As the co-founder of a content marketing company, it's essential for me to learn not just about brand storytelling best practices--but specific ways our clients need to adapt their digital marketing strategies to keep pace with rapidly changing technology. 

Hands down, the best way to learn what's coming--and how other brands are experimenting with new opportunities--is to attend one of the top digital marketing conferences across the US.

I try to attend as many as I can, but since I can't be everywhere at once (still working on that!) I'll occasionally send a trusted freelancer to attend in my place and report back on what they learn.

Earlier this summer, I asked writer Diana Kelly Levey to check out the Digital Summit conference in Philadelphia in July, which counts Larry Kim and Seth Godin among its headliners.

She distilled the conference's two days and 40+ speakers into four essential marketing takeaways that every brand--from small business to large corporations--should keep in mind (and plan around) in the year ahead.

1. Produce videos that get your message across without sound

If you've been creating videos for your brand's YouTube channel and sharing them on social, are those videos projecting the message you want if the viewer turns in on mute? It's been reported that 85 percent of Facebook videos are watched without sound. Make sure your videos are embedded with closed captioning and convey your message and the emotional response you want--even if they're watched in silence.

2. Expand your focus to include Generation Z

We've spent so many years trying to talk to millennials that it's easy to overlook the booming Z generation that's set to make up nearly 30 percent of the workforce by 2030. 

At Digital Summit, Levey attended a session hosted by editor Kim Patel at VICE all about this generation. Patel says that Generation Z wants brands to fill them with inspiration, to be authentic in their marketing and partnerships, and to provide them with an outlet to experience things. She also said they're a very loyal generation and that brands should leverage their brand heritage--this generation will buy into it.

3. Plan for how your brand will surface in voice-assisted search

Several speakers stressed the importance of voice, audio, and the sonic revolution in the future of marketing.

In one presentation, Johanna Weber of NPR discussed voice-assisted technology and recommending thinking about "how your brand looks with no visual support" when people use a smart speaker to search. She said that businesses need to address how they're going to make their data and content available and discoverable in this verbal revolution

4. Get ready for Facebook Messenger Marketing

Messaging is the future, Larry Kim of Mobile Monkey said during a conference talk. You can use chat blasting to send messages to customers in Facebook messenger, similar to an email campaign. Messenger has push notifications and is more engaging than email. Think of this platform as email plus a landing page. Being an early adopter of this marketing channel you'll get a leg up on your competitors.

Are there any digital marketing strategies that you think will be big in 2020--and beyond? Let me know in the comments below.

Published on: Aug 26, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.