I suppose the next best thing to dreaming about leaving the cold New Hampshire winter is to actually do it! Can’t think of a better way to toss off winter blahs than with a few days at SMX West.
Agenda Item #1 – Monday, Monday
I am planning to get in early on Sunday to soak up the sun for a day or so before my favorite part of the week: Monday night’s SMX Meet & Greet reception. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. This is the absolute best way to meet speakers and other attendees and make great connections in a relaxed comfortable setting. Don’t be shy. This is a very friendly crowd.
Day 1 – Ruby Tuesday
Absolutely don’t want to miss Steve Ballmer’s gem of a keynote. Microsoft has been doing nothing shy of re-engineering the entire search landscape for the past two years and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. What’s next for Microsoft? If there’s a news scoop – I don’t want to miss it.
The rest of Tuesday, I am going to make sure to take in the sessions dealing with mobile search and new ad formats. In the morning, I am definitely recommending the Mobile Paid Search Ads: Real Opportunities at 10:30am, and Not Your Father’s AdWords: The New Google Ad Formats right afterwards. I think that Microsoft has gotten Google’s competitive juices flowing big time, so I want to be sure to get the most current best practices for new ad formats.
The afternoon has a smorgasbord of great sessions, and even if you deal mostly with paid search, I seriously recommend the Ranking Tactics For Local Search and The Current State Of Social Search sessions. Both of these search marketing disciplines overlap with paid and non-paid tactics, and clients are always clamoring for recommendations in social search. Of course, I can’t go to the local session because I’ll be busy running the SMX Boot Camp: Paid Search Fundamentals. If you’re new to paid search, I invite you to come on in. I’ll guarantee you’ll learn and have fun at the same time!
Day 2 – Wednesday: Feelin’ Groovy
I know the word groovy is not groovy anymore which is strong proof that I am a geek. So the first thing on my list for Wednesday is to see who wins the SMX Biggest Search Geek award this year. Thank you, Marin Software, for recognizing the cream of the geek crop!
Later that morning, I am recommending Bring In The Bling Via Bing Cashback. Here’s why. Microsoft is giving away millions of dollars in rebates to consumers who buy from Bing advertisers. If you haven’t tried it or don’t know what it’s all about, come see how you can grab a big hunk of that Bing promotional pie for your company or your clients.
Wednesday afternoon has unbelievably potent sessions. If you are a small to mid-size advertiser, definitely take in Jen Laycock’s Your 90 Day SEM Fitness Plan. If you’ve already got your paid search in good shape, then the Facebook Ad Tactics For Search Marketers is going to be a blockbuster.
If you’ve got burning questions or need expert advice, check out Ask The Paid Search Buyers and Ask The Paid Search Reps. There’s more expertise per square inch in those panels than you’ll find anywhere. See what I mean by groovy Wednesday? Can’t go wrong with any choice you make.
Day 3 – Thursday Morning It Sure Looks Fine
And so does Thursday afternoon, for that matter. Thursday is packed full with PPC sessions from sunrise to sunset and, just like Groovy Wednesday, there are plenty of great choices to make.
I am absolutely recommending the PPC Tune-up Clinic with the SMX Mechanics, (and only partially because I’m moderating it.) Everyone loves these clinics when we review real live campaigns in action. A very jovial and expert panel will work on as many campaigns as you throw at them. They’ll roll up their mechanics shirts, diagnose your toughest problems and give you practical tips that will supercharge your PPC campaigns.
One dilemma for your Thursday agenda is that every time slot has two solid choices for paid search marketers. There are no bad choices and no easy choices, either. I recommend going with your gut instinct, rather than being too logical about it. One tip for you especially if you are new to SMX: Don’t be shy about leaving a session after a few minutes, especially if you were conflicted about choosing between two concurrent sessions. All speakers understand this sort of thing and no one gets offended if you leave a session early. Unless, of course, you leave with deep heavy sighs, swearing and muttering under your breath, and toppling desks and chairs on your way out. In that scenario, the speaker may understandably feel some dismay over your departure.
Here’s another tip for SMX newcomers and veterans alike. Even if your primary interest and job function is managing paid search, don’t rule out sessions outside your workday life. With so many top-notch speakers on social marketing, SEO, site architecture, link building and so on, take at least a session or two to explore all the other topics available to you. Check out the full agenda – you truly can customize your program.
Here’s one last tip before I go shovel off my car and try to drive home in yet one more winter blizzard. Carve out dedicated time in your schedule to visit the Expo hall. You will be amazed at the range of tools, services and vendors out there who have already solved problems that you knock your head against every day. We use about a dozen different tools in our business – all of whom we met at the Expo hall.
See you in Sunny Santa Clara! I look forward to meeting you there! Not registered yet? What are you waiting for – sign up today!
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.