Last week I was fortunate enough to be given a pass to attend the Search Engine Bootcamp here in Melbourne. I tweeted throughout the day quite a bit – but thought I’d write up some of the tidbits that I took away from some of the sessions over the day.
There was a lot covered so I won’t go through it session by session (I missed a few at the start and end of the day too) but here are a few of the quotes and ideas that I came away with from different speakers (and a few thoughts on why they stood out).
Tim McDonald – Found Agency
Tim spoke about PayPerClick advertising and while I’m not into PPC I was interested to see a few similarities between what he spoke about as key ingredients to driving traffic with PPC and in techniques that we talk about in driving traffic organically through good blogging technique.
In one section he spoke about the reasons that people click on ads – including:
- benefits – people click on ads that promise to benefit them in some way
- brand – people click on ads with brand names that they recognize
- differentiation – people click on ads that are different from others in some way
- curiosity – people click on ads that make them curious
- legibility – people click on ads that make sense
- call to action – people click on ads with a call to action in them
What struck me as I looked over this list was that it could quite easily be translated into a list about how people read posts with headlines or titles with certain characteristics. When people are scanning through lists of potential posts to read in their RSS reader, on sites like Digg, in Search Engine Results – they’re more likely to click on titles to read the full post if it delivers in some of the above ways.
Nathan Stewart – Alkemi International
I heard Nathan speak earlier in the year and found him to have lots of good insights. Last week he spoke about landing pages and different aspects of websites that convert. Again – much of what he said could be applied to bloggers. Here’s a few tidbits that stood out to me:
Let Your Site (Blog) Evolve its Design – When redesigning sites – many people ‘dump’ their old sites and move onto a completely new version. The problem with this is that you fail to capitalize upon the lessons you’ve learned with your current design.
Nathan used Amazon as an example of how to do it better. If you look at Amazon from day to day and week to week you don’t notice a lot of changes in their design – but if you compare it from month to month and year to year you can see that their design is quite different. Their strategy is to incrementally change, or evolve, their design over time. Lots of small changes that are tested to see what works best – which over time add up to effective change in their design rather than just a complete redesign.
Why are websites failing to persuade people to take action:
Nathan shared three reasons.
1. poor planning – sites tend not to think about where they want to ‘lead’ their readers/visitors. Good planning will think about a site in terms of ‘paths’ that you want to lead people along to travel through a site and to a point of conversion.
2. no customer centric Architect – someone needs to take on the planning role. Many websites developments don’t have someone taking on responsibility for this.
3. upside down approach – too much focus upon graphic and navigation first and then content last. Start with content and add other graphical and navigational aspects later. Content (text based) is king.
Understand Your Visitor (Reader)
Nathan also focused quite a bit on getting into the shoes…. or more importantly the minds… of visitors to your site (or blog).
- most people visit your site with a purpose in mind – understand what it is and deliver it
- understand how your customer buys and makes decisions
- actions only take place after a decision has been made – if you want people to ‘do’ something you need to help them make a series of decisions along the way rather than just tell them to do something. It’s not just about the final decision – but usually it is a series of decisions along the way.
It is really about understanding the world from your audience’s perspective. Knowing demographics (how many of your readers are male, how old they are, what their income is) doesn’t really tell you enough about your readers – you need to know how they think, how they make decisions, where they are in the decision making process when they visit your site etc.
Four types of People and their Buying Styles
Nathan presented a slide that presented four different types of people and the way that they made purchases. I wish he’d had this slide up longer because it fascinated me but I managed to get some of it down. He said that these four styles were based upon Myers Briggs personality types and that when designing a landing page for a website it was important to address all four buying styles in your copy.
The four types could be remembered with different characters from the Simpsons (and also Sex in the City):
- Competitive – what can you do for me? (Bart)
- Spontaneous – why should I buy it from you? (Homer)
- Methodical – how does it work? – (Maggie)
- Humanistic – who has used your product? – (Marge)
I didn’t get much more than that but Nathan talked about how the first two styles were much more fast paced buyers so should be addressed at the top of a landing page and that the last two were slower paced type people so you could address them lower on the page.
