#DEast14 Top Digital Trends
A crowd of more than six hundred people gathered at Digital East in Tyson’s Corner from September 9th to 10th to learn the insights and trades of the digital world from forty plus leaders in digital marketing.
The conference was timed perfectly with Apple’s announcement of the iPhone 6 featuring the new Apple Pay payment system and Apple’s first wearable product, the Apple Watch. It brings Siri to our wrists enabling wearers to respond to messages, calls and notifications, a fitness tracker, and Apple Pay.
This announcement will transform the face of mobile: it is no longer about smartphones or tablets, but about wearables on your arms, clothes, the shoes on your feet—all connected to the car you drive, the home you live in, and even your dog. We are all becoming digitized versions of ourselves tracking our every move.
While this information is powerful for individuals in terms of motivating behavior change, it’s a challenge for marketers, as digitization will enable the realization and expectation of one-to-one personalized marketing.
Last year’s Digital East Conference focused on the marriage of search and social, paid, earned, and owned media, content development, and multi-platform engagement. The theme of “content is king” continued this year with an emphasis on brand storytelling and putting a dollar value on content development. Edelman took paid, earned, and owned media one step further and branded it the Media Cloverleaf, while the remainder of sessions focused on mobile, UX and UI, and quantifiable marketing.
Mobile, UX & UI
Arienne Holland from Raven quoted a Pew Research study that shows that nine out of ten Americans have mobile phones. Her point being that mobile marketing is “no longer a buzzword, but a way of life.” She says that while “great mobile experiences are important…mobile conversions are top priority.”
Mobile-driven predictions included Kate Watts from Huge, who predicts the death of display advertising. Ross Hollebon from the Washington Redskins believes that mobile is driving the death of the home page with so much traffic coming from social media and other sources driving to specific pages.
The conference was an exciting opportunity to showcase and engage users with upcoming, applications: Ross Hollebon also cited NFL Now as an example of its mobile and video offering, delivering exclusive content that fans can customize to follow their favorite teams, while Brendan Hurley from Goodwill of Greater Washington teased the launch of a new app coming soon that will revolutionize the donations business. Leigh Heyman from the White House showcased an online tool called We the People to enable citizens to directly petition the White House. It’s an open-source tool with Read and Write API’s, so anyone can retrieve data on petitions, signatures and responses and also collect signatures from their own platforms and submit them to be responded to online.
On the UX side, a resurgence of journey mapping, persona profiles, and observational research emphasized the development of content that is driven by audience needs versus a client wish list.
Content Development: The Brand Story
Dr. Leigh George from Ogilvy & Mather kicked off the event with her session, Content Marketing: Your Only Chance to Reach Audiences Today, with the point that organic social reach is dead due to Facebook’s algorithm and paid-for engagement, effectively turning Facebook into a paid channel. She said that brands should “go native” and start developing valuable content that enriches the lives of the consumers we are marketing to.
Mike Huber from Vertical Measures, displayed the ROI of content marketing in his session Content Marketing Strategies & Implementation, demonstrating that content marketing produces three times more leads than paid search. He recommended that marketers and brands start thinking like publishers by creating specific content that is relevant and useful. Huber also added that the average company that blogs generates 55% more website visits, according to HubSpot.
Mel Carson from Majestic SEO presented the Science of Great Content as having four main elements: “Authentic, Useful, Relevant and Actionable”, or A+U+R+A. He discussed this by sharing sample tweets with content that is customer-centric, time-sensitive, actionable, measurable, and demonstrates emotion and/or brand personality.
Marc Hausman from Strategic Communications Group touted three best practices for driving customer demand via content: collaboration with sales, thinking like a publisher, and intersecting with technology.
Finally, Flip Croft Caderao from the Infinite Agency incorporated each of these conversations in his session, Brand Storytelling for Digital Natives, with his own history of storytelling. He says that because we are all storytellers, brands do not control their own brand story. Caderao says that brands should discover their “why”—how their brand truths intersect with human truths by telling stories that make people care.
While content has been “king” for years now, most marketers have not been able to measure it. Marc Hausman cited a Forrester Research Study from earlier this year stating that “83% of marketers are unable to measure business value from their content marketing efforts.”
Ryan Emge, formerly of eBay, outlined his formula for tracking and measuring performance. He claims that the primary indicators of content performance are measured by unique engagements (i.e. total clicks and views and tracks convey unique engagements). Those engagements, matched with users and sales, magnify business performance. This business performance is the equivalent of content value, meaning ROI can be calculated for every blog share, social media post, or video.
Emge recommends that marketers invest in permanent platforms with a longer shelf life, like blogs, and lean back from on-and-off microsites or even Twitter posts with unrelated content online that are not evergreen.
Several presenters emphasized the value of insights from analytics, but argued that human analysis is important too—interpretation of the data is even more important. And this is the good news all marketers were waiting for the most: the ability to continue adding value in our work for years to come.