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What You Can Learn From MozCon 2016: Digital Marketing & SEO Strategy

It was my first ever MozCon and my first SEO and Marketing conference. On day one, Kim Wilcox, our Lead Inbound and Website Strategist and I walked up to registration and were overwhelmed by the number of eager marketers, SEOs, project managers, and copywriters here to learn from all over the world. With 27 sessions over the next three days, we were excited to dive in. Plus there were gallons of coffee to be had—we were in Seattle after all.

We attended 27 of 27 sessions over the three day conference and as you can probably imagine, we were overwhelmed with the great ideas, new strategies and SEO best practices we learned about each day. Three of those sessions influenced and challenged me most at MozCon—and are what I’ll focus on for you.

Evolve Your A/B Testing Skills With Cara Harshman @caraharshman

Something we all could work on is A/B testing, but where do we start? How do we know we’re testing the right things? Or changing the rights things? Cara Harshman’s talk went to the root of where we need to make changes in A/B testing, and reiterated that A/B testing needs to be born out of reason and data, not whiteboard session ideas. Additionally, there are three critical evolutions we need to make to transform our A/B testing.

  1. Ideas → Hypotheses
  2. Execution → Automation
  3. Team → Advocates

Ideas to Hypotheses

What should be obvious about A/B testing is testing variables that may affect the outcome you’re looking for. And the best way to do that is to create hypotheses around your tests, so you’re able to prove or disprove their effectiveness.

Here are a couple of the hypothesis examples Cara shared:

Brooks Running

“If we deliver unique content to shoppers buying similar size shoes, then they will be less likely to return because they decided on a size.”

Outcome:

  • Return rate for this audience: -80%
  • Conversion rate: +2%

MVMT Watches

“If we add the new product up-sell on the product detail page, then sales will increase because this placement mimics the in-store buying experience.”

Outcome:

  • Conversion Lift Desktop: 2.2%
  • Conversion Lift Mobile: 5/5%

Execution to Automation

The biggest aha moment came from this point and this quote: “If you want to scale, then you have to take off your get-s***-done-hat.” Have you ever considered that your grinding mentality is actually making you less productive? Or that you have to take a step back, in order to add automation? This was definitely an eye-opening point and one I hope we don’t forget as we get back to the daily grind.

Team to Advocates

This idea emphasizes that you need to move from people who do work to people who promote your work. These advocates are more than people that do work, but people that see the value in the work and want to make it succeed.

According to Cara, when all of these evolutions are made, these outcomes should follow:

  1. Learn rate = 100%
  2. Business growth, higher revenue
  3. Delighted customers
  4. Stronger decisions & culture

Social Media: People First, “Rules” Second With Dana DiTomaso @danaditomaso

Dana DiTomaso’s talk was all about quick-hitting one-liners, awesome slide graphics, and honest advice. A lot of what she said shouldn’t be new information, but more a new approach to social media. Let me share a few of her sticking points:

“Our brains are changing from analog to digital.” Vertical video on YouTube is an analog signal—built by people who grew up in an analog time. Vertical is the most comfortable way to shoot video on mobile these days—times are changing. In fact, I just watched my first movie trailer on Facebook shot in vertical this morning. Remember, just because we used to do it one way, doesn’t mean we should always do it that way.

“You’re marketing to people who would rather turn their faces into tacos.” People are on social media to have a good time, don’t forget that. An interesting thought Dana brought up—the average user plays with a Snapchat lens for 20 seconds, and the first five seconds on YouTube is spent waiting for the skip button! How can you make your marketing fun and believable?

Lumping people into an age range does nothing—they aren’t the same. When we only look at people as numbers or audiences or groups, we forget that each individual is unique, has their own story and their own needs. Do you have brand personas you can consider in order to connect with your ideal people?

“People first, rules second.” This concept is the essence of Dana’s talk—don’t get caught up in the analytics or rules of social media and lose sight of what social media was created for: personal connection. Don’t be afraid to break the rules if it means you’re empathizing and connecting with your people.

The Irresistible Power of Strategic Storytelling With Kindra Hall @kindramhall

Kinda Hall captured all of our attention from the start and as a good storyteller drew us in to show us how a story unfolds, rather than just telling us about it. She was fantastic and I hope to hear her speak again. There is something very riveting and captivating about someone who can hold your attention so fully as a story is spun.

What made Kindra’s talk so meaningful to me was how she not only shared her story, but she helped explain a formula for how stories are told. And to me, someone who wishes she could tell stories but terribly fails, I was very encouraged. Here are some of the takeaways I got from the session:

  • Storytelling is as much a science as it is an art. A story connects with your brain chemistry and increases focus, attention, empathy, and emotion.
  • A story is not a tagline, slogan, or mission statement; a list of features or benefits; catchy copy or cool infographics; or vague, high-level principles or thought.
  • Rethink the structure of a story from beginning, middle and end, to normal, explosion, and new normal.
  • When crafting a story, focus on ONE—one moment or one person.
  • Find a story in your differentiators, list of clients, objections, or where the idea for your business was born.

There is a method to storytelling, so you can tell good stories even if it isn’t natural to you or your business. Give storytelling a try and see how much more connected your customers become with your business.

MozCon 2016 is Over, But Your New Marketing Begins Now

In the midst of your desire to meet company goals, raise ROI, and understand all facets of SEO and digital marketing, don’t forget you’re marketing to people. To me, the overarching theme of MozCon 2016 was remember people first, and best practices second. If you’re considering how people would respond or what people would like, you’re going to connect with those people and they’re going to trust you. And that’s what you want to build first: trust (then you can build links, SEO strategies, social media campaigns, and more). As Dana DiTomaso said, “You’re marketing to people who would rather turn their faces into tacos.” Don’t overthink it.

If you’d like to start a conversation about MozCon or the best practices and SEO strategies mentioned in this post, connect with Media Junction on Twitter @mediajunction or leave a comment below. We love to talk SEO and marketing! 

If you would like slide decks from MozCon, you can follow the link https://moz.com/mozcon#schedule. And if you want the notes from Unbounce, you can follow this link http://get.unbounce.com/mozcon-notes/.

Other remarkably good sessions from MozCon were - You Can’t Type a Concept: Why Keywords Still Matter with Dr. Pete Meyers, Boost SEO Rankings by Removing Internal Links with Alex Stein and How to do Reputation Marketing with Rhea Drysdale.

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