Mozcon 2017: Recap of This Year's Conference
MozCon is an annual marketing and SEO conference hosted by Moz, a Seattle-based company. The conference invites marketers, designers and SEO specialists to the city every year to learn, network and explore both the online marketing industry and the city of Seattle.
This year, the booj Digital team (with Managing Partner Ido Zucker in tow) and a handful of network members traveled to Seattle to learn about the latest trends in the industry, meet with other marketers and bring back expert tips for our clients. We talked to Content + Social Media Specialists Sabrina Hayes and Sarah Strohl to get an inside look at the conference and learn about the must-see spots in Seattle!
Sunday, July 16
It looks like you arrived early enough to explore the city a bit. Where was your favorite stop on Sunday?
Sabrina: I’m so glad we got to Seattle a day early. Sarah and I had never been so it gave us a chance to walk around, see Pike Place Market and get a sampling of the local culture — which, of course, means food. My favorite thing about Sunday was dinner. We had reservations at Stateside in Cap Hill where we ate pretty much everything. But we started next door in their speakeasy-style bar, Foreign National. I would definitely recommend both to anyone looking for something to do in the city.
Sarah: Seattle is a dream! Sabrina and I couldn’t help but exclaim how “cute” everything is there. It seemed that around every corner, there was a new view of the charming sailboats on the water, a new adorable coffee shop, or a new patio with mimosa-laden tables. I would have to agree that cocktails at Foreign National and the subsequent dinner at Stateside were my favorite events of the day, but I also loved perusing Pike Place Market. We were only there for a few minutes, but were still able to see the famed fish-tossing, the bright and beautiful bouquets, and unique crafts from local artisans. The sights and smells were almost overwhelming, but in a good way.
Monday, July 17
Sounds like you had fun! Monday kicked off the conference. Do you have a favorite presentation from the first day?
Sab: Oh man, it’s a tough choice between Phil Nottingham who talked about video and Justine Jordan who discussed email. I’m probably going to have to go with Justine, just because the booj Digital team works with email outreach more often. My biggest takeaway was that email shouldn’t be just another thing on our to-do list. It’s a personal medium delivered in a personal space and it should engage the audience as though they’re people because, well, they are. If you want to check out the slide deck, click here and see Phil’s here.
Sar: All of the speakers on Monday were fabulous, but I was especially taken with Lisa Myers’ presentation on How to Get Big Links. Lisa works with Verve Search, an award-winning SEO and content agency that has landed clients including Orbitz, Unibet and Expedia. She emphasized that surprising content tends to get results. What does that mean? If an article is useful AND exciting at the same time, people are more likely to click, share and link back to your content. For instance, a piece entitled “Guardians of the Galaxy is the Deadliest Movie of All Time,” went viral on Twitter. Something like, “Guardians of the Galaxy is a Great Movie,” probably wouldn’t do as well.
The takeaway? Creativity and individuality are powerful tools in marketing. Encourage your employees to incorporate their own style and enthusiasm into their work, whether they’re working on writing content, social media or even outreach emails. Download the slide deck here!
Bonus: Lisa mentioned that her favorite interview question is to ask candidates which browser they use. Those who use Firefox or Chrome had to go the extra mile to download and set up a new browser, and are more likely to go that extra mile in the office.
The day ended with the famous #MozCrawl to kick off the conference’s networking events. What was your favorite thing about the crawl?
Sab: I got recognized from Twitter and that was the most exciting thing because #Goals. But other than that, I met quite a few people who have been coming to MozCon since the beginning (not including Amanda and Katelyn, of course). Seeing the networks and friendships they’ve made over the years was incredible and definitely something to strive for in the future. It’s an opportunity to build connections in the field that can lead to better ideas, discussions and, ultimately, results. Also, everyone should go sing karaoke at The Unicorn.
Sar: After a long day of learning, it was refreshing to wind down with a few cocktails among fellow marketers. Turns out, you can learn a lot just by having a casual conversation with a like-minded person! We didn’t get to hit all of the stops on our list, but if you’re a cider fan, the Capitol Hill Cidery is the place to be. Expect bar games, hip music, bites and endless cider options in cozy, old-timey digs.
Tuesday, July 18
What was your biggest takeaway from Tuesday’s presentations?
Sab: Finally, we get to talk about Wil Reynolds! Just kidding, but really. Wil’s presentation, I'd Rather Be Thanked Than Ranked, covered what I think was the crux of the whole conference this year: Our audience is made up of people, and those people have human motivations and emotions that influence their actions on the internet. I think the biggest takeaway was BE THE CONTENT YOU WISH YOU FOUND because it’s written in all capitals in my notes. Download Wil’s slide deck right here and let’s all get psyched to hear him again at ENCON X!
Sar: Yep. Wil Reynolds hit the nail on the head with his wise words! Since Sabrina has that one covered, I’ll mention another great presenter from the day: Tara-Nicholle Nelson. Her speech was about How to Be A Happy Marketer, but it wasn’t all smiley faces and rainbows. She has mastered the art of content creation, and has realized that many brands have lost touch with their customer base. She encouraged us to break the pattern of disengagement and instead walk alongside the consumer on their day-to-day journey. After all, your customer is not just a conversion — they’re a human. And you are not selling a product — you’re selling a transformation. How is your product (i.e. a new home) going to make this person’s life better? Obviously, opportunities for this sort of communication are ripe in the real estate market. Grab her slide deck here!
