The Turing Festival 2017 – Our Review

10 August 2017

In Church Hall If Wet

I bought my tickets months and months in advance. One for me, one for my wife, Iona, and one for my nephew, Kyle, who lives with us.

It’s going to be his first ever rock concert. He’s still discovering what kind of music he likes and Green Day at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow seems like a good starting point to discover if you like live music with a fun, slightly poppy, punk-rock band. He knows a few of the songs, too, so he’s looking forward to it. His favourite song is American Idiot, which makes it perhaps a little ironic that the date of the concert itself is the U.S. Independence Day. A climax to the set of thousands of Scots singing American Idiot seems inevitable!

green day

“Don’t wanna be a rain soaked American”

We wake up on the morning of Tuesday, 4th July, and it’s been raining. It was a bit heavy overnight, but nothing unusual for Central Scotland, and it’s died down now anyway. The forecast isn’t for any more significant rain, perhaps a little drizzle in the morning. Noting this, we dress accordingly. With gates due to open at 2pm, we set off to arrive in Glasgow and get lunch at 1pm before heading over to Bellahouston.

Earlier in the year, I had broken my wrist playing football, and after an operation and some time struggling to operate the rest of my life with one hand, I was finally beginning to return to a semblance of normality. Consequently, I was on driving duties, while Iona and Kyle were on get-hyped-up-for-the-concert duties on Facebook and Twitter.

Ten minutes before we arrive in Glasgow the rumours start to spread on Twitter. The whole concert has been cancelled. The weather means the stage won’t be safe. This unusually wet, no-way-to-predict, out of character Scottish weather has defeated the greatest technical minds in rock music festival logistics. It seems unlikely, so we decide to go on to lunch anyway and keep an eye on the news.

Glasgow in the rain

A typical sunny day in Glasgow

By the time we are at Coia’s in Glasgow’s East End, it is confirmed. Kyle isn’t getting to see Green Day after all. Needless to say, he is unimpressed. At least he retained the good sense to restrain his vocabulary in the presence of his Aunt and Uncle. Better than his f*$&ing Uncle, anyhow.

When I got a week’s notice that I had a hospital appointment to check progress on my wrist on the same day as this year’s Full Stack Marketing day at the Turing festival, weirdly, I think I got the same sense of let down that Kyle felt about Green Day. Granted, I’ve been to FSM at Turing for the last few years, so it’s not quite the same. Also, these are marketers, not punk-rockers, so it really isn’t the same. Regardless, my marketing-nerd, punk ego decided it must be.

So this year, as I sit to write my annual review of Full Stack Marketing, I have to do so by proxy. We sent almost everyone in the digital marketing team to one day or the other at Turing, so as a team we really learned a lot, and got to expand our horizons. Personally, I wish I could have been there, rather than being stuck miles away pulling on and yanking at my wrist in order to loosen it up. Behave yourself, that’s not how it sounds.

I asked the team to note their favourite talks, and give me a quick review to share with you all via the blog. So here we are. With thanks to Josh, Amy, Jason and Zuri, here is the best of the Turing Festival 2017. Luckily, the weather was good.

Josh Lohr

Our Head of SEO – Josh


What Happens When An ‘SEO Guy’ Starts Doing PPC?

Wil Reynolds is by far one of my favourite speakers and was unsurprisingly my favourite of Turing 2017. If you don’t know Wil already, I highly recommend you get familiar with he and his team’s blog at Seer Interactive. I follow it religiously, which covers a wealth of digital marketing topics in a seriously actionable way. You’ll always go away with something valuable after spending time on their blog.

Wil Reynolds kicked off day two with a bang. It was the kind of jolt the audience needed at 930am on a rainy Edinburgh Thursday to start the day off strong, and to set the bar high for all following speakers. Wil’s talk, “What Happens When An ‘SEO Guy’ Starts Doing PPC?”, focused on his mantra to “go where the money is.” He pointed to the fact that while PPC tends to send less traffic than SEO, clients care much more about PPC because they often spend ten times their budget on PPC vs SEO. You’ve always got a client’s attention with PPC, whereas SEO can fall on deaf ears at times. This doesn’t, however, minimise the value or impact of SEO, noting that Wil is an SEO by trade, rather that you can use both disciplines to inform and improve the performance of the other.

