ThinkVis September 2012 Round Up

Julia Ogden 8 years ago

Thinkvis, one of the most popular digital marketing conferences on the UK calendar, kicked of once again this weekend in style with a host of top speakers lined up to share advice on everything from post penguin link building to content marketing and back again.

Zazzle's own Simon Penson was one of those chosen to entertain and inform audiences and his deck and other highlights can be found below as we run through the best of Thinkvis September 2012...

Kick Off

Thinkvis was kicked off at 10am by its own tzar Dom Hodgson, who kindly explained the schedule, pointed out where the fire exits were, and mentioned State of Search at least 17 times in 3 sentences! And it was for good reason too as opening the event was none other than the site's founder and regular speaker, Bas van den Beld...

Bas Van Den Beld – Subconscious Marketing: What and How

Bas provided some interesting information about how the human mind works, with some great real life analogies and actionable take-aways:

Tradition – People like things that are constant. They trust what others say – if stories are told often enough and people believe them they become fact and it becomes the truth.

Serendipity – If it feels right it must be right

Rituals – People like rituals, they give us comfort, and are relatively easy to create.  Collecting is a ritual, and Bas provided the example of Panini sticker collecting.  His son wanted to find a particular sticker, so Bas spent hundreds of pounds in a shop he didn’t particularly like in order to find it.

Trust - We trust and rely on the people around us when it comes to choices.  People don’t make decisions without thinking about other people’s opinions first.  If you want to persuade somebody to do something, persuade the people around them too. Google circles is all about figuring out which circles people trust in which capacity.  We want what other people have – learn from children.  Key to this is to get the right influencers on board.

Word of mouth - we want people to talk about our stuff – if people are talking about it, people will trust it.  It’s OK to talk about your own brand, but better if someone else does.  We are very open to peer pressure.

People will buy things they don’t need if they think they are getting better value for money or getting a better deal.  What we want is not always what we need.

Authority – People believe authority as they feel like best friends. We trust the opinions of authorities.  This is why celebs are used in advertising as we feel like we know them.

Google – shows authorities and pictures of people we trust.  If we trust the author/pic we are more likely to click the link.

Exclusivity - makes us feel special – Packaging makes a big difference to how we feel about a brand.  Coffee served in a china mug makes us feel much better, and the coffee tastes better, than in a paper cup.

Personalise - We like things to be personalised, it makes us feel special and good.

95% of our thought, emotions and learning occur without our conscious awareness.

Click and Mix Tip - Give away (free) things to save. Give away free stuff = people come back and collect your stuff.  People will talk about this with others.  People are like sheep!

Click and Mix Tip – Show customers what other people bought (Amazon do this well)

Click and Mix Tip – Let people sponsor charity with candy.  It will give people the feeling that you are doing a good deed, and therefore they are doing a good deed

Click and Mix Tip – think about your offers.

Click and Mix Tip – Find your influencers and use them. Who is writing about your specific topic? Target them and ask them to write about you and support your brand/company.

Click and Mix Tip – Write from a prospective client perspective.  Try to trigger people’s emotions when writing.

Also on the agenda was Distilled's finest Hannah Smith....

Hannah Smith.  Content Marketing - Beyond the Bullshit

A particular highlight of our time at Think Vis was listening to Hannah Smiths talk, which provided a refreshing insight into a successful content marketing department, and what happens when things don’t quite go according to plan…

Content marketing = creation of profitable relationships with customers via content.

Hannah explained how agencies are experiencing a failure to communicate with their clients.  Content should be supporting a brands positioning, as when this happens remarkable content is created.

She has had particular success with images that curate existing content, which can be found disparately over the web.  To get an idea of what people are talking about, or for content ideas she uses a tool called Boomerang.

When you trade high volumes of links for great content, the client will love it.  Happy client = more pay cheques.  Don’t just create content for links, the value of great content far exceeds the value of one link hidden within poor content.

Content Marketing is not just for link building, and is definitely not free or cheap!

Other methods for creating great content include:

Enlisting the help of brand advocates

Guest Blogging

Placing great content all over a site, not just within the blog.

Providing great product descriptions that talk about how the product will make you feel.

Making FAQ pages awesome.  If people are reading an FAQ page, they are inches away from buying.

If you build it they will come – There will be a point where you don’t need to try so hard, but initially effort needs to be made.  Spend as much time on outreach as you have creating the content (more if possible)

Ask for peoples feedback about the content you create; they will feel involved in the process and will be more likely to host it.

Align your objectives with your boss/other departments – you will make more money.

She was followed in the main room by the effervescent Chelsea Blacker and her talk on link building post-penguin...

Chelsea Blacker – What types of links to buy/acquire post penguin.

