5 Inspiring Marketing Tips I Learned at #MozCon

April 1, 2018

I’ve been on a conference craze the last few months, traveling to the west coast on three separate occasions (Portland once and Seattle twice), as well as attending two digital marketing conferences in my hometown, Boston. As much as I love Seattle’s mountain-lined backdrop, hipster style seafood, and decoratively brewed lattés, I’m ready to enjoy the rest of my New England summer on the east coast sans six-hour fights.

My latest endeavor was attending one of the most famous conferences in the SEO world, MozCon, and what a quality event it was. The show sells out year after year, and with just one track of speakers gracing the stage, I knew that the quality of presentations would be high.

Let’s be real, Rand Fishkin is like the Leonardo DiCaprio of digital marketing. So yes, my expectations were high, especially after seeing great speakers at SearchLove, Unbounce, SMX Advanced, and HeroConf, but I’m happy to report I was not let down. My expertise does not lie in SEO so I was happy to find that there were sessions on PPC, content marketing,social media, and other creative marketing tactics. So let’s dive into the five tips that you should implement into your own marketing efforts ASAP.


That’s me, proud to be a MozCon Partner, at the WordStream stand.

Tip #1: Take a Step Back on Search and Go the Extra Mile for Your Customers – Wil Reynolds, Founder of Seer Interactive

WordStream Founder Larry Kim, a frequent public speaker himself, told me far before Wil went on stage that his presentation would be one of the best. And he was right. Wil took the stage infused with energy and was able to quickly get the crowd fired up even after several hours of lectures and a bar crawl the night before. Wil’s main message was that marketers need to take a step back from focusing on stealing the #1 organic spot on the SERP and need to allocate a much larger effort to improving the happiness of their customers.

“So many of us are winning at search and losing at people,” Wil said. “Once the algorithms realize what we love, the brands only focusing on being #1 are going to suffer. At some point winning hearts and minds is going to win on the SERPs.”

Marketers need to put their egos aside and start putting themselves in the shoes of their customers. Your marketing campaigns should be focusing on clever ways to solve your customers’ problems rather than optimizing solely for SEO purposes. Yes, visibility is going to help, but in the long term having happy customers is going to help far more. “Brands we admire go the extra mile for their customers instead of writing shit content for SEO,” says Wil. Dollar Shave Club’s commercial addressing the frustrating experience of buying a razor from a locked case is a great example that Wil shared.

It humorously displays the frustrating experience that many of us have encountered when attempting to buy a razor in CVS or Target, and essentially says, “hey, we’re here to alleviate this problem for you, and for a fraction of the cost.”

Another brand that’s doing it right? Pedigrees, a dog food company that is clearly thinking about the hearts of their customers by pinpointing and solving one of the most gut-wrenching scenarios a dog owner could face, losing one’s dog. Pedigrees created an app called Pedigree Found, which allows the dog owner to register their dog in their location and send out an instant ad on Google in the area. “With the lost dog app moving faster than your dog, you should be reunited with your best friend in no time,” says the commercial. Check it out below.

Wil asked the audience, who would you trust to insert a pacemaker, Apple or Comcast? Isn’t the answer obvious? Apple is known to have far superior customer service than Comcast, which shows you how important putting your customers first is for the long-term growth and success of your brand.

Tip #2: Stop Limiting Your Skills to Your Job Description – Mig Reyes, Designer Leading Brand & Marketing at Basecamp

If there was an award for most inspirational, Mig Reyes would win by a landslide (although I did miss some sessions so I’m a bit biased). All I remember is leaving feeling like I could learn and over time master any skill I want to. Seriously, I could be an engineer or developer, why not? Well, I don’t particularly want to be either of those things (although I am now tempted to dabble in the world of design), but the point Mig stressed is that we need to stop pigeonholing ourselves into a singular job title.

The project management solution company where Mig works, Basecamp, doesn’t allow employees to put their job title on their business cards. Their career page reads, “We’re designers, programmers, tinkerers, writers, speakers, bikers, engineers, runners, developers, chefs, analysts, campers, musicians, filmmakers, knitters, hikers, authors, photographers, pilots, race card drivers, readers, travelers, gardeners, volunteers, parents, and hard workers.” Woof, that was a mouthful!

Mig stressed that you’re not just an SEO Specialist, you’re also an artist, perhaps a parent, you get the point… So, why are we limiting our skills to our job titles? Mig encouraged audience members to start doing things not listed in our job descriptions. “Do things you’re not supposed to,” he says. “Break things so you can learn how to recreate them. Spend less time on things and do stuff outside of your job description.”

He warned the audience that no, you’re not going to wake up and be a badass coder if you’ve never learned how to code. You need to make ugly stuff, break things, and often times fail before you succeed. So marketers, let Mig’s wise words expand your skillset and lead you to create beautiful things.