Wil Reynolds

Wil says to market to people differently

He furthered the support for his mantra outlining how there are massive gains to be made off the backs of poor decisions made in paid search, stating “that’s how Google builds self-driving cars, off of dumb PPC marketers.” He illustrated how paid search landing pages often did a poor job of answering the query they bid on, citing how marketers are not paying attention to user search intent or analysing the search results themselves. One search in particular that he hammered home was how searchers using keywords that include “best” are typically looking for comparison results and not a single result. Wil recommended that you give the people what they want and build a comparison landing page for those queries. “If people are searching for comparisons, give them comparisons, not forms to funnels”

Comparing CRMs

Building on how PPC marketers are not aligning search intent with search results pages, he highlighted how marketers will also find super valuable clues for content and search intent by using the related searches at the bottom of SERPs. In addition, he recommended mining the “People also ask” section that often appears in search results and how those are a “goldmine” for keyword and content ideas. Both “People also ask” and related searches can help your content answer what questions your reader will ask next for content strategy. Going one step further, Wil then illustrated how to analyse the performance of your landing pages, recommending that you take a close look at scroll depth in Google Analytics to see if people are engaging with your content. If the depth is poor, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

Later in the “Rand and Wil Show,” a separate session in which Wil Reynolds and the founder of Moz, Rand Fishkin, sat down for a Q&A session, Wil reminded us that Voice Search is still in its infancy by answering his own rhetorical question: “Who’s an expert at voice search? No one.” It’s reassuring to hear a leading voice in our industry talk about how it’s early days with Voice Search, a fiery hot topic in search at the moment, and that we’re all still working to get our heads around how this new search behaviour is going to truly impact both paid and natural search.

If you ever have a chance to catch Wil Reynolds speak, even if the topic is not totally up your alley, don’t miss him. You won’t regret it.

Amy King

Inbound Exec – Amy


404 creativity not found

All ideas are good ideas, even the ones that are rubbish – that’s what Lisa Myers thinks, anyway.

From the twoaster (a toaster that prints your tweets on your breakfast) to adding condoms to your order when you’re getting a pizza delivery at the weekend, there’s a spark of genius in every idea. Undoubtedly, her biggest message from her session, How to Make Your Wishlist Piece of Coverage Come True was this: Don’t be afraid to fail.

She champions the belief that if you don’t explore, you won’t discover, and pushes this into every aspect of her SEO agency, Verve Search. She emphasised the importance of entertaining every idea because you don’t know where it will lead you. We are often restricted by our fear of failure

Her ethos is something we replicate in Storm when we are creating content strategies. We begin by collecting every idea, good or “bad”, and then investigate the possibilities they present. It’s not uncommon to find that the most outlandish ideas spur more opportunities for great pieces of content than the safer ones.

Over-investment was another business choice she stressed as being vital for success. Urging us to make like Pixar and “create your own RenderMan”, she believes that by over-investing in the technology and the talent early, you’ll be in a much stronger position to revisit ideas and approaches that may not be available to you if you haven’t invested in those resources. Technology can be templated, tweaked and reused to serve a multitude of purposes and content ideas. Ideas that were discarded for one strategy may fit another after some finessing. We need to harness our creativity and accept every idea, at least initially, if we are to have any hope in creating that magical piece of content that sparks a discussion.

Emotions play a big role in content creation, too. While data can be considered the pillars of a campaign, its foundations must lie in emotional appeal. With the daily noise we’re subjected to online and off, it has become increasingly important that content connects with audiences on an emotional level if it is going to succeed. Verve Search’s work with Expedia Sweden, and others have all played on an emotional connection – be that curiosity, wanderlust or nostalgia – and resulted in emotional responses that gained traction across a variety of platforms and ultimately achieved the strategic goals that had been set.

