MKGO digital marketing conference – 2022

20 min read by Charles Craik 25 Oct 2022

The StrategiQ team has experienced some brilliant thought leadership this season. In October alone, we’ve attended brightonSEO, eCommerce Expo and SearchLove. While we all love the chance to get together, we go along with clear goals:

To increase our knowledge – by learning from the industry’s brightest and best.
To give us courage – to push boundaries in our own day to day work.
To be truthful about what’s possible – and to recognise when we need to work with partners.
To create a culture of limitless thinking – which translates into benefits for clients.

And that’s why the people who go along to these events don’t just get to sit back, but are active participants – either creating their own reports (like the one below) or getting up on stage themselves to share their expertise.

So without further ado, here’s the round-up from digital marketing conference MKGO, which took place Friday 21st October in the very cool surroundings of MK-7 – the home of Red Bull Racing.

Big thanks to all the speakers and organisers @Aira for having us!

MKGO: top 3 takeaways as voted by StrategiQ:

  • TikTok is rapidly changing the landscape – but SEOs have 20 years of search data to ensure their place at the marketing budget table for years to come.
  • SEO forecasting is a challenge, but get in there and create your own forecast – before others do it for you.
  • Experimentation is key to managing risk. Launch fake products/features to test the appetite for them before blowing large marketing budgets.

Credit: Felipe Diehl

Andi Jarvis, Strategy Director, Eximo Marketing – @andijarvis

Strategy v tactics – which is more importanterer

This intriguingly named session pokes around the oft-held assumption that in marketing, strategies trump tactics. In fact, Andi argues, marketing strategy needs to be “bothism” and needs to include brand building AND sales activation. To put this into context, ask clients: if we were here in a year’s time, how will we get more budget? Ask questions. Force them to build a picture of what they would like if you can’t get a strategy. Then, go into marketing planning. It’s vital to focus on the right metrics – who cares about the strategy or the tactics – if it doesn’t create revenue, then both activities are pointless.

Build the brand but also get sales in.
Tactics are great for testing and learning.

For more on this, check out our post: Are you confusing ‘strategy’ with ‘tactics’?

Robin Lord – Associate Director of Innovation & Strategy, Aira – @RobinLord8

Hi, could you quickly send me a forecast you’ll regret later?

As a SEO, it doesn’t make sense to “forecast” in the same way that an FD does. We can’t completely predict the future, or what will happen to businesses. That said, forecasts never offer guarantees, but are a tool to help in a judgement scenario. Use regression based on traffic, trends and seasonality.

These tools are useful:

  • Tools / Python scripts / Prophet – Facebook / Forecast Forge (Excel)
  • Mixed Media Modelling – Python
  • Cause and Effort – Python
  • Google Sheets – to track and collaborate

Steps to a great forecast:

  • Look at past trends
  • Use tools to give direction of travel
  • Use industry case studies to give steer
  • Layer in keyword growth opportunities
  • Tie sessions to sales
  • Layer in time required by team to work out ROI

Robin Lord takes the stage to explain why SEOs should be selfish when it comes to forecasting

Stephen Pavlovich, Managing Director, Conversion – @pav
Advanced experimentation for fun and profit

In the 1980’s, Macdonald’s launched a pizza to compete against Dominos and Pizza Hut, but it backfired, costing them millions. These days, we can experiment without fear, testing smaller aspects of our product marketing before committing the full budget.

Experimentation is a great way to manage risk. For example, testing the reception to new features before making them widely available. Don’t forget to give it time. A minimum threshold – say 4 weeks – allows you to track traffic and make a call on whether it’s the right decision.

Stephen Pavlovich suggests that controlled advertising of fake products and services is a safe way to assess marketing effectiveness

Hannah Smith, Founder, Worderist – @hannah_bo_banna
Pattern recognition & other stories (or how our brains distort reality)

If you see a campaign that is about beer that gets a lot of links, then you naturally think beer is a great topic to do a digital PR campaign on but beer isn’t the reason why the campaign did well! Pattern matching can be erroneous, and can lead to unsuccessful campaigns. We feel comfortable when we spot a pattern.

False information sticks! Your brain fails to hold onto what you have previously learnt.

Here’s some pointers to help you break ‘pattern recognition’ and in turn make your next campaign more successful:

  • Stories: coverage designed to create discussion / opinions works best; if it’s aligned to current news stories even better.
  • Breaking news – did the piece feed into a wider zeitgeist? Remakes fail when we are unable to recreate the conditions that made it successful last time.
  • Transferring knowledge – conversations generate knowledge; email and pre-recorded videos are not as effective as a chat.
  • Following a process discourages active thinking. The second you create a process, the second it becomes out of date.
  • Have useful reminders dotted around your desk to prompt you to stop you going through the motions.

Hannah Smith and the six pillars of pattern recognition

Eva Cheng, Digital PR Consultant, Evolved Search – @EvaChengPR

How to build relevant links: even if you’re short on time

Relevance is key. A small number of highly relevant links is more powerful than a load of links for links’ sake.

Everyone is creative but in different ways. Try and make it interesting to you personally, expose yourself to creative inspiration, spark conversation, sign up to newsletters, train your brain with change of scenery. Write it down cognitively, also chat and direct messaging.

Tips for link building:

  • buzzsumo for top topics
  • check out competitor activity within ahrefs. Type in competitors and it will show backlinks.
  • Carry out backlink gap analysis – don’t just look at tier 1.
  • Type “research” or “data” into competitors titles

Data sources
Check out forums such as Reddit to gain first hand information. Scrape ‘what people said’ from reviews – you can also scrape hashtags.

