SMX East 2014: Key Takeaways & Statistics from the Show

At the beginning of October, Derek and I headed down to New York for SMX East. I was fortunate enough to speak on two panels, Competitive Research for SEO, and what may be my favorite SMX session, SMX Takeaways.

Photo courtesy of Akvile Harlow

Photo courtesy of Akvile Harlow

The nice thing about the takeaways session is it lets you hear about sessions you may have missed and see what was important to others in the industry. It also makes it much easier to compile the blog post you’re reading.

So what were the key takeaways? I’ve included three themes I found the most interesting along with several stats that were mentioned throughout the show I believe are worth noting.

1. Brand is Everything

Joanna Lord, VP of Marketing, Porch, gave a great presentation on the importance of a brand. She noted that branding could no longer be a secondary thing. It has to have it’s own time, team, and budget.

This resonated with me personally, because for those involved in online marketing, so much of what we do is geared toward driving brand awareness. Whether it’s in search results, through social media, or through paid advertising, the goal is to get a client in front of their audience.

For businesses, the key is to create a brand that people love and want to talk about. In this day and age, people want to feel connected to a company and when they do, they will very openly support the company.

Here is the presentation which provides some good examples of brands who are doing it right:

Takeaway: People are more invested in brands than ever. Spend time figuring out who your brand is, what it means, and how you can help drive that perception.

2. Utilize Interactive Content

There were a few prevalent content themes throughout the show but one of my favorites came from Scott Brinker, President and CTO, Ion Interactive. Brinker discussed what he calls the “4th wave of content marketing,” which is focused on content built to keep people engaged versus content built simply for consumption.

According to the 2014 B2B Content Marketing Trends Report from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 93% of B2B marketers are using content. That’s crazy! And while that number is great to see, what it also shows is there is a large amount of content being put in front of consumers. As marketers, we need to ensure our content stands out. That’s where interactive content comes in.

Brinker discussed the idea of using interactive content that engages the audience and gets them invested. As an example, he showed an interactive app used on their site that lets people guess which landing page test won. After a person plays, they are given results and also given an opportunity to download the full hypotheses.

Ion Quiz

Brinker’s note to marketers was this – when we see someone asking us for an email address, we feel like it’s probably a trap. However, after someone has engaged with us and become invested in our content, a soft ask for an email address suddenly doesn’t seem so bad.

Takeaway: Figure out how to actually engage your audience through creative content ideas that go beyond blog posts and eBooks.

3. Implement Structured Data 

One of the most talked about sessions at the show was the Structured Data session. The presenters offered some interesting information on how Schema markup helped improve search traffic and helped increase conversions for a number of sites.

For example, Samuel Quincy showed that using Schema markup on a specific site helped improve year-over-year search traffic from Google by 93%. More noteworthy, within two weeks of implementing Schema, 73% of tracked rankings (196 out of 263) showed improvement. That’s pretty fantastic.

What does this mean for marketers? Schema offers another way to provide relevant information about your site to the search engines. While every site may not show the dramatic results we see above, all of the information presented showed that there is certainly value in marking up your site.

Takeaway: Evaluate your own site for markup opportunities. Not completely familiar with Schema? Check out Derek’s post “What B2B Marketers Need to Know About Schema.org & Micro Data.”

Along with these three takeaways there were also a few statistics thrown out there that are definitely worth noting.

5 Super Statistics from SMX East 

  1. While 93% of online marketers are using content marketing, only 44% have a documented strategy. – Scott Brinker
  1. According to Yahoo, over 40% of search volume is coming from mobile. By the end of the year that will be at 50%. – Greg Sterling
  1. 67% of the buyer’s journey is done digitally – Scott Brinker
  1. 93% of all consumers use search before making a purchase with 86% conducting non-branded queries. – Arnie Kuenn
  1. Out of 150 million views to BuzzFeed, 75% comes from social media. – Jonah Peretti

Did you attend SMX East? What were some of your favorite takeaways?

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