My SMX West San Jose 2012 Pictures & Recap

Feb. 29

Some of my absolute favorite posts here on PPC Ian are the ones about search engine marketing conferences. Yesterday, I attended SMX West San Jose 2012 and the conference absolutely rocked! As always, my favorite part about the entire conference was the networking and fun times with friends, both new and old. Today, I’m thrilled to share tons of pictures and a recap of SMX (Search Marketing Expo) West 2012.

It All Started Off With Great Sessions & Great Lunch

SMX West Rocket Clicks

Lunch With Rocket Clicks SEM Agency

I arrived at the conference early yesterday. Since my team shared our all access pass, I attended sessions the morning of day 1. I picked two really great ones. It all started off with Hardcore Local SEO Tactics and then I headed over to Best Practices With adCenter For Bing.

Both sessions were great, but the first one, the local SEO tactics, really opened my eyes. I’m an enterprise level advertiser for large online brands. Sure I leverage geo-specific strategies to the max, but I’ve never promoted physical local storefronts before via SEO. The level of insight from the local marketers was really helpful and totally made my day.

SMX West Marin Software

PPC Ian, Jeff Ferguson, and Marin Software

Also, I enjoyed the adCenter session too but I’m already an expert with the adCenter Desktop Tool so it was more of a review for me. As far as sessions go, my teammate Mike went to the Power Tools For The Paid Search Pros later in the day and said it was really great. My good friend David Rodnitzky, CEO of PPC Associates spoke at that one!

After these great sessions, I was ready for a great lunch… Back at SMX Advanced Seattle 2011, I met Steve Kroll, Director of Operations at Rocket Clicks SEM Agency. Steve is a true leader in our industry and has become a great friend. I got a text message from Steve right before SMX West saying he wouldn’t be there but two of his colleagues would.

I really enjoyed meeting Nicole Mennicke, Director of PPC, and Liz Lord, Senior Paid Search Analyst, from Rocket Clicks. Nicole and Liz kindly treated myself and my teammate Mike to lunch at Arcadia Steak House. (It’s funny, Mike and I had lunch last year at that same place. It’s really great food.) We had an amazing lunch, chatted and PPC strategies, and I’m totally impressed with Rocket Clicks. If you’re looking for an SEM agency, you definitely want to reach out to my friends at Rocket Clicks.

Let The Expo Hall Networking Begin

SMX West Acquisio

PPC Ian and My Friends At Acquisio

After lunch, I was fired up and ready to network. So, I headed over to the expo hall at SMX West. Surprisingly, it was a lot smaller than previous years. There were some truly great exhibits there, but it just felt small.

As soon as I walked in, I ran into my good friends from Marin Software. There booth was front and center, right near the entrance. I always enjoy meeting up with Marin because they are so impressive. I have a ton of friends there, absolutely love their SEM Platform (it’s amazing), and enjoy hearing about their rapid growth. While speaking with Matt Lawson and his team, I also met Jeff Ferguson, CEO and founder of Fang Digital. Jeff is one of the most seasoned online marketers around, he’s been doing this stuff since the mid 90s.

After spending time with my friends at the Marin booth, I headed over to Acquisio. I was totally blown away! Acquisio has a brand new booth that is out of this world. Each year, the booths keep getting more and more impressive. Acquisio’s booth was one of the best I have seen. Recently, Acquisio Acquired ClickEquations and they are on a roll!

SMX West Bright Edge

PPC Ian With BrightEdge

Next, I started walking around the expo hall and found a company called BrightEdge. I really enjoyed chatting with Brad Mattick, VP of Marketing, and Mark Melnyk, Talent Acquisition at BrightEdge. BrightEdge is a rapidly growing SEO platform for enterprise advertisers. I’m totally going to check it out and am quite intrigued by the platform. After all, I’m the greatest proponent of SEM automation platforms around (such as Kenshoo). I can’t get enough of these cool technologies!

Next on the expo floor was BoostCTR. As the name implies, this service/platform helps you boost the CTR (click through rate) and also conversion rate of your PPC campaigns. It was really great to learn that BoostCTR has offices right near mine in San Francisco and I’ll be reaching out to schedule a lunch and demo shortly.

While the expo hall floor was a bit small, I was impressed with the quality of companies there. I’m thrilled I learned of two new companies (BrightEdge and BoostCTR) that will help me directly improve my online marketing programs.

Time To Rest & Then Go To The Sharks Game

SMX West CTR Boost

PPC Ian and BoostCTR

After the amazing times at the SMX West expo floor, I headed over to the coffee shop at the Marriott. I enjoyed spending some time there relaxing and getting some work done. It’s there that I actually published my blog post about 5 Tips For SEM Conferences. I love working at coffee shops and I’m always inspired in that type of environment. I need to remind myself to work at Starbucks and over coffee shops more frequently, it’s all about being productive in an environment you like.

