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October 24, 2014 / Stephanie Vermillion

14 Digital Marketing Takeaways from ASCEND Summit 2014

14 Digital Marketing Takeaways from ASCEND Summit 2014Remember the days of high school and college, strategizing “how much time can I spend “getting water” or “going to the bathroom” before class is over?”

I do. Mostly during physics and calculus, my least favorite classes. (Thank goodness for, am I right?) But things change when you’re no longer living on campus or catching up with friends in high school hallways.

This week, I was at ASCEND Digital Marketing Summit 2014 – a conference that quickly turned into a mecca for content marketers. During the summit, I found myself avoiding every bodily need (e.g., bathroom breaks) to make sure I didn’t miss a single minute of the top-notch speakers and valuable takeaways.

Today, I’m using PR State of Mind to empty my brain overload and pass along 14 of my favorite ASCEND Summit 2014 insights with you. While you enjoy these learnings, please don’t follow my lead. Take that bathroom break if you need to. I’ll be here all day (and night, and next day, and forever) long.


  1. Writing matters. Sure, we’re in a world of visuals, but it’s written content that makes you stand out and really connect with your audiences. Don’t ever underestimate the value of grammatically correct, good writing. – @AnnHandley
  2. “Everything the light touches is content.” Content isn’t just a blog, it’s your website, your product pages, your email, etc. Make sure your brand character is engagingly shared throughout. – @AnnHandley
  3. Write more to write better. As I’ve noted, good writing was a theme of Ann Handley’s presentation (along with dancing bats). To become a better writer, and consequentially prove your brand’s competency, practice writing so you become quicker, more comfortable and, most importantly, more engaging. – @AnnHandley
  4. Listen to your data. Do your readers like “how to” tips? Do they prefer detailed product pages? Find which pages get the most traffic and make sure you’re giving your readers/ website visitors what they want. – @AnnHandley and @Crestodina
  5. Be brief – always. Whether it’s a post, a presentation or a new business pitch, make sure you can sum up quickly – 30 seconds or fewer – why the audience should care and how you’ll help them succeed. – @PeterShankman
  6. SEO is a starting point – and only that. You can get people to your website, but if you don’t have easy navigability, quality customer service and a good product in place, SEO won’t do you any good. – @WilReynolds
  7. Conversion, like SEO, is just the beginning. To build brand loyalists, you have to continue the conversation beyond the first purchase. Interact with customers, provide what they need, make them feel special. While you may not be able to track exact ROI, these extra steps will yield major results. – @WilReynolds
  8. Test everything. I don’t deal much with email marketing, but Anne Holland’s tips on the subject still resonate. You must test everything you do to find what’s working and what’s not (this can be applied to blog sites, too). Hard, tested data is the bridge to building a successful brand. – @AnneHolland55
  9. Read/ watch Andy Crestodina. Period. I’ve tuned into Andy’s webinars and read his content, and he’s the one who really piqued my interest in SEO. We were lucky enough to see him present at ASCEND, but anyone who was there knows he was so chock-full of good SEO content, I can’t even begin to list it all here. – @Crestodina
  10. Duplicate content is not the devil. You probably won’t be penalized for posting the same thing on two separate blogs or websites, but keep in mind that only one site where the same content is posted will be able to rank in Google for the same post. The trick? Tailor the headline/ content to your audience so you rank separately for different key phrases. And honestly, that’s not really a trick – it’s writing for your audience. – @Crestodina
  11. If customers ask, you answer. This seems simple, but many businesses are afraid to reveal the elephant in the room or share their pricing. But, that’s what the potential customer wants to know – and what they’re searching for. If you can answer their questions in a post on your site, you’ll rank high and see significant business growth like Marcus Sheridan did. – @TheSalesLion (Side note: Here’s an example of how to answer those scary questions like cost without giving away all your secrets.)
  12. Design your emails for mobile. Even if people are opening them on desktop computers, the mobile design will work. The majority of emails are opened on mobile devices, and those who don’t adapt lose list members quickly. – @meladorri
  13. Don’t “submit” yourself to landing page failure. “Submit” is the worst text possible for a call to action button. Instead, have the text on your button finish this sentence: “I want to …” This could be “learn more,” “receive free advice,” “register to win” … you get the point. – @oligardner and @bmassey
  14. Today’s consumers are less tolerant than ever. Whether it’s email, website or customer service, people aren’t tolerant of bad experiences. Make sure all of your content and your business as a whole helps customers. Many companies are doing this well, but many aren’t even coming close. You have the opportunity to be one of these winning brands if you take the time to do business and marketing right. – @everyASCENDspeaker (Disclaimer: this is not a real handle).


And … breathe. At least that’s what I told myself after the two-day conference concluded. It was full of so much information that I honestly think I may have bypassed some other bodily needs like, um, breathing.

That whole breathing thing mixed with the incredible amount of valuable information turned me into one tired yet in-the-know PR pro. So please, excuse me while I take a brain/breathing/bathroom/sleep break, but help yourself to some more industry learnings by following the #ASCENDSummit2014 Twitter feed.

Were you at ASCEND Digital Marketing Summit 2014? Share your top learnings below.


Leave a Comment
  1. Hunter Boyle / Oct 25 2014 2:20 pm

    Hey Stephanie,

    Thanks for joining us and for such a great recap post!

    We’re thrilled to see how useful ASCEND was for you. I hope that as you put these ideas into action you’ll keep us posted. We look forward to seeing you next time!

    Cheers — Hunter


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