Three top takeaways from the 2018 Nottingham Digital Summit

David Linder

David Linder

MSc in Marketing from the University of Salford. Facebook Certified Planning Professional Facebook Certified Buying Professional
6 min read

Our round-up from the inaugural digital event

Last week I attended the 1st Nottingham Digital Summit, conceived, managed and led by local agency Hallam to champion digital excellence in the town of Nottingham. The function included a fascinating mixture of inspiration, innovation and insight across a variety of digital disciplines, from UX and SEO to content marketing and design. What’s more, the conference supported an excellent cause, raising over £15,000 for Framework, a Nottingham-based housing association focused on delivering opportunities to homeless and vulnerable people over the East Midlands.

There was too much to ingest and digest from the summit and the Hallam team did an excellent job of summarising at length all the different sessions. I would recommend taking the time to review these individual round-ups, which also include links to the speakers and their slides. With this in mind, rather than providing a comprehensive summary of the conference, I’ve identified a handful of interesting takeaways that stood out and made me think.

1. Scale your articles marketing efforts

Kirsty Hulse of Many Minds delivered a great, practical and thought-provoking presentation on the advantages of cheap, scalable but effective content marketing.

At first I was just a little sceptical concerning the idea of ‘scalable’ content marketing, however, Kirsty’s message was about mitigating the failures of large, expensive content marketing campaigns with the creation of smarter, smaller content to spread the chance. A resourceful thought process for small and large brands alike.

Great content marketing doesn’t always require a lot of money and is anchored on having a good idea, backed by data and a good, shareable asset.

But what can you do to generate ideas, data and assets quickly and efficiently? Kirsty had some very handy practical tools and suggestions:


  • Conduct a straightforward, timed, brainstorming exercise in line with the core brand idea. The target is to reach the main point where you’re generating ideas and concepts that aren’t restricted from your own conscious/ analytical mind
  • Take sub-topics and ideas and plug them right into a tool like BuzzSumo,  very helpful for investigating popular content topics becoming shared


  • Take your opinions, back-up with data (more on that below) and refine/ develop further with the input from colleagues


  • Conduct a survey utilizing a tool like Pollfish to create data efficiently. If you’re searching for something bigger, consider existing data from credible polls, e.g. as YouGov, Reuters or Pew
  • There are white papers on hundreds of different topics that can provide free, accessible data to generate new ideas or underpin what you already have:


  • Niche, academic se’s such as for example DataSearch may be used to add credibility to the campaign ideas you’re developing. Academic research is quite powerful and the academics themselves will probably accommodate the usage of the research

2. The continuing future of search has already been here

It sometimes feels as though we’re constantly discussing the continuing future of search and all its possibilities, yet two talks from Vikas Arora at Microsoft and Barry Adams from State of Digital highlighted that the continuing future of search has already been here and marketers must act now to make the most.

Two points specifically resonated:

AI and machine learning are directly influencing search today

Vikas Arora explained that by 2020 50% of search should come from image or voice and that 85% of customer interactions with an organization may happen without even getting together with a individual.

With the rise of voice, image search and bot technology, AI and machine learning have become a more impressive priority for marketers and developers, with 1 / 2 of all developer teams embedding AI to their apps.

As with Google, AI powered search capabilities are experiencing a far more noticeable effect on serp’s and digital marketers should be open-minded and forward-thinking to capitalize on consumer trends and expectations:

AI powered search capabilitiesTake benefit of structured data markup

Barry Adams expanded with this theme, highlighting that search today is predominantly centred around voice search and contextual triggers, the latter observed in the proper execution of real-time Google Maps updates predicated on our data or the usage of consumers’ smartwatch data to influence insurance costs.

However it had been interesting to get into a bit more detail in regards to what we are able to do to really benefit from these factors, and structured data markup was a high recommendation to integrate your computer data with new functionality.

Structured data markup has been open to search marketers for several years now, yet it’s continually evolving and becoming more and more important with the rise of screenless search and contextual triggers. Why? Because structured data eliminates the guesswork for se’s giving them detailed information regarding your content and more relevant and useful results for users. Whilst video, articles and review markup is fairly well known, it had been interesting to discover that speakable and HowTo Schema markup may be used to develop a step-by-step voice recipe instruction for smart devices:


3. Put an individual in the centre of one’s digital planning

One of the attractions for attending the Nottingham Digital Summit was the inclusion of several user experience speakers, including Dr Sam Howard from Userfy, Ian Coupland of Experian and Gavin Holland of Capital One. Each speaker brought a brand new and interesting perspective but a standard theme from all was the significance of going for a user-centric approach and seeing things from the customer’s viewpoint when developing digital content and experiences.

Rachel Sterling from Speedo delivered a very practical, real-world example that outlined the way the brand advocated for an individual and took a test-first mentality. Speedo had realized that customers rarely choose the best goggles because of a wide variety of product variations (145+) and attributes and Speedo were, therefore, updating their website to handle these challenges and deliver a far more effective experience.

Some of the main element steps and processes included:

  • Start by creating a detailed evaluation of the existing experience – review current layouts and content and think about the moments that matter – so how exactly does the client become aware and ultimately research and however the product
  • Conduct research – you can find four types areas:
    • 1. Usability testing
    • 2. In-store research
    • 3. Competitor analysis
    • 4. Deep-dive web analytics
  • Collaborate – different teams, from Sales to Brand & Marketing, can offer useful insights


  • Establish a hypothesis to test – identify the issue you’re facing, highlight the lever required and assign KPIs, e.g.:


  • Run a user-centered design process – involve customers and iterate predicated on feedback:

We might not always have the abilities, resources and capabilities to perform an in-depth UX process like the one above, nevertheless the Speedo research study and another UX presentations gave me the confidence that people can at the minimum put an individual in the centre of our thinking to make sure we produce content which has the very best chance possible to resonate with this customers.

Content and search

Content and SEO are two topics we regularly cover at length on Smart Insights, nevertheless the summit highlighted some new and interesting trends, techniques and tools to take into account.

Voice search is led by Amazon, with the Echo dominating market share in america (69% vs. Google’s 25%) and we are able to see contextual triggers in

David Linder

David Linder

MSc in Marketing from the University of Salford. Facebook Certified Planning Professional Facebook Certified Buying Professional

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