This year was the 5th annual MnSearch Summit, and Rocket55 showed up in full attendance as the platinum sponsor of this amazing industry event. The summit is one of the biggest digital marketing conferences in Minnesota and is held by MnSearch, a professional association founded to address the specific needs and demands of search marketing.
MnSearch hosts monthly events to bring together local marketers and SEO enthusiasts to learn the latest and greatest tips, tricks and tools of the trade. For the past five years, this has culminated in the MnSearch Summit, a full day jam-packed with learning sessions and keynote speakers who are some of the industry’s top thought leaders from around the country. 2018 was no exception!
At the Summit, our team participated in all 18 breakout sessions and attended each keynote speaker’s presentation. Topics ranged from data-driven storytelling to marketing in the age of AI. Speakers included experts from Moz, Unbounce, Google, Microsoft and more.
While the Summit was chock full of memorable moments, a few breakout sessions stood tall above the rest:
Conversion Through Credibility — Driving Paid Media Performance by Finding New Paths
Craig Key, CMO at Bite Squad
Did you know Bite Squad started in Minneapolis? Neither did we.
During this breakout session, Craig shared some interesting Bite Squad case study findings while also presenting his key takeaways on how to resonate with your audience in the age of influencer marketing and social media.
Some of the highest performing ads they have used included quotes directly from their customers. Craig believes that by “crowdsourcing” their ad content, they are authentically building their trust and reputation.
This food delivery powerhouse also saw a huge increase in conversions when they revamped their referral program. Originally, they had given the bulk of the reward to the current customer (existing customer gets $15 off and their friend gets $5 off). When they switched this to give the entire discount to the customer’s friend they saw a 50x increase in the number of referrals.
“The power of a gift is stronger than the incentive of a transaction.”
– Craig Key
By letting their customers lead the way in promoting the product they have seen exponential success. Think of it this way — are you going to believe a faceless brand who says they are great, or are you going to believe your friend who says that brand is great?
To build trust with your target audience you need to tap into the power of your loyal followers. Not only does it save time, but it is more authentic and impactful.
The Evolution of SEO: Split-Testing for Search
Rob Ousbey, VP of Operation at Distilled
“SEO has always sat at the intersection between being a science and an art.”
– Rob Ousbey
Test, test and test some more was the sentiment shared by Rob Ousbey during this breakout session. As he spoke about the importance of testing, he explained real experiments his team at Distilled, an online marketing agency with three offices across the globe, has been running along with a few results from other big brands.
SEO should be informed by data and testing. This testing should be done on a page level, meaning that groups of pages are split — one group adding or removing your test idea and the other left alone as the control.
For example, you could take 50 product pages and add schema markup to 25 while leaving the other 25 alone. Letting this experiment run for a few weeks should help you determine whether or not schema will have an impact on your site. If it does, you should fully implement markup across all pages. If you find it has no effect, you should move on to testing other things to see if those make a positive difference.
Essentially, Google’s algorithms have become far too complex for anyone to simply guess how they work anymore. In 2009, the algorithms were fairly understood. Of course, times change.
Distilled surveyed 2,000 people to see if they could guess which site (out of two) ranked higher in Google based on some metrics like Domain Authority, Page Authority, and linking root domains.
These were the results of the experiment:
- People with zero SEO experience were right about 42% of the time
- SEOs with over three years of experience were right roughly 48% of the time
- A simple coin flip was right 50% of the time
- Distilled’s own SEO neural network, called Deeprank, got it right about 66% of the time
Because of the inability for SEOs to fully understand how something will affect search results, A/B split testing for SEO is more needed than ever.
STRIPPED Psychographic Targeting?! How Savvy Marketers Stay Ahead
Merry Morud, Associate Creative Director at Aimclear
Merry presented a convincing case for the need to be flexible and adaptive with Facebook targeting due to the industry-shaking changes the platform has experienced in recent months. While behavioral-based targeting from third-party data is being removed, she advocated using this as an opportunity to leverage Facebook’s other powerful targeting tools.
Lookalike modeling, in-channel remarketing and multi-channel remarketing can be layered on top of broader psychographic interest-based targeting, and Facebook’s algorithms can be increasingly relied upon to share your brand with the most promising audience segments.
Advertisers should seek to “get in the head” of the target audience, asking themselves who influences this audience, who inspires them and what interests this person has peripheral to the product. This will allow marketers to speak to their users in their terms — building a connection that will last from awareness to purchase.
The loss of behavior-based targeting is not the end of the world for Facebook advertisers willing to learn how to leverage all of the other tools that Facebook puts at our disposal.
After digesting all the information we could at the breakout sessions, the entire congregation grouped up to see the main event.
Data Storytelling – How We Break Silos Down to Get Sh*t Done
Wil Reynolds, Director of Digital Strategy at Seer Interactive
Wil Reynolds, one of the most respected names in the digital marketing game, shared some exciting ideas about the power of data storytelling, especially for long tail keyword research. Some food for thought he shared during this presentation:
“Google re-affirms that 15% of searches are new, as in they have never been searched before.”
– Wil Reynolds
That is roughly 300 billion searches every year that have never seen before.
What does this mean for SEO? Keyword targeting is a constantly moving target and a narrow target at that. With the help of some new and innovative tools (Power BI and STAT to name a couple), digital marketers can stay ahead of the competitive curve and turn massive amounts of data into actionable insights that can actually move the needle.
Content Marketing is Broken and Only Your M.O.M. Can Save You
Oli Gardner, Co-Founder of Unbounce
Next up was Oli Gardner, the afternoon keynote speaker from Unbounce. Oli is one of the premier public speakers when it comes to conversion rate optimization. During his presentation, he talked about the importance of never designing a page without purpose or context. When you build a page with a purpose, not only will you give the user a better experience, but you will get actionable data and insights you can use to inform your broader strategy.
When you design your web pages with purpose, you obtain data with meaning.
Another Great MnSearch Summit in the Books!
All in all, the team thought this was one of the best MnSearch Summits we’ve attended. Not only do these events provide a great opportunity to connect with others in the industry and share knowledge, but they also give us actionable insights we can incorporate into our clients’ strategies.