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Digital Summit Denver | The State of Digital Marketing

The only thing that remains consistent in the world of marketing is that it’s always changing. At Think Better, we're always trying to stay on top of the latest trends and new technologies, so we jumped at the chance to exchange ideas with hundreds of fellow marketers at the Digital Summit in Denver earlier this month. For two days we had the opportunity to rub elbows with industry leaders from across the nation and brainstorm new ideas of how we can improve our own marketing efforts.

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From its humble beginnings, much like digital marketing in general, Digital Summit has been expanding rapidly. This year the keynote speakers included bigs names such as comedian, author, and producer, Chelsea Handler, founder of Moz and SparkToro, Rand Fishkin, founder of the Onion, Scott Dikkers, and from Amazon, Dave Isbitski. Break-out sessions were led by industry-leading companies like Marketo, MailChimp, Netflix, and LinkedIn.

Above the hum of excitement, we would often hear hot topic words like “authenticity,” “multi-channel strategy,” and “storytelling.” Robert Rose of the Content Marketing Institute led an insightful session on the business of storytelling, and how at its core, storytelling and brand messages are well crafted, entertaining, and ultimately convincing arguments. He also stressed the importance of authenticity, a topic that Chelsea Handler focused on in her keynote interview with Mike Albanese. Rand Fishkin drove home that wherever your brand is located, that it’s representing your unique message and that YOU need to be part of the conversation.

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Many speakers, like Mathew Sweezey of Salesforce, stressed the importance of cross-departmental collaboration. The best organizations out there have a marketing strategy that works across the company, sales, customer support, development, product, etc. But, for marketing to have impact across the company, there must be buy in from leadership.

Overall, one theme appeared in every corner of the event: the full customer experience. Marketing has never been so complex. It’s not as easy to compete as it was before; you have to work much harder for wins. From the first moment when a customer learns about your brand all the way through the sale and into long-term customer status, marketing is responsible for the entire life-cycle. Marketing is everywhere and always on. Not only is marketing responsible for every stage of the customer lifecycle, but we also must be in every place, using dozens of channels.

To add to the complexity, we’re seeing an increase in the number of impression and engagement required for someone to actually engage with your brand. In a session called 5-Steps to Lifecycle Success with Menaka Scroff of Google, we learned that the number of touches required before a prospect takes action has increased to twelve in the last couple of years. To get the attention of a prospect, you must be using a variety of channels and turning up your frequency.

However, unlike the early days of digital and social media, the environment has become more pay-to-play. For example, when Facebook pages first launched, there was a relatively equal distribution of content from individuals and brands being delivered. Now brands struggle to get their organic social content to reach even a sliver of their followers. While Google doesn’t admit that they reward advertisers with better search results, any marketer who manages paid search knows otherwise. Traditional SEO is still important, but you’ll see better organic results if you support the efforts with paid advertising.

So what’s next? While the idea of optimizing for mobile isn’t new, it’s increasingly important, especially as targeting becomes more sophisticated and the number of touch points with a prospect are increasing. Erin Everhart from Homedepot mentioned that mobile advertising and personalization based on location and geo-fencing are becoming more accessible to all marketers and are a great way to advertise time-bound, location-based offers.

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Our last big takeaway from the Digital Summit Denver wasn’t a tactical tip or a new tool, but instead an important reminder. Scott Dikkers, of the Onion, reminisced during his keynote on the outrageous and out-of-the-box tactics he used to get his business off the ground. With almost no money, fueled by passion, he enlisted other outcasts to help build his satirical publication, ultimately creating a bullet-proof team who shared his vision.

Between dodging legal battles and angry politicians, Scott has never veered from his brands’ roots and continues to carry on his brand’s authentic message.

His story reminds us that no strategy, tactic, or channel can beat raw passion and hard work.

 

 

Susan Evans