MN Search Summit – 2014

MNSearchExcellent event – this is the first search event organized by MN Search, and I am definitely hope to attend next year… ¬†hopefully with a coworker or two ūüôā

I noticed a curious trend through last three conferences I was fortunate to attend – marketing automation, general integrated marketing, and search – content marketing is the primary topic. ¬†It is not surprising – as Lee pointed out in his writing, the channels are just the part of the “sandwich” or “hamburger” of our¬†marketing efforts – the content is the foundation.

Addressing the place of search in the digital marketing mix, Lee Odden pointed out that we all are digital marketers now, every tactic today has a digital element and marketers need to be familiar with these channels.  Search is just one of the channels.  We need to look at the bigger picture and position ourselves for growth.  Marketers need to be eternally curious.

AvinashYou can no longer be good at just one thing, or two. It is a 10-thing world now (and maybe a 20-thing world soon).

Avinash Kaushik

Search is used to inform decisions on content creation. ¬†It is content that delivers marketing ROI; search is not the reason to create content. Digital marketing is a method of answering customer’s questions, and content perfect for that. ¬†Search helps these answers to be found.

Get-content¬† ¬† OptimizeLee recommended two books:¬†Get Content Get Customers: Turn Prospects into Buyers with Content Marketing and his own book¬†Optimize¬†(Optimize is available on Audible; I started listening to this book already). ¬†Lee’s book has been recommended by a couple more speakers.

How to make sure that your company is constantly learning?

  • learn
  • experiment (best source)
  • allocate time

(Ha! ¬†Maybe this is the area where large companies have an advantage as these organizations have resources ūüôā )

surveysGoogle Consumer Surveys were mentioned Рquite interesting option.  Thought I am not sure how useful the segmentation can be for a b-to-b niche brand, it is definitely a fantastic option for many questions and companies.

 Landing Pages

  • 98% of landing pages are bad
  • Pages depend on the complexity of the product – if the page is useful, it is good
  • Social does not convert very well
  • We need to create delightful landing experience

Never start a marketing campaign without a dedicated landing page

A good example of bad landing page (image search for worst landing page ūüėČ )



To avoid creating a companion of the “worst landing page,” we should concentrate on Conversion Centered Design.

7 Design Patterns to increase

  1. AttentionCCD
  2. Coupling (relation of pre-click experience to a post-click experience)
  3. Context
  4. Congruence (every element is contributing to a single cohesive message)
  5. Clarity 
  6. Credibility
  7. Continuance
  • ¬†Every campaign has one goal; conversion increases by taking things away
  • Landing page is asking yes/no question; home page is not designed for campaign traffic
  • Page dedicated to awards is the worst landing page experience
  • Clarity is good… ¬†unless we are clear about wrong things
  • If the person does not think about gimmicks or spam, do not introduce them
  • Silence is better than fluff
  • Adding video testimonial to the text testimonial can be helpful
  • Instead of “required” field every time, use just “optional” for a couple of optional fields
  • Continuance: ask to subscribe to a newsletter after they registered for a webinar, etc.

You should not let designer to take over marketing

How is Conversion Centered Design different from User Centered Design? ¬†Great slide to paste into your PPT to explain the confusion ūüėČ




  • It is possible to use GA data for remarketing (great!); campaigns using behavioral data 1300% more effective
  • It is possible to upload data to GA (from marketing automation system, etc.) and do analysis
  • Sampling is a problem – though sampling is showing in about 8% of queries

¬†All the cool kids use tag manager ūüôā


Oh, it is all about the content for linked it too!  And it is completely understandable.


LinkedIn believes that people “spend time” on other social networks, but “invest time on LinkedIn. ¬†As a result – LinkedIn needs more relevant content.



The concept of re purposing of the content was compared with the Thanksgiving turkey – after the main meal, the objective is to use the leftovers in other dishes.

Content should not sound instructional (or written by the product development).

