Each fall, Movable Ink hosts hundreds of the world’s leading digital marketers in New York City at Think Summit. Since 2020 was anything but typical, we decided to rethink our event experience and create something entirely new. From October 19-22 this year, we hosted (Re)Think by Movable Ink: our first ever virtual conference! Over 1,000 innovative digital marketers joined us worldwide for four packed days of keynotes, brand presentations, group activities, and more. Our 60+ sessions covered topics ranging from digital transformation and cross-channel marketing, to inclusivity and customer empathy. While there was so much to learn from our brilliant speaker lineup, we compiled a list of our five biggest takeaways from (Re)Think.
1. Lightning-speed digital transformations are happening across all industries.
Digital transformation was a popular theme woven throughout (Re)Think’s agenda, but it was fascinating to learn that rapid transformations were taking place in organizations of all sizes and across all industries. Expedia Group shared that they used this pivotal time to rethink their marketing communications, customer service processes, and travel recommendation strategies. For Johnson & Johnson, the heavy e-commerce traffic they witnessed early on led them to closely re-examine their consumer journey and ensure that every customer was getting what they needed, when they needed it. If digital transformation sounds like a daunting undertaking though, you weren’t alone at (Re)Think.
Becki Francis, Associate Director of Client Strategy at Movable Ink, empathized with these sentiments and shared her own insights into how you can get started. “Digital transformation can feel overwhelming in its scale, but simplifying the concept not only allows us to take action quickly, but it means our overall efforts are more likely to succeed.” You don’t need to overhaul your entire CRM program in one day or add five new products to your martech stack to get your transformation started. Small steps are the key to success; plan, strategize, create a timeline, and start to take actions towards your goal.
2. Customer empathy should be at the forefront of every marketing touch.
While most marketing teams try to operate with a customer-first mentality, that notion was challenged this year as customers seek more empathetic content from the brands they love. Michelle Winsor, Director of Process Management at Versidi, started off her Wednesday afternoon session with an incredibly powerful quote: “The most important skill you’ll ever learn is the ability to truly see a situation from someone else’s point of view.”
This year has taught us that empathy is so much more than sending a one-time “we’re here for you” email and moving on. True customer empathy is putting yourself in their shoes, understanding their needs, and supporting them at every step of their journey. Throughout (Re)Think, we saw a ton of incredible examples from brands that put empathy at the forefront of their marketing campaigns this year. Some of our favorites include Redbubble who sent a weekly creativity newsletter to their subscribers throughout lockdown, and Later who reduced the frequency of their newsletters and implemented a complete redesign to provide more valuable content. You can check out the full list of sessions focused on customer empathy here.
3. Consumers care more about what your brand stands for than ever before.
Prior to this year, the key factors that drove brand success were predictable. Pricing, innovation, and quality were just a few of the puzzle pieces that built brand loyalty. As 2020 comes to a close, those factors are no longer enough to sustain your audience. Gabe Alonso, Head of Digital Platforms & Community – Pepsi Energy Portfolio at PepsiCo, dove deep into brand purpose and the new dynamic between a brand and its consumers. During his session, Gabe unpacked the new era of marketing: it’s no longer about “what can I, as the consumer, do for this brand”, but now “what has this brand done for me and my community lately?” This shift has prompted organizations worldwide to re-examine their purpose and core values.
Consumers want to know that the brands they support have depth, and that they take action on the causes that matter most to their audience. With 70% of consumers saying that trusting a brand is more important today, this could be what makes or breaks the companies we’ve grown to love over the years. According to Gabe, “it’s your actions and what you say that define your brand – not your products.”
4. Personalization is not only desired by customers, but demanded.
At Movable Ink, we’ve always understood the value of personalization at scale and treating your customers as individuals. Throughout (Re)Think this year, we heard stories from marketers across all industries about why personalization is more valuable than ever, both for brands and their consumers. Lauren Meyer, VP of Industry Relations & Compliance at Kickbox, shared an interesting stat from Formation.ai: “81% of people say they will share personal information to get a more personalized online experience. And 50% said they would actually pay a premium for it.” If you’re sending the same content to your entire customer base regardless of their loyalty status, engagement history, preferences, and more, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.
The need for personalization doesn’t just apply to email. Jennie Lewis, Strategic Services Lead, North America at Airship, shared that customers are looking for those same unique experiences across channels. “The consumer is interacting with you as a brand, and they start to expect the same level of personalization from one channel to another. If you have a really rich email personalization system, they’re going to start to want that in the mobile app, and in the messaging that comes through the mobile app.”
Want to learn more about how you can take personalization across channels with ease? Check out our Cross-Channel Champion demo on demand!
5. The best thing you can do for your brand (and yourself) is to be authentic.
Many of our speakers shared examples of great marketing campaigns they’ve seen in 2020, but the common thread in these campaigns weren’t new products, witty brand humor, or a flashy sale; it was authenticity. During her keynote, Jen Capstraw, President and Co-Founder of Women of Email, shared a variety of organizations that have stayed true to their values across the years, regardless of how trendy or polarizing it may be. Brands like Penzeys Spices, Hobby Lobby, and Chick-fil-A were among a few that Jen praised for their consistent authenticity on social and political issues.
Authenticity doesn’t stop at the brand level though. During her rockstar keynote, Jade Simmons discussed the importance of always being true to yourself no matter how challenging it may seem. She shared stories from her youth as a classical pianist competing in a world that had little room for change. Once she mustered the courage to put her own spin on her classical performances, whether it included personal storytelling or even rapping on stage, she found her true purpose. “At some point, when you are learning to understand your own story, you’re going to have to let go of what you thought it was originally going to be.” The greatest gift you can give yourself is the ability to be authentic and purpose-driven while doing what you love.
These are just a few of the valuable lessons we took away from (Re)Think, but there is so much more to learn from our incredible lineup of speakers! If you didn’t get the chance to attend all of our sessions live, or you just want to re-watch a few of your favorites, you can find all of our sessions on demand on the (Re)Think event page.
We hope to see you in person at Think Summit next year, but if that isn’t possible, we are so excited to host all of our inspiring digital marketers again virtually!