My SearchLeeds Experience

By June 29, 2017 Stories

What can a marketing/PR professional learn at a Search Conference? Our Account Executive, Paula, reports back on the SearchLeeds conference.

It’s been two weeks since I had the chance to attend SearchLeeds, the biggest search conference in the North of England. Over 1,300 marketers of various specialisations and backgrounds rocked up to share and discuss all things search – and as I was to learn – digital as well.

Agenda, name tag and goodie bag in hand, I proceeded to the main hall before being welcomed by a view of a buzzing crowd swarming multiple stalls and chatting away. The atmosphere was amazing! You could sense a yearning for knowledge and passion for our industry floating in the air.

I was a bit sceptical beforehand, thinking the conference might be a bit too SEO/PPC focused for my taste (by which I mean, I wasn’t sure if I’d understand a word of the technical terminology being used). However, I was soon proved wrong.

The main takeaways for me were:

    1. Evoking emotion is still crucial for successful marketing
    2. Voice search is growing at a staggering rate, and should not be ignored
    3. Mobile is becoming a bigger and bigger part of our lives every day. And as businesses, we need to adapt!
    4. The future of search is personal, pervasive and predictive
    5. We all live online
    6. In marketing, PR and search, content is king!
    7. Pitches are about clients. Never forget that.

    If you’d like to learn more on each of the takeaways, read on or follow the links!

    I’m already looking forward to next year’s edition. Keep an eye out for more SearchLeeds inspired blogs on my part, and if you’d like to discuss any of the ideas I’ve learnt about don’t hesitate to give me a shout @paulinakowalska!

    Emotions rule the way we consume

    The first talk came from Branded3’s communications director, Laura Crimmons. Entitled “Let’s get emotional”, it focused on how various campaigns effectively played on people’s emotions – be it happiness, sadness, compassion or anger – to promote a certain cause. I found it extremely inspiring,so watch out for a new blog!

    Voice search is the future

    We then proceeded to more PPC/SEO focused talks. We started off with a presentation on “Adapting your search strategy for a voice search world” from Manning Gottlieb’s Rebecca Weeks & Romain Bonnet.This talk caught my attention as I have noticed an overall increase in voice search related articles and discussions within the industry.

    Mobile optimisation is the way forward

    Next up was Matthew Court from AutoTrader, who went on to talk about “Mobile first optimisation for non-responsive websites”. In an easy to follow way, and giving AutoTraders examples I have learnt the six best practice steps to achieve mobile optimisation. Look out for a new blog on that!

    What’s the future of search?

    After a brief coffee break, we went back in to listen to Bing’s, Ellie England talking about “The Future of Search”. Ellie touched our hearts with some amazing Microsoft Cortana initiatives (including the Seeing AI Project, which made me believe the future is already here), as well as presented us with some mind-blowing stats. Takeaways? We need search that is personal, pervasive and predictive.
    In short, more human.

    Search and the human perception

    The following presentation came from another Bing representative, Vikas Arora who focused on the “Psychology of Search”. After all, we are all human, and thus our actions are predictable in a sense. In terms of search, that gives us some interesting takeaways I will be sure to mention in another blog.

    Online 24/7

    After a rather intense PPC/SEO session, Sarah and I decided to head back to the main stage and listen to Google’s Stephen Power explain why “We don’t go online. We live online”. Stephen explained Google’s concept of Micro Moments, which I found fascinating. However, it would take too much space and time to explain it all here! But I will come back to micro moments, as I believe we could all benefit from employing this concept in our marketing strategies.

    Content is king

    The first presentation after lunch came from Response One’s Toby Brown, who asked two questions: ”Is content really still king? And how do you make a king work for you?”. Being the agency’s Head of Content, he jokingly started the presentation off with answering the first question with the words “of course it is!”. Despite the light-hearted tone, there were many lessons to be learnt. What I took from the talk is that we should focus on creating content that speaks to the audience not only on a visual, but also an emotional level.

    Tools for improving content

    The next talk’s title got me slightly worried – Alexa Tachalova from Digital Olympus asked “Why nobody cares about my content, including Google”. As with the previous presentation, it all boils down to quality. I would highly advise everyone to go through the slides, as Alexa’s presentation provided us with tons of useful tools which allow marketers to reach the right audience, at the right time, and with the right content.

    How to measure results?

    The last content-oriented presentation, from BlueGlass’s Chelsea Blacker was a lot more SEO focused. From that, I learnt “How to achieve amazing content marketing results (and measure it)”. An interesting takeaway from this presentation is that with the three stages of a customer’s journey, we can’t expect the same results. Content should always reflect and target a specific stage, which will allow us to truly measure its effectiveness.

    The art of pitching

    After a short break, I got to hear a perspective rather new to me – a client’s side of a pitch! WhichBingo’s Martin McGarry talked about “So how good (or bad) was that pitch? 10 real examples of practives that either won or lost you that contract!”. Coming from an agency background, I felt like I needed to hear some of that truth. I’ll be sure to write it up in a blog for you, adding some of my own personal examples.

    Dark social

    The last talk I managed to attend came from Mediacom’s Lydia Hinchliff, and focused on “Fuelling content in the dark”. Dark social is not a new concept (take a look at the KC Communications recent blog on the topic). Lydia’s talk provided us with some great real-life examples, including the ‘instaperfect’ lives we lead, and how to creatively use them in advertising. Head over to the slides to learn more!

    And it’s a wrap! From the agenda below you can trace my SearchLeeds experience talk by talk. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see all the speakers…still waiting for the technology to allow me to be in three places at once!