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Baltimore Innovation Week / Events / Marketing

7 lessons from the #BIW15 Future of Digital Marketing conference that will take your business to the next level

We share the top-level takeaways from the case studies that dominated this Baltimore Innovation Week event.

Brian Razzaque of Social Toaster speaks at the Baltimore Innovation Week Future of Digital Marketing conference. (Photo by Brian James Kirk)
Data science is great and all, but digital media will always have something to do with people.

That was something you might have heard plenty Tuesday if you were among the 100 attendees at our second annual Baltimore Innovation Week Future of Digital Marketing conference, an afternoon of case studies on the collision of online sales and storytelling.
Held in the Single Carrot Theatre, hours before a rehearsal of its latest show and the latest Ignite Baltimore, the event had a mix of agency, staff and independent marketers, plus a share of entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders. The event was sponsored by Agora Inc., the newsletter publisher, and closed out with a happy hour at the adjacent Parts & Labor.
Find the entire day’s slide deck here and a takeaway from each speaker below.

  • Start with your clear and personal purpose — Kara Redman of Backroom talked through with Darren Durlach the process in developing their Early Light Media brand. She shared her process, which included a list of brand words (the overused “storyteller” couldn’t be one of them).
  • You don’t know anything until the data tells you so — Mike Pizzo, the managing director of Agora Financial, detailed several lessons his team has learned from obsessive A/B testing, including that new subscribers to one of their paid trade publications were more likely to drop their subscription if they were called by a human representative of the company than if they weren’t.
  • If you’ve done a sweepstakes, you’ve almost surely broken the law — Brian Razzaque, the CEO of SocialToaster, gave the beginning of the deep dive that makes the core of his business: brands can get a lot of value if they can navigate the challenges of sweepstakes and contests. But be warned: the legal gray area is real.
  • Webrooming can save retail but you need to care about where the stuff is. Engel Baldwin, the director of client strategy at ecommerce firm Groove, walked through her work with Offenbachers, the lifestyle retailer. The webrooming trend, in which consumers do their research online but still want to buy the product in person (to either get it immediately or to feel it in person), will likely keep retail alive far into our digital future — but that means the retail experience will have to improve. That’s why Baldwin went from digital marketer into delving deeply into floor layouts and other updates to the chain’s physical footprint.
  • Test and learn with internal products that build — Leah Vogely, the creative strategy director whom, we were reminded, first joined Mindgrub after our 2014 NET/WORK tech jobs fair, shared why the dev firm is building an internal app to keep track of their team ping-pong matches. The product has let them test strategy they don’t want to deploy on paying clients and they build team unity along the way.
  • Data lets you reward your best customers — Scott Sokoloff, the chief data officer of food delivery company OrderUp, still fresh off its Groupon exit, shared how, by tracking its best-retained customers, the company can deliver faster service and, similarly, can connect its best delivery drivers with those best customers. This has improved retention.
  • Marketing can build community — Robyn Stegman, a digital specialist at What Works Studio, talked about the company’s City Caw project, backed by an anonymous client, which has their team creating illustrations about Baltimore to create a sense of local identity, like the one below created after Sisu Global Health won the Rise of the Rest startup pitch contest that also took place during Baltimore Innovation Week.

Following the case studies, this reporter moderated an unscripted panel in which four experts fielded questions from the audience via Twitter — ranging from suggesting cheap tools they love to how best to reach older customers.
The panelists were Lauren Maffeo, ‎a content specialist at Aha!Lindsay McGettigan, the director of marketing strategy and insights at R2integratedTim Savage, a small business marketing consultant; and Tobore Sefia of Good News Baltimore and Six Point Pictures.

Companies: Mindgrub / The Agora / What Works Studio / Groove / OrderUp / R2integrated / SocialToaster /

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