Innovative ideas of re purposing of the existing content:

  • Drupal had case studies, which are normally used at the end of the sales cycle
  • Marketing needed content that can be used in the beginning of the sales cycle
  • The case studies have been re-purposed into “8 Amazing Drupal Launches”
  • “8 Amazing Drupal Launches” have been promoted through all channels, including SlideShare and blog post with twittable tidbits ( can help)

Mobile can accelerate the content consumption.


We can download “The Sophisticated Marketer Guide to LinkedIn” – 50+ page guide ūüėČ

You also need to make sure you have a budget set aside to promote your good content.


Why Content Marketing Fail…

Wast majority of content marketing efforts fail…. ¬† What to do to prevent it:

  • Content marketing may not produce anything from the first conversion… ¬†the conversion might come eventually – it is important to set clear expectations
  • Content should be targeted to a specific community – it can reinforce a belief the community already has or refute an opposing argument (Twitter is not dying!)
    • Only the best 0.1% of content can go viral without¬†the support of the preexisting community
  • You need to invest in content creation – and promotion, amplification (find how successful content is shared and copy approach if makes sense)
    • Do not forget that email is still #1 content promotion channel

Recommended article: 5 Insights About the convergence of Content Marketing and SEO


Recommended a keyword research tool as an alternative to Ubersuggest and Google Keyword Planner



Social Media at Dell

Interesting: “Traditional Digital Marketers” need to be educated about social media… (Lee’s book was recommended again)

Dell maintains social media materials on SlideShare


Google Hummingbird






SEO implications: need to address common questions rather than target specific keywords.

Google knows that 25% of people who type in the search “Eiffel Tower” ask for the hight of the tower next. ¬†Does your site have the answer to the most common questions?

Do you know what information is important?  If no, check Shema.  You may not be able to use Shema tags, but you can use the information that Shema suggests in the copy of the pages.

Excellent conference – thank you, organizers!


SEO Meetup

SEOJeannie Hill gave an excellent presentation with many useful tips and ideas to ponder.

Jeannie made a very interesting point – in the large companies (where I like to work ūüôā ) approvals for SEO projects might take months. ¬†As the industry moves faster than a corporate¬†paper trail speed, too much changes from the time of the project conception to the moment¬†when it can be executed. ¬†Marketing environment, algorithms, best practices, etc. change, and the project might¬†need to be changed to be effective.

As Google no longer show keywords… ¬†it might not be as bad as marketers feel… With hummingbird changes and intense personalization, the keywords from the report may no longer make sense even if they would be available.¬†

Jeannie likes Moz Fresh alerts¬†and uses the tool for her work. ¬†she admits spending 2 hours a day to studying of “what happened while I slept…”

structuredSchema metadata is changing, useful to update.  Authorship is important and can help in your niche.

SEO-driven content:

  • write what is unique
  • write what is special
  • what people understand in your niche
  • use “things” versus “strings”

Search tips can change based on the user’s previous behavior; Jeannie recommended to check in different browsers – oh, yes, very different!!

In general, we need to try to satisfy our users and help Google to satisfy its customers.

If you do something that helps us to do our job, we will reward you for it

Google on structured data

Snack¬†offered during the event was remarkably tasty ūüėČ

Eloqua Users Group – Zift Solutions

ziftZift Solutions is dedicated to helping marketers with channel partner support and measurement of the success of the efforts. ¬†Used by Google, Adobe and HP, the service integrates with Eloqua and “extends” the platform to the channel partners who would not normally have access to this marketing tool.

caseA case study illustrates the solutions for companies with distributors and channel partners.

With more than 70 years in business, 100,000 products in their catalog, and dozens of locations around the globe, this multi-billion dollar manufacturer of electronics components needed help creating a more efficient lead distribution process and a collaborative sales effort with their distributors.

After deploying Zift, the manufacturer established rules for the distribution of leads (specific to each individual distributor), and can now share valuable profile and historical data on each lead, including campaign details, email details, and information on how the lead has interacted with the manufacturer’s website. The leads are processed through Zift’s lead distribution engine and the manufacturer continues to nurture and cultivate marketing leads through their Eloqua MAP.

