Building the business case for going to SES San Jose

It’s that time of year again. Search Engine Strategies San Jose will be held the week of August 18, 2008. And whether this will be your first SES San Jose ever, or the sixth one in a row that you’ve attended since 2003, you might need to spend little time optimizing your schedule for what search engine marketers call “the big one.”

A quick look at the conference at a glance will tell you why. There are a total of 77 conference sessions, strategic development workshops, Orion panels, and keynote presentations crammed into the four-day Search Engine Strategies conference. And on the fifth day, there are an additional six SEM training workshops.

Since there are five concurrent tracks during the SEM conference and three concurrent workshops during the SEM training, no one can attend everything – unless, of course, you bring a team of five or more people to SES San Jose.

And deciding which sessions to attend isn’t just daunting for the first-time attendee. It’s also a challenge to SES Alumni.

If you compare last year’s conference at a glance with this year’s conference at a glance, you see that only 12 of the sessions and two of the workshops are repeats. And four of the “repeat sessions” are Site Clinics or the Organic Listings Forum, which examine new web sites or issues every year. This means almost 88% of the content at Search Engine Strategies San Jose 2008 will be brand new!

The rate of change in the search engine marketing industry comes as a surprise to some – especially the bean counters over in finance. They act like going to one SEM conference a year ago means you don’t really need to go to another one this year. But you can’t learn search engine marketing the way they learned the multiplication tables.

So, if they give you any grief about taking a team of people to SES San Jose 2008, remind them that it will get increasingly harder to manage the bottom line if you don’t continually find new ways to increase the top line. Who knows, skipping this year’s conference could end up costing a bean counter his or her full-time position next year.

If the folks in finance don’t buy that argument, then build your business case for attending the show. And do it in the next couple of weeks.

If you sign up before August 1, you can save $200 off the cost of Platinum Passport. And, if you bring more than two people from your organization, the third, fourth, and others registering at the same time qualify for 50% off their registration fee.

I’m not making this up. Read the registration information for yourself.

If you sign up for a full-day of the SEM training workshops, you’ll save $145 off the cost to two half-day workshops. And, if you make reservations by July 23, you should be able to find hotel rooms for $179 per night.

All in all, bringing a team of four people to the four-day Search Engine Strategies conference as well as the fifth day of SEM training can cost your company under $12,000 – less than $3,000 per person – not counting airline reservations.

This means your business will break even if your entire team discovers new Search Engine Marketing (SEM) opportunities, learns better Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques, or finds different Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising options that generate an extra $1,000 a month. And, if each member of your four-person team finds a way to generate an extra $1,000 a month, then you’ll be showing a very healthy return on investment (ROI) from bringing them to SES San Jose.

How realistic is this scenario?

According to the Search Engine Strategies San Jose website, you will learn:
• How search engines list Web sites for free and through paid placements;
• How to get free “organic” traffic by building a site that pleases search engines and your visitors;
• How to efficiently purchase listings guaranteed to rank your company at the top of search engine results;
• How to calculate the ROI of your search marketing efforts by tracking your visitors from the time they hit your site until they buy – and get tips on improving conversion if they don’t!
• How to build links that generate traffic to your Web site, and how to avoid the penalties of “spamming” the search engines;
• What’s coming next in the constantly evolving world of Web search, and how you can profit from it.

But wait! There’s more!

According to data and research provided by Efficient Frontier, the average cost-per-click (CPC) in the “Total finance” category, which includes auto finance, banking, credit, financial information, insurance, lending, and mortgage, was $2.96 in May. So, if each member of your team finds a way to generate 338 extra clicks per month – less than a dozen clicks a day – then he or she will be providing your organization with a very healthy ROI.

Can each member of your team come back from SES San Jose with new, better or different ways to generate a dozen extra clicks a day? That’s the business case that you can make to the bean counters. And trust me on this: The folks over in finance will love it when you talk numbers to them.

So, let’s say you get the okay to bring a team of four all the way to San Jose. They still won’t be able to cover every session. And now each person is on the hook for coming back to the office with new SEM opportunities, better SEO techniques, and different PPC advertising options that can generate 338 extra clicks a month.

Tomorrow, I’ll recommend the sessions and workshops that an SES newbie, an SEO specialist, a PPC specialist, and an SEM veteran should attend – to ensure that your business gets the biggest bang for its bucks. It’s not a difficult task. There is so much great content being presented.

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