Stickyeyes attended Econsultancy’s Future of Digital Marketing Conference #FODM last week.  As a panel member I was given the opportunity to do some preaching as well as a lot of listening and learning.

Here are my top 5 takeaways from the day.  Some very insightful, some just too funny not to broadcast.

1.    The ultimate description of Twitter and Facebook

Many people have tackled this, but one of the people at Exact Target interviewed for their recent report absolutely nailed it:

I like to think of Twitter as my connection to the people I wish I had gone to school with, whereas Facebook is how I’m connected with the people I was unfortunate to actually go to school with

Credit to a great presentation from Kyle Lacy.

2.    The future of high street retail

Andy Harding gave a great presentation on how House of Fraser are blurring the lines between on and offline by creating stores branded that allow you to order via terminals in store or pick up whatever you ordered.  With Andy suggesting the Aberdeen trial store should pay for itself within 12 months it’s pretty clear that model is something customers are looking for.

3.    Be the brand

Ling Valentine of Dragon’s Den fame didn’t present, she put on a one woman show.   Given her pitch to the Dragons back in 2006 the audience expected the unexpected, and naturally Ling didn’t disappoint. It’s the first time I’ve seen someone ask the audience to stand for the Chinese national anthem…There was a lesson though, love or hate her (or indeed her utterly chaotic but strangely appealing Lings Cars website she gave us all a lesson in what it means to truly embody a brand.   In her words, she polarises people, and of course that’s all part of the carefully crafted plan. The level of PR she gets is extremely impressive and this undoubtedly has an effect on her search rankings. For the highly competitive term, “car leasing” she’s 2nd in Google.

4.    Quant data withdrawal symptoms

One question put to the panel I sat on was how online marketers were going to track customers effectively given the ever increasing number of devices people are using and recent cookie legislation.  While technical solutions are out there I felt it worthwhile to remind some of the younger and probably brighter attendees of a more ‘traditional’ but well proven marketing tactic for understanding your customers – talking to them.  As digital marketers I think we sometimes forget that in the most part customers are pretty happy to give you an opinion (if you reward them for it). We need to remember that quant data, while extremely useful, isn’t the be all and end all.  Sometime you need to stop looking at your screen and pick up the phone, or better still go and visit your customers.

5.    Online customer service and SEO

I was also asked the question, “From an SEO point of view it should be pretty clear what the benefits of great content, and content marketing, can bring, but what about online/social customer service? Where is the overlap, or opportunities, in terms of SEO and customer service?” Luckily, our recent intelligence report on the online clothing market (please drop us a line if you’d like a copy) had the answer. For some of the top female fashion brands we took a look at all the content they pushed out to the web over a 6 month period and categorised it. For ASOS over 35% of their online content was directly related to customer service.  ASOS also rank extremely well and that’s no co-incidence. Being a ‘good corporate citizen’ not only helps your brand it also has a direct effect on your rankings as people spread the word.

Of course, these are only a selection of the insights to come out of the event which seems to be gathering pace year-on-year as one of the highlights of the digital marketing calendar. If you've got any more to share we’d love to hear them.