Book – In The Plex

in-the-plexThis book sheds light on many events in the industry, which¬†shaped current form of internet and online marketing. ¬†As Google is a dominant force of its domain, it is very interesting to see insight accounts of the events that are still very fresh in the memory of every marketer ūüėČ

Some of the most curious points from the book:

  • Google Analytics (my very much loved Google Analytics!¬†ūüėČ had a rather interesting history. ¬†Google needed to help its advertisers to make better decisions and to evaluate the effectiveness of their campaigns. ¬†The system that Google had at that point was clunky and difficult to use. so Google looked for something to buy. ¬†The criteria for the purchase was an GoogleAnalyticseasy to use analytics that would be beneficial for marketers and allow marketers to make better desisions. ¬†Google bought Urchin. Originally, Google did not plan to provide the analytics completely free of charge (it was planning to charge $500 per month for the service with discounts for AdWords customers), but the payment system was not ready… ¬†Instead of waiting for the payment system to be built, Google decided to help its advertisers and released Google Analytics for free. ¬†Even with provision of additional capacity in the expectation of increased demand, the popularity of Google Analytics exceeded all expectations and Google servers crushed. ¬†It became known as the most successful disaster.
  • Hiring project managers: Google founders would not approved hiring of many professional project managers that were needed in the organization; they did not feel that these people fit into Google… ¬†The solution was to hire computer Science graduates and train them to become project managers…
  • orgAt one point, Google founders tried to setup a very flat organizational structure for engineers. ¬†The structure organized several people into groups, but did not assigned managers assuming that the managers were not needed. ¬†During the discussions of the structure, engineers themselves said that they actually wanted to be managed. ¬†Larry Page wanted to know why, and the reasons were to have somebody from whom engineers could learn, and when discussions reached an impasse, they needed someone who could break the ties.

The book is a fantastic overview of Google’s journey through triumphs and mistakes, through China and social media, through experience of digitizing books and legal jungles. ¬†Highly recommend ūüôā

Content Strategy Meetup – Confab 2014

content-meetupThis was my second Content Strategy Meetup event, and it was excellent.

One of the differences of this group from the some other groups in the industry is the depth of discussions.¬†In many situations, members of the group are currently working on similar projects and can share tips and frustrations of the field. ¬†Considering that one attendee came from Duluth… ¬†I felt privileged to have a short drive ūüėČ

Notes from the event:

One more shade of hummingbird ūüôā

  • Hummingbird rewards good content; while Panda targets on-site spam, and Penguin targets off-site spam
  • Entities (person, place, thing, idea)
  • freebase2010 – Google acquired Matabase, which project,¬†Freebase¬†is used as part of semantic search


  • It becomes important what associations in your site (and other sites) is used to describe your brand and products.
  • Larger articles might become more valuable (as long as they are useful and not fluff ūüėČ ).
  • Use of rare words can also be beneficial



And the tribute to analytics ūüôā ¬†“Data is your eyes, not your brain”

It was interesting to see a concern among writers that the analytics data is complex, might be difficult to get and not easy to understand. ¬†My guess… ¬†the typical writer does not receive proper “insight” from the analyst, but rather “numbers” in never-ending spreadsheets that yet to be interpreted, or short dashboards that hide all useful insight behind homogeneous aggregate.



Interesting readability tool with an easy color indicator:





Content Audit

Types of Audits:

How to work with stakeholders:

  • Reviewing spreadsheet task number one: what to delete? ¬†This task is mandatory and enforced.
  • Next step: reviewing content usually, after identifying what to delete, business representatives want to review the rest of the content.
  • Why not to have too much unnecessary web site content?¬†¬†Content needs to be reviewed once a year; review time includes at least 15 minutes per page. ¬†Multiplying number of pages, gives number of hours just for the review. ¬†For example, 200 pages would require 50 hours of somebody’s time a year to review. ¬†This is more than a full work week!¬†
  • Migration worries:¬†why to review content before migration efforts? ¬†“If we migrate all content – we won’t be done with the migration until day X. ¬†If we can delete some of the content, be migration can be accomplished by day X-Y.


