Salt Lake City, and by extension, the state of Utah, had its first Digital Marketing Conference this week that brought together hundreds of the best companies and brightest minds in the area. And by all accounts, the conference was a huge success, paving the way for future conferences and more great events coming to what is being called the “Silicon Slopes,” Salt Lake and surrounding cities that have recently become a hotbed for tech companies and investment-worthy startups.

Big Leap attended this event in force, with at least one of our people attending every session, and we’ve collected our notes and brought them all together here for you. But rather than just recapping the event with a play-by-play retelling of the speakers’ slides, we’re providing our take on the most valuable things that we learned at the Salt Lake City Search Engine Marketing Digital Marketing Conference.

Cyrus Shepardcyrus shepherd

Cyrus has made a name for himself as a leading SEO and content strategist at Moz, but before that, he admitted in his keynote presentation to about 300 SEOs and digital marketers, he began as a telemarketer.

“Telemarketing made me feel bad,” he says, standing before a giant PowerPoint image of a cubicle farm. Cyrus didn’t like the way he interrupted people with his marketing messages. He didn’t feel like he was helping.

Search, on the other hand, made him feel good. He was helping people to find what they were looking for, and doing it in a time and method that was convenient to a user. That is still important for SEOs to remember. The goal is to help. Helping is good.

“Sometimes SEOs only focus on inputs. Google has been telling us to optimize for users, not search engines.”

It sounds simple, but it an easy thing to forget: SEO inputs and user inputs should all be one unified input.

Scott Baird Dr. Scott Baird is the CEO of Griffin Hill, and Griffin Hill is about making people better. Baird pointed out that the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 Rule, is true in most industries he works with.

So what does it take to achieve your place among the illustrious Top 20%? According to Baird, you’ve got to:

1. Have a Vision

2. Have a Plan

3. Establish Measurements

Baird says that most people actually make mistakes when setting their goals–either not setting any or making them to grandiose. The pattern he suggests is for SMARTER Goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound along with the important steps to Evaluate and Record. “We get discouraged and abandon our pinpoint-specific goals if we fail to measure up.” It’s important to adjust the goal or adjust the effort we’re making to keep us on track towards realistic goal achievement.  

Duane Forrester Duane Forrester

Duane Forrester, the long-time webmaster for Bing, spoke on the future of digital marketing. The companies getting ready to take on mobile have already missed the boat. So what’s next? Wearable tech. Self-driving cars. Telemetrics for captive audience niches. Machine learning. Forrester sketches a scary but compelling world for marketers in the near future.

David Locke

david lockeDavid Locke, the voice of the Utah Jazz, had some insightful advice for digital marketers.

1. Fail – fail and fail often. You can’t afford to wait, if you keep trying, people will let you, forgive your “sins.”

2. Be Consistent – you have to show up every day, deliver the same experience every time.

3. Create Great Content – unique, something they’re not getting everywhere else.

Don’t be afraid to try new things. His blog posts “Emptying the Noggin” are the most clicked. His “Postcasts” were designed to make the moment live a little longer. His advice to get and keep fans: “What makes you go back to the show, an announcer, a book? If you smiled. We return to smiles.”

Lee Odden  lee odden

Lee Odden wrote the book on optimizing content for customer search. His company, TopRank, provides online marketing consulting for Dell, LinkedIn, and McKesson as well as training and resources for businesses of all sizes. His advice for integrated marketing for SEOs: “Be the Best Answer.”

Odden explained that if your goal is to provide great answers and you stay focused on the customer experience, the search engines will see the value in the content you’re creating.

We had a great time at the conference and learned a few new tricks. Big Leap looks forward to more great events happening right here in Utah County and the Silicone Slopes.

Jamie Bates