Measuring the Marketing ROI of Attending SES San Jose

If you register to attend SES San Jose 2009 by Friday, July 24, you can save up to $200. But you already knew that.

The bigger question that you — and other Chief Marketing Officers — are looking to answer is this: How do you measure the return on investment in going to a search engine marketing conference?

Now, measuring marketing ROI isn’t a hard science. It’s more of a social science. But there some reasonable approaches that you can use to figure out the value of attending SES San Jose 2009.

Ask yourself this question: Can I afford to skip this event? The answer will depend on how rapidly you think the search engine marketing industry is changing. And, unless you’ve been cryogenically frozen for the past year, you’ll know that a lot has changed since SES San Jose 2008.

Clay Shirky.jpeg That will be the theme of the Opening Keynote by Clay Shirky, the author of the new book, “Here Comes Everybody.” Shirky is a writer, educator, and consultant on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies. He is an adjunct professor at New York University in the graduate interactive telecommunications program, where he teaches courses on the interrelationships of social and technological networks, particularly how they shape culture and vice versa. He consults to a variety of organizations on network technologies, and is an acknowledged expert on collaboration tools, social networks, peer-to-peer sharing, collaborative filtering, and open source development. Shirky has spoken and written extensively on the Internet since 1996, with regular columns in Business 2.0, FEED, and his own blogsite. He has appeared in The New York Times, Time, The Wall Street Journal, the Harvard Business Review, and others. In his new book, Shirky explores how organizations and industries are being upended by open networks, collaboration, and user appropriation of content production and dissemination.

Shirky’s keynote will be followed by a session on Day 1 of the conference entitled, “The Adaptive CMO: A New Paradigm for Digital Marketing.” This session sets the stage for the C-Suite track and provides a strategic view of how marketing is constantly evolving and will define the critical role that search must play. The rules have all changed and all bets are off. Brian Featherstonhaugh, chairman and CEO of OgilvyOne Worldwide, will present his point of view on how brands are built, why the “four Ps” are no longer valid, how corporate cultures are created, and what happens as the world goes digital.

The next session in the C-Suite track is entitled, “The View From the CMO’s Office.” Search marketers and non-search marketers have traditionally had difficulty communicating in the language of their disciplines, often creating friction and unnecessary conflict. This session will walk you through the day-by-day challenges of the CMO from two viewpoints: the traditional CMO and the CMO who has made the move to digital. This session will explore how both disciplines can educate each other and explore such issues as the nominal percentage of marketing spend that is allocated to search.

During the afternoon on Day 1, there is another session in the C-Suite track entitled, “Integration: The New CMO Imperative.” With the popularity of sites like Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and Twitter, brands increasingly need to engage with their customers outside their website. The portability of content and viral connectivity that occurs online requires a new approach to branding. If you attend this session, you will learn strategies for increasing brand awareness and protecting brand equity in today’s socially connected web as well as tactics that can be implemented in today’s resource and budget constrained environment.

Next in the C-Suite track is a session entitled, “Budget Migration: Going Digital Without Impacting Your Brand.” The move to a predominantly digital marketing strategy can be overwhelming. Migrating from staid traditional channels to the open waters of the web can be daunting — especially for companies that are unsure of how to properly measure search, display, email and social media. This session will arm you with the information you need to know about migrating budget to digital without impacting your brand awareness or the equity you have built up in your brand. If you attend, you will learn from companies that have started moving significant resources away from TV, radio and print and into search, social, display and email. Lessons learned will be discussed as well as the metrics and tools need to gauge the success of a balanced digital marketing program.