Confab 2014 seem to be a very interesting event. ¬†And if the recap of the event kindly provided by the members of Content Strategy Meetup is not enough…. ¬†there are MORE resources for any possible need ūüôā


Coursera – Analyzing Global Trends for Business and Society

instructorThis course states interesting questions, and encourages pondering about the answers.  the most interesting, in my opinion, is the collection of charts.  Many are surprising, some represent known facts, but just make the viewer more dramatically aware about the these facts.




Very interesting chart below Рgenerally population of the world is aging, and the same process can be seen in china and Russia.  My native country (Russia), in addition to the trend has a male-female dis-balance most likely brought by the damage of alcohol.




General economic trends were interesting to watch.  Though rise of Chinese economy is well-understood, the chart describing its proportion as part of the global economy is rather dramatic.

AnocracyAnother trends that is interesting to see on the chart is the tendency of developed world to have much higher public debt compared to the developing world. The change of public spending as a percentage of GDP is showing cultural differences and a tendency of the developing world to grow public spending.

It was quite interesting to see that the total tax revenue as percentage of GDP of China now exceeds US.  It will be interesting to watch how this tax revenue will be used, and if it will continue to grow.






One of the most dramatic charts is the one below that shows how the last recession affected the world.  It was the first recession to affect all OECD Countries without exception.  This chart gives many reasons for the businesses to be cautious about the future and hopefully, it can inspire some solution from governmental international organizations.



What will happen in the future? ¬†The instructor believes that China won’t become the most dominant power in the world as it is held back by a variety of constraints. ¬†Instead, several countries will share the dominant position. ¬†Could it be different? ¬†Maybe. ¬†We will see – trends are interesting to watch.

Integrated Marketing Summit 2014

Integrated-Marketing-SummitEnjoyable and thought provoking marketing conference. ¬†Interestingly, our industry progressed to the point that popular topics are discussed seriously, tactics are evaluated from the business perspective, and, curiously, “what not to do” insight received sufficient time¬†to counteract industry urge¬†to fall in love with the next shiny object.

professonGone are times of recommendations: “Thinking about social media? ¬†Talk with a young person!” ¬†The first keynote presentation on social media was delivered¬†by Don E. Schultz, Professor of Northwestern University, who is not on Twitter or Facebook, but has a Wikipedia page devoted to his marketing expertese. ¬†The Presentation was spectacular! ¬†Wise Professor evaluated the shiny object of the last years for what it was in the thought process that made academic¬†sense. ¬†“Confucius¬†was right…” ¬†he said highlighting an argument. ¬†What a pleasure!! ¬†(Northwestern University Coursera offering suddenly became even more enticing ūüėČ )

Can Social Media be Killing Brands?

  • Brand loyalty is shifting from manufacturer brands to retails store brands. ¬†“Where am I going to shop?” will define what the person will buy.
  • In general, brand preference is declining and “no preference” is growing. ¬†This observed commodization¬†could be a result of price promotion. ¬†Recession is not a contributing factor, as this trends has been observed independently from the recession.
  • The major contributing factor is change in media usage. ¬†As mass media go down and social media usage goes up – brand preference going down. ¬†Social media is “killing brands softly.”

If you think you can build a brand online, you might be fooling yourself

Forbs published a short overview of the research.

social-mediaThe study also found that only 11% of the respondents ‚Äúregularly asked for or sought advice‚ÄĚ from others, indicating that social media is used primarily for ‚Äúsocial conversations‚ÄĚ among users, not to provide product recommendations to others. At the other end of the spectrum, nearly 19% of social media users said they ‚Äúnever seek or give advice‚ÄĚ about products or services through social media or other forms of word-of-mouth.

