Last Friday, three of us SiteLabbers attended Interactive Day San Diego 2013, a conference highlighting the latest trends and best practices in marketing. There were quite a few well-known presenters from agencies and companies on the cutting-edge, including Danny Gray from Google, Wade Forst from Razorfish, and my personal fave, Rand Fishkin from Moz.
After a full-day of sessions about topics ranging from search marketing to social media to mobile and content development, I could see some real trends emerge. Here are my insights into what’s now and what’s next according to the presentations and conversions I had at Interactive Day.
Insight #1 – The Consumer is overwhelmed
Presenters from the agency side talked about the overwhelmed consumer and how we have to come up with ways to attract them to our client’s content over a competitor’s. Those on the brand side of things emphasized the importance of producing good content meaning content that the customer actually told the brand they want, the brand listened and produced it.
My favorite presentations was by Rand Fishkin called “The Nudge is mightier than the sword: What’s in store for SEO, Social Media & Content Marketing”. In it, he talked about how the consumer is overwhelmed with choices and there are several ways that we as marketers can “nudge” them towards the optimal choice for us and them.
One of the “nudge principles” that Rand and Dan Zarella of Hubspot both talked about is the fact that “Fewer choices lead to more actions”. The example they both used was the gratuitous display of sharing widgets on many websites, with well-known social media blogs like Social Media Examiner and Mashable being among the worst offenders.
Source: Rand Fishkin, MOZ presentation (Download: bit.ly/mightynudge)
Rand found that instead of offering as many choices as an Greek diner menu, offering one choice, like the OK Cupid blog does with Facebook, results in the most action (more likes).
Source: Rand Fishkin, MOZ presentation (Download: bit.ly/mightynudge)
Similarly, Dan Zarella found that the more links a brand posts, the less attention each one will get (and therefore lead to less action – a click). He told us to “Stop crowding out our own content. Let it breathe”. To do this, Dan had suggestions such as spacing out tweets and posts throughout the day; also, don’t be afraid to post during the weekend when you have the most captive audience and the least amount of noise from other brands.
Audience motivation is so important for increasing your chances that your content will be seen. As Dan said “the more value you feel you get by interacting with me, the more you’ll want to interact” — true for interactions online and off. Some ways that a brand can create value include scarcity (“I’m the first one to tweet this – cool!”), novelty (“I’ve never heard of such a thing – cool!”), and social proof (“My smart best friend likes this brand, so I do too”). And sometimes, just by asking your audience to do you a solid by including a social call-to-action (“please retweet”) is motivation enough.
Insight #2 – Mobile. Is. It.
Anyone who mentioned mobile at Interactive Day, mentioned how it’s a must. It’s a non-negotiable. You have to consider mobile in any website, campaign, or initiative you take on.
During the morning keynote, John Durham of Catalyst S+F explained the importance of mobile very simply. It’s part of the user experience. The way we, as consumers, use your product or service through mobile is the way we use your product or service in your lives. John also called a mobile device a “life device”. He asked the audience “What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Look at your mobile phone”.
In a panel called “Sharing Economy”, Brandon Lachance of Carl’s Jr. was asked what he thought about platforms touting “mobile first”. His reply is that Carl’s Jr. won’t even consider a platform or option unless they put mobile first.
To demonstrate how we consumers put mobile first, Qualcomm’s Liya Sharif told the “Content in Context: Breaking Through The Noise In an Age of Digital Marketing” session audience about the “Born Mobile” campaign Qualcomm launched last year. In a rather disturbing, yet compelling YouTube video showing a “baby’s first text”, Liya showed how large-scale thematic campaigns using less highly produced videos like this one can be highly effective in breaking through the noise.
Insight #3 – You only need one digital marketing strategy.
Though each session followed a track, the marketing silos weren’t as clearly defined as they had been in previous years. Instead of the “social media”, “search”, “paid media” tracks of yesteryear, we went to sessions on “digital research”, “digital content” and “lead generation”.