Finally, the C-Suite track wraps up on Day 1 of SES San Jose 2009 with a session entitled, “Performance Pricing Models: What Every CMO Must Know!” With many marketing organizations feeling the pain of financial pressures, pay for performance pricing models are gaining popularity in search today. At this stage of the game, chances are that you’ve either thought about trying this type of pricing model but held back because you were unsure of what’s involved or perhaps you tried to pursue it in the past, but had trouble making it work for you and your vendor. Designed to maximize results, a performance based compensation model can truly be a win/win for you and your search engine marketing partner. Not only will it help to drive results and bring your partners’ goals in alignment with your own, it will also allow you to reward your search partner for superior performance while keeping your overall ROI in mind. In this session, the panelists will cover the keys to developing a successful pay for performance pricing model including a thorough overview of the concept, how it can be applicable to both PPC and SEO, the chief benefits it offers, and why marketers should consider it. In addition the panelists will delve into what marketers need to know before adopting a pay for performance model, including how to assess if it’s right for you, popular misconceptions, and the common problems that can arise along the way. If you attend, you will be provided with actionable advice on the critical success factors needed to make a pay for performance model work, including the role of goals, benchmarking, performance metrics, historical data, scenario analysis, and tracking.

So, what’s the marketing ROI of attending the first day of SES San Jose? Well, ask yourself this question: What’s the cost of skipping this event?

Now, if you’ve done the risk benefit analysis of attending SES San Jose for a day, what are the incremental costs and benefits of attending for two days?

Take a close look at the SES San Jose agenda overview for Day 2 and you’ll see lots of sessions that a CMO who is making the move to digital should attend.

Here are a few that I would recommend:

Igniting Viral Campaigns: Leveraging Consumer-Generated Content — How can businesses leverage social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and more to break through and create buzz, encourage word of mouth, and establish relationships with potential customers? This session unveils the secrets of Web 2.0 techniques and technologies that enable companies to stand out and be talked about.

Facebook Ads: Reaching Prospects Earlier In The Decision Cycle — You know how powerful search marketing ads are. They get in front of consumers who are already raising their hands for more information about your business. But wouldn’t it be great to influence that decision earlier to a much larger target audience? With over 200 million active users sharing authentic information, you can precisely reach the right people before they start searching. Learn how to target your exact audience, create compelling ads, optimize for the greatest ROI and generate demand for your business on Facebook.

nick fox.jpg Afternoon Keynote — Nicholas Fox, a business product management director on Google’s AdWords team, is giving the afternoon keynote. Fox leads product management for Google’s ads quality efforts, focused on optimizing the end user experience with ads displayed through Google’s AdWords program. He is responsible for the development and improvement of the algorithms that determine the display, ranking, and pricing of AdWords ads on Google and its partners. Fox also leads product management for AdWords bidding features, which enable advertisers to maximize their ad performance and simplify their bid management. Prior to joining Google in 2003, Fox was a consultant with McKinsey & Company in Palo Alto, Calif., focusing on corporate finance and strategy for technology companies. He studied economics at Harvard College, from which he graduated magna cum laude.

Four Paths to Success in a Tough Travel Economy — Travel marketers discuss the challenges of smart search marketing in tough economic times, when leisure travelers are hard to come by and businesses slash budgets. Experts in four key areas of travel search marketing – Organic, Paid, Social and Local/Mobile – share successful strategies and creative campaign ideas to attract and increase traffic, proving that it is possible to generate positive ROI with limited resources.

The BuyerSphere Project: Understanding B2B Buyer Patterns — A major B2B research initiative, conducted by Enquiro with input from Google,, Covario, Marketo and DemandBase, showed that most marketers aren’t effectively leveraging online assets to their best potential. Among other things, the notion of a strictly followed, traditional buying funnel is simply not accurate in many instances, risk dictates buying behavior, search is incredibly important as an integrator across online and offline channels and face-to-face persuasion is still necessary in many high risk, complex purchases. The BuyerSphere project looks at how online strategies became artificially separated from traditional best practices, how they can be more effectively integrated and the part search plays as a major influencer. This panel will review the research from over 100 face-to-face interviews, hundreds of eye tracking sessions and over 3,000 survey responses in total. The project represents a major step forward in understanding B2B buyer patterns and the part online marketing can play in influencing them.

Okay, if you are in for a penny, are you in for a pound? What is the marketing ROI of attending SES San Jose for a third day?

