Our First Time at the Chicago Digital Summit

The Chicago Digital Summit was a week full of “firsts” for me, as well as for Brandpoint! Brandpoint has attended the Minneapolis leg of the conference as as sponsor the past two years, but this was Brandpoint’s first time at the Chicago location and we were super excited to see what it was about. As for me, this was not only my first time attending the Digital Summit, but my first time at a work conference at all. And man, do I have a lot to share.

Here are some general takeaways before I get into the sessions I attended:

To start, the Chicago Digital Summit was an awesome time for me! The only part that I was surprised by was the walk through McCormick Place Convention Center at the start and end of each day. (If you have been there, you know.)

I was lucky enough to get the complete experience, from running the wheel at our booth and networking, to hopping in and out of sessions throughout the day.

Overall, I learned what it is like to attend a conference. Who knew there would be massages, snacks and happy hours!? I learned a ton about trends in the digital world from sessions I attended, I met a ton of awesome people while I was there, and most importantly, I grew confidence in my abilities to represent Brandpoint at a conference full of marketing professionals.

I think the coolest thing about the Digital Summit was that there were people from all different types of companies and industries who attended. After talking to a handful of people, I noticed that everyone who attended had one thing in common: that we all need marketing, content, websites, social media strategies, etc. It made it easy to strike a conversation with someone because we already knew we would have something in common to talk about.

As I mentioned earlier, I had a chance to pop into a couple sessions throughout the event. The speakers there were awesome and had super insightful information that I would love to share with you. Here are some key takeaways from a couple of the sessions I attended.

Employee Advocacy: Build Your Brand & Retain Your Employees in One Hour a Week

Sameena Kluck from Paladin discussed the importance of employee advocacy and how it can help build your company’s brand. She also talked about the benefits for both the company and employees. She then ended her session with a step by step employee advocacy program.

I was excited to attend this session because we’ve been having a lot of discussions surrounding employer branding. Who better to help you promote your company culture than the people who are currently working at your brand?

Why Employee Advocacy?

“Employees have 10 times the amount of followers than companies do.”

Employee advocates are stronger than corporate voices because there is trust behind their voices. People don’t trust institutions because we are always being marketed to and sold to as consumers. People trust and want to buy from other people, “not faceless companies.”

Benefits of Employee Advocacy for the Company and Employees:

Company Benefits:

  1. It can help change perceptions and emphasize values.
  2. It can show the public who makes up the company and what type of people work for the company.
  3. It can help with recruiting.

Employee Benefits:

  1. It keeps employees engaged with their company.
  2. It helps employees build their personal brand because they can share what they are interested in or passionate about.
  3. It can help employees make connections with future clients.

Steps for Starting an Employee Advocacy Program:

  • Step 1: Pick champions and emphasize benefits
    • Pick people who are already active on social media
  • Step 2: Provide training
    • Train employees to set up their profiles
    • Give best practices to the employees
    • Provide a clearly defined social media policy
  • Step 3: Provide a content aggregator
  • Step 4: Provide a continuum for participation
    • Minimal: (15 minutes) sharing 1 time, liking 2 times, connecting 5 times
    • Moderate: (30 minutes) sharing on several platforms, commenting
    • High: (60 minutes) sharing daily, finding own content, encouraging team
  • Step 5: Encourage and Reward
    • You can’t force people to post about their employer, rewards will help motivate them

The ABCs of Generation Z and Email Marketing

Clint Kaiser from Oracle Marketing Cloud debunked the myth that members of Generation Z aren’t interested in email.  He talked about important statistics to keep in mind, what we can do to engage with Gen Z and had a list of important takeaways. 

A couple of important statistics he discussed:

  • Gen Z is a big deal, 26% of the population
  • They have $44 billion in purchasing power
  • They will make up 40% of all consumers by 2020
  • 85% use their email monthly
  • 83% believe their email usage is growing
  • Gmail is the email provider of choice for Gen Z

“65% of Gen Z prefer email for brand communications.”

What can we do to engage more with Gen Z?:

  1. Develop the story across multiple channels and touches.
  2. Focus on think experiences and interactive kinetic elements.
  3. Catch their attention with bold designs, color, etc.
  4. Be quick.
  5. Be a part of their narrative, like personalized recommendations, user generated content, reviews and influencers.
  6. Mobile-first template design and experience – make it simple. Easy to click, scan, read and scroll.
  7. Leverage direct feedback – use click insights derived from link categorization, polls and surveys.

Clint’s Takeaways:

  • Gen Z is large, super savvy and has a lot of spend.
  • They can’t be ignored!
  • Email is still a “thing” for Gen Z.
  • Gen Z makes it easier by overwhelmingly using Gmail.
  • Focus on specific approaches to keep your audience engaged by channel.
  • As your email file ages generationally, monitor your brand for how best to engage.

Successful Video Marketing: Inspiration, Trends & Best Practices for Social Media

Jason Hsiao from Animoto had a very visual presentation, which I appreciated. He discussed the importance of video, the differences between social channels and what they can be used for, and best practices for video.

He started off his talk by saying that “old marketing” is about waiting for people to find your website and learn more about you. He then said that “new marketing” is about taking your message to where the conversation is already happening on social media. Using video to join in on a conversation that’s already happening will allow you to be relevant and gain recognition, all while providing engaging material. Video marketing isn’t always about being funny, it is about being authentic.

Here is a list of 12 video types that can be used for social: thought leadership, blog teaser, company overview, product demo, how-to’s, announcements, editorial, testimonial, interviews, event recaps, explainer and backstories.

Facts that stood out to me:

  • Stories are huge, 96% of marketers using story ads intend to continue in the next six months
  • One third of the most viewed stories are from businesses
  • The play button is the most compelling button on the web
  • People can recall six times more information through video
  • 64% of people are more likely to make a purchase after watching a video

“Communicate in the way that your audience wants to consume.”

Video Viewing Behavior Across Platforms:


  1. Create for mobile. Have the content fill the entire screen!
  2. “Save the best for first.”
  3. Authenticity is more important than hilarity.
  4. Authenticity = Trust

A Successful Conference

After attending the Digital Summit in Chicago, I am excited to share what I learned with my team and hopefully implement a couple of these new ideas! It was a great event and I enjoyed getting to know people who are also in the marketing and digital space.

Are you headed to a conference this year? (Ahem, we’ll be at the 2019 Content Marketing World in September, too!) If so, take a look at our event marketing checklist. It includes a free printable on everything you need to have if you’re planning on promoting yourself at a convention or conference.

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