SES London: a hitchhiker's guide to the conference
By Marion Hirtzig - Head of Digital Marketing.
SES London is the first digital marketing conference I've ever been to. And it's the last SES conference I'll ever go to since next year it will be called ClickZ Live (pronounce "click zee"). SES London, that's 3 days of talks on Digital Marketing, from SEO and paid search/paid social to business intelligence. Each morning started with a keynote, the first being by Bruce Daisley, UK Managing director of Twitter, followed the day after by Ian Carrington, Director of Performance Northern and Central Europe at Google started off the day with an impressive live presentation. Finally, Nick Burcher, Head of Social Media at MediaCom, launched the last day on a high.
At the end of most talks, presenters try to give you things to take away, so here are some things I will take away from SES London. You can also see it as my personal conference survival guide.
1) Tough choices await you
Before the conference even starts, you are faced with a difficult choice: with 3 talks happening at the same time, you need to pick carefully with just a name, a title and a short summary the talk that seems most interesting. The good thing is that you can download the presentations after the conference with your registration number, so although it's never going to be the same as having attended the talk, it is better than nothing.
2) Be adaptable
You're starting with a list of talks you want to attend, but you may end up realising one talk actually seems better than the one you had planned on attending, or a speaker was actually really good and you want to see more of them. So don't hesitate to jump ship and change your plans. Also, some people will enjoy networking after the conference so much - with beer and other stronger alcohols - that they will struggle to make it in time to the keynote and the first talk.
3) Digital Marketing is a divided world
Being part of a small hands-on company that does everything from blogging and social to SEO and paid online marketing, I hadn't realised up until now how specialised people got in bigger companies. When you grow bigger it does make sense to specialise your staff, having a social team, an SEO team and a PPC team, but then one message that was common to the different talks was that all these activities need to be synced and teams need to work together to achieve common goals. Just by listening to talks by different people with different specialities you could sometimes hear different, contradictory points of view, so it is important at least in the same company to make sure everyone is on the same page.
4) SEO and Digital Marketing are highly competitive, and international
It was quite nice to see Spanish, Italian, French, German, Dutch, Icelandic people and more attending the conference. I always like an international crowd. There are over a million professionals all over the world with "SEO" in their job title so not only are we an international bunch working on the same platform - the Internet -, but this is also a highly competitive business!
The great thing about meeting people working in different countries is that you get to meet lots of interesting people from all over the world, with sometimes different issues, such as getting conversions with translated websites which need localising more than translating.
5) Get your networking going
Although we are millions of marketers out there, the world of Digital Marketing conferences is a much smaller one, and it was quite interesting to see people knowing each other from previous conferences. Indeed, conferences are the best way to meet like-minded people and opposites, such as in my case black hat SEO people, - yes, black hat very much still exists and adapts to Google's different algorithm updates. You have the opportunity to ask experts questions during "meet the experts" roundtables and then get acquainted with fellow marketers during lunch time and breaks - if you haven't started in the conference rooms!
6) Coffee / tea is your best friend
Three days filled with interesting talks and possibly post-conference networking are exciting yet tiresome, so enjoy your tea or coffee break. Thankfully for us at SES London there was tea or coffee available almost at every break!
To sum up, I can say that going to SES London was an absolutely amazing experience; it helped me find out what other more experienced marketers did, their ideas regarding the future of SEO and more generally it allowed me to meet influencers and fellow digital marketers. So if you can attend ClickZ Live next year, or other conferences such as Brighton SEO in April, I say go for it!