Again, take a close look at the conference agenda and decide for yourself. Nevertheless, here are some sessions that you might want to consider attending:

Charlene Li.jpg How to Prepare for the Future of Search — The morning keynote will be given by Charlene Li, an influential thought leader on emerging technologies, with a specific focus on social technologies, interactive media, and marketing. She is the co-author of the business best-seller, Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies, published by Harvard Business Press in May 2008. Named “one of the most influential women in technology” by Fast Company, Li is the founder of Altimeter Group, which provides speaking and consulting services to organizations looking to understand and thrive in a new economy driven by social media tools and techniques. She is one of the most frequently-quoted industry analysts and has appeared on 60 Minutes, The McNeil NewsHour, ABC News, CNN, and CNBC. She is also frequently quoted by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, Reuters, and The Associated Press. A sought-after public speaker, she has presented frequently at top technology conferences such as Web 2.0 Expo, SXSW, and ad:Tech. Most recently, Li was a VP and principal analyst at Forrester Research. She joined Forrester in 1999, after spending five years in online and newspaper publishing with the San Jose Mercury Newsand Community Newspaper Company. She is a graduate of Harvard Business School and received a magna cum laude degree from Harvard College.

SEO Through Blogs & Feeds — Not yet running a blog? Not syndicating your content through web feeds? Then you’re missing out on an important area that can help your overall SEO efforts. Learn more about the unique advantages blogs and feeds offer to search engine optimization.

The New Search ROI: Measuring More than Conversion — Search marketing has a great advantage over other forms of marketing: It is extremely measurable and actionable. Advertisers have access to detailed click and conversion data about their campaigns, so they know which keywords are leading to the most sales. But smart search marketers today realize it’s not enough to simply measure conversion to get an accurate picture of the overall ROI of their paid search programs. Internet sales typically account for 5 to 20 percent of a company’s revenue (depending on the industry), but influence as much as 40 percent of sales. Therefore, measuring paid search ROI in relation to only online transactions significantly underreports SEM’s overall contribution to company revenue. Also, remember that paid search conversions are influenced by more than just the last click; many times a conversion happens a few hours, days, or weeks after a series of clicks and searches. This practical and informative session will focus on best practices and practical techniques that marketers can use to get started with “multi-conversion” measurement. If you attend, you will walk away with actionable strategies for using industry-tested approaches that can help you effectively analyze key performance metrics of their campaigns — whether a click results in a purchase online, a purchase offline, a call to a call center, or another conversion metric. You’ll learn how to use freely available techniques to make sure you’re measuring the real effectiveness of every click, to make better, more accurate keyword buying decisions, and more accurately gauge the real ROI of search programs.

Advanced Keyword Research — Mark Twain famously said that the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. When it comes to effective keyword research, nothing could be more true. Carefully tailored keyword research not only helps determine the success or failure of your entire search marketing campaign, but it can also provide a way of better understanding your visitors and their intentions. This in-depth discussion will move beyond the basic keyword research tools to zero in on advanced tips and techniques for taking your SEO or PPC campaign to the next stage.

Extreme Makeover Live! Why Am I Not Making Enough Sales? — There are many companies out there for which traffic is not a problem. Are you one of those companies that gets plenty of visitors but only about 2% of those that visit convert into a sale or a lead? This session takes volunteers from the audience and examines their websites live to show you why you aren’t making enough sales. Do you know the main issues holding your website from converting visitors? The panel of experts will make sure you walk away from this session with a great deal more insight about the factors that cause your website to act like a leaky bucket and what to do about them.

Okay, spending three days at a search engine marketing conference is a serious investment of your time. And measuring the marketing ROI of attending SES San Jose isn’t trivial.

But that’s why CMOs get paid the big bucks. And with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke seeing signs of an economic recovery, now is the time for you to chart a course to the digital world that is reshaping marketing as we know it.

So, if you are going to attend SES San Jose 2009, then register by Friday, July 24. Save up to $200. But that’s small potatoes compared to the even bigger benefits to be gained from learning how to navigate through the ever-changing search engine marketing industry.

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