November 30th, 2016

Lessons from Internet Summit 2016

by Christine Hennessey

Earlier this month, a group of Sage Islanders attended the annual Internet Summit in Raleigh, NC. The Internet Summit is a fun and fascinating conference which gives digital professionals (that’s us!) “an opportunity to learn directly from the world’s digital industry experts, network with [our] peers, and teach [us] how to turn [our] ideas into transformational solutions.”

Sage Island has attended this conference many times in the past, and it’s always a great chance to meet our colleagues, listen to experts in our field, and learn about new advancements in the digital marketing world, so that we can use them to help our clients. Good for us, and good for you! This year, we were lucky to attend sessions dealing with a range of things, from social media to SEO to email marketing, and everything in between. In order to distill some of that knowledge and pass it on to our community, we’ve rounded up the highlights in this blog post. Keep reading to discover what we learned, and how it can help your business!

Christine, Digital Marketing Manager: 

Email is currently having a renaissance. In a world that’s saturated with social media posts and 24-hour content, more and more people are retreating to their inboxes, where the environment is quieter, more intimate, and – most important – by invitation only. We’re also more connected to our inboxes than ever before thanks to our smartphones. Email is no longer something we do during working hours, at our desks. We read email everywhere – on the couch while we’re “watching” television, in the doctor’s office while we wait for an appointment, in the car (hopefully while riding along as a passenger), and even – yes – in the bathroom. You know it’s true. For these reasons and many more, email marketing continues to be an extremely affective way to reach your audience and hold their attention.

Not all emails, however, are created equal. To keep your recipients from hitting the “unsubscribe” button, there are a few things you can do. Below are five tips I picked up from a morning-long seminar on email marketing. We’ll be putting them into practice for our clients, and we suggest you do the same!

  • Keep your email newsletters in a single column so they’re easier to read on a smartphone
  • Trying sending your emails on Sunday evenings, when people are trying to get a head start on the work week
  • Segment your emails so they’re more targeted to specific audiences
  • Get to the point ASAP by providing a clear call-to-action up front
  • Always send a “welcome” email to new subscribers – these have the highest open rate of any email you’ll send

Rachel, SEO Specialist: 

In this jam-packed digital world, it’s more important than ever to have customers find you easily. That means building and maintaining a strong organic reputation, while also staying a step ahead of the latest algorithm updates search engines like to throw at us from time to time. So where to begin? Research, my friend. Whether you’re a newbie to the world of SEO or you’ve been on this ride for a while, it’s important to understand the evolution of SEO “best practices” and what’s not cutting it anymore. Search engine optimization is all about a user’s experience, and whether your goal is leads, purchases, or brand exposure, you must offer a great first, second, and ongoing impression.

You’ve done your homework and now you’re feeling pretty confident about what SEO is all about. So how do you implement the best tactics to get the greatest organic results? Here are four tips I couldn’t agree with more from a morning-long seminar on SEO and Search Strategies:

  • It’s 2016 – time to convert your website into a responsive (mobile) format. Search engines will always reward higher organic rankings to device-friendly websites over desktop-only layouts.
  • Structure your content in a way that’s sectioned by important thoughts. Websites and pages rank higher when they include headers, sub-headers, and bullet points.
  • If you’re going to remove older, indexed pages from your website, reroute them to another relevant area on your website. Otherwise, users will end up on a broken page, and who enjoys that type of experience?
  • Always test out new SEO tools that could improve your organic success and spark new ideas (IE, keyword research, link building, site checkups).

Kathryn, Social Marketing Specialist: 

Snapchat is taking over! But how can a photo popping up for only 10 seconds with a goofy filter actually benefit your business? Internet Summit 2016 let us in on some awesome tricks to amplify your Snapchat game! Carlos Gil, Head of Global Social Media at BMC Software, defined Snapchat as, “Twitter meets YouTube,” adding that the platform now has over 200 million users and 10 billion video views a day. For businesses who looking for an advertising channel that still feels fresh and new, Snapchat is the answer.

So, how can Snapchat help your business? The fact that it’s built on content that only last 24 hours is key. Video is one of the most effective ways to create trust in your organization, and it’s a great way to share more about what you do and who you are through fun and educational “snaps.” When viewers – especially millennials – feel connected to the culture of a brand, they’re more likely to support that business. Snapchat is a great way to bring your storytelling skills to life and engage your viewers.

As for ways to best utilize Snapchat for your business, try these tips:

  • Create custom filters for your brand or business
  • Create a custom Geofilter for special events
  • Run flash sales and 24-hour offers via your Snapchat account
  • Show your workplace culture through behind-the-scenes content

Victoria, Account Executive:  

As one of the people responsible for selling our services to new and existing clients, I was interested to learn that sales is no longer primarily focused on cocktail hours and cold calling. While these are still important, it’s just as critical to leverage your own social media communities to help build your account list. Easy to say, but how does one go about doing this?  The answer: social selling. Social selling focuses on leveraging your social network to develop business and engage with prospective clients and current clientele. If you’re looking for a good place to start, most experts recommend LinkedIn – it’s a wonderful platform to use when reaching out to colleagues! Developing business through social selling can be hard, but utilizing the four following strategies will help get you started. 

  • Establish your professional brand. How you present yourself to your audience has a direct correlation to your success as a salesperson. Take the time to optimize your LinkedIn profile to attract and retain sales leads.
  • Find the right people. This comes down to having well-defined customer personas. When we can articulate exactly who we are targeting, our marketing materials and sales presentations become extremely focused and efficient.
  • Engage with insights. Discover and share conversation-worthy updates to create and grow relationships. Becoming a thought leader in your industry is key to success!
  • Build Relationships. Strengthen your network by connecting and establishing trust with decision makers.

Moral of the Story: 

If you have the opportunity to attend Internet Summit in the future, we highly recommend it! Our team had a great experience and learned a lot about all aspects of digital marketing and design. We’re excited to put these new tools into practice over the next weeks and months!

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