A couple of weeks ago in sunny San Diego, we wrapped up IBM Amplify, an annual conference where customers from a variety of IBM Commerce solutions gather to learn from executives, fellow clients and practitioners as they discuss the latest trends in marketing, commerce, customer analytics and merchandising.
For me, this spring ritual is always so energizing. I love catching up with the thousands of marketers who make the trip and getting the chance to spend time with valued clients, sharing the latest news and announcements. Based on these conversations with customers and the various announcements made during the event, I put together my top eight key takeaways from the conference and have also included related resources for those of you who would like to explore each topic a little further:
1) Marketers have a passion for learning.
Whether it’s discovering new techniques to better use the digital marketing technologies at their fingertips, or learning tips and tricks to make their lives easier and improve marketing effectiveness, I was amazed by not only the dedication of our customers to learn, but also the innovative campaigns they are deploying. While the San Diego Convention Center is a fabulous venue and temptation is right out the front door, folks were packing into all of the breakout sessions, eager to hear the latest and best tips and techniques that they could take back to the office.
For a digital marketing assessment and related tips, check out the Ultimate Guide to Assessing Your Digital Marketing Program
2) Marketers must have support back home.
Support comes in many shapes and sizes: Support from executives to forge ahead with new programs and ways to work is vital; support from IT to implement Web tracking on URLs and SDKs to embed into their next round of mobile apps; support from the sales organization to create agreed upon lead definitions, service levels and recycle 'back to nurture’ programs is a mandatory part of transforming B2B companies especially. It’s often easy to see the frustration on the attendees who face challenges if they don’t have full commitment back “home,” but their fellow peers often can provide tips or insight into how to achieve company-wide investment and support.
If you fall into the group that needs more buy-in from colleagues, check out The New CMO Guide: A Handbook for Marketing Leaders.
3) Marketers want to know how they stack up.
Everyone is anxious to hear metrics – it provides marketers with a baseline to see how their programs stand up to their industry peers and gives teams a way to receive executive buy-in. The marketers I spoke with were not only interested in the traditional email marketing metrics like opens and clicks, but also statistics like revenue and market share growth and marketing attribution percentages. This shift in thinking tells me that more marketers than ever are becoming much more strategic contributors to business success.
For Silverpop’s latest digital marketing analysis and trends, take a look at the 2014 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study.
4) Marketers want to compare ecosystems.
Among one of my favorite slides in the many presentations I listened to was the chart of each presenters' digital ecosystem: What the ecosystem technology stack looks like, what data is integrated into the digital systems, where data is being captured and what the key outputs are. It was pretty much guaranteed that when a presenter showed this ecosystem chart, viewers’ smartphones were going up like crazy to capture that slide for future reference.
Interested in incorporating data from other technologies into your digital marketing mix? Check out 8 Tips for Thriving in Today’s Data-Driven Marketing World.
5) Marketers can learn from many other marketers – even in different verticals.
Toward the end of the conference when I was doing an informal poll, asking folks what their biggest takeaways were, many had done such a great job of absorbing techniques from completely unrelated industries. And, they were eager to go home to apply these learnings to their own situations. What many of these practitioners found is that the best results are coming from those companies that are putting behavioral techniques first and slowing down on the straight-up blast emails that are losing effectiveness across all industries and verticals.
If you are looking to incorporate a more behavior-based, automated approach, 7 Tips for Generating Content for Automated Emails provides the insight you need to get started.
6) “Experience,” “customer journey” and “personas” are hot topics.
Today’s most sophisticated marketers are looking to get closer to their clients and prospects. I managed the “Customer Journey” track at the conference and came away very impressed with the fresh thinking and customer-focused design and journey-based implementations. In fact, the new customer-centric planning and management techniques are so important that IBM announced IBM Journey Designer and IBM Journey Analytics at the show. I can’t wait to see marketing (and the marketing department) transform even more, increasing their relevance within all types of organizations, with these important tools.
For additional tips on creating meaningful customer journeys, please feel free to view my recent webinar Using Customer Journey Planning to Drive Digital Marketing Success.
7) Those that don’t attend are at risk.
Like the kids that sit on the bench for an entire sports season, I worry about those marketers that don't attend at least one or two educational conferences a year. Marketing is quickly evolving, and new skills are necessary. The best way to make these changes happen is to immerse yourself and attend sessions - both keynotes and breakouts at key vendor and industry conferences. If company resources are an issue, there are most likely local events in your region that wouldn’t require additional travel expenses.
I hate to disappoint you, but you probably won’t become a transformative marketer by sitting in your office or cube and reading user manuals. If you find yourself in this group, I hope you will make a full court press to go to one of the excellent fall conferences that are sure to emerge over the summer.
In addition to attending key tradeshows and events, these tips are also helpful for creating a more dynamic marketing team: 15 Tips for Enhancing Your Marketing Team’s Vision, Skills and Data.
8) And of course, marketers really know how to have fun.
Face it, marketing is the coolest place to be in your company – and that includes being the most awesome group of people! I loved being able to chat with customers outside of the daily sessions at the event’s concert with Aloe Blacc and various cocktail receptions. The great personalities and people within the marketing field are a big reason why the industry is becoming increasingly important and relevant in businesses across the globe.
We don’t think you need additional resources or tips for having fun!