Expert Tips and Key Takeaways From MarketingTech Smart 2017

By Brittany Tepper

Over 100 marketing professionals attended MarketingTech Smart on September 27, 2017 at the Loyola University Chicago Quinlan School of Business. Through multiple sessions with industry experts, attendees were able to learn how to navigate the crossroads of marketing and technology, and network with other engaged marketers in the community.

Here are a few tips from our experts and takeaways from our American Marketing Association Chicago members:

Expert Tip #1: “Reporting isn’t analysis” – Andy Crestodina, Strategic Director at Orbit Media

We all know that data analytics are an important part of the marketing technology stack. However, too often marketers solely report on key metrics (click through rates, bounce rate, etc.) and don’t use data to inform their marketing strategy. Andy Crestodina, Strategic Director of Orbit Media, discussed several quick and easy ways marketers can use Google Analytics to create data-driven business decisions.

Before jumping into the session, Andy emphasized that the two most important factors for your website are traffic and conversion rate — Traffic X Conversion Rate = Money/Success. Anything that doesn’t support either of these two factors is irrelevant.

While there are hundreds of different ways to optimize for increased traffic and conversions, and you can find many of them on Andy’s blog, these two tips stood out:

A. How to understand the likelihood of a conversion based on referral traffic.

Knowing where your audience was before they got to your website is important, but knowing how likely they are to convert based on where they came from is even more valuable. To see your website’s sources of referral traffic with its corresponding conversion rates in Google Analytics go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels.

*If you don’t already have your Google Analytics set up, here is a great article from Orbit Media.

B. How to look at your on-site search queries to understand your audience and their needs.

Congratulations, you have gotten a great lead to your website! But they can’t seem to find what they’re looking for. Hopefully, they will search directly on your website without going elsewhere. Your internal search queries tell you a lot about your audience’s needs and your website’s content gaps. To view your search queries in Google Analytics go to: Behavior> Site Search>Search Terms. Here is another great article on how to set this up from Orbit Media.

Key Takeaways from AMA Chicago Members:

“I got the most out of Andy’s session on data analytics. I do a lot of B2B marketing, and being able to translate data into something that is truly functional, goes beyond reporting, and offers profitable solutions gives our clients, and my agency an advantage.” – Amanda Zidel, Account Executive at Plan B Advertising.

Expert Tip #2: “Brands need to be just as human as you and me.” – Kim Brown, Head of Global Product Marketing at GE Renewable Energy Digital

In the age of the ever-evolving newsfeed, creating authentic human-based connections with customers has never been more important. Kim Brown, Head of Global Product Marketing at GE Renewable Energy Digital, discussed the importance of building out brands as human as their customers.

Kim encouraged attendees to think about today’s top brands. The most successful brands have taken a “360-degree approach” to their own personas, along with their customers. By knowing both themselves and their customers, these brands present themselves as authentic, simple and highly transparent. These brands are also able to develop more impactful value propositions and create powerful content that is valuable for both parties.

Key Takeaways from AMA Chicago Members:

“Kim’s presentation on content marketing provided valuable insights into how brands can be more authentic in their content creation. There is nothing worse than clicking on an article, and instead of finding a solution, finding a sales pitch. I’ll be applying a lot of these “human- based” methods to my own content marketing.”

Expert Tip #3: “Marketing automation is a journey, not a destination.” – Kim Dazey, Marketing Manager at Morningstar and Emilie Kraft, Marketing Manager at Morningstar

Implementing marketing automation into a business can be a long and cumbersome process. Kim Dazey and Emilie Kraft, Marketing Managers at Morningstar, walked attendees through the three-year long process of implementing Eloqua into their organization. They compared the process to building a house through the analogy of involving multiple stakeholders within their organization to contractors. Their largest piece of advice was that everyone must be involved throughout the whole process in order to produce a quality finished product.

Key Takeaways from AMA Chicago Members:

“The marketing automation case study helped reinforce the process. We have struggled to get some of our technology to work together, and hearing others say it’s doable helps us reevaluate some of our current processes. – Marcel Manzano, E-Commerce Manager at Ryerson.

While conference-goers may have attended different sessions, their key takeaways all followed a common theme — implementing what they learned to advance their company and career. For more information on future events or AMA Membership, visit

Darcy Schuller, President Chicago AMA, 2014-15

3 Quick Questions To Test Your Content Strategy

Content marketing is an essential tool for brands and businesses looking to connect with their audiences. This isn’t new. Everyone is jumping on the content bandwagon… and as such, there is a lot of information that gets put in front of each and every one of us on a daily basis. So, how do you break through the noise and ensure you are not only reaching your audience, but more importantly that you are impacting them? There are a multitude of tools and techniques for accomplishing this, from video and social to personalization and remarketing. Whatever the method you employ to deliver your content, the same 3 questions should be asked to ensure your strategy sets you up for success:

Is Your Content Relevant to Your Target Audience?

Your content is only as great as the relevance it has on your target audience. A beautifully produced video will only be successful if the message it conveys provides value to those that view it. Relevance can come in many forms… and what one person finds relevant may be vastly different from what another person finds relevant. It’s up to you to do the homework to really understand your target audience, uncovering their needs and desires, what makes them react, how they prefer to interact with you, what their motivations are, etc. The more you know about your core audience, the better you will be at crafting your content to suit them. The ultimate goal of your content should be to incite a positive reaction to your brand or business.  That also may come in many different forms, whether it be a laugh, a cry, clicking “read more” or “buy”, visiting your website, calling your office or some other form of action as a result. It may not invoke an immediate action like this, but when someone regards your content as relevant, they are more likely to respect you, like you and be open to engaging with you in the future.

Does Your Content Make Your Brand More Relatable?

In business, relationships are everything. Understanding your core customers and knowing what they need and what delights them is one step to building a sustainable relationship with them. Great content can also help to make your brand more relatable.  If offers the opportunity to give your organization a personality, a voice and a humanistic element. Your content should highlight the uniqueness of your brand in a way that makes people want to like you. One of the key elements of creative and effective content comes in the form of storytelling. A great story is engaging and intriguing and it leaves the audience with something to think about, something to talk about and something to share with others. The best stories are those that get retold time and time again.

Is Your Content Memorable?

Great content is sticky… it stays on the mind of your audience and leaves a favorable impression. It stands out and begs to be shared. Being top of mind is certainly a highly sought after position any brand or business aims to be. It might only take one really memorable tweet or it might take several strategically placed blog articles to achieve the stickiness factor. The key is to be consistent and smartly persistent. While something may be quite memorable, with all the information out there today, that ‘memorable something’ can quickly fall from our minds and be replaced. Create “I can’t stop thinking about that” content for your audience each and every time.

If you can answer yes to these three questions, then your content is well on its way to being remarkable. Your content should address the question of “So what?” or “Why should I care?” from the viewpoint of your target audience. Strive to give them the “aha” moment they are craving. Does it draw your audience in and make them want to learn more? Does it cause them to comment or share? Is it remarkable?

Author: Chicago AMA Past President, Darcy Schuller, President, Suvonni (as originally posted at