After relaxing and working for a bit, I joined my friends from Marin Software for the San Jose Sharks game. Marin, I can’t thank you guys enough for treating me to the amazing game! We had such great seats at the Sharks game (check out the picture below). It was actually my first San Jose Sharks game, and I definitely want to go again. It was a real blast. The food at the HP Pavilion was really good too. So, there you have it! My SMX West 2012. I did not attend days 2 and 3. After taking in so much on day 1, my team went to the conference on days 2 and 3. We always take diligent notes and share our findings after the conference so I can’t wait to hear what my team learned. I can’t wait until my next SEM conference!

More Pictures From SMX West 2012

SMX West San Jose Sharks Game

SMX West Expo Hall

Images in this post © PPCIan.com

5 Tips For Search Marketing Conferences

Feb. 28

I’m at SMX West San Jose today so it’s the perfect time to share a few tips for getting the most out of search marketing conferences. This is going to be a quick post since I’m on my iPad during a break, but I truly feel these are some impactful tips. Also, stay tuned! I have tons of great photos from the conference coming up in my SMX West 2012 recap (to be posted in the next few days).

  • Tip 1: Take notes during the sessions and present your findings to your team when you return. It’s all about active listening. The closer and more actively you listen, the more tips and SEM strategies you will take home. The end goal: Grow your business!
  • Tip 2: Don’t get discouraged by a less helpful session. We’re all at different levels. A session that may be helpful for one person may be less helpful for another. To get a lot out of an SEM conference, you only need a few good sessions. You only need a few golden nuggets of info. It’s ok to attend a few sessions that aren’t as helpful.
  • Tip 3: It’s all about Twitter. Stay active on Twitter to communicate, network, and participate. The more actively you participate, the more enjoyment and value you will obtain. Also, this is a great way to market and promote yourself as an SEM professional.
  • Tip 4: Network with other online marketers. Schedule lunches, enjoy coffee meetings, and definitely forge relationships in the expo hall. Your network is everything in the SEM industry, invest in yours. Challenge yourself to forge relationships with at least 5-10 new online marketers you did not previously know.
  • Tip 5: Stay all day and night. You never know what will happen or who you will meet. Stay involved. Get there on time and participate in the events at night. I’m a big fan of sleep and this is a difficult one for me, but I know I can always sleep later!

Hope this helps and have fun at SMX West 2012 and other search engine marketing conferences this year!

Where I’m Investing In 2012, Lending Club

Feb. 26

If you’ve been reading PPC Ian for a while, you know saving money and investing wisely is my number one goal for 2012. When it comes to investing, I’m a huge fan of dividends and also interest income. Today, I’d like to highlight one of my favorite places to invest: Lending Club (affiliate link).

My Personal Lending Club Account

Lending Club Account

Check out the screenshot to the right, that’s my personal Lending Club account. I started investing in August, 2011. Since then, I have been contributing money on a regular basis. All my investments have added up and I currently have $3,369.15 in my account. My net annualized return is 13.06%. That’s right. The same money in my savings account (or even high yield savings account) would be yielding less than 1%. Lending Club is bringing in a huge 13.06% return, sweet!

What Is Lending Club?

So what is Lending Club? It’s a really cool platform that facilitates peer to peer lending. Lending Club finds people who need to borrow money. A good amount of the borrowers need to borrow to consolidate credit card debt at a lower interest rate. They screen the individuals, assess their risk bucket, and then allow them to borrow money from Lending Club investors (like me). Bypassing the middleman (banks), Lending Club makes the borrowing/lending process much more efficient. Lending Club means better interest rates for borrowers and better interest rates for investors. Finally, investors like myself get to taste the good life like the big banks who have been making so much money all these years.

Diversify Across Many Lending Club Notes

Here’s my personal strategy: Lending Club lets you invest as little as $25 in each note. Therefore, I invest in as many notes as possible to spread my risk around. If any one note doesn’t work out, I don’t sweat it at all. I’m currently invested in 143 notes, with two more in funding. So far, four of my notes are fully paid and one is late by 16-30 days. I’m well diversified!

My Special Tip: Diversify By Time

In addition to diversifying across many notes, I also like to spread my risk by time. This is a unique strategy that I haven’t seen anywhere else when it comes to Lending Club. I’m talking about investing incremental amounts of money over time. I try to invest a few hundred dollars here and there. Since August, my investments have added up to a large amount, but it wasn’t always that way. By investing incremental amounts over time, I have hedged my risk even more in case loan default rates are linked to any one range of dates. If you sign up for Lending Club, I recommend this very strategy. Start small (maybe as little as $25) and add more and more money over time!

