Semrush Chat: Digital Marketing Conference Tips

Maria Kalyadina

Dec 23, 20209 min read
Digital Marketing Conference Tips

If you are a digital marketer, making sure that you are keeping up to date with the latest trends and marketing tactics is a total must. One thing that became clear in last week’s #SEMrushchat was that attending digital marketing conferences is an excellent way of doing just that.

However, no two conferences are the same, and some may be more helpful than others. So, which should you attend? And what should you do when you go? (Twiddling your thumbs is a no-no, folks.) We have covered five key questions you may have about marketing conferences in this week’s chat, and we were lucky to have three very special guests to answer them, as well as our insightful community. 

Our guests were @Pubcon, provider of one of the leading SEO, social media, digital marketing & PPC conferences in the USA, @brightonseo, one of the largest search marketing conference providers worldwide, and @SMExaminer, the host of one of the biggest social media marketing conferences in the world.

Check out the advice below given by our guests and the community in the summary below. Have some tips to share of your own? Please let us know in the comments; your insights will be helpful to our readers. 

Q1 Do you think that visiting digital marketing events is a must for a digital marketer nowadays? Why do you think so?
Yes. SEO & marketing strategies are constantly changing; businesses & marketers don't have time to keep up with ALL the changes because they have to work. Conferences can be a quick way to catch up & learn new strategies.
I strongly believe it's important to attend these conferences in order to maintain/nurture IRL connections with colleagues in your field and the people who inspire you. In-person time is far more precious than time on digital platforms. Nothing replaces it! -Jen
I think that it is a must for information architects, SEOs, user experience professionals and content strategists to learn the issues, methods, outcomes of related disciplines. Ben Franklin said it: "we must hang together or we will surely hang separately."
We might be a bit biased but we definitely think attending events is essential as the world of digital marketing is changing so fast so keeping up to date is vital. It's also good to get away from your desk and chat to others in the industry.
Oh yes! It's a wonderful way to talk shop; meet others in your industry and to gain exposure to a variety of subjects you may not think about or work with during your day to day
Absolutely. If nothing else, for the networking. For many solopreneurs or freelancers, working alone can be a bit of an echo-chamber. Digital Marketing events can expand your awareness of what's going on in the industry.
Yes! Visiting digital marketing events provides the opportunity to build meaningful relationships, stay current with trends, connect with influencers and get fresh ideas!

2. Which digital marketing events you are going /would love to attend in 2020 and why?
Well, we would have to say Pubcon :) We strive for a family feel and friendships; we have a tight community & provide tons of educational info for attendees.
We have two more conferences this year - Miami, March 24-26th, and Las Vegas, Oct. 12-15.
Well, we obviously rate #brightonSEO - - but love smaller local meet-ups too. We're also looking forward to the @techseowomen festival on International Women's Day.
Well, I'll obviously be at #SMMW20! ? But I also personally plan to attend #SMWL20 because @jessikaphillips and her team at @NOWMG is amazing! I'll also be at #MDMC20 this year! Love being around the people in-person to make new memories! ?-Jen
Just wrapped up @Pubcon Austin. I plan on going to @Search_Summit D.C. and @State_of_Search , and how could I possibly miss Pubcon Vegas. Aside from that, I'll probably try to go to some local regional lunches or happy hours.
It's @semrush now and forever ?
I would love to go to @brightonseo again. I deeply enjoyed the community of clever, curious & creative people who aren't afraid to say, "hey JP, i loved/ hated what you said, mind if we chat over a pint?" also anything near the beach is perfection.
Local events and niche-specific events are great for getting direct leads. Bigger events are for making the connections. Those connections also drive leads. 70% of my business today comes from colleague referrals from fellow speakers.
I will be attending Search Love San Diego, The SEO Show in Naples, Italy, SEOProfy Conference in Kyiv Ukraine, hopefully Pubcon Vegas, and maybe London, too.

Q3. What are the best ways to convince your boss to send you to the conference? What tips you would give?
Break down what you can learn, which pain points will be solved, what gaps the knowledge you gain can fill, which questions you will get answered, and explain what it would cost to pay a consultant to do all these things for you (the conference will be less).
Or pointing out that professional development is vital to attract, train and retain great staff. Digital marketing moves so fast that if you're allowing your team to update their knowledge you're missing out.
With any conference, it is important to communicate/share who is there and how it is not only going to benefit yourself but the team. Always go with goals/objectives and come back and recap/share with the teams.
A great way to convince your boss is to switch the conversations from "cost" to "investment." We have some helpful info here on how to do that successfully: -Jen
Invest in yourself. Bring back valuable knowledge. Ask them to pay for the next one. In my current role, I use personal time and funds to attend conferences so to learn from others. Always grateful when included as a speaker.
've never had to do any convincing, but I would outline some of the breakouts that would be most valuable to me and express how learning this could solve our business problems and make an impact ?‍♀️
Since I'm freelance my boss is so tight! But, for those freelance folk, my tip would be to squirrel a bit of money away each month for personal development. Soon adds up and can cover hotel, fuel, etc. for events. #SEMrushChat
If the organizers have a one-sheet on this, use it! @SMExaminer has a good one - I always made a list of what I would get out of it, and made it clear I had a PLAN.

