Recap of Dallas Digital Summit

With speakers from Netflix and NPR to Google and IBM, Dallas Digital Summit was jam-packed with digital knowledge ripe for the picking. Speaker topics ranged from broad to specific implementations, but there were a few themes that carried through both days: marketers increasingly need more tech skills, SEO, data hubs, and the perfect email strategy.

Marketers Require Tech and Data Skills

The expansion of digital marketing techniques have changed the landscape for employers searching to fill roles in marketing departments. It is becoming a requirement for marketers to be “martecheters” (term coined by Loren McDonald, IBM Watson Marketing). The average marketing department integrates with 91 different technologies ( Each of those technologies bring different data related to the business, requiring data interpretation skills, strategy, and data hygiene to be on the radar of your average marketer.

Marketers are not necessarily required to have programming skills, but the abilities to converse with developers in detail, understanding business logic required to write functions and API calls is becoming more of a need than a want for employers. When you think about it, with personalized marketing, setting up effective conversion tracking (pixel struggles anyone?), keyword rankings and integrations requiring an API… a “martecheter” is crucial to have on staff to keep up with the ever-changing digital landscape, give developers guidance, and track conversions.

Optimizing Site for Search

In the age where Facebook isn’t our number one traffic driver, SEO is quickly becoming king again. Lots of talks were held on various ways to “dominate” the SERP, with focuses from how to optimize a page to get a rich snippet to earning a “long click win”. Keyword research is crucial to understanding your rank, and is crucial to the discovery phase of planning new content for your site. Is the phrase you’re trying to rank for dominated by review sites? Pick a new keyword phrase to optimize by. Creating content that serves both a passive and active intentional searcher is key to dominating different keyword phrases.

Ronell Smith (Moz) hit the nail on the head by explaining that content creators need to skip trying to be “found” on SEO and instead be “chosen.” In order to be chosen, he presented the idea of a content “hub”, where all content within a topic are rolled up and linked out to pages within the site. He used REI as an example, with the drop down menu for each category, i.e. “camp & hike.” Inside each drop down are products narrowed by type for active browsers, and on the right side there is passive content for people just browsing. Ronell defined a hub page as a “central overview of a topic or category-linking to child categories and related products(articles)-while typically offering much more depth and utility.”

Ronell also defined a “long click win” as a metric that Google takes into consideration. TL;DR: if a user clicks to a site from the SERP, stays there for a while then doesn’t return back to Google, but exits the site to another page, Google sees that as a winning result, and takes that into consideration when ranking urls for search queries.

“Hub pages” educate and answer more questions, link to useful resources (keeping users within the site), help the user move from passive to active intent by providing exactly what they need, all while engaging the user and acting as an “authority” on the topic. He cited three case studies but the one that stuck with me the most was HubSpot. HubSpot reorganized itself into a many “hubs” (a.k.a. pillar and cluster content to my fellow HubSpot users), that are linked to each other by many hyperlinks.

Colleen Harris spent her time educating the conference on how to structure your page to be a good fit for a Rich Snippet in the Google search results. For your content to gain a rich snippet spot, you’re required to have structured data markups that webmasters can add to existing HTML that give search engines better information on what is on each web page. Structured data markups have been settled upon by major search engines, including Google, Bing, Yandex, and Yahoo!. There are currently 797 different types of structured data defined on By using schema on your web pages, Google can reinterpret the information to display within the search results, giving you more real estate on the page. The more structured data you apply to a page, the more customized your results will be on the results page. Remember to choose your schema wisely, because too much schema or spammy schema can penalize you. Google even has this handy tool to help you see what structured data is on your web page (or you could drop your competitor landing page in and see what they’re doing differently). Implementing schema on your website can do a lot more for your SEO than give you a chance to get a rich snippet, check out with Neil Patel wrote on it here.

Moving to DSP and DMPs

Many, many speakers were focused on moving all customer data into a centralized location, where paid, owned and earned media, metrics, spend, and revenue can be overlaid and analyzed. More and more, brands are turning to agencies to help bridge the gap between their own data silos, looking to consultants or agencies for strategic data management. “Adtech and martech convergence offers the technical underpinnings to finally eliminate the disjointed experiences that customers despise, ” explained Joe Stanhope of Forrester Research. That is all just a bunch of fancy speak to say, “hey, consumers know that you know they bought that subscription, stop annoying them by following them around with retargeting even though they’ve purchased.”  

As marketers, we have the tools at our fingertips to target properly on social and retarget effectively, but that requires some upgrades to our tech. 94% of companies agree that personalization is critical to their current and future success, but they cite IT roadblocks (47%) and legacy technology (46%) as “major barriers” to their personalization efforts. (eConsultancy) If a purchase takes place, and no feedback loop happens via pixel, tag or AP  telling the ad server that the person has made a purchase, we are paying to remarket for nothing. 2019 will be the year to seriously consider your budget allocation to improving your technology integrations, and possibly investing in some kind of data hub to process and store your data. P.S. schema can help with this too, even pushing pricing from the website into the ads dynamically created by Google and Facebook.


We all know that our email databases are crucial to revenue. According to Campaign Monitor, email marketing accounts for 47% of ROI. So, are we doing everything we can to optimize our contacts with our audience? The keys to great email ROI are personalization, audience segmentation, and automation.

86% of consumers say that personalization plays a role in their purchase decisions (INFOSYS). Personalization is more than just dynamically adding in the recipient’s name (don’t go too far into the creepy end of things with too much personalization). Segment your emails sends to people based on their email engagement history, purchase/click history, location, how they came into your database, or even based on fields you require in your sign up form. Lastly, automation.

A welcome email series can go a long way to gaining more information on your subscriber. After a “welcome to the club” email, each email in the series can introduce a new content segment or product, easing the user into all the things the company has to offer. Let the customer know who you are, give testimonials, share your company’s mission and values. Tell them what you can do for them, and the value you bring by sending them points of differentiation between you and your competition. Only after a few contacts, you have earned the right to ask for more from your email subscriber.

Metrics and measurement of emails can be hard to set goals for out of the blue. Establish a reachable benchmark by analyzing past emails sends from your brand. Take into account open rate and click rate differences between senders, subject lines, audience segments, content presented, and time of day.

Don’t put too much in an email. Your subscriber probably is on tons of email lists with different send frequencies. Don’t overwhelm them when their attention is on your email with multiple asks. A simple clean design, with an attention grabber “above the fold” both on mobile and desktop and a single call to action, can go a long way. If you have more to tell them, send a follow up email...maybe even automate it.

Automate those personalized, welcome workflows. Set up web-behavior based automated emails to contacts within your database that are exploring site content relevant to another type of newsletter. Let them know you have that curated newsletter content by sending a personalized email inviting them to sign up.

Want to hear more about what we learned at Dallas Digital Summit? Need help implementing any of these tactics, shoot me a note at