Then Jonathan Renteria of Saatchi & Saatchi LA finally said it: “There are not many different marketing strategies (for SEO, social media), there is one digital marketing strategy.”
So, what are some ways we can build a comprehensive digital marketing strategy as brands with multiple agencies or as agencies with multiple brands? The speakers all had suggestions.
Brandon Lachance of Carl’s Jr. emphasized brand voice. He told us brand voice needs to be dialed in to make decisions and move quickly in social media. Also, a company like Carl’s Jr. has at least three different agencies – a PR agency, an agency of record, and a media buying agency. Brandon said all three agencies “play nicely” and work together to come up with campaign ideas, always going back to the brand voice and marketing goals to make decisions.
John Durham’s entire presentation was about media, not social media, paid media, or earned media, but media. He started his presentation by answering “What does media mean today?”: It’s all about the ME in MEdia. Media IS content that is going to reach ME, the consumer. And all media is digital at the core. John also said “screen size is the most important thing”. If you look at a typical 21-year old college student, they have an average of 6.9 gadgets – how are you going to reach them? Look to your digital marketing strategy.
The consumer must be at the heart of your digital marketing strategy, John says. The consumer experience is more important as ever. As marketers, we have a tendency to forget about that user experience, but it’s the only way you’re going to make a difference in reaching your goals.
To support your strategy and goals, it will also be important to look at the “new hire”. The jobs you’ll need to fill will be the designers, copywriters and technologists (read: content! content! content!) and analytics will be more crucial than ever.
Insight #4 – Media and journalism are converging
Don’t worry you unemployed journalists… you’re going to have a job in the very near future. Hint: Begin your search at Qualcomm.
All of the presenters emphasized the importance of good content, but there wasn’t an example of doing it on a greater scale than Qualcomm. Liya Sharif of Qualcomm began her presentation by telling us storytelling hasn’t changed since the beginning of time. People are still looking for conflict > drama > resolution. While many brands are losing grip on their own identities with all the feedback online, and attention spans are getting shorter and shorter (average 30 seconds), storytelling is a tried and true tactic for breaking through the noise. In fact, 78% of consumers trust brands who create their own content (tell stories), says Liya.
Qualcomm has recently undergone a major shift from exclusively marketing to a B2B audience to reaching out to consumers to care about “what’s inside” their phone too. To facilitate this challenging shift, the marketing department still is retooling to focus on brand journalism. The first outcome has been Qualcomm Spark, a digital magazine that attracts influential people like celebrities to tell the Qualcomm story through their words, pictures and videos.
Brand journalism is a new (or maybe revived) media approach industry-wide, with AMEX and Red Bull, and now Qualcomm leading the way. Everything Qualcomm does related to Spark is content-driven. Spark ad placements on influential tech sites include snippets of content that update in real-time as the content is updated on Spark. The site is lightly branded to allow for authentic, interesting or helpful content to take center stage. Video is emphasized.
Most helpful were Liya’s tips for selling brand journalism to the top. She says start with small KPIs. Also show the top brass how other people benefited from sharing your content. And my favorite, she says “Don’t be afraid of polarizing your audience. If everyone likes you, something is wrong.”
David Moye of the Huffington Post gives a tip for writing polarizing content: “Pitch to the heart and lower parts, not to the brain”. Also, remember to write press releases (and I’d say blog posts, articles, anything you’re going to be sharing) like you’re talking to your friends over beers, not to your parents over dinner. This is what gets people going.
I love going to these marketing conferences because it gives me a chance to see what’s going on outside of my little shared office in our boutique agency in La Jolla. From what I heard at this year’s Interactive Day San Diego, what’s going on is good. There was so much more emphasis on the consumer than I had ever heard before. Also, everybody is simplifying – from marketing plans to messaging.
I can dig that. Can you? Let us know in the comments if you’re seeing some of the same trends from your cubicle.