Day 2 Recap of SES Chicago Crossing the Digital Divide, Promoting on Social Media, The Dip, LoSoMo, and Building Brands
Day 2 at SES Chicago
Session 1: Crossing The Digital Divide: The Leap from Search to Display
Presented by: Alan Chapell, President of Chapell & Associates, Dax Hamman, Chief Revenue Officer, Chango, and Mark Poirier, Co-founder and CMO of, Acquisio.
Historically, display advertising has lacked the targeted pricing, placement, and ROI of search. Things are changing, new technologies are emerging and the availability of ad exchanges is becoming more widespread and accessible.
Alan Chapell started off the session and was not able to offer more than a simple sales pitch for his agency
Dax Hamman from Chango also pitched his company pretty hard, however he did offer these words of advice: When beginning with display the best place to start is with some type of retargeting. It’s definitely the easiest but it does have it’s challenges and is not as simple as it appears to be. There’s a lot of different ways to approach retargeting. You can use site retargeting, email retargeting, and form retargeting (target those guys that begin to fill out a form on your site but then leave midway) to get to know your audience and segment.
Site retargeting is great for brand awareness and a really good way to entice conversions by offering deals to bring those visitors back. Site retargeting is not great for acquiring new customers, on the other hand search retargeting is because search has the ability to place your ads when searching for similar items.
Marc Poirier from Acquision really livened things up. He, like us here at 7Search, is very partial to search and PPC advertising. He shared his experiences with display and offered an honest insight into the merits and disadvantages that display offers.
With PPC March generally generated 20-25 leads per month with a fixed budget of $200 per month. This might not seem like a lot but Marc is working with a very mature PPC campaign and one that’s been highly optimized. To top it off his market isn’t super huge according to him. In short, his lead generation was at a plateau.
His goal with display was to increase lead volume and he gave himself a budget of $250,000 to begin with for the year. He started in February and it only started to pick up and provide results starting May of this year. He did say he managed to increase conversions, but that came with the trade off of a higher CPA. Optimization is very fickle with display.
Marc began with Site retargeting, search retargeting, a site list, and form retargeting. Eventually Marc was able to double his lead volume while maintaining a CPA of $200. His thoughts about display advertising are: It really helped increase brand awareness, if not necessarily conversions. Acquisio was able to scale lead volume up, but with that, lead quality dropped.
Some challenges and unanswered questions Acquisio had. They still have not settle on what tracking tools to use and they are not sure what to make of the View Through Conversion Metric. He repeatedly stated that it’s important, but he wasn’t exactly sure how although he’s done months of research on it.
Keep an eye on sites with a lot of impressions, weed out the ones that aren’t converting as well as you’d like.
Display is great for branding, much more successful than lead generation.
Session 2: Social Media Linking & Promotion
Presented by: Loren Baker, VP of Marketing, BlueGlass Interactive Inc., and Eric Ward, President + Link Builder vet/extraordinaire, EricWard.com
The message: Links are shared very differently than they were just a few years ago. What’s the true effect and strategic value of these shared links? Let’s look at what your presenters had to say.
Loren Baker kicked off the session by stating that since the implementation of PageRank Google inadvertently created a market for links. People were used to buying and selling links for a better PageRank, now that Google has clamped down link builders have had to resort to other mediums. Social links now carry a lot more weight.
Loren is a huge believer in SNOW when it comes to linkbuilding. Link building should Scale, be Natural in Occurrence and Widely distributed. Understand your links, brute force linking is dead and quality links have taken over.
Content Marketing equals link magnets, according to Baker. He states that content marketers should give people a REASON to link to your content. A great way to optimize your content is by creating a Content Library. Including hosted and embeddable video will also help enormously. In the same vein Infographics with an embed link are also very effective. They’re easy to read, please the eye, and again, encourage a REASON for people to link.
Another great strategy (that we see quite a bit around the web is creating lists, top ten lists, 5 reasons why.. etc. It’s a winner according to our presenter. Content lives forever, enhance the life of your of links. Seasonal content is great at this and will draw more people to your content than generic content. Baker again emphasizes the importance of Infographics stating that they have become the USAToday of today, especially with the use of embed links and lightboxes, its very valuable.
Next up is Eric Ward who has been link building since before link building was a term, he’s been social since 1993 in fact. Before the advent of search engines even.
Sharing in ’99 may not have consisted of tweeting and liking but it existed thanks to things like email and phone. In ’11 there are numerous opportunities to share. He used the example of Pupaya.com, a social network for dogs and their owners. The point he was getting at with this example is that there are many channels available, but to seriously link build today is to choose the proper channels.
According to Ward, the Web is a “self-organizing” place. If only a dozen people have a common interest, they usually find each other on the internet and create a community. Ward then jumps back to Tweets and Likes and Follows, stating that if a system can be gamed it will. That’s true today of social media and tweets, likes and shares can actually be purchased and this makes Ward feel that this makes social sharing “algorithmically untrustworthy.”
Eric did a great job of pointing out some of the deficiencies of social media, specifying what you should avoid. One example that stuck was Twitterers that have 27,000 followers, but in turn follow 27,000 individuals. It might be common sense but I think this fact goes over a lot of people’s heads. The fact that there ratio is nearly even says that they don’t have real influence, I tend to agree with this.
Ward continues to restate that social media CAN be gamed and suggest Google take that into account and remedy that.
