When you work in marketing—in particular digital—it’s easy to get lost in all the transformation happening within our businesses. We’re at the center of it—the disruptions around mobile, the critical mass of social, billions of dollars in advertising shifting to digital. And, so our reality is one of facing a new set of serious challenges everyday. The question is, “How?”

The answer to this question was at the center of Tuesday’s Adobe Digital Marketing Symposium in New York. This half-day event held at the part art gallery, part hotel, Conrad NYC, was attended by over 300 digital marketing senior leaders primarily representing the media and entertainment and financial services industries. The theme was the “Transformation of Marketing” and featured leaders from SAP, MasterCard, Condé Nast and others sharing how they are leading the change that is happening in their businesses.

Matt Langie, Adobe’s Sr. Director of Marketing for Marketing Cloud kicked off the event and broke down five strategic imperatives for marketers as they attempt to meet the challenge of transformation:

  1.  Be a data guru. With all the information you have available at your fingertips it’s not so much about having all the data, but taking actionable knowledge from the right data.
  2. Always be testing. While you think you may know what’s best for your website, test your hypothesis. Are those really the right colors and images? Does that button have the right call to action? Immobilize HiPPOs (the Highest Paid Person’s Opinions) and let data decide.
  3. Go digital. Your customers are immersing themselves ever more in digital experiences. Consider the relevant ways to reach your consumer via digital that you haven’t yet, and explore them. The exercise may surprise you. Many brands (not just publishers) are looking to digital magazines, more dynamic mobile experiences and apps.
  4. Social is really about relationships. We’ve embraced social platforms for the way they connect us, whether it’s via our interests, professional associations or otherwise. Make your relationships with your customers about these connections—and not just about you. Then, pair your efforts with good old fashioned data and measurement, because that’s what will give you insight to make those relationships thrive.
  5. Think super channel. What’s the bigger picture? Think in terms of audiences instead of budgets and channels. As marketers, we can get tunnel vision and stop seeing the full view. By thinking in terms of audiences we’re better able to see and meet the full spectrum of our customer’s needs, and provide experiences that better meet them.

Joining Langie were Crispin Sheridan from SAP, Adam Broitman from MasterCard and Chris Reynolds from Condé Nast. Sheridan shared the formula for how SAP has institutionalized testing to improve they way they do business.  One example: SAP saw a 46% improvement in conversion rate by making a seemingly innocent switch from pictograms to photographs. Guess it’s finally time to rethink that homepage.

Broitman discussed MasterCard’s effort to ensure the customer is at the center of everything they do. With inspiration coming from MasterCard’s global Priceless campaign, he outlined how his team operationalized a unified global brand voice in social media using Adobe Social.

Reynolds broke down Condé Nast’s strategy for developing and using audience segments to deliver a best-in-class experience to their customers. Reynolds suggested that it’s Condé Nast’s understanding of their customers through data that sets them apart from their competition. Reynolds said that the more he and his team leverage the all the tools they have in tandem (disclosure: Condé Nast are a customer of Adobe Marketing Cloud), the better, and more useful the data and insights become.

During the breakouts, attendees dove into discussions with leaders within their respective industries through guided discussions and panels.

To close the event, the audience was delivered some “shots of awe” from futurist and filmmaker, Jason Silva. Silva complemented the practical knowledge of the day with his unique form of inspiration aimed at helping attendees think big, create ideas and deliver awe to their customers. One of the short films he shared, captured this sentiment in a style only Jason can deliver:

Throughout the day, attendees following #AdobeSymposium on Twitter chronicled all of the best soundbites and quotables, some of which is highlighted below: