The Fuel team recently traveled to scenic Raleigh, North Carolina to attend this year’s Internet Summit. This year’s conference boasted an impressive lineup with speakers like Morgan Spurlock, Rand Fishkin, Al Madrigal, and Neil Patel – to name a few.
The two conference days were jam packed with exciting presentations and networking events. To be frank, the amount of information was overwhelming at times, but our team came home with a full slew of great new ideas to implement with clients and several trends stay on top of for the coming year.
Here are our top takeaways from the 2016 Internet Summit.
Marketing Automation Is All The Rage
Marketing and email automation platforms had a strong vendor presence at this year’s conference. As the demand of a marketer’s job grows, more and more companies are popping up to meet the challenges of the evolving world. What’s one way to make a repetitive task easier? Automate it!
Simply put, marketing automation software exists with the goal of automating a variety of marketing actions. This could be anything from nurturing leads via highly targeted email campaigns to managing your company’s brand identity. Furthermore, good software will also provide robust reporting tools to help you easily optimize campaigns and workflows.
Though the concept of automating marketing tasks is hardly new, now seems to be a hot time to be entering the software automation market, which speaks verses to the growth of such technology.
I was particularly interested in how highly targeted and personalized the software can be and how it can align with well developed customer personas and the buyer’s journey to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time.
Marketing automation software could be a great fit for companies who do their marketing in-house and are looking for a solution to help expedite the process.
Shout out to Act On for sponsoring the opening reception at The Raleigh Times. Be sure to check out their blog on 10 New Ways to Use Marketing Automation.
Technical SEO Is More Important Than Ever
As a member of our digital marketing team, I was particularly interested in the Search Engine Optimization sessions offered this year. Between the pre-conference session with Michael King and the multiple breakout sessions, I have pages and pages of notes on all things SEO. Though the amount of information presented was almost overwhelming, I did manage to narrow down several key trends.
The Importance Of Code
Search engines have come a long way when it comes to understanding what we throw out on the web… but they aren’t perfect. Though search engines have made massive improvements when it comes to rendering and understanding certain languages, like java script, there are still best practices in place to be sure your websites are as user friendly and search engine friendly as possible. Furthermore, the order in which your code is presented on the page can also have a huge impact on other factors like page speed and indexing, which leads us to….
The Importance Of Site Speed
Google has the expectation that that the above the fold content on the page will load within 1 second. Simply put, if you aren’t meeting that “one second” rule of thumb, Google will probably outrank other sites that load faster and provide a better user experience. What can you do to analyze and optimize your website speed?
Thankfully, Google provides a full slew of developer tools to help you out. Google recommends optimizing the critical rendering path of your website to prioritize the display of content and how it related to the user action. In order to do this, you or your development team should have a solid understanding of how mobile and desktop browsers render pages and how code can be used most effectively in different situations.
Site speed became a ranking factor back in 2010, so the concept of website speed in SEO is far from new. In today’s SEO, however, Google has a much more sophisticated system for evaluating site speed and now uses desktop site speed for desktop ranking and mobile site speed for mobile rankings.
See Also: 10 ways coding can help your SEO
AMP Pages, Rich Snippets, and Cards – Oh My!
In addition to constantly updating their algorithm, Google is also tweaking how search results are presented within the search results pages for specific queries. From a hospitality perspective, our agency knows this all too well with the introduction of the Google Hotel Ads product that now displays for a wide array of destination specific and brand specific keywords. On a more broad scale, Google is testing out and displaying more content types to make it easier and faster for searchers to find the information they are looking for.
A few examples of these new layouts include:
- Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) – A way to build web pages for static content that render fast.
- Rich Snippets (Structured Data Markup) – HTML that is added to a website to help search engine better understand certain information. Rich snippets can also dramatically change how your information is displayed within search engine results pages.
- Rich Cards – An expansion of rich snippets, rich cards use structured data to display content in a more engaging and visual format and focus primarily on providing a better mobile experience.
As you can see, there are a lot of new changes happening in the world of just technical SEO.
Buyer Personas & Buyer’s Journey Are This Year’s Buzzwords – In A Good Way
“Buyer Personas” and “The Buyer’s Journey” might be the hottest new buzzwords of 2016. However, unlike most buzzwords, I actually give some weight to these concepts. Marketing and psychology have always had strong ties but once analytics was added to the picture, the stars aligned. Let’s briefly discuss these two concepts, how they are related, and how they could improve your marketing.
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional profile of your ideal customer(s) based on thorough market research and data. Important information to take into consideration when developing buyer personas includes demographic information, behavior patterns, individual motivations, and individual goals. Buyer personas are an important framework for developing a marketing strategy.
The thought of developing buyer personas can be overwhelming, but they key is to start small and slowly build and improve profiles over time.
A well-rounded persona would include information like: demographic data, challenges and objections, fears, hobbies and interests, goals and aspirations – among other things. Customize this data to your customer set and make adjustments as needed.
How can you collect this data? Well, there are several ways. Surveys, questionnaires, focus groups, website and social media analytics, and – of course – one to one communication with both your customers and employees.
Simply put, the buyer’s journey is a three-step process a buyer goes through before making a purchase: awareness, consideration, and decision.
- Awareness – The point at which a buyer identifies a need and prioritizes that need (“top of funnel”)
- In this stage, users are seeking educational / neural content to help them solve a problem or fulfill a need
- Consideration – The point at which a buyer is evaluating different options to fulfill a specific need (“middle of funnel”)
- In this stage, users are committing to solving the need by evaluating solutions and making comparisons
- Decision – The point at which a buyer is ready to commit to a solution to their need (“bottom of funnel”)
- In this stage, users are seeking validation and selecting a solution
It is important to fully understand what each of these stages looks like for your individual service or product.
For more information on how to get started, check out this handy resource via Pardot
How & Why To Combine Buyer Personas and the Buyer’s Journey
Combining these two concepts will create a sweet spot for your marketing and help foster a seamless journey down your product / service funnel.
The idea is simple: Identify target personas. Map out the buyer’s journey for a particular product or service. Create amazing content specific to each person at each step of the journey.
After you have your personas and buyer’s journey ready, think about all of the content you can create to help your potential customers throughout every phase of the funnel. This isn’t limited to just blog content – think about whitepapers, case studies, tip sheets, webinars, video demos – the options are endless. Make sure each piece of content is carefully crafted to address the specific needs of each person and each individual phase. The messaging and calls to action at each phase will be different. This is also a great time to begin thinking about A/B testing different approaches to see what works best. And yes, this will take time and effort. However, why would you not spend time and energy into such an important piece of your marketing strategy?
Check out this SlideShare from HubSpot on how you can get started.
It’s safe to say that we left with tons of great information and met several great vendors during our time at this year’s Internet Summit. Also check out Episode 32 of the Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast where we chat about our favorite vendors and takeaways from the conference.