7 Brilliant Nuggets of Marketing Wisdom from #MozCon

March 22, 2018

The mass exodus of fellow search-nerds from Seattle has begun; amidst a wave of fanfare, beers, and tears (bye, Rand!), MozCon has drawn to a close.

mozcon 2017 sem tips

We sponsored a booth this year which gave our team hundreds of opportunities to connect with interesting people from all corners of the Earth (including some incredibly enthusiastic WordStream customers); three days of chatting also meant missing out on some really engaging speakers.

Fortunately, between glad-handing and MozCrawling, we somehow managed to catch our fair share of presentations (shout out to the genius at Moz who decided to put the couch and live stream in the back by the cold brew: so clutch). And while most of the presentations focused on analytics, content, and, of course, SEO, some significant PPC-related knowledge was dropped.


mozcon mozcrawl wordstream lindas tavern

Better still, almost every speaker provided at least one nugget of wisdom that will help advertisers and digital marketing agencies improve their PPC efforts. From killer copy to CRO to emphasizing creativity throughout the customer journey, below we’ve gathered some of the best PPC-centric advice shared at MozCon.

Before we begin, though, I’ve got a favor to ask…

Since we missed some of the presentations, we almost certainly left a couple of AdWords-related gems off the list. If something you learned at MozCon totally blew your mind, let us know about it on Twitter and in the comments below!

MozCon Nugget #1: You have to be willing to come up with shit ideas in order to come up with great ideas

Lisa Meyers, “How to Get Big Links”

Outside of some incredible, Oglivy-esque outreach email copy and the illest sneakers at MozCon, Verve Search CEO Lisa Meyers dropped a valuable tidbit of marketing philosophy…

lisa meyers mozcon 2017

Her agency has relied on this mantra to maximize her team’s creative output, resulting in some seriously infectious, oft-linked content. By cultivating creativity, viewing the subsequent barrage of ideas as a path towards generating something exceptional instead of seeing it as time wasted, Verve has created everything from interactive data visualizations to vintage posters depicting long-extinct animals hailing from travel destinations.

While there are significantly fewer opportunities to incite virality with an Expanded Text Ad than, say, an interactive Hollywood body count, the underlying premise is totally applicable to PPC. Constantly dream up and implement new ideas and when you find a formula that works (whether it’s an interactive data viz. or an exceptional CTA) , don’t be afraid to re-skin and reuse it.

MozCon Nugget #2: You are not your customer. Stop trying to think for them.

Joel Klettke, “How to Write Customer-Driven Copy That Converts”

This was probably my favorite presentation of the week (copywriting, shocker), and I thought the HubSpot case study Joel shared offered a textbook approach to customer-focused landing page optimization.

By listening to customers, making a concerted effort to understand what they want as opposed to ramming unrelated value propositions down the throats of innocent people, you can completely reconfigure what to expect in terms of results.

Case in point…

joel klettke mozcon 2017 copywriting landing pages

2x conversion rate. 2x inbound call volume.

A little bit of due diligence and a lot of listening can go a long way, huh?

If you’re in the midst of overhauling your own landing pages, remember:

  • Conduct. Customer. Research.
  • Shift your focus from product features to instead highlighting consumer benefits and customer testimonials.
  • Structure your landing page based on customer priorities

MozCon Nugget #3: Create a Simple Template for Success

Katie Cunningham, “How to build an SEO-intent based framework for any business”

In both SEO and PPC, intent rules the roost. Katie Cunningham uses a simple but powerful framework to approach SEO keyword research with an eye towards intent.

By prioritizing keywords with modifiers…

katie cunningham mozcon 2017

… she helps searchers find exactly what they’re looking for (which in turn sets her clients up to provide some serious value).

And once you’ve implemented an intent-centric keyword strategy, you need a way to ensure it’s working. Katie’s got that covered, too!

  1. Establish your KPI goals
  2. Audit current performance (with brutal honesty)
  3. Research keywords to discover intent-based modifiers
  4. Strategize with an emphasis on valuable keywords
  5. Execute
  6. Measure your KPIs
  7. Repeat in perpetuity!

