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Abigail Conlon

By: Abigail Conlon on September 6th, 2018

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The HighRoad Team Take on Digital Summit DC 2018

digital marketing

mailto:demo@example.com?Subject=HighRoad Solutions - interesting article


In the final weeks of summer, the HighRoad client services team descended onto Walter E. Washington Convention Center to connect with area digital marketers and those traveling from all over the country. After sightseeing the DC monuments on Sunday (pictured above are Abby, Jeremiah and Sami), we started the DC Digital Summit Conference on Monday with opening keynote speaker Dan Pink, best selling author of When.

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“I caught myself over Labor Day weekend referencing the researched-backed statistics Pink offered on timing, solidifying that Pink was a speaker with interesting insights that really stuck with me. I’ll use these and apply them to my personal productivity, but also to optimize ad placements and organic posts for associations.” HighRoad’s Client Success Manager, Emily Wilson summarized.

With the HighRoad party of five together in person, we dispersed amongst the sessions for greatest coverage. In between sessions we mingled with clients like MOAA, partners such as Adestra, and Act-On, and connected with vendors we wanted to learn more from such as SEMRush, Sprout Social, and Genius Monkey.  

4 of Our Favorite Sessions and Takeaways

Get More from the Emails You’re Already Sending and Modernize Your Email Marketing Playbook, Bart Thornburg, Total Wine & More

“It has never been easier to deliver a relevant, personalized experience in the inbox, but the engagement hasn’t followed. 80% of marketing emails sent in 2018 will never be opened. Worse yet, 98% of emails will never get clicked. In this session, we’ll examine the inbox experience and show that the fundamentals are the key to optimization and personalization.” -Bart Thornburg, Total Wine & More

“Bart’s session left us with many valuable takeaways. He explained the importance of activating customer data with good conversation to form valuable and long-standing relationships with customers. Thornburg also tied in the value of personalization and how as a business, we have the control to optimize our emails as their own conversion funnels and align our marketing language to sound actual and authentic.” Abby Conlon, Client Success Manager

Three Ways to Dramatically Improve Your Email Results, Nora Snoddy, Director of Communications, Campaign Monitor

Did you know that email is the most widely used form of communication for businesses? Did you also know that most businesses are not happy with the results of their email marketing? Nora Snoddy, Director of Communications at Campaign Monitor shared how to break through the clutter of the inbox and effectively market your products and services through email. Here are three key takeaways we identified:

  • Personalize your inbox experience. Focus on the consumer rather than your brand by providing value to your subscribers.
  • Segment whenever possible. Send the right message to right people at the right time. This will make it easy for consumers to take in your information and direct them towards the action you want them to take.
  • Use email automation as a way to scale your efforts and help your organization stand out.

10 Critical Factors for Success in Content Marketing, Arnie Kuenn, Vertical Measures

Implementing and executing a successful content marketing plan can be a daunting task for your organization. Here are some considerations to help your organization succeed in its content marketing efforts:

  • Understand the current state of your content marketing. Does it need to be revamped? How can you move forward?
  • Understand your audience’s needs. What are your strategic initiatives? Do you have a content roadmap?
  • Prioritize your audience over your brand by creating helpful and useful content to meet their needs.
  • Nurture your leads and considering the impact of timing. After filling out a form and engaging with your organization, your leads should hear from you within 5 minutes.

Keynote: Building a Brand with Outrageous Marketing, Scott Dikkers, Founder, The Onion

Somewhere between the lines, there is an unspoken pre-requisite in small print for a successful marketer to also be a great story teller. If all marketers are on the spectrum of great storytellers, Scott Dikkers, Founder of The Onion, by far leans towards the more-gifted side of story telling.

The Onion Founder, took us through the evolution of a once obscure Wisconsin newspaper to a full fledged news satire powerhouse and successful digital media company. We learned his first hires were the socially shunned and self-proclaimed misfits around the creative industry. How he happened upon his first legal representation (after avoiding a lawsuit from said legal representation from trouble with a certain pop singer-sister). Dikkers explained how his top writers diverged on qualities that would help with business development into digital and beyond paper and how early Onion writers went on to experience showbiz success.

What can we take away from Dikkers formula for outrageous antics so we can apply them to associations? Associations need to attract new members that are mostly likely digitally savvy and who already have high expectations when it comes to entertainment, engagement, and personalization. Maybe it’s worthwhile to take a cue from Dikkers and think outside the box, with creative hires that know how to get attention with copy (Nike certainly took a risk this week), from extremely engaging inbound lead magnets that delight and engage, and with a culture that is open to having a say that is controversial on occasion.


The 2018 Digital Summit gave our team valuable insights and strategies to deliver our clients marketing solutions to meet their needs. The hottest topics at #DSDC that we’ll take back and apply in our work with our clients include treating email as its own conversion funnel, using data to segment content and messaging, and applying the right marketing tools to scale and grow.