Navigating the Ever-Changing Digital Marketing Landscape – Top 5 Takeaways from #DMWF

By: Steve Jones

October 28, 2016


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Guest post by Katelyn Brower, Digital Marketing Coordinator at Dun & Bradstreet


I recently attended Digital Marketing World Forum in NYC. Advertised as one of the leading social media and digital marketing conferences, it definitely did not disappoint.

Many digital & social influencers filled the room and stood only 10 feet away from me. I was surrounded by the experts – those who I strive to be every single day. It was an exciting opportunity to learn from the best: Sean GardnerSummer Anne BurtonMartin JonesDrew Neisser…just to name a few.

I learned from the best, yes, and I learned a lot—I tweeted, I wrote down notes (actually hand-written,) and I stored a lot up in my head. After running through my tweets, my notes, and remembering everything else, I found that 5 main ideas/topics stood out to me.

Here are my top 5 key takeaways from #DMWF:

Influencer Marketing – it is not just an online presence.

If you work in marketing, you definitely hear influencer marketing at least 5 times a day – whether it pertains to your department or not, the influencer marketing chatter lingers around the office. This topic was huge at #DMWF and the experts definitely shared a vast amount of knowledge.

You know when you’re at an event and there’s always that one thing a speaker says where everyone starts aggressively nodding in agreement? Well, at #DMWF, the mass nodding happened during the Influencer Marketing Masterclass panel discussion – and it wasn’t just in-person nodding, the twitter-sphere was nodding as well.

“Influencer marketing is both online & offline,” said social media influencer & Cox Business Sr. Marketing Manager, Martin Jones. A simple statement, but probably one of the most important takeaways around this topic.

We can easily connect with influencers online – they write amazing articles about our latest product, they send out a couple of inspiring quotes from our recent event, but what happens when our products, solutions, or even company values are brought up offline? How will your influencer speak on your behalf?

Often we forget that influencers are human and it is crucial that we create positive relationships with them. “We must align with an influencer’s interests,” said Drew Neisser, CEO of Renegade, LLC. An influencer cannot effectively support your product or solution if he/she has no specific knowledge or interest – that simply will not work.

We must build these relationships first. With more authenticity, we will see higher engagement.

Live Streaming – it is live, it is now, so how do we measure?

Everyone wants the best answers, the top products/solutions to solve any problem, and everyone wants it fast. In a world where on-demand & one click away are the norm, what better way to market to your audience than through live-streaming?

I was particularly interested in the Art of Story Telling: Content Marketing Masterclass. And no I am not a content marketer, but I do see all the different types of content my company produces and pushes out first hand. Facebook Live, Periscope, Snapchat, and Instagram Stories are all being discussed as next steps for my team’s social strategy, so I was curious as to what the experts at BuzzFeed and National Geographic had to say.

National Geographic’s Claudia Malley started the panel discussion by stating, “Our visual content is what connects us to our audience.” This isn’t just the case for NatGeo, all companies must lead with visual assets to pull their targeted audience in and create personalized relationships. Malley went on to discuss NatGeo’s strategy for live streaming. “It’s basic journalism,” Malley explained. The strategy must target a specific person/subject, a voice must be established, and to keep followers engaged from the start, companies need to lead with where they are and what they are doing.

Success for live-streaming campaigns can involve basic social media metrics (likes, shares, comments) but Malley and Buzzfeed’s Summer Anne Burton shared that success comes from seeing how many viewers stay until the end. This is key for success, since live-streaming is essentially competing with TV. Burton went into the success of Buzzfeed’s Watermelon Explosion and how it is still considered one of the best campaigns ever on Facebook Live. (I absolutely loved this campaign, an exploding watermelon, so random! But SO GOOD!)

Marketers can achieve success with any campaign as long as they have the right content. For NatGeo and Buzzfeed, visual and live assets allow them to gain credit in their company’s space and push their brand in the right direction.

Brand Authenticity – Be bold, but be true to your brand.

