Accessibility was the name of the game this year. For the first time, the entire conference was delivered entirely virtually due to the global pandemic. The price of travel, tickets, and lodging that might have previously been a barrier to some suddenly became accessible to a wider audience worldwide. 

This digital format also meant that everyone in our office got high-quality content this year. MozCon Virtual did not ignore the modern world that we live in today. Speakers drew topical information from current events, movements, and changes both in physical and digital spaces. 

As Dr. Pete Meyers, Marketing Scientist at Moz, addressed the trending desire to return to normal at the beginning of his session on Moving Markets by stating, “Normal isn’t good for a lot of people.” I also hope we never go back to normal but can instead continue to grow, learn, and evolve. From Sarah Bird’s opening statements and state of the industry to a wider representation in Tech spaces, MozCon delivered to a global audience of marketing professionals.   

The Platform

At some point during the conference, everyone had problems with the application interface. Attendees appeared to be pretty understanding about it. Pulling off a virtual event of scale was bound to have a few loading errors. 

After working out that incognito mode in Google Chrome worked best and manually signing back into my Google account with a 29-character password located deep in the depths of LastPass to get to my MozCon access link, it was pretty smooth sailing making session selections and navigating the video content.

The Speakers

I’m looking forward to receiving the video bundle so that I can go back and watch those presenters who I missed. Overall, I found the speakers to be varied, helpful, and clear. I was initially disappointed that the speakers weren’t live, but upon further consideration, this might have caused a whole host of technical issues.

Engaging Sessions

Most importantly, I laughed more than I expected to. Dr. Pete’s Keywords in Crisis examining why the searches for stuffed unicorns were correlating with the number of days spent in quarantine and the steps he took to figure out what was really happening had me going. 

Phil Nottingham, Video Strategist at Phil Nottingham Ltd., calmly told the story of a $2 million mistake. I like to imagine that he was similarly calm while it was happening, but the real world stories and examples based on expert experiences were eye opening and engaging. 

Award-winning Women in Tech

Shannon McGuirk, head of PR and Content for Aria, hit home for me, as she broke down successes, failures, and the middle-of-the-road campaigns that make up the day to day. It was also empowering to see another woman leading the charge on backlinking. 

“We all want to be a part of something,” says Flavilla Fongang, Founder and Brand Strategist of 3 Colors Rule. She can be frequently found on the BBC advising entrepreneurs. 

On a smaller scale, Joy Hawkins, Owner at Sterling Sky, Inc., seamlessly broke down local SEO and strategies for when smaller businesses want to use data to make decisions and navigate the challenges for doing so without thousands of data points. 

Soft(er) Skills to Make or Break Your Business

Dana DiTomaso, President & Partner at Kick Point, and Wil Reynolds, Founder and Director of Digital Strategy at Seer Interactive, spoke regarding different topics, but they demonstrated how a communication breakdown between clients and agency or even CMO to CFO can be detrimental to business or an incredible learning experience. 

In STEM fields, more value is often placed on data while blending client wants, needs, and dreams is seen as a bit on the softer side. MozCon was consciously aware of the difference between these types of skills without diminishing their combined power.

Amazing Animations > Coding for Days

Michael King, Managing Director at iPullRank, actually animated his entire presentation into a dynamic, slightly unnerving,  and aesthetically pleasing dystopian flick to teach Javascript concepts in Digital SEO. I was slightly lost but couldn’t look away. 

The more code-heavy sessions were a bit outside of my developing skill set. If I could have changed anything, it would have been a clearer classification and description of applicable skills delivered in each session so that I could make the best choices on my own agenda. 

The Schedule

One benefit to the virtual conference is that a video bundle will be sent to all attendees. I’ll still be able to see the sessions I missed later. I often felt as though I was forced to choose between two presentations I wanted to see.

I do feel as though the schedule could have been designed better. Day two began with a bit too much Python in the early morning for my tastes, and I definitely could have skipped out on sessions featuring managing larger data sets. My coding experience entails barely scraping by Python 101 in university 10 years ago, and I feel like I would have made different choices in regards to choosing anything about Javascript if it were clearly noted on the agenda.

Birds of a Feather & Networking

Virtual networking is never going to be like the real thing. The energy in the room isn’t there, the speakers are pre-recorded, and I was wearing pajamas all day. That being said, the speakers were all incredibly present in the live chats to answer questions, during the breakout “Birds of a Feather” Zoom sessions that were initially limited to 50 people, and whether it’s virtually or in person, it’s pretty cool to chat with professionals from around the world who might otherwise scroll past your LinkedIn request. 

While I’m sure the personal aspect to MozCon of years past was missed by regular attendees, the merits to the virtual version were certainly appreciated by many more people around the globe. Perhaps whenever the event returns to an in-person Seattle convention, a virtual component can still remain a purchasable option so that, no matter your time zone, as Cyrus Shepard, SEO Strategist at Zyppy, said, “Grab your coffee… or cocktail… and we’ll get started!”