Digital Summit Detroit - Skyline

This past week the Black Truck team headed to Digital Summit Detroit for two days of listening, learning and networking with other marketers from throughout the midwest. Digital Summit brought some great minds to the Motor City to present. Favorites of ours were of course Seth Godin and Ann Handley – come on, it’s Seth Godin.

Oli Gardner, co-founder of Unbounce, delivered the goods in a heavy hitting preso on using many tiny pieces to reverse engineer a landing page and use precise A/B testing for a winning combo. Salesforce’s own Mathew Sweezey took us on a journey of sales and marketing while understanding the new rules of contextual marketing that help build better practices and convert.

Throughout both days we picked up on one major theme that kept surfacing, and this was centered around context of a site (or marketing campaign), and the delivery of those elements. Seeing as though there were multiple disciplines for any one marketer to follow, just like the speakers noted above, these are our 3 key takeaways that stood out.

Technical On-page SEO

As practitioners of on-page SEO strategies, we know these types of approaches still work. Content remains king, especially really well crafted and optimized content that helps bridge the gap between your products/services and what the individual is actually searching for. Not what you think they might be.

In addition, spending time and focusing attention toward the user experience (UX) of your site is going to become more critical. We already see signals from the search engines that how an individual interacts with your site can have a positive or negative effect on rankings.

If it has been awhile, or you’re headed down the path of a complete overhaul, take some time to audit the UX/UI of your site across multiple user types and devices. Does it deliver a positive experience that will not only get people there, but also delivers a compelling experience that they want to do business with you.

Competitive Insights

Definitely a major concern for any business is their competitors. But having a relatively good handle on where your competitors reside online, and how you stack up against them is invaluable. From our perspective as search marketers, we like to dig in and look under the hood of not only your site for performance metrics, but this also needs to be carried over to your competitors as well.

Identify your top 3 to 5 competitors in your market. Take time to go understand what they’re doing online. Is it a heavier social presence, or are they strictly just dominating the SERPs because they’re appearing to be more of an authoritative source than you?

Tools exist out there that allow you to gain some insights on how your competitors are doing, where they are receiving links from, and what keywords are pulling in their most valuable traffic. Use tools like Open Site Explorer from Moz to get a better handle on how your site is viewed in comparison to your competition. Additionally you can use sources like to determine how healthy your site or competitor’s site link profile is. Regardless of if you’re in the paid-search space or not, a tool like SEMrush can give you just top-level insights on what your competitors might be ranking for. While these tools don’t give you an SEO strategy, they certainly are a good place to start sleuthing around.

Tone of Voice in Content

The third and final takeaway that really stood out to us is honing in your tone of voice. Understanding that while you should have a good grasp on brand standards and how your brand is speaking to an audience, within your site resides multiple types of content. Each piece of content should not only carry that tone of voice through it, but deliver it in such a way that’s compelling and matches the type of content being presented to the user.

Personalization of content is definitely a growing trend. Do you take the time to listen to your customers and understand how they want to be communicated to? In the vast vast world wide web, it can be very difficult to stand out in a sea of the same things. Understand your tone of voice, how it can best be presented in the content shown, and does it deliver on your unique value proposition?

It’s conferences like these that while not all hadcore search focused that we gravitate toward, they are great reminders of other facets within digital marketing that we need consider in an effort to stay on top. Growing a brand online is going to become more competitive. We have more individuals than ever before online, with any number of different types of devices to connect through. It’s time to put checks and balances in place, review your site frequently and make sure it aligns properly with your users and business objectives.