“The traditional idea of a linear ‘customer journey’ is a thing of the past. It simply isn’t possible to adequately predict the steps and touchpoints which will be integral to leading to a sale or conversion.”
Hosted by Hanapin Marketing and named after their must read blog PPC Hero, Hero Conf is the world’s largest pay per click only conference. The conference spans two weekends, one which occurs early in the year in the USA, which this year was held in Philadelphia, and one in London.
As much as I would have loved to attend the Philly event (mainly because, you know, the Fresh Prince), I settled for a train journey down to the big smoke to attend the UK leg of the conference on the 21st and 22nd October.
Here’s a brief summary of my conference highlights and the insights and tidbits which are sure to make our PPC team even more heroic going into the new year!
Know Your Audience
Traditionally, paid search has been a fairly simple exchange of keyword and ad, query and answer. A user types in their search term and is served with paid ads which (should) provide them with whichever service, product or advice they are looking for. The landscape is far more complex now, with heightened competition from more advertisers, an almost infinite number of search terms to target and with users’ expectations of finding the exact answer they are looking for growing. The focus therefore is starting to switch to audience, both identification of, and response to.
This was a recurring theme throughout the conference. In Lara Lowery’s brilliant talk about how to best serve a client who offers both a B2B and B2C offering, she stressed that understanding each of these audiences was the key to a successful campaign. Your B2B audience is likely to require ads and landing pages which educate, nurture and highlight the business advantages of your client’s product or service, whereas your B2C audience wants to know the advantages of your client when compared to others in the market, and what exactly they can gain from purchasing or using their product or service. Both audiences are also likely to visit different areas of the site, and complete different actions while doing so. The key to winning as a holistic business is putting the time in to understand the ways in which these audiences differ in characteristics, behaviour and motivation, and working out how to respond to each without alienating the other!
Audience was also a feature of Jocelyn le Conte’s talk, in which she highlighted that 70% of consumers want ads that speak to them directly, and 80% are more likely to purchase when they see one, highlighting the importance of personalisation in our ads, something which we can only achieve through speaking to our clients and understanding their audiences completely.
The customer journey is dead
Many of the talks I attended over the two days asserted that the traditional idea of a linear ‘customer journey’ is a thing of the past. It simply isn’t possible to adequately predict the steps and touchpoints which will be integral to leading to a sale or conversion as there are now so many mediums and factors involved in the decision making process. Gone are the days of looking up a plumber or dog walker in the yellow pages. Gone, unfortunately, are the days when you would do all of your Christmas shopping in the local shopping centre. Your users are now on comparison sites, watching Youtube unboxing videos, seeing ads on Instagram and hearing ads on their favourite podcast. Because of these factors, we as marketers need to ensure that our clients are visible at all possible touch points along these crazy, unpredictable, zig-zaggy customer journeys.
This might involve formulating a strategy to sync your digital activity with your client’s tv advertising strategy, as recommended by Emily Raneri from TVTY. It may require working with the client to measure the offline impact of your online campaigns and creating a strategy which encourages footfall and offline purchases, as advocated by Katherine Sale in her talk.
If your client is an online retailer, it almost certainly involves cross referencing your Google Shopping and Amazon campaigns to work out which products should be advertised or pushed on which platform. It might not be that your shopping campaigns are losing sales to your competitors, they might all just be Amazon Prime account holders who are buying from your Amazon store (Rod Richmond)
Ladies, Know You’re Your Shit
One of my favourite talks of the weekend was by Arianne Donoghue from Edit, who delivered a fantastic presentation which looked at the reasons Why Failure Needs To Be An Option For Us All’. Although not a talk which delved into the strategies and technologies involved in PPC, I felt that it was an important one to attend and to share with the other kick-ass ladies who work at Extreme.
Arianne pointed out 71% of women have turned down opportunities due to a lack of confidence and talked about all of the different challenges that she has faced as a woman, not just in the world of digital, but in life, and the ways in which each of these experiences have made her stronger as a result. Her talk was inspiring, uplifting and left me wanting to punch the air! Her advice? Be bold, be strong, be positive, empower one another and know you’re your shit!
One of the most beautiful takeaways from this talk was an analogy which I have sent to colleagues, family members and friends; Kintsukuroi is the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having being broken.
The talk which kicked off the whole weekend is also the talk which I have found to have been most impactful on my digital marketing mindset! Rory Sutherland from Ogilvy delivered a knockout keynote speech called ‘Luck and Irrationality Matter Too’. Unfortunately, Rory ran out of time and his talk had to be cut short but I could have listened to him speak all day! The main theme involved embracing creativity and not hanging your hat on numbers and quantitative theories alone. As marketers, we sometimes find that our clients, and as a knock on effect, we ourselves, get fixated on the numbers, on the ‘meaningful data’ when actually marketing should be largely about creativity and finding exciting new tactics to try! Some of my favourite soundbites included:
The ‘average customer’ DOES NOT EXIST so don’t try to sell to them
Advertising is like an engagement ring. Prove your sincerity by building a long term relationship with your customers. Invest in your brand.
Flowers are just weeds with a marketing budget.
80% of bees follow the waggle dance (the ways in which bees communicate) to discover the most reliable, lucrative flowers. 20% are allowed to go their own way to try new routes and discover exciting new flowers. Therefore 20% of your digital marketing budget should always be used to test new and exciting things.
There were many other talks which I attended throughout the two days, far two many to do justice to them all! I left feeling motivated, inspired and bursting with insights and ideas to share with the rest of the team. Sign me up for next year Hero Conf!
Lucie is our lead consultant on all paid search activity - overseeing our PPC team and managing the strategy and implementation of all paid search campaigns across multiple platforms. Fully Google qualified, and working directly at Google prior to joining Extreme, there's not much Lucie doesn't know about PPC.