Only July 14th the sun was shining on Regent’s Park and Pokémon Go had just been released in the UK. Whilst crowds gathered around the park catching their first Pokémon, across the road, at the Royal College of Physicians, the annual Figaro Digital Marketing Conference was taking place -  #FigDigConf to veterans.

Neil Collard, managing director of e3, gave a fast and furious keynote on the future of AI to great applause which you can view here.  In addition, here we summarise the best of the rest for digital marketers.

Denise Law, Community Editor at The Economist

The Economist Figaro Digital Conference 2016

“When people think of The Economist, a few words spring to mind – stuffy, male, white and rich,” began Denise Law. Tasked with making the traditional heavyweight magazine popular on social media, she explained, could not mean reducing standards. The remit was to connect with people who wanted to read the magazine but who didn’t know it yet – ‘the globally curious’.

Law spoke about a familiar media challenge – to gain buy-in for a social media programme from sceptical journalists and publishers. Her approach was to show them the results of well-executed campaigns. It’s easy to tell yourself that a campaign is working, she warned, but critical to “use data to confirm or deny your assumptions - and prioritise ruthlessly”.

A few key takeaways for social media marketers:

  • Involve your team in what you’re doing, show them the reach of their work/content.
  • Expand into emerging markets – Line, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat.
  • Work with collaborators – data scientists, creatives, writers and developers, to create exciting content

James Leech, Digital Technology Innovation Manager, Customer Service, at Argos, discussed The Power of Conversation, a theme reflected in the massive uplift in online chat engagement on the Argos customer services site.

Argos Figaro Digital Conference 2016

He said Argos puts its focus on direct human interaction at ‘the moments that count’ – warning that giving consumers the wrong kind of communications at the wrong time is brand-lethal (an email communication when real time chat engagement is more appropriate, for example).

The growth of online chat has seen a significant, (if undisclosed), increase in online revenue for the retailer, he enthused, increasing year on year and across all demographics.

Argos focus on the following two principles of customer engagement:

  • Moments that count
  • Moments that matter

and segment these principles into three key areas:

  • Revenue Moments
  • Brand Experience Moments
  • Service Resolution Moments

To ensure they provide the right communication for the context. Context and relevance are key to a joined up customer journey, he explained. The company defines critical touchpoints as:

  • Who to target
  • When to intervene
  • How to engage
  • What to recommend

With the proliferation of multiple channel options – such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, James also said that Argos is in a constant re-evaluation process where test and learn is, by necessity, at the heart of their day to day digital strategy.

Adestra Figaro Digital Conference 2016

Danielle Woolly, Customer Success Manager at Adestra discussed the latest tactics to increase email engagement and pointed out that, despite its extraordinary capacity for conversion, for many brands email is still treated as a comparable marketing channel to social media, rather than as a central marketing tool. 

She urged the gathered brand marketers to wake up to its impact, to increase their market spend on this channel and to focus on hyper-personalisation, using the context and location tools and analytics. 

With a particular focus on the retail sector, she explained how Adestra segments audiences into three customer key groups:

  • Convert (new)
  • Retain (existing)
  • Re-activate (lapsed)

Each require very different treatment:

  • New: requiring incentives to introduce and cross-sell
  • Existing, rich content and information to upsell
  • Lapsed: trigger campaigns to re-engage

Danielle gave great examples of effective campaigns in each category, showcasing Costa Coffee for their impressive personalisation, context marketing and location mapping email campaigns which use not only use customers’ first names, but points and purchase history references to engage more directly with the individual customer. Adding personalised visuals, like Domino’s Name in the Flour email campaign are also massively impactful, she said. 

EasyJet created a very successful personalised campaign for their existing customers which shared rich travel content based on their flight purchase history and recommending places they may like to go next.  Mango Bikes were given particular attention for their Birthday campaigns which celebrate the ‘birthday’ of the bike purchased, rather than the customer and offering accessories and new bike upgrades, achieving an impressive 60% open rate and 2300+% uplift in revenue return on previous campaigns.

It was also interesting to hear a brand talk about the effective use of long-form video content at the conference. Andrew Marcus, Head of Communications at The Museum of London, enthused at its power to engage with their audiences. 

He shared a recent campaign which reinforced the brand values of celebrating the past, present and future by coupling the traditional process of Tweed manufacturing with the very contemporary personality of Tinie Tempah. The campaign successfully combined digital and experiential execution, with a 15-minute video documentary on tweed, shorter YouTube edits and video captured at a live performance of Tinie Temper on the runway at London Fashion Week in the tweed suit designed for him for the campaign.

Overall an excellent conference with some great thought leadership, if you’re interested in more information about our work with artificial intelligence, contact