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Last week I attended the very first Nottingham Digital Summit, conceived, managed and led by local agency Hallam to champion digital excellence in the city of Nottingham. The event included an interesting mix of inspiration, innovation and insight across a range of digital disciplines, from UX and SEO through to content marketing and design. What’s more, the conference supported a good cause, raising over £15,000 for Framework, a Nottingham-based housing association dedicated to delivering opportunities to homeless and vulnerable people across the East Midlands.
There was a lot to take in and digest from the summit and the Hallam team did a brilliant job of summarising in detail all the different sessions. I would recommend taking the time to review these individual round-ups, which also include links to the speakers and their slides. With this in mind, rather than providing a comprehensive summary of the conference, I’ve identified a handful of interesting takeaways that stood out and made me think.
Kirsty Hulse of Many Minds delivered a fun, practical and thought-provoking presentation on the benefits of cheap, scalable but effective content marketing.
At first I was a little sceptical about the concept of ‘scalable’ content marketing, however, Kirsty’s message was about mitigating the failures of large, expensive content marketing campaigns with the creation of smarter, smaller content to spread the risk. A resourceful way of thinking for small and large brands alike.
Great content marketing doesn’t always require lots of money and is anchored on having a great idea, backed by data and a useful, shareable asset.
But what can you do to generate ideas, data and assets quickly and efficiently? Kirsty had some very handy practical tools and suggestions:
It sometimes feels like we're constantly talking about the future of search and all its possibilities, yet two talks from Vikas Arora at Microsoft and Barry Adams from State of Digital highlighted that the future of search is already here and marketers must act now to take advantage.
Two points in particular resonated:
Vikas Arora explained that by 2020 50% of search will come from image or voice and that 85% of customer interactions with a company will happen without even interacting with a human being.
With the rise of voice, image search and bot technology, AI and machine learning are becoming a bigger priority for marketers and developers, with half of all developer teams embedding AI into their apps.
As with Google, AI powered search capabilities are having a more noticeable impact on search results and digital marketers must be open-minded and forward-thinking to capitalize on consumer trends and expectations:
Barry Adams expanded on this theme, highlighting that search today is predominantly centred around voice search and contextual triggers, the latter seen in the form of real-time Google Maps updates based on our data or the use of consumers’ smartwatch data to influence insurance premiums.
However it was interesting to go into a little more detail as to what we can do to actually take advantage of these factors, and structured data markup was a top recommendation to integrate your data with new functionality.
Structured data markup has been available to search marketers for a number of years now, yet it’s continually evolving and becoming increasingly important with the rise of screenless search and contextual triggers. Why? Because structured data takes away the guesswork for search engines by giving them detailed information about your content and provides more relevant and useful results for users. Whilst video, articles and review markup is quite well known, it was interesting to learn that speakable and HowTo Schema markup can be used to create a step-by-step voice recipe instruction for smart devices:
One of the attractions for attending the Nottingham Digital Summit was the inclusion of a number of user experience speakers, including Dr Sam Howard from Userfy, Ian Coupland of Experian and Gavin Holland of Capital One. Each speaker brought a fresh and interesting perspective but a common theme from all was the importance of taking a user-centric approach and seeing things from the customer’s point of view when developing digital content and experiences.
Rachel Sterling from Speedo delivered a very practical, real-world example that outlined how the brand advocated for the user and took a test-first mentality. Speedo had realized that customers rarely choose the right goggles due to so many different product variations (145+) and attributes and Speedo were, therefore, updating their website to address these challenges and deliver a more effective experience.
Some of the key steps and processes included:
We may not always have the skills, resources and capabilities to run an in-depth UX process such as the one above, however the Speedo case study and the other UX presentations gave me the confidence that we can at the very least put the user at the heart of our thinking to ensure we produce content that has the best chance possible to resonate with our customers.
By Gavin Llewellyn
Gavin Llewellyn (LinkedIn) is an independent consultant. He is a Chartered Marketer who specialises in digital marketing, specifically in social media, SEO and online strategy. Gavin blogs at One Too Many Mornings where he offers advice, guidance and ideas on how individuals and companies can use digital marketing effectively to get found online, build engagement and generate conversion. You can Follow Gavin on Twitter and Google+.
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