From December 15–16, a few members of our Enterprise Sales Enablement team had the opportunity to attend Digital Summit Chicago, an annual digital marketing conference in Chicago where marketing leaders collaborate and network, exploring new ways to accelerate their company’s growth marketing efforts.
At Digital Summit Chicago, we were able to attend sessions hosted by industry-leading marketing leaders and influential brands. During these sessions, we had the chance to learn about the current trends in digital marketing, and what they can do to further advance our marketing efforts, deeply connect with our target market, and consistently generate more revenue for our business.
Keep reading to learn about the sessions we attended, and the key takeaways we gained from each session.
Day 1 Session Recap
The first day of Digital Summit Chicago consisted of four different sessions that focused on how to get more innovative with your marketing efforts and how to use different SEO components to accelerate the amount of traffic driven to your website. Let’s get into it.
Building Creative Habits That Lead to Better Marketing
Building Creative Habits That Lead to Better Marketing was a session hosted by the conference’s keynote speaker, Jenny Haggard, the Global Creative Strategist of Spotify.
During this hour-long session, she expanded on different ways that growing businesses can develop a more creative content marketing strategy. Haggard really homed in on each of our senses and why having a branding strategy that appeals to each of our senses is crucial for building brand awareness and getting people to think about your business.
Throughout the session, Haggard focused on the AABCs of Creative Discernment: Anima, Audience, Brand, and Culture.
- Anima: This is the unconscious part of your mind that works automatically without awareness. While we may always want to fill our day with noise and distraction, some of our best ideas come from sitting in silence and letting your mind run free.
- Audience: Many brands focus on who they want their customers to be rather than who they really are. When you understand your core audience through and through for who they are rather than the idea of them, you have a better opportunity to market better to them and what they’re looking for when deciding whether or not to make a purchase.
- Brand: Haggard describes a brand as a “ secret sauce to keeping your company different.” The best brands have a deep understanding of their anima and audience, enabling them to present their brand voice effectively and consistently throughout all their sales and marketing assets.
- Culture: This component of creative discernment focuses on things that are going on in the world, our communities, and homes. When companies think of their culture and how to apply it to their marketing materials, it’s important that they ask these questions in this exact order:
- What’s going on in culture right now?
- What do we care about?
- Where do we have a right to play?
Asking these questions empowers brands to think of what they can do to support their audience in a meaningful way, while also staying authentic.
Choosing Wisely: How to Better Approach Life’s Biggest Decisions
Choosing Wisely: How to Better Approach Life’s Biggest Decisions was also hosted by Haggard. Here, she focused on how to approach some of life’s biggest decisions and how it can apply to your company’s marketing strategy. During this session, Haggard really prioritized the definition of discernment.
According to Haggard, discernment is defined as a process of uncovering answers to something that matters and how it can be applied to every area in our lives—both professionally and personally. As marketers, there are two things we discern the most: what we do and who we want to be as a brand. When it comes down to it, there are three stages of discernment:
- Pre-phase (warm up): During this phase, it’s important that you are indifferent about the outcome, aware of your unhealthy attachments, and understand that time is irrelevant. When you release the tensions you have built up in your head, you think more clearly about what you’re doing and what the purpose is for it.
- During (do the work): As you’re going through the motions, it’s crucial that you stay aware of the logic and reason portion of your brain. Here, you focus on the movements to see what’s working and where there could be areas of improvement.
- Post (cool down): Now that you’ve analyzed what you want to do and how to do it, what does the outcome look like? This phase is important for reflection and weighing out the pros and cons of whatever decision you have made.
Understanding discernment is essential for marketing professionals because it helps us better reflect our outcomes and how we want to identify ourselves as a brand. Discernment comes around most often when it comes to the beginning stages of defining a brand. While it may take a lot of A/B testing to see what your audience engages with, it enables you to think about the past, present, and future of what you want your brand to be.
Even if you’re not thrilled with the outcome of a tough decision you’ve made, it’s important to remember that decisions aren’t always permanent. However, it empowers you to reflect on past marketing mistakes and explore ways to make decisions better for the future.
