Last week we attended what is described as “The Definitive Digital Marketing Gathering” of 2016—the Digital Summit in Minneapolis. It definitely lived up to its billing of providing real-world, practical solutions happening at the crossroads of marketing, analytics, user experience and emerging technologies. Over 500 marketers attended and heard the latest updates, case studies and content processes from digital experts at Microsoft, Intel, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Pandora and more.

What we learned and what you need to know:

Content Strategy

Creation, promotion, amplification and budget were all popular topics with the top takeaway being that content alone does not make a strong campaign. You can put content out there until the cows come home, but without a rock-solid promotion, amplification and optimizing strategy it cannot and will not touch the goals you’ve set for it, because frankly most of your audience doesn’t know it’s there.

Mobile

Mobile is the future. It was present in every seminar. Mobile usage, designing for mobile, Google Accelerated Mobile Pages and overall consumption of content on mobile devices was reinforced.

Google and Social Media

All the top digital brands were dissected, prodded and discussed over the two-day summit. Google has made over 600 algorithm changes in 2016, Facebook video continues to grow and Snapchat is something all marketers have to respect. Paid social advertising budgets continue to grow with several verticals having success with targeted niche marketing.

Email

Believe it or not, email continues to be a force to be reckoned with and is very much “not dead.” Millennials use and prefer email as much as previous email users. The takeaway on email—test more than a subject line, and a first name in the greeting does not make it a personalized email. The ROI on welcome emails and lifetime value all received significant stage time during the sessions with several follow-up questions and side conversations between sessions among colleagues and marketers of all levels trying to leverage this important medium.

Reputation Management

Andy Beal, the original online reputation expert ™ discussed reputation management and the statistics were alarming if not new to most brands. The sobering fact that 83% of companies will have a reputation management issue in the next three years, resonated with the entire audience and the fact that 87% of consumers associate the reputation of the brand with the leaders of the company was a reminder for all marketers to do a reputation audit for the company. This keynote was funny, enlightening and relevant to everyone in attendance.

Your Marketing Department

Modern marketing departments were the highlight of a session with Matt Zilli of Marketo who focused our awareness on what makes an agile marketing department. Strong marketing departments today have a mixture of Thinkers, Feelers, and Doers. This allows for teams that can understand the data and the big picture, empathize with the customer, implement the tactics and the strategy, and bring feedback into the process.

The Digital Summit Minneapolis 2016 did not disappoint. In fact, the event sold out and 2017 is already being planned. We will be there, ready to learn and to bring all the latest best practices back for our clients.

What are the digital challenges you’re facing in 2016? What are your top priorities for 2017? Let’s discuss your content and strategy needs.