Top 10 VendastaCon Highlights for Digital Marketing in 2017

For a few days in January, the best and brightest in digital marketing descended on Austin Texas for the very first conference hosted by Vendasta. With “conquer local” as the theme, the event consisted of keynotes, breakouts, panels, parties and even a sasquatch. Below you will find 10 absolute gems of local conqueror knowledge culled from the best speakers at VendastaCon. Before we get started, a couple of notes

  • It was so hard to make this list from the hours of good content all available online for viewing. If you weren’t able to attend the conference in person, check out the video library, you won’t regret it.
  • Dennis Yu should %100 be on this list, but we were fortunate enough to have him guest blog for us recently, and in that post he dives into great detail about his insights and strategies for becoming Facebook famous. But if video is your preference, check out his talk on Facebook lead generation
  • If you have a personal highlight from VendastaCon that I’ve missed or have a question, let me know in the comments!

1. Brendan King - “The New Marketing Stack for Local”

Can they find you? - Do they trust you? - Do they like you? - Will they convert?

In a beautifully concise way, this describes the new paradigm for digital marketing. Gone are the days where traditional advertising alone was enough to give a business an opportunity to sell. As Brendan mentions, 97% of people are researching products online before they purchase. With that in mind the real power in marketing comes from dominating local digital. Check out Brendan’s entire talk.

2. Greg Sterling - “30% of all mobile searches have local intent”

It’s not always the case that someone tasked with setting the stage for the main speakers ends up making a real impact with the audience, but that’s exactly what Greg Sterling did with his “lay of the land” assessment of SEO. Most notably, he highlighted metrics demonstrating the clear trend of search towards mobile and, in parallel, the local and “near me” intent behind those searches. This is very much a new frontier for local marketers and digital agencies and with the opportunity so clearly illustrated you could almost hear the audience collectively sitting up in their chairs. Watch Greg’s entire SEO talk.

3. Upasna Gautam - “You’re not serving the search engine, you’re serving the user”

In offering a refreshingly simple method for measuring SEO success grounded in the scientific method, Upasna helped the VendastaCon audience cut the BS. And never more so than when she reminded everyone that good SEO is about serving the user. A concept we’ve all heard before, this is more important than ever as Google algorithms move away from simple keyword matching towards context driven question answering. Learn about Upasna’s method for measuring SEO including her special “logic bomb” strategy.

4. Nykea Behiel -  “Tell different stories for different stages”

In “5 secrets to making your content marketing better,” Nykea shares the rules of the inbound marketing game for 2017, discusses generating synergy (and revenue) between marketing and sales and talks about the methodology behind high performance content. While this is must see for anyone building content, one nugget worth mentioning is building your overall content strategy around specifically targeting customers at different stages of your sales funnel. It’s a process that calls for reflection (have we been focussing too much on acquisition? etc.) and balanced progression. Check out more from Nykea at VendastaCon

5. Pete Cannone - “34% of the US workforce are freelancers”

In his talk meant to showcase the potential of the small and medium sized marketplace in 2017, Pete wasted no time doing away with some of the most tried and true small business myths that marketers and agencies tend to lean on. Illustrating two pieces of real insight was his dissection of the myth that “SMBs are fickle”. First Pete reminded us that what some see as fickleness is actually a business demonstrating agility over stubbornness and the ability to evolve towards cutting edge trends. Which, if you are selling digital solutions, should be an attractive quality. And secondly, the workforce overall is trending quickly towards freelancers, which means massive growth in the amount of tech savvy people operating in the SMB space unwilling to simply have their marketing be “an ad in the paper”. See Pete Cannone bust even more local business myths at VendastaCon.

6. Kevin Lao - “Micro-moments are where marketers can win in 2017”

Life is not lived in years, days, or even hours: life is lived in moments. In his mobile search focused talk, Kevin Lao showed the power of local businesses being there for people in the moment. What does that look like? Lao explains in his talk that 51% of consumers have found a new company or brand when conducting a search on their smartphone, and 1 in 3 have purchased from a company different from the one they were originally seeking because of information provided in the moment they needed it. All that is to say, SMBs need to understand the micro-moments that trigger a customer seeking them out and then be there for them, they need to be useful when found, and they need to load quickly!  Get the full story from Kevin and the folks at Google

7. Dan Leibson - “Links are driving the local web, and it doesn’t feel like people are talking about it”

Leibson is part of the team behind a massive 2016 research project looking at reverse engineering the Google algorithm to find out exactly what it takes to rank in the Google “local pack”. During this exposition of the research, Leibson shares some surprising insights about Google search, like how in 2017 it’s still beneficial to have your main search keyword in your business name (really Google? Really??). That said, one part of the research that is top of mind for Dan is the importance of links for local SEO. In fact, according to Leibson, links are the single most important factor in determining search rank.

How can a small business use this information?  Beyond constantly striving towards having the best version of a product consumers need, it also requires that a business doubles down on their online review efforts, their social media presence and for some local businesses, it can mean looking at some sort of content strategy. Get the straight facts on local SEO from Dan Leibson at VendastaCon

8. Jed Williams - “Smarter fishing is about Data + Content”

This sales oriented talk looked at how we can leverage newly available data sets to get the competitive advantage in a field that can sometimes feel saturated with competition and similar product lines. For Williams, the next logical step is translating this data into content. Why? Because using actual business data allows us to create the hyper specific content that’s “particular to vertical and buyer persona,” which in turn exponentially increases the relevance of the content to our audience. See Jed explain the biggest pain points for digital agencies and how to solve them in his VendastaCon talk

9. Jacqueline Cook - “Instead of being persistent - Be persistently helpful”

In her talk on outbound marketing the inbound way, Jacqueline illustrates the advantage a strong inbound strategy can have for a sales team. At the centre of that advantage is a lower CAC and an increase in qualified conversations. Because as Cook puts it, “People aren’t always ready to buy at the first step, but they will buy when they’re ready and they will from who’s helping them”. Find out how to turn your outbound istrategy into inbound marketingfrom Jacqueline Cook at VendastaCon.

10. Travis Wright - “Social can weave through your entire business”

Wright’s talk focused on both search and content as well, but it was his recommendation and insight on a holistic approach to social media that stood out. Traditionally a local business might look at social media as living in the domain marketing and sales and always customer facing. Wright implores us to take advantage of all the ways that social can permeate a business both internally and externally, and especially in departments where we might not necessarily think it a natural fit. For example, within HR, it seems natural to use Facebook to vet potential new hires online, but when used to its full potential the facebook platform can also be used as a powerful recruitment tool. Check out Travis Wright’s entire talk online now.

CONCLUSION - Use the VendastaCon library to level up your digital marketing 

It’s pretty easy to see that VendastaCon was absolutely loaded with the goods for anyone looking to navigate local digital marketing. The wild part is that this post really just scrapes the surface of all the content that’s available for viewing online. If anything you’ve read above caught your eye, please do make sure you watch that person’s entire talk and if you’re a nerd for this content like me, grab some popcorn and watch them all!

Want a little more VendastaCon?  Check out our infographic!

About the Author

Reilly Forbes makes content from the great white north and is a storyteller at heart. When he isn’t writing he can be found toiling away in recording studio working on sound projects of all kinds.

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