Seth Besmertnik: CEO and Co-Founder at Conductor
C3 Keynote Speaker
1) What was your favorite session at C3 this year?
There were so many great sessions this year that it’s unfair to ask for a favorite. However, I very much enjoyed watching the Ticketmaster team share the incredible results they are seeing in organic search and how they made it possible; I enjoyed listening to our customers share feedback on how we can make our product better in a session we call “Ask the Seths” – where we have an open setting for all customers to share feedback on the product and then publicly vote; and then I enjoyed hearing the myriad of case studies of our customers like Citibank, Logitech and Ancestry.com – to name a few.
2) What were some common search themes you saw at this year’s conference?
There was a lot discussed and if I had to boil it down there were certainly a few key themes. The first key theme surrounded how hard it is to get things done in a medium to large company and how much of your success depends on your ability to enable your key stake holders. A lot of great stories around how to improve here were shared. Additionally, there was a lot of discussion around moving to a content first approach to SEO – as you don’t optimize search engines – you optimize content.
3) What was the best question you were asked in the “Ask the Seths” session?
Customers don’t necessarily ask questions during this session – they make feature and product suggestions. And we definitely witnessed how marketers are so different from company to company as there were over 40 unique suggestions. My favorite one had to be from one of our publishing customers who asked if we could build a feature to upload hundreds of users into Conductor rather than adding users one by one. Marketing departments, compared to other teams, are generally small and we do not have a way to “bulk upload” users – since adding 5 or 10 people is very easy. The fact we now have customers wanting to have 100s of people use Conductor – this is amazing and I hope next year this gets a lot more votes.
Frank Pipolo: Director of Internet Strategy & RenATO Lacerda: SEO Technical Specialist at Bisk Education
Topic at C3 2013: Inside Bisk SEO: Inspiring a New SEO Vision
1) How do you maintain an edge in SEO in a highly regulated industry?
Teamwork is essential. The whole SEO team is engaged and empowered to hunt, track and share SEO news, such as Google updates, on a daily basis. By empowered we mean providing an environment – through rules, tools and culture – that enables team members to track and share signs of Google’s rule changes as well as motivating and rewarding them for doing so. We are a sharing community – the SEO Team has research and development time in which they create presentations on case studies about SEO techniques and strategies.
Another essential part is a company-wide, 100% commitment to employ white-hat SEO practices ONLY. It is very important that every single member of the SEO team have this concept as part of his or her core beliefs. This commitment to following the rules is so important to us that it is a big part of our talent acquisition strategy.
Also, while we hire both skilled and non-skilled SEO team members, we want team members who have a “sponge” mentality. That is, the mentality of wanting to truly learn and grow their craft at SEO. We believe we are very good at what we do and give the million dollar training, so we look for people who are open-minded and want to take advantage of it.
2) What was your process for setting your SEO vision internally?
We are strong believers that earning buy-in is an essential part of success. At first, we earn buy-in from the SEO team through a culture that encourages and empowers team members to self-motivate and plan and execute SEO strategies and campaigns. This culture leads the team to build ownership for their assignments. Once ownership is there, it is just a matter of guiding the team to success. After buy-in from the SEO team is assured, we go after stakeholders. In this evangelizing process, we count on results, solid data and expert information to show the importance of SEO and the factors that define SEO ROI. When it comes to stakeholder management, we are currently at a point where the value of SEO is widely accepted by the whole organization. One indication of this is how stakeholders now come to our SEO specialists for direction and assistance at the beginning of projects.
3) What have been some of your success strategies in the highly competitive industry of online education?
i. Promoting the value of continuous improvement: Never “rest” at success, but always look to improve on our own previous results.
ii. We take talent acquisition and development seriously. The Bisk SEO department started in 2008 with 2 employees. In five years, our department grew to 21 professionals: 10 SEOs, 3 SEO editors, 2 SEO writers, 3 outreach specialists, 2 SEO supervisors and one SEO director. Together, the Bisk SEO team coordinates SEO for over 20 websites and publishes more than 400 pieces of content a month.
