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What do tone of voice, twitter cards, optimizing closest to the money, skateboard to shuttle concepts, spontaneous kazoo bands and The Dirty Guv’nahs have in common?

A digital marketing conference, of course: Marketing United hosted by Emma in Nashville, TN, to be specific.

I attended this conference last Thursday and Friday, and consider it to be the best investment in my professional development thus far in 2015. As I begin to write this post, I have to admit that I have a little bit of an information hangover from everything I learned from the countless leaders in the digital industry that led talks and discussions at the conference (leaders from SEO Moz, Marketing Profs, Warby Parker, Emma, Life is Good, Griffan and more). There was so much valuable information that it’s hard to determine where to start, so let’s start with tone of voice! Yay!

The Importance of Tone of Voice

Ann Handley, the world’s first ever Chief Content Officer, opened the conference in the CMA Theater of the Country Music Hall of Fame with a keynote on the importance of tone of voice. Ann, the CCO of MarketingProfs directed us to ask ourselves if we covered up our logo would we know ourselves? Would you know your brand if you covered up your logo on your website, your social media, your ads? You should! We understand it can be hard (we’re working on it, too), but your tone of voice and collateral brand pieces should tell your story so well that people recognize you by more than just your logo.

Ann suggested that we pick 3 words to describe our companies or organizations. So I started to think… Friendly, smart and approachable. She followed up by telling us we could not choose lame words like friendly, smart and approachable. Ha! So true, though; every company should be friendly, smart and approachable, and I was taking the easy route by resting on these words. The real challenge is to come up with 3 words that truly describe what differentiates your company culture. Are you kooky? Straightforward? Energetic? Formal? Whatever your words are, embrace them and keep them in mind when writing, designing and providing customer service. Ann reminded us to make our 3 words a part of the entire customer experience, and stay true to our company culture. The right customers will love you for it.

Optimizing Content with Twitter Cards & Open Graph

Jennifer Sable Lopez with SEO Moz, whom I often refer to as the SEO gods, told us that the future of SEO success relies on the ability to think outside of SERP (search engine results page). She talked a lot about optimizing website content for search engines that we don’t traditionally think about in the SEO discussion, such as the searches available on Facebook & Twitter. And she spoke about prepping our webpages and blog posts for these environments using tools like Twitter Cards and Facebook’s Open Graph. I tweeted her about my Twitter Cards and Open Graph excitement after her talk and that I hoped to take this back to Element 74 and get it worked into EasyPost (our home grown content management system), and she kindly shared a screenshot from Moz’s CMS that shows how they prep posts for the Twitter and Facebook environment. Total road map for us! Score!

Where to Start the Optimization Process

If you’re just beginning with website optimization you should focus on your current customers first. Meaning, instead of working to get tons of new customers make sure your actual website experience for your current customers is amazing. I sat in an eCommerce panel in the event hall at the Country Music Hall of Fame and one of the panel members quoted his mentor, saying, Look at optimization closest to the money.

I think this is smart. If you have an online store, focus on optimizing the checkout process for your customers before you worry about attracting new customers with optimized blog posts or social content. They’re important, but your checkout process (which equals immediate revenue) is even more important.

2015 Field Guide to Great User Experience for Everyone

Excellence lies somewhere between perfection and production. If you’ve ever worked on perfecting user experience with an online project, then this quote from the User Experience panel at the conference will resonate. Perfection in an online project just doesn’t exist, and if it does exist then you’re releasing the project too late. You have to focus on getting a minimal viable product out to your customers to get feedback sooner than later. Of course, it should be quality work that represents your brand well, but if you focus on perfection before releasing a new website or online product it will be months behind in relevancy by the time you actually launch it. One panelist coined this overall idea as the skateboard to shuttle concept suggesting to start small and build on as you go.

One of the panel members also suggested having everyone that’s working on a project write a press release about the project launch while working on the project (before it ever launches). This exercise is something that Amazon does and will help shed light on anything obvious that’s missing from the website or product offerings, so that you can address them before the actual project launch.

Be Positive Because Life is Good

The founder of Life is Good tugged at all of our heart strings with a presentation that appealed to the core of our being by saying that the most inspiring positivity most often comes from the darkest places in life. He reminded us that we get to do so many things everyday that many don’t have the chance to do. We don’t have to go to the grocery store. We get to. We don’t have to go to work. We get to. He likes to start meetings by asking others, Tell me something good that happened today. I love the idea of starting out meetings with such positive vibes. He also rocked out with a spontaneous kazoo band, pulling members from the audience on stage and expressing, Where there is music there is love!

The Dirty Guv’nahs and Other Awesome People

One of my favorite parts of actually attending a conference are all the awesome people that you meet in the seats next to you. I know you’ve all been dying to know what the heck Dirty Guv’nahs have to do with a marketing conference. Well one of the people that I met at the conference happened to be the lead singer of a band called The Dirty Guv’nahs. I’ve been listening to their music while working on this blog post, and they’re pretty great. Give them some love and take a listen.

I also met the lovely ladies that I work with at Emma on custom email projects and can’t wait to work with them on some new ideas I have from the conference. I met an entrepreneur who started a video interviewing business, a lady who’s running the marketing department of a B2B spa wholesaler, an account manager at another digital agency and many more. We had so many great conversations about our challenges and opportunities in the digital marketing industry, and I am extremely inspired.

Kind of Wrapping Up

So as the day comes to a close, I realize I’m only about halfway through my conference notes. I hope you enjoy the nuggets of info I’ve shared so far, but expect another post with Marketing United truths tomorrow!

Toni Eftink

About the Author

Toni Eftink
If Element 74 were a circus, Toni would be the ring leader, juggler and headliner all in one. Outside her passion for E74 Life, Toni likes to hike, run, and spend her weekends downtown at Dynamite, the Farmer's Market and checking out other little shops with friends.

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