Top 10 Insights from the Adobe Digital Marketing Summit

Is marketing an art, or science or both? That was a key question posed at the annual Adobe Digital Marketing Summit in Salt Lake City last week. This year’s event assembled a record-breaking 7,000 attendees for four days of hands-on workshops, expert presentations, panel discussions, vendor expos, and a few inspiring keynotes.


Conference Themes

While much of the daily agenda was integrated with Adobe’s Marketing Cloud solutions, many of the sessions offered new perspectives on just about every facet of digital marketing – from search engine optimization, web analytics and email marketing, to best practices for maximizing customer engagement through content personalization. It was refreshing to hear how global brands like Coca-Cola and Under Armour are focused on the “happiness experience” in order to create a larger lifetime value. In addition, industry expert Forrester Research promoted its concept of the “mobile mind shift” – the expectation that I can get what I want in my immediate context and moments of need. It’s clear that some US companies have already adopted this approach (21% according to Forrester), but most are still struggling with how to develop a cohesive strategy within their organization. This raises the stakes for all marketers as we assess how to tackle the challenges of the digital world. With many topics and sub-topics to choose from, I’d like to share my top 10 insights from the conference.

Top 10 Insights

  1. Consumers are more connected than ever. Forrester claims that consumers use more than three connected devices each day. This means we’ve become entitled to personalized, relevant communications all of the time. The mobile mind shift is at work.
  2. Mobility fuels increased expectations. Forrester also reports that 62% of consumers demand a mobile-friendly (responsive) website, 42% want an app and 21% desire location-specific content.
  3. Marketing is getting tougher, not easier. Digital marketing spend in the US will exceed $100B by 2018, outpacing TV advertising by 2016. Nevertheless, 80% of consumers distrust digital ads. With new media, new consumer touch points and new connections available, now is the time to create unique experiences that are contextual in nature.
  4. Context is key. Contextual marketing, when done correctly via SMS programs or other channels, turns campaigns into interactions, transforms media schedules into compelling customer moments, converts traditional transactions into value exchanges, and focuses on engaging with customers instead of just targeting them. (See Delta Airlines example of placing iPads in airport lounges for a better travel experience).
  5. Four market imperatives that are game-changers.
  • CMOs and CIOs must work together to develop a shared business strategy.
  • Putting budgets aside, each department must own the customer moment and embrace the mobile mind shift.
  • IT should turn big data into insight and into action.
  • Lastly, marketers must transform the customer experience by uniting the brand.
  1. Marketing should be agile. The most nimble marketing organizations assign clearly defined roles, promote open communication and foster creativity in every marketing function. Working in an agile culture (with actual stand-ups and sprints) will translate into effective project planning cycles and ultimately more successful programs.
  2. Email marketing is here to stay. Research shows that email marketing spend is increasing at an average rate of 9% per year, yet two-thirds of marketers are dissatisfied with their Email Service Providers (ESPs). Despite more recent communication channels like SMS, social media and mobile apps, 98% of enterprise marketers think email is the marketing workhorse in their programs. I would challenge B2B communication experts to consider the numbers. The open rate of emails is 22%, compared to 98% of text messages which get opened and read. Additionally, the percentage of clicks a URL receives in an email is only 4.2% on average (Mailchimp), whereas the CTR of an SMS message is 19%. SMS marketing is now becoming more and more common, with a performance which is greater than email marketing.
  3. Your content strategy should be global. Best practices for revamping your website with a global edge include defining a consistent structure (i.e. by product or region) that includes translation and automation, as well as establishing a governance policy with clear definitions of global vs. local content owners.
  4. Analytics are underrated. Not only does Adobe offer a suite of campaign management and analytics products with sophisticated features for every level of enterprise user, but many of Google’s web services are free, intuitive, and still underutilized by most companies.
  5. Google is still king. The company continues to launch more mobile-first products. Google Display Ads (GDA), Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs), call-out extensions, and targeting vs. bidding strategies are all tools that companies should be using to not only generate lift, but also to increase brand awareness.

While the debate rages on, I’m convinced that marketing is a unique blend of both art and science. Only marketers who can create compelling, targeted campaigns that drive measurable results will succeed in the end. Encouragingly, I saw first-hand that many businesses are working hard to achieve this balance.

If you attended the Adobe Digital Marketing Summit, please share your biggest insights or findings from the show.