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The Future, Maximizing Content, & Omni-Channel Marketing: #SEJSummit Chicago Recap

Sej Summit marketing conference chicago

Did you miss SEJSummit in Chicago? Never fear, there are still free tickets available for our other events in London, Silicon Valley, New York, and Atlanta available courtesy of our partner, Searchmetrics.

SEJ Summit Chicago was held on April 15th at the Hard Rock Hotel. It was a fantastic event filled with tons of actionable advice from nine of the top experts in SEO, search, and social. Here is a recap of their impactful presentations:

Think Outside the Text Box: 6 Ways To Increase The Life of Your Content

Kelsey Jones, Executive Editor at SEJ

Our very own Kelsey Jones gave an informative presentation about getting the most out of your content. After you spend tons of work to create great content, she said it only makes sense to ensure your hard work pays off. Kelsey suggested reworking your content so you can publish it on several different platforms.

A few more of her suggestions were to:

  • Add key takeaways to images then share them on social
  • Create a Powerpoint presentation of highlights for Slideshare
  • Take surveys, then publish the results
  • Transcribe audio into written posts

For more ways to get out of the text box, view Kelsey’s slides below:

Omni-Channel “Anywhere, Anytime” Marketing for Success

John Curtis, SEO Manager at Walgreens

John’s presentation covered reaching customers on multiple channels. He suggested customer intent needs to drive omni-channel marketing for big brands, and you should listen to what customers want whenever and wherever they are. Then, he proposed using site search analytics to turn good customers into great ones by talking to them across channels.

Customers find and trust location-based information beyond just your website (Google Local, for example). John also shared that three-tenths of customers blame businesses for incorrect third-party information, so make sure your info is up to date across the web, particularly on places like Google Places and Yelp.

View his slides below:

Linking Your Enterprise SEO Strategy to Business Goals

Allison Fabella, Director of Global SEO at

Allison gave a fantastic presentation directed towards helping big-brand SEOs work more effectively. She relayed a personal story where she took a job and told the CEO exactly what was wrong with the organization’s website. She realized her mistake when his eyes glazed over. I think most SEOs can relate!

Instead of telling a company what is wrong off the bat, start by asking about goals, key metrics, and pain points. Once you know what the company is measuring and moving towards, you are in a better position to focus your efforts and help the company reach those goals.

A few other questions she recommended asking were:

  • “How will the company measure your progress internally?”
  • “Does the SEO strategy link to the companies goals? Is it a priority?”

My favorite quote from her presentation was: “You should be solving the CEO’s problems, not SEO problems.”

You can view the slides from her presentation below:

Website Upgrades That Don’t Leave Google Behind

Carolyn Shelby, Director of SEO & SEM at Tribune Publishing

Every website has to be updated eventually, and Carolyn’s presentation covered steps to take to maintain your rank when it comes time for a redesign. The biggest suggestion she gave was to involve SEOs from the start. She also recommended creating a list of web pages and inbound links so you can redirect good links, and 404 not-so-good links. She also suggests you prioritize actions based on your company’s goals; you don’t have to do everything at once.

View her slides below:

The Future is Today

Dana Todd, Digital CMO Consultant

Dana talked about what the future holds and how we can prepare for it today. For example, we already have bras that can detect cancer, fitness collars for overweight pets, and pacifiers that can tell your child’s temperature. According to Dana, the future is already here, as she talked about three futuristic concepts that are already here.

Dana predicted that connected cars will be the biggest disrupter since mobile, particularly in relation to local search. She suggested that you manage local SEO in-house where you have better data, budget for monthly updates, and make sure GPS is correct so you can lead people right to your organization’s front door.

The next big thing is wearables, which Dana suggested looking at as an extension of mobile strategy. Brands should start by identifying today where they fit into the ecosystem of wearables and research where their customers are before diving in.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a big deal these days because it offers real-time marketing and risk data, allows you to track people and inventory, and offers opportunities for branded engagement using real-time data. Dana noted that success with IoT lies in connecting those data points.

