The first ever SES conference to be held in Singapore was a resounding success. Kudos to the wonderful folks at Incisive Media for delivering yet another fantastic serving of the latest trends, best practices, industry insights and integration strategies in the fields of search and social marketing. SES Singapore 2011 was an exhilarating affair that had two frenetic days of presentations and executive panels by brilliant thought-leaders (there were more than 50 of them) from across the globe.
Check out the complete coverage of all sessions:
If that seems daunting and 10 minutes is all you have, here’s the Cliff Notes version.
Mike Grehan in his opening address, told the story of how search is about constantly organizing the world’s information to make it universally accessible and useful. He also touched on the “genesis” of social network analysis, the “taxonomy” of search, the importance of understanding user intent, the shift towards information seeking on social networking sites as well as the complexities of modern marketing.
Up next was the first panel discussion that centered on best practices for search marketing in regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals, gambling and the adult trade … or what Barry Lloyd fondly referred to as “Poker, Pills and Porn.” While customers continue to actively search and crave for information, marketers in the regulated industries have different approaches to sharing experiences and engaging online. David Garceran Nieuwenburg shared how the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC), facing several restrictions on how they can promote their activities, uses social media hubs under corporate brand control to bring traffic to their sites. That, coupled with SEM and SEO, produced fairly impressive results. According to Barry, social media works wonders for regulated trades as it improves visibility dramatically since social media sites are often highly ranked.
Marcelo Wesseler looked into how social media can assist in the lead generation process. Key learnings were:
The special address by Arun Poojari shed some light on the continued shift from Paid media towards Owned and Earned media and how that would affect digital marketing campaigns. He discussed about best practices for digital effectiveness, digital investments, campaign planning, campaign optimization, etc. Next on the podium was Mandeep Grover, who spoke on Integrated Marketing as giving deeper insight and better predictability of preference (e.g. search analytics during American Idol). He enumerated 4 crucial steps to “Bringing it All Together”:
With the proliferation of mobile devices and the increasing data consumption attached with it, it’s no surprise that the last panel discussion of day 1 would talk about SEM for mobile. Christian Cadeo highlighted that Asia is driving the smartphone revolution that’s why it’s highly relevant to define your mobile campaign goals. With 61% of users taking some kind of “action” after ad attention, it is critical for marketers to be ready, be found and be smart. Adrian Tan and Samuel Goh provided 5 Tips for mobile SEM basics and optimization:
The track kicked off with Rich McPharlin and Barry Lloyd, both zoning in on how to maximize ROI from SEM. Rich talked about how top/bottom ads increase the importance of Quality Score, different kinds of keywords for different purposes (broad match, phrase match, exact match and negative), the metrics that really matter (bounce rate, conversions, ROI) as well as the search behavior of consumers. According to Barry, the Buying Journey goes like this:
“Someone finds you on PPC. They remember your Company Name. They type in your name and find you on organic. They buy something!”
This gives weight to the concept that SEM and SEO works best when used as a powerful combination as opposed to opting for siloed execution. Also, defining attribution value is very important.
Shei Wah Tan, Sean Rezel, and Rajitha Dahanayake gave an overview on SEO and the key principles on how search engines tick (e.g. search engine ranking factors, etc.). To achieve success, the e-commerce team, web agency and SEO agency should work hand-in-hand for: Visibility, Visitors, Conversions, and Revenue. 9 Golden SEO Rules were established, namely:
Despite the cliched phrase “Content is King”, search engines (especially Google) put a lot of emphasis on great content. The combination of good keywords and quality material provide the foundation for successful link building.
Kelly Choo and Hari Shankar started the advanced track of SES Singapore with their talk on Social Analytics. Both shared techniques for collecting massive amounts of social media data, how to identify subsets of content, analyze for temporal patterns and ultimately measure and track ROI. Some key challenges that were examined included automated sentiment analysis (handling sarcasm, slang, etc.), turning raw data into actionable intelligence, and determining what really matters for metrics and ROI.
