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4 Lessons from the Digital Strategy Innovation Summit NYC

March 31, 2014

Digital Innovation Summit

This month I attended the Digital Strategy Innovation Summit in beautiful New York City. This is the first time that I attended a more general digital marketing conference that wasn’t specifically focused upon search and social disciplines.

It was refreshing to hear several sessions from a client’s perspective and that many of the challenges client companies are facing likely aren’t that much different to your own. Here are my four key takeaways from the summit.

1. Digital Marketing is Everyone’s Job

Digital marketing cannot be operated within a silo; it spans horizontally across organizations, touching many different areas within marketing and sales. Price Floyd, VP of Digital Marketing at BAE Systems, went as far to say that in the future, digital-specific roles like his within companies would go away.

BAE Systems rely on their employees to moderate their social community. What they initially found was that fear is the biggest obstacle for getting employees to adopt and support company social media efforts. This is why internal training programs are so important to teach best practices, provide tips and tricks on how to get set up and running, and have guidelines in place to prevent any potential social media mishaps that can cause havoc with a company’s reputation.

2. Use Social Media as a Content Distribution System

There is no doubt that these past couple of years, content has been the new darling of the digital marketing world. So much so that companies are struggling to keep up with an increasing appetite for content. However, content by itself is worthless unless you have promotion behind it – driving traffic to the content on your site, using it in a way that builds relationships with your prospects, and ultimately creating sales.

Bloomberg found that social media is the most important form of news distribution, helping them to demonstrate thought leadership amongst their audience. Forbes readers no longer just consume content, they share it with their networks & participate through comments. Content visits and social sharing was so important to Forbes that they adapted their reporter compensation model based on the number of visitors to site and articles shared.

However, an important note to make is that we can no longer rely on just organic social media to drive results. I think Marty Weintraub put it best in his ClickZ New York session: “Search PPC is to SEO as Social PPC is to content marketing. Social media without advertising just doesn’t work.”

3. Have a Clear Strategy That Utilizes Digital Maturity Models

According to Booz and co, 49% of companies are distracted and surprisingly two-thirds of companies do not know what to do.

When it comes to business strategy, companies must have a clear strategy, own this strategy (not outsource it or let an agency define it) and most importantly stand behind it. The importance of understanding the larger goal from a business perspective, in order to shape the tactics and success measures that you subsequently use, almost goes without saying but unfortunately is often forgotten. For example, when it comes to social media, the question you have to ask is: What is your business goal? (not what is your social media goal?).

A strong strategy will help to provide a company with focus, especially amid all of the digital distractions. One good method to help maintain focus is to understand where your organization’s level of digital maturity is currently at. You can then align resources and analytics with your digital maturity model and use this to inform your longer term roadmap.

For example, if your organization is still in the planning phase of maturity, then you may require outside expertise from a digital marketing agency and utilize basic metrics like visits and conversions. Whereas if your organization is in the advanced phase of maturity, then you may have teams of vertical in-house PPC/SEO/Social Media/Content specialists and utilize attribution and predictive analysis.

4. Do Not Underestimate the Important Role of Agencies

The question of in-house vs. outsource is a topic that comes up every once in a while, particularly as organizations look to make more efficient use of their marketing budgets.

It is important to combine what is inside of your company with fresh, outside perspective and ensure ongoing cover and continuity, especially when you are still building the foundations of digital marketing within your organization.

Whilst the numbers may look good on paper, remember that not all of the smart people work for your company — all companies (even the mighty Google) get outside help. Good agencies have a high level of deep expertise and will be the ones keeping up-to-date with all the latest goings-on in the ever-changing digital marketing industry.

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