The Digital Summit Dallas 2016 was simply awesome! So, I decided to talk about it.


Digital Summit Dallas Recap

1. Digital Summit 2016 Theme: Email is ALIVE and WELL!

Many of the break out sessions I attended at the Digital Summit discussed email. The majority of my marketing experience has been B2B, however the clients I work with now are B2C, therefore email was a hot topic for me. Both my clients and my company could benefit from the use of an elaborate, segmented and well designed email campaign – and so could you. Black Friday fact – 18% of all sales were driven by email, while 1% were driven by social media. Also, if done correctly, email can lead to a $40 return on every $1 spent. The overall consensus at the conference was that many marketers are making errors in their emails and not really trying that hard. The “one size fits all” email blast is no longer. The biggest takeaway was to get. Out. Of. Thinking. In. The. Past.

Emails must be:

A) mobile friendly – we DESPISE the pinch and zoom email, don’t you?!

B) tested – TEST your emails before sending them to an audience, don’t blast your customers with a bogus email that has a bunch of formatting errors #NoOneWillReadIt

C) familiar – the “From” name should be from you or your company, depending on who your customer is more familiar with

D) universal – yes mobile friendly is important, but also, think about ALL devices – Apple Watch, Outlook for iOS, Android, Windows 10 Universal Outlook, Gmail App, Yahoo mail app, etc..

E) segmented – this means dividing your audience and not clicking “send to all”…but WHY you ask? Because segmented campaigns can drive a 760% increase in revenue (vs one size fits all)

Some cool new features to incorporate into your email – live updates. Have a countdown or a live Twitter stream. Also fun – add GIFS to your email to make them more interactive and enjoyable to read. And how could we forget the beloved emoji? These are to be considered too, folks! P.S. there’s been a 684% growth in the use of emojis in advertising over the past year. Yes, they are a thing. And for now, they are sticking!

Spam Mail

A little note about the dreaded word associated with irrelevant or junk email, or dare I say SPAM – many of the old school automatic spam triggers you learned about are No Longer Triggers. Yes, I’m talking about WHEN YOU EMAIL IN ALL CAPS, or provocatively yell “FREE”, insert lots of these: !!!!! (a tribe of 3 or more exclamation points make me want to hide under my pillow from the monster yelling at me) or even the phrase “Buy Now!” Wanna know the top reasons consumers report spam? Think too many or irrelevant emails, no longer interested, didn’t subscribe, couldn’t easily unsubscribe, didn’t work on smart phone or bad customer service. 

Email Design Inspo

Need email inspiration? Check out and you’ll see some really good emails – but more importantly GREAT ideas for your brand. You can filter by category and go to town. The summit also offered several campaign ideas, design specs to follow and even tools to better build and analyze your campaigns. But I’m going to leave those tips out for the sake of time and in hopes you’ll join me next year 🙂

2. Subscribe to Seth Godin’s blog and/or read his books

While it’s hard to top Mark Cuban (who was last year’s keynote), Seth Godin did a great job at kicking off the conference. Here are a few lessons he taught us:

Marketing is simply about seeking to change someone from here to there. Steve Jobs set out to change people, not to be like everyone else.

It’s easy for us to convince ourselves or to believe that challenges are impossible, but Seth Godin’s not buying it and neither should you. After all, he said, there are foot prints on the moon.

As digital marketers, we are on the cutting edge of this online ruckus and it’s up to us to figure out how to succeed in this space.

Marketers are in the business of demanding attention, but we’re doing it wrong. Many of us are demanding attention from Cheryl, her brother, his best friend, her daughter, and her cousin. We should be treating different people different. The average people are the ones most of us are targeting, but these are the ones to ignore.

We want to shoot for the outliers first. Think of the first group of people who started going to Starbucks or the first group of people who subscribed to the WTF podcast. The weird people are the ones listening, looking for a cure. If we are too busy trying to sell to EVERYONE, we are really selling to NO ONE. People are sold by their fear, hunger, shame or eagerness to get ahead. We should strive to tell stories to people who want to hear them and they will then share your story to someone else.

After his introductory speech, he went on to open the room up to discussion. A series of questions were answered with a different story going with every answer. What was interesting to me was the fact that he incorporated a story with every answer, which goes back to the idea of story telling and sharing.

I can’t remember what question was asked, but he started to discuss the difference between a freelancer and an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs make money in their sleep. They build assets, invest in things that gain value over time and invent jobs for someone else to do. Freelancers get paid for the actual work they do. It is a wonderful craft, an ancient tradition, but the question remains – how does a freelancer scale? Simple, he says. By picking up better clients. One of the bigger quotes that stuck:

You are defined by the clients you work for.

Meaning – if you take the smaller fish, or the ones that take more hours away from your work than what they are paying for or the ones that don’t value your work, you are wasting time. You don’t need more hours in a day, but what you do need is better clients who are focused on the rights things and value you and your product.

 3. Understand the behavior and preferences of your customers

Take a look at what your customers have already told you about themselves – what’s their gender? How old are they? How do they know you? What do they care more about? How does your product or service better their life? If you don’t know this information, seek to gather it through email or surveys. Let the behavior data drive the strategy.

What do your customers do when they get to your website? Do they download a white paper? Watch a video? Subscribe to your email list? These are all things to look at when developing a new campaign. Also connect third party systems to connect all data where necessary.

Do your customers prefer to communicate via phone, email or text? Depending on which one, are your messages able to be received? Are your emails mobile friendly? Do you have a text alert system in place? Consider these questions when the goal is to reach new members of your fan club.

