SAScon 2015 Live Blog

We're live at SAScon 2015 bringing you the latest news, views and discussions from the key panels and presentations.

SAScon Live Blog

SAScon, one of the UK's finest search, analytics and social media conferences, is taking place in Manchester on Thursday 11th and Friday 12th June 2015. It's the event that should be in all digital marketers' diaries, but if you can't make it or you haven't managed to get the whole day off work, you can keep up-to-date with all the happenings by following our LIVE blog.

SAScon Twitter


DAY 2 

Rehydrate on the hottest day this year at SAScon 2015 with a free bottle of water from our stand. Then enjoy Day 2!

Sascon Candidate Water


And we're off! Day 2 of the conference has started with an amazingly fresh looking Richard Gregory.  Rumoured to have been up to the early hours, how does he do it?! Probably as he's still in his late 20's… (another rumour)


Bang on time for day 2 and Richard has introduced Martin McDonald - Head of SEO @ Orbitz Worldwide! One of the most anticipated sessions of the conference. They are an American company, recently bought by Expedia, this will be very interesting.


@searchmartin is his twitter handle - has requested questions be sent there - he's available 20 hours a day. Typical SEO ;)


2001 - 2007 was Martin's favourite time. 'The spamming with impurity years.' A strong show of hands from SEOs who purchased links from Digital Point. A blast from the past! Altavista metioned too. Haven't heard that name since I last listened to The Streets album. Can you name it?


Google static updates were part of a very different world. 2008 - 2012 was pivotal to where we are today. Link spamming was the flavour of the day.  The best SEOs of today were even doing this - Google wasn't happened at all. New York Times was poking fun at them, they needed to tidy things up! And they did! Big penalties for company such as BMW and JC Penney were given what the BBC classed as 'The Death Penalty.' 


What has happened? Google moved from once a month updates to a PR machine, renting a space station, Boston Robotic Google Dog, etc etc etc. They reacted to SEOs taking the Michael, yet offset any bad PR from their other amazing activities.


You'd have to be crazy to try and black hat anything these days! - Martin McDonalds top advice. Do you want to risk taking off a major chunk of a company's revenue!


The evolution of SEOs - from 2000 - 2015

SÉO Skill Change


To be a technical SEO you must have a real understanding of Google, e.g. use of hrefland - allows for expert level decision making based on the language on the site and which country the user is in and how that impacts the conversion rate. Now that's not 2007! Shows the shift from SEO to marketing.


And what about content? At Orbitz they are in an environment were editorial people are building content the same as SEOs were but don't know how to account for it like SEOs. Their backgrounds are from writing features etc for newspapers. This is where the technical side of SEO is now integrated with the rest of businesses, e.g. this content and marketing activity.


SEOs now need to possess T-shaped skills, have a range of skills that encompass and touch a range of activities across target businesses. Are Technical SEOs the CEO's of companies of the future? SEO is that key to a company!


SEO predictions 2015 - 2025

SEO Predictions


SEOs of the future will need to look like this:

  • Versatilists
  • Generalizing Socialist
  • Technical Craftsperson
  • Renaissance Developer
  • Master Generalist


Martin McDonald will be working towards the above! He doesn't think that SEO will be a part of his job title in a year's time. His role is now 15% SEO, the rest is marketing, content PPC etc.


Controversial point from Martin, his advice for any aspiring SEO student would be to start their career client side, not agency side. Lots of agency people in the room - interesting point. What do you think?


42% of all online spend is on travel. This is why Google are upping their game in online travel. E.g. Google Hotel Finder, they charge a PPC (same as Adwords) but also 10% of the nightly spend as a fee to the hotel company. Big money at stake here. They have been able to do it because Expedia has bought Orbitz and there is legitimate competition. This all adds to the animosity in the bay area of San Francisco.


Amazing presentation and very useful Q&A from Martin. Thank you very much indeed.

Where next? We'll be live blogging from one of the 3 sessions to follow. Stay tuned! 


