HeroConf 2015 came and went last week in Portland, OR and Seer was lucky enough to send four attendees, including a speaker and a moderator, to learn about all things PPC. The conference featured 70 speakers, 4 keynotes, 11 networking events and 44 sessions. So yea, we got our geek on with our fellow PPC peers and we loved every minute of it. Below, we’ve outlined key takeaways and experiences from each of Seer’s attendees. Shout outs to our very own Lauren Frankel, who we’re told killed it with her session about e-commerce and shopping strategies (access Lauren’s presentation here), and to Gil Hong, who engaged attendees by moderating several conference sessions.
Before we forget, here’s some awesome news that was announced at this year’s conference: the 2016 HeroConf is coming to Philadelphia, the birthplace of America and Seer! We’ll see you in Philadelphia next April 25-27! And if you want to hang with Seer Interactive prior to HeroConf 2016, we’re hiring.
For me, the greatest value in attending HeroConf was being among my peers and competitors, who are equally as passionate about both digital marketing and PPC as I am, and sharing our experiences, learnings and tips with each other. This alone served as a motivator to continue to learn the industry and test new ideas for our clients.
As for specific takeaways, the conversation about the future of PPC was eye-opening, with one panelist predicting that the keyword will continue becoming less important as search evolves. Additionally, we were reminded (if we didn’t already know) that we need to consider what kind of impact Amazon will have on the PPC space as it continues to advance its offerings.
One phrase that stuck with me was “flat PPC,” mentioned by Andrew Goodman of Page Zero Media. Sometimes we struggle to show impact on a weekly or monthly basis if the numbers are staying relatively similar each period. But we were reminded that flat PPC can still be good, especially since it’s a conservative channel compared to others like TV, outdoor, etc. Let’s work with our clients to determine goals outside of just growing the numbers by X% each period.
Finally, social was a key topic that I was particularly interested in as a manager of Facebook and LinkedIn advertising for some of my accounts. A point that was stressed during one particular session led by both Elizabeth Marsten of Commerce Hub, and Heather Cooan of Infusionsoft, is that organic social media is still incredibly important (even though Facebook continues to make it harder to reach users with organic posts) and PPC really serves as an amplifier to the organic activity. With many cooks in the social kitchen, we have to determine at the start who handles what between the social media person, the PPC person, the intern, etc. Make sure we understand what each of our goals are if we’re not all working toward the same one.
The biggest takeaway for me was that paid social is continuing to grow into a big factor for PPC.
Between Bryan Sise’s (from Twitter’s Product Marketing team) keynote talk, Larry Kim’s comments in the closing Q&A when asked about the future of the industry, and the amount of social mentions I heard in the breakout sessions, it’s clear that the PPC world continues to recognize and appreciate the value of leveraging paid ads on social networks. Companies in B2B and B2C alike that aren’t paying attention to paid social are missing out on opportunities to reach customers at different stages of their buying journey.
Two of the sessions I attended (PPC for Startups and B2B PPC: Partners in Business) both had speakers that discussed how and where paid social should be incorporated into your PPC mix. There was also emphasis on testing different channels (there’s no universal, magic social formula), and recognizing that social typically is tactic best utilized earlier in your marketing funnel.
Lastly, thanks to the abundance of VooDoo Doughnuts that were served, I learned that donuts with Cap’n Crunch Berries exist, and are incredible.
Hero Conference was my first experience at a dedicated PPC conference. One thing for certain is that you never know who you're going to meet. Between Twitter #ppcchat people, prominent bloggers, and even an old client, I connected with a lot of new and familiar faces. Getting the in-person experience with people I have only seen online added an extra level of depth and respect for the PPC community.
I was immediately drawn to the session on "Worldwide Reach: the Impact of International PPC". This session was led by Katy Tonkin of Point It and Michael Stricker of SEMRush. Many of their points centered around the theme of knowing who you're targeting and that keywords are not just words to translate. For bilingual countries, hybridized and emerging industry terms can easily change and evolve.
Another great session I enjoyed was "The Best & Worst Bid Rules Ever Written" by Chris Haleua of Adobe. Making sure the logic in your bid rules is air tight can make the difference between grooming your campaigns to success versus causing an avalanche. For every rule you create, ensure that you have a bid floor and ceiling. Also, if you're main KPI equals zero you can "develop holistic coverage by falling back to the next best metric". This ensures that your changes are more gradual to establish trends.
Davis Baker (@davisbaker) and Matt Umbro (@matt_umbro) led a session about the psychology of PPC where they discussed how consumer behavior affects you. First, Baker focused on four points to unleash your inner behavioral economics.
- Social proof – making the user feel like they're not the only one making a choice
- Scarcity – communicating time sensitivity while still maintaining product quality
- Anchoring – conveying the benefits compared to the first piece of information received
- Framing – framing the product or service in the best way
Matt Umbro then shared a case study about the countdown ad customizer. Whether you're using the countdown for a promotion (like free shipping) or an event (first day of spring), countdown ads saw an increase in clicks and click-through rate while also seeing an improvement in cost per acquisition and conversion rate. Umbro then further shared the promo countdown saw conversions and conversion rate peak where there were 1-2 days left in the promotion while the event countdown started off strong and then tailed off before picking back up again with a few days left.
John Gagnon (@jmgagnon) then led a session about winning with the unexpected where he talked about how search is now a part of the PPC conversation. Gagnon shared that questions phrases (who, when where, how) are more likely to be voice searches with each phrase indicating the voice search degree of intent. Someone who may be interested might search with "what" is this product whereas someone who is ready to act might search on "where" is this product. It's important to use question words in keywords to drive intent and negate them if they do not imply.
See You at HeroConf 2016!
Overall, the conference was a fantastic experience that gave everyone more exposure to what’s happening in the PPC world and where the industry is headed. If you weren’t able to attend and want some more sweet PPC knowledge, here is a link to all of the presentations from the event and you can also take a deeper dive with these presentation notes from the team at Unbounce. We can’t wait for the HeroConf to come to the City of Brotherly Love next April, and you can be sure there will be some familiar faces from Seer in attendance!
And now for some fun: