Top Takeaways from Digital Summit Charlotte

I always get excited by the opportunity to mingle with experts and expand my knowledge, even if it means putting up with a severe ankle sprain and flaunting a stylish leg boot to match.

That’s what I did from April 1-2nd at Digital Summit Charlotte 2015 (#DSCLT15), a national gathering featuring speakers that spanned the gamut of digital disciplines. Presentations focused on topics like user experience and mobile optimization to email marketing and social media. Luckily, you don’t need two good feet to still have a good time. 


Here are the Top 5 Takeaways my bionic boot and I gathered from the event:

1. Real-Time Marketing is Here!

Real Time Marketing TwitterSocial networks like Twitter and Facebook have made it possible for brands to instantly start or join a conversation. Everyday folks now have a public voice, and brands that are nimble, responsive, and conversational will continue to stand out as competition climbs. Brands should start to insert themselves in conversations, but only where relevant. It’s no longer a “one to many” model; it’s “one with many.”

2. Don’t Focus on Getting Customers if You Can’t Keep Them Coming Back

Retention marketing has a 2.5x ROI compared to new customer acquisition. Without a strong retention program, getting new customers is like filling a leaky bucket.

Pinkberry Re Engagement Email

Brands like Zappos and Amazon place existing customers at the center of their focus, and that’s why they’re dominating. After all, a customer you keep is a customer you don’t have to find.

Stay top-of-mind with customers through e-mail and social to help drive repeat purchases, but be careful not to abuse their consent. You don’t want to be the friend who becomes needy and annoying.

3. Your Email Marketing Can Probably Be Better

Maybe you have a retention program but haven’t revisited your campaigns in a while.

Are your emails optimized for mobile viewers (it might be your majority)? Are you testing subject lines, preheaders, and creative? Are your buttons at least 44×44 pixels so they can be easily touched on a smartphone? Have you tried using animated GIFs in emails?

There are many sophisticated tools that can help ensure your retention marketing is effective and open-worthy. Take an inventory of your email campaigns to refine frequency and overall messaging. Then, look at designs on ALL devices. If you’ve employed a set-it-and-forget it approach, it might be time to make some changes and scoop up the ROI that’s still sitting on the table.

Stocksy Email

4. Treat Marketing Dollars as an Investment Portfolio, NOT an Expense 

“Where should we spend our budget?”

It’s the question that’s easy to pose but difficult to answer, and in the response lies the holy grail of marketing. Matt Hertig of Alight Analytics delivered a compelling speech on the data challenges that digital marketers face today. Among them, the complexity of the customer journey (diagram) and the fractured data ecosystem (article).

It’s not unusual for a brand to hire a myriad of marketing partners, each with their own data in their own formats. In my current position, I work with over 10.

The challenge lies on the advertiser to then groom and unify the data, make sense of what is and isn’t working, and settle on a single view of the truth. This all takes place in an environment where the average consumer checks 10.4 information sources before buying (Google/Shopper Sciences 2011).

Image credit: Matt Hertig, Alight Analytics


The debate over “which marketing channel is winning” is inefficient and often fruitless. Brands need to have holistic, adult conversations about how to test and allocate marketing investment for optimal results. That’s the only way to escape Excel hell, diversify spend, and develop insights that push the business confidently forward.

5. “Customer Service is the Best Marketing You Can Do”

Even as modern marketing increases in complexity, some fundamentals still hold true. Treat customers right and they’ll become your ambassadors in this new, hyper-connected world. An unhappy customer used to tell 10 people about their experience…today, that number could be 10,000.

(quote credit: Bob Young, Red Hat/


4 thoughts on “Top Takeaways from Digital Summit Charlotte

  1. Thank you so much for sharing. I have enjoyed reading your posts over the last few months and will be sharing this particular article with some insurance agents. So far I’ve learned: whats in your bucket is more valuable than what’s not in your bucket, you have an awesome “top 20” sites/tools list, and if you put a cowboy hat on you look just like Brad Paisley!


  2. Hey Matt,

    Sounds like an awesome event, bionic boot and all! Love your takeaways as they’re relevant and informative. I definitely agree that customer retention is much more powerful than always searching for new ones. How much weight would you put on a holistic omnichannel experience/a streamlined digital user experience in order to reduce friction for existing customers?

    Also, great to read your insights on mobile optimization with button sizes and responsive designs– mobile is king, after all!


  3. Great post!


  4. Good stuff here, Matt! Thanks for sharing!


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