A few months ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Denver Digital Summit.

1. Times are changing.

I heard this repeated time and time again over the course of the Denver Digital Summit: the times they are a’ changing.

Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code and Wednesday’s keynote speaker, talked about the Me Too and Women’s March movements in reaction to the 2016 presidential election and the following administration’s policies. And to a certain extent, this is to be expected. It was a polarizing and catalytic event that has yet to lose steam.

But all of that change reflects down into how quickly technology is developing. We’re seeing households shift towards the use of smart speakers like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home — an entire eCommerce and media consumption platform that didn’t even exist 5 years ago and wasn’t heavily in homes around 24 months ago.

Consumers can smell advertising a mile away and expect more transparency with advertising and core values than ever before. Social metrics are less reliable than ever while the landscape of SMM constantly shifts. Every second, there’s more technology, more internet users, more information all at our fingertips.

How are we even supposed to image what the world is going to look like in three years, five years, ten years?

2. Data matters.

My husband is pretty into watching Mad Men. I don’t get it outside of the insanely cool costume design… but whatever floats ya boat I guess. But back to the point — the whole revolves around a bunch of white guys in a room working “in advertising.”

It makes me think. Nearly 70 years ago, was there really anything that even resembles, even remotely, today’s definition of attribution? The show gives me the impression that as long as sales were going up, the advertising agencies and professionals still had their jobs and their budgets.

That’s how some companies still function. They use revenue as an indicative KPI for their marketing efforts. And I suppose that should be an indication of how well marketing is doing… in a very large, very general sense. Can it tell whether a channel is worth putting money into? Whether a piece of content should be replicated? If a campaign needs to be reworked?

Nope, none of that. Revenue just shows… revenue. Bottom line. Growth. Whether the company is headed in the right direction. Whether revenue goals will be met.

With all this data at our fingertips, it seems silly to focus on something so trivial and short-sighted as revenue. Why would I blindly focus on the bottom line when I can get as granular as tracking the difference in performance when changing the background color on landing pages or CTAs in a blog post?

Data is more important than ever and that’s reflected in the amount of data-focused talks that were given — and that those talks were given on the bigger stages with anticipated higher attendance. Some examples of these talks include:

  • “Programmatic Evolved: Advanced Targeting + Superior Tracking = Your Advantage” by Brian Lahey at Genius Monkey
  • “Save Money and Increase Revenue With Data-Driven Marketing” by John Sellwood of Search Laboratory
  • “Measuring Social in Today’s Shifting Sands” by Chad Israel at Hertz
  • “Six Data-Validated Tactics to Increase Marketers Qualified Lead Volume” by Garrett Muhrguth at Directive Consulting

3. No one’s got it all figured out.

This was a conference of people heavily involved in the digital landscape. We’re talking marketers, sales, SaaStrs, consultants, speakers, company-starters and the list could go on.

And you know a common theme I repeatedly saw?

Outside of the expert speakers — and sometimes even including the speakers — there was an underlying current of everyone feeling as though they didn’t really know what they were doing. Some verbalized feeling as though they were constantly treading water at work. Others said they were having fun at their jobs and learning new skills and tactics, but despite all that, they were still struggling to see the big picture or the little details or grasp some part of the process as a whole. 

This is where marketing is at, isn’t it? Like before, the immense amount of change and more data than ever have made a cocktail unlike anything anyone has ever really tested. 

And that’s okay and fun and exciting! I find it incredibly refreshing that people are starting to more readily admit. I thoroughly believe that the world could use more humility (especially in leadership!), more logic, and most of all, more change. 

Till next time,