4. What should a new attendee do ahead of time to make the most out of a conference?
Review session grids and determine which sessions will provide the info you need.
Then look at speakers - which speakers are must-sees for you?
Compare times & plan a strategy for seeing as much as you can (but sometimes it doesn't work out, & that is okay).
What is the most important question you need answered? Review all the speakers, create a list of who can answer it, and ask as many as you can!
Make a PLAN.
?Write out goals & map out how you'll do it
?Plan your session schedule (but leave room for change)
?Engage w/social media PRE-event
?Set up coffees/dinners in advance for when you’re there
?Highlight a few realistic executables from each day
Pre-event networking is SO IMPORTANT and very helpful! Making those connections before you even set foot at a conference makes things far less chaotic. For #SMMW20, we have a Facebook group for all of our speakers/attendees/volunteers/staff. Works well!
Get an external battery for your phone because you’ll need to charge it if you're tweeting all the good stuff you learn. Also, think about what you want to get from the event - are you there to network and/or are there particular topics you want to hear about?
Do these before going to a conference:
? Follow the speakers on Twitter.
? Engage with the relevant ones.
? Engage in any communities associated with or relevant to the event.
? Meet as many attendees as possible.
? Book a hotel close to the event.
Look for the fun stuff, too, the breakfast keynotes, the happy hours - I went to one that had morning activities you could do. I went on a hike with 5 people I hadn't met during any sessions, it was awesome!
Please please please plan for self care.
Conferences can be so overwhelming in good and bad ways, I have to "turn on" my social side to function & at the end of the day, I can be burned out.
if you can't function, you're diminishing your experience.
Before a conference
? Set goals
? Set agenda and schedule
? See who is attending and reach out - Set a time and reason for meetings
? Twitter Chats are a great way to break the ice & to meet peeps beforehand
? Follow the conference hashtag

5. What networking tips based on your experience would you give to a person who is going to attend their first conference this year? 
We always encourage chatting w/the person sitting next to you. You are in a place w/like-minded people, so it is easy to make friends. The more people you get to know, the better.
If you are an introvert, as many search geeks are, force yourself to talk to people & speakers (most are, just like you). You can always take time to chill a bit later, but those connections are critical. This is your opportunity to network - take it!
I’ll never forget my first big conference. I didn’t know a soul except on Twitter. I was so nervous. I forced myself to introduce myself to those I respected. Now these people are my best friends. No joke. Put yourself out there. It’s worth it.
Don't be afraid of chatting to people. SEO people usually love talking about what they're working on or whatever the latest algorithm update is about.
Also don't worry if you don't want to chat to people. You can follow things via Twitter and connect with people that way if you'd prefer. Some people find the stereotypical way of networking draining and intimidating so do what you feel comfortable with.
I would say... don’t be afraid to approach speakers or other folks who inspired you! Be open to diverse conversations and making brand new connections, even if they don’t directly benefit you. Be genuine.
Remember speakers are normal friendly human beings, just thanking them for their talk is a good starting point. As for other attendees, I found it easier to be around the day before and grab a coffee with Twitter friends.
Follow the speakers on Twitter before the event. At the event, don't be afraid to introduce yourself. Many of my fellow speakers (+me) are in fact introverts. So we appreciate the effort. Post-event LI requests should include a note RE: why you want to connect.
Be brave & go right up to people and introduce yourself & talk. These are people who do what you do for a living and are there to talk about digital marketing, and to meet people just like you.
Remember names. People like to be called by their name and it makes a great first impression that you are attentive. Next, keep notes. Be mindful if fellow attendees are not in the mood for a chat right now. Ask good questions. And importantly, don't be afraid.
Talk to people attending on Twitter/Facebook event/app beforehand.
Collect business cards! You're never going to remember everyone's name so this is a great way of getting details when your boss asks you 'who did you speak to?' on Monday morning!
Be brave!
Author Photo
Maria is the Social Media Marketing Manager at Semrush and the host of the weekly #Semrushchat. You can always connect with her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter! Join the #SemrushChat every Wednesday at 11 am ET/ 4 pm BST!