This is a guest blog from our staff editor, Jillian.

Ah, marketing conferences! If you’re anything like me—you cherish these days away from the office to soak up as much knowledge as possible (while also frantically writing notes and wishing the speaker stayed on the slide for one second longer). It’s an adrenaline rush like no other.

Why are marketing conferences so great? It’s the one time where hundreds of professionals line up to collaborate, share insights, and seek advice from each other to help grow and push the limits of what more can be done to improve digital strategy.

The Digital Summit in Detroit, MI was a fantastic event that hosted marketers across Michigan and surrounding states. It offered a conglomeration of thought-leadership and application-based seminars on various topics like content marketing, UX + design, social media, mobile strategy, and more.

Alongside working as a part-time staff editor at Express Writers, my day job is in the B2B finance industry, so I loved the fact that I could choose bits and pieces of different marketing strategy sessions to take back with me as I returned to work. With Digital Summit conferences launching across the country, here’s a breakdown of my favorite insights and moments from the week to help breakdown what I learned.

marketing event digital summit

Rand Fishkin, Seth Godin, and Dennis Rodman: Main Takeaways I Couldn’t Escape

Our staff editor, Jillian, went to Digital Summit in Detroit this year. Learn her top three insights while at the event Plus, catch highlights from speakers like @randfish, @ThisIsSethsBlog, @dennisrodman and more! Click To Tweet

The summit had an eclectic mix of digital marketers known throughout the industry and local Michigan-based pioneers. I enjoyed this combination because not only do I want to learn from top trailblazers that have a larger scope on where trends are moving, but I also want to hear from those who are invested in my city.

The keynote speakers, Rand Fishkin and Seth Godin, were exceptional and delivered insights that were both action-packed and focused on the future. Seth Godin called his keynote a ‘multi-part rant’ and it was refreshing.

Dennis Rodman… was Dennis Rodman. However, I thought his perspective of building your personal brand to be your most authentic self was on-theme with the rest of the conference. His advice to the crowd: “I don’t need to like you to win. Hate me or love me as long as I’m doing my job that’s the most important thing.”

Dennis Rodman, Keynote Speaker

Unquestionably, my favorite speaker was Rand Fishkin. His seminar and keynote ‘The Four Horsemen of the Web Marketing Apocalypse’ was incredibly forward-thinking by looking at how social media and search engines are interfering with web traffic and what marketers can do to combat it.

Every speaker’s session seemed to be speaking towards the same common theme to create an experience that I could piece together and build a strategy on. A few top trends include:

  • Working with digital platforms that kill organic reach
  • Creating empathy and authenticity in a digital landscape
  • Developing employees who are brand advocates

Brian Fanzo, Fyre Festival: 10 Marketing Lessons Your Business Can Leverage

Let’s dive into these top themes a little more.

Our editor, Jillian, went to Digital Summit Detroit 2019 and watched the top keynote speakers in the industry from @randfish, @ThisIsSethsBlog, to... @dennisrodman?! Know the three best insights from the conference. ✨ Click To Tweet

Top 3 Memorable Insights from Digital Summit Detroit 2019

1. Working with Digital Platforms That Kill Organic Reach

Have you noticed your recent social posts are underperforming? What about overall less organic traffic to your website? According to speakers, this is an epidemic many marketers are now facing.

On social media powerhouses Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube, they want users to stay on the platform and strongly frown upon outlinking. For example, the only location users can even add an URL on Instagram is in the bio.

Social platforms reward profiles who have high engagement streaks. Consider using a formula to earn brand exposure and new followers:

  1. Engaging non-promotional post
  2. Engaging non-promotional post
  3. Promotion post with a link
  4. Engaging non-promotional post and so on

In terms of pesky organic website traffic, we have Google to blame for that. Google provides a searcher quick snippets of information so a website is no longer needed (think Google Maps, Google My Business profile, etc.) In fact, 48.96% of all searches on Google never result in a click.


To get ahead of Google and rank, the speakers suggested going after long-tail keywords and focusing on click volume rather than search volume. Let competitors pay the high ad price without benefiting from any ROI.

2. Creating Empathy and Authenticity in a Digital Landscape

Things move fast in the digital landscape and we have about 8 seconds to capture our consumer’s attention before we get scrolled or swiped on. The presenters were focused on helping attendees not only create content that’s authentic but also build a credible brand DNA that consumers remember.

Carlos Gil, What Marketers Can Learn About Social Media From DJ Khaled and Drake

Here are a few memorable points:

  • The conversation is more important than the like. Build relationships and create a community that is relatable because earning fans is far more important than customers.
  • Invest in brand awareness at the top of the funnel and focus on organic traffic before paid advertising. It’s important to be liked and trusted first.
  • Double down on a video and audio marketing strategy. Consider different formats like live videos, voice search, and podcasts.

3. Developing Employees Who Are Brand Advocates

I thought this topic was interesting and paralleled with the ‘influencers who don’t influence’ phrase that I repeatedly heard throughout the conference. While I don’t think influencer marketing is going away anytime soon (it’s predicted to become a $6.5 billion industry), the average consumer is smart and tired of seeing ‘celebrities’ rep products to fake accounts.

Kellee Montgomery, The Power of Employees: Your Secret Weapon to Amplify Brand Messaging

What’s the solution?

Turn to employees to advocate for our brands. In fact, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends or family compared to a celebrity influencer. Employees are also trustworthy and credible sources to sing praise about products, culture, and more. To put this into action, consider the following:

  • Create a company social policy to keep employees informed
  • Encourage leadership to get involved
  • Give employees post copy, branded hashtag, or sharing CTA
  • Inspire engagement
Best insights from Digital Summit Detroit 2019 include working with social media platforms -- and even Google! -- that kill organic reach, creating empathy and authenticity, and developing employees who advocate your brand. Click To Tweet

Where to Next?

Overall, the Digital Summit was a great experience. I sat in on some great presentations with powerful thought-leadership that will transcend into my own marketing strategy. For a marketing conference to be successful, I think you have to walk about with one actionable item and do it—put it on paper, propose it to the team, and implement it.

After these few days, I plan on doing just that. Until next time!

Have you attended a Digital Summit in your local area? What were your favorite moments and insights?

CTA jillian express writers