Tip #3: Personalize Your Marketing with Big Bites, Not Little Nibbles – Cara Harshman, Optimizely

What exactly is personalized marketing? Cara started out with a great example: she was redecorating her apartment and shopping for an acrylic media console on CB2. She loved the piece, but decided to shop around on Craigslist and other ecommerce sites to see if she was missing any potential opportunities for a better deal. A week later she received a message in her inbox from CB2 with a picture of the same media console and the subject line “Still Deciding?” And, indeed Cara was still deciding, but that email reminder fueled her to take the plunge and buy the piece.


This is what personalization is all about. Providing the right marketing messages to people to align with where they are in the buying cycle. For instance, if someone is new to your website it would make sense to offer them a tour; if someone is returning you might prompt them to sign up for a newsletter, but if someone is returning to your website after 90 days you might want to throw in a special offer or discount to re-engage them.

“The one-size-fits-all web is dead, and lazy,” preaches Cara. So where do you start with personalization? There’s so many ways to slice and dice your audiences whether it be by demographics, context, common behaviors or a combination of the three, but things can get complicated quickly.

The solution here is to focus on the audiences that have the most traffic and volume. Spend time deciding who to target, what to show them, and how to prioritize depending on volume. For example one of Cara’s customers, Secret Escapes, found that the audience searching for “spa luxury” was huge, so they decided to create a personalized landing page experience for this audience, changing the messaging from generic brand messaging to soothing spa related keywords with images to put people in the mood to be pampered. The result? A 32% increase in conversions!

Personalization is going to be most effective for larger audiences so start at the top and work your way down depending on the potential business impact, the technical effort required to execute, and the ability to sustain. Now go forth and personalize!

Tip #4: Use PPC Data to Optimize for SEO – Stephanie Wallace, Director of SEO at Nebo

I was thrilled to hear Stephanie’s talk on building a partnership between PPC and SEO because this is something I’ve been preaching for some time now. SEO and PPC should be great friends, rather than disconnected marketing tactics. Both strategies have similar goals, as in getting prime placement, more visibility, and relevant clicks on the SERPs. While strategies, setup, and maintenance might be totally different, end-goals align. “SEO and PPC teams should be working together,” says Stephanie.

So, what can you do to tie these tactics together? One great tip from Stephanie is to look at the conversion path starting with paid search in analytics to find opportunities to optimize for SEO keywords. So for example, let’s say you’re an outdoor adventure retailer that finds you’re getting tons of paid searches on the keyword “lightweight hiking backpacks,” but you don’t have any organic content targeted to that keyword phrase. This is a content gap; you should be optimizing for that keyword in SEO too so you can drive visitors from both channels.


Tip #5: Build a Community around People’s Opinions, Experiences, or Problems – Richard Millington, Founder of FeverBee.com

Adorable British accent aside, Richard’s presentation on building an effective community was full of actionable takeaways. Richard started out with some powerful stats; for instance, out of 957 organizations that launched online communities in 2015, only 5 were successful!  “Too many organizations make a community about themselves and they quickly realize they’re not Beyoncé.”

So, what should community builders be focusing on? Their target members of course. Richard recommends starting with your friends, and enticing them to join with powerful calls-to-action around them. Ask your members what they’re thinking about. Solve a problem they know exists, seize an opportunity that they’re aware of, and explore a passion they’re curious about.

Of course, there is much more to community building, but one is much more likely to ensure their online community is successful if they’re consistently focusing on the existing problems, opinions, and experiences of the people they want to cater to.

BONUS TIP for Local Businesses: Focus on Building a Quality Brand Presence to Create Good Local Karma – Mary Bowling, SEO Consultant

Mary took the stage as a clear veteran to these engagements, speaking with clarity and confidence. Her talk was focused on optimizing for local businesses specifically, and she echoed several of the themes as the others, such as focusing on the customer first. Mary gave several tips for local businesses to build better local karma, in turn gaining more customers. If you’re a local business you should try out the following:

  • Sponsoring local events

  • Sharing offerings on local sites

  • Offering discounts

  • Building hyperlocal websites to better serve your target customers. “Think about it, if you have a hyperlocal website about the area around you then you’re going to use that,” says Mary.

  • Build more pages explaining what you do.


With the Pigeon update in 2014, Google started determining proximity from a searcher's location. Google wants to know where you are so, local businesses need to establish trusted location information by focusing on quality citations rather than the quantity of citations. “Google is doing a much better job at modeling the real world than they ever have in the past,” says Mary.


The main takeaway from MozCon? This tweet says it all….


Margot Whitney

Margot Whitney

Margot is a content marketing specialist at WordStream and nutrition graduate student at Framingham State. She loves all things digital, learning about nutrition, running, traveling, and cooking.

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