Making a plan
Get a mix of colours / personalities / background to push the boundaries of digital PR thinking. Start with bad ideas first, to get them out of the way. Pick a topic and have a laugh to lower boundaries.

Ask people around you who do know the topic if they would like this content. Run each piece through the following strength test:
Can you sell your concept in a few sentences?
Can you cover 3 verticals in this campaign?
Then, sense check to other people in the industry, ask a PR

Be ready
It’s always useful to have a reactive calendar as a backdrop to kickstart campaigns. For example: awareness days, seasonal occurrences, release dates for specific products/reports. You can also:

Match your onsite content to trends
Create a bank of journalists / experts you can call upon when you need them.

Lily Ray, Senior Director, SEO & Head of Organic Research, Amsive Digital – @lilyraynyc

The whirlwind of Google Updates in 2022: what happened and how to respond

Helpful Content Update: what happened?

Significant impact on unhelpful content – Google targeted adult, grammar and lyric sites, as well as content duplicated on two or more sites without fresh context.
The impact was site wide, so even good content could be affected
Didn’t necessarily target AI content
English search only (although other languages to be rolled out in due course)

Product review update: what happened?

This has actually taken the form of around five separate updates.


Do include links to multiple sellers
Page-level if just one page product reviews
Google is leaning on E-A-T principles
Anyone can publish product reviews.

There will be more of these review type updates to come.

September core update: what happened?

Google is getting much better at understanding search intent.

How to react:

  • Review the questions from Google’s documentation then update
  • Cover every intent in the strategy
  • Need to be in all the places, for example TikTok.
  • Takeaway for marketing leaders
  • Entertainment will require different types of content
  • Messaging didn’t kill social, and social didn’t kill search
  • Are LinkedIn and Twitter stagnating?

B2B Content Marketing Investment

  • Videos
  • Events
  • Owned-media assets

The marketing flywheel

Engagement – more engagement – promotion

It’s officially the end of marketing attribution.

For marketing leaders:

  • Regulations benefit major ad networks
  • More serious action again big tech
  • During slow market growth, keep spending minimal. We’re in a rapid growth environment currently. Easy access to capital lends itself to more innovation. Macroeconomics don’t matter so much as this is influenced by the media, but some pull back is expected. Organic investments are usually more aggressive, and are essentially free traffic. Every channel prioritises native content.

Lily Ray gives a great whistlestop tour of all Google’s 2022 updates

Wil Reynolds, Founder, Seer Interactive – @wilreynolds

Do SEOs belong at the TikTok table?

How can SEOs get a seat at the table when everyone in marketing wants to talk about Tiktok? SEO still works but it’s seen as less valuable than 10 years ago due to the rise of social platforms being used as a search engine.

Google has 20 years’ of search data showing the intent behind keywords: so use that data to inform your Tiktok strategy.

If the PPC team is spending ad budget on search results full of image intent, that PPC budget may be wasted, but it won’t stand out next to a carousel of images.

Read what the SERPs are telling you
A heavy image based SERP is a strong indication that you should create Pinterest content for that keyword.
A heavy Youtube based SERP is a strong indication you need to create Tiktok content for that keyword.

What value do SEOs bring to the TokTok chat?

  1. Check whether images are matching Google’s intent by uploading images into Google Vision AI tool and compare the differences.
  2. Use’ People also ask’ (PPA) data to inform thumbnails for TikTok videos.
  3. If you are logged into Tiktok, then more videos will show up in the Google SERP results on mobile.
  4. Use ahefs to find indexed content on your client’s industry by searching the directory /discover/ If you have TikTok videos ranking in the top 50 or youtube videos ranking in the top 10 then the intent is for video and you should create Tiktok videos.
  5. If you are seeing search volume or CTR going down on a SERP featuring video you may be losing searches to TikTok
  6. If scraping Google results, ensure to scrape in mobile to ensure that “visual stories” are found (Mobile only feature).

Wil Reynolds explains how SEOs can use TikTok to inform search strategy

Rand Fishkin, Founder, Sparktoro – @randfish

Digital marketing trends you need to know for 2023

The death of the social networks and rise of the entertainment networks.

The surge in TikTok’s usage has disrupted the market but it’s not currently subject to major regulation like other platforms i.e Facebook are.

There have been various predictions about the death of email or SEO, but rarely anything dies once it’s been adopted into the mainstream.

B2B is also changing, but at a slow pace

On average people use 7.5 social/messaging apps in a month (Hootsuite study). Despite TikTok’s growth, Linkedin and Twitter are still growing. So create a marketing flywheel and work out which channel strategy works best for you.

Apple is now an ad company

Apple makes it more difficult for non Apple ads to track users, whereas Apple’s user experience makes it very easy. This is considered by some as an antitrust signal.

Marketing budgets will be cut during recession

CEO/CMOs are naturally concerned with the current market and are worried about cash flow, so there will be a cut back in spend in some areas.

Platforms won’t let you click out

The goal of platforms such as LinkedIn is to keep you there – so just because people are on there doesn’t mean you should advertise in that space.

Linkedin posts without links get 6 x times more engagement because you aren’t encouraging people to click out. You are better off posting, waiting 24 hours then adding a link via the comments.

Although we lose clicks via organic search, we can gain clicks from the social media platform by creating more branded searches.

Marketing attribution will be harder to track

How can activities like podcasts be tracked? We need to go back to monitoring lift in impression for branded keywords around key marketing campaigns.

Fancy attending events like these – and having your own time in the spotlight? Check out vacancies at StrategiQ.

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