Last week, the brightest and best of the UK’s digital tech scene descended on Edinburgh for the Turing Festival. Across two days, over 450 guests came to listen to headline speakers give talks on the festival’s two themes; “Product/People” and “Full Stack Marketing”. Kingsford’s marketing team Scott and Oli volunteered at the festival and managed to catch a few talks in the process. Here are a few of their highlights.
Pete Herlihy “Why No-One Should Ever See Your Best Work”
Thousands of people interact with Pete Herlihy’s work every day, and yet most don’t even notice. He works for the Government Digital Service, one of the youngest departments in the civil service, and the one tasked with leading the digital transformation of the UK government. Herlihy is partly responsible for the website www.gov.uk which helps people carry out tasks such as applying for benefits, passports and pensions online. The underlying aim of his work is to make people’s interaction with the government as quick and painless as possible. In his energetic talk, Herlihy – dressed in Hawaiian shirt and shorts – explained how he goes about doing this. The main take-away is that “the best user experience is often no interaction at all”. This is to say that if you can bring value to your customers without them having to lift a finger, then that’s what you should aim for.
The best user experience is often no interaction at all #TuringFest pic.twitter.com/Adkp61rXAI
— Pete Herlihy (@yahoo_pete) August 19, 2016
Courtney Seiter “No Office Required: Building a Strong Culture as a Remote Team”
Courtney Seiter works at Buffer, a social media management platform. At Turing Festival she gave a really thought-provoking talk on how Buffer creates a strong company culture, a task made both more difficult and more important by the fact that it is an office-less company whose staff all work remotely. Seiter’s talk was energetic and engaging, she gave real insight into benefits of a global remote team, and the challenges of creating cohesion between colleagues who are rarely in the same room (or indeed country). At the forefront of Buffer’s cohesion, Seiter explained, is the set of 10 values that guide everything they do. The values are are designed to encourage clear communication, personal development, and mutual trust. You can read about them in full here. As well as giving a real insight into the working life of a modern software company, Seiter’s talk made us really want to become remote workers!
Listening to the fantastic @courtneyseiter from @buffer talk about remote working #TuringFest pic.twitter.com/Pdkef8Un8B
— iHandover (@iHandover) August 18, 2016
Samantha Noble “Paid Media: It’s Not All About the Endgame”
Samantha Noble’s talk on the second day was a festival highlight for us; it completely reframed the way we look at paid media. Way too much attention, she argued, is devoted by marketers to getting the customer to actually buy a product, despite the fact that this is only one of many steps in the customer journey. Almost all keywords, adverts, and efforts are geared towards making a sale, and barely any are devoted to making customers aware of and familiar with your brand, making them consider buying from you as opposed to your competitors, creating brand loyalty, and ultimately getting them to recommend you to others. Nobles’s talk was not only assured and insightful, but it was packed with actionable strategies for the audience to take away. To drive awareness, Noble recommended using highly visible ads with low click-through rate such as on YouTube and Skype. For consideration, she suggested using ad features such as reviews and discount codes. And to gain preference over competitors she suggested bidding on competitor’s names using Gmail ads. Overall, this was one of the best talks of the weekend. Not only did it tell us where we are going wrong with our paid media, but also told us how to fix it – now that’s value!
Masterful presentation on innovative strategies in paid media by @SamJaneNoble #TuringFest pic.twitter.com/LApV4NUBrz
— Brian Corcoran (@brianc13) August 19, 2016
Wil Reynolds “The Human Ranking Algorithm: The People Behind the Queries”
Wil Reynolds is one of the most respected voices in SEO, at Turing he gave a compelling talk on why ranking for keywords is not the most important part of digital marketing. Search, Reynolds boldly states at the beginning of his talk, is not linear. When you are booking a holiday you don’t search ‘book a holiday’ and then book a holiday. You search for locations, weather, exchange rates and lots more beforehand. Why then, asks Reynolds, don’t marketers target those angles and bring people to their sites before the customer actually searches for the product. As Reynolds puts it, a marketer needs to think about ‘the query before the query’. It was a really motivating experience to see someone so technically skilled in SEO that he could ignore the technicalities of keywords and optimisation and think about the bigger picture. SEO is such an abstract concept, it was refreshing to be reminded that at the end of the day we’re marketing to people, not search engines. Full of energy and humour, Reynolds’ talk was fantastic, another festival highlight.
Great photo of @wilreynolds using a clicker that actually works! #TuringFest #meta pic.twitter.com/0Pt4CNEIyw
— Turing Festival (@turingfestival) August 19, 2016
Rand Fishkin, “The Worst Advice Maketing Ever Gave Content”
Rand Fishkin is a master of content creation, Moz, his SaaS marketing analytics company started as an SEO blog, and his 12 years in the industry has given him more than a few insights. Fishkin’s second talk of the conference was (as always) full of energy and enthusiasm. Along with a five-minute digression on how to cook a perfect steak, Fishkin gave huge insight into the ROI of content creation, and how it’s done properly. Our job as content creators, advises Fishkin, is not to make good content, but to make content that achieves our organisation’s goals. It is a long-term strategy, but one that can really pay off if done properly. The best way to sell things, he argues, is not to sell anything at all, but to give your audience relevant content that builds up trust and leverage to the point that they want to buy from you. Fishkin’s talk was a great way to round off the content, a fitting end to a great couple of days.
Unexpected, excellent culinary tips from @randfish – the man is serious about steak! #TuringFest pic.twitter.com/wa3UIp70rY
— Turing Festival (@turingfestival) August 19, 2016