SMX EAST 2014 – Key Takeaways

EMF @ SMX East 2014

Well, welcome if you clicked your way through this post title on a Fashion Marketing Blog! It’s only uncommon to hear of SMX conferences in the fashion circles. But since this IS an e-marketing blog too, I cannot not have posted about this. Especially since I was there in New York on 30th September. And also because Javits Centre is just a few blocks away from Fashion Avenue and the Garment District of New York (which is again a few blocks from Times Square). Hard to miss this!

For those of you unfamiliar with SMX, it is short for Search Marketing Expo. SMX is the search engine marketing conference from Third Door Media, the company behind the Search Engine Land and Marketing Land news sites, and Digital Marketing Depot. Search Engine marketing is about using strategies to get yourself visible on search engines and reach more customers via search engines. So beginners to experts in search engine tactics, all gather at this conference for highly informative sessions. Moreover, it gives you the latest updates on stuff happening in the search engine world and that too from the who’s who of the Digital Marketing industry.

Now if you are a business, fashion or not, search engine marketing should definitely matter to you. If you want to get found, you have to have one ear open to what Google, Bing and Yahoo are upto and the other ear to what your competitors are doing there. Which means, you need to know of any updates or algorithm change in search engines which could affect your rankings there, new tools used by your competitors to get in front of potential customers and also about how media are converging and how you can strategize uniquely around that. And for that, I don’t mean you go all the way to attend these conferences (I know you have a business to manage!), but you definitely need to bookmark some websites and blogs to stay up-to-date.

Let’s start this bit of a boring post with a slice of my time at New York before I attended the conference.

A super cool cruise along the Manhattan shore line on the Hudson River, the destination being The Statue of Liberty. There was a lot of wind in my hair and some extraordinary views, so here’s what it looked like!

NYC

Onward to Javits Convention Centre!

There were booths by several digital marketing organizations who were willing to help consumers in their quest to find the latest technology to optimize and scale their business. You could see a line-up of stalls from Yahoo, Bing, PageOnePower, TextBroker, gShift, ifbyphone, Buzztala, Covario, BrightEdge, Yext, SearchMetrics, MajesticSEO, iCrossing, Linkdex, topSEOs and many more. Most of them were enterprise level B2B servicing companies. But then, some even help solopreneurs run their online biz effectively. It’s all about choosing the right tools and team to help you out. One thing is clear though, Marketing Automation is here to stay. And only those who wish to fall behind will ignore it.

A brief overview of Sessions

SMXEast2014

I attended this conference with an EXPO+ pass, which means I get a free entry into the conference and attend several theatre and information sessions. Which also means, I did not get to attend any workshops or presentations by specific speakers, but for a fashion marketing person, I think it would be way too unnecessary.

But here’s what I learnt.

Google Penalties and what to do about them-  BRUCE CLAY

BruceClaySMX

In the Search Engine stratosphere of the web, many marketers are tempted to use unlawful and cheap tactics to stay ahead of the game. You may be familiar with some of them like  buying links, thin content, over use of keywords and anchor text links, unnatural guest posting, and fiddling with website codes to dodge Google’s crawlers. So what does Google do? It finds such websites (or businesses) and penalizes them! Google will ban the website from ever showing up on its search results (worst case) or lower your search rank below your competitors (non-panic case). There are many other things Google can do, but I believe since we are genuine people, we are not so much bound for Google Penalties.[Here’s a quick overview: Goggle Penalty]

But if you ever get notice from Google that you have been hit with a penalty (in most cases you DON’T get a notice, so you have to be constantly learning about your website), you need to have a backup plan. Because only 0.001% of websites appear in the first page of Google(from available websites around a particular keyword) and it’s certain that sooner or later, your website is going to be effected by Google’s algorithm updates. In 2014-15, here’s what to do:

-Understand that you have a weakest link in your website
-Identify worst links to your site using Google Webmaster Tools, Bing web tools
-study your webmaster messages constantly
-keep the robot.txt file updated
-avoid excessive redirects
-avoid too many transactional keyword anchor text links
Once these are taken care of, you are set to ask Google for a reconsideration of your website(worst case) or see an improvement in your rankings(non-panic case).