Search Director from TecMark Stacey @staceycav talks Quality Content 


With an average of 4800 blog posts published online per minute, competition is tough! To get your content noticed, Stacey shares her 6 point checklist:

  1. Content should be unique
  2. Tailored - know your audience and write it for them
  3. Emotive, it should make the reader feel something 
  4. Tells a story
  5. Credible 
  6. Shareable


Content doesn't have to be pretty, but it should be unique and resonate with people. If you want to make the headlines and generate links, make sure you're using credible data! 


Struggling for inspiration? Throw away the post-it notes, use TecMark's 365 brain lighting tool for idea generation. 


Remember the angle or the execution should be original! If you want to collect large amounts of original data for your content try tools such as Google Consumer Surveys, One Poll or YouGov. With content marketing it's easy to think about instant gratification. But it's more important to think about long term benefits


Content promotion is key - "Build it and they will come" = Bollocks. It's not enough to just hit the publish button. Put at least as much effort into promotion as you do in production! Paid social is severely overlooked, but it's a great way to get your content in front of a specific target audience. 

Stacey's guide to quality content is now LIVE on the TecMark website - check it out to discover how you can create quality content on scale! 


In-House vs Agency with Paul Morris Head of Digital and Social Media at Co-op, Matt Carey Head of Digital Marketing at Anglian Home Improvements and Ben Bisco from JD Williams. 

Agency Vs Inhouse Sascon


High turnover of Executive level staff in agencies is a worry for clients. It's challenging and unsettling to have to re-train executive level staff on the account and re-build relationships with new people. This trend has spurred Matt to bring things in-house. 

Cost is another trigger for bringing teams in-house. The general idea amongst the panel is that it's more effective to train staff internally rather than outsourcing. 


As good as agencies are, they are always going to struggle to have the same depth as an in-house team. If companies are outsourcing the agencies, they should still have some sort of internal marketing function who can interpret the data and deliver the message.

It makes sense for a small business to have an internal "Jack of all trades" marketing function, however it gets more difficult for medium sized businesses. 


It's essential to take time to build relationships with agencies, get to know the team that will be working on your account and also provide them with as much information as possible. A strong working relationship comes from shared learning and understanding. Ben suggests more Consultants are needed, who understand how agencies operate and can liaise between the agency and the client.


The panel discuss collaborating: Agencies will always have billable hours, therefor projects will have to be worked on efficiency. This might not necessarily be how the client wants to work. In an ideal world clients and agencies will collaborate on projects, rather than saying "come back in two weeks and pitch some ideas". The client should become an extension of the agency team. However this is what would happen in an ideal world, but in reality agencies don't have the flexibility to be readily available at times the clients might require. 


Communication is key - The panel highlight how challenging it can be to keep track of communications between everyone invovled in projects. Large scale and intergrated campaigns may have different teams as well as freelancers working on them.

Agencies need to address this, could Project Managers be the answer? 


Women in Digital Panel 

SAScon Women In Digital


Women in Digital session has began with a great panel to talk us through the report and their thoughts on it.


Panel point to the issue with industry not bringing in education at an early stage

A lot to be said for training kids in coding.

Is the education sector fit for purpose? There is a lack of understanding for what is needed.

Difficult to get information to schools and open their eyes to what is needed to prepare its children.


Is lack of education across the board meaning that there is a stigma about technical that it is for boys to learn?

Panel discusses the fact that there is more creativity in technical roles than you think.


One managing director on the panel who is female ensures that men within her company are well supported to take time off.

The panel discussed that the world of work is changing and that as we are all more flexible, doesn't this mean that more women or men who need flexibility can get it.?


When talking about a lack of men in management roles, is it because men are pushed into the roles as they are assumed to be able to deal with this better?

There are a lot of amazing men in PR, be careful to gender stereotype about the roles they are taking.


'When men are strict in roles they are feisty. When women are tough, they are ball beakers. That shouldn't be the case.' - panel.


Women In Technology, Girl Geeks are 2 of loads of groups that exist to help women create networks and receive mentoring.


From the audience, a belief that men seem to be recognised more when they are progressing and progress quicker.


Are women more reluctant to be as confident as men or ask for pay rises?


Flexible working hours is a must from companies. The more flexibility, the better your retention and the more productive your staff.


More women to be governors at schools that will push the education agenda.


Universities ask guest speakers to come in and this is dominated by men, more women needed.

Majority of conference speakers are men, not women. We need to try and change this.


That's it for today but here's the outcome of that session:

Key takeaways:


-       Agencies should pay people what they are worth

-       Introduce flexible working, this is a must

-       More women should be more confident and ask for more if deserved

-       There needs to be more women involved in




Richard Gregory officially opens #SAScon 2015


Richard Gregory's top tips for SAScon:

-       Take notes & pictures

-       Share your thoughts, including our research here:

-       Ask questions

-       Network and meet new people

-       Ask and attend the social, sponsored by The Candidate


Don't forget to use the #SAScon hashtag!


Looks like we're running late already! Now it's time for Aleyda Solis from Orainti. It's all about 'How SMBs Can Win in Competitive SEO Sectors.'

0940 Aleyda Solis - How SMBs can win in competitive SEO sectors

Join 56k+ followers and follow @aleyda now for loads of search and social media tips and information!


Aleyda - Google continues to offer small businesses a unique offering, from Ad Words, to SEO to business local to dashboards, its all simplistic for businesses. But, how do small businesses tale the lead in very competitive sectors? You need to get a competitive advantage over the big guys! They're not as flexible as you so you can act effectively, as long as your approach to SEO is right!


Aleyda - SMEs - looking to target keywords in SEO for your website? Verify the competition, volume and trends! Source the best software and get this information! Get the balance right between the competitive keywords and those that generate volume. What converts to ROI for you?


Aleyda - Which Google tools can give you and your business the best visibility for your products? E.g. aim to be number one in keywords or optimise your presence in maps? Check out your competition!

Tip of the day so far for SEOs from Aleyda - 'Need to automate? Use the Ranktank Serpitude SERP & Structured data testing tool!'


Aleyda - Small businesses - not enough results from your SEO activity? Use vertical platforms to grow & diversify your web presence! E.g. ebay, Etsy, airbnb etc


The Google Search Console is the single best SEO tool that @aleyda would recommend if we had to choose one! Great question from @alexmoss from @firecask


That wraps up an excellent opening session at #sascon. The amount of amazing SEO tools discussed highlights what an amazing, diverse, creative and enthralling sector we're all in! Thanks @Aleyda



Market overview - the industry accoring to the Experts

Market experts highlight a number of key digital marketing trends.

Paul Frampton - CEO Havas Media Group UK & Tom Cull - MD iProspect Manchester 

Chaired by Richard Gregory, two indsutry experts share their views on the digital marketplacae. 


So what are the pressure points in the digital industry? Talent is at the top of the list of challenges! It's increasingly difficult to find talent, hire talent and afford the best talent. The amount that clients are willing to pay is not in-line with wage inflation.  


A significant amount of time is dedicated to "Change management", the sector is constantly evolving therefore is essential to cater to the changing needs of clients as well as restructuring and developing teams. 


Brands that are doing things right - Brands need to deliver an exceptional customer experience! Amazon still remains one of the UK's most valued brands becuase of it's unrivaled user experience, even though it has been hit with tax evasion scandals.  


Changes in the industry - Video distribution is changing, therefore the media needs to change. How do we define a TV, a radio or a newspaper, when our smart phone can act as all three.


To cater to client and consumer demands, agencies are hiring a split between analysts and content creators. There is a need for individuals with very specific technical skill sets as well as people with the same skills and capabilities as 10 or 15 years ago. 


Search and organic marketing - The way in which search is defined will change when more voice search tools are brought to the market e.g. Siri and Cortana

SEO old world (quick links + short term ranking) vs. SEO new world = content marketing

There are a lot more organic opportunities available for brands i.e. Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter. However they can soon become monitised. 


Data is the cord that pulls everything together. A number of agencies have recently acquired consumer data companies. Brands need to constantly look for ways to engage with and find opportunities to relate with consumers. 


Final comments - what will be keeping you awake this time next year? Talent! - very high on the priority list from both of the pannelists.


