Oct 23

Keywords and Data and Content! Oh My! My Top Takeaways From SMX East 2014

I had the opportunity to speak at SMX East in New York City a couple weeks ago. It was actually my first time at SMX East, but I had heard many great things about the conference so I was excited to be part of it. I was impressed with the quality of speakers and breadth of content covered in the three days. I’ll give a high-level overview of some of my top takeaways from some of the fantastic presentations I was able to attend. There were many more fantastic speakers and presentations; this is just a handful of my favorites.


  • Defining and Mapping the Native Advertising Landscape with Rebecca Lieb
    • Rebecca detailed some very interesting research she conducted with Altimeter, which you can access for free!
    • She detailed the pros and cons of native advertising, which is definitely helpful if you need to get buy-in or want to be realistic about your challenges.
    • If you aren’t already, you need to pay attention to native advertising. According to Rebecca, 49 times more clicks are generated by Facebook page post ads than traditional onsite ads. And they cost 45% less!


  • 4th Wave of Content Marketing by Scott Brinker
    • Scott outlined the evolution of content marketing so far, most of which has been very passive for our customers.
    • Since 93% of brands are doing content marketing, how can you break through the noise? Scott made the case that the next step for content marketing is to move from passive to interactive.
    • He recommends that we need to use marketing apps, both native apps and responsive web apps, to involve our audience in the content.
    • I loved Scott’s example of using quizzes to qualify interest before offering a white paper, rather than just asking for email. While it is more of a hoop to jump through, it is interesting and engaging, and people feel more invested and want to learn more.


  • Does Your Brand Have What it Takes to Deliver? by Joanna Lord
    • Joanna talked about the importance of branding and building a strong brand story.
    • Joanna urged us to know what our brand’s passion or purpose. What is it we wake up every day to do?
    • Joanna also stressed the importance of providing value beyond the products. How will your brand improve your customers’ lives?
    • She has some great brand examples from today’s top brands; I recommend you check them out!

Casie Gillette, Michael Icon King and me checking out the other presenters at SMX East.


  • Persona Driven Keyword Research by Mike King
    • Mike went through 78 slides in about 15 minutes. There is so much great info in there! So many awesome tools! It’s definitely one you must check out.
    • There were two particular tools I hadn’t heard about before that I’m excited about: Bottlenose Sonar and keywordtool.io.
    • Bottlenose Sonar is a social listening tool that will show you terms that are being discussed together on Twitter. You can get a gauge on what people are saying about your brand or products, and what other things they mention along with it.
    • io will help you quickly discover what people are searching related to your products and keywords. You can search for Google, YouTube, Bing and the AppStore.


  • Keyword Research to Generate Content Ideas by Joe Pawlikowski
    • Joe showed how marketers can use keyword research tools, like SEMrush and KeywordTool.io, to figure out what people want to know. Knowing this, marketers can create content that addresses those needs.
    • I loved Joe’s idea that marketers should come up with 10 ideas every day. He recommended reviewing those ideas weekly, mating any ideas that work well together. Then create the magic!



Christi Olson, Danny Sullivan, Jeremiah Andrick and me chatting during a break.


  • Actionable SEO Insights by Kerry Dean
    • Kerry’s presentation was one of the best ones I saw both because of his fantastic content, but also he is hilarious! If you ever have the chance to see him speak, I highly recommend checking him out!
    • Kerry talked about the history of the Internet and KPIs. Remember hits? And hit counters on your website? Man, that took me back…
    • Kerry also talked about the rise of mobile and what that means for search marketing and metrics. One fantastic point he made is to make sure you track the traffic you drive to your mobile app since now a Google search can lead directly to the app.
    • Another great quote from Kerry (quoting himself), “People want the story. Not the data.” I’m a geek for the data, graphs and analytics, but what’s more important is the story they tell. The “so what.” As marketers we need to take the data to tell a story.


Content marketing and branded content was definitely a theme throughout the conference. We’ve heard “content is king” so marketers started making MORE content. But the theme of SMX East 2014, at least for me, is we need to make BETTER content, not more content. It’s about the quality and value the content provides for your audience.


One thing I love the most about the SMX conferences is they bring together many difference disciplines within the online marketing field. My career has mostly been focused on owned and earned media: PR, social media and content marketing. But it’s so crucial that I understand and work with paid, SEO and PPC marketers to reach our business goals. We can’t work in a silo anymore. The SMX conferences help me understand other marketers’ pain points and goals, so we can better work together. And I get to learn from some of the smartest people in the industry.


If you were at SMX East, I’d love to know your key takeaways!

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