Suggestion for the audience: Find and engage the influencers in your vertical to really add value to what you have to say. Social’s surface value is fame and following, deeper value can be found in “research discretion.” Worry less about search engines and pay more attention to influencers, being recognized by them will add more value to your online persona and in turn, your links.
Check out Eric Ward at EricWard.com
Session 3: Navigating “The Dip”: Planning a Successful Site Re-launch
Presented by: Andrew Goodman, SES Advisory Board; President, Page Zero Media and Kevin Lee, Co-Founder & Executive Chairman, Didit
The topic at hand here was to provide criteria for deciding when a full website re-launch is warranted, and what to expect in terms of short-term hiccups and continuity problems.
Lee starts by asking the question, “What would Google Do”. Very simply, try to provide the best user experience and keep SEO in mind throughout the process of a re-launch. Accurate site maps are essential.
Test, test, and test pages before loading a brand new site without warning. Gradually phase everything in. Up your PPC ads so that you can stay visible at the tops of SERPs while transitioning. This was all the useful, practical information Lee provided.
Next, Andrew Goodman approaches the podium with great practical information, in fact he starts off with a set of rules after stating that a site re-launch will never go as planned, also stating that he has ruined a lot of web properties with mishandled launches. Not very confidence inspiring, but you can tell he’s learned from his mistakes and that’s why he’s here.
Rule 1: Don’t ruin what you already have
Rule 2: Determine essential changes which can definitely be supported
Rule 3: Make a better website, make sure that it’s easier to find via search engines and that it is easier to search with the site.
He closes with continually be evaluating SWOT: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
Session 4: Local + Social: The Future of Promotion
Presented by: Benu Aggarwal, Founder & President, Milestone Internet Marketing and Gregg Stewart, President, 15miles
The topic at hand during this session was discussion of strategies for maximizing visibility on the social web and local search. I should note that we stuck solely to small businesses during this session.
Mr. Stewart starts with a stat. Reviews are a hugely trusted source for consumers, yet only 23% of consumers leave a review. This is not enough and we should continually be trying to increase that number and making the process of leaving review accessible and as painless as possible. Reviews are the #1 optimization technique for a local business. Participating in promotions such as Daily Deals also help considerably.
Stewart expands on the importance of services such as Google Places, Fan Pages, Official Twitters and Yelp, and how a local business should utilize all of these and take ownership of their online properties.
Benu steps up next and actually gets off the stage and walks among the crowd while discussing social, mobile and local or SoMoLo as she referred to it.
Benu encourages that all content created and goes online should be tagged with location information. Don’t neglect things like photos and videos, make sure your camera’s geolocation settings are activated. A great tip she shares is that QR codes are a great way to convert an offline customer or prospect into an online customer prospect. I was never a fan of QR codes, but when looking at them from this perspective they it’s certainly a compelling tool to be used. +1 Benu.
She again emphasizes that customer reviews are essential and gives examples of great implementations from various sites around the internet about providing the opportunity in an accessible way.
Benu then goes on to give general advice such as: Define your goals, leverage most SoMoLo channels. Do your best to integrate offline and online and create tools customers use. Also, ENCOURAGE CUSTOMER REVIEWS. She closes with advice for small businesses with websites, even if it’s only a page, make SURE your footer has information like your address, phone number and email address. The footer is regularly crawled to mine this information for services like Google Places and will rank you up.
Session 5: Building Brands without Big Brand Budgets
Presented by: Michael Mothner, Founder & CEO, Wpromote Inc.
The topic at hand was the discussion of strategies to revive stagnating paid campaigns. This was confusing for me because that would imply a bootstrapped business has funds for things like PPC and display advertising. A bit of a counter intuitive title for the session. Anyways let’s get into what Michael had to say.
Started off with tips to make your emails “bullet-proof.” When creating your emails make sure your focal points that you want to communicate to the recipient are readable without having to display images since a staggering 95% of email users have the “Display images” feature turned off for emails until they turn it on manually. So if a recipient can read your email without having to display images, you’re ahead of the curve and communicating with your recipient.
Another piece of advice was to hold a Subject Line bake off. Test different subject lines and don’t have the same person to do it because that will encourage similar results. Crowdsource to people in your office, get different takes on the subject lines and test those. Then test and choose the best!
For the second time today, retargeting came up. After email marketing, apparently retargeting has the highest ROI. So consider it, I won’t go into too much detail here because we’ve already covered this and nothing new was offered during this session.. Closely related are remails. This tip is actually one of the best gems I’ve heard so far at SES. It’s a simple concept but if the stats prove to be true, it’s a very valuable strategy. So it goes like this: Take your best email, the one opened most, and 48 hours later send it out AGAIN to those that did not open it, and send it with a drastically different subject line. Apparently this will improve your opens by 50%. I’d love to put this to the test and see what happens. In fact, I’m going to do this with the next 7Search newsletter. If you send coupons or are offering a deal, be sure to send reminder emails on the final day of the promotion to create a sense of urgency.
Another email tip I’d like to try. Just because you have a lot of content and all of it doesn’t fit above the fold in an email, does not mean that you have to exclude it. In fact, we were encouraged to lengthen the email and include MORE content. Apparently this should increase your click through rate by 100%. I’m going to put this tidbit to the test as well. As we were running out of time we closed with segmenting, If you’re actively segmenting that’s great. You may be overdoing it though. Segments under 10,000 are usually a waste of resources.
That’s Day 2 of SES Chicago! Stay tuned for more from Day 3 and a recap of the show with my impressions on Friday.