Day two at SASCon: Key Takeaways

The second day of SASCon followed what appeared to have been a heavy but enjoyable night for those who attended the conference’s social event (thankfully, event sponsors The Candidate were on-hand to provide much needed bottles of water).

With the sun shining and the promise of a host of renowned speakers from both leading digital marketing agencies and global brands, spirits were high and anticipation of the day ahead was tangible…

Keynote speaker: Martin MacDonald

Kicking off the proceedings was Martin MacDonald, recognised speaker and Head of SEO for Orbitz WorldWide. His topic of choice? The future of the industry and what any changes and developments will mean for technical SEO and online marketing.

Advancements in the way Google and other search engines have dealt with spam over the past few years means that – as Martin so accurately put it – “you’d have to be crazy” to undertake any of the spammy short-cuts that have reaped such great results in the past (a statement received with collective murmurs of agreement from the audience).

His predictions:

  • Gradually, SEO as we know it will become known as technical SEO
  • Link building will become a generalised aspect of marketing
  • Algorithms will mature, allowing for much more accurate use of tools
  • Improved tools will reduce the level of knowledge and expertise required
  • SEOs will get paid less(!)
  • SEOs will begin specialising as either creative or technical SEOs
  • Aspects of creative SEO (content marketing) will be absorbed away
  • SEO style analytics will be introduced across all brand marketing channels
  • Those with the widest skill-sets will progress to become corporate CMOs

While we all know that SEO is certainly in no danger, Martin confirmed that the process will change dramatically over the next ten years, making way for a focus on quality, not quantity.

Session One: Measuring ROI from Content

Next up, a Q&A session. The panel consisted of Claire Hill (Content Marketing Association), Catherine Maskell (Reed) and James Toward (MEC), and was chaired by Ben McKay (MEC).

This session looked at the driving force behind the increasing interest in content, and how we can measure the success of the content we produce. With the frequent algorithm changes we experience, SEO doesn’t work the way it used to, and this has thrust content marketing into the spotlight.

In addition to this, with millennials making up the highest percentage of the workforce, traditional advertising is beginning to be overlooked in favour of more engaging content marketing techniques.

But how do you measure the value of the content you’re producing?

  • ROI led models of measurement are often not valid in regards to content. There needs to be a move away from the focus on ‘instant-results’. What’s required is a long term focus where longevity is key.
  • It’s very difficult to create a single ROI measurement for content, unless you’ve got a huge data platform. Different brands will have different KPIs. Objectives need to be set first, and different forms of measurement put in place depending on the objective.
  • It’s important to use the data we have access to as effectively as possible. For example, just like we can track the difference in value between consumers that watch the first few seconds of a video and those that watch the whole thing, similarly we can test the value of those that have and have not viewed a given piece of content.
  • Content marketers must use their knowledge of a piece of content and experience of a given sector or audience to judge it’s potential success. When discussing content with clients it is always best to take a ‘show’ rather than ‘tell’ approach.

In essence, trying to measure a definitive ROI in regards to content is immensely difficult in the current climate. A long term approach that falls into a broader strategy is often what’s needed. For instance, take the new Star Wars film out later this year, you can bet that sales of the original films will increase as well.

Session Two: In-House Vs Agency

In the next session, discussing the benefits of in-house versus agency was a panel consisting of Paul Morris (Co-Op), Matt Carey (Anglian Home Improvements) and Ben Bisco (JD Williams). The Q&A was chaired by Rob Weatherhead (Tecmark).

The in-house versus agency debate has been rearing it’s ugly head for a long time now. It goes without saying that value for money and cost-savings are primary considerations for the majority of in-house decision makers. However, the panel noted the additional key benefits of working with agencies:

  • Mid-sized companies can sometimes lack both the resources and expertise to achieve their digital marketing objective, and this is where an agency can fill the gap.
  • Location is important. Some areas have great marketing infrastructures with a great talent pool, whereas others don’t.
  • In regards to the working relationship with agencies, it was noted that smaller agencies often focus on a notion of becoming strategic partners – but most of the time companies just want the work to be done in order to see the most value possible.
  • The panel emphasised the importance of working in partnership with an agency, noting that sometimes you need to get an agency involved since no in-house team will ever be able to do everything. There will always be emerging skills that agencies will have a better understanding of.

Concerns were also voiced about whether it’s possible to outsource and get the same level of care and attention as you would in-house.

Session Three: Women in Digital

Following a survey undertaken by recruiter The Candidate, this session discussed the role women play in the digital industry. The survey found that, currently, there are two men to every one woman working in the digital industry.

The survey also found that 43% of women earn below £24,000 a year, and only 10% have completed an apprenticeship. With this in mind it was discussed whether pay bands should be introduced, or if women should be more demanding in terms of their value.

Session Four: The Power of Social Media and Creative Partnerships

Speaker Angelique Miller of Expedia started her talk by saying that you need to understand consumer data in order to support big ideas and campaigns.

79% of consumers own a smartphone and 43% own a tablet- a figure that is only growing. Consequently, we should be setting strategies that take different devices into consideration as well as being device specific.

Moreover, users don’t just use one device type but often all three (mobile, tablet and desktop). 48 million people in the UK engage with digital content each month, 53% of which is accessed via mobile devices. This session illustrated the ever-growing importance of a multi-screen optimised strategy.

Georgina Rayner