Each year, the much anticipated two-day Internet Summit in Raleigh, NC, brings digital marketers from near and far together under one roof to learn new strategies and best practices to keep up with industry trends. This year’s conference, November 16–17, featured more than 120 speakers in over 90 sessions. Between sessions, attendees were encouraged to attend networking opportunities and stop by informational booths.
“Fun” was also at the core of ISUM 2016. There were ping pong tables, giant games of Jenga, and a fun photo booth to keep the vibe light and friendly. Stand-up comedian Al Madrigal, correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, was one of the opening keynote speakers, along with Rand Fishkin, of Moz, and Olympic gold medalist LaShawn Merritt. Between Al reading aloud his favorite horribly written Yelp reviews and Rand advising the audience to avoid “caveman marketing” (outdated strategy approaches), the opening keynotes were a great way to start the conference. On day two, award-winning director Morgan Spurlock’s keynote address made us laugh and cry and then cry from laughing. He was truly inspirational.
Four members of the JB Media team attended ISUM 2016 for the first time. We took home some great tips (and cool swag!) and wanted to share our knowledge with you. Below you’ll find our take on four different sessions. Thanks for having us, Internet Summit! Can’t wait ‘til we meet again!
Dave Fryer’s “Know Your Numbers: Using Data to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Marketing”
By Peter Frisa, Online Advertising Specialist
Internet Summit 2016 was a rather memorable experience with many surprises on the evolution and innovations of Internet marketing. One of the presentations that stood out was “Know Your Numbers: Using Data to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Marketing” by Dave Fryer, Product Advocate at Domo.
Domo is a six-year-old software company offering a business optimization platform that brings data and people together. Much of their focus is on business intelligence tools and data visualizations. Here are some of my key takeaways from the presentation.
Numbers, Data & The Black Hole of Marketing
Marketing can be like a black hole. For example, in traditional advertising, three months after you put up a billboard, you may want to know the results of the audience’s attention to your billboard. You may ask yourself how many people who looked at it, purchased the product, or visited the website. The answer is: Nobody knows. That data is lost in the black hole of marketing. Luckily, with digital marketing, we can track these metrics with much higher accuracy. It’s all based on numbers and data, so we can see in real time the efficacy of our strategy.
When You Have Too Much Data
Did you know that, on average, marketers use seven different systems for analytics? Good luck sorting that mess! Since companies rely on data analysis to make intelligent decisions around strategy, without proper analysis, a marketing agency could make a huge mistake or lose insight on what they’re attempting to accomplish.
Companies must sort, reconfigure, interpret, present, analyze, and digest large sets of data for it to make any sense. And after that is done, they look at their arduously compiled findings, and then either continue with the strategy as is or make changes where needed.
But if you don’t have the experience with data sorting, you may be looking at a report with irrelevant data, losing your relevant data in the black hole! And, I said above, this is a big problem with marketers. There are just too many spreadsheets that are being compiled together from all these various analytics systems. So how do we properly sort it out?
It All Starts with the Problem
The problem is your “what” and the impact of the data is your “why.”
Dave advised the audience to start with a piece of paper and a pen. If you can’t clearly write your problem and the impact, don’t go any further ‘til you have this solidified. Once you jot these things down, then ask yourself, Where does the data live to solve my problems? Once this is established, you may move forward. The infographic below explains the next steps.
If impact is not working, then you need a new question. You’ll have to restart the process.
Always remember to build out your problem and questions before you implement anything.
Here is a sample graph of the typical process for capturing leads. Dave pointed out a strategy below where marketers may want to track the data around these common KPIs.
Overall this was a very informative presentation that could apply to any business. Once you have effective planning, then understanding your numbers and data insights will be much easier.
JP Kuehlwein’s “Mission, Myth, and Truth – Making Your Brand Priceless”
By Rose Jenkins, SEO and Content Strategy Specialist
Can a Mini Cooper beat a Porsche in a road race? In his session, JP Kuehlwein of Ueber Brands told a story about how the Mini company kept challenging Porsche to a contest—daring them to go head to head, the famous muscle car against the plucky undersized auto.
Mini kept publicly baiting Porsche, until finally Porsche agreed: You pick the track, send your finest driving machine, and we’ll see you there. So the two cars lined up, took off—and the Porsche completely dominated. It won by a long shot.
For Mini, winning wasn’t the point. It wasn’t about being the car that could beat a Porsche. It was about being the car that would challenge a Porsche. That was their sell to their customers: Drive a Mini, be a challenger. Feel like an underdog? Don’t let anybody tell you what you can or can’t do.
