Digital Summit Charlotte 2017 Recap

The Conference

A few weeks ago I attended Digital Summit Charlotte in Charlotte, NC. Digital Summit is a conference series of two-day events held across the US. It’s dedicated to digital marketers from all spheres, from agencies to eCommerce retailers, B2C to B2B.

This was my first Digital Summit event, and I learned a lot from the experience. The topics were relevant for any digital marketing pro, regardless of industry. As Gauge founder Mark recently explained, learning is a foundational part of Gauge culture. We draw from a wide array of resources to glean insights and develop new perspectives on the challenges eCommerce retailers face. This event was a great opportunity to step outside of the world of strictly eCommerce and learn about digital marketing across many different verticals.

Digital Summit Charlotte North Carolina

The Sessions

This conference included a ton of sessions organized into tracks. Today I’ll pass some of my Digital Summit knowledge onto you. These were the takeaways from my top three sessions.

Session 1: Facebook Ads – Mastering the Power of the Demographic Fire Hose

Susan Wenograd, Partner & SEM/Social Ads Manager at Five Mill

One of this session’s most interesting topics was the importance of using social proof in Facebook Ads. In a nutshell, “social proof” is the power of crowd approval. Think Most Popular filters, McDonald’s “Over 1 Million Sold” tagline, even expert and celebrity testimonials. While the concept of social proof isn’t new to me or to many eCommerce retailers, this session gave some practical strategies for harnessing social proof in Facebook Ads.

Everyone knows it’s important to engage with your customers on social media. But why is it so important? Engagement adds legitimacy to your brand and products. At some point, we’ve all had a thought like “Wow, 673 people have commented on this new pillow. Maybe I should try it out.” That’s social proof in action.

Susan’s main point was to make sure that you’re using Facebook ads to take full advantage of the social proof you’ve earned by engaging with your customers. One way to do that: Build comments on product posts with your regular followers. Then, use those posts to create a Facebook Ad for that product. The comments will appear with the ad and boost your conversions.

Another great takeaway: Rethink your remarketing timelines. Thirty-day remarketing campaigns are an industry standard, but it may pay off to tighten up your timelines. You can easily check Google Analytics to find the average time between a user’s initial visit and a conversion. If your customers usually convert within the first week, why not remarket for that length of time? It could reduce your ad spend without affecting your sales!

Session 2: Gifts – 5 Holiday Season Tips for B2c Digital Marketers

Brittany Link, Senior Consultant & Certified Administrator at Salesforce Marketing Cloud

This session’s title says it all: Brittany passed on her best holiday marketing tips.

  1. Simplify checkout as much as possible
    1. Use one-touch checkout methods like Apple Pay
    2. Explore contextual commerce strategies, like easy checkout on social media platforms. See my last blog post for more about this.
  2. Think strategically about communication
    1. Don’t double or triple your email marketing overnight. Avoid email fatigue by ramping up your email campaigns slowly as the holiday season approaches.
    2. Timing is key. Consider how the timing of your emails will affect your site traffic.
    3. In the same vein, make sure your site is ready for increased traffic. An email delivery could cause a flood of site visitors. A solid, well-prepared infrastructure is critical for a successful sale.
    4. Tip: Don’t send emails at the top or bottom of the hour. Sending them in between could improve your open rates.
  3. Provide as many channels for customer service as possible
    1. If you don’t use it already, add live chat to your website. Instant access to customer support has proven to increase conversions.
    2. Make sure your customer service team is prepared for the influx of customers.
  4. Focus on your promotional strategy
    1. Make sure you’ve thought through your promotional offers, and always have a plan B.
    2. Get creative with sales, like Free Shipping or a Free Gift with Purchase (which can be better for margins).
    3. Make sure you’re thinking outside the box with a well-rounded marketing mix. Know your audience and go where they are.
  5. Returns can be good!
    1. During the holidays, increased order volume and gift-giving leads to increased returns.
    2. Returns can be a prime opportunity to win a new customer with great customer service. Make sure your return policies and processes are clear, easy to find, and easy to follow. Highlight gift receipt options during checkout. Don’t miss an opportunity to gain a new customer for life.

For more, check out the 2017 Salesforce Holiday Readiness Guide.

Session 3: Gen Z These Days – Marketing to Digital Natives

Laura Wilson, Director of Digital Engagement & Social Media, Georgetown University

This was a fascinating session. It presented some really interesting facts about Generation Z—anyone born after 1995—that I wasn’t aware of.

  • Gen Z currently comprises about 25% of the population.
  • Their combined income (mostly weekly allowance) amounts to about $44B per year.
  • 67% of Gen Z prefer narratives and storytelling with realistic endings.
  • A top milestone for Gen Z is getting a cell phone.

Research shows that privacy is more important to Gen Z than to Millennials. Gen Zers have fewer concerns about how they present themselves when content disappears. Social media platforms like Snapchat appeal to them more than channels like Twitter or Facebook.

Gen Z also values private communication, hence the increase in private messaging apps like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. These channels fall under the term “dark social.” That may sound ominous, but it simply means social interactions that are harder to track.

Laura also detailed a few marketing approaches that may appeal to Gen Z.

  • Chatbots. Gen Z poses new challenges that force marketers to think outside the box and innovate. Chatbots are one of those innovations. Within Gen Z, chatbots have seen 91% positive sentiment, with an average of 17 messages per conversation. In user tests, 48% of conversations led to a coupon delivery.
  • On-demand geofilters for Snapchat and Instagram. Tap into what’s going on around them.
  • Research. Look to sites like Reddit to identify relevant conversations.
  • Micro-influencers. These are more relatable for Gen Z than big-name influencers, which increases engagement. They’re also more affordable. It’s a win-win.


At Digital Summit Charlotte I learned a lot of incredibly valuable information. I look forward to sharing the insights with my clients and Gauge team members. We make a point to attend conferences and learning events; they’re an investment in our team and an important part of making the story great for each client. If the Digital Summit team is heading to a city near you, definitely check it out!

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