Review of the Far Improved Digital Summit in Portland WITH Presentation Notes

Ronell Smith at Digital Summit

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]In 2016 I attended my first Digital Summit, and I thought it might be my last. Not because of the location or the people, but the quality of some presentations. Many of which, felt like sales pitches for platforms and proprietary tools. There were a few standout hits like Oli Gardner’s presentation on CRO (which was hilarious).

So, in 2017 the Summit rolled around and I figured I wouldn’t be going, but there were some speakers that really interested me. While a few presenters weren’t prepared, many were fantastic. I feel that way for a combination of reasons which lie somewhere between the timelines of the talks and the subjects covered.

For those that follow me on Twitter, I sometimes live tweet presentations, but this year was different so I took some notes instead which I’m happy to share with you!

WARNING: Some of my notes might not make as much sense without additional context, so feel free to DM me on Twitter. I’m bolding some lines that really hit me.


Ann Handley of MarketingPro


  • Tell bigger stories. Braver and Bolder.
  • 35% of B2C thought their content was engaging.
  • Engaging content is a big pain point and producing content is a huge challenge.
  • Training is marketing.
  • Make your customers feel smarter and feel like they are a part of something.
  • Eric and Peety video. (MUST WATCH)
  • The word “Empathy” feels clinical. Can be a way to connect on a humorous level. Develop personas but really understand who your people are. An opportunity to deliver more value to people. Make the ordinary, extraordinary.
  • Everything the light touches is content (Lion King).
  • Don’t play safe in marketing. Ships are safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for (William G.T. She’d).


Laura Wilson of Georgetown University


  • Everything is becoming Snapchat.
  • Snapchat has about10 billion video views per day on mobile devices only.
  • Instagram – what you want people to think you’re up to.
  • Snapchat – is what’s happening right now.
  • Facebook – family and friends…letting them know what they’re doing.
  • Spend more time on the process of creating content, and less time actually creating the content.
  • Employees could be providing something every week to the marketing department, so that content doesn’t have to be generated so hardcore all the time.
  • Snapchat, you can now link to content. Brands can link to other content.
  • $15.78 for 6hrs (400 people used it).
  • Snaplytics, Delmondo, Miss Guru
  • Buy a phone steady cam.

Laura Wilson at Digital Summit


Heather Lloyd of SEO Copywriting


  • Most people have 1-4 content writers on a team.
  • Trying to get as much done as they can in a short period of time. Good teams make everything easy.
  • Many content teams are tired and don’t know what to write about. Feel like they have covered everything before.
  • 60% of content writers complain that there is no strategy so they can’t write.
  • Hire the right people, develop a sustainable process and educate your team.
  • Put one person in charge of content marketing. Silo’d content marketing doesn’t work in 2017. More collaboration is needed.
  • Hiring:
    • Someone who can look for micro moments.
    • Can look at analytics to figure out what is working.
    • Do they know SEO and Sales writing?
    • Can they supervise people?
    • Looking for one foot in creative writing and one foot on the geeky side.
  • Outsourcing strategy is okay.
  • Low end, $1250 p/mo on content spend.
  • Put success in your way before you write.
  • Create style guides for your clients and writing teams.
  • Writers lose why they are writing in the first place.
  • Find the “one” thing we can do.
  • Transcribing everything if you can.
  • Do the stuff that makes you money.
  • We change too much because sometimes we read too much and try and do that latest and greatest thing.
  • Repurpose content:
    • Old blog posts and turn them into a report.
    • Transcribe podcasts.
    • Transform tips and articles into infographics.
    • Turn an old blog post into a “tips” email series.
  • 1 in 2 content jobs requires SEO skills.
  • SEO writing knowledge = less rework and faster turnaround rates.
  • Training writers on KWR so they can really write SEO content.
  • Lunch and Learn
    • Headline Writing
    • PPC Ad Writing
    • Sales Formula Writing
    • Copywriting Techniques
    • Neuromarketing Techniques



