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We wanted the latest on digital marketing and we got it. The Dallas Digital Summit earlier this month was a feast of everything from content marketing, analytics and SEO to UX design and disruptive technology. We’ve served up our key learnings below – enjoy!


Mallory & GDD Interactive Team at #DDSUM14

Be Empathetic

At #DDSUM14, knowing who to interact with and how to track those interactions were heavy topics. However, my creative ears perked up when the topic of how to interact with users was discussed. Technology will always change how people interact, but our human connection will always want simple and intimate interactions. As designers, marketers and/or developers, we have to understand each user’s pain points and wants. This is why I love UX design. It’s about empathy and ambition. It’s about understanding why a user feels a certain way, finding a solution that fits that specific need, and doing it simply. UX is based off of emotion, and if it’s successful, it should not only boost ROI, but evoke emotion. – Mallory Ming


J.Crew Email Slide at #DDSUM14

Design for the Primal Brain

We all move so quickly we forget to go back to the basics. This is something that I really took away from #DDSUM14, especially during Christopher Lester’s talk, “The Sixth Sense of Marketing: How Our Primal Brain Rules When and Why We Click.” We all learn about color psychology, but often forget to apply it to our banners, landing pages and emails. Perhaps we shouldn’t make that CTA button yellow, but rather a relaxing blue to indicate trust, and maybe we should think about a bit more white space on our emails. Emma’s Lester cited J.Crew as a great example of brand doing everything right in email … it’s no wonder I spend so much money there.

Email Preheader Text Slide at #DDSUM14

On another note, Matt Byrd from Litmus spent some time discussing preheader text, which is something new in the email world. We all spend so much time on our mobile phones that now we need to think about how our content comes across on the mobile phone. Preheader text gives consumers a little more detail when viewing the email in the inbox and has increased open rates for multiple brands. “You get preheader text!” – Lauren Geary


Make the Experience Seamless

The key takeaway from #DDSUM14 for me was something that we all know and are probably too scared or moving too quickly to admit. The evolution of technology is surpassing brands’ abilities to properly understand, apply to a holistic strategy, and implement, before it is too late and no longer relevant. It is causing many brands to become reactive, either not thinking through the entire consumer experience or the true breadth of application across channels, or by the time it is released, the consumer already expects it. Being at the forefront of the consumer experience takes time, budget and making all touch points of the consumer experience seamless.

One of the most interesting moments at the conference for me was listening to a technology team member of American Airlines talk about beacon technology and how they are applying it to enhance their app notifications for a more targeted approach to communicating with their customers. Knowing that beacon technology can also be used to connect data of online touch points and offline touch points, I asked how he felt it had changed their marketing budget attribution. With all of the excitement of having beacon technology to increase the consumer experience, it isn’t yet being applied to smarter marketing. It seems that with so many moving parts, it is hard for even the biggest brands to not silo.  – Stephanie Bursa


Make Every Update Count Slide at #DDSUM14

Leverage Social Messaging

Mel Carson’s talk on social media and digital ROI highlighted this indispensable point: It’s vital to the relevancy of your brand that every piece of content counts – including every social post. Leveraging a handful of key features in every post can also ensure that your message conveys value by way of a unique purpose. Key features to consider:

  • Show your authentic personality
  • Prompt consumers to do something by including a direct call to action
  • Make it obvious that your brand is customer-centric and it’s always all about “you”
  • Don’t shy away from using words that convey emotion and humanize your brand
  • Add a range of detail so that there’s something for everyone

– Jennifer Campbell


Content Marketing Calendar Slide at #DDSUM14

Target Customer Personas

I think what I learned most at the Dallas Digital Summit is a combination of content creation and personas. I learned how to create better content for clients in an easier way and how to manipulate that content to fit various personas that would be interested in a brand. When thinking of content creation, think of the people asking questions about your brand and try to build content that would answer those questions for the personas interested. I enjoyed hearing Seth Dotterer and Arnie Kuenn speak. Can’t wait till next year! – Sarah Reeves