View Dana’s slides here:

The Pareto Principle 2.0: Using Analytics to Find the Right Stuff

Ryan Jones, Manager Search Strategy & Analytics at SapientNitro

Ryan discussed how to get the most out of your analytics. Digital marketers often love running numbers and sharing analytics, but what do those numbers mean and how can they actually help improve your strategy? Ryan suggested to start by understanding the problem, then looking at what the analytics are and what they mean. The biggest piece of advice Ryan gave was instructing digital marketers to stop looking solely at numbers and ask what you can do with that information.

One of my favorite quotes from his speech was: “It’s a number. What do I do with it?”

You can see the slides from his presentation here:

The Content Evolution

Marcus Tober, CTO and Founder of Searchmetrics Inc.

Marcus’ presentation covered using a data-driven approach to your content marketing strategy. He said marketers shouldn’t try to rank for every keyword, but instead should give customers what they want through content. This includes creating holistic content for given keywords. He suggested to dig deep to see what your customers really want from your page and to delete non-relevant content – even if it ranks well.

My favorite quote from his presentation was: “When you rank for everything, you rank for nothing.”

You can view his slides here:

From Associates to the C-Suite: How Social Should Integrate Across the Business

Andrew Caravella,VP of Marketing at Sprout Social

Social is a huge deal for big brands who want to remain competitive, and Andrew offered really actionable tips. First and foremost, you cannot ignore social. He states there has been a 100% increase in the amount of messages on social that require responses (such as questions about product features), and yet five out of six messages go unanswered. This is a huge opportunity for brands to step up and do it right.

My favorite quote from Andrew’s presentation was: “Recognize, consider, and celebrate your customer’s emotional investment.” I think that is an approach many brands would benefit from.

You can view Andrew’s slides here:

3 Red Hot Social Marketing Hacks To Crush 2015

Marty Weintraub, Founder & Evangelist at aimClear

Marty was the last solo speaker of the day, and we were so glad to have him. His high-energy presentation was the perfect way to wrap up SEJSummit Chicago! Marty covered three hacks to actually make money with social. (Hey, that is what our final goal is as marketers, right?)

One of his major points was to focus on using data to directly target users. He gave the example of targeting customers who can’t even afford your product. Marty stated the best way to target on social is through psychographics, which Wikipedia describes as “the study and classification of people according to their attitudes, aspirations, and other psychological criteria, especially in market research.” It was a really interesting presentation!

You can view Marty’s slides here:

Keynote Panel

Featuring: Dana Todd, Dana Todd Consulting; Ryan Jones, SapientNitro; Kelsey Jones, Search Engine Journal; and Allison Fabella,

Our keynote panel was done in “ask me anything” (AMA) format, featuring some of the top industry experts who discussed just about everything!

Here are some of the marquee points covered:

  • How to maximize social for brands that aren’t built to succeed there. This can be tricky, and the panelists agreed that no presence is better than an inactive account, but you really need to dig deep into why you are on social.
  • How marketing strategies haven’t changed much in the last few decades, only the tactics.
  • How to protect your sight from referral bots, which can be a huge headache for large publishers. Paying attention to where your traffic is coming from and using filters is critical.

A huge thank you to all the speakers and attendees who took the time to come out and make SEJSummit Chicago a success. We had a fantastic time and we hope you all did as well!

 Would you like to attend the next #SEJSummit in London? We still have a few free, invite-only tickets, thanks to our partners, Searchmetrics. Our London marketing conference will be held on May 12th at the Ham Yard Hotel.

Category Careers SEO
Danielle Antosz

Danielle is the former Features Editor for Search Engine Journal and the producer of SEJ Marketing Nerds podcast. She lives ...

The Future, Maximizing Content, & Omni-Channel Marketing: #SEJSummit Chicago Recap

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