The topic “Proven strategies and tactics for advanced paid search” was handled by Rey Ong, Janice Tan, and Sho Shimoda. They covered campaign expansion techniques, designing and running effective ad tests, advanced auction theory, the proper use of relevant analytics reports as well as bid rules and campaign automation. Sho gave search optimization tips on how to:
Rey provided tips for keyword expansion and stressed on leveraging unused budgets for experiments, monitoring closely (“if it doesn’t work, stop”) and to measure and pay attention to analytics (conversion rates, bounce rates, time-on-site, etc.). Janice focused on broader optimization strategies (e.g. pre-click optimization, usability) and highlighted the following insights:
With social connectivity, conversations, and content distribution changing the way people consider and consume brands, it is imperative that marketers change their approaches to brand building or else they risk becoming irrelevant. Pushkar Sane evaluated current brand building models and provided a glued audience with a fresh approach. Brand building today is not linear; it has multiple entry and exit points. Marketers should consider an inverse funnel and new ways of connecting (aside from mass or direct marketing). The key is to respect the power of the consumer in the age of social and to learn and evolve with the times.
With online advertising becoming more complex, it is now increasingly critical that advertisers and agencies recognize and understand the opportunities that display, search and social are providing. Cindy Deng, Kate Clough, and Arun Kumar shed some light on what’s in store for search, social and display in 2012. Arun mentioned about the “advertisers-publishing-audience ecosystem” is getting more complex (see infographic). He also noted that optimization is happening in silos (display, search, mobile, social and television). Cindy explained how moving from search marketing to synergy advertising (search and display) yields stronger results. Kate then talked about why performance perception and optimization rely on accurate and meaningful metrics. A few of the important things that she centered on are default attribution methodology, post-impression conversion testing and attribution adjustment.
Sarah Whyte spoke on the “Art of Content Marketing.” Through a selection of case studies (with highly entertaining video examples to boot), Sarah outlined the tactical approach to marketing activity with a focus on making engaging content shine inside the vast digital space. It is proven that fantastic digital content working hand-in-hand with the right marketing strategy (e.g. social) has the potential for solid online impact, regardless of budget constraints.
Monappa Nalyanda followed with “Maximizing your digital marketing mix through integrated marketing”. He stressed the importance of having a diversified media plan with tailored communication and content creation that leverage the engagement and reach quotient of media vehicles individually to maximize the overall impact of the campaign. He also discussed the elements of the integrated marketing mix (display, mobile, email, social and search) and corresponding strategies for each and every one of them.
The last panel discussion (and the closing segment for the whole event) was skillfully handled by Vincent Teo, B2Bento’s very own Anol Bhattacharya, Devashish Saxena, and Eddie Choi. They gave the audience valuable and actionable insights on B2B social media marketing, securing internal buy-in and budget, and the application of brand building and lead generation principles. Here are a couple of key takeaways:
“Coming up with excellent and share-able content is like catching lightning in a bottle.”
This is how Ricky Baizas summarized his segment on optimizing for YouTube. He enumerated the following as the key steps towards optimization:
Is there a relationship between social insights and search? Where does the path to purchase start? In their talk, Rosemary Lising and Simon Ashwin noted that the usage of search and social media channels accelerates as consumers get closer to conversion. This “Late Kick”, as termed by the duo, indicates that even 30 days after initial search, consumers still haven’t fully decided and you still have the opportunity to influence conversion. They explained that earned media (that’s social) is an integral part of the decision since it refines the buying process through perception changes and brand elimination. They then advised that marketers should have an always-on integrated search and social program.
Jean-Marc Thomas presented KFC’s case study of managing their recent social crisis. The way KFC handled the crisis earned them significant positive buzz. Jean-Marc then showed what brands can do to manage social media crises:
On the topic of search for eCommerce, Jurik Auer, David McLean, and Omri Bril enlightened the audience on how to create a search engine friendly and appealing eCommerce site, how to ensure its scalability and how to track its performance. Keyword research, information architecture, index-ability, URL considerations and content are just a few of the things that David touched on. Omri expanded with the benefits of Long Tail Keywords to achieving the perfect product page. Jurik cemented the segment by stressing the importance of analytics and how continuous measurement and benchmarking can provide the basis for strategy.