Tell Stories of How Your Brand Cares Slide at #DDSUM14

Listen to Your Haters

The most powerful lesson I walked away from the Dallas Digital Summit with is to listen, really listen, to the people who are hating on your brand. And the most important of this group? The people who previously loved your brand and have “broken up” with you. They’re saying things that your brand doesn’t want to hear but NEEDS to hear. Social media gives us incredible tools for listening to more consumers than ever, engaging with them and turning their impressions around. And showing your brand cares is vital to winning over consumers. Empathy, authenticity, relevancy and usefulness are key to incredible brand content. – Carolyn Haynes


Humanize & Personalize Marketing Slide at #DDSUM14

Don’t Forget to Be Human

Even though the conference was not developer-centric, Dallas Digital Summit 2014 allowed me to learn about many issues that are often the topic of discussion on the other side of the office. While I found the UX topics aligned most with my skill set, the panels about analytics and data collection were particularly interesting to me. When the dust settled, I took away a key point that I heard over and over throughout the conference: Whether you are designing a user experience, marketing to a consumer or managing a brand’s social media, don’t forget to be human. – Brian Cobbel


GDD Interactive Team Hanging Out at #DDSUM14

Optimize Website Structure

On-page markup enables search engines to understand the information on web pages and provide richer search results in order to make it easier for users to find relevant information on the web. – Schema.org

One of the things I realized, while out at the summit, was the importance of structured data “under-the-hood.” Our creative team adds their magic and makes important information visually stand out to our customers, but if our customers have a hard time even finding out that the information exists in the first place, then we have failed them. Simply by adding some additional markup to support the user interface we can increase the reach to a larger audience and provide a richer experience to our customers with relevant information to match their searches. – Jason Guthery


Get Disruptive

I learned a lot about SEO, search, UX and social at the Dallas Digital Summit, but I think my favorite topic was disruptive technology. The real innovation is coming from the ways we use technology in our daily lives & finding ways to get in front of consumers like we never have before. That’s the idea behind the “Internet of Things,” where everything about you has an IP address. Especially for millennials who are all about “stuff”-ification – they don’t want “things,” they want experiences. – Lisa Case


New Keys to SEO Slide at #DDSUM14

Don’t Think Digitally

The Dallas Digital Summit featured its fair share of presenters who discussed things very non-digital. Matt Wallaert, the behavioral scientist, asked us to question our consumers’ basic human motivations. Flip Caderao impressed on us the importance of empowering consumers to share their own stories. Emma’s Chris Lester asked us to cater our visual solutions to the primal yearnings of the consumer’s brain. And finally, Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz, laid out recent changes to Google Analytics that better enable the search engine to reward unique, authentic content over the SEO tricks of old. If I walked away from #DDSUM14 with only one thing it was to NOT think digitally. Digital is, still, just a medium, a conduit for creative ideas and concepts. And we have no excuse but to produce the best content for our consumer. And never in the medium’s brief history is digital more prepared to deliver quality creative. – Rene Moffatt


GDD Interactive at Dallas Digital Summit

Emphasize Quality Content

I was energized to see the continued focus on quality content and engagement as the single most powerful factor for success in digital marketing. In nearly every session, from mobile technology to SEO to email, the hottest topic was how essential good content is. Google has pushed us harder than anyone in this, as rankings are now more than ever tied directly to quality and relevance of content.

Several presenters reinforced that notion that content is so valuable, in fact, that many brands are spending media dollars on promoting content, and are at times moving dollars from influencer outreach/engagement and into content publication. That’s incredibly exciting. I have always believed that compelling content — whether it be an ad, an article or a book — is more powerful than any offer. What I saw at #DDSUM14 (a.k.a. #GDDSum14) reinforced that.

I’d also like to add that it was such a pleasure to see nearly the entire GDD team participate so actively in this great learning experience. Some took away more than others, but every GDDer there was engaged, looking for the insights, and hungry to learn. – Guy Dineen


We live-tweeted throughout the Summit, too. View our Twitter cards.