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What You Can Learn At The Digital Religion 2015 Conference

Today, the Digital Religion conference, put together by Canada’s Marketing Magazine in the Sheraton Centre in Toronto, is taking place. Marketers from all over the northeastern corner of North America are gathering to gain new insights, from slides featuring green and blue cubes floating against a yellow background.

Why green and blue cubes? What do they signify? Nobody knows, but they look awesome.

Just consider what you can learn at Digital Religion this year, though. This morning, the audience has already been informed by Dan Habashi that “65% of millennials learn about brands on Instagram and 74% take action after being inspired by a post.”

dan habashi digital religion instagram

Dan Habashi has a job as the Director of Brand Innovation for Instagram, which perhaps explains why his information is in such stark disagreement with the more neutral assessment of Gallup, which in its most recent State of the American Consumer report concludes that only 5% of consumers attribute a “great deal of influence” to social media over their purchasing decisions, the majority say that social media has “in influence at all”, and that only 29% use social media to find information about products they might buy. “When compared with more traditional forms of social networking, social media initiatives may actually be the least effective method for influencing consumers’ buying decisions,” Gallup reported.

Oh, but Millennials are certainly exciting and relevant! On that, surely, we can all agree… or not agree.

Sasha Strauss Digital Religion Millennials

Professor Sasha Strauss from UCLA followed Dan Habashi’s lecture on millennials in the Digital Religion lineup this morning, telling the audience that it’s nonsense to pretend that millennials are a coherent group with reliably distinctive characteristics. Strauss lectured, “Suggesting that your audience can be defined by the year they were born is bad business. It should be defined by engagement, not by age. Engagement should be your filter.”

Okay, so understanding millennials is a useful approach, except that it’s complete bullshit. Hmmm. Perhaps consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

No one can dispute, though, that the ideas presented at Digital Religion 2015 are surprising and new, not to be heard anywhere else. Consider, for example, the insights provided by Steve Levy, CCO of Ipsos Reid, who informed the conference that “social is now part of the mix” in marketing. Let me tell you, you could see the crowd whip out their notebooks and start scribbling down new ideas after Levy laid that one down on them. Who has ever heard of such a radical idea – using social media to sell things to people? Far out!

steve levy digital religion 2015 social marketing

The greatest power of Steve Levy’s presentation, however, was in those moments where he identified tacit knowledge – things that members of the audience member knew, but didn’t consciously realize that they knew. This amazing power of fundamental, unrecognized truth was unleashed when Steve Levy declared to Digital Religion 2015 that, email marketing “is alive and healthy”.

Who among us doesn’t understand instantly what Levy is talking about when he says this? Of course email marketing is alive and healthy! Why, every morning, I rush to my email inbox, eager to read what new information is brought to me by email marketers. I delete the personal messages from my friends and family, so that I can get to the good stuff…

…messages like “all CLEARANCE: LG 42″ LED-Smart HDTV $37.94, Expires Monday, October 19, 2015” from iPad-October-Clearance or “++ Calling-Services – VoIP Business Plans. ++” from Affordable VoIP Solutions. Where else, but in my email inbox, could I find valuable information like what these messages gave me? It’s as if these email marketers saw into my very soul, and found, using what data-driven wizardry I know not, to detect just what I was hoping to hear.

The thing is, I always go out and buy what these emails have to sell – every single time! What genius. Yes, email marketing certainly is alive and healthy.

I don’t want to let Steve Levy take all the credit for the amazing experience that is Digital Religion 2015, of course. I just want to, from the bottom of my heart, with all the sincerity of an email marketer, thank the editors of Marketing Magazine for making this annual event of cutting edge learning possible.

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