Why we’re creating a new content experience for SMX

Let’s face it; conferences delivered predictable content experiences long before the COVID-19 pandemic caused the industry to wind down overnight. Don’t get me wrong, we miss the expo halls, networking parties and intimate dinners with colleagues, new connections and prospects too. But you always knew what you were in for with the content experience. Big-name keynotes delivering big-picture inspiration, and a menu of sessions that kept you bouncing from one corner of the convention center to the next. The best conferences won on great speakers and actionable takeaways. That was the bar.

As the world has now turned to “virtual” events, we’re seeing an incredible amount of innovation around experiences. Events are adding features like gamification, virtual cocktail hours, interactive “booths”, musical performances, speed networking and more. But all of that innovation seems to be skipping over the core content experience. What we mainly have is still a menu of sessions, available live or as recordings now. 

Sure, the best conferences still win on great speakers and actionable takeaways, but following an in-person playbook for online events falls short of leveraging what a purely digital medium offers.

As a marketing discipline, search marketing is broader than most, especially given its makeup of organic and paid focuses. So this year we will produce six SMX conferences that will explore targeted topical areas of search marketing from analytics to content strategy to conversion optimization and more. In a virtual setting, where pricey travel and lodging is no longer a barrier, marketers can attend more events than before. That change allows us to go deeper on those timely subtopics that require more attention today. But that is not all we’re changing.

SMX events in 2021 will focus on important topical concentrations.

Not sessions. Progressions

On Feb. 23, we will debut the first in the series: SMX Report. The one-day show will explore current advancements and approaches to search marketing analytics across both SEO and PPC. But unlike traditional conferences, the tracks represent complete learning journeys that will take attendees through best practices and emerging considerations that marketers need to best maximize their analytics strategies today.

With most skills, the progression from competence to excellence comes from building upon each new lesson that you learn. So that’s how we’re programming SMX Report, not through an assortment of sessions, but through a guided experience where each section builds upon the next.

In our SEO track, our experts will begin by walking attendees through assessment, setup and configuration scenarios marketers face with common analytics toolsets. From there we move on to explore reporting problems marketers may find within their data and then progress into a deeper tactical analysis of those issues across a host of platforms.

Next, we will explore how marketers go about fixing those problems, first tackling the technical SEO and then targeting the on-page, content-focused problems common to websites.

Then comes measuring the success of those initiatives. We’ll focus on tracking and setting the right KPIs and on creating reports that demonstrate that success to your clients or internal organizations. From that, we move on to enhancing those reports through tactics like digging into structured data and using rich results to generate more clicks from the SERP.

Finally, the learning path wraps up by focusing on the future of search analytics, with speakers specifically digging into new capabilities tied to Google Analytics 4.

Related: Meet Google Analytics 4 — Google’s vision for the future of analytics

In that four-part learning path, attendees will learn how to leverage resources like Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools, Google Data Studio and Core Web Vitals reports.

Over in the PPC path, we’ve put together a similar journey for attendees. The track kicks off with a focus on assessing reporting needs for your organization and adjusting that reporting for the executive, management and operational levels followed by an honest look at attribution and the challenges there.

The learning path then moves into understanding what is available in today’s data and measurement and tying those reports to real business results. 

In the next section, things get a bit more complicated as we explore reporting in an automated and increasingly cookieless world and mitigating data loss. Here our experts will dig into ways PPC marketers can leverage Google Analytics (specifically GA 4) to track performance.

Following those deep discussions on assessment and troubleshooting, the event moves into PPC marketers’ central nervous systems: Google Ads and Microsoft Ads. Here we will explore dashboards, keywords and search queries, impression share metrics, budget pacing and more. Most importantly, we will show marketers not just how to measure, but how to make reliable decisions based on your reporting.

The PPC learning path concludes by exploring the truly expert-level nuances of working within Google Ads, Microsoft Ads and other third-party tools. That includes tactics for conducting competitive analysis within the platforms and well as gleaning higher-level, operational insights from the data.

SMXteam 2
Search Engine Land editors Barry Schwartz (bottom left), George Nguyen (top left) and Carolyn Lyden (right) orchestrate the learning paths for SMX events.

Guided by Search Engine Land

Like in past SMX conferences, SMX Report will feature presentations from the best search marketers in the realm. We will be announcing many of those expert speakers soon. But SMX Report’s program was conceived and orchestrated by the journalists, experts and advisory team at Search Engine Land. Led by new Director of Search Content Carolyn Lyden, the event will feature commentary, context and analysis throughout the experience by our editorial team, which is trusted by millions of search marketers for their independent reporting and insights.

Carolyn’s team includes editors Barry Schwartz and George Nguyen, as well as longtime SMX coordinators Matt Van Wagner and Brad Geddes. The entire programming experience is managed by our Director of Events Content Kathy Bushman, whose experience in both the marketing conference and online learning spheres lends itself perfectly to our learning journey approach to SMX in 2021.

Carolyn and the team will set the stage for the entire SMX Report event as the keynote speakers. In that kick-off, they will break down how analytics has advanced and will make the case for adopting a sophisticated analytics approach for your clients, your organizations and your own progression as marketers.

Registration is now open, and our early bird pricing of $99 expires after Feb. 6. You can also add workshops to your registration for an added fee. For this show, we are presenting SEO for Developers by Detlef Johnson and a workshop on Google Tag Manager hosted by Samantha Barnes.

Like our SMX tagline says, we are obsessed with search marketing. But we’re also obsessed with educating search marketers. Join us for the journey at SMX Report and see for yourselves where that obsession has led.

This post originally appeared on Search Engine Land.