9 Insights from Digital Summit Detroit 2016
Digital Summit Detroit is only in its second year but has already established itself as a premier regional conference for digital marketing professionals. Allan, Valerie and Joel from our digital marketing team attended the event last week, and they were excited to share what they learned.
— Allan Dunlap (@AllanD_93) October 11, 2016
Allan, digital marketing coordinator, was hoping Digital Summit Detroit would provide him with some new tactics he could use for current and upcoming client projects. He mostly attended deep-dive sessions for different topics, channels and features, and these were his biggest takeaways:
1. Marketers are now responsible for the entire user experience.
There was a time when marketers only had to focus on crafting a message that fit the brand they were representing. Today’s marketers have a much greater responsibility. The message is only one of many pieces that marketers work with to do their jobs. With the number of digital touch-points constantly increasing, there is much more data and many new methods of tracking available, but this also adds more layers of complexity to every strategy.
Modern marketers must think holistically about the experience they are creating. Thinking of each step of the journey from the moment it starts until the last step the user takes is essential for success. The message will be shaped by what the user’s experience will be at every stage of the journey, and marketers must be ready to engage users on all of these channels.
2. Be aware of what might be an obstacle to a user.
Michael Barber, in his session on friction points, challenged the audience to be familiar with every step of the user journey and be aware of what might be an obstacle to the user experience. Good digital marketers know that things like too many ads or pop-up messages can turn off users, but are those the only things that hinder users? Brands should be intimately familiar with the user journey they have built and be on the lookout for obstacles that are preventing users from their desired goals.
In the same way that poorly placed items can be a hindrance to the customer journey, well-placed items can be used as enhancements. Marketers who are on the lookout for obstacles should also keep their eyes open for ways they can enhance the customer experience. While certain things may not be an obstacle, they might be more valuable when used in a different way. Making a strategy the best it can be does not just mean removing obstacles but using everything to its full potential.
3. Culture defines how a team solves problems.
Aziz Hasan and Cliff Seal discussed the relationship between culture and problem solving during the roundtable on UX and design trends. A well-defined culture is necessary for determining how an organization reacts to situations. Problems are not always a bad thing; they are simply a part of the path to success, and teams must be prepared to respond.
Culture implies a sense of community. It is essential that team members work together, know their roles (although should not be afraid to step outside of their comfort zone when appropriate), and familiarize themselves with the resources they have available. Problem solving is a team effort, and methods should be collaborative and non-judgmental.
Valerie, marketing specialist, went into Digital Summit Detroit hoping to gain a broader understanding of integrated and content marketing. She mostly attended sessions focused on content and marketing strategy, and these were her biggest takeaways:
1. Content Marketing is an art and a science.
Content marketing is a fast-growing way to market your company, but it’s definitely not a quick fix for a poor marketing strategy. Melissa Joy Kong, in her session on maximizing content marketing’s potential, emphasized the need to put time into developing quality content. Audiences can tell when content is low quality and unhelpful, and they are likely to turn away from it with an overall negative view of your company.
But if content is an art, then it also has to be accompanied with a solid, mathematically sound conversion strategy. If your landing page isn’t optimized for achieving your specific goals (or worse, it doesn’t have any specific goals), then you’re practically wasting your time on content. Setting up the page to convert takes a bit of work, but tools like Bounce Exchange and OptinMonster can help. Spending time here is the key to an effective content strategy.
2. Good marketing starts with analytics.
It’s so easy to focus on telling great stories that sometimes we writers don’t want to do the hard work of finding out what our customers want to hear about. We can’t rely on gut feelings about our audience, because usually those gut feelings are informed by what we personally like.
Jessica Williams, in her session on using social intelligence data, explained how Visa found what two of their most valuable audiences – small business owners and affluent customers – wanted to hear her company talk about. Using that data, Visa was able to craft a content marketing campaign for small business owners that has led to a radical change in the way small business owners view Visa.
3. Tracking success is complicated but important.
Because content marketing is about building a relationship with a potential customer, it can be hard for marketers to make the case that the investment is worth it. C-Suite executives don’t want to hear about how many times a piece of content was shared on Facebook; they want to see an improvement in ROI.
Dan Roden, in his session on utilizing metrics, said that tracking the success of content means tracking people’s interactions with every piece of content through the entire sales process. Google Analytics and other tools provide access to some of this data, but the most critical component is working with other departments in your organization. Although it may take some time to set up the process (potentially through multiple systems and CRMs), putting in the work will pay dividends in understanding the effectiveness of marketing strategy.
— Joel Heckaman (@JHeckaman) October 11, 2016
Joel, senior digital specialist, wanted to use Digital Summit Detroit to get more familiar with data intelligence. He mostly attended sessions focused on web analytics and business strategies, these were his biggest takeaways:
1. Everything you know is just the tip of an iceberg.
Facebook, Twitter, Google, WordPress, and pretty much any publishing, listening or tracking platform includes a dashboard or download to show off a wide array of metrics. However, even the most simple looking charts and tables are hardly simple.
Lisa Richardson of Perficient Digital, in her session on creativity in an era of data, showed some incredible uses but also some major limitations for bots and Big Data. Our value as digital marketers lies in knowing what’s “under the hood,” so that we can identify the right information, know what’s happening when things go wrong, and come up with the creative solutions that robots and algorithms can’t provide.
2. Every project is an all-hands-on-deck project.
The importance of communication applies to the human workplace as well. Digital marketing is becoming increasingly integrated with more and more functions of business and technology, and success hinges not on knowing everything but knowing enough. Reaching out to the right expert and being able to communicate effectively is often more important than being able to accomplish everything independently.
Large-scale projects, such as a website redesign or branding update, are obviously enhanced when everyone in the organization has an opportunity for input. But smaller projects can benefit from this as well. Digital marketing is a large, complicated, constantly growing field of work, and there are usually several correct answers to any problem or challenge. Reaching out to coworkers, colleagues, and mentors for feedback can often shine light on new tactics, opportunities, or even ways of thinking.
3. As much as everything changes, it really doesn’t.
As social and digital channels continue to grow and digital marketers are expected to know more deeply about more options, knowing how to tell a story is still the most important skill. Consumers are accustomed to the pervasiveness of marketing, and they will only have higher expectations that branded content will be presented in interesting ways that feel natural. This means understanding the medium, audience, message, timing and more, but all of this is only context for what really matters — the story.
At the end of the day, marketing is still about connecting humans to information and, ultimately, other humans. As Seth Godin focused on in his opening keynote, brands gain strength by building trust with their followers. Every purchase is a decision based on a lifetime of experiences, and brands that know how to connect with their unique audience will be the ones to set themselves apart.