Insights from the E-commerce Marketing Summit: Embracing Data and Humanity in Digital Marketing

Today, we have an exceptional lineup of speakers: Rashad Tobaccowala, author of “Restoring the Soul of Business: Staying Human in the Age of Data,” and Dennis Yu, CTO of Are You Googleable 

Dale Berand kicked off the summit by discussing the importance of search volume and technical SEO. He emphasized that while data from SEO tools is valuable, it’s crucial to understand the limitations and potential inaccuracies. He shared a case study of a client selling watch bands, highlighting the discrepancies in search volume data from different tools.

Understanding Search Volume Data

Dale explained that search volume data from tools like SEMrush is often aggregated from various sources, including Google Ads API, browser plugins, and internet service providers. He cautioned against blindly trusting these numbers, especially for low-volume keywords or highly specific search terms. Instead, he advocated for using Google Search Console for more accurate search volume estimates.

Rashad Tobaccowala on Staying Human in the Age of Data

Rashad Tobaccowala shared his perspective on the future of commerce, emphasizing the importance of blending data with human elements. He argued that traditional distinctions between online and offline commerce are becoming obsolete, and businesses need to adopt an omnichannel approach.

Rashad highlighted four key criteria for success in the modern age:
  1. Math and Meaning: Combining data-driven insights with storytelling.
  2. People: Focusing on the human element behind the data.
  3. SAVE: Solving problems, ensuring accessibility, providing value, and delivering a great experience.
  4. Partnerships: Collaborating with other businesses to create comprehensive solutions.

He emphasized the importance of balancing data with empathy and understanding human behavior, using Southwest Airlines as an example of a company that successfully integrates these elements.

Dennis Yu on Analytics and Optimization

Dennis Yu shared his expertise on analytics and optimization, using real data to illustrate his points. He demonstrated how to use a customer lifetime value framework to drive revenue and optimize marketing efforts. Dennis stressed the importance of accurate data tracking and context in making informed decisions.

He introduced the 2×2 Audience Matrix, a model for understanding brand versus non-brand and custom versus non-custom traffic. This framework helps businesses allocate resources effectively and scale their efforts based on data-driven insights.

Dennis also highlighted the limitations of AI in digital marketing, arguing that while AI can generate reports and perform basic tasks, human creativity and intuition are still essential for optimizing campaigns and understanding customer behavior.

Q&A Session

During the Q&A session, attendees asked about validating data-driven stories and measuring the value of social media efforts. Rashad and Dennis both emphasized the importance of curiosity, storytelling, and understanding the context behind the data.

Rashad recommended continuous learning and growth, while Dennis advised using Google and Facebook’s attribution tools to triangulate data and understand the impact of different channels.


The summit concluded with final remarks from Rashad and Dennis. Rashad encouraged attendees to dedicate time to learning and personal growth, while Dennis reiterated the importance of combining data with human insights to drive value and optimize marketing efforts.

Closing Thoughts

The E-commerce Marketing Summit provided valuable insights into the balance between data and humanity in digital marketing. As the industry continues to evolve, businesses must embrace both analytical and creative approaches to succeed in the competitive landscape.

Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu is co-author of the #1 best-selling book on Amazon in social media, The Definitive Guide to TikTok Ads.  He has spent a billion dollars on Facebook ads across his agencies and agencies he advises. Mr. Yu is the "million jobs" guy-- on a mission to create one million jobs via hands-on social media training, partnering with universities and professional organizations.You can find him quoted in major publications and on television such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR, and LA Times. Clients have included Nike, Red Bull, the Golden State Warriors, Ashley Furniture, Quiznos-- down to local service businesses like real estate agents and dentists. He's spoken at over 750 conferences in 20 countries, having flown over 6 million miles in the last 30 years to train up young adults and business owners. He speaks for free as long as the organization believes in the job-creation mission and covers business class travel.You can find him hiking tall mountains, eating chicken wings, and taking Kaqun oxygen baths-- likely in a city near you.