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3 Takeaways for 2016 from the Digital Summit Dallas

This month, the annual Digital Summit Dallas convened for a day and a half, focusing on all things digital marketing. There were several key takeaways from the event, captured in real-time on my Twitter feed:

Takeaway #1:

The applause after Mark Cuban made this statement really resonated! As digital marketers, we LOVE our metrics, but has this increasing focus on the metrics made us take our eye off the ball and become blind to the factors that are really driving business results? Have we become slaves to the measurement and lost sight of what we are really attempting to achieve? I’ve personally seen my dashboards grow exponentially as we have begun to measure EVERYTHING. Why do we find ourselves in this predicament? Is it because we can, even if there isn’t an objective or KPI tied to the measurement, driving the digital team to become algorithm “tail chasers?”

Chasing the algorithm, whether Google or social platforms, seems intuitively short-sighted and not a sustainable business practice. I once described SEO to a non-marketing person as analogous to the printed Yellow Pages advertising game, where companies vied to be first in the listing through gaming the system by adding an “A” to the front of their business’ name! It only worked until the next edition came out and Aaron Plumbing became #2 because A-Abbot Plumbing was born!

When Cuban gave the audience permission to step away from measurement, he didn’t advocate yet another technology or social platform. He urged the audience to focus inward and look at the consumer research to find ways to connect with our audience and then focus on creative engagements to make real, meaningful connections.

Takeaway #2:

My favorite session featured Melanie Deziel, the Director of Creative Strategy at Time, Inc., who held past positions held at content powerhouses The New York Times and Huffington Post. While her session was on native advertising, the above statement, which was delivered off-the-cuff during a Q and A summed up the content marketing sessions.

For brands that aren’t inherently buzz-worthy – electronics, fashion, entertainment – Melanie suggested finding a topic that would engage your audience and stake a claim in content marketing. Content marketing isn’t permission marketing, it’s relationship marketing. She urged the audience to find topics to discuss that are relevant to your business and strike up conversations with your constituents.

Takeaway #3

The last takeaway was also in reference to content marketing and there were two speakers that reinforced that the future of marketing is content marketing.

The first keynote, by Jason Miller, Senior Manager of Content Marketing for LinkedIn, promoted using a “write once, use many,” concept for content marketing, called “Big Rock.” The team at LinkedIn focuses on tackling the big theme topic and then determining how to “break” apart the big rock into smaller, more digestible, pieces of content, leveraging different formats.

During the session roundtable on “The Future of Content Marketing” – one speaker mentioned the power of creating content episodes to extent the conversation and mentioned the success of Friskie’s “Dear Kitten” video series.

The cat food brand, Friskie’s, created a great video, “Dear Kitten” and published it on YouTube. The initial video became a hit and launched a series with BuzzFeed. The “pilot” episode has almost 25 million (!) video views. But, Friskie’s didn’t stop with the videos, they’ve put paid budget behind the phrase “dear kitten” to extend the reach of the content series.

As we kick off 2016, content marketing should be a cornerstone of annual digital plans, along with primary consumer research to understand what are those topics of conversations to engage with prospects and customers. And, don’t forget to get creative in the delivery of the content!

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