MozCon Nugget #4: Intent beats Identity. Immediacy beats loyalty.

Rob Bucci, “Reverse-Engineer Google's Research to Serve Up the Best, Most Relevant Content for Your Audience”

I wouldn’t call myself a numbers guy by any stretch of the imagination, but Rob’s presentation on reverse-engineering the SERP to serve hyper-relevant content really resonated with me.

After analyzing Share of Voice metrics for featured snippets, images, maps, shopping, video, places, news, and regular old organic search results, one of Rob’s takeaways was that digital marketers need to recognize when they need a paid strategy to win.


rob bucci stat at mozcon 2017 serp topology

Killer SEO can do wonders for your business, but when your competitor is using shopping ads to put a stranglehold on the SERP, all the organic efforts in the world won’t do you any good. Just look at all that blue!

As Google continues to pad search results with shiny new toys (Google Careers, anyone?), well-crafted ads—search or shopping— are one of the few ways to stay ahead of your competitors and Google.

MozCon Nugget #5: Paid social is the perfect way to amplify unicorn content

Kane Jamison, “The 8 Paid Promotion Tactics That Will Get You to Quit Organic Traffic”

Segmentation! Split-testing! Implementing paid search and social in a complementary fashion! Kane Jamison’s presentation gave SEOs and content folks a taste of how paid social can amplify and complement their existing content promotion. I particularly enjoyed his two suggestions for leveraging email lists and custom audiences in Facebook:

  1. Build a custom audience made up of prospects who don’t open your emails and advertise to them on Facebook with the best content you’ve got
  2. Build 1% lookalikes of high-engagement email subscribers and customers to find even more people just like them!

And if those kernels aren’t enough to sate your thirst for paid social knowledge…

kane jamison mozcon 2017 paid social to amplify content

Here’s the scaffold for Kane’s entire presentation!

MozCon Nugget #6: The primal motivation behind most purchasing decisions is TRANSFORMATION

Tara-Nicholle Nelson, “How to Be a Happy Marketer: Survive the Content Crisis and Drive Results by Mastering Your Customer’s Transformational Journey”

Though presented as a solution for creating content that resonates with prospects, I found Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s presentation particularly applicable to paid search.

Too often, ETA copy reads like it was written by and for robots; there’s little personality and even less consideration for the human beings to whom the ads are served. This is because it’s super easy to see prospects as damsels in distress just waiting for you to swoop in with [solution to problem] and save the day. They should just know that your widget is great and therefore worthy of purchase, right?

Big shocker here: not so much.

your customers are heroes mozcon 2017

Tara suggests framing your offering not as a product, but a mode of transformation.

This consumer-centric approach empowers your prospect, positioning your offering as a tool to be used in pursuit of solution rather than as the solution itself. Your customers are heroes: treat them accordingly!

MozCon Nugget #7: The last web traffic analytics spectrum you’ll ever need

Matthew Barby, “Up and to the Right: Growing Traffic, Conversions & Revenue”

I’m a sucker for, um, colorful language.

Even if Matt’s presentation hadn’t been riddled with compelling evidence to support his premises, I’d probably have included this gem:


matthew barby hubspot at mozcon 2017

Matt identified a pretty alarming statistic: most companies have 1 or 2 channels that contribute to at least 60% of their acquisition funnel. In the event one of those channels goes belly up, your lead flow will dry right up, resulting in a case of “S.O.N.D.L.G.”

If you’re super reliant on organic traffic to generate opportunities and suddenly, Google implements a major change, your lead flow goes POOF! and AdWords alone can’t make up the difference without significant investment.

But if in addition to your phenomenal organic search presence you’re also using:

  • AdWords
  • Facebook Ads
  • Bing Ads

You’re set up to weather any storm! 

If only there was one piece of software that could help you make that happen…

Allen Finn

Allen Finn is the co-founder of Toasted Collective, a cannabis-focused digital agency. Many moons ago, he worked at WordStream, where he reigned as fantasy football champion for some time.