Wishful but NOT Wasted – SES Chicago – A Worth-Attending Event

Evelyn Chou's badge for SES Chicago - SEO SEM SoMeAs all the roundtables and sessions are wrapping up in Search Engine Strategies Summit (SES Chicago), I want to take some time debriefing my first romance with this event. I am extremely lucky to get approval attending the first two days of SES Chicago. While my daily responsibility includes website optimization and paid search, my true interest is in the integration of all the digital channels. And SES Chicago did a decent job covering most of the subjects applicable in online marketing.

Even though I had to drive back the first day of the expo, few sessions I attended have made this trip worthwhile. Among all the sessions I attended, Mikel Chertudi’s “Guilty Marketer,” and Lauren Vaccarello’s “B2B Marketing” are the two I considered best delivered and most informative. What are some of your favorite sessions?

Awaking Realization of Marketing Efforts

“If we were to shut down the marketing department, how much will it impact the sales result?” This question Mikel asked during his keynote was like a wake-up call. For B2B marketers, efforts spent are usually for sales support, product spec sheet, or leads generation. If we were unable to validate the contribution ratio to the entire sales pipeline, the marketing efforts and investment could be wasted. In order to accurately measure marketing contribution, a clear attribution model needs to be established in conjunction with sales team.

True Value of Marketing Efforts vs. Total Revenue (Not Just Leads or RFQ Value)

Very often you and I feel efforts spent in bidding keywords, doing A/B tests, and optimizing websites are irrelevant to the “big picture” of corporate operation. This might be resulted from the gap between total revenues and marketing investment. Even after the event, I still don’t have an answer to this problem. If you have a model to measure values generated by marketing efforts versus total revenue, please do share.

Business Goal & Unique Proposition

What is your goal beyond flashy display ads, lists of product keywords, and social media presence? More than one session I attended was centered around methods and tools. These methodologies, however, should garner business goals rather than creating inconsistent perks of sales and product promotions. Before diving into Internet user behavior or creating social media communication channels, companies should align its business goal with all their campaigns and platforms metrics. And only after a unique proposition (or brand identity) is formed can companies use various tactics such as retargeting to generate stickiness of the awareness.

Beyond the powerful sessions…

I consider the key factor of SES’s success is connecting people from different industries and markets. During the two days floating in and out of sessions and expo hall, I get a chance to talk to a few influencers like Mikel Chertudi from Adobe, Lee Odden from Top Rank Online Marketing (I accidentally spotted Lee’s check-in on foursquare and introduced myself. I believe everyone in online marketing industry should read his blog), and two brilliant ladies. They are Erica McGillivray from SEOMoz and Keara Cho from Salesforce. I’m a true believer that it is not best practices or seminars that ignite enthusiasm, but the human touch and connection that trigger the sparkles of intelligence and synergy. Did you meet any interesting folks during the SES event?

One suggestion to SES Add “experience level” to each session

I have to give SES committee a lot of credits for throwing such a big event with more than 5 tracks and 50 different sessions. However, some of the workshops I went to did not deliver my expected content. Rather than bringing in-depth knowledge of the tool and best practices, those sessions can almost be labeled as “marketing 101” courses. Hopefully in the future there will be more emphasis on the advance level on sessions instead of tracks. That way attendees will have better ideas choosing specific sessions they want to go to.

Just One More Thing…

If you would like to read my notes taken during various session including Mikel’s keynote, conversion rate optimization (CRO), and B2B Marketing, please send me a quick note (evelyn@ciaochou.com) or fill out the connect form. I will send you my Evernote link. Looking forward to continue the conversation!

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