SES Advisory Board member Eddie Choi covered the intricacies of search advertising. Like most of the speakers, Eddie rallied behind the significance of analytics. He put things into perspective with the statement:
“Keywords talk to search queries. Ad copy talks to searchers and the audience. CPC talks to customers.”
Keyword research is important. You can understand the demand of a product through the keywords that people use to search. Eddie advised us marketers to understand our USPs, value proposition, brand attributes, product attributes, customer demographics and customer perception. He also gave wonderful insights on Baidu (which is highly relevant for Chinese markets) and PPC best practices.
Capping the Fundamentals Track was a panel discussion with You Teck Lam and Sally Wuu about innovations in mobile advertising. For them, marketers should keep things simple and don’t overload with clutter. The mobile campaign should have a clear offer and an even clearer call-to-action. Several best practices covered include:
On the advanced side of the conference, Cuneyt Uysal isolated common problems companies face when profiling users. With the use of integrated online tools, Cuneyt showed how marketers can connect channels as well as enable engagement automation and analytics. By understanding the value of data and how to use it, marketers can improve web content and visitor quality. A good customer engagement journey is not just about promoting something (e.g. rock concert). You also need to ensure that people have a great experience and enjoy themselves as well.
Search has one of the lowest customer acquisition rates, simply because it is a “pull” medium, allowing people to find you when they need you. Mark Kum and Richard Mabey delved into how SEO can help marketers position their website in such a way that it would be found at the most critical points in the buying process. The 10 cyclical steps that veterans use are:
Tom Skotidas took the attendees through some case studies of how companies are using LinkedIn Groups to sow brand awareness and generate ongoing B2B sales leads. According to Tom, marketers can enjoy the following core benefits from LinkedIn Groups: personal brand building, positioning, inbound lead generation, and outbound lead generation. But they also have to be weary of costs such as: reputation building, actual financial costs, personal time spent, content production, member engagement time, and the absence of thread depth. Best practices are:
The panel composed of Lydia Ng, Adrian Ang, and Kelvin Quee presented the audience with a snapshot of the search landscape and how it has evolved during the past years when social media exploded. For search marketing to remain as a powerful tool for marketers, the search model has to evolve to incorporate social. Relevance (through listening, monitoring and optimizing), congruence (ad title and keyword matching) and search-ability of social content are absolutely paramount.
Mikko Kotila’s disarming humour in his segment on using social media conversations and statistical analysis to maximize community ROI, penetrated even the most skeptical marketer effectively enough to instill great wisdom and insight. Aside from emphasizing that guesswork and the “spray and pray” method does not work, Mikko also shed some light on three great C’s:
Here are a few more of our favorite moments:
The advanced track of the 2011 SES Singapore ended with a panel discussion comprising Vikas Gulati, Andrew Tu, Jonathan Tilbury, and Arshan Saha. Remarketing (aka retargeting) is a technology that allows marketers to show their ads to former site visitors while they surf elsewhere on the web. The challenges with retargeting in Asia are: tracking and measurement, cookie pools, matching creatives and landing pages, and offering offline options to limit conversion drop-offs.
The presentations in the inaugural SES Singapore highlighted the fact that SEM and SEO continues to thrive amidst the continued rise of social marketing. The talks also gave a recurring emphasis on the importance of analytics, combined SEM and Social, integrated marketing and the fact that mobile is a huge force to reckon with and is shaping up to be THE next buzz word after “social”.
Needless to say, we have gained a lot at this year’s SES Singapore and we hope that next year’s event would even be better (which is a tall order we might add). And on this note, we wrap up our B2Bento coverage. Hope to see you all on the next one! For feedback, comments and thoughts, chime in below!