RDPR's digital team was privileged to attend SASCon 2015 yesterday (Thursday June 11th).
Billed as one of the UK's finest search, analytics and social conferences and now entering its sixth year, it certainly didn't disappoint.
For those of you who didn't manage to make it, we've put together some key points that we gleaned from some of the fantastic search and social speakers in their fascinating presentations, as well as their slide decks (where available).
How SMBs can win in Competitive SEO Sectors
Following SASCon founder Richard Gregory's rousing welcome speech, veteran SEO consultant Aleyda Solis took the stage to discuss how SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses) could compete with their larger counterparts in sectors that attract high competition.
She conceded that while the authority of a brand does tend to play an important role in determining search rankings, the evolution of how search results are presented and categorised has opened up a world of possibilities for agile, smaller businesses.
Aleyda argued that larger businesses were inflexible when compared with their smaller counterparts, who could adapt to trends more quickly and be much more strategic in how they deployed their limited resources.
She advised SMBs to utilise the wealth of open source and automation software available for free, as well as outfoxing 'broad' competitors by localising their presence as much as possible.
To help with this, Aleyda went on to set out some exceptional tools, including:
She also advised investigating structured data to enable rich snippets in search results, gearing SMB websites toward Knowledge Graph-friendliness and utilising the Chrome Mobile Emulator and RankTank's mobile-friendly testing tool to ensure they're ergonomically displayed on mobile devices
For SMBs without a wealth of in-house technical expertise, Aleyda suggested investing in a robust and low-cost CMS (content management system), such as Wordpress or Magento, would take care of much of the optimisation work for them.
You can check out her presentation over at Slideshare now:
Market Overview – the Industry According to the Analysts
Next up, I was treated to a market overview with Tom Cull of iProspect and Paul Frampton of the Havas Media Group.
The pair discussed emerging and established trends, detailing the move away from the old-world style of SEO. It was claimed reverse-engineering algorithms for short-term or unsustainable gains had been eclipsed by the rise of useful content.
Changing consumer habits were also considered, with discussion focusing around how smartphones had, in some ways, usurped TV and Radio. Similarly, great emphasis was put on the marriage of data and content and how this trend would shape the digital marketing field in years to come.
Analytics in a multi-device world
Russell McCathy of Deliver Insight offered a fascinating insight into the importance of attribution in his talk.
He highlighted the wealth of data from innumerable sources that modern analysts are able to collect and connect, suggesting that psychological – rather than technical – constraints were holding the industry back.
Russell stressed that identifying trends was vital in using data to make better decisions.
Some key take-aways from his presentation included:
"Attribution is NOT going to make you look smart on its own
Attribution is NOT only sales funnel management
Attribution should allow you to better understand consumers that engage with you."
It's hard to do such a rich presentation justice in a few paragraphs, so be sure to check out his SAScon slides here.
Larry Kim: The State of PPC Marketing in 2015 and Beyond
Following a hearty lunch, WordStream founder and industry heavyweight Larry Kim took to the stage for his much-anticipated keynote on the future of paid search.
After setting out some of the key differences between his native Canada and the UK, he laid out five key trends in the field of PPC.
I'll lay these out in brief here, but it's well worth ploughing into Larry's presentation slides for a detailed recap:
- Being 'super-picky' with PPC and buying fewer clicks, but with a higher quality.
- Identity marketing: Thinking about PPC ads as a form of email marketing.
- A focus on mobile (more on this later)
- Embrace Automation and focus on the marketing aspect of PPC
- Content Remarketing: using PPC to catalyse content marketing efforts.
Paddy Moogan: The Future for Marketers - Trends and what they mean
I'm a big fan of futurology and Paddy Moogan's exceptional talk on where digital marketing is headed in the coming years didn't disappoint.
Combining a plethora of statistics, industry commentary and speculation – he offered compelling suggestions on the future of the industry. His presentation slides are well worth diving into, but to summarise:
- Google doesn't want to be the middle man anymore (for free)
- The search engine will keep getting better at spam detection, with artificial intelligence and machine learning set to play key roles in this regard
- Search remains the focus
- If it's not about search, it's about you
- AI is getting bigger
- Content discovery is mobile-first.
Paul Frampton: Connecting data and content - the future of communications
Havas Media Group's Paul Frampton delivered a remarkable insight into the possibilities awaiting marketers who can combine data and content in the right way.
His dense presentation was bursting at the seams with data produced by Havas, its subsidiaries and other industry sources that painted an intricate picture of the potential for using data-driven insights to enhance practically every aspect of content inception, targeting and delivery.
While I've been unable to track down his presentation deck, Paul suggested looking into Nike's seminal campaign 'Your Year with Nike' and its personalised videos as a great real-world example of these trends in action.
Matt Wright: Paid Search – moving from keywords to audience
Matt Wright, director of paid media at iProspect Manchester, talked about Google’s evolution of audience targeting and the type of options businesses have to target their audience. These include: time, location, device, demographic and previous visits.
A key takeaway from this talk was that 'keywords aren’t dead' and he stressed the importance of not trying to learn everything about paid search at one – 'don’t muddy your learnings'.
He then went on to briefly discuss the future of paid search, in light of the rapidly-advancing digital age, where people are connected everywhere - especially because of new wearable technology.
Linzi Boyd: How to get everyone talking about your business
Author of Brand Famous, Linzi Boyd described herself as a 'brand geek' and delivered a great talk on building, renovating and refreshing brands.
She provided some food for thought on how a brand can completely change its perception – using Victoria Beckham’s transformation from Spice Girl to sophisticated role model as a key example.
Then came an interesting look on future trends:
- 1995 – 2005 = Print Fame
- 2005 – 2015 = Youtube Fame
- 2015 – 2025 = Google Fame
She touched on how to achieve 'Google fame' - how it’s all about building a community and the benefits of writing blogs and articles to achieve prominence in search results.
Re-targeting: Paid Search and Beyond
In this informative talk, digital gurus Paul O’Connor (digital media strategists, Amaze), Pierre Hun (head of search, JD Williams) and Ben Wightmans (head of paid search, Latitude).
In the discussion of 'why remarketing?' - we learned some interesting stats like:
- 75 per cent of shopping baskets are abandoned online
- Retained customers spend five times more than a new customer.
We also gained insights into the importance of 'putting the audience first' and giving the user an incentive to return to your site – the ‘hook’. This could be something like a discount on their next purchase, as discounting the existing basket could simply erode margin.
Larry Kim: The Top 5 Mobile Advertising Hacks of All Time
In our second dose of Larry of the day, we learn firstly, he’s (slightly) obsessed with Game of Thrones. Secondly, the golden rule of mobile traffic is that “calls to businesses are worth three times more than clicks to a website”.
From funnel analogies to game of throne memes, we find out that mobile researching has proved significantly higher than desktop and that 80 per cent of UK users access twitter on their mobile, compared to desktop.
As such, click-to-call options are favourable for businesses because the user intent is stronger and they cost 30 per cent less than desktop clicks – but we should act now because ‘The Great PPC Mobile Sale of 2015’ wont last for long.
See You Next Year!
A big thanks goes to the SASCon organisers for putting on a fantastic day of presentations – filled to the brim with actionable insights that companies like us can put into practice.
We're keenly looking forward to SASCon 2016 and our fingers are crossed for a Mini-SASCon event later this year.
If you didn't manage to attend SAScon this year, you can check out some home-grown digital marketing insights with our free eBook. Simply hit the button below and download it now: