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Eliza Steely

SES Chicago 2013 Marketing Conference Wrap-Up #SESCHI

By Eliza Steely     Marketing PR Conferences, Online Marketing

The Bean #SESCHIIt’s official: SES Chicago blew us away. Get it? Blew away – windy city? Well, we thought it was clever.

After flying through the clouds and getting to watch the sunrise from the plane, and (very, very slowly) navigating rush hour traffic I arrived at the downtown Chicago Marriott ready to learn all I could about paid, earned, and owned search with TopRank Account Manager Brian Larson.

There were dozens of incredible speakers throughout the three-day conference. Some gave presentations that inspired, motivated and engaged, while others relied on facts, tools, and statistics to inform their audience of emerging trends in marketing and search. The networking was great and gave us the opportunity to meet people from around the world (London accents are so cool!) and connect with a few of the speakers that blew us away.

The food was what you’d expect from a conference, but the deep dish pizza we got from Gino’s East was, by far, the most delicious either of us had ever eaten. The usage of sausage patties instead of sausage crumbles has changed both of our lives forever. We were also lucky enough to have the opportunity to go see “The Bean.” In case you were wondering, if you go underneath it, it’s much higher than it looks! Brian and I decided to see exactly how high, and may or may not have looked like tourists (in attempting to throw, and thus breaking a money clip) over it in order to find out.

Our objectives for SES included: generating greater awareness of, and thought leadership for, TopRank, meeting new potential clients, searching for talent, and gaining social and media coverage. We wanted to create creative, shareable content, gain a smidgen of competitive intelligence, research new tools that could benefit our agency and clients, and, of course, gaining new insights and education.

Here is TopRank’s Liveblog Coverage of SES Chicago by myself and Brian Larson:

Brian gave a presentation on crafting a killer content marketing strategy that was packed before the session even started. People were so eager to hear about the tips and tools he had to offer that attendees lined the walls and sat on the floor!

#SESCHI Content Marketing Session

Recurring Themes:

Throughout the dozens of sessions we attended at the conference there were a few things that kept popping up:

  • Mobile usage is growing, as is mobile users’ dependence on their devices to help them find relevant information and bypass things they don’t care about. It has become increasingly important to not only appeal to these audiences, but target them in creative ways with extremely relevant content that resonates quickly.
  • Multi-screen usage has transformed marketing. Although people are relying more on mobile, they’re not restricting their research and interactions with brands to only those devices. Many people use desktops, tablets, smartphones, and other devices to make one decision. Marketers need to provide a seamless, consistent user experience across devices. There are many new opportunities to be present in creative ways on each device in a way that encourages searchers to continue interacting with your brand.
  • Analytics should inform almost every decision you make. We live in a world where almost everything can and is being measured. It’s important to use the data around you to enhance your site, optimize for the devices and searchers visiting your site, and taking your advertising to the next level.
  • Personalization is key. You can no longer create mass messages and expect huge returns. It’s important to tailor your messages to your different audiences. Analytics play a huge role in helping you identify those audiences and how you can appeal to them. Personalization is the creative interpretation of that data in the form of content and messaging

Overall, it was a very well-run and organized event. It is incredible to be a part of an industry that is so dynamic, with people so passionate about finding new, creative ways to stay up-to-date and constantly create value for searchers and customers. A big thank you to all of the speakers, volunteers, and staff at the Marriott who made the conference such a success. We can’t wait to be involved in the event again next year!

If you attended the SES conference in Chicago, what were some of the most interesting things you learned?


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