Lee Odden

Reader Poll: How Many Conferences Does The Boss Send You To?

Keynote - Marissa Mayer

Demand for talented search marketers is high and the number of educational opportunities has increased proportionately. We have a reader poll this week to get an idea of our reader’s conference involvement. See below.

Some prefer a structured training program like SEMPO Institute, DMA SEM Certification or Bruce Clay’s training program. Others prefer to compliment those programs or augment on the job training with industry seminars such as Search Engine Strategies and ClickZ Events, WebmasterWorld Pubcon, SMX, Search Insider Summit and the variety of vertical, regional and industry specific conferences that are now including search marketing in their programming.

Are you one of the thousands of people who attend these conferences?

I heard estimates of 5-6,000 at last week’s SES San Jose event and in October, DMA07 expects over 10,000 attendees. With conference tickets ranging from $600 on the low end to over $3000 for more exclusive events, I am curious how many conferences companies and agencies are sending their people to each year and what 2008 looks like for conference involvement.

Initially, I was thinking our poll would exclude speakers, exhibitors, press and sponsors, since they are typically provided free conference passes, but what I’m most interested in knowing is how many conferences people are attending each year where the company pays travel and/or accommodations and/or conference fees.

How many conferences does your employer pay for you to attend each year?

  • 1-2 (54%, 28 Votes)
  • 3-5 (23%, 12 Votes)
  • None (13%, 7 Votes)
  • 6-8 (8%, 4 Votes)
  • 9+ (2%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 52

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For a small business this could really add up so the return on the investment must be watched closely. At the same time, the search marketing industry is getting increasingly competitive and the nature of “optimizing for search engines” is undergoing a dramatic change with things like personalized search, Google Universal and the rise of competing destinations such as Facebook and other social media. These changes warrant a never ending need for ongoing education of search marketing professionals.

When companies are evaluating Search Marketing Agencies, they need not only look at the firm’s current expertise, but what they are doing on an ongoing basis to stay sharp? Are they engaged in conducting ongoing training in-house? Do their staff attend conferences? Do they conduct testing of tactics on their own web sites to track upcoming trends and competitive advantages?

You could also look at whether the agency is advanced enough to conduct on-site training for other companies and whether they have speakers at industry conferences. Are they active as an industry leader in terms of uncovering new and more effective ways of marketing online?

I am interested as to our readers’ thoughts on search marketing conference involvement whether it’s as an attendee on the company dime or as a speaker/sponsor/press/exhibitor. Has it been a worthwhile investment and do you plan on increasing, staying the same or reducing search marketing conference involvement in 2008?

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. I send myself to more then my employer…I wish it was the other way around.

  2. Avatar Mukund Mohan says

    Can you please point to a list “if there is one” of all the search related conferences I could send my folks to? Thanks.

  3. Mukund, good point. We’ve run polls on this twice this year:
    Best SEM Conferences
    Best SEM SEO Conferences

  4. In a previous life I used to go to Las Vegas twice a year for conferences. After that, I went to none, and now its whatever I really want to decide to go to.

  5. I would love to hear more opinions from both attendees and speakers about the benefits or the shortcomings of search marketing conferences. As a growing business that specializes in search marketing, I understand the importance of staying on top of all of the upcoming trends and newest advances in technology. My question is if these conferences are essential to maintaining a competitive edge in the industry and whether it is truly worth the time of both employees to attend these type of conferences and employers to invest in sending employees to search marketing conferences.


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