The C3 Conference was pretty great. In addition to learning a great deal about digital strategy, I also discovered the importance of a good taco bar. But more on that later. Here are some key C3 takeaways.

focus on your customers over your keywords.

I’m not sure how he did it, but Wil Reynolds, founder of Seer Interactive, managed to make a marketing keynote absolutely hilarious. Aside from his well-placed memes and the occasional curse word, Wil relayed how ridiculous we all were for prioritizing keyword rankings over the experience of our prospective customers.

Rather than putting all of your energy into information architecture and SEO, Wil recommended focusing on the brand you’re building. He encouraged us to focus on the psychology behind why people buy products and how we can create brands that exceed the goals of our prospective and current clients. When you focus your marketing on the needs of a consumer, your company will naturally stand apart from the competition.

Understand the intent of your YouTube VIEWERS.

YouTube is now the second-largest search engine in the world; each minute, 100 hours of video are uploaded to the platform. Mark McMaster, Global YouTube and Brand Activation Expert, informed us that just 20% of pre-roll ads are watched without a customer hitting the “skip ad” button. McMaster defended this data by saying that the customers who actually watch the ad provide all of the leverage in the world to advertisers because they’re engaged and ready to connect with your brand’s products and services. Tell a good story, he argues, and you’ll have a chance at a conversion.

Don’t be lazy with SEO.

C3 offered several informative sessions on best practices for SEO. From these, I took away the following pieces of advice:

  • Take advantage of the new Panguin tool from Barracuda to see updates to API/Google overtime so you can compare to your analytics. This will help you understand any changes to Google’s algorithm that may have affected trends in your data.
  • Optimize image names to give search engines even more content to crawl. For example, name your image “C3Conference” instead of “IMG_1111” to give Google information about your visuals.
  • Use schema.org to structure the data within your site and give search engines more information about your content.
  • Manually analyze page 1 results for search queries you’d like to rank for. Try to find any natural connections, connected bloggers/personalities, and encourage your social team to work with these influencers.

 

Finally, I want to highlight a few exceptional campaigns. Here are my two favorites from the conference:

#RunHAPPY with Brooks Running

In celebration of all of the blood, sweat, and tears that come along with running a marathon, Brooks rolled out a line of shoes inspired by some of the world’s largest road races. The TCS New York City Marathon, which took place just days after the C3 Conference, had its own shoe to boast. The Bright Lights, Big City Adrenaline GTS 16 shoe was inspired by the nighttime scene that “sets Times Square apart from any other place in the world.” According to Project Manager Amy Clerget, the shoe was launched so finishers could celebrate their accomplishment with a squeaky clean pair of sneakers inspired by the city they had just traversed.

Brooks Running - Run Happy Campaign and NYC Shoes

 

Homes for Dogs BY COLDWELL BANKER

I didn’t expect to fall in love with a mortgage company, but here I sit, guilty as charged. The “Homes for Dogs” campaign was launched to invoke the feeling of home (and the tail wags that come with it) by showing dogs waiting for their owners to arrive after work, after deployment, or after a 30-second trip to the mailbox. In addition to the microsite and the video, which has earned more than 2 million views so far, they also launched a #WoofWednesday social campaign and, according to Brand Engagement VP David Marine, got more than 20,000 dogs adopted through their platforms. Talk about a win-win.

 

All those industry leaders were enlightening, to be sure, but a special shout-out goes to Ashley, who joined me in holding up the line for 3 minutes as we anxiously waited for the guacamole to be refilled. Avocados, it seems, can’t wait. Nor will 2016. Get cracking to make next year’s marketing your best yet.