A few days ago, I had a chance to attend the 2012 Semphonic X Change Conference, which continues to evolve as one of the most relevant events in the analytics and digital marketing space.
Here are my take-aways from the conference, the emerging digital marketing issues that I heard dominating the discussions, and hints at the trends that I see shaping the future of the industry.
- This event has a unique format – rather than endless streams of death by slide presentations, the conference employs a unique conversational format (“huddles”). That means marketing professionals and analytics practitioners are engaging in small group conversations about the big themes and challenges in their space – from social to mobile, segmentation and big data.
- Attendees are consummate professionals representing small and big brands in every sector – retail, travel, media, finance, and more.
- The event is benefit-centric – less focus on the vendors and the particular solutions they provide. More focus on critical business challenges and best practices – like how to gain meaningful insight and real business value from data that organizations already generate.
- Clear signs of maturity in the industry – marketing teams and marketing executives are increasingly focused on the business problem and the business value they can deliver, which is another sign of how marketing’s role in enterprise business is transforming.
- This shift clearly validates Webtrends overall strategy and our investments in social and mobile measurement, as well as targeting and retargeting. Even real-time is gaining relevance. In other words, everyone has plenty of data. The discussion and focus has clearly shifted to: making better use of the data, driving more granular insights, surfacing and visualizing relevant customer insights, and taking relevant and compelling action to engage with customers and increase conversions.
- While social is still a major theme, the social conversation has shifted. It’s now less about the basic questions of what to do with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and LinkedIn, and more about how to gain a better understanding of what works. There’s also discussion about how to leverage analytics for a better evaluation of engagement, and how to correlate social data and social marketing to other marketing investments.
- Another big investment drive is mobile and mobile interactions. This is where consumers are headed, so brands are doing what they can to be prepared and understand the mobile channels. Analytics, insight and best practices fuel this investment.
- All of which leads back to big data. So far, though, only a small number of customers are investing in big data and trying to make use of it. Big marketing brands like Nike and Red Bull, who are always cutting edge, are investing in big data approaches to analytics and targeted marketing. The vast majority of businesses do not have the benefit of employing data scientists who can shape and model big data to drive better insight and, in turn, make smarter marketing decisions. But it’s clearly something that will gain visibility, underscoring the desire and need to distill more meaningful insight from vast amounts of data.
- A few more thoughts around these topics are captured in an interview I just gave.
These are truly exciting times to be in this industry. Marketing is undergoing a major transformation, as consumers and businesses redefine their relationship. Webtrends and our clients are in the thick of it. Truly inspiring times as we continue to help marketers reshape their approach and help companies make a successful transition into the new world of data-centric marketing.