Jason West from WebSalad
Jason’s topic was Online Reputation Management. To be honest I thought I’d find this session more helpful than I did. Perhaps I know more about the topic than I thought I did, perhaps its just too big a topic for such a short session or perhaps it was because he kept talking about bloggers as ‘those bloggers’ :-)
One of the aspects that Jason spoke about quite a bit (he must have said it 10 or more times in his session) was the importance of owning Google with reputation management. He mentioned again and again how they didn’t really look much beyond Google what they did and didn’t focus upon managing people’s reputations in other forums like social media.
While I can understand why they do this (Google is probably the #1 place to focus and in some ways it is easier to manage) I think it’s dangerous not to include other sites. A recent example of how social media sites can really hurt a brand’s reputation was seen recently in the debacle that Motrin had with some of their advertising and the uproar that happened about it on Twitter. Under estimating what social media can do in terms of an online reputation can be dangerous and it will only become more and more dangerous.
One thing that Jason spoke about that I did find helpful was the way that they view Google for different search terms. They see the results page on Google for brands that they manage as ‘shelf space’ and look at what control they have over the different listings on the first two results pages on Google.
Another key quote from Jason – “A blogger can have more influence than a major brand has over their own brand online.”
Kate Gamble from Bruce Clay Australia
I found Kate (follow her here on Twitter) to be a refreshing way for my day to end at Search Engine Bootcamp (I had to leave after her session). While she said she hadn’t presented well she covered the topic of Social Media Marketing very comprehensively and clearly.
She spoke about the 4 C’s of Social Media:
A process for Companies Wanting to Get into Social Media Marketing
She also outlined a helpful process for companies wanting to get into social media as a marketing tool.
- listen – where are your people, people interested in what you’re interested in. Always start with this.
- set objectives – get this clear
- participate – based upon objectives
- monitor – without this its largely a waste of time
- report – what did you learn?
- analyze – what does it mean?
This process is cyclical – so once you’re done you go back to listening.
Social Media Breadcrumbs
I also liked the concept of ‘creating social media breadcrumbs’ that Kate spoke about. A social media breadcrumb is a path that we create to lead those who find us on social media sites to other places that they can connect with us. So on a Twitter profile it might be a link to a page which has other social media sites that we have presence on or a link back to our blog. Kate spoke about how these ‘breadcrumbs’ should be consistent from site to site and have the same ‘story’ and ‘branding’.
Shiny Object Syndrome
Kate spoke about how everyone wants to play with the latest social media toy on the block – but this can actually be distracting and waste your time. Instead ‘go to where your people are’ – find out who those you want to interact with in social media are gathering and build a presence there – whether those places are the ‘cool’ places to be or not.
Calls to Action
We often think about developing Calls to Action in advertising and even in writing effective blog posts – but it isn’t something I’d given a lot of thought to with social media. Here’s the question:
what do you want ppl to do when they see your profile on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace….etc?
It’s actually a great question and one that need not be that complex to answer. Your answer might be – to drive people to visit my blog – or to check out my LinkedIn profile – or to buy my book. Once you know what you want people to do having seen you on these sites is to call them to do it and give them a clear way to do so.
Reflections on Search Engine Bootcamp
All in all I had a good day at this conference. It was a relatively small event (there must have been 30 or so in the room) but that made it better as it gave an opportunity to circulate, ask questions and not get lost in the crowd.
The content wasn’t what I’d call advanced – but was solid and well presented. As you can see above – I came away with a few things to think about. Interestingly most of it wasn’t really about search engines directly!
There were other speakers that I’ve not written about here (the full agenda is here) but I either missed them (there were a few I wish I’d seen earlier in the day) or didn’t find them quite as relevant for me.
I’m looking forward to SMX in Sydney next April now!