12 Digital Marketing Experts Share Their Trend-Watching Habits
Marketing Content Strategy

12 Digital Marketing Experts Share Their Trend-Watching Habits

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The ever-evolving digital ecosystem poses a hefty but thrilling challenge to marketers. We thrive on its dynamic nature, but it’s not easy to keep up with the landscape’s flux. Monitoring industry, consumer, and marketing trends requires daily immersion and dedication. To learn from the trend-watching habits of the best, I asked 12 talented digital marketers to share their expertise. Here’s how they responded when asked, “How do you stay on top of digital marketing trends?”

1. Brian Honigman, @BrianHonigman
Marketing Consultant, Freelance Writer, and Speaker

Brian Honigman“To stay on top of digital marketing trends, I never stop learning; I experiment constantly and I connect with my network of marketers to bounce ideas off of one another. If you want to stay on top of what’s happening in digital marketing, read articles and books, attend courses, conferences, and speaking events, and listen to industry leaders to keep learning more. Experiment with what’s new in your industry, whether it’s a mobile app or Facebook feature, to see how it could work to drive results. Lastly, but most importantly, create and cultivate a strong network of other professionals interested in the field to help facilitate opportunities to learn from one another. No one is going to hold your hand and alert you every time something newsworthy happens in your industry. You’ve got to take the initiative and learn what it takes to keep growing as a marketer.”

2. Buddy Scalera, @MarketingBuddy

SVP, Content Strategy, Ogilvy CommonHealth

Buddy Scalera“For general digital marketing trends, I follow podcasts, news feeds, and conferences. I get different things from each source.

I listen to at least one podcast a day, sometimes two. A few of the shows are fairly long, so those might take me both directions of my commute. Podcasts offer peer perspective and insights that help me contextualize industry news and trends.

When I’m at my desk, I check my news aggregators. I check Feedly, Flipboard, and Google News throughout the day, which is easier than visiting each of my favorite sites one at a time. All of my news sources and blogs are accessed through one or more of these aggregators.

I also go to a lot of marketing industry conferences. You can learn a lot from being in a room with a speaker and just communicating face-to-face with peers. I know we’re all supposed to be virtual these days, but I still get a lot out of the conference experience. I check out all the exhibitors and attend as many panels as I can. I come back with ideas and enthusiasm that make me better at my job.”

3. Ginny Soskey, @gsosk

Section Editor, HubSpot

Ginny Soskey“Though it’s very hard to keep up with the latest and greatest digital trends, there are two main tactics I swear by:

1. Sparingly subscribe to relevant blogs. There’s a huge pressure in digital marketing to subscribe to all the things. My advice is to be really selective: Who always breaks news in your industry? Who always provides thoughtful analysis? Who isn’t in your industry but tends to try brand-new marketing tactics? I subscribe specifically to these blogs so I know I’m always getting relevant content in my inbox.

2. Surround yourself with smart, in-tune people. I can only read so much, so I tend to talk with people inside and outside my day job who always seem to discover upcoming trends. I have a special Twitter list of folks that always tweet interesting content. I also lurk in a private Facebook group where people frequently share fascinating digital marketing stories and examples. And, I like to grab coffee with my teammates at HubSpot to ask them what they’re working on.

And that’s about it. There’s only so much time in the day to spend reading and analyzing digital trends, so at some point, you’ve just got to buckle down and try things out for yourself. That’s where things get really fun!”

4. Steve Armenti, @armentisteve

Director, Strategic Services, Skyword

Steve Armenti“My clients. If you’re lucky enough to work with innovative companies, it’s easy to pick up on new trends. If your client is asking for something you don’t know about, that indicates a potential trend in the making. When I hear a client tell me they need to connect the dots from content to ROI, I know that could benefit other companies who are thinking the same thing—and it’s worth learning more about.

Then I take it a step further and put on my research hat by seeking out more information on a topic via the usual digital channels: social media, Google search, industry reports, RSS feed aggregators, etc.”

5. Jay Acunzo, @Jay_zo

Director, Platform and Community, NextView Ventures

Jay Acunzo“It’s far better to follow customer trends than marketing trends. Thinking about how customers consume content or perform research or interact online is way more important to a marketing strategy than adopting a new tactic just because it seems exciting and everyone is buzzing about it. All content marketing is supposed to do is solve the same customer problems that our product solves; we just do so through a different medium. So I’d recommend keeping up with marketing trends only in the event something is directly applicable to solving your specific customers’ problems. Personally, I’m obsessively organized in trying to quiet down the Internet and cherry-pick links into Pocket, where I read. I source content from 10 to 12 blogs subscriptions in Feedly, a private Twitter list called ‘People I Learn From,’ a handful of email newsletters, and two to three marketing podcasts. My exact workflow—which further proves I’m a crazy person, really—is right here.”

6. Ross Beyeler, @rbeyeler

Founder and CEO, Growth Spark

Ross Beyeler“I’ve found that good old-fashioned networking has become one of my most preferred methods for staying up-to-date on digital marketing trends. Rather than schmoozing at industry events, however, I’ve found specific ‘communities of peers’ to be the most effective. I’m a member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), both of which feature fantastic online and offline communities of entrepreneurs exploring digital marketing trends.

