On October 19, 2016, Blue Fountain Media hosted a seminar on "The Future of Customer Engagement & Digital Technology." We brought together a diverse panel of industry thought-leaders and discussed how evolving technologies are shaping the different ways in which brands engage with their customers online, and what the future could hold due to these advancements. In the upcoming weeks we plan to highlight some of these individual presentations and take a deeper look at the exciting ideas each speaker brought to our attention. For now, take a look at the quick wrap-up we have created of the day's topics, along with some key tips and takeaways from each of our panel members. Enjoy!

Driving Revenue in 2017 with Intelligent Marketing

Joe DiNardo - Director of Marketing, Blue Fountain Media 1. KILL the conversion funnel. The conversion funnel as we know it no longer represents a buyer's journey online. It is now more reflective of what we call an "Influence Loop." Users have caught on to our tricks, and we need to now adapt to their behavior and intentions, and use that information to target them properly. 2. EXPAND your media plan. 2017 is going to be all about intelligent marketing and making our ad units and platforms work together to reach our goal. We need to layer media successfully and seamlessly in order to project ubiquity within our marketing strategies. 3. FOCUS on creative that connects. Users go out of their way to avoid ads online. So the creative we use in our marketing campaigns needs to be developed in a way that actually accomplishes something more than just raising general awareness. Leverage how your ads can impact or inform the user, rather than simply catching their attention. 4. BUILD attribution models that finally work. With the amount of information and technology evolving today, it is imperative to use those resources to your advantage, and leverage data to make strategic decisions with your advertising budget. Track everything, measure your results, and build an attribution model that fits the specific needs of your business.

2016 Holiday Trends: How Digital Changes the Game

Regina Wilson - Agency Lead, Google 1. Keep your digital doors open. Grow your business alongside the digital community. Adapt your brand in a way that still fits the needs of your company, and your customers. Although traditional shopping is still a part of the holiday season, there is always room for expansion when it comes to developing businesses online. 2. Have a strong mobile presence this holiday season. People are no longer "brand loyal" while shopping. Today they are "need loyal," and if your business is not easily accessible from a mobile device when a customer needs it, then you will be overlooked. If you aren't on mobile, your competitors will be. 3. Mobile will continue to be the growth driver in 2017. The popularity and potential of mobile does not show any signs of slowing down. You need to not only be present on mobile, but you need to also make sure that your presence has an optimized user experience in order to keep your audience coming back.

Chatbots: The Next Step in Customer Engagement

Gavin Silver - Director of Technology, Blue Fountain Media 1. Make sure there is a reason or purpose for your Chatbot. Chatbots are currently being used in marketing for services such as customer support, curated content, and commerce assistance. Make sure that there is a need for your Chatbot, whether it be creating an easy user experience for your audience, or improving your business practices in some way. It should help to complete an action 2. The Chatbot is SEPARATE from the interaction channel. Interaction channels are outlets like a mobile app, email, or a website. However, the Chatbot software can live somewhere in the cloud, making it accessible from a number of different interaction channels, or even multiple channels all at once. The way in which we interact with these Chatbots can also come in different forms such as text, voice, or video. 3. Understand the spectrum. Computer software that understands human speech, behavior and conversation Not all manmade machines are created equal. Chatbots can range from something that is very simple and fun, to something that is extremely smart and complex. However, understanding what your budget translates to in relation to the scale of your project, is important to understand and analyze before moving forward.

Personalized Marketing: The Key to the Me Generation

Mehr Grewal - Development Manager, Google 1. Every generation is online, meet them there. Every generation is the "Me" Generation. We are intrinsically "me" people who value a customized user experience, especially when interacting with a brand. Regardless of who your customers are, they are online. It is up to you to create a unique experience that fits their needs. 2. Digital is the gateway to personalized marketing. Personalization makes you relevant as a brand in today's digital landscape. Incorporating a hyper-personalized marketing strategy helps your brand stand out to users, and prove to them why YOUR brand matters. 3. Be relevant, be useful, be timely. Stay on top of trends in your industry, and position your brand as a leader within that space. Provide your audience with more than just a product or a service, but something that goes beyond sales and actually improves their online experience on a regular basis.

Capturing A Customer's Heart in the Digital Age

Gregg Shupes - Solutions Marketing Manager, Progress Sitefinity 1. Digitally transform the customer experience. You should always be seeking out ways to improve your customer's online experience. Today this requires regular engagement on an omni-channel level, following and enhancing their customer journey from beginning to end, and leveraging technology to help make all of this happen. 2. Create new business models. Find the best solution for your customers online. What is working for other industries and other brands, may not be the perfect solution for you and your company. Know your audience, and know how to serve them in order to allow your business to grow. 3. Drive operational efficiency and eliminate the need to compromise. We no longer have to choose between producing content or data, optimizing for mobile or web, or valuing the customer over the employee. Due to digital transformation, our businesses can be adjusted to efficiently deliver on both ends of the spectrum rather than being forces to compromise.

Consumer Engagement 2.0: How Technology has Changed the Luxury Market

Christopher Olshan, CEO, Luxury Marketing Council 1. Don't lose the personal touch. Luxury brands are trying to stay relevant in the technology world, but losing the personal touch along the way. Being active on different social media platforms and having a mobile app is not going to show audiences the value of your product or service. You still have to make a connection with the consumer. 2. The information you gather is only as accurate as what the customer tells you. No one tells the absolute truth online (SURPRISE!!) So you need to create customized digital experiences for your customers in order to get a more realistic understanding of their interests and buying habits. Get to know them as a person so you can serve them accurately and properly target them in the future. 3. There has to be a combination of personal AND digital when it comes to luxury shopping. Luxury purchases are not entirely happening online, but the digital component certainly plays a role in the conversion experience. Individuals shopping for a luxury product may start their research online, go to a store to make their first purchase in person, and then continue with future transactions online. This allows them to confidently buy a luxury item on their own time, while still having a full understanding of the product. The personal and digital channels need to work together in order to make a brand succeed.

Design Thinking: A Lean Innovation Approach to Launching Digital Products

Mike Edmonds, VP Digital Products, Moonshot by Pactera Digital 1. Change is the new norm! Our digital systems have changed dramatically over the past two decades, and will continue to follow this trend in the coming years. From systems of record, to systems of engagement, we are now moving into an era filled with intelligent systems. The change is inevitable, it is how we react and adapt to those changes that really matters. 2. Be clear on the "Why?" …before the "What?" and the "How?" Thinking about the big picture will remind always remind you of what inspired you to start your business in the first place, and what your intentions are moving forward. Why do you want to grow your company online? These are the questions to consider before figuring out what exactly your next step will be, or how you are going to accomplish it. 3. Embrace the "Most Lovable Product" mindset. Instead of the most valuable product, produce the most lovable product. Do one thing, and do it well. Make it amazing, but be aware of the constraints surrounding your venture and embrace them in order to move your business forward.

This is just a taste of the incredible presentations we saw at the seminar. We are very eager to continue sharing the insights and tips the members of our panel were able to discuss. So stay tuned for a deeper look at what each presenter has to say about The Future of Customer Engagement & Digital Technology. Feel free to share your thoughts or questions on any of these topics in the comments below, or tweet us @BFMweb.