smx

Top Takeaways from the 2019 SMX Conference in Seattle

Joel Coen | September 4, 2019

Analytics, Digital Marketing, Leadership, News

One of the toughest things about working in the digital marketing space is keeping up with the constant changes that take place. 

 

There are a few tools we use internally to help us manage this influx of information, and one of those is Search Engine Land, which puts on several events around the world each year. This expo, affectionately called “SMX” (or Search Marketing Expo), brings together the best of the best for a four-day forum on the changes we are seeing in our respective spaces via presentations by leaders in each category of digital. 

 

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I was fortunate enough to attend a recent SMX in Seattle. After reviewing dozens of pages of notes I took from more than 20 presentations as well as reviewing data collected by more than 100 vendors including Microsoft and Google, there were several themes that anyone in our space should be aware of. I have combined hours of presentations, thousands of slides and countless insights into this ultimate top 10 list for your reading pleasure. 

 

1. Google is training consumers to use it for everything. This continued effort is newly focused on the shopping experience in order for Google to take on Amazon by offering the full shopping journey (called Google Express) to take place within the Google ecosystem. Additionally, Google continues to steal market share in the travel space from online travel agents (OTAs) like Priceline. 

 

2. It is becoming more important for marketers and brands to look at the interaction of each marketing channel to evaluate the performance of the combined effort instead of just evaluating each individual channel. This movement, which most often is referred to as the “omnichannel” approach, is one that has been difficult for many to adopt because of its complexity. As long as marketing has been around, it has been easy to look at an effort and say, “It isn’t working, shut it off” or “It’s working, add more dollars” as part of the evaluation process. Now, if you aren’t thinking omnichannel first, you could put yourself in a position where you shut off a major component of a successful campaign. If you aren’t looking at this today, definitely make it part of your 2020 initiatives. 

 

3. Once a thing of mystery, social media view-through is now more attainable than ever before. Facebook attribution allows us to see the organic aspects of your social media performance. One caveat is that Mr. Zuckerberg and team may be inflating those numbers a little, so it’s important to keep a close eye to make sure what’s being reported is aligned with what you’re seeing in Google Analytics. 

 

4. If you are writing blogs for the sake of writing blogs, you will soon get left behind. Content has to reflect what users are actually looking for. As an example, if you are writing to a topic related to dog training, you will want to incorporate all aspects of the topic along with things that people might want to know beyond that initial query, such as information about the best local dog trainers, what training products or services dog owners should consider, and so on. 

 

5. Know and understand Google Analytics. It’s the source of truth. Your gut can get you in a lot of trouble when it comes to making marketing decisions. More than 70 percent of decisions made in our industry or by executives responsible for a company’s marketing efforts are “gut” decisions. Make sure your agency or your staff are certified in Google Analytics. 

 

6. Schema markups can make the difference when it comes to your overall positioning. This is when you apply the correct coding to a website or blog. This is a make or break situation in the SEO space. 

 

7. HTTP2 needs to be applied to your site to optimize speed. In an era where mobile speed is a critical component of your ranking and your consumer experience, this should be applied ASAP. 

 

8. Embrace marketing automation or get left behind. Consumers require constant attention, but not in a way that’s intrusive. Give them the opportunity to engage the way they want to instantly. Always be there when they’re making those critical decisions that will determine if they’re going to purchase from you or a competitor. 

 

9. Evaluate your current page performance on your site and see what your site content is doing for you. If there is little to no interaction with blogs, for example, you can repurpose, rewrite or eliminate them. Google has something called a “crawl budget” that is used to determine how much of the site Google will run its bots through in order to determine your relevancy. Use that budget properly by consistently validating the performance of your pages. 

 

10. Quora is a growing space where experts answer user’s questions in detail. In the past two years, more than 45 million users have joined the Quora community, and it is now a platform that needs to be prioritized by marketers and businesses as a platform where users are seeking out information. 

 

As always, the flow of information in digital is accelerating. Keep an eye out for more information on the ever-changing world of digital marketing by joining our newsletter or coming back to our blog.