4 SEM Trends & Takeaways From Covario INFLECTIONPoint 2013

For search marketers in 2013, the message today at Covario’s INFLECTIONPoint conference was clear: know your audience, use all your channels, data still rules, and come up with innovative ways to test from which you can learn and succeed.

1. Know Your Audience. Well.

Covario logoCovario’s search conference started off with an introduction from founder and CEO Russ Mann. His introduction included trends they’ve been seeing and how they will be addressing them tactically in 2013. Content marketing is as in as it’s ever been.

Mann referenced the cover of Fortune showing will.i.am as a go-to guy for Coca-Cola and other big brands, looking to create fresh content people will want to interact with. And that content will need to focus on an ever-changing audience.

He showed a slide depicting a woman holding a toddler in one arm while talking on the phone in front of an open laptop as a dog jumped up on her. Is this the B2C stay-at-home mom you’re trying to reach? Because the picture could also represent a small business CEO who is closing a new deal before dropping her child off to day care.

The audience is changing. The audience is growing more diverse and more mobile.

Similarly, the content being produced is also changing. No longer is the content about text and images. There’s now video, social chatter and user-generated reviews and other content.

Further, the method of finding and consuming that content continues to evolve as well. Cell phones are driving both search and now display, as well. Xbox, tablets and similar devices are bringing gesture to search changing the way the audience searches.

Language is changing, too. Currently, 8 percent of U.S. Google searches are in Spanish. You need to constantly be thinking about who the audience is, how they’re going to find your content and what the landing page is they will be taken to.

2. Use All Your Channels to Create a Conversation (Not Simply Drive Traffic Somewhere)

Today’s digital channels are numerous and diverse. You have to worry about social bookmarks, collaborations, blogs, microblogs, pictures, music, events, video, reviews, social networks, and even SMS.

It used to be you drove people to your site from these channels to your website. According to Covario’s research and cases, the new trend for 2013 is to use those channels to create content and conversations. You can even do it through ads.

All your content marketing efforts get the ball rolling with your clients. Once you’ve got that much content out there, your consumers (hopefully) will engage with it. When they do, they will start consuming and sharing it.

Search marketing this year is more than about being searched, it’s about being found through all channels.

Mann threw out an interesting statistic about sharing. While sharing happens on social media, 80 percent of sharing is still being done through email, texting, and instant messages.

3. Data Still Rules

black-jack-dealerIn an fantastically fun and informative keynote, Jeff Ma, the man behind the MIT blackjack team that became the inspiration for the book “Bringing Down the House” and the Kevin Spacey movie, “21.”

Funny and informative, Ma not only provided some interesting blackjack strategies, he tied in everyday life lessons that can be taken away. He talked about the importance of making data-driven decisions and drew analogies to search engine marketing, web analytics, marketing and even human resources.

Regardless of how a campaign works, you need to continue focusing on data to drive decisions. In SEM, as it is in blackjack, it is possible to make all the right decisions based on the data, yet still not have the most desired outcome.

Tune into SEW Weekly tomorrow, February 7, at 1 p.m. ET for my interview with Ma. In it, we discuss how his lessons playing blackjack, making and losing hundreds of thousands of dollars, can be applied to digital analytics.

4. Find Innovative Ways to Test From Which You Can Learn & Succeed

Don’t succumb to pressure from others for a failed campaign if the data shows it was the right decision to make.

Leading laptop manufacturer Lenovo presented a case study showing how they reached their SEM goals. In it, they presented an interesting case study showing how they integrated paid campaigns and organic search.

As with any SEM efforts, they tested ideas, saw what worked and continued to implement further those that paid off. What made their campaign unique was they way they tested. Using a paid campaign for non-branded keywords, they watched click-through rates, bounce rates and conversions to optimize their copy and their ad spend. When they had the winning success formula, they used it to optimize content and win organically against competitors.


Day one of INFLECTIONpoint 2013 is in the books. The conference continues through tomorrow and our exclusive coverage on Search Engine Watch continues tomorrow.

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