Findings from this study seem to confirm that social media usage is primarily for ‚Äúsocial purposes‚ÄĚ and the potential for marketers invading social media vehicles or encouraging social media users to become product advocates is not only limited, but, may actually be counterproductive in terms of building brand value and brand relationships.

Brands have been invented as a salable device during the era of mass media.  Social media usage results in fragmentation, separation, and creates communities, not markets.

meaningful-logoCorporate brands in cereal do not mean much Рthere is less and less of differentiation.  Brand preference is different by category; more important (and more differentiated) are beer, soft drink, pet food.  However, one method of differentiating is important for consumers: Meaningful Brands.

Meaningful Brands not only identified positively by consumers, but they are also outperform stock market, what is sufficient proof of the benefit to the bottom line.




The challenge of “big data” – it is often considered as a two-dimensional source; however, we have a multidimensional marketplace. ¬†Companies need not only “big data” but also “long data.”

Social-IMCSocial media can be used, but not we won’t know the right answer… ¬†Will we find it? ¬†Probably not. ¬†However, what we are doing now is not working and we might see an improvement in the future.

Social media contributes to the exposure to information. ¬†Traditional marketing is a marketing to “dumb consumers.” ¬†4P model has been introduced in 1956… ¬† Sales Funnel appeared first in 1961…

Social media is about conversations, not persuasion; “working with customers rather than persuading them.”

Don E. Schultz recommended social media marketing book Social IMC, which should help answering some of the questions.


“Start with facts and use SWAGs as necessary”

SWAG – Scientific Wild Ass Guess ūüôā

On average, 60% of leads are now brought by marketing.

Interesting point on dealing with sales – sales would be uncomfortable if marketing claims credit for pineapple contribution – it is better to say that marketing “helped” sales, rather than taking credit for the result.

Note: learn more about CRM.

Where to Begin in Mobile Marketing

curtCurt’s presentations always contain many interesting facts. ¬†The idea that he is trying to convey is using the mobile channel correctly rather than just “doing mobile” for the sake of mobile. ¬†Even if the numbers suggest that mobile devices are becoming ubiquitous, marketers need to think about the customer and their needs first. Curt recommended a book Mobile Magic – it is available on Audible (excellent!)

Yes, the number of the phones is increasing exponentially; but it does not mean marketers need to jump into the “shiny object” game and create something mobile for the sake of something mobile.



  1. Good app costs $150-250K to build
  2. Promotion and update of of an app would cost 1.5x of its original cost
  3. Average user downloads 45 apps, 42 of which are free
  4. Average user uses only 5 apps 
  5. Pay $1.80-$2.50 per download of a paid app
  6. A user is considered‚Äúloyal‚ÄĚ in the industry benchmarks if he/she uses the app¬†at least 3 times
  7. “Loyal” users represent less then¬†8% of total app downloads

How to begin with mobile marketing:

  1. magicUnderstand your customers and prospects (create personas, observe them, talk to them)
  2. Find their pain points (look at analytics, talk to your team, talk to your customers)
  3. Mobilize your existing marketing¬† (mobile web site? ¬†mobile email? mobile PPC? explore other mobile tools; graduate to mobile apps only if it solves your customers’ need – start small and scale with success)

What is a place of mobile app?  It can be useful to reward loyal customers.

I love how Curt takes advantage of the new Twitter layout ūüôā


 Creating Advocacy by Engaging Customers

HallmarkHallmark Рcustomer engagement is a very interesting concept Рcompletely new to me.  Hallmark developed a b-to-b business, Hallmark Business Connections, which helps companies to connect to customers, recognize employees, or promote internal wellness initiatives.

Customer engagement is particularly interesting for marketers.  The main idea of the initiative is to empower front-line employees to make human connections with customers, and provide them with easy to use tools to do it easily.  The objective is to move the customers from the engagement with the company to the advocacy.  The measure of success is ubiquitous NPS (Net Promoter Score).

