My Key Takeaways from #SMX Advanced 2016

SMX Full LogoLast week I had the pleasure of attending SMX Advanced and it did not disappoint! I came back home with a wealth of knowledge… and a few extra teeshirts (thanks, Expo!). It would’ve taken a novel to summarize the whole conference but I’ve included some of the extra-interesting notes below – I hope you’ll find them as useful as I did!

On Ad Testing & Quality Score

Brad Geddes spoke in the first panel of the day, “The Mad Scientists of Paid Search”, where he discussed some interesting points on quality score – including the fact that data has shown that low landing page quality score results in a lower impression share. Brad also noted that sometimes quality score isn’t the most important method, especially in the interest of qualifying consumers in order to save money on irrelevant ad clicks.  He shared a few analyses that he suggests companies exercise including: CPC by quality score and CPA by quality score which can help determine if spending time and resources on increasing quality score would be worth the return. You can check out the rest of Brad’s insights here.

James Svoboda talked about ads in the session “9 Billion Ads of Search” where he illustrated that with more room for ads – without the right panel – more extensions are able to be shown without being truncated, for example, he found that structured snippets were showing up to 14 more characters than the same structured snippet in a regular-length text ad. He also noted that on a mobile phone, the presentation depended on the device and usage of the phone (horizontal or vertical). One of James’ key takeaways was that with more space in text ads, it is going to become more important to start crafting better ad messages, as opposed to cramming and stuffing like many paid search marketers are used to. You can find James’ slides here.

On Mobile

Maddie Cary presented “Your Mobile PPC Sucks (But It Doesn’t Have to!)” where she gave tips for re-evaluating the thought process around valuing mobile media.  She provided stats supporting mobile’s role in the buying cycle and emphasized the importance of looking at mobile assisted conversions.  She also reminded the audience that certain countries are almost exclusively mobile because many of the citizens don’t own computers. Check out the rest of her presentation, here.

On Ecomm

Elizabeth Marsten spoke about enterprise ecommerce opportunities. She emphasized that Polyvore is a huge opportunity for luxury brands. It isn’t self-service and brands have to be approved, but the network has a great demographic with money to spend.  You can check out the rest of her enterprise ecomm tips, including her thoughts on CSEs, here.

On Landing Pages & Conversion Rate Optimization

One of the sessions that I really enjoyed was “Conversion Rates & The Law of Diminishing Astonishment”.  Amy Balliett kicked off the session with some really interesting stats about making use of imagery. As the founder of Killer Infographics, she would know – because imagery is her business, literally.  For example, using text *and* imagery boosts comprehension by 89%. Moreover, it takes consumers about 8 seconds to interpret text but consumers decide whether or not to stay on site within about 10 seconds, meaning that if you don’t have some compelling imagery, you’re likely to lose people. You can check out Amy’s slides here.

Melissa Mackey spoke from a different angle. One of Melissa’s key points was about the value of mapping out your content to align with the buying cycle and I can’t agree with that point more. Melissa suggested creating a content matrix to help align content with ad groups after having mapped out your buyer journey and created the appropriate campaign structure.  Based upon her data, time based remarketing decreased the CPA by almost 85% compared to general remarketing with unsegmented audiences. You can find Melissa’s slides here.

On Attribution

Attribution was a theme that came up a few times in questions, so it was interesting to hear the perspectives from the “Ask the Experts” panel. Brad Geddes took the question first and suggested lining up assisted conversions with click-through conversions to see if they were coming from the same keywords – if so, a last-click attribution might be all that is needed. He mentioned that if there is a messy pathway then maybe a model is needed but that many advertisers could likely use last-click.  Sandeep Dey noted that it’s important to value highest the channels that you pay for. Caitlin Halpert suggested thinking about how long the buying cycle is and noted that last-click works for most advertisers, although longer buying cycles may need a different model.

Christi Olson stressed that the problem with last click is that if you have a lot of touch points, you’ll inevitably devalue higher funnel tactics and non-brand campaigns, which can be a big problem. Ginny Marvin echoed Christi’s concerns, saying that one of the biggest issues with last click is that it can cause allocation issues which may result in cutting off the metaphorical head of your campaigns and not realizing it until a few months down the road.

All in all, there’s no real golden standard in attribution at this point – everyone made good points and I think most marketers are still trying to figure out what the best model is because they all have pros and cons. I take a lot of interest in position-based (or U-shaped, as it is also called) especially for clients with long buying cycles, because it does take into account multiple touch points, although the weighting isn’t always perfect.

On Inclusivity & Safety

Okay, this part is actually from Janes of Digital, a Bing-sponsored and hosted SMX networking event, but the discussion was valuable so I think it is worth including.  Janes of Digital seeks to create a safe place to have open discussions about struggles in the work place, especially for women. This year’s panel discussed Safety & Inclusion. I was honored to participate in such an important event and humbled by the responses, stories and ideas shared by the other panelists. Three of the key takeaways that I left with were:

  • Correcting someone’s behavior doesn’t have to be a negative interaction. Active bystanders and people feeling offended can help to correct the offender by sharing their experience and making them aware that their behavior wasn’t well received. Not only does this make the offender more receptive to feedback, it also makes it easier for people who may otherwise feel uncomfortable speaking up for fear of creating animosity or conflict.
  • People are still figuring out how to be inclusive – and, more importantly, how not to accidentally be exclusive. We have to be aware that we’re all on this journey together but everyone is starting from a different place.
  • In order to feel included, employees need to know that they have someone to advocate for them. This might warrant employee-groups where employees can express their concerns and find advocates.