What’s Hot At SXSW 2014

If SXSW could be summed up in one word it would be: “overwhelming.” Every year we get blasted with more information than we know what to do with. A lot of it provides inspiration for the year to come, while the rest of it is just overkill.

As marketers what we care about is cutting through the noise and getting down to what matters. So, as marketers, what are the hottest topics for us coming out of SXSW? After digesting as much information from SXSW as I can handle, I’ve condensed what’s important for marketers into this post.

SXSW 2014

Less Focus On New Tactics, More Focus On Using What We’ve Got

SXSW has traditionally been where you first hear about the newest startups, technologies, and marketing tactics. This year it was less about what’s new and more about how to make better use of what we have.

To no surprise, the four topics that keep coming up in sessions over and over again are mobile marketing, content marketing, real-time marketing and social media marketing.

Mobile Marketing

When it comes to mobile marketing the discussion is not so much around advertising, but rather how to use mobile apps to improve the experience a user has with a product.

For example, many TV shows now have mobile apps or mobile optimized websites that offer a “second screen experience” while the people are also watching the show on TV. Marketers want to bring that same idea to products.

This is already being done quite will with the Nike SB app. It’s an app designed for skateboarders to get more out of their experience. With the SB app they can take part in worldwide challenges, earn badges, and record their personal skate history.

Skateboarding is a market that Nike has not excelled at capturing up until this point. The SB app reminds skaters that Nike does sell skate products and they want to provide a superior experience for skaters who use those products.

This is the kind of mobile marketing we’re going to see more brands bring to their customers over the next few years.

Real-time Content Marketing

Should every brand try to produce content in real-time, just because it worked so well for Oreo during the Super Bowl a couple years back?

In most sessions where this question is brought up the answer is no. Instead, brands and business should put more effort into having a content strategy based around serving customers needs.

Improving the customer experience is a main focus across all sessions at SXSW, as their needs come before all others.

What’s The Future Of The Internet

The future of the internet is not all about wearable technology, despite all the buzz over the unveiling of the latest wearables. As more screens become internet connected there has been a lot of talk about what the Internet will be like as it extends beyond smartphones, tablets, and desktops.

There’s a lot more to consider now than just those three screens. Now there’s smart watches, connected in-car systems, smart TVs, video game consoles and so on.

The next generation of responsive design will not be so much about how to adapt web pages to various screen resolutions, but how to adapt the overall user experience to the particular device a customer is using.

Every device is used a bit differently. Marketers need to understand how customers are using each of their devices and design brand experiences tailored to each device.

The Future Of Marketing Is About Customer Experiences

The common theme across all sessions about marketing is that everything should be guided by user experience.

Whether it’s mobile marketing, content marketing, multi-screen marketing, or anything else… marketing should provide experiences that enrich a customer’s life in some way.

Murray Newlands

Murray Newlands

Murray Newlands is YourStory’s US Correspondent and Deputy Editor of Search Engine Journal. Murray founded The Mail in 2013, an angel-funded startup publication covering performance marketing and mobile marketing. Murray is an advisor to a number of bay area startups and has authored several books.