Scaling SEO Campaigns in 2023: A Behind the Scenes Look at How Great Brands Achieve Massive Organic Traffic
Scaling SEO Campaigns in 2023 was hosted by Dale Bertrand, Founder and President of Fire&Spark. Bertrand has been a knowledgeable leader in the digital marketing world for over 15 years. In this session, he highlighted different ways that growing businesses can scale their SEO campaigns in 2023 and drive more organic traffic to their company websites.
A few of the scaling SEO opportunities Bertrand called out for 2023 were:
- Staying ahead of the Google algorithm: Google AI is only getting smarter as the weeks go on. While marketing specialists used to write towards keywords, that’s no longer enough for search engines. Content written and distributed must be easy to digest and provide users with value, which is what makes intent-focused writing such a big part of a high-performing SEO strategy.
- Deploying AI tools to reduce tedious tasks: SEO tools are always evolving, making them a crucial part of your approach to SEO. AI SEO tools give marketing teams relevant data insights, provide them with adaptive workflows, and offer outputs that help advance marketing training opportunities. However, it’s important to stay cautious of AI tools because if you’re not an expert in the field, the content written by the tool may not incredibly accurate, risking your industry reputation.
- Rewriting existing content for greater value: In years past, the more content a company puts out, the better. Today, it’s becoming more effective to rewrite existing content to stay in line with trends and provide readers with relevant and updated information. This is what makes content pruning such a valuable part of your SEO content strategy, because you can position your company as trusted industry leaders, rather than putting out new content for the sake of having something new.
- Optimizing for new search features: There are many new additions to search engine results pages (SERPs), such as featured snippets, the MAP pack, “People also ask,” etc. This gives businesses a greater opportunity to rank on SERPs and reach more potential buyers in their target market.
Purpose-Driven SEO: A Modern SEO Strategy That Any Company Can Apply
Purpose-Driven SEO: A Modern SEO Strategy that Any Company Can Apply was also hosted by Dale Bertrand of Fire&Spark. This session highlighted the importance of a dual content strategy that prioritizes keyword targeted and authority building content.
Keyword targeted content is content that’s written to bring users and prospects into your website organically. On the other hand, authority building content is content that attracts potential backlinking opportunities. This often includes sharing self-found statistics and reports that other websites can use to showcase impact and expertise. Having a dual content strategy is essential for high-performing SEO because it shows that both users and businesses alike see the value your content has, establishing your business as an insightful topic leader.
Today, more and more decision-makers are driven to purchase from companies who have an underlying purpose to their business. Many companies are becoming mission-, product-, and story-driven because it adds a personal touch, showing that they’re human with emotions and not just looking to secure a sale.
As you continue to evolve your SEO strategy, it’s important to make it purpose driven because it helps foster better relationships with existing customers and attract new prospective buyers to your business. While you may not need to have a social mission for your company, it’s important to show that your business stands for more than a way to generate revenue. And last but not least, this purpose behind your business should be authentic and genuine to your brand. If you greenwash your marketing efforts, you could do more harm for your business than good.
Day 2 Session Recap
On Day 2 of Digital Summit Chicago, we attended sessions that focused on ways marketers can boost organic web traffic and use digital marketing tools and technologies to advance a user’s experience with their website. And to end Digital Summit Chicago 2022, we attended a session about what imposter syndrome is and how to overcome it to become more confident, well-rounded marketing professionals.
Connect & Convert: How to Boost Organic Reach Through Storytelling
We kicked off Day 2 of the conference by attending this session hosted by Ilene Richardson, CEO of Imaginary Content Design. If there’s one thing that Richardson wanted to capitalize on through this session, it’s that there’s one thing a brand can do to stand out among competitors: storytelling.
If you want your brand to tell an effective story, you must:
- Keep your story and unique messaging consistent
- Show up in a way that’s true to your brand
- Think of content creation as a way to expand your story
While you should create story-driven content, it’s also important that it’s enhanced. This means that the content engages the customer while staying reflective of your brand. Enhanced content presents businesses with the opportunity to speak on their brand and product while also meeting where your buyers are.
The more optimized content you have that’s targeted towards your audience, the more likely you are to see organic growth from your marketing efforts. When you follow the content maturity model, you ensure that you have all the right images, graphics, and videos to keep your target market engaged, boosting your organic search results outcome
Entity SEO: The Rise of the Machines
Entity SEO: The Rise of the Machines was a session hosted by Grant Simmons, SEO Strategist of Brilliant Strategy. Throughout this session, he emphasized that when it comes to high-ranking SEO content, context is king. The goal of a piece of content on your website is to clarify the meaning of what people are looking for and give them the opportunity to learn more about that particular topic. This concept is referred to as entity SEO.