Chelsea kicked off her talk with a picture of a dead penguin. The penguin is dead – Who were the winners and losers following the epic penguin battle?

Chelsea explained how she had spent several weeks mining data to establish the facts.

Which types of links did well?

Which types of anchor texts did well?

She came up with the following conclusions:


Winners have significantly less backlinks than losers

Winners had a higher % of news links

Winners had fewer links from blogs

Winners had a higher % of links from other places, like social.

  • Blogs are not the only answer
  • Mix it up – think creatively
  • Quality news articles – All news is good news

Anchor Text

Winners had only 1% more links from anchor text

Winners had fewer links from ‘other’ places

Winners had higher % of branded links

Winners had 0% of product specific links

Winners had 10% more links from images

  • Build a brand
  • Image links are the hidden gem
  • Over optimisation is too obvious

Killer content will beat penguin (and all other creatures) every time. This will become an increasingly valued tool as we move forward.

Here's the deck:

It was then then the turn of Zazzle's own Simon Penson and his presentation on content strategy and planning.

Simon Penson - Brands as Publishers and the power of Great Ideas

The talk kicked off sharing some of the reasons why having a content strategy was going to be key moving forwards, explaining how all mass media platforms have evolved in the same way, concentrating first on technology but then on content over the long term.

Highlights included:

The sharing of Zazzle's own content planner > for a copy email us info(at)

An explanation of how to generate killer ideas by utlising tools and structure to ensure they can be delivered over the long term.

A step by step of how magazine's plan their covers and how that strategy can make idea creation easier.

A guide as to how to split your audiences down into specific personas so you can then create ideas specific to their needs. The deck can be found below:


CharlotteBritton also spoke about using WordPress to create communities....

Charlotte Britton - Creating a Community within WordPress

Tips included...

  • Create content that appeals to your specific audience.
  • Create content that your users want to hear, not what you want to tell them.
  • A community must be planned from step 1. Build your entire business model around it.
  • Research all niche markets within your industry and appeal to them.
  • Useful WordPress Community Plugins are Your Members, S2 Members, Buddypress
  • Use recent news within the industry and visitors will come.
  • Don't build up your community resources too fast. Start with a blog, when the blog is a maximum capacity, start a forum etc.
  • Optimising WordPress is essential for the experience of your community.
  • Cache plugins are your best friend
  • Invest in the best server you can afford
  • Skills Needed to create an online community
  • Development Skills
  • Content Writers
  • Moderators
  • Social Media
  • SEOs
  • Continual Flow of content on the site is key.
  • Do not ignore optimising your site for mobile users. Up to 50% of your users will be using it.

Andy Barr from 10 Yetis entertained the crowds with Shit my SEO says...

Sneaky Tips PRs don’t want you to know.

  1. Only 2 good wires worth publishing on: and
  2. Good Prs make it easy for themselves
  3. The sell in is more important than the release writing
  4. Learn from experienced journos freelancers
  5. Face to face relationships still key.
  6. Nothing really goes viral anymore.

Most recent stories that seemed to go viral had a decent traditional PR push.

Shit Tips about PR tactics

  1. Use
  2. Add keyword to press releases
  3. Use the same content for wires and journos.
  4. Adding more images
  5. Using long links
  6. People saying “How can we make this go viral”
  7. Blatantly asking for links
  8. Going to bloggers first and expect journalists to cover the story simply because of the hype.


Paul Rogers - SEO’s Guide to Magento Commerce....

  • Magento was purchased by ebay last year
  • Check the basics
    • Check your headers. Magneto uses the h1 tag for the logo by default.
    • Check your redirects, by default they are set to 302.
    • Turn on auto redirects
    • Cross sell your products and avoid 404s.
    • Reducing 404s on a site does impact rankings, especially if it is a huge site with many 404s to fix.
    • Use canonicalization to fix the famous trailing slash problem in Google.
    • Remove “/catalogsearch/” from search results. Do URL removal request in webmaster tools also.
    • Removing unneeded, dynamic pages and traffic can increase considerably.
    • Be careful with internal links. To many of them on several products can trigger over optimisation penalties.
    • Magento sitemaps are crap. Use mageworx sitemap module instead.
    • Keep an eye on review pages. They can lead to thin content and panda penalties if not monitored properly.
    • Tools to speed up Magento
      • JPEG mini
      • Minimise CSS and JS
      • Use Mod_Pagespeed
      • Full page caching
    • Use rel=prev and rel=next for pagination issue. Use Magento SEOPack to implement this.
    • Schema markup
      • Very important to mark up price to increase click through.
    • Magento has a built in module to create phone apps and a mobile site. Use it.
And if you attended and had a top takeaway you would like to share please get involved below and leave it in the comments section!
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