4) What types of tools do you use at Bisk to maximize your digital reach through SEO?
We make full use of state-of-the-art SEO platforms, link management platforms and Custom Analytics software. We also use A/B and MVT testing platforms, content creation/management platforms, in-house traffic to SERP estimators and have many premium SEO memberships. Our most powerful tools, though, are ideas from empowered and self-motivated team members who are focused on sustainable success.
john fernandez: Director, Online marketing at intralinks
Topic at C3 2013: Inside Intralinks: From 0 to SEO
1) What is the hidden secret to performing digital marketing activities without losing a personal touch?
One of the fortunate things about B2B is that it offers marketers the ability to be along throughout the buyer’s journey, from the initial awareness stages such as discovery to the purchasing stages. The secret for a digital marketer is to not lose sight of the greater process. It can be very easy for digital marketers to fall into the trap of focusing on the traffic generation and conversion experience and just ignore the rest. That can be a really bad mistake to make. You want to get deep into the pre-traffic generation activities, especially around persona creation and content creation, as well as the post-conversion activities throughout the demand generation and sales cycle. Not only do you get critical feedback on how to better execute digital marketing strategies, but you ensure that digital marketing is part of the entire customer lifecycle and get yourself a seat at the table.
2) How are you able to add credibility to digital marketing practices across all business units?
The biggest issue digital marketers, and marketers in general, face with other business units is that they can quickly find themselves speaking completely different languages. If marketing goes into a meeting where sales, finance, product, executives and the board of directors are talking in dollars, and marketing walks in to talk about leads, that’s going to be a very challenging conversation. It’s very difficult, though, since leads, and conversion rates, and traffic, and opportunities, are all critical metrics as well. Linking these together is a constant education reinforcement process, where very specific examples are great (there’s nothing better than finding a great piece of business the company won, and tying it back to a web form completion or a search that led that person to our site), but also showing the macro-level big picture, that better darn well be in dollar signs. Now, people get it – if we get more conversions, at the same quality, we make more money. That allows marketing to have an intelligent conversation around conversions without the organization feeling that the bottom line is being neglected.
3) How do you sell SEO to your in-house team?
The great thing about today is that everyone understands the value of ranking high on Google! Sadly, however, many folks only know that they “need SEO” without having really understood what that means. SEO these days is too hard for a digital marketer to do alone. Many SEOs find themselves in situations where a HiPPO will simply come down and go “Why are we not ranking well for ‘dingwobble’?” At Intralinks, we’ve worked hard with teams to understand how they contribute to the SEO process:
- Product Marketers who are responsible for the business, personas and messaging understand that SEO is critical to driving the bottom line revenue numbers they are looking at. Part of the persona developing process should be the development of the “digital persona” – what websites and search terms are these people looking for? This helps the product marketer when it comes time to developing messaging, as that is going to be critical for developing the content, so the right search terms better be there!
- Field Marketers responsible for the campaigns need to know how SEO fits within their campaign, how it in fact is core to our demand generation, and how to make sure to keep the campaigns integrated.
- Marketing Communications is creating the content, so SEO should very well be top of mind for them, as the content itself will be critical in impacting how successful SEO will be.
- But that’s not all! Often, other groups are creating content (Press Releases, Blog Posts, Presentations, etc.) that also end up on the web and impact SEO. Whether it’s Corporate Communications, Investor Relations or even Legal teams, working with them is critical.
- IT manages the infrastructure and can be very critical to the technical aspects of SEO.
- Executives also care! While they can’t often influence the day-to-day of SEO, they will care a lot about the bottom line, to which SEO contributes.
Educating all of these people about SEO helps empower them, as well as position yourself, the SEO, as the subject matter expert who is not just someone back-office who gives very little visibility into the black box of SEO, but someone who is actively educating and contributing to the organization’s success.