What did the team do on Tuesday night?
Sab: First things first, we stopped at Rachel’s Ginger Beer, a Seattle original handcrafting some crazy flavors of non-alcoholic ginger beers. Definitely go next time you’re in the city! The highlight of the evening, though, was MozCon Ignite. Basically, a few attendees of MozCon get the chance to present on non-work related topics at about five to ten minutes a pop. Thinking about it now, it seems to highlight the idea that the work we do as marketers is all about people — whether those people are marketers or the audiences we’re trying to engage. Sarah and I got to meet Yosef Silver before he presented at Ignite and you can watch his seven minute presentation on Medium.
Sar: MozCon Ignite is the perfect opportunity to see marketers outside of a work context. And since many presentations at Moz focused on the user experience and human interaction as a marketing tool, it was only fitting that we got to learn about the passions and hardships of these talented individuals — from guinea pig care to recovering from a devastating injury. Laughs were had, tears were shed, and friendships were made. Anyone at the conference should make this night a priority! Also, I highly recommend stopping for a mule at Rachel’s Ginger Beer on a hot day. Blueberry whiskey for the win!
Wednesday, July 19
Oh no, we’ve reached the last day of MozCon! What was your biggest takeaway as the conference wrapped up?
Sab: I keep bringing up our human audience which must mean it’s important, right? My favorite presentation from Wednesday was Tara Reed’s Powerful Brands Have Communities (download the slide deck here). It really encapsulated what we’re doing with our clients on booj Digital. That is, build a resource that engages the audience and makes them a part of the greater community — whether that’s the small business community in Toledo, the home design lovers in San Francisco, you name it. On the technical side of marketing and SEO, Britney Muller’s How to Execute Lean SEO to Increase Qualified Leads was outstanding and you can download her deck here.
Sar: Heather Physioc was incredibly composed and direct in her presentation, and managed to convey the message that data and content are not mutually exclusive concepts. In fact, content marketing is one of the most coveted tools in gaining more conversions and loyal customers, and content marketing budgets across the country are expected to grow to $13.3 billion by 2019. As a writer, it’s pretty exciting to hear that our craft is changing the way companies reach their customers. What does this mean for you? HOP ON THAT CONTENT TRAIN. You can outsource (hello booj Digital!), or do this work in house — whichever is more efficient. Either way, make sure your content is exciting and relevant to your customer. Find Heather’s beautiful slide deck here.
Did you get a chance to stop anywhere else in Seattle before you left?
Sab: Well, we stopped here on Tuesday and Wednesday, so I can’t talk about Seattle without mentioning Mr. West. As obsessed with coffee, design, and Millennial trends as I am, it was my number one favorite stop. Everyone should go.
Sar: Man, Seattle certainly loves their coffee! Mr. West has mastered the art of soul-warming espresso bevvies, but don’t miss out on the avocado toast either (sorry, I’m basic). True coffee aficionados might also enjoy the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Capitol Hill. The shop is more elegant than your corner Starbs, and features a full menu of gourmet dishes and coffee drinks that aren’t even on the typical menu!
Also, I have to give a shout out to Rumba, an adorable rum bar in Capitol Hill that serves up street tacos, empanadas and the like alongside authentic rum cocktails and daiquiris. Go during happy hour for the best deals.
Looking at MozCon as a whole, what’s the one takeaway that stands out to you the most?
Sab: I think my count is currently at four, but I’ll talk about our audience as people one more time. From design and SEO to outreach and social media, the most important important factor in our work is our human audience. It’s easy to look at numbers and use those to drive actions, but that is never going to be as successful as thinking about our audience as people, as a community. We need to be building tools and content that answer questions, solve problems and entertain — and the numbers will follow. That’s what we look for so why should we pretend our audience doesn’t?
Sar: Excellent point, Sabrina! I’d also like to tie in the passion and originality are huge factors in our field. The way users interact with our content is always changing, and we have to be on the ball. We live in a different world now, and we have to reach people where they are. Ads in the newspaper are no longer going to cut it when people spend nearly two years of their life scrolling through videos on Facebook, and touch their smartphone an average of 3,000 times per day. With people so in touch with their devices (literally), we now have opportunities to reach people on a level that was never available to us before.
In short, MozCon opened my eyes to the leaps and risks marketers are taking to stay ahead of the fray — and the numbers don’t lie. New ideas, humor, and excitement are the elements that will set your brand apart.
About Sabrina + Sarah
Photo courtesy of Moz
Sabrina and Sarah are both content and social media specialists for the booj Digital team. They work closely with members across the network, breathing life into their story and showing commitment to the local communities they serve. booj Digital offers a variety of services, including blogging and copywriting, social media management, digital advertising, and analytics and reporting, all of which are tailored to the specific needs of each client.