Day one at SASCon: Key takeaways

SASCon day1

It’s fair to say that SASCon is like Glastonbury for digital marketers. Only the coolest go and there’s always one fool who succumbs to legal highs (AKA coffee).

I attended on day one (the tamest day) with the task of learning from the greats and reporting back to the team. While the points below summarise each session, you can learn more about the key topics and what they mean for SMEs on the links dotted throughout.

Our Georgina is going to be there today (day two) so say ‘hello’ if you see her out and about!

Session 1: How SMBs can win in competitive sectors – Aleyda Solis

When you don’t have the budget and resources to compete with the big players, how can you get ahead?

In a ‘power breeds power’ stance, big brands do have the luxury of spontaneous promotion. When a large proportion of the public engage with your brand and products, links and mentions are always forthcoming. Naturally, smaller brands have to work much harder to secure organic coverage.

However, small players do have advantages.

For example:

  • Big brands often don’t have as much flexibility. Smaller brands can react faster while their larger competitors have to jump through legislative hoops.
  • Compare what keywords the top players are targeting via tools such as SEMrush and Moz Keywords.
  • Think of other ways you can achieve SERP visibility – images, apps, reviews.
  • Short on technical resources? Go with WordPress. There’s great plugins which don’t require code changes. Our favourite is Yoast.
  • OnPage.org – allows you to see site issues for free
  • Use Serpwoo to explore search queries

Session 2: Market overview: What challenges does the industry face? – Tom Cull, MD iProspect Manchester, Paul Frampton, CEO Havas Media

It’s fair to say that this session was very much centred on an issue our directors have highlighted in the past – the recruitment problem.

Finding great agency staff has always been challenging and recruitment fees can often be a real problem for businesses in the digital sector. When asked what was most likely to be a constant source of worry, both agency heads came to this conclusion.

Paul and Tom also highlighted the problems their clients are facing. With consumers getting ever more demanding, putting the processes in place to respond to this is putting pressures on even the largest businesses.

When asked: What is the most over-hyped topic/product in digital right now?

The unanimous response was wearable tech.

Session 3: Is social media worth it?

Yes. However, demonstrating ROI can be problematic.

Should we be measuring click-throughs/impressions or does this detract from the brand-building nature of social?

With Kristal Ireland and Anna Wilson on the board, the overriding opinion was that social is for brand building, not selling. A heated discussion arose in which a delegate asked: why should clients be expected to pay and not see ROI?

The board responded with the following points:

  • It often is possible to see a ROI. Social media isn’t a selling platform, but it can certainly help towards sales.
  • Having a dedicated social media presence is incredibly valuable for customer service and reputation management.
  • Response times need to be quicker. Customers now expect a response within 60 minutes, Social media can offer a quick and easy platform to respond to these queries before they turn into negative coverage.

The importance of simple, effective ideas was also covered. One engagement idea can shape a small business’ social strategy with very little work from the business owner. A florist’s Instagram competition (simply share to win on Friday) was used as a good example.

Larry Kim – Trends shaping the industry

Just because it’s for sale, it doesn’t mean that it’s a given. In this session, Larry highlighted how prices in paid search are at an all time high, while ad inventory is diminishing.

Larry’s strategies for getting ahead:

  • PPC should be more ‘people’ based. Think creative copy which appeals to people’s emotions. Vanilla advertising no longer works in a competitive landscape.
  • Think marketing, not just paid search. What will appeal to people?
  • Small budgets can save time and drive organic traffic. Larry no longer targets journalists via email, he now uses small budgets to get his posts in front of the right people.
  • Create a bespoke list of influencers to ensure your content is being seen by the most relevant journalists/industry players.

Larry also showed us some stats (for his own blog) to show how paid advertising boosts organic traffic. With paid hype comes organic interest.

How to get everybody talking about your business

Brand Famous author Linzi Boyd asked: Who wants to be famous?

When we all said: ‘heck no!’, she rephrased the question to ‘who wants to be known in their industry?’ When we all eagerly nodded our heads, Linzi went through a plan to help us get there! (not sure if it’s quite that simple….)

Linzi’s first steps to Google fame:

  • Build your social profile
  • Start a blog
  • Write articles
  • Record videos

Linzi’s predictions for digital: 2015-2025

1995 – 2005 – Print fame
2005 – 2015 – YouTube/blogger fame
2015 – 2025 – Business leader fame

Mobile: The untapped goldmine – Larry Kim & Sophie Toms, Google

We know how valuable it is to have a mobile optimised site from our own client’s analytics. Customers are searching via their mobile devices and ecommerce brands should be offering the best buying experience – regardless of screen size.

You can read more about mobile as a ranking factor and the steps small businesses can take right here on the Fluid blog.

While Sophie highlighted that not every business needs an app, interestingly:

  • On mobile, 86% of our time is spent on apps
  • 95% of apps are abandoned within one month by users

Operational factors:

As Larry highlighted, it isn’t all strictly digital too:

  • Streamline the customer experience by training your telesales/sales team and ensuring leads are being handled correctly.
  • An unanswered phone is the same as having your website down – are you putting time and effort into a great landing page only to have resulting calls received in a slapdash way?

Dealing with a social media crisis – Andy Barr, 10 Yetis

It might not be easy to get it right, but it sure is easy to get it wrong. Discussing the likes of JP Morgan, 02 and Merlin, Andy praised those brands who aren’t afraid to get a bit ‘cheeky’, while providing an action plan when brands come under fire.

Interestingly, social bloopers don’t often come from the PR and digital marketing teams. Mostly they’re operational (for example, somebody finding a mouse in a supermarket ready meal).

Andy’s top tips:

  • When hounded by press, always give your statement in writing – over the phone you can easily get misquoted.
  • Plan a disaster strategy.
  • Get to know your legal and PR team – when the worst happens you’ll need them.
  • Warn your CEOs and directors that they need to step up when things go wrong. This may take the form of television interviews/Skype interviews.
  • Don’t be scared to challenge fibbers. You want to be respectful, but slanderous lies will always say more about the person posting.
  • Apologise. Be sincere.
Vicky Browne