Start Now: It Only Takes $25 To Open An Account

At the end of the day, Lending Club is fundamental in my goal of saving and investing wisely. Also, it’s helping me give back to others (another one of my top goals this year). I’m lending money to people like you and me who need help. If you’re interested in earning a high interest rate, I highly recommend checking out Lending Club (affiliate link). It only takes $25 to start and invest in your first loan! If you sign up, I sincerely hope you consider clicking my affiliate link. This would truly mean a lot to me and help me pay the bills here at PPC Ian. I believe in Lending Club and am a proud affiliate who invests a growing amount of his own money at Lending Club.

Important Note: I’m not a financial advisor and this is not financial advice. Please consult your own financial advisor before making any investment decisions.
Image in this post © PPCIan.com

My Twitter Challenge Is A Success

Feb. 24

PPC Ian Twitter FollowersAbout a month ago, I announced my Twitter Advertising Challenge. What was my challenge all about? In a nutshell, I decided to follow no more than 200 people, redesign my Twitter background, and start advertising. About a month ago, I was following 16,826 people, with 17,060 following me. I’m now following only 68 people, with 14,417 following me. The strategy worked! I did lose some followers, but that’s ok. I lost fewer than the 5,000 I projected and now it’s so much more fun to use Twitter.

I also got a really cool new background. Head on over to My Twitter and see for yourself! I’m super happy with how it turned out. It’s really consistent with my blog! I have not started advertising on Twitter yet, but that’s still in the pipeline.

I was so thrilled with how my Twitter challenge worked out, that I also did a mini-Facebook challenge. Basically, I went out and got a new Facebook banner and also landing page. The landing page is interactive. If you like me, you get to download my eBook for free. Head on over to the PPC Ian Facebook Fan Page and check it out. (I also have a screenshot of my new landing page below.)

Big thanks to Collabo for reaching out to me and inspiring today’s blog post. I’m more excited about social media than ever before and am glad my challenges helped me take my social profiles to the next level. I hope you challenge yourself to make your social media campaigns amazing!

PPC Ian Facebook Landing Page

Images in this post © PPCIan.com

PPC Ian Visits Napa

Feb. 20

Ian Nicole NapaThe corporate PPC lifestyle is like trading on Wall Street, although the market never closes. I can’t get enough of online marketing and my career has truly been great to me. That said, when you work as hard as my amazing wife, Nicole, and I do, it’s imperative to take time off and travel. We love traveling to Hawaii and also Las Vegas. Due to the long 3-day weekend (President’s Day), we took a trip to Napa this time around. The 3-day weekend offered the perfect opportunity to take a breather from the computer and relax, wine country style.

We decided to stay at the Avia in downtown Napa. We booked a corner suite and were quite pleased with the hotel and the room. As people who like to be in the middle of it all, the Avia provided the perfect location with close proximity to restaurants and shops. The hotel itself was not too big nor too small and was well appointed. The room was quite luxurious with panoramic windows offering views of the city. Next time we go to Napa, we would be delighted to return to this hotel.

PPC Ian Wine Tasting

On day one of our trip, Saturday, we drove from the San Francisco Peninsula where we live to Napa. The drive went by fast, but we were quite tired when we arrived. As such, we grabbed an early dinner at UVA. After dinner, we went back to the hotel and crashed. I think this is the first time I slept 12 hours in a single night in the last year or so. We were truly thankful to get a good night’s sleep.

Day two of our trip was the best. After getting re-energized, we took a short road trip to Robert Mondavi winery. At Robert Mondavi, we took a 90 minute tour and enjoyed wine tasting. The grounds at Robert Mondavi were truly beautiful and we had an amazing time. As someone who’s been on a few wine tours, I would recommend this one the most.

After Robert Mondavi, we drove around the area (Napa, Yountville, Oakwood, and surrounding areas) to take in the scenery. You can see a cool picture at the beginning of this post of Nicole and I in the middle of a vineyard with mustard flowers. This was taken just north of Robert Mondavi winery.

After the long day, we drove back to our hotel and then enjoyed dinner at Ristorante Allegria. I had the filet Mignon, and it was honestly the best I have had in the last year. It’s rare that you have such a delicious meal and I’d highly recommend this restaurant in the heart of downtown Napa.

After another great night of sleep, we enjoyed lunch today in downtown and then drove back to the SF Peninsula. While our vacation went by quickly, we now feel rested. Time to start planning our next vacation, we can’t wait!

Robert Mondavi Napa

All images in this post © PPCIan.com

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