3 Major Takeaways from #MozCon 2014
On July 13th, I packed a bag, left Kiwi (that’s my cat) with a friend and flew from the east coast of Canada to Seattle for MozCon. With the promise of a Roger plush toy, some fancy swag from Unbounce and KISSmetrics and 72 hours of very smart people (speakers and attendees), I was pretty excited.
I learned more in one day at MozCon than I have in the past year. The speakers were all fascinating storytellers and I was scrambling to take notes faster than a courtroom Stenographer for the full 72 hours. I have a ton of new information to share, but there were three talks that really hit home for me. If you work in startup marketing or startup PR and only read one MozCon recap, this should be it.
1. Experiment With Purpose
Kyle Rush, Head of Optimization at Optimizely, talked about architecting great experiments. He debunked a lot of myths about testing and CRO, which means he dove way beyond the basics of an A/B test. From one vs. two tail experiments to quality assurance and eliminating bias, he covered it all.
- Always use a sample size calculator before starting an experiment. It’s important to know how many visitors you’ll need to run a significant, unbiased experiment.
- Often, the further down your funnel you go, the less traffic you’ll have and the higher your conversion rate will be. That means your minimum detectable effect (MDE) is lower further down your funnel. What does that mean for marketers? That we should start by focusing A/B tests on the last stage of the funnel.
- Be fearless with experiments. In one experiment, Kyle removed all of the copy from the Optimizely page in favour of a simple text field and a “Test it Out” button. It was a drastic change (and a controversial one at Optimizely), but it increased leads by 31%.
- Measure as many goals as possible during an experiment. Have a primary metric, but monitor as many secondary metrics as possible. For example, if your primary metric is number of purchases, also record form field errors, time on page, etc.
- Create a testing standards document, which should include: the monthly average of unique visitors over the last three months for each page involved in the experiment, the stopping conditions, and the goals (baselines, MDE, etc.)
- Record all of your results (details matter) in an archive. Record the experiment date, audience, screenshots, hypothesis, results, links, etc.
I could go on forever! If you haven’t already, be sure to download Kyle’s deck.
2. Repeatable, Not Repetitive
Dr. Pete Meyers, Marketing Scientist at Moz, talked about the biggest fear plaguing content marketers today: running out of great ideas. Whether we want to admit it or not, we’re all experiencing content overload. We think our content is mind-blowing and 100% unique when, in reality, everyone is being bombarded by content day in and day out. Face it: the content you produce is a tiny wave in a massive ocean. So, how do you stay unique and interesting?
- Don’t sit on great ideas. Whatever you do, don’t delay your ideas. Get on early or risk missing the boat altogether. Not all of your ideas will be successful, but 1-2 might be. It’s better to try something new and risky than to sit on your ideas until someone else has validated them.
- Data-driven content matters more than ever. Pornhub Insights, for example, is a blog that provides non-porn insights based on data collected from its users. You are already equipped with what you need to create great, wide-reaching content… no matter what industry you’re in.
- Become a thought leader. Give your expertise away… for free. When you become an expert in a niche, the data comes to you. For example, Dr. Pete gets people sending him data all the time, which he then turns into compelling content. If you’re useful to other people, they’ll provide you with the data to make you even more useful.
- Create scalable content systems. If you set an expectation and a framework, you can create content that is repeatable without being repetitive. Take Moz’s Whiteboard Friday for example. Every Friday, Moz readers expect that video. Every Friday, they get it. Every Friday, they’re happy. Dr. Pete admits that the early Whiteboard Fridays were pretty bad, but they kept at it and, as a result, kept getting better.
- Big business is coming in and marketers need to be ready. Neil Patel spent $100k on one piece of content. Big businesses will have more cash and bigger offline networks. We have to compete in the creative department. Focus on sustainable ideas that scale and you can’t go wrong.
If you haven’t already, be sure to download Dr. Pete’s deck.
3. PR Pros Don’t Go Far Enough
Lexi Mills, Head of Digital at Dynamo PR, covered the top 10 PR tactics and strategies of successful content and link building. I heard the person beside me, who was an SEO, sigh when Cyrus announced that someone would be talking about PR. Tough crowd. Lexi focused on combining the strengths of PR and SEO for maximum impact. Without a doubt, it was one of the most actionable, integrated talks of the entire conference.
- PR and SEO are 100% related. Panda changed the way publishers and journalists see SEO. At the end of the day, traffic is what’s important to them. If PR pros can find a way to help publishers and journalists with SEO, they’re in. Lexi talked about pitching a journalist based on the fact that the story would allow him to target a specific keyword that mattered to him.
- Contract freelance journalists to review your press releases. Be sure they’ve recently worked in the niche you’re targeting. You’re not compromising journalistic integrity, but it’s in the freelancer’s best interest to ensure the press release is amazing. That way, the story gets picked up and he gets more work from the PR pro in the future.
- Take note of vacation seasons. Journalists store content ahead of vacations, so time your pitch accordingly. Around the winter holidays, pitch no later than the first week of November. For national holidays, you’ll want to pitch 1-2 weeks prior. Journalists welcome content during these timeframes, so take advantage of it.
- The press release is dead. Lexi favours “news jacking” and advises PR pros to write a “media alert” instead of a “press release”. It allows you to move faster and, when necessary, bypass approval wait times (for agencies). As the story grows, keep pitching. In the initial pitch, mention a goal. In the second pitch, mention that you’ve met that goal. In the third pitch, mention that you’ve exceeded that goal. Launch more than once!
Lexi ended with three takeaways: (1) make the media’s job easier, (2) pick ideas that can grow and evolve, and (3) setup partnerships with journalists and other companies. When asked about the concern many PR pros have of “going too far”, Lexi replied, “In my experience, PR pros don’t go far enough.”
If you haven’t already, be sure to download Lexi’s deck.
No one looks good wearing Google Glass.
— Shanelle Mullin (@shanelle_mullin) July 14, 2014
If you missed out on MozCon 2014, I hope these takeaways are as significant to you as they are to me. Now that Roger and I are safely back on the east coast, we’re hard at work applying everything we’ve learned (and following everyone we met on Twitter).
P.S. You can already register for next year’s MozCon (and save). I don’t say this often, but it’s worth the jet lag!