This year I made my third trip to Las Vegas for the Adobe Summit as part of the Adobe Insiders group. This is a group of influencers who serve as on site ‘correspondents’ for Adobe in helping to promote the event and share key insights. We also serve to advise Adobe on the focus, structure and strategy behind Summit, but that’s in a more limited capacity.
I wanted to share some of the things I saw and learned in my 4 days in Las Vegas for Summit. This post will be structured to cover two main areas. First, I wanted to discuss the event itself, some of the key takeaways and topics discussed. After that, I wanted to talk a bit about the structure of the Adobe Insiders group as I know many of you are working with influencers at your companies, and it’s always helpful to see how other companies work with influencers.
Retention is the new ‘Growth’
This was a big theme at Adobe Summit. The idea that by delivering amazing experiences for your customers, you retain them longer, reduce churn, and the associated costs from acquiring new customers.
“retention is the new growth” – big theme among #SaaS oriented teams at #AdobeSummit this yr ; a shift from obsessive customer acquisition/conversion to realizing that more focus on active use (and new tools to do so) may move the needle most for modern businesses.
— Scott Belsky (@scottbelsky) March 26, 2019
This is, of course, a theme that’s near and dear to my heart, and was a big driver behind my writing Think Like a Rock Star. The idea that your current customers can do a much better job of acquiring new customers and driving growth than traditional marketing efforts. Tying into this theme was the importance of delivering amazing digital experiences to customers. One of the key focus points of the entire conference was the significance of personalizing the experience that the customer receives.
Now, this is where I want to play devil’s advocate a bit. Many of the sessions and discussions I saw and participated in at Adobe Summit around the idea of personalization centered on the idea of delivering a personalized experiences to the customer in order to complete a sale. This is understandable, as Adobe’s Experience Cloud suite of products are focused on helping businesses increase customer sales to a great degree. But when marketers think of personalization when it comes to digital experiences, this effort needs to be applied throughout the buying process, not just when the customer is at a consideration stage. In fact, the ability to personalize content and experiences prior to the consideration stage, is key to moving the uninterested or unaware customer to a point where they are ready to buy. ‘Personalization’ to many marketers means “how can we customize the sales offer to each individual customer, in order to increase sales?”, while ‘personalization’ to many customers means “give me relevant content and experiences at every touchpoint, regardless of whether I am ready to buy or not”. That is a disconnect that many marketers need to be aware of, and address by closing that gap between customer expectations, and what marketers deliver.
Tying into the idea of delivering better experiences was the idea of the B2E business. You have B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer), but then you have some businesses that sell to both consumer and business customers. And in some cases, the buyers may be buying for both their business as well as personal (consumer) use. So the idea of the B2E (business to everyone) was mentioned early and often at Adobe Summit.
B2E… interesting concept pic.twitter.com/5FaEnwA4zC
— Christopher Nurko (@Cnurko) March 28, 2019
The underlying idea was to stop thinking of a client as being solely B2B or B2C since we are rapidly moving toward a business environment where many companies will have both consumer and business customers, and marketing will need to reflect that and offer a sort of hybrid approach that’s still relevant to end customer.
— Mack Collier (@MackCollier) March 27, 2019
BTW I would be remiss if I did not mention the exhibit hall/trade show area at Adobe Summit. Summit has always done a fabulous job with its trade show area. At many events, the trade show area is a huddled group of booths that event organizers are constantly pushing attendees toward, that most attendees really don’t want to spend time at. But Summit’s ‘Community Pavilion’ is so nicely done. The area has plenty of booths and all the things you expect at a conference exhibit hall. But it also has a ton of activities, food and drinks, and other attractions that suck you in and keep you in the area. All this is entertaining and makes you want to walk around and see the sights. And as such, increases the likelihood that you will stop by a few booths and talk to the exhibitors. With all the ancillary activities happening, it gives everyone a reason to come to the area, slow down and mingle. Which greatly increases the chances that more attendees will stop by more booths as a result.
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In addition, Adobe provided ‘recharging stations’ throughout the conference area, which were greatly appreciated. Adobe Summit has grown incredibly in just the last few years. The first time I attended in 2016, I believe the attendance was 10,000. This year, it was a little over 17,000. The event just keeps getting bigger and I honestly did not talk to any attendees who ever got tired or felt overwhelmed, just the opposite in fact.
Adobe Insiders Influencer Group
I wanted to shift gears a bit and talk a little about the structure of the Adobe Insiders group that was on-site and working with Adobe during the Adobe Summit. 2016 was my first year working with Adobe as a member of its Insiders group. I believe the size of the group was under 10 in 2016. I was also part of the Insiders group in 2017 when it was around 20 members, and this year the group totaled around 60 social media, marketing and technology influencers.
The over-arching goal of the group was to help promote the Adobe Summit and for each of us to share relevant insights and information from the speakers, keynotes and even attendees. Our feedback and insights were shared across all our usual social media channels, with an emphasis placed on Twitter since its much easier to track and access mentions on Twitter, especially at volume. The main hashtag used, #AdobeSummit, was a top trending topic on Twitter for pretty much the duration of the event. The work of the Insiders group played a big role in that.
I advise and consult with many companies who are working with groups of influencers or brand ambassadors. I always advise these companies to create platforms and channels to allow the group to become connected and to interact with each other prior to the event. Adobe did a wonderful job of facilitating communication channels for the group, including a private Twitter group, a Slack channel, conference calls, and even through #AdobeChat. It helped build camaraderie among the group, and by bringing some of the same members back every year, we form a bond as well. Some of the members of this year’s group I knew from working with them in 2016 and 2016 at the Summit.
A wonderful night with old and new friends, this is what makes social so special! From Blogger Social in 2008 to #Adobesummit, so grateful to have met all these special people! pic.twitter.com/Uw0Dk5VgIU
— Mack Collier (@MackCollier) March 27, 2019
All said, Adobe Summit was a wonderful event and I loved every minute it. Typically, I hit what I call ‘The Introvert’s Wall’ on the 2nd or 3rd day at an event. I get exhausted and honestly am ready to go home. That never happened in my 4 days in Las Vegas for Adobe Summit. The event kept my interest and attention throughout, and being able to spend so much time with my friends in the Insider group as well as my friends at Adobe made it a wonderful week. Information is already up for Adobe Summit 2020, and I hope I will see you there!
Disclaimer: Adobe sponsored my trip to Adobe Summit and the opinions I shared about the event here and on other social media channels were my own.