The second annual Digital Marketing Summit kicked off yesterday, May 9th, at the Cobb Galleria Centre just north of Atlanta, GA. This year, the Digital Marketing Summit brought in over 75 speakers from various digital agencies, including social media, web design, and online marketing, to help educate and grow our community. Each of the presenters brought it this year and I’m pleased to provide the highlights of those sessions I was fortunate enough to sit in on!
Keynote Address – Alexis Maybank, Gilt Groupe Founder & CEO
Alexis Maybank kicked off our event with her presentation entitled, The Future of Shopping is Now. Founder and CEO of the wildly successful Gilt Groupe shopping website, Alexis provided a ton of tips for aspiring and seasoned entrepreneurs on how to grow a business and leverage various marketing outlets to fully promote your brand. Alexis started off with some staggering statistics about Gilt Groupe to put their explosive growth into perspective:
- Since launching in 2007, Gilt has grown to over 5 million registered users
- Each day, the site records over 400,000 unique visitors
- 15,000 packages are shipped every day
- Gilt turns over their inventory 150 times per week
A recurring theme throughout the keynote, Alexis encouraged entrepreneurs to consider alternative business and marketing strategies to help differentiate themselves from the competition. Most notably, Alexis called for a departure from the traditional eCommerce model and an embrace of the lifestyle-driven model that Gilt has been able to capitalize on so successfully. Build a shopping engine that is not just reliable and convenient but also addictive and fun. Look for ways to leverage the virality of online shopping and encourage users to discover new products that they want (even if they don’t necessarily need them).
She continued to preach a predictive commerce model driven by data and utilizing customization, personalization, and CRM to build and grow the user base. Data capture is key (and always has been)! Use the data provided by your users to tailor marketing and other communications that lead people through the funnel toward conversion. The goal of predictive commerce is to get your users to sit back and say, “Wow, Gilt knows me!”
The advent of mobile has had a profound impact on eCommerce in general, and Gilt was no exception. In as little as one year, the revenue from mobile devices shifted from 0 to 30% of their overall revenue on weekdays, and a whopping 40% of revenue on weekends. According to Alexis, the goal of optimizing for mobile is to drive incremental revenue by providing members a way to shop where they are and to attract new members. She provides 3 tips for pursuing mobile marketing in our current day in age:
- Design for each device
- Optimize for weekends and “downtime”
- Speed, scale, and stability matter
Mobile is no longer an add-on or afterthought of marketing but its own distinct channel that must be acknowledged as such in order to get full advantage from the medium.
Alexis left us with some final thoughts that apply to any business, large or small, that is looking to make significant inroads into the digital marketing landscape:
- Focus on what you can do online that you can’t do offline.
- There is no success roadmap for marketers or brands. Experiment!
- Don’t expect immediate payback rom investments in social. Social is about 100 small things, no one big push.
- Just because you open a store doesn’t mean they’ll come. Give them a reason to come – and find a way to go to them.
- Convenience and reliability aren’t enough anymore. Make it fun & keep it new.
You can connect with Alexis on Twitter at @giltfounder.
Panel Discussion – Using Data to Guide your Organization
As a data junkie of the highest (well, maybe not highest but I’m up there!) degree, I couldn’t resist a panel that discussed data-driven decision-making throughout large organizations. The panel, moderated by Lance Weatherby of Half Off Depot, was made up of the following:
- Brianne Keating Forst – Director of eCommerce, Plow & Hearth
- Scott Hue – Sr. Manager, Banking Advisory Services, Ernst & Young
- Michael Wolfe – Sr. Director, “The Worth” Modeling Group, BBDO
Scott started off with 3 of the most profound words of the panel: Marketers love data. We all love the ability to slice and dice our information and draw actionable insights from quantitative data. And nowadays marketers are forced to put data analysis to work to not only show but prove the ROI of our marketing efforts.
In the end, this comes down to defining and supporting a positive cost per acquisition in order to justify your marketing budget. And that leads me to one of my favorite quotes from Day One of the Digital Summit (from Michael):
Marketing isn’t a cost. Marketing is an investment.
Michael is spot on here and data is the strongest tool we have for ensuring that we turn this investment into a positive return for our clients.
Next, I was personally very pleased when Brianne mentioned multi-channel attribution as a holistic approach for analyzing the overall impact of your marketing dollars because, to her point, in the digital age a conversion rarely comes from only one touch point. Attribution modeling allows marketers to see the whole picture and adjust our strategies (and our budget allocation) appropriately.
Another key point that Scott touched on was the visualization of data, which can be a tremendous asset when speaking with C-Level executives about the impact of this data on the business.
He also called for marketers to understand and be able to explain the difference between causation and correlation, to which I had only one response…
Thank God! For many marketers, these words are used interchangeably and as a result we’re limited in our ability to legitimately analyze and draw conclusions from our data. And thanks to Twitter I know I’m not alone in this sentiment:
The panel concluded with a brief overview of sentiment analysis through data, encouraging marketers to use data to understand the impact of how their brand is perceived and spread by the consumers themselves. The most poignant quote, and what I will leave you with, again came from Michael:
When people say something bad about your brand it has 4-5 times the impact as when someone says something good.
Reputation management is essential folks, in marketing moreso than almost any other channel.
