won’t. Do things others don’t. Experiment early and often because there is an early mover advantage. Remarkable outcomes rarely result from modest risk.”
- Embrace openness and uncomfortable transparency. If you are not uncomfortable you are not being transparent enough. The Internet and its increased number of choices and options lead customers to favor those who can most easily trust. Transparency (and authenticity) is the key to building trust among jaded prospects.
- Dharmesh has some bonus slides at the end of his deck and although he didn’t discuss this in the talk, there are some gold nuggets to be found like “The most reliable way to out-market your competitors is to out-teach them” (PDF) .
- Only do video if you can’t express your idea better in another medium. Phil was very eloquent on this idea and drove home how form drives function in content.
- Any company can afford to do decent video. The challenge is finding the time to learning the skill of filming, composition and editing, but you can always hire freelance to do it at a reasonable price.
- Different video platforms serve different purposes: Use a private hosted video platform for conversion, and product videos. Use YouTube for branding videos, not traffic.
From Phil Nottingham at Distilled UK
- 6 Steps to brand loyalty from @JoannaLord
- Brand Storytelling
- Connect with Customers
- Anticipate Needs / Add Value
- Deliver on Promises
- Be Consistent
- Make it Personal
- Don’t just write, curate You don’t always have to be cranking out brand-spanking new content in social media. Users will also value you curating and sharing the best insights from others on the web
- Use the right metrics in a world where loyalty more than ever, you need to focus on metrics that incent and reward building loyalty. Instead of focusing on short-term conversion rates, you need to obsess over lifetime value, likelihood to recommend to a friend (NPS), churn rates, etc…
- Don’t forget how culture, even local culture drives user behavior @TheWebPsych gave us a helpful guide to inform our content and site design decisions by focusing on Hofstede’s Dimensions.
- Power Distance
- Uncertainty Avoidance
- Individualism vs Collectivism
- Masculinity vs Femininity
- Long-Term Orientation
- Indulgence vs Restraint
- Be ready (now) for the always on / connected consumer: @willcritchlow did an excellent job laying out the need to be ready (like now) for the multi-channel modern consumer: “Stop thinking about mobile as devices. Start asking if you are ready for the always-connected customer”
- Strong UX considers the audience fully: You need to make the experience usable, pleasurable and meaningful. These are the UX hierarchy of needs from @allisonurban.
- Delight a segment of your audience by going the extra mile with an unexpected gesture. Those pleasurable surprises can quickly turn customers into advocates. You need to nurture the relationship and that is not just done by simply automating email campaigns.
- You don’t need special tools to rock on social media - @carriegouldin, formerly of ThinkGeek, showed us that. Good luck on the job search in Seattle!
- Are your company values aligned with success? Every comany has values whether they know it explicitly or not. @SarahBird walked us through the history of TAGFEE at Moz and how culture will enable or hinder a company’s success.
- Culture is not the same as perks! Perks may or may not reflect the organization’s culture but they are not one and the same. Companies with no money for perks can still have a great culture.
- Automate research data collection: @wilreynolds shared his great ideas on how to leverage web tools to automate data collection for idea, kw and competitive research. While so many of the presentations were fantastic, Wil’s was my favorite (I don’t think that I am alone either).
- The Moz community wasn’t built in a day: @jennita walked us through the process, learnings and challenges of building the Moz community. So many companies (especially in B2B) are intimidated and do not invest enough in building a strong community. Her recommendations lay out a simple, yet effective plan that any company can follow and be successful. Her main points that should be followed (and really apply to most projects)
- Always start with goals
- Define clear KPIs and consistent ways to measure progress
- Identify internal talent to contribute content
- Do your research before hand
- It’s OK to start small. Build momentum
- Building a strong community is a team sport
- Test, test and re-test
- “Mimicking the competition ensures you will always trail them”: In a similar vein as Dharmesh, Rand stressed transparency and authenticity as some of the secret ingredients to better marketing. This was a powerful presentation that served as the perfect bookend to the State of the Union talk at the opening of the conference. The full list of secret ingredients Rand walked us through were:
- Authenticity (the LEGO slide was one of the best I’ve ever seen)
- Be the Exception
Read his deck (PPTX file) (and buy the video to watch when it is available). You WILL change how you market if you do.
Day 4 – My Visit to the Moz Mothership
Since my flights with United were delayed (shocker!), I decided to take advantage of the few extra hours and head over to take a tour of Moz.com‘s headquarters. Abe gave me the tour and was very helpful. The office was a bit smaller than I had expected, (they have a second location down the street where they have a lot of the engineering and product team) but it had a great atmosphere and definitely was the type of modern office that I’d be comfortable in.
Suggestions For MozCon 2014
- More available and better WiFi: It seems that no conference facility can ever anticipate the bandwidth requirements properly. It did get better towards the end of the conference, but just assume that every attendee has three devices online at the same time and 30% are streaming video. Do that, and you’ll plan for enough bandwidth.
- More karaoke: I was so bummed that we ran out of time and I couldn’t belt out No Woman No Cry at the Wed. night party at the EMP.
Jen’s team, especially Erica and Charlene, did an amazing job. As the marketing software market evolves and Moz Analytics develops as a GA product (general availability not Google Analytics), I’m sure next year’s MozCon will be even more interesting.
And remember to have some fun too.
What do you look for in a conference? How do you decide which to attend? Let us know in the comments.