10 Takeaways from the Digital Summit

I have been lucky/smart enough to attend Philadelphia’s Digital Summit the past couple years. Like its inaugural year, his year’s conference delivered a lot of value for its money, with a day and a half of back-to-back 30-minute sessions covering everything from SEO to content marketing to social media to UX and design.

It’s a geek fest full of smart people, engaging speakings and plenty of wine, snacks, and cross-pollination.

The pace is fast enough, that I like to review my notes each year and write out the big lessons and actionable ideas so I don’t lose them as I settle back into my busy routines. Some of it is cutting edge, but much of what comes up is a simple reminder of things I know I should be doing.

So with that, here are my take-aways for this year’s Digital Summit.

1. To win at SEO over the long haul, put your user at the center of everything you do on your website. Forget keyword stuffing, crammed footer links and tag, and other tricks.You can’t game Google; algorithms change Instead, focus your energy on optimizing your site for your users! Site speed, responsiveness, and excellent content will always be rewarded.

2. Understand and speak to your audience at both ends of the spectrum. Instead of a single, shallowly drawn avatar of your customer, sketch out two or three typical but different users. Use data to guide you and shape massaging to meet all of their needs, in a unified voice or two or more navigations paths on your website.

3. Customize your email marketing to your user, not just who they are, but where they are in the sales funnel and how they interact with your website and email content. Data can and should drive everything. Email blasts are of very limited use or effectiveness in overcrowded inboxes.

4. Repurpose your best content for use on different channels. Information for a well-researched blog post can spin off into a Pinterest-friendly infographic, a brief video synopsis for Youtube and Facebook, and an audio summary on a podcast. Bundle content from a few big posts to make a valuable whitepaper, or parcel it out in small servings over an email campaign.

5. Optimize your content for each medium, and only do as many as you can do well. Take time to understand and use the best practices of each of your platforms. That might mean holding off on Snapchat and Instagram until you get Facebook right. Or waiting on video until you get the photos up to snuff on your website.

6. Clean up your email list! If people aren’t opening your emails, purge them from the list. It will improve your open rates and deliverability. Maybe send a re-engagement last-chance email to allow them to respond, but purge them if they don’t respond. If they aren’t opening and reading your stuff, you’re spamming them!

7. Audit your own digital communications periodically. Sign up for emails and catalogs and navigate the website like a customer would. Notice any glitches or missed opportunities in your autoresponders and automation, and make important adjustments. Review transactional communications as well as marketing messages with a critical eye. Do this regularly.

8. Test usability on your website if you haven’t. It need not be an ordeal if you are a small company with a limited budget. Recruit 5-7 friends and acquaintances who resemble your target user, and ask them to execute a task on your website. Sit next to them and observe, take notes, and learn. Focus on one specific task at a time. If two or more people fumble on a click through or hit the same point of friction, you know what you need to fix.

10. Find your tribe, and think small. Focus on your audience and speak to them, not to the public at large. Stand out. Take chances, and know you will lose some people along the way, but the ones who get you will stay loyal. The ones who fall away were not your optimal audience anyway. Create and deliver work of value. (Yes, Seth Godin spoke at this year’s summit.)


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