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5 Key Takeaways from Digital Summit NYC 

Digital Summit NYC was filled with cutting-edge content sessions designed for digital marketers, product designers, and industry leading brands to discuss the latest trends, strategies, and network learnings.

Here are five key takeaways from this year’s Digital Summit NYC.  

1. Tell Your Story 

A major theme coming out of new brand strategies this year is embracing the idea of letting the consumer take an “inside look” into the business’ story. This can be the story of how the founders were driven to solve a problem that ultimately led to the start of the business or giving the customer a look “under the hood” of the day-to-day business workings. Consumers are responding positively to brands creating a new sense of vulnerability as they allow a deeper look inside of their operations.  

This vulnerable look at the business tends to activate consumer emotions and more authentically communicate the brand’s values, which can deepen the relationship with its customers. Why should a customer continue to support a brand or continue to buy a product? Purchase decisions are getting more complicated, and consumers want to feel like they are part of a community with the brand, not just a purely transactional relationship.  

Kyle Cooke, Founder of Loverboy, a premium, better-for-you beverage brand, presented his personal experience giving his customers an inside view into building the business, forming the brand, and dealing with the logistics of creating a now multi-million-dollar business. Cooke noticed customers started to resonate with the message and values on which he was building his business. Downstream, performance was also being impacted. He also explained that after sharing the brand’s story, they noticed increased conversation rates and return purchases from existing customers.  

2. Foster a Community Around the Brand 

Building a community around a brand is more crucial than it has ever been. The customer-business relationship is not seen as purely transactional, but rather a support system of businesses providing value and consumers providing support for and representation for the brand. Consumers vote with their dollars, supporting the brands they believe hold true to their own values. In this new dynamic, brands must truly understand their audience base and respond in kind.  

Brands are building out roles designed to focus on building a community. These “Community Manager” roles are created to bring customers together over a topic or problem the brand aims to help solve. The emphasis is on the brand fostering a deeper relationship with the consumer base through these shared values and initiatives.    

Brands are also implementing changes that provide mutually beneficial value for their communities. SEO strategies are incorporating reviews and engagement to capitalize on the momentum of the story telling growth in the business. Influencer endorsements can also help broaden audiences by providing a deeper engagement with a brand.  

3. eCommerce Marketplaces are Growing  

The traditional marketing funnel is getting disrupted. Technology platforms are creating frictionless connections with customers by way of social storefronts and immersive features. A record 98% of consumers plan to make a purchase on social media in 2022. Brands are responding to this increase in monetization points by testing new platforms and adjusting their go-to-market strategy.  

The largest change brands should make is just being where the customer is. Social platforms used to be considered as a higher intent channel that would help influence the customer down the funnel and ultimately assist the customer journey to a conversion. Now, platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook are putting their store integrations at the forefront of the user experience to help brands monetize.  

The marketplace ecosystem is also growing. Gone are the days of just Amazon and eBay. Brands like Walmart, Target, CVS, and DoorDash are building their own marketplaces, expanding their reach and convenience to consumers. This growing ecosystem has also started an international battleground where businesses compete for wallet share of local markets. Software as a Service (SaaS) has allowed rapid expansions in adopting new technologies and brands into new geographies around the world, but brand recognition remains a constant in local markets. Knowing which popular brick-and-mortar locations resonate with consumers could be crucial in understanding which marketplace is best for testing your go-to-market strategy.  

4. Influencer Marketing is Expanding Into All Parts of Marketing  

Influencer campaigns continue to expand into brands’ marketing budgets. Influencer marketing is expected to reach over $4 billion in spend in 2022 and exceed $5 billion in 2023. Social platforms are also catering to the increase in influencer marketing by creating marketplaces, such as Tik Tok’s Creator Marketplace, which establishes an easy way for brands and creators to collaborate on campaigns.  

A major theme for leveraging influencers within your brand’s strategy is to understand the relationship the influencer has with their niche audience. Influencers can help facilitate community growth within a brand by aligning their audiences with a brand based on shared values. This can be a strong driver of downstream performance.   

Other platforms are recognizing this growing trend to boost effectiveness in metrics outside of conversion. Google’s new AI-powered SEO algorithm is starting to build training data around the momentum brands receive when working with influencers and the increased engagement that comes with them. Content collaborations, endorsements, reviews, and mentions with the audience are boosting search rankings, which allow users to better resonate with the brands they engage with the most.  

Another major theme within choosing the correct influencer strategy for your brand is authenticity. Beyond aligned values, influencer campaigns have more success when their content fosters real relationships with their community instead of trying to create the “perfect” aesthetic. This can result in content that is less polished and more niche, ultimately helping to build a more personal relationship with the consumer instead of seeing it as an advertisement.  

5. AI/Machine Learning is on the Rise 

“Artificial Intelligence,” “machine learning,” and “algorithms” used to be buzz words that were thrown around the digital marketing space to inspire a data-driven future. Today, platforms are rolling out updates that are now incorporating data-driven models to help automate decisions around brands’ marketing mix, optimizations, intent, and much more.  

Marketers can dip into these new strategies by testing them for their own go-to-market portfolios. Updated bidding strategies are using multiple touchpoints along the user’s conversion journey to understand how to bid on specific keywords, audiences, behavioral segment, and even site content to achieve a higher return for the business. Content curation and content generation are also starting to balloon. Ad copy can be generated via machine learning by suggesting headlines and content that is similar to a linked site.  

Google Analytics (GA4) is upgrading to include new data collective methodologies and predictive models such as churn probability, estimated revenue, and audience groups. The upgrade also aims to provide machine learning insights for brands to maximize their first-party data and help consumers retain their data privacy. Brands can start tagging their site with GA4 today and begin gathering new data in parallel with their existing site analytics.  

As with all data-driven actions in marketing, the key to leveraging these new updates will be working closely with your data and analytics team to make sure there is a seamless feedback loop between the selected platform and your business’ data.  

Digital Summit NYC: Final Thoughts 

Digital Summit NYC was packed with digital marketing-focused sessions to help brands and individuals maximize their marketing expertise, continue learning, and network with other professionals. The Digital Summit Series has multiple sessions in cities around the country every couple of weeks. Research which speakers and topics will be covered to help bring the expertise and learning to you and your team. 

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Tags: Data Strategy, eCommerce, Digital Consulting, Marketing and Media Services