#StateOfSearch 2014: Conference Key Takeaways

Akvile DeFazio
November 25th, 2014
Akvile DeFazio

IMG_9953Last week, I had an absolute pleasure attending the State of Search conference for the first time in Dallas, which was hosted by DFWSEM and powered by Bing Ads. After taking a week to gather my thoughts, go through many pages of notes, and apply newly learned strategies to client campaigns, I’m feeling incredibly refreshed and inspired. The show provided an open forum for discussion amongst marketing peers and a highly effective and intimate learning environment. It was a delight seeing familiar faces and meeting many new ones as well!

With my recent decision to get into freelancing full time, the show couldn’t have come at a better time. After working in the conference circuit for a number of years, it was great to be able to actually sit in on sessions and spend time learning. I was able to get many of my questions answered, swap tactics, and acquired some really great advice from seasoned freelancers. Although I spent most of my time in the PPC track, I also popped out here and there to catch some interesting bits from sessions taking place in the SEO, local search, and social media marketing tracks. Actionable tactics all around.

The agenda, speakers, presentations, and networking events were most excellent. In addition to being a worthwhile show, visiting Dallas (land of incredibly welcoming people and delicious BBQ) for the first time was a win in itself. I was however, ill prepared for the unexpected snow fall that took place upon arrival. I blame the forecast for being far from accurate on that one. At least the venue was pleasantly heated and hot beverages were in abundance. Who knew it would be colder in Dallas than in many northern parts of the country?

Thank you, DFWSEM, speakers, sponsors, and attendees speakers for putting on such a wonderful and educational show. I look forward to returning next year!

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Here are some of my key takeaways and food for thought from State of Search 2014:

  • “Social media is home runs in slow motion” – Marty Weintraub
  • To increase your CTR, try creating ads that trigger emotions. Doing so may get you 6x above the average CTR. – Larry Kim
  • So your PPC clients don’t run up impressions looking for their own ads, send them to Google’s Ad PreviewChristine Churchill
  • Most weekday tablet usage occurs 8:00-9:00pm. This time window provides a great opportunity to reach these users and capitalize. – Steve Hammer
  • Keywords are not the same as search queries and bad matching can cost you money. The search query report should be your bible. Spend a lot of time in it. – Susan Wenograd
  • “Return is relative to investment. Put the time in to build legit, authentic relationships.” – Brett Snyder
  • If you have PDF content on your site, you should also create a non-PDF page with similar content. – Kate Morris
  • A lot of ads have a call to action (CTA) such as call now/email us now. Are your CTAs the same at 10:00am as they are at 2:00am? Improve your customer experience by changing ad copy at different times of the day because behaviors can vary significantly by the hour.

Recurring Themes:

Use external data. A number of speakers discussed using external data such as weather API’s in ad campaigns. If you have a list of your customers, be it a restaurant with a patio or a car wash, use that data to be more effective with your advertising. If the sun is out, turn your ads on with a click of a button and just as easily, turn them off if it’s raining outside. You can also use data such as this to monitor outside temperature and if it dips, you can alter your ad copy to say that you an outdoor restaurant with heaters. Get creative with it!

Negative keywords galore. Make it a habit to regularly add new negative keywords to your campaigns. Don’t ever start a new campaign without them. Save money by reducing non-relevant clicks, reduce non-relevant ad impressions to improve your QS and lower your CPC. It’ll also improve user experience with your brand.

Scripts, scripts, and more scripts. AdWords scripts were mentioned in one way or another during most PPC sessions. If you haven’t used any before, here are 39 scripts to try from Pushfire.

Traditional marketing & digital marketing. It’s not often we hear traditional marketing discussed at a digital marketing conference, however, it is an important topic. As marketers, we should be well versed in both. Ruth Burr Reedy‘s presentation provided us with plenty to think about. Traditional marketers are making big plays in the digital marketing space and as digital marketers, we need to be prepared for the influx in competition. If you haven’t yet, educate yourself on traditional marketing, learn how to sell yourself as a marketer, and team up with others to offer a breadth of services like big agencies do.

Use your skills for the greater good. While we’re here on business, first and foremost, we are human. Wil Reynolds and Sean Dolan spoke on a number of ways we can use our marketing skills to help organizations and support causes we’re passionate about. Both of their stories were very inspiring as they both have helped organizations pro bono, who work with getting the homeless get back on their feet. Giving money to worthy causes is helpful, however, lending your skill-set can be much more beneficial and rewarding in the long-run.

If you are weren’t able to attend some sessions or want to add more to your notes, you can find some of the presentations on SlideShare. And lastly, if you haven’t seen, Thomas Ballantyne captured some really great photos. Check them out here.

Until next time, Texas!

Comments (4)


Beth Kahlich

Beth Kahlich (11/25/2014)

Thanks for the great review Akvile - so you you enjoyed SOS! I missed a lot of the PPC track - so thanks for summarizing :)

    Akvile Harlow

    Akvile Harlow (11/25/2014)

    It was a pleasure attending, writing this up, and meeting you last week, Beth!

Andy Kuiper - SEO Analyst

Andy Kuiper - SEO Analyst (12/2/2014)

Thanks for sharing this Akvile :-)

Akvile Harlow

Akvile Harlow (12/2/2014)

Thank you for commenting and taking the time to read it, Andy! I hope you found it interesting and useful. :)

Comments are now closed.