Our team had the opportunity to come together with the local digital marketing community at the recent Digital Summit conference. This was the first year that Kansas City was added to the lineup and it was a great event featuring opportunities to learn and network in our backyard at a conference that was formatted like those we often have to go to the coasts to attend. If you weren’t able to go or want a quick recap of our digital marketing team’s takeaways, I have summarized them here.

Data is just data

Where we all bring value to our organizations and make an impact is in finding the meaningful insights from it and use it to create, adjust, and improve our marketing.

Matt Hertig from Alight Analytics spoke to the efficiency problem we have with data as he noted that “we don’t have a dashboard problem, we have a data problem.” We need to reorganize resources around the data to drive value instead of simply trying to get more and more data to solve the problem. We’re also limiting the value of what marketing is delivering by only reporting on what we produce and not looking at the bigger picture of the ripple effect.

Angie Hendershot made a great point about how we need to take the step of mapping data to consumer insight. Insight is not facts, demographics, and observations–yet we stop short of connecting the dots and call it data and insights. We need to get to the psychological aspect of the consumer with observable action that we can capitalize on.

Personas are not personal

When is the last time you spoke with a persona? We need to get more personal than ever through using third party data and other smart techniques.

A great point was made about first person marketing and thinking of the individual that you know. This helps us get out of the persona rut and will drive results. A great way to get more personal in email and other marketing channels where we know our target is to get as much 3rd party data with your email lists.

Another concept that was intriguing to us going beyond the persona is user stories:

  • What questions are they asking?
  • When are they asking them?
  • What experiences are yours competing with?

Empathy and emotion is how we impact our audience

We all see tons of sales messages daily. What gets me to click or act is when you empathize, answer my question, or truly help me.

Angie Hendershot mentioned looking for the questions and desires that are generally unmet, unarticulated, unleveraged, or ignored problems to resonate with our audiences. The best marketers use empathy and understand that not everyone thinks and feels exactly the way you do.

Cliff Seal made some interesting points as well to move us beyond our marketing buzzword culture of personas, thought leadership, whitepapers, and the same commoditized boring B2B content that we see in the industry. He noted that often the biggest perceived marketing problem is keeping up with trends to drive leads. That’s not the key though as that just leads you down a path of doing the same thing as everyone else.

John Stauffer pointed out that the mistake we make today is confusing personalization for empathy. We need to challenge personas and ask ourselves if we have talked to “Clark” in the past week. He also made a compelling point that an empathy gap exists when there are too many zeros–too much data and too big datasets exist and keep us from really getting our message tied to the emotional and psychological connection level needed.

Agility is important

No one wants to invest time, money, and energy into something that may not work. Let’s test in small batches and analyze before going all in on specific ideas.

Don’t forget the customer journey

Our prospects and customers are doing things on their own terms and those don’t always align with what we’re reporting on or the specific order of steps we have estimated they will take.

Dave Freyer provided the stat that 8% of CFOs trust marketing to spend effectively. If you can’t communicate your value, you have none. This is more than a reporting and attribution issue as it is a reality that if we can’t provide details of our effectiveness, then we’re not effective.

Quinn Tempest provided some stats that highlight the importance of not looking just at last-touch, first-touch, or other short-sighted attribution stats:

  • 93% of consumers search prior to making a purchase
  • 70-80% of purchase journey happens before consumer reaches out
  • 86% of searchers are performing non branded queries

We have more competition than ever

We’re not just competing with other companies but for mindshare. It is harder than ever to get into the inbox, get impressions, and to stay the number one choice in the mind of our prospects.

Bonnie Malone shared a new wrinkle in the ongoing challenges of getting our messages in front of our audience is how subscriber engagement is a new deliverability factor in email marketing. Add that to the growing concerns as we know that now one in five emails never reach the inbox.

Subscriber engagement factors include:

  • Messages read
  • Messages forwarded
  • Messages replied to
  • Messages marked as “not spam”
  • Messages marked as spam
  • Messages deleted before reading

Our Marching Orders

Ultimately, we have to remember that data is just data and that all of our marketing metrics, strategies, and techniques will fall flat unless we empower them with insight and true, meaningful empathy. At the end of the day it is about an authentic and genuine connection with our audience even if we aren’t sitting down across the table from our prospect and speaking with them in person.