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Three Highlights from Digital Summit DC

| 5 Minutes to Read
Image of a old key, with a tag that says Takeaway on it.

Ever wonder how to keep up with trends and practices in digital marketing?  I mean besides following WSI’s blogs? This is one of the greatest joys – and challenges – of my career as an internet marketing consultant. Since I made this my career in 2003, watching (and being part of) the way the internet continually transforms marketing has been a continuous thrill ride.

But keeping up isn’t easy. Knowing the right tools and techniques to market a variety of companies to the right audiences take a lot of work. As a part of this ongoing effort, I recently attended a Digital Summit DC. In this blog post, I will share three of the main takeaways that I have found to be particularly useful in my consulting.

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By the way, if you’re not familiar with Digital Summits, these are 2-day conferences that are packed with information from great speakers. Attending these events is a good way to learn what’s new, or fill in gaps, all in the company of other digital marketing peers who enjoy a good beer while sharing the standout points they heard at the end of both days.

Where? What? How? Why? Building Query Personas to Power your Content Strategy

Grant Simmons, VP of Search Strategy, for, gave a stellar presentation on a novel approach to viewing and using personas for your content and search engine marketing.  His first observation was that our traditional notion of personas that is rooted in demographics and psychographics might not be as useful as what he calls “query personas.”  In his example, someone looking to buy a frisbee could be a 25-year-old or a 60-year-old person.  Their incomes, marital status, job positions, life experiences, etc., - the elements of the traditional persona definition - would be different.

But what they have in common is that they both want to buy a frisbee. And if I’m selling frisbees, that commonality is what is important to me. It manifests itself in the questions they are both likely to ask like “where can I get a frisbee?” Or “how do you throw a frisbee?”  That is the meaningful persona for the frisbee seller – the “where do I get a frisbee and how do I throw it” persona.

The value of this is to consider if your web presences (website, blog, store, etc.) answer that question. If not, it should.

And to take it one step further, he points out that increasingly, search engine behavior mirrors this perfectly.   The search engine results pages (SERPs) now contain a “position 0” – an answer box, or graph – that contains the information the search engine thinks is most relevant without requiring the user to scroll through paid and organic snippets to click on to find the information they need.

And the importance of specific keyword phrases has decreased in favor of the concept of user intent as the technology gets more sophisticated, and more and more searches are coming from natural language questions put to Siri or Alexa.

Taken altogether, the lesson here was that marketers have to think about the questions prospective customers have and ensure their content addresses those queries.

Better Companies Ask Better Questions

Digital marketers love data. Unlike the primitive forms of pre-cable broadcast or print media marketing, the digital world is rich with mounds of detailed data. While we need much of that to do what we do better, most of that data is not very useful to the people who own or run businesses.

Dan Roen of Domo, described a useful scenario to make the point. Picture yourself in a conference room with the CEO and CFO of your company or client justifying your pay, or perhaps additional pay for another employee or consultant.  Does that CFO care how many visits your site gets? How many interactions your posts get?

More likely, you should imagine the CFO pushing a dollar across the table and saying if I give you this dollar, how many will you give me back? Think of the chasm between the data you came prepared with and that reaction.

Dan suggests that there are three types of metrics we need to be aware of and that we should use the right type for the level of management or responsibility of the people we are relaying them to:

  1. For peers and supervisors, use Foundational Metrics - somewhat interesting. Example: how many visits did we get after we published X content? Easy to get, but not all that valuable to people who are not in marketing roles.
  2. For middle management and supporting professionals, use Indicator Metrics – these tell if the actions you take are effective. ex: did we get more sales qualified leads when we redesigned the landing page? Usually harder to get - may need to go to multiple data sources.
  3. Return Metrics – ROI - if the CFO gives you $1.00 for marketing, did you return $1.50 in revenue? That answer can be complex/hard to get and require several data sources (Social Platform Insights, Analytics, CRM). But ultimately, it justifies your fee (or salary), so you need to assemble that for the highest levels of management you deal with.

Good advice to remember when preparing your presentations and reports.

The Future of B2B Marketing: Think Like Disney and 6 Other Trends

Jon Lombardo, the Global Brand Strategy Lead at LinkedIn, spoke of 6 very useful trends to watch, but I want to wrap up this post talking about just one of them: the importance of thought leadership in B2B.

When we do marketing strategy, we always consider the importance of our client’s thought leadership position and how to promote it.  It can be a dilemma because to gain recognition as a true thought leader, you need to share enough useful material with peers who compete and users who might otherwise be paying for those leading thoughts.  So to be a thought leader is to make an investment.

LinkedIn and communications firm Edelman invested in some research to compare what importance marketers thought their thought leadership promotion has, versus the B2B buyer’s perceived value of that leadership position.  The dichotomy was interesting.

Only 17% of marketers of B2B companies that were surveyed tasked with creating “thought leadership content” believed that it gets them more RFPs – what I think of as invitations to the table.

By contrast, 63-64% of business decision-makers and C-suite executives believed that prospective vendors thought leadership to their organizations buying decisions.

To quote John, “this is not just a difference, it’s a massive difference.”

You’ll have to catch John’s presentation where he segues into the second of his 6 trends and compares how Disney who produces 13 movies a year and monetizes old content franchises (e.g., Star Wars movies, toys, clothes, games and other merchandise) the New York Times which produces 13,000 pieces of content in a week.  Disney stock is skyrocketing, the Times has a dwindling stock price.

We need to think of how to capture and monetize thought leadership like Disney and not emulate the Times with tons of individual pieces.

Summing Up

So all in all, the Digital Summit was an enjoyable way of learning a lot from smart people in a short period who have made me:

  • Rethink personas and their relation to content regarding questions asked and answered
  • Reconsider how to filter and combine the data I consume every day into more useful presentations for the people who pay my bills, and,
  • Start building content around sustainable themes that can gain and sustain momentum rather than expending resources to meet the mythical expectations of volume.

If you are keen on finding out how these factors can help your business grow, reach out to a WSI Digital Marketing Consultant for a chat. We can help!

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