SEMPDX: 4 Takeaways From Portland’s Digital Marketing Event

SEM searchfest

The Governor Hotel was abuzz last Friday with hundreds of digital marketing professionals who gathered to discuss the latest in the field of search engine marketing. I attended as a PR professional increasingly intrigued by new digital promotional opportunities and measurement tools offered by Google and Moz and related tech businesses. The all-day event, titled SearchFest PDX, featured guest speakers, working for large corporate clients, who shared the inside scoop on their best practices. The attendees were local and regional business leaders and account executives seeking fresh ideas and/or networking opportunities with other leaders in the field.

Because we go to these events, so our clients don’t have to, here are four takeaways from SEMPDX that can be useful, even for SEO beginners:

number one
Public relations is the new most important direction for digital marketing specialists to focus their growth potential. 

And I’m not writing this to toot my own horn. Some tricks once touted by digital marketing specialists to generate inbound links are no longer effective, too narrowly focused, and some common practices can be detrimental to search. Therefore, authentic relationships (in the form of links) are becoming increasingly important. Specialists need to focus on the bigger picture to develop a brand, and digital is just one component of a larger strategy.


number two
Old-fashioned link building strategies are still worthwhile. 

This was an important refresher. For example, using calendar listings to promote events is still an important and easy component for boosting your websites SEO. Websites that offer simple calendar listings include print, digital or broadcast media. Other examples might include Eventbrite or Google+. I know it sounds crazy and elementary, but sometimes it’s important to harken back to your roots, ie, the nuts and bolts, you know, the pioneering days of 2007.


number three
The sales process begins when the customer says no

But, what does that “no” process look like when your target customer is simply an unknown visitor arriving at your website? In one of the more interesting discussions of the day, an internet entrepreneur walked through a process in which he turned a ‘no’ customer into a paying customer through a series of discount offers that popped up after a visitor viewed multiple web pages, or tried to leave the website. Those who signed up for the product discount then received a series of emails – 1 day, two day, 1 week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks after that initial visit. I admit, this seems a little intrusive for my style, but it may be a worthwhile technique for those involved in online retail sales.


number four
The tech world needs more metaphors. 

One final thought. After sitting through an afternoon of presentations that inspired many “aha!” and “oh yeah!” moments, I did find myself wondering if declaring the death of various digital marketing strategies or social platforms is some sort of inside joke, or if there is a dearth of cliches in the technology world? In the event of the latter, here are several other cliches that a tech presenter might consider next time, from your friends at AM:PM PR:


  • The (insert technology) train has left the station
  • The other (insert technology) shoe has dropped
  • (insert technology) ain’t dead, it’s just resting
  • If you have any good technology clichés, please share.

SEMPDX was a great event for picking up new skills, rehashing old techniques, and the ideas I brought back to the office will continue to be a catalyst for further reflection on our crazy, ever changing profession.