By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–Five years ago, IU Southeast business student Jeremy Eiler ’16 had an idea for a conference devoted to digital marketing.
He sought support from Chris Cox, associate professor of marketing and David Eplion, dean of the School of Business. Both were supportive, even though they admit to having wondered whether Eiler might be getting in over his head.
Five years later, the conference Eiler brought into being is now a regular feature of the campus calendar, aided by a determined collaboration among faculty and students, timely presentations by knowledgeable speakers and the growth of digital marketing itself.
Five years ago, tactics like boosted social media posts, pre-roll video, retargeting and geofencing were futuristic to all but industry insiders. Today these and a host of other types of digital persuasion, from email campaigns to online ad placements to search engine optimization, account for an ever-growing volume of spending for marketing worldwide.
The fifth annual conference drew IU Southeast faculty, staff and students, as well as local business professionals to the Hoosier Room for presentations by Eiler, now president of EM Marketing Group; Israel Cuenca, digital marketing associate at Brown Forman; and Caleb Keller, chief date officer for Samtec, Inc.
Data was at the forefront of this year’s conference, reflecting current trends within the industry and the advancement of technologies that capture information about consumer behavior in the digital sphere.
While consumers might believe that the success of an advertisement lies in its creative content, practitioners increasingly recognize that being able to identify, collect, interpret and adapt to data is the true key to effectiveness in marketing.
In his presentation, Eiler covered how to make “big data” accessible and useful for small businesses, introducing several tactics such as email marketing that can help entrepreneurs promote themselves cost-effectively, if not for free.
In a similar vein, but on a larger scale, Cuenca introduced the attendees to free and readily available analytic tools that enable digital marketers to better understand the performance of their campaigns, and make adjustments that will save money and increase effectiveness.
Miller took attendees on a deep dive into his experience building artificial intelligence into marketing, illuminating not only the technological capacities and limitations of AI in this context, but also the process of educating organizations about AI to shape expectations more realistically and productively.
In the panel discussion that followed, the speakers fielded questions mostly from practitioners in the community, interested in data best practices and availability. At the end of the conference, the centrality of data was well established, and attendees left more empowered to gain mastery over this critical aspect of their work.
Nancy Rendon, a sophomore from Seymour, Indiana majoring in international business, was intrigued to learn about free analytic tools lurking within platforms such as Facebook, as she aspires to one day apply her business skills to nonprofit work in Mexico or South America.
Rendon was also impressed by the breadth of possible applications for artificial intelligence.
“I take a lot of information technology classes, and it was nice to see how it all comes together and works in the real world,” Rendon said.
Homepage photo: Jeremy Eiler responds to a question from the audience during the panel discussion at the 2020 Digital Marketing Conference.