Organizers of last weekend's Marketing Festival in the Czech Republic analyzed 500 conferences from around the world before choosing 18 promising speakers.
Having soaked up their collective wisdom, I found three lectures gave me the most to think about and I've summarized them here.
The Three Kings
Paddy Moogan started his presentation with an entertaining look at how marketers of the past tried to get the most out of a blend of technology, creativity and strategy. It was a great overture to three big trends of today and the “three kings” rising from them:
1. Robots are filtering everything we see: Loyalty is king
Gmail, with its filters of what's important and everything else -- or even primary, social and promotion -- is the obvious example here. Facebook follows Google in this. The drop in the organic reach of content published on brand Facebook pages is proof of that. This is a new challenge for marketers and one that makes customer loyalty their ultimate goal. Importance should be placed not just on having a wide range of traffic sources to break through the filters, but on making ideas “sticky” enough that readers will look beyond the filters to enjoy your content regularly. Sticky ideas are simple, unexpected, solid, credible, emotional and story-making.
2. Robots are predicting what we want to see: Context is king
Again it is Google playing the trendsetter here by adding answer boxes and its Knowledge Graph to search engine results pages (SERP), along with the ads. At the same time, the context of search queries is becoming more important than the queries themselves. A user’s explicit search for “NY Thai restaurant” is enriched by its implicit aspects, such as an iPhone user standing on 3rd Avenue. And this implicit element is now on its way to rapidly overtaking its keyword counterpart.
3. Content marketing is mobile marketing: Mobile content is king
It’s widely known that the volume of mobile searches is going to surpass that of desktop searches very soon. But with 77 percent of mobile searches happening in locations where people already have a PC within reach, we might start talking about this race in the past tense. The main lesson here for marketers is that their sites must be more than just responsive. Their content must be developed “mobile first."
Optimize for the Journey
In his lecture, Avinash Kaushik walked us through his business framework for digital marketers and how various marketing channels can be used within it. Then he went and applied this theory to some major-league websites and, well, many of the big names failed miserably.
His framework establishes four stages of product consideration – see, think, do, care. The "see" stage covers the entire addressable audience. The "think" stage applies to audience members in the decision-making process. The “do” segment is made up of those who are ready to purchase. And the “care” stage represents customers who have already purchased from you at least twice.
Kauschik’s analysis of various websites and applications proved the sad truth that many companies are focusing only on the "do" stage. They offer the shortest path to purchase, but don’t recognize people in the other three stages. But how many of site visitors actually convert? It’s typically somewhere around 2 percent. This means that a lot of companies are actually focusing the bulk of their efforts on trying to get the most out of the smallest part of their traffic.
The goal of most marketers is to get a visitor directly from the "see" stage to the "do" stage, but a customer has to "think" first. At the same time, one’s ability to speed this up with pages optimized to near perfection through A/B testing is restricted by the fact that, in the end, our customers want to (and will) traverse these phases at their own pace. The key message of Kauschik’s speech was that companies should focus more on improving the customer experience at each of these stages and, consequently, the journey as a whole, rather than trying to build express lanes.
Google: US vs. Europe
You won’t find a better SEO expert than Peter Meyers. Like it or not, part of an online marketer’s destiny is to follow and react to the updates of Google’s search engine and its features.
In his lecture, Meyers listed the latest Google SERP features, analyzed their availability in the US compared to Europe and outlined the trends in both. Here are my notes:
- About 65 percent of organic searches currently show extended results and this number will increase.
- Google Shopping results tend to be increasingly aggressive in the US versus Europe.
- In some cases, the new answer box, together with ads, will occupy the whole space above the fold. So there won’t even be a single organic result.
- New elements, such as the Knowledge Graph, make you focus on the right side of the screen and scroll down to read it. This takes you to the bottom of the page, so you scroll left, essentially skipping the uppermost organic results. This makes the importance of being the first SERP obsolete.
- Google sometimes answers even nonsensical questions like “Who's the president of Prague?”
- Authorship in SERPs seems to be dead, no matter where you look.
- New SERP features are released in Europe with a delay. Rather than begrudging it, marketers should jump at the opportunity to get ready before the changes make their way across the water.
Festival Director Jindřich Fáborský, a lecturer at Masaryk University in Brno, brought to the conference what he promised last year -- lectures hinging more on practical know-how than inspirational stories. The presentations were crafted for an audience with an advanced level of marketing knowledge. If you didn't make it there, you can see recordings on the Marketing Festival website.
Title Image by the Marketing Festival - 2013