Reinforcing the idea that SEO and content are a symbiotic pair, Lisa Myers proved an enigmatic presenter with some great ideas for harnessing individual potential, crafting SEO-driven content and proving that great ideas can blossom from terrible ones (although I’m not sure what great idea can come from a twoaster except the toast).

Jason Hope

Digital Marketing Exec – Jason


All the Things You Need When You Want Great Design

I really enjoyed the talk by Jane Austin, Director of Design and UX at MOO, taking us through ‘All the Things You Need When You Want Great Design’.

Underlying Jane’s presentation was one central theme: unity. Effective collaboration within your organisation is the key to success.

She stated, “You need to work with your team to ideate, to create solutions, and for them to observe the research together, and wash up together, so you have a shared understanding.”

Jane used the example of a three-legged stool to highlight that without all three legs the stool would not be able to stand. It was easy to see the point Jane was trying to make in terms of ensuring all necessary members of your team are involved in relevant projects.

A few slides later and Jane got down to showing us her case studies. An example that I particularly found engaging, was to do with business cards. Jane explained that they had been flooded with customers complaining to MOO about the sizes of cards not being what they were expecting despite it clearly being written on the page what the size of the card was. To find a way around this, a clever use of imagery was employed, showing real life examples of the cards by placing them next to everyday objects for comparison. After seeing the before and after it really was quite amazing just how useful this change was.

Without offering anything that seemed new or innovative, Jane still managed to get us to think about how common sense solutions can solve everyday problems in design.

Zuri Fernandez

Digital Marketing Exec – Zuri


Rosemary King – @RozemaryKing

Playing to Learn: How Understanding the Function That Play Has in Learning Can Impact Our Products and Organisations For the Better

Rosemary strongly believes in the power of play. She thinks that the way we learn originates in the way we play which has a big impact on who we are and encouraged all of us in the room to never stop playing and engaging in playful thinking.
She gave us some tips to generate creative environments in our offices:

  1. Don’t be a bully – It’s vital to create space for people to have freedom to play and let them play.
  2. Open doors and keep them open – It’s important that the different teams don’t work in silos. Just because you’re a designer doesn’t mean you can’t participate in a technical discussion.
  3. Take time to go down rabbit holes – Our attention span keeps plummeting so we really need to give ourselves time to get into the flow so we can come up with innovative concepts.

Are you ready to start playing? Great things might come from it, be aware!

Purna Virji – @purnavirji

Marketing in a Conversational World: How to Get Discovered, Delight Your Customers and Earn the Conversion

Purna is a senior training manager for Bing Ads and came to Turing to talk about AI and its potential. Although her talk was a bit too Bing-specific, there were a few interesting points she made.

“Goodbye to interruptions and hello to conversations”

The way we consume technology has changed and the way we get our products or services in front of potential customers needs to adjust to those changes. Traditional marketing is a one too many conversations but bots give us the option to change that conversation to one to one, allowing marketers to tailor that conversation to each individual.

Same as it happens with apps, the issue with bots is at the discovery stage but once you get them out there, they can help you start conversations so you can focus on your potential clients’ needs.

Purna stressed the importance of thinking beyond websites and moving from the “buy now!” to a friendlier “what do you need now?” putting users’ needs first. She shared with us an ad that really got my attention where the CTA was “talk to a stylist” directing people to a chatbot. Something we’d definitely like to try with some of our clients!

Fancy giving it a go yourself? Find out more about bots at

In conclusion

As always, the team found the Turing Festival very informative. These conferences are a useful exercise not only in broadening one’s knowledge, but also in validating your own observations, and in getting a sense of the consensus of knowledge in the industry. Every year, the Turing Festival proves to be well worth attending. Scotland truly has a digital conference of which the rest of Europe can be envious.

Oh, and we bought tickets for Half Man Half Biscuit, so Kyle will get to go to a gig I’m convinced he’s going to enjoy.




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