3 Takeaways from the ROCKS Digital Marketing Conference

Amy Bybee 7/6/2017


Last week, I was just one lucky marketer among 300 that rocked digital marketing conversations in Addison, Texas at the ROCKS Digital Marketing Conference. With over 25 expert speakers, the digital conversations happened to be some of the best I have ever been a part of. Although I ran the Q&A for marketing automation, I still benefited from a wealth of conversation that highlighted some consistent themes—some of which are worth sharing here.

As marketers continue to navigate the complicated, ever-changing waters of the current marketing climate, tackling some of these issues below can make a big impact.

1. Your Website Needs a Strategic Purpose

I found it astonishing that more than half of conference attendees don’t have a defined purpose for their organization’s website! They don’t know the expectations, nor do they have a clear picture of what success looks like. This big part of organizational real estate must have a strategic and clearly defined purpose, and marketers must be able to track its ROI. Simply wanting a better website is not a clear objective, and many professionals end up learning the hard way that launching a website without a plan for its success won’t correlate to business results.

Typically, a website should accomplish any of the following goals:

  • Sell products and services
  • Generate leads
  • Establish credentials
  • Educate visitors

Based on these goals, your site’s design, navigation, and functionality can vary greatly. But once the purpose is established, you can then set characteristics and micro-goals that help you track the overall success.

2. Marketing Automation Technology Is Grossly Underutilized

As email marketing has evolved into marketing automation software, I was surprised to see that over half of the marketers at the conference are simply using their marketing automation for email only. And even when it comes to enhancing email with more advanced automation techniques, a large segment of marketers has a long way to go.

Personalization through dynamic content can have a significant impact on a website’s performance. Many marketers understand this, yet the strategy is largely unused. Why? Throughout the conference, marketers mentioned that the logic involved in building a marketing automation workflow took too long and was hard to manage. Other advanced features like lead scoring, social media marketing, and other channels that integrate with the marketing mix are not being used—likely for the same reasons.

It’s not that marketers don’t want to use these techniques. They do. The challenge for most marketers, however, is that the tech stack is not fully integrated, and customer data that would otherwise make it possible to create dynamic content or engage in profile-based targeting is still heavily siloed.  I maintain that many, if not all of the challenges associated with marketing automation technology would be resolved if tech stacks were fully integrated, or if customer data were in a single platform.

3. Marketers Still Struggle with KPIs that Matter

So you track your unique visitors, your bounce rate, your time on page, and 25 additional metrics. But what do they all mean? What story do they tell you? And how do they help you meet your overall marketing goals? The biggest revelation from the conference was that these KPIs do not tell a story, and marketers struggle to find ones that do.

The reason why? Many marketers still fail to ask simple questions: “What is the purpose of my website?” and “What am I trying to do?”

These questions will help you to drill down to the KPIs that can make or break your success. For example, for a simple conversion site, leads matter. Tracking web metrics that reveal the truth about conversions (e.g., the quality of the leads, lead attribution, etc.) could be a nice focus. On the other hand, if you’re running a simple business blog, you might want to focus more on the number of subscribers its earning, or the ad revenue for each page of the blog. Going beyond simple vanity metrics will allow you to really understand how people interact with your site, and what you can do better to hit your marketing and business goals.

If I gained nothing else from the conference, it was this: most organizations are actively working through a digital transformation initiative of some kind. This presents a huge opportunity for marketers to contribute to that process by researching and embracing digital integrations and marketing automation platforms. Any organizational shift in strategy is obviously going to take time. But if marketers clearly define their goals, leverage the available technology, and follow the right numbers, they can help their organizations grow.