WIth a host of speakers and workshops, the 2016 Digital Summit in Minneapolis drew the Epicosity crew for some insights on where digital marketing is headed.

The keynote for the event was Matt Wallaert from Microsoft (and we were even paid a visit from the voice of Siri herself, for a little bit of surreality). 

Here are a few of the insights picked up from the lineup of speakers.


Empathetic Design

The idea of basing your insights on behavior rather than solicited feedback was key to the presentation from Boomtrain's Christian Monberg. The idea of empathetic design operates on the idea that you should base the design and aim of your products and services on what you observe your customers want, versus what they say they want.

He spoke to how your marketing and product development should revolve around addressing latent needs that may not always be obvious to the naked eye. It's the difference between handing a consumer a questionnaire and actually watching what they do and how they operate in order to identify true need.

Brand Fear

There's something of an inherent fear in stamping a piece of content you've produced with your brand. Consumers will be turned off by seeing a brand attached, as it immediately elicits the "Sponsored by..." groan.

But it might not necessarily be the case.

The truth is, branded content does not necessarily need to be a consumer turn-off if the content is good. Matthew Sharp from AOL addressed this idea by bringing up the results of a study AOL conducted that found 61% of consumers are of the mindset that "as long as the content is good, I don't care if it's sponsored by a brand."

Don't fear your brand - just use it smartly and attach it to content that reflects the quality of your organization.


Changing Techniques

Digital marketing is a constantly evolving construct - Marketo's Matt Zilli talked about how our tried and true traditional marketing techniques may need an upgrade to bring ourselves into the "marketer of tomorrow" mindset.

He identified three areas in which tomorrow's marketer will handle customer relationships and measurements differently:

  1. Moving from monologues (bulk emails, cold calls, etc.) to dialogues (triggered emails, targeted ads, etc.)
  2. Moving from single touchpoints (focusing on individual channels for costly new-customer acquisition) to long-term relationships (investing in your existing customers on the channels where they're at)
  3. Moving from tactical metrics (email opens, clicks, etc.) to business outcomes (revenue impact, customer lifetime value, etc.)


This notion is pretty universal - when you feel like you've made a decision or made a discovery yourself, you take pride in it and you have a more inherent level of trust for it. The same goes for digital content - if a consumer feels like it was his or her idea, it's adopted and embraced more easily.

Mathew Sweezey from Salesforce outlined a lifecycle of how this self-discovery process shakes out on social media platforms:

  1. A consumer feels a sense of self-validation in posting about a given topic.
  2. A consumer feels a sense of societal validation when someone "likes" that post.
  3. A consumer feels a sense of belonging when a social group or entity embraces that piece of content.
  4. A consumer feels a sense of the "golden rule" when that post is reciprocated by a thought leader or brand.

Letting your consumers engage with your brand on their own timelines gives you the opportunity to then provide this sense of belonging and reciprocal love by interacting and offering positive feedback.

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