Ronell Smith of Moz


  • Worked for ESPN and some great people. Thought it was a dream job.
  • Gained a lot of weight 150lbs to 270lbs.
  • Ate like a bird and got down to 204. In Boston, someone told him he was slim. 6ft 5” you shouldn’t weigh 204.
  • Journey to look better and feel better.
  • Specialist in desk jockey. Had a nutritionist as well.
  • He had been successful accidentally. Only focused on the look and not how to get the look.
  • Prioritized lean body mass, not weight.
  • Focused on simple but not easy. Not the things he was doing.
  • Look at what the successful people are doing.
  • Health was a by-product of the work, not the focus of it.
  • Main variables determining success don’t change: diet, exercise, recovery, stress management, and sleep.
  • Eureka Moment – what you’re doing may bring you success, but what caused it and how did you manipulate them. Stop thinking about just knowing the outcome.
  • It’s not an experiment if you know the outcome.
  • Inputs > Outcomes
  • Most brands are never going to be able to accomplish everything. There are competitors in the way or there is a lack of resources.
  • People often look for brands they already know.
  • Master boring stuff, don’t chase shiny things and do things differently.
  • Awareness and visibility are #1 – reputation, brand, and trust.
  • Loyalty and growing your audience.
  • We blindly chase shiny things.
  • Stop optimizing for scale.
    • Eat Less
    • Train More
    • And Test
  • “I want to be lean and ripped in 30 days”.
    • Lean protein.
    • Vegetables
    • Exercise Everyday
  • Schedule, plan all meals, no snacks before first meal, exercise in the AM, 200g protein pr day, 200 oz water per day.
  • “When we commit to ____, we achieve success by _______”. (Might be missing a word here lol)
  • Our job is to find the best targets. Create content more consistently. ONE BLOG POST PER WEEK OR MONTH.
  • Many times, one piece of extraordinary content every quarter or even every year can be enough. The intention is to get links.
  • Moz laid off 65 people or 28%. Their focus was spread too broad.
  • How can we better serve the audience? Brainstorm, rewrote ideas, revamp on boarding process.
  • Breadcrumbs created a huge impact.
  • We get rid of low-quality pages all the time.
  • Focus on “inputs” not “outputs”.
  • Refine. Revise. Repeat.



Michael Salamon


  • UX designer before UX existed.
  • Selling to IT departments to now selling to Marketing companies.
  • Persona’s – demographics, background, identifiers. Personas are where you start and not end.
  • Look at Persona’s and then User Roles.
  • Context, charartistics, criteria, considerations.
  • Customer Journey Maps is the next design wave.
  • Create experience maps, has more stuff on it.
    • Doing
    • Thinking
    • Feeling
    • Devices
    • Relationships
    • Place
    • Time
    • Touchpoints
  • The secret to A/B testing is creating and following your hypothesis.
  • Actually, understand how your users are deciding on services. Get into their heads and think about their needs.
  • It’s a lot of measuring twice before you cut.

Michael Salamon at Digital Summit


Robi Ganguly of Apptentive


  • They care about relationships and customer love.
  • Mobile changes how to connect with customers.
  • Sometimes when you go out, someone will want to tip you. Your job is to take them out to their car and you don’t need a tip for it.
  • The job of delivering a great experience is all of our jobs.
  • It’s our job to make sure experiences are great.
  • What is customer love? We need to think about what customers love. Love is earned, shared, given and given back.
  • Customer Love is an act. You have to take actions and communicate it every day. They send a box:
    • Coffee
    • Mugs
    • HAND written note
    • Candies
    • Stickers
    • Coaster
    • Flyer
  • Creating a personal connection generates a new perception of the brand over time.
  • 68% of customers will leave a company because they think you don’t care.
  • 14% of customers are dissatisfied.
  • 96% of unhappy people never complain. 91% will never come back.
  • Ghosting – You leave, unsubscribe, stop emailing, etc.
  • If you don’t care about your customers you probably won’t have the stats you need.
  • Brands that are assessed as “better” are meeting expectations consumers hold, have greater market share and are always more profitable than the competition. Always.
  • Tactics:
    • You need to Listen.
    • Observe, pay attention
    • Validate, the customer is always right…but they also have feelings. “I’m so sorry, that is so frustrating”.
    • Engage, most over used word in marketing today.
  • Mobile can be personalized.
  • We used to call 800 numbers for support. They couldn’t solve his problem with a game he saved for. They asked him to write a letter. NOW, we use Twitter!!!! And we get responses.
  • Test and get feedback, but test and iterate quickly.
  • Analytics = What is happening
  • Feedback = Why are people doing this
  • Actions
    • Provide thoughtful, focused questions and answers.
    • Ask at the right time and right place.
    • Follow up with customers.
  • 97% of customers will become more loyal if they know their feedback has been implemented.