4. Snapchat Isn’t Just For College Students

When was the last time you went to a wedding? When you were there, did you see Sarah & Chad’s Snapchat filter? I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a public place, pulled up my Snapchat and saw wedding filters for a couple getting married nearby. Who doesn’t want to see themselves along with hundreds of snaps of their friends on their big day? Are college students all of sudden getting married left and right? Not really. But the age demographic continues to evolve, and so do the Snapchat marketing budgets of brands such as Victoria’s Secret, Maybelline and the Dallas Cowboys.

Snapchat Stats

Still not convinced? Get this – more people saw Gatorade’s Super Bowl ad via SnapChat than people watching the Super Bowl live on TV. That’s 60 million people approximately who watched the Gatorade ad on Snapchat. Even bigger truth bomb – they didn’t spend millions on this ad like they did on the TV ad.

Don’t be a late adopter, if you aren’t already on Snapchat, get on there now, learn to use it and stay tuned for many marketing opportunities. Millennials are more engaged with Instagram and Snapchat than Facebook. And if we choose to remember history, we’ll remember that Facebook once was “just a place for college students” and now grandma is online sharing selfies. The teenagers are already onto the next social media app – – another one worth trying out to be a SUPER early adopter.

5. Good Data Keeps You Hired

If you are an agency, your analytics need to be making you money. If you are on the client side, your analytics should be making you money. Anyone in marketing should have clear, measurable data and goals. This segment really struck a chord with me since I work in an agency where data and efficiency is #Key – when thinking of data, Matt Hertig (he owns a marketing analytics company) came up with three principles through learning over the years:

1. Efficiency: getting control of your data, elimination of manual tasks, standardize methodologies

i.e. marketers need to STOP being data gatherers. We need automated reporting that spends all the time gathering the data for us so we can spend our time analyzing the data and continually improving our strategy using the data.

2. Value: high quality reporting & analysis, better stewardship of budget, proactive decisions and planning.

i.e. the reports we build need to focus on the ROI for our company or for your clients. Identify the key performance indicators (KPI) per campaign whether it be conversion, views, clicks or lead submissions. Last but not least, keep it short and simple – one page is enough.

3. Revenue: maximize budgets, drive sales, build stronger brands

i.e. Plan your budget around the revenue, use this to increase your sales and also raise brand awareness among your target audience.

6. Befriend Your Local Kim Kardashians Influencers

Influencer marketing is bigger than ever before because it is no longer limited for the rich and famous – it’s now in the hands of people in your community. Influencers today are the super crazy, weird people that write blog posts and film video blogs for free. Well, the smart ones make money at it, but, you know, that takes time….

If you are a brand or business that wants to market to people in your community, you can find local influencers in your area and hire them to talk about your brand or product. Local influencers have thousands of followers on social media where they link to their blogs. Blogs are businesses. Local influencers are people. Influencers should be treated like employees of the brand they are promoting.

Where do you start? First, come up with some average fees and negotiate with your local influencer so you both are happy. Next, make sure your shining star influencer understands the brands goals and desires. Also, peel back the curtain and give your influencer insight into your business by sharing things such as revenue, company size and future goals. Last but not least, influencers CRAVE feedback. They want to know if they did a good job representing your brand.

7. Optimize Your Facebook Ad Campaigns

By now, most marketers have gotten their feet wet in the Facebook ad space. But many of us have gotten lazy at changing the way we’re running our campaigns. Here are a few tips on getting better results for your campaigns.

Facebook Ad Campaign Checklist:

    • Facebook pixel must be installed on every page of the site
    • Determine the most accurate goal/conversion: set up custom conversion if needed
    • Use the UTM tagging system
    • Choose the best audience but try not to limit the audience too much (more audience parameters = heightened CPC)
    • Use this free and often looked over audience tool: 
    • Test your ads – start with a BIG audience, the get smaller once the first round of data is available
    • Video ads have more engagement and a higher CTR than static ads
    • Set up automatic bidding on campaigns, but temporarily switch to manual bidding if your campaign plateaus or starts to underperform

8. Set Measurable Goals To Help Avoid Shiny Object Syndrome

New social media platforms are invented every single day. Today’s marketers sometimes struggle with deciding which platform their brand needs to be on. One way to assess whether or not the “next, latest, greatest thing since MySpace” is worth the time and effort, we can ask ourselves the following:

-Is our customer there? 80% of all internet users are on Facebook – this means you probably should be on Facebook. But for other newer social platforms like SnapChat and Instagram, keep asking the question of demographics. 

-Does it align with our goals? Are you trying to raise brand awareness or sell a product directly from your website? 

-Do you have the content and resources? Before diving in to a new platform, think about if you or your team has the time and resources to create the content needed. Also consider doing competitive research to see what your competitors are putting out on this channel. 

-Can you measure success? Also, how do you measure success on the new platform? Something to consider is how to prove to the higher ups that this new space is where your customers are and can be a place where you can influence them to choose you over your competition. 

All in all, the Digital Summit covered ALL topics related to digital marketing: SEO, PPC, email marketing, content marketing, influencer marketing and social media marketing. There were four sessions going on at one time with over 70 – yes SEVENTY speakers at this conference. Each day had a lunch keynote speaker and happy hour networking sessions at the end of the day. This was such a great overall learning experience. I hope I get to go again next year! If you have any questions about the conference or want to learn more, leave comments below or email me at – thanks for following along, until next time <3