Online Advertising Jujitsu
Next up I hopped over to Ballroom 2 to catch the Online Advertising discussion, a series of 3 sessions from a refreshingly diverse group of presenters. First up was Bill Leake, CEO from Apogee Results all the way out in Austin, TX. Bill brought his enthusiasm and his passion to the stage and genuinely engaged with the audience, kicking off by getting a feel for the room and the breakdown of B2B, B2C, and eCommerce marketers in our group.
He started off with a call to embrace integrated marketing, making the very simple argument that the more arrows in your quiver the better off you are. Look for opportunities down and across the sales funnel to maximize your ROI based on lead quality or closed opportunities.
He encouraged marketers to abandon the traditional mindset of “owned media” (the stuff we fully control) and transform your marketing strategies into a peer-to-peer conversation and go where the audience is. Use controlled affiliates to help you capitalize on the Procter & Gamble concept of finite shelf space and own as much online real estate as possible for your brand. You may even consider integrating paid search with “earned media” (what people are saying about you) to help secure more shelf space and support the brand.
This concept of building value to third parties who serve as your unofficial brand ambassadors is a concept that any marketer looking to take their strategies to the next level must embrace. For SEOs like myself, Ross Hudgens (one of the smartest in the game, in my opinion), wrote an excellent post a few months back detailing this concept of second-tier linkbuilding. Bill and Ross agree that there can be substantial value in an external endorsement and investing in the promotion of these high-value references can offer a great return to the business.
You can follow Bill on Twitter @marketing_bill.
The Rise of Native Advertising
Jack Krawczyk, Senior Product Marketing Manager from StumbleUpon, gave what was personally my favorite presentation of Day One. He introduced the audience to a new way of thinking using a very traditional and tested model of Native Advertising to get your brand messaging across in an engaging and non-intrusive way. He was also able to use StumbleUpon as the primary example for this strategy without sounding preachy, a surprisingly difficult balance to strike for any presenter.
To kick off his session, he challenged the room to recognize and understand the changing landscape of the entire marketing experience:
Using a definition borrowed from Procter & Gamble (lot of “earned media” for them in this session!) circa 1947, Jack defined Native Advertising as:
Original content that enables a company to connect with consumers and advertise its brands.
Native advertising doesn’t look like advertising on the first glance; it looks like advertising on the second glance. Integrate your marketing initiatives into the overall experience and understand that online has made it so the two are no longer mutually exclusive. There are no intrusive commercials in the online experience (not truly effective ones at least, *cough* YouTube ads *cough*).
Native advertising, in the end, doesn’t compete with other platforms…it works in concert with them. Distribute your content in multiple units to allow the consumer to digest it naturally and form a positive impression of your brand.
You can follow Jack on Twitter (and he does respond if you message him!) at @jackk.
Lessons from the Front Lines
To close out the online advertising group was Randi Stipes, VP of Client Solutions at the Weather Channel, stepped up to share lessons she and the Weather Channel team have learned about leveraging effective marketing strategies.
Randi’s presentation was full of video clips and other examples of different techniques that the Weather Channel has used over the years, which I personally found very interesting but unfortunately do not translate well to a recap like this!
However, I can offer you Randi’s 3 primary lessons for effective marketing:
- Keep it simple
- Keep it relevant
- Keep it collaborative
And, as a bonus before we broke for cocktail hour…never forget to keep it going!
Closing Keynote – John Trimble, Pandora Radio CRO
The closing keynote featured John Trimble, Chief Revenue Officer of Pandora Radio. John’s presentation, entitled SoLoMo: Creating Value for Consumers and Driving Results for Brands, aligned with the overall theme of the conference by touching on each of the three major emerging mediums for marketers: social, local, and mobile. However, John tied each of these together under one umbrella concept that has directly fueled Pandora’s massive growth to over 150 million registered users…personalization.
Pandora has always been built on a model of personalization, but in terms of the product itself and the way it is marketed. Each song in Pandora’s library is, and always has been, categorized individually by a member of the Pandora staff because there is no computer that can replicate the human ear. Each customer service issue is also handled personally, sometimes even by John or CEO Joe Kennedy themselves!
This not-so-little genome project that has spurred the stunning growth of Pandora over the years is entirely by design, as John reminded us that personalization breeds passionate fans. Growing almost exclusively through word of mouth (Pandora has invested little to no money in external marketing), they can attribute the majority of this success to ongoing innovation in personalization.
This underlying theme of personalization is pervasive in all local, mobile, and social strategies. Pandora recognizes that mobility will fuel the growth of the business in the coming years, evident by the fact that 1 in every 3 smartphone owners listen to Pandora on a monthly basis currently. Personalized targeting powers the local side of the business and has allowed Pandora to becomes one of the top radio stations in some of the country’s largest markets (including, according to John, our hometown Atlanta). Lastly, social sharing is the next evolution of “word of mouth” that, if history is any indication, will be imperative to Pandora’s continued success.
Will I see you there at Day Two??
Now it’s time to get pumped for a jam-packed Day Two of the Digital Marketing Summit! I’m sure I speak for more than just myself when I say I’m looking forward to seeing everyone there today, catching some great speakers and presentations (check out Nebo‘s own Adam Harrell at the Designing for Multiple Platforms panel at 1:50pm in Ballroom 3), and meeting more new people passionate about digital marketing!
Welcome! My name is Brett Snyder and I am the Director of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) at an interactive marketing agency based in West Midtown Atlanta.
When I'm not studying and practicing SEO, you can find me hanging out with Braveheart, catching up with new and old friends, or finding a new way to stay busy.
All thoughts and opinions posted on this site are my own.