1200 - Social Media - Is it worth it?

Education is key is social! Digital Managers needs to educate their teams that social media is not one size fits all!

The average window of response time for B2C brands on social is 60 minutes. 

Customer service is the best aspect of social media - Customers expect a quick response on complaints, social is 24/7 & customers have certain expectations. 


Amazing online customer service is far better than paid social! 


In social media there will be things that go well & some that won't, but you have to define what your vision of success is


86% of people ignore TV ads ..if you use them to create awareness ensure your supporting media are synchronised

If you're willing to be a bit braver then you can get brand awareness on social


Brands that think there not on social media, you are your just not leading the conversation


Rather than asking 'is social media worth it?instead ask 'what is the risk of not being involved?'

On the subject of social.. have you entered our #SAScon #welovewomenindigital competition? Simply share our new peice of research for your chance to win a bottle of wine OR comment on the research and you could win a £50 Iberica Manchester voucher! 

Women In Digital Research

1250 Lunch Break! SAScon know how to put on a good spread! 

SAScon Food


Larry Kim - PPC Marketing - AdWords, Google Display Network, and new social ads on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.


5 key trends impacting the future PPC marketing

Trend 1: Price and inventory head wins within paidsearch- search CPCs keep falling overall but in established markets they are in an all-time high. Every 0.1p increase in CPC is a decrease in ROI. The growth of mobile means apps are stealing from desktop searches. More searches on mobile & apps > mobile has fewer advertising spots. High CPC and Low growth in searches! 

Display ads have much higher inventory, lower CPCs & convert okay thus better ROI! Display Conversions rates increase with more ad impressions! 


Trend 2: The rise of identity based PPC marketing

Evolution of display ad targeting options - people based PPC is like email marketing but way better!


Through identity based PPC advertising you can target specific influential people! 

Larry Kim


Trend 3 - Mobile Ads: TBC in Larry's afternoon session!

Trend 4 - Google is taking away the toys

Mindless and repetitive tasks are a thing of the past. Keyword targeting is going extinct in favour of dynamic search ads

Be more creative with ads - write engaging and compelling ad copy. Use emotion & know your audience. Don't just search for match type/ suggested keywords. 

Be less mechanical! Embrace the chance, be more strategic & engage more people with Gmail ads and YouTube ads!


Trend 5 - Rise of the Content Remarketing - Convergence of paid/ organic teams 

Social channels are killing organic reach, amplify your reach with PPC.

Paid promotion yields organic exposure, buy on retweet, get 3 clicks free

Filter - your audience (Facebook has over 2500 demographic targeting options)

Advertise - to you fans (people in your demographic)



Content remarketing amplifies content marketing and social media - SEO, PPC and Content teams need to work together!

An exception session from Larry Kim! Very thought provoking! Sounds like the future of paid search is a more creative and integrated one. 

5 Ppc Trends 2015

We've launched our new report - Women in Digital: A study into gender representation in today's thriving digital industry! Share it on social media or comment for your chance to win prizes! 

Don't miss the Women in Digital panel session on Friday 12th June! 

Win With AO

Fancy winning a FREE TV? Fellow SAScon sponsors AO have a fantasic competition running! All you need to do is simply take a selfie with one of their branded products and share it online with the hashtag #winwithao 



The Mobile Opportunity, The Untapped Goldmine - Larry Kim

Apps are making users lives easier, but currently a huge 60% of apps have never been downloaded.

Beware! The mobile landing page is the valley of death!


Larry's mobile marketing hack #1: only pay for calls, not website clicks, with call-only campaigns. 


Mobile search ad clicks are worth more than desktop clicks - with 18% vs 7% conversion rate. 


According to Larry mobile ads have the highest value but the lowest cost. Wonder how long will last? 


Check out Larry's 5 mobile PPC hacks to remember!

5 Mobile Tips

It's been a fabulous day at SAScon day 1! Each year the SAScon organisers seem to up the bar and the event gets getting and better! We have recieved loads of great feeback on our Women in Digital report and we're really excited for the panel session tomorrow afternoon! 

See you at the social for a drink or five in the sun and BBQ food!