Our Top Takeaways from Digital Summit Detroit 2018

Cassandra Schooley, Content Coordinator at Ontario SEO
Cassandra Schooley
September 27, 2018
Digital Summit Detroit 2018

This month, we were excited to once again take part in Digital Summit Detroit. An annual digital marketing summit which takes place at the Cobo Centre in Downtown Detroit, featuring industry experts and professionals from a wide range of digital marketing specialties. This year, speakers discussed relevant changes to the ever-evolving industry and shared key insights into the world of SEO, SEM, social media marketing, content marketing, video marketing and so much more.

Ontario SEO at Digital Summit 2018 in Detroit

Here are just a few of the key insights and digital marketing trends our team gathered from the 2018 Digital Summit Detroit:

Build Real Client Personas

Personas are useless if they aren’t real. Most client personas tend to be created by a bunch of marketing geniuses sitting around a table, in other words, they are based on guesswork. In some cases, there might even be input from other team members who actually have contact with the clients. In extremely rare cases there is even input from real customers. If all you do is file the persona then none of this matters to you anyway, but if you are genuinely using personas to target new customers, then this should be an obvious problem to you.

The solution is simple but time-consuming – base your personas on hard data! There are a number of ways to do that, so I won’t go into detail, but your best approach is to combine hard data from a number of different sources and build client personas that are real. If you do this you will have better targeting and more relevant ads, not to mention more conversions and increased revenue.

Create Content That Tells a Story

Don’t just create content – tell stories. The really smart marketers tell great stories that resonate with their clients and drive engagement. Even the not-so-smart marketers recognize that this will drive up your conversion rate and improve your business. Stories connect with your audience and make them care by informing them and engaging them. This applies to content, video and social where ever possible the story should be told across all your mediums to really capture attention and build engagement.

Target the Right Audience for B2B

B2B marketing is still being done the same old (mostly wrong) way that it has been for years. Make sure that you’re targeting the right users and don’t ignore those individual contributors that are playing a part in the sales funnel. Too often the focus is on the C-Suite or a specific position or job title. Find out who else is involved in the various parts of the sales cycle and target them with the right messaging. Another thing to consider in very long sales cycles is that the person you ignore now might be promoted in 12 months’ time, which means you missed your chance to influence a decision maker.

Have an Authentic Voice Across All Platforms

A key theme that many speakers touched on during the summit was the importance for brands to remain human and develop their own authentic voice for each platform that’s being used. Don’t try too hard to be funny or witty if it’s not you. Don’t try to force an emotional response or connection by creating an overly emotional campaign – if that’s not you. Audiences are smart, and they know when brands are trying too hard or being disingenuous.

Take a stand about what matters to your brand or organization. Too often, businesses are fearful of offending or upsetting a group of potential customers, however, having an authentic dialogue about topics that matter to you may bring you more engaged followers.

Find Genuine Brand Evangelists – Not Paid Influencers

In the era of Instagram models selling weight loss tea, teeth whitening kits and herbal supplements, it can be hard to stand out against all of these fabricated influencer campaigns.

However, it can also be easy – if you’re finding the right people and you’re sharing an authentic message. Find genuine customers who are passionate about your brand or product. Find people who are posting positive stories and messages about your products and reach out to them personally and share their story on your own platforms. In most cases, there won’t even need to be a financial exchange, they will be excited that your brand wants to share their story. They will continue to talk passionately about your brand and spread the word organically.

Structured Markup for Rich Snippets

Those of us who geek out on search results, know that using structured markup, where applicable, can help substantially in achieving a featured/rich snippet. However, are you aware of what pages on your website are currently ranking for a keyword/term with a featured snippet?

Use structured markup best practices, identify your opportunities for a featured snippet and optimize those pages that currently rank for a featured snippet opportunity. You won’t win them all, but if you take steps and use structured markup where applicable, Google will reward you.

SEO + PPC Should Be Working Cohesively

Be sure that your SEO and PPC teams are working closely together. The keyword and ranking data your SEO team has should be directly communicated to your PPC team, so you can bid on the highly relevant keyword/terms that you are not ranking in the top 3 positions for.

The same can be said for the PPC team’s search term information. Any search terms that are identified as showing high intent should be investigated for organic opportunity. If you are not currently ranking organically for any of those search terms it could be a great opportunity to create new content to rank for those pages organically, as well as in the paid results. Dominating the SERP for high intent keywords helps to build brand authority and increases your chances of getting that conversion we all work so hard to get.

B2B Marketing: Don’t Shy Away from Targeting Junior Positions

When it comes to B2B and advertising on LinkedIn, don’t shy away from targeting the junior positions with your advertising. Most people target manager or executive job titles as these are the decision makers. It’s great to target these professionals, however, in many cases, you are missing a key part of the decisions making process – the research phase.

Often, the information gathering/research phase of the decision-making process (the grunt work) is done by someone in a junior role. Marketing yourself to the junior during their research phase can help you get shortlisted when the information is presented to the executive. You want to be on that shortlist!

Voice Search is Here

We knew it was coming, but now it is officially here, and we can’t ignore it. Voice search is becoming more and more important. This is no longer just searches for “gas station near me”, people of all ages are using voice to get things done. The key takeaway here is craft and optimize content for topics and concepts, not keywords. Align the information architecture of your website to the consumer journey organize your site and keep it cohesive. And if you were interested in structured markup you should know that ‘speakable’ schema is HERE and it is just the beginning.

This year’s summit touched on a wide range of topics in all areas of digital marketing and it was a great experience for each of our departments for different reasons. We look forward to taking these new ideas and making them applicable to each of our clients. If you aren’t already one of our clients and want to know how we can use any of the points above to help you grow your business, we would love to tell you more about how Digital Marketing can help.