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This lucky duck got to attend this year’s Digital Summit Tampa with her pals from  AMA Tampa Bay.

Let’s jump right into some of the themes that bubbled up. NOTE: you should get a coffee for this approx. 9 minute read, or use the tl;dr to pick through by topic. 

TL;DR – Three themes coming out of 2021’s Digital Summit

  1. Email is (still) effective and more valuable than ever…There’s a ton of research to back this, but most importantly CRMs and email lists are going to be our safeguard as we enter uncharted territory sans cookies.
  2. The key to creating great content is consuming it, and its creation is dependent upon the amount of data and information we marketers consume. There was one speaker in particular that illustrated this process using Beyonce as an example, and it’s worth a watch
  3. If you want to be noteworthy, do something worth noting. Brands have to actually do something that matters to other people in order for influencers and/or journalists to pick it up and amplify their message.

Email is (still) effective and more valuable than ever…

There is SOOO much research available proving the value of email marketing, its ROI, and the affinity consumers still have for it. In Michael Barber’s Masterclass “Advance Email Marketing: Tactics to Build Robust Email Programs” he shared countless pieces of data surrounding the efficacy of email marketing. There are brands building their entire business around the inbox, like theSkimm and Morning Brew, because they understand that owning your own first-party data is integral in staying resilient as we enter into the next major shift in advertising and marketing technology: the death of the cookie (dun dun dunnnnnnn). If that’s not enough to make you take your email lists seriously, consider–when layered with other channels–email has the power to significantly lift conversion performance, acting as a one-two punch. 

This four-hour masterclass covered the gambit, but here are a few steps you can take now:

  • A good portion of email budgets are being dedicated to data infrastructure and personnel.
  • Design must take into account the dominance Apple has on First Opens and Gmail’s hold on ISP.
  • People are checking their email at all times of the day and in weird places. 
  • Time of Day (at least for now) is dynamically tracked, so stop asking what time of day is best to send my email.
  • For B2B, 1st-time opens are happening in a mobile space, but conversions are happening on desktop.
  • Because we’re always in our inbox, we’re also MORE distracted than ever. Reading time is down 15%(ish) in the last 2 years which means you’ve got very little time to get your message across. What do you do? Slim up your headers. Use single-column layouts because no one’s zooming in on your email girl.
  • IOS15’s MPP (mail privacy protection) + Apple’s aforementioned First Open dominance = a lot of lost visibility to pre-click data (i.e. device type, geolocation, and time opened). Barber suggests Step One is determining how many of your subscribers/opt-ins will be affected and CLEAN UP YOUR LISTS NOW!
  • Optimizing From Names is more impactful than Subject lines. Full stop.
  • If you want to grow your list (and you should) put a priority on opting in! This means dedicated opt-in pages, homepage prominence for subscribe forms, and different formats to improve conversion like mega rollovers, mid-blog CTA’s, chatbots, etc.

First, consume, then curate and create…

Jon Youshaei convinced me this week that Beyonce is the world’s greatest marketer. 

After making me question everything by sharing multiple examples of how Beyonce’s “original” ideas were inspired by earlier artists’ work, he rebuilt my faith in the queen by explaining that her magic lies in “copying with taste”. 

She “researches, remixes, and repackages” inspiration, giving credit where credit is due. This curation is the creation and the source of what makes Beyonce the Beyonce of our generation (Oprah). Below are Yousheai’s tips on how we can all copy with taste and deliver engaging content our audience actually WANTS to see. 

If you want to go on the same roller coaster I did, watch Jon Youshaei’s “Beyonce’s Surprising Secret to Creativity”

97th Floor’s Paxton Gray also encouraged marketers to absorb as much data as possible, and then let our brains do what they do best: crunch it up and distill it. 

Paxton also said two of the most memorable quotes from this conference:

  1. Saying we want viral content is a statement about what WE want, not what THEY want
  2. We’re all in the person to person marketing business, it’s not B2B or B2C

And, he offered these data sources for unlocking your brain to create interesting and memorable content:

  • Use search data! Both owned and found on tools like Spyfu, collect all the possible words directly and (equally important) indirectly related to your target audience’s interests. Don’t just use your URL, but comb your competitor and publisher sites as well.
  • Monitor content success with tools like Ryte, by plugging in what keywords you want to rank for and seeing a list of related terms and where you rank.

If you want to be noteworthy, do something worth noting…

Dale Bertrand, past builder of high-performance computing systems for the NSA, hosted a session on “Purpose Driven SEO.” Using his AI expertise to improve SEO, he acknowledged there are countless ways to boost performance, but what really moves the needle is a compelling, purpose-driven story. To those who say, “we don’t have a purpose-driven mission,” Bertrand says every organization has a drive for purpose. Be it:

  1. Mission-Driven: as in, a fight against or for something
  2. Product Driven: like being responsibly sourced
  3. Story-Driven: showcasing the founder(s) story

Getting into tactics, organizations should develop a story around that purpose, and then produce citable content focused on helping others in the same vein advance their cause. This is a direct path to building authority through backlinks. 

For Jim Tobin (founder of the original social media agency Ignite Social Media in 2007) it’s quite simple: If you want good PR, do something GOOD! In this session about influencer marketing, Tobin shared some helpful insights:

  1. When selecting an influencer partner, look at more than their audience size. What do they stand for? What about their saturation rate, the content fit, their reputation, and whether they have a non-compete?
  2. Optimization is possible within the influencer space. It requires planned coordination with your influencer network and clever audience targeting strategies, but it can be done.
  3. It’s best to plan for longer influencer campaigns (think 6-12 mos) but start with an initial set of influencers. Using the aforementioned optimization tactics, narrow in on which influencers resonate most with your audience.
  4. If a long-term influencer relationship is cost-prohibitive right now, consider syndicating content from influencers to use on your own shared channels.  

Things I’ll be doing right away!

  1. “Authenticity” is focused on you. “Empathy” focuses on them. Keynote Carmen Collins of Cisco says this is why we’re starting to move away as an industry from personas to empathy mapping. Plus she adds, “personas are riddled with biases.”
  2. Collins also begs, “Stop putting text in images!” and when using hashtags #CamelCaseIsBest
  3. Marketing AI, albeit controversial, is here to stay, and here are some tools Nick Myers of Redfox AI suggests we check out:
    1. Jarvis.AI – AI copywriting
    2. Lumen5 – can turn any content into a video
    3. Grammarly – Just do yourself a favor and get this free proofreading tool if you haven’t already
    4. Cortex – measures the effectiveness of social media posts
Ally Gannon

Author Ally Gannon

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