For your information, the latest update in Google’s algorithm is called the Penguin update. I would recommend you study a little bit about that to ensure your website is nowhere under that scanner.

Social & Mobile Keyword Data to Drive your Brand Visibility –  gSHIFT

58 Million.

Do you know what that number stands for?

These are the number of tweets that go out every single day. You can’t even start to imagine how powerful that can be in terms of consumer data. People have to say what they want to say in less than 140 characters on Twitter, and it is only obvious that those tweets are full of precious keywords that you can use for your marketing purposes. Such concentrated messages are not to be ignored, but sifting through this much of data can be nearly impossible. Well, that’s where gShift comes in. Whether you use gShift or no is immaterial, but to understand that there is a lot of potential to grow your business through data available on Social is what’s significant. Have a system in place to retrieve as much useful information from social as you can that can propel your boutique forward. Because ultimately you will thrive only if you give customers what you want.

Use this six D  process to build your system:

#1- Data
#2-Decisions
#3-Delivery
#4-Difference
#5-Dominate
#6-Discover

As you can see this is a circular process. Once you reach #6, rinse, repeat, wash.

Another key takeaway from Krista’s presentation was to pay attention to how people are searching for your business and how Google is throwing up results for each type of search. And what I mean is, notice the Google results when you type in something in the search box and when you speak something using voice search. Compare the results when you do a search from mobile and do a search from desktop. Notice Google results if you can from different locations or cities and see how it varies. Identify how the majority of your customers are searching for your kind of business and strategize your marketing around that. So always optimize for the best platform among:

Voice vs. Typed Search
Mobile vs. Desktop Search
Local Search vs Global Search

Link Building & Content Marketing-  PageOnePower

Jon Ball, who gave this presentation, tried to oust the confusion between link building and content marketing and the notion that they are the same and was pretty convincing when he did so.
The first take away is “Link building IS Marketing”.

And why is link building important? Because Google is built on links! The only way for Google to separate wheat from chaff is through the number of links a page has. And since link building  today is not about paying under the table for those links, you have to incorporate link building into your overall marketing strategy.

QuoteBut what is most important is that you should have something on website worthy to be linked to. As Jon gave a very nice analogy of your website being like Disneyland. You don’t go to Disneyland for its fancy parking lots or sprawling gardens. You go there for its thrilling rides. As simple as that. So, your Link building strategy begins with the question “What are the thrill rides on your site that you can build links around?”

And that’s where content marketing comes in. You will use various types of content to attract customers to your site. And you can use this same content to build links on. Link building is about getting many many many websites around the internet linking to your content. Especially the big players. Quality links to quality content is what you need to remember.

Creating quality content is HARD. Not everyone can do it, and it’s ok! But it’s better to not create any content than create really thin content. So is there a way out of this? YES!

Links can also be built without using content. For your ease, I have summarized the important points in the image below:

Links

At the end of the session, I asked Jon what is the one thing that ecommerce businesses just starting out should do to build their links. His response was, ” Build Resources.” Yeah, that’s what ladies- you got to have some kind of resource on/off your website linking to your business. That converts into Look-books, style-guides, video how-tos, some magic tricks and lots of Instagram for fashion boutique businesses.

Conclusion

This was a very brief overview of what was on offer at SMXEast and even more so when we think about how vast the search marketing topic is. If I have to go by the number of booths that were there at the summit, I have to acknowledge that Search marketing is quite a big deal. The only way to tame the search marketing beast is to categorize it and choose those which apply to your business. So whenever you are looking out for tools or agencies to help you with search marketing, you can search by the following functions:

-Content creation (text, video, photos, presentations, infographics etc)
-web rankings
-social analytics
-banner advertising
-customer engagement (execution & analytics)
-Link audit, discovery, tracking
-PPC tools
-Retargeting
-Audience based targeting
-keyword research & rankings

It will take some time. But a good strategy will pay off in the end. You can ignore this, and hence I urge you to put on your research caps and get thinking. Click here for some resources from SMX.

While I work away in the background to bring all the fashion and e-marketing info together on this one platform and create some ultimate resources on this topic so you don’t have to waste hours looking for info all over the web, I would be really glad to answer any immediate questions you have. Just use the comments below, and you’ll be done in a jiffy!

Cheers!

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