On November 14 and 15, I went to the Internet Summit, the destination for the latest trends, technologies, best practices and hands-on techniques you need to stay relevant in digital marketing today.

This year’s Summit was right here in Raleigh, NC — Just a hop, skip and a jump from Zift’s Cary, NC office. Not even the rainy, chilly weather could stop the feeling in the air; this conference had energy, people. Energy. It was brimming with excitement.  

The Internet Summit is a hotbed of ideas for digital marketers, with nearly a hundred sessions led by top brands and industry thought leaders to pick from and hundreds of other attendees to network with. I knew I’d have to be choosy on what sessions to attend, but with keynotes by The Onion’s Scott Dikkers, Amazon’s Dave Isbitski and best-selling author and speaker Seth Godin, along with with sessions by folks from YouTube, Cisco and ESPN, I knew I was going to leave a lot smarter than when I arrived. I’ll admit I was particularly excited about hearing Scott Dikkers’ keynote as I’m a longtime subscriber of The Onion.


Sir Walter Raleigh surveying his city just outside the convention center. He seems pleased.

On a personal note, this was also my first non-academic conference… ever. I walked in totally unsure of what to expect. I had a great time learning, networking and attending sessions on everything from content marketing tips by Gartner to social media takeaways from the SVP of Social Content at ESPN. While all of you tradeshow and event veterans may be immune to it, I was blown away by the presence and aisles of swag from digital marketing leaders like IBM and Marketo.

I walked away from those booths and the Summit with a grab bag of goodies from the experts. Reach on in and take one to rev up your digital marketing efforts:



Freebie #1: Consistency is Key

This one comes courtesy of Godfrey’s Michael Barber. Is your messaging and voice consistent? Simplicity and sameness are elements to strive for with the bulk of your communication. People do not want to be surprised by a completely different voice appearing suddenly from one campaign to another. Make your branding and messaging mirror each other in tone from one email or whitepaper to the next. What tips partners or customers off that this email is connected to your brand? This includes brand terms as well. Consistency saves time, makes communication clearer and shortens the sales cycle.


Freebie #2: Dig Into the Data

I don’t mean, “Take that campaign your partners loved, change a few words and send it back out expecting more success.” What I got from Gartner’s Heather Pemberton Levy is more along the lines of this: Examine why your popular content works, and use those findings to pull another white success rabbit from your magic content hat.

Something Levy mentioned that I resonated with is, “Don’t settle for data. Uncover insights in your data.” Look at the metrics that matter most to you, whatever those are, and figure out what you can pull out of them. Discover meaning in your analytics, and use that to make future campaigns better and more targeted.  Maybe you’re trying to drive more engagement from partners in a specific region, and you had success with a particular campaign in the past. Examine that campaign under an analytic microscope, and produce something that meets the same needs.


Freebie #3: Wear Your Heart on Your Digital Sleeve

Over half of executive-level leaders wish companies would take a visible stand on issues impacting society. Now, don’t worry, I’m not saying you have to pick a highly divisive issue and take a definitive side (several marketers were overheard mentioning Nike as an example of this). Rather, remember that your audience is made up of people. So is your organization. It can be all too easy to come up with content for your partners to send out that focuses entirely on your products or solutions. Throwing in occasional mentions over social media to the good your company is doing or can do via your products, or even just promoting a company that’s doing great things, will go a long way in helping you stand out in the eyes of your partners and end users.


It was an action-packed couple of days. Were you in attendance? If not, do you remember your first conference? Tell me all about it in the comments — I’d love to know if you too got lost finding the well-labeled ballroom on the first floor.