Expert Tips and Key Takeaways From MarketingTech Smart 2017

By Brittany Tepper

Over 100 marketing professionals attended MarketingTech Smart on September 27, 2017 at the Loyola University Chicago Quinlan School of Business. Through multiple sessions with industry experts, attendees were able to learn how to navigate the crossroads of marketing and technology, and network with other engaged marketers in the community.

Here are a few tips from our experts and takeaways from our American Marketing Association Chicago members:

Expert Tip #1: “Reporting isn’t analysis” – Andy Crestodina, Strategic Director at Orbit Media

We all know that data analytics are an important part of the marketing technology stack. However, too often marketers solely report on key metrics (click through rates, bounce rate, etc.) and don’t use data to inform their marketing strategy. Andy Crestodina, Strategic Director of Orbit Media, discussed several quick and easy ways marketers can use Google Analytics to create data-driven business decisions.

Before jumping into the session, Andy emphasized that the two most important factors for your website are traffic and conversion rate — Traffic X Conversion Rate = Money/Success. Anything that doesn’t support either of these two factors is irrelevant.

While there are hundreds of different ways to optimize for increased traffic and conversions, and you can find many of them on Andy’s blog, these two tips stood out:

A. How to understand the likelihood of a conversion based on referral traffic.

Knowing where your audience was before they got to your website is important, but knowing how likely they are to convert based on where they came from is even more valuable. To see your website’s sources of referral traffic with its corresponding conversion rates in Google Analytics go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels.

*If you don’t already have your Google Analytics set up, here is a great article from Orbit Media.

B. How to look at your on-site search queries to understand your audience and their needs.

Congratulations, you have gotten a great lead to your website! But they can’t seem to find what they’re looking for. Hopefully, they will search directly on your website without going elsewhere. Your internal search queries tell you a lot about your audience’s needs and your website’s content gaps. To view your search queries in Google Analytics go to: Behavior> Site Search>Search Terms. Here is another great article on how to set this up from Orbit Media.

Key Takeaways from AMA Chicago Members:

“I got the most out of Andy’s session on data analytics. I do a lot of B2B marketing, and being able to translate data into something that is truly functional, goes beyond reporting, and offers profitable solutions gives our clients, and my agency an advantage.” – Amanda Zidel, Account Executive at Plan B Advertising.

Expert Tip #2: “Brands need to be just as human as you and me.” – Kim Brown, Head of Global Product Marketing at GE Renewable Energy Digital

In the age of the ever-evolving newsfeed, creating authentic human-based connections with customers has never been more important. Kim Brown, Head of Global Product Marketing at GE Renewable Energy Digital, discussed the importance of building out brands as human as their customers.

Kim encouraged attendees to think about today’s top brands. The most successful brands have taken a “360-degree approach” to their own personas, along with their customers. By knowing both themselves and their customers, these brands present themselves as authentic, simple and highly transparent. These brands are also able to develop more impactful value propositions and create powerful content that is valuable for both parties.

Key Takeaways from AMA Chicago Members:

“Kim’s presentation on content marketing provided valuable insights into how brands can be more authentic in their content creation. There is nothing worse than clicking on an article, and instead of finding a solution, finding a sales pitch. I’ll be applying a lot of these “human- based” methods to my own content marketing.”

Expert Tip #3: “Marketing automation is a journey, not a destination.” – Kim Dazey, Marketing Manager at Morningstar and Emilie Kraft, Marketing Manager at Morningstar

Implementing marketing automation into a business can be a long and cumbersome process. Kim Dazey and Emilie Kraft, Marketing Managers at Morningstar, walked attendees through the three-year long process of implementing Eloqua into their organization. They compared the process to building a house through the analogy of involving multiple stakeholders within their organization to contractors. Their largest piece of advice was that everyone must be involved throughout the whole process in order to produce a quality finished product.

Key Takeaways from AMA Chicago Members:

“The marketing automation case study helped reinforce the process. We have struggled to get some of our technology to work together, and hearing others say it’s doable helps us reevaluate some of our current processes. – Marcel Manzano, E-Commerce Manager at Ryerson.

While conference-goers may have attended different sessions, their key takeaways all followed a common theme — implementing what they learned to advance their company and career. For more information on future events or AMA Membership, visit

NonProfit Strategies from the AMA MarketingTech Smart Conference

By Monica Moore

Marketing technology (aka MarTech) selection can be overwhelming and this was certainly confirmed at the 2017 AMA Chicago MarketingTech Smart Conference as each presenter repeatedly pulled up the same graphic of 5,281 current MarTech solutions. This can be all the more challenging for nonprofits, which may have limited budgets, minimal staff, and which are often selling memberships and soliciting donations rather than tangible, high-demand products.

When David Dowgiello from Twitter shared his experience of helping Adidas provide a good customer experience when selling a small inventory of limited edition sneakers to an eager audience of millions, I know I wasn’t the only one in the room wondering, “but what if no one knows about or wants your sneakers? What then?”

Luckily, even if your organization is unable to do everything Adidas does—or else not as robustly—there are several scalable areas you can focus on to help stretch your marketing efforts.

Leverage Your Content or Focus on Content Creation

Though many of the MarketingTech Smart Conference presentations focused on the challenges of selecting the correct tools (and sometimes people) to ease the process of serving up content, disseminating messaging, measuring results, and optimizing for conversions, the underlying message was clear: having lots of (hopefully good) content is critical. And it is on the assumption that this content exists, is available, or can be solicited, that organizations would then make technology decisions.

During her keynote, Robin Kamen of NewsCred reminded the group that each day we’re competing for the attention of an audience that may want to watch funny cat videos rather than hear what is important to our organizations, so we must serve our message in the way that the audience wants it.

This is the crux of content marketing—drawing audiences in not with “sell” messages but by providing them with the valuable information they are already seeking, which in turn will build their trust in your brand and expertise, and ease the conversion process. If you don’t have good content, this is where your efforts should focus. Write blog posts, solicit articles, leverage existing content, engage volunteer writers, or employ content marketing services—do whatever is possible to generate content.

Automate Tasks and Processes Where Possible

Marketing automation can feel like a huge investment both in determining the processes and certainly in purchasing technology. But if you are already spending countless hours manually executing e-mail campaigns, toggling between social media accounts, and tracking user engagement across your website, you could use marketing automation to complete these tasks more efficiently. Adam Bianco of Tide Spin recommended MailChimp or AppBoy as a good place to start.

This does not mean, however, that any given tool or set of tools would significantly decrease your work. Though automation should decrease your manual efforts, it does take time and effort to both implement and maintain, and is only effective if you’re also generating a stream of good leads to respond to.

Analytics, Metrics, and Return on Investment (ROI)

Every marketing initiative should have a goal and a measure of success, and the blessing of digital marketing is that we’re almost always able to test, measure, and revise. Organizations should no longer be sending out various pieces and be unsure which had an effect. Instead, everything should be tied to measurements with the ultimate goal of conversions: click through rates, opens, impressions, engagement, etc. When you can not only hone in on your target audiences but also optimize for their engagement, it can be easier to focus efforts and draw back from areas with lower ROI.

If you are having trouble executing on certain initiatives, let alone testing and tweaking, the following are some of the tools Adam Bianco mentioned that may help:

The key, however, is to keep testing and tweaking. Building a landing page or setting up an ad campaign isn’t enough—with marketing, there is always room for improvement and many changing factors to account for!

Looking for additional support and ideas? Attend the November 7 AMA Chicago Nonprofit SIG meeting on the topic of social media – getting noticed (without breaking the bank).

Monica Moore is Senior Manager, Web and Digital Marketing at Association Management Center