I sometimes think marketers forget that when they go-to-market, the final product (whether it is a tweet, sponsored LinkedIn post, native advertisement, etc.) is the brand speaking out to the audience. We constantly see failed social media and other marketing attempts in the spotlight …& while some may be a simple mishap/error, others are a result of marketers not asking these questions: Would my company say this? Is this what my brand stands for?

Matt Montei, Sr. Marketing Director, Confections & Seasonal at Wrigley, explained how these are the questions they ask for every Skittles campaign. Montei introduced us to “The Rainbow,” the brand voice for Skittles. “What would The Rainbow do?” = a question that validates brand authenticity and makes sure all messaging is valuable.

All companies should identify their “rainbow.” While marketing campaigns need to be bold and powerful, they need to be authentic in order to reach customers/prospects the right way.

Innovation – Marketing is at the center of success.

Innovation is another buzzword that travels around marketing – as marketers we find ourselves complimenting other brands saying, “wow, they are really innovative.” But what does that mean? Icreon Tech’s Steven Lamensdorf did a great job of bringing innovation and marketing together and explaining how marketers are at the epicenter of innovation.

He started his session with a surprising stat – 90% of innovation initiatives are abandoned or failed, costing Fortune 1000 companies around 80 million a year. I was shocked to hear this, especially in relation to innovation. Companies are trying to modernize and be revolutionary, but are failing to do so. How can we overcome this challenge? Enter marketing…

Lamensdorf went on to explain how agile is the foundation of innovation. Much like innovation, being agile sets a concrete surface for marketing initiatives as well. With a solid foundation, marketers can successfully navigate through layers and innovate.

Two ideas that stood out to me from Lamensdorf’s session were his ideas on personas and use cases. Are the personas we use in marketing too generalized? Possibly – it is true that we can be taking away from the personalized experience by bucketing a large audience into one persona. Revamping the traditional use case and turning it into a user story could help break out generalized personas. User stories allow marketers to see who wants what and why. From there, the answers can be mapped out into themes and prioritized for business needs.

The right understanding and process allows for successful innovation. Marketers can reduce the 90% abandon/failure rate by taking control of their location at the epicenter.

Deeper than Engagement – A new look at social strategy & success.

In 2016, a social media strategy is a core part of any marketing department. If companies aren’t on social media, do they even exist? With a large brand presence, both B2B and B2C, in the social world, it can be difficult for certain companies to stand out. Engagement has always been a top metric that social teams report on to show success, but what is beyond engagement?

Social Chain, a social media agency, goes deeper than engagement to produce ground-breaking campaigns. CEO, Steve Bartlett, discussed his truly remarkable company, its roots, and where it is today…going beyond engagement.

Bartlett showed a lot of examples from Social Chain, such as the Rex Secco hoax, but the key points below stood out from each example.

> New approach to traditional – your social campaigns don’t need to be completely revamped, but a new/modern approach to traditional strategies can have a positive effect.

> Work with other teams to showcase messages – social media is only one area of marketing. Collaboration with other teams is key for campaigns to get maximum exposure.

> Reach audience on an emotional level – while it is great for a Twitter promotion to get 100+ retweets, finding out how the promotion performed on a sentimental level is great insight into what assets, messaging, and other components are working…or not.

 > Test different types of messaging – Bartlett discussed trying opposite messaging: go to market with the complete opposite of what your audience would expect and scarcity messaging: make your audience act now rather than later on a specific offer.

It is important to reflect on social media campaigns on all levels. Bartlett offered great advice on going deeper than the typical engagement metric, testing new methods, and ultimately determining campaign success in the areas that make sense.


I had an incredible time at DMWF and was fortunate enough to learn a lot, not only about digital marketing, but in my specific field of social media marketing too. I am excited to take my learnings, apply them to my current social strategy, and push my efforts forward in a positive direction.


Digital Marketing World Forum is visiting Dubai, Singapore, Amsterdam and London as part of it’s world tour. Find out more and register you pass today!

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