Creating Value With a Positive Mission
JP told the story to illustrate how a company can create a premium brand that customers will seek out even if it costs more because they see it as offering value that competitors do not.
He emphasized the value of stories or—taking it up a level—myths to associate a brand with exceptional value. And, for many premium brands, he pointed out, the story is all about mission.
Stories about missions in action are definitely a key to success for many our clients. Here at JB Media we’ve been crafting our own new mission statement (which will launch soon!). Here’s the core of it: We work with mission driven companies to help them succeed. In other words, our clients aren’t just in business to make money; they’re in business to make the world a better place. We’re in business to help them succeed.
Brands Living Their Values
JP shared stories about brands like Ben and Jerry’s, Patagonia, and Burt’s Bees who create value by growing awareness of their mission. Ben and Jerry’s established themselves as the “Peace, Love, and Ice Cream” people—and, in the opposite of a typical PR move, they maxed out the publicity when their founders got arrested (for a good cause, of course).
Patagonia once published full page ads featuring one of their pricey, high performance coats that said “Don’t Buy This Jacket.” Their point was that sustainability is a core value for them, which makes sense for a company selling clothing for the great outdoors. So, they were urging customers to buy only when they really need a jacket, and on those rare occasions to buy one that will last.
JP pointed out that to sell your value based on your mission, you’ve got to authentically live out that mission. For example, while he was in the neighborhood, he stopped to visit the headquarters of Burt’s Bees in Durham. They gave him a tour and he saw their values in real life. He saw beehives on the roof—part of their commitment to urban beekeeping. He saw special recycling facilities—part of their goal of zero waste. And he saw labs where pregnant women can safely work throughout their pregnancy—since they use only non-toxic products. Turns out that some of the best stories are true.
Jeff Greer’s “Content Strategy and Plain Language: Making Your Experience Work for Customers”
By Leah Shapiro, Editing, Content Creation & PR Specialist
Recall the last time you visited a website looking for information on something specific. If you’re anything like me, you’ve already done this several times today. Perhaps you found what you were looking for within a few seconds of landing on that page or clicking around a bit. Mission accomplished.
On the other hand, if you didn’t get what you wanted immediately because the website was difficult to navigate or there were so many pop ups and advertisements that you became overwhelmed, did you say Nope! and move onto another website? If so, you’re not alone. This website did a poor job of giving you what you wanted in a way that you could understand. In other words, it lacked plain language.
Jeff Greer, Associate Director of Content Strategy with MRM//McCann, conducted a lecture at Internet Summit 2016 titled “Content Strategy and Plain Language: Making Your Experience Work for Customers.” During his talk, he identified ways in which marketers can build a strategy based on plain language to create content that is more findable, better organized, and performing well in search results.
As a content writer who thrives on clarity, consistency, and to-the-pointedness, I really enjoyed Jeff’s advice on how you can ensure that what you’re putting out into the world is actually what your target reader wants to read in a way they want to read it. We’re in a world of content overload. With more than a billion website online, long gone are the days that we consume lots of content, cherishing every word on every webpage. As Jeff says, we’re a culture of scanners, not necessarily readers.
Jeff’s Five Steps Toward Plain Language
Fill in the blank: Plain language makes it easier for my customer to _____.
1. Identify and describe your target audience.
Jeff reminds us: Your customer is the foundation of your work. Get rid of the stuff that isn’t important and make sure that all the content is focused on what customers want and not on what the organization wants to talk about. This may mean surveying your customers on things that are broken or need work; creating journey maps to figure out what your customer is doing on your site and how they’re interacting with it; or looking at personas of your customers to figure out what they want and need, such as their communication preferences.
2. Structure your content to guide your reader.
Have you ever received a bill in the mail and not known quite how much you had to pay and by what date? Frustrating, right? Jeff showed us an example of a bill from the IRS and how it changed over time as its makers realized its directions weren’t clear. Recipients who received the first notice couldn’t figure out what to do. There was a vague amount that you owed in a box in the upper right hand corner. Once the IRS realized their mistakes, they made it really clear. The number of phone calls to the IRS came down and the time it took people to respond to the message and send their payments decreased significantly.
3. Write your content in plain language.
Jeff suggests that you write in short sentences (7–10 words each) and short paragraphs of 2–3 sentences each. Make sure the words are accessible. Address the customer in second person using a conversational tone and active voice. Make sure that the action you want someone to take is explicitly stated in the top third of the page. Remember, focus your content on what the customer needs and not what you want to say to the customer. Remove any irrelevant details.