Robi Gunguly at Digital Summit


Cliff Seal of Pardot


  • B2B marketing is hard.
  • Selling to opaque groups of people.
  • Tracking against metrics.
  • Risk aversion and red tape.
  • How to keep up trends to drive high-quality leads.
  • Don’t keep doing the same thing as everyone else.
  • Want to teach you how to setup your own wind farm.
  • You need to grow into your own creative potential.
  • More happiness when you spend time teaching your customers. Also providing customers will compelling marketing.
  • Put data in its place. Graphs are made for people who don’t understand.
  • Compete with relevance.
  • Design thinking can greatly impact your marketing.
    • Solutions focused
    • Intuition at work
    • Human centered
    • Embracing constraints
    • Divergent thinking
    • Nonjudgmental about possibility
  • Share knowledge with people and talk about new concepts. Learn together. Immersion.
  • Keep asking why. Possibilities vs reality.
  • 92% trust referrals from family and friends above all others.
  • Badass Book, create customer loyalty.

Cliff Seal at Digital Summit


Andrew Hickey of Willamette University

He wrote an honest overview of his thoughts and feelings on his presentation via LinkedIn. You should check it out.

  • Went to the Oregon Country Fair.
  • Guy looked like he was ready to work at the office. The guy was so into the music. Letting your freak flag fly.
  • Share expert level information.
  • “Just Talk, Man”.
  • Don’t just write words, write music. Use short, long and medium length sentences. Just be you.
  • Swearing is risky business.
  • Use tools to simulate frequency in communication.
  • Get active on LinkedIn – posts, articles, and groups.
  • Engagement is really low on LinkedIn and they have 500 million users. 100 million to 250 million logins once a month.
  • Using buffer to feed into posts. Quuu is a content creation service. Simulate frequency.


Mike King of iPullRank


  • Predictive system reference with the movie Her.
  • Showing Google Home device.
  • Started with 10 blue links to media links.
  • Changed the game to universal search.
  • There is no more “making SEO content”. Googles update targeted thin content.
  • Most answers on AI are single answers. They use featured snippets to be, that answer.
  • Google uses multi-modal search. Persistent user context.
  • Make hyper-targeted content.
  • Setup rich cards in Google,
  • Paragraphs make up 63% of July snippets.
  • You don’t have to be number one to be position zero.
  • Make explanations “snip-able”, about 45 characters max.
  • Spending money on paid based on what’s not performing in organic.


Jason Grigsby of Cloud Four


  • First open device library in the world at Cloud4.
  • Instant loading.
  • Push notifications and fast.
  • Secure and responsive.
  • Provide SSL for all websites. A secure website is a requirement for progressive web apps. Access to geo location and http2.
  • Provide a fast experience.
  • Customers could benefit from an offline experience.
  • Service workers are also key to providing an offline experience.
  • Content and design are critical.
  • PWA – get your website loaded faster.


(I omitted some notes from other presentations which weren’t as well put together. )

In 2017, I walked away from the Summit wanting to come back next year and you should too. Having attended a bunch of conferences and events at this point, please remember that it’s not just about taking notes and listening to figure heads share their stories. It’s a tremendous opportunity to meet people and create relationships.

As mentioned earlier in this post, please DM me if you have questions or thoughts you’d like to share![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]