While search engine marketing conference attendance for agency staff is almost a given of the job, in-house search engine marketers may find themselves more challenged to justify the expense, both in time and money of conference attendance.
Conferences like Search Marketing Expo (SMX) provide a host of benefits that more than justify the cost; the challenge is in convincing the budget gatekeepers to agree.
Show The ROI
Unlike more static professional disciplines, search engine marketing, both paid and natural, is in a constant state of evolution. In-house search engine marketing is a young profession; even the oldest pros can have only about ten to twelve years on-the-job-experience (ever increasing, but not as much as say, a career lawyer or accountant).
A key part of the discipline is staying on top of the evolving platforms, best practices and even just basically understanding how things work as algorithms change.
Arguing that results in paid and natural search marketing will undeniably suffer if skills and professional knowledge are not maintained by in-house search engine marketing staff is logical.
Every SEO or PPC opportunity missed due to lack of awareness is money lost to an organization, and these only add up over time. Spending ~$2,000, even less if you register early for many conferences, is a small investment to make.
Conferences that offer sessions to dispense free, personalized advice to attendees can have an immediate return for in-house marketers. SMX conferences in particular have useful panels (dubbed “Mechanics”) for free SEO and PPC advice dispensed by seasoned professionals.
Panelists will log into a PPC account, do a quick review and offer several personalized suggestions for improving performance. Likewise on SEO panels, a site review with targeted suggestions is completed.
Rare is the opportunity to get free, personalized advice from experienced search marketing professionals. Taking full advantage of these sessions is an easy way to justify return on the costs of attendance.
The HR Angle
Conference attendance isn’t normally thought of as part of an overall compensation package, but there’s no reason why, when taking a new in-house search engine marketing job, a marketer could not add an annual conference as part of the hiring agreement.
It’s almost a no-brainer for a new employer to agree to keep investing in developing an employee’s skills. Certainly no potential new employer would fault one for trying to have this addition to their compensation package; it demonstrates an incredible amount of enthusiasm and dedication to developing marketing expertise.
At some point, an organization may need or want to hire a consultant or agency for additional search engine marketing help, or a temporary project.
Meeting these consultant and agency resources in person and networking to know them and their strengths and weaknesses can be incredibly useful. Knowing who to contact for RFP requests, an idea on rates, and what services consultants or agencies can provide is useful for in-house search engine marketers to have on file should a need arise.
Hopefully these suggestions give in-house search engine marketers ideas and ammunition to justify attendance at future search marketing conferences and to continue to develop their skills!
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.