Case study: Using customer engagement techniques to improve NPS and ENPS (Employee Net Promoter Score).  In the first year of program, retention improved by 10% and revenue increased by 32%.

Which type of cards companies use more often:

  • Congratulation – 11%
  • Sympathy – 13%
  • Apology – 16%
  • Thank you – 47% ¬†(Thank you can be used in unique ways – example of a bank employee thanking the wife of an active duty soldier for her family’s contribution to the safety of the country after a conversation with the woman about family’s finances)


One of the approaches is to require front-line employees (call center, etc.) to make a certain number of human connections per day.  More successful employees can share their success with approaches with the rest of the team.

What is the difference between mail and email? ¬†Mailing address is more likely to be available, for some reasons email is not appropriate (Sympathy), and a hand-written card is usually perceived more “personal” than an email.

What is the difference between b-to-b and b-to-c organizations using the program?  B-to-b organizations immediately see the program as lead nurturing, and it can be adjusted to function for this purpose.

Are cards branded by the business that uses them?  Some are branded and some are not Рnot branded cards are perceived as more personal. Thank you cards are typically branded, but Sympathy cards are never branded.

IBM Case Study

IBM presented a case study for the project “Rethink Customer” ¬† – the project was tailored to different audiences, also included email communication and has been translated into several languages.

Interesting: Coremetric tagging has been done on the English version and then the translations happened, what assured that the tagging was in place in all languages.

Update is made based on the prioritization of the audience Рthe most important/profitable/numerous/strategically important audience receives more updates.  Site uses parallax, but is not optimized for mobile.


I was curious about Parallax design and SEO – MOZ has an excellent explanation on implication for analytics and SEO –¬†Parallax Scrolling Websites and SEO – A Collection of Solutions and Examples



Good article with a PPT and a recording of explanation of agile marketing by the presenter Agile marketing for a world of constant change.  I would love to see a typical marketing project explained in a Waterfall and Agile implementation, as it is still difficult for me to understand how this methodology can be applied to marketing.  Three examples from the article:

  • Content marketing is great for agile marketing. Each piece of content is naturally a discrete unit. You can experiment with many different content themes for different audiences at different stages, iterate and adapt them, scale the ones that work. It‚Äôs great to be able to quickly re-prioritize content marketing plans to take advantage of new trends and topics that arise in the market.
  • Marketing automation is great for agile marketing. You‚Äôre able to constant expand and refine nurture programs and automated or semi-automated flows along the buyer‚Äôs journey. You can break out new audience segments to target on an experimental basis.
  • Landing page optimization is great for agile marketing. This flows seamlessly from agile efforts in social, PPC, and nurturing campaigns. You can generate new post-click experiences quickly, A/B test alternatives to run meaningful experiments on new hypotheses, target different experiences to different audience segments.

Agile marketing assumes iterations rather than following the plan. ¬†“Annual Plan” is not working anymore…¬†

Modern marketing plan is less gospel and more jazz; it assumes improvisation

Companies with exploratory strategies perform better than companies with “focused exploitation” strategies. However, “continuous exploration is not as good as “moderate exploitative” approach.

Myths of agile marketing:

  • It just mean we have to work faster… ¬†(push to work faster leads to employees changing company or industry). ¬†No, instead of a long cycle, there are many short cycles.
  • “Small” does not mean “quick and dirty” – each component can be done very well.
  • Is agile short-sighted? ¬†No, it is a better process to execute a long-term plan.

Interesting: ion Iterative re-branded as marketing app company and now sporting quite interesting ¬†parallax website ūüėČ




Scott Brinker also writes Chief Marketing Technologist Blog (I subscribed ūüėČ )



Marketing is changing very fast and all of us in the industry have to love change (or we would not be there ūüėČ ). ¬†Everybody is generally overwhelmed and often confused. ¬†The only comforting thought is that we are all experiencing the same phenomenon.