To start off your entity SEO strategy, it’s important that you build a topic map of everything you want to discuss regarding that specific idea or concept. Each page within the entity should be unique from one another and expand on one topic. If you have too many differing topics within a post, you can negatively impact your schema, limiting the value of a page because it’s not specific enough for users to understand and navigate quickly.
When writing entity SEO content, it’s important that you sectionize content with H1s, H2s, and H3s, because it’s easier for Google AI to read and for users to navigate, accelerating their experience with your website. Additionally, while it may be ideal to have an abundance of relevant internal links throughout the page, it’s vital that there aren’t too many up top because this can negatively impact a user’s navigation throughout the site. As you input internal links in content, make sure it’s logical and makes sense for the user’s journey on your website.
To recap Simmons’s session, here are his core content strategy takeaways:
- Find target topics and keyword
- Research what other thought leaders are saying
- Satisfy users with content that answers their questions
- Create a structure that’s logical and easy to navigate
- Test and test again, making it simpler for users to digest
Leveraging Conversational AI to Enhance Consumer Experiences
Leveraging Conversational AI to Enhance Consumer Experiences was hosted by Kathryn Kawakami, lead of Global Retail Partnerships at Google. This session emphasized how great conversations have a purpose and are more than a one-off transaction—and this is where conversational AI tools come into play, like Google Business Messages.
Great conversations and positive user interactions requires a hybrid team of humans and bots to deliver purpose and delight to potential and ongoing customers. With a hybrid human and bot team in place, you have the opportunity to save time and money, as well as set your brand up for success. This model gives your company a competitive edge and allows you to minimize the need to repeat tasks.
A majority of users that enter your website have basic wants, needs, and asks, which can (most of the time) be taken care of by your automated system, making AI bots an incredibly impactful component to your digital marketing strategy. However, a live agent should also be there to help when a user may have more significant needs.
When implementing automation into your digital marketing processes, it’s important to start small to see what works and what doesn’t. As you continue to see success in your AI efforts, you can continuously evolve your automation approach and provide users with a better experience with your business.
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
And last but not least, to end Digital Summit Chicago 2022, we attended a session that highlighted what imposter syndrome is and how to overcome it. This session was hosted by Cami Travis-Groves, a national speaker and powerful coach that focuses on helping business professionals overcome imposter syndrome and feel worthy of the work they’re doing.
In a nutshell, imposter syndrome is the feeling that you’re not enough, a fraud, or that you’re not worthy to be in the position that you’re in. This is the voice of the inner critic inside your head, but it’s important to remember that the voice you’re hearing isn’t YOUR voice. It’s the voice of judgment, comparison, and fear.
Throughout this session, Travis-Groves highlights that the first step to overcoming imposter syndrome is forgiving past versions of yourself and giving other people the opportunity to do the same. Authentic connection comes from true vulnerability, but it’s important to remember that this is a series of steps that evolves over time. You’re not going to wake up one day and be “healed” from imposter syndrome—it’s a continuous act that you must always put work into.
Here are some tips that Travis-Groves gave us to help tame our inner critic:
- Become an observer of your thoughts and emotions without reacting
- Get to know your inner critic and acknowledge the existence of it
- Repeat again and again and again
While this may sound simple, it’s surely not easy. Each baby step you make is getting you closer to where you need to be to quiet down the voices of imposter syndrome. The more you recognize it, the more you won’t let it control you.
We were thrilled for our Enterprise Sales Enablement team to have the opportunity to attend Digital Summit 2022 in Chicago. This conference gave us the opportunity to discover new insights about the world of digital marketing and enabled us to network with other marketing professionals to learn about their experiences with gaining and retaining customers.
From here on out, our Enterprise Sale Enablement team can take these insights from industry-leading professionals and apply them to both our business and our clients for maximized success. If you need an inbound marketing team that routinely familiarizes themselves and applies new trends in digital marketing, contact the experts at Abstrakt Marketing Group!