4. Design to help your customers see and understand.
Using an example of UnitedHealthcare’s website, Jeff pointed out how the company’s homepage included a news releases section and long list of featured products and services that likely would not appeal to a user searching for healthcare. In redesigning their website, UnitedHealthcare made things simpler and with the user more in mind.
5. Measure and test your content. It always helps to have an objective way to evaluate your content.
Types of Content Testing
- Surveys (such as Survey Monkey)
- Tree jack navigation testing (evaluating the findability of topics in a website)
- Lab testing
Once you begin to incorporate more plain writing, you’ll likely notice that you’ve improved the searchability of your content. Swap out complex jargon or company specific terminology for how people actually talk about your product or service. In conclusion, Jeff reminded us to have patience during the process. Once you get content teams focused on what the customer wants, you’ll see benefits.
“Video Storytelling Strategy” Roundtable Panel
By Edwin Leskin, Social Media Advertising and Strategy Specialist
Video is emerging as the dominant storytelling medium for marketers and organizations…and I just so happen to be a marketer who tells stories for organizations. With that in mind, I thought it would probably be a good move to attend the “Video Storytelling Strategy” roundtable panel on Thursday at Internet Summit 2016.
On the panel was Naike Romain, the Product Marketing Specialist at Wistia; Jered Schneider, Executive Market Director at SnapShot Interactive; and Chris Sanders, Industry Manager at the Global Marketing Solutions Department at Facebook. Panel moderator Carlos Gil is Head of Global Social Media at BMC Software and one of the first big Snapchat marketers.
The panel went over a wide-range of material that I found useful to variable degrees. For instance, they spent much of their time talking over live video tactics at the introductory level, which didn’t seem to match the expectations of the attending audience, many of whom were knowledgeable on the topic. With that said, the core takeaways I got from this panel are important to know and think about from a strategic standpoint regardless of experience level in digital marketing. Here are my three favorite topics from the discussion:
Onsite Video is Still Relevant
Much of today’s focus on video marketing is social media distribution, creating one-off ad campaigns, and behind-the-scenes off-the-cuff content. A winning video on your website, however, is too great of an opportunity to pass up. The truth is that the vast majority of web traffic is direct to website (generally, traffic from social media to a website is miniscule when compared to direct traffic and organic search). Are you using video marketing through social or display advertising for your product, but missing that staple piece of video content on your website? Might be time to rethink. As Jered said, “Your goal as a product marketer is to educate your audience. Hosting a video on your website is maybe the best place to do that and keep the attention focused on you.”
The Right Videos for the Right Purposes
While your hosted video content can go deeper and provide more information (since the person on your website is probably interested in learning more), your social video should focus more into sparking interest and creating conversions (i.e. getting people to that website or having them take an offer for a sale). Carlos chimed in with the fact that his company sees great results with short 1–3 minute videos on social and other third party platforms, having longer video or written content on the website. Also look at the content itself: Too often marketers create video ideas in a bubble. When you are writing that script or coming up with concepts, ask the question: If I told this story to a friend, would they be interested? Entertained? If the answer is no, go back to the drawing board.
Video Marketing in a Funnel
My final takeaway from the discussion is that too often (due to creative, budgetary, or capacity constraints) we think of using video marketing for a campaign in terms of creating one awesome piece of content that will fulfill all of our (and our audience’s) dreams. Everyone on the panel agreed that video can be used pretty effectively in a funnel as well. This means that you might think about creating multiple videos for a campaign: There’s the big one (hopefully with a couple versions of different lengths) that gets shown to everyone, another type that reintroduces the subject to those already interested, and then micro-videos that have a specific focus (such as a thank you or a discount).
Chris Sanders even told us about a new feature to help with this on Facebook called “Sequenced Content” under the “Reach and Frequency” section of Power Editor. It’s amazing and not just for video, go look it up right now.
The best thing is that all of this can likely be accomplished in the same video shoot using multiple mini-scripts that accompany the primary one. PS. Not all of that funnel needs to be video, maybe video is best for just one part of the customer journey along the way to the conversion.
Internet Summit was an excellent event, and I had a great time. The talks were interesting, and the presenters were accessible and ready to converse. I hope this little write-up helps you create awesome videos, and I definitely hope to see you at Internet Summit 2017!
Here are some random fun pictures from the weekend!