In addition, I run three local communities with monthly and quarterly meetups that are highly targeted and often cover the topic of digital-marketing best practices. Gaining insights from peers has the added benefit that many have experimented and can share firsthand whether they’ve found success.”

7. Juliana Casale, @attackofthetext

Content Marketing Manager, Nanigans

Juliana Casale“I’m extremely fortunate; my full-time job and my part-time projects keep me informed in different ways. At Nanigans, I’m in charge of sending a daily newsletter out to our advertising customers, which means I spend my mornings combing through Digiday, Ad Age, and VentureBeat (just to name a few). As part of the Boston Content committee, I get a good sense of the current state of online marketing through the challenges and advice our community members share with each other during events and via our online forum. Last but not least, I’ve recently started teaching social media and content marketing classes—and nothing motivates you to research the latest digital developments quite as effectively as a room full of students raising their hands.

For professionals who are less under pressure to stay up-to-date, I would advise subscribing to eMarketer’s daily news roundup. It covers a wide range of marketing topics and often uses data to back up observations and predictions.”

8. Eric Leist, @EricLeist

Director of Product Marketing, Skyhook

Eric Leist“As a product marketer, my responsibility is to stay on top of our industry’s products as well as marketing trends. To get the latest on our competitors and other players in the mobile industry, I use a Google Chrome extension called Page Monitor to update me whenever they make any changes to their websites. I also subscribe to their blogs, monitor Google Alerts for their brand names, and dig deep into their product releases. Keeping a pulse on the ways they message their products, solve for growth, and communicate via marketing channels helps me inform Skyhook’s positioning statements, which events we sponsor and attend, and how we run lead-generation campaigns.”

9. Ally Greer, @allygreer

Director of Community and Content, Scoop.it

Ally Greer“It’s next to impossible to stay on top of every new tool, strategy, or trend out there. That doesn’t mean we can’t try, though. I’ve found that my favorite way to find new information is on social media. Though it can be extremely noisy at times, if you curate your timeline effectively, Twitter is honestly the best way to find out about the newest things before they’re posted or discussed anywhere else; in fact, this applies to digital marketing trends as well as sports, news, etc.

I make sure to set aside an hour or so each day to read through what my role models in the industry are sharing and talking about and make sure I’m educated on the most important aspects. Sometimes it feels like I’m ‘not working’ when I do this, but I then I remember it’s this consistent learning time that makes me that much better at what I do. My best piece of advice would be to keep your ambitions in check and remember that knowing everything is impossible. Focus on what your passions and interests are and concentrate on mastering those.”

10. Ted Karczewski, @TeddyHK

Marketing Content Specialist, Skyword

Ted Karczewski“As a managing editor and content marketer, part of my job is to stay on top of digital marketing trends. That being said, it’s probably the hardest part of my day-to-day. I don’t do anything out of the ordinary; I’ve bookmarked inspiring and educational media hubs that I aspire to replicate with the Content Standard, and I segment and follow thought leaders on Twitter.

When it comes to knowing what’s going on in digital marketing, you just have to put effort into it. There’s no secret sauce beyond that. If you truly care about the field you work in, you always carve out time in your day to read, engage with others, and jot down your thoughts on what’s trending.”

11. Lena Prickett, @Lenagainstme

Content Marketing Specialist, SnapApp

Lena Prickett“Keeping up with the constant influx of new information, trends, and best practices in digital marketing is part of what makes this industry so much fun, but it can also be a little overwhelming. Like many of my peers, I’m on Twitter a lot to see what people in my network are sharing. I find the ‘suggested’ articles in the Buffer app to be a really helpful curation of great content, and the popular tweet aggregator Latest.is usually has some gems. I’ll almost always read a digital-marketing-oriented article from The New Yorker or the New York Times, as they’ll usually include a little more context/background than a by-the-moment blurb from Mashable. I also have a very full Feedly account with helpful stuff like the Nieman Labs blog, Contently, Copyblogger, QuickSprout, MarketingProfs, DemandGen Report, Copy Hackers, Skyword’s the Content Standard, Outbrain, and Problogger. That keeps me busy!”

12. Matt Steinman, @mattsteinman

Web Interface Designer, Tegrit

Matt Steinman“Staying on top of digital marketing trends, for me, is quite an addiction. Every morning, whether I’m at the gym on the stationary bike or just firing up my Mac, Feedly is my go-to resource. I’ve set up several categories to organize all the different articles in marketing and business. Feedly also has a massive library of feeds it recommends you follow. If I find something interesting that I want to share with the social media universe, I save it to Pocket and have IFTTT automate my postings. Of course, there are always new media tools and apps to allow for the extraction of articles, such as Zite. For now, Feedly generates the type of digital marketing articles I enjoy reading—and that keep me up to speed on the latest trends.”

Now that you’ve heard from these industry experts, how do you stay on top of digital marketing trends? You can also stay updated on the latest news and insights by subscribing to the Content Standard Newsletter.

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