I was abosolutely honoured and thrilled to be invited to the CIMC (Canadian Internet Marketing Conference) in Squamish, BC this year. This conference brings likeminded people together in one stunning backdrop of a city, this is the time of the year where you can really ‘nerd out’ and explore the vast topics of the marketing industry. About 700 industry professionals gathered for an intensive and informative two-day conference, the topics were a range of influencer marketing, data and design, digital marketing, retail marketing, branding and content marketing. This event was hosted by both Marwick Internet Marketing and Jelly Marketing, and I’ve gotta hand it to them, they sure know how to host a wicked event. Below are some highlights of the conference, and a few favourite must-do’s in Squamish from a collaboration with Tourism Squamish and Marwick Internet Marketing for YVR Bloggers.First off, the host Leah Gregg was great, she sure knew how to crack a joke when needed and knew how to engage the audience. She did a wonderful job, and started the conference off on a great note!
Finding new ways to connect, bring meaningful connections and conversations forward.
The first of many thought provoking speaker sessions was from Oli Gardner, co-founder of Unbounce, which is a company dedicated to providing landing pages that create conversions. From this session, I took so much away, I learnt that moving your CTA (call to action) down the page can encourage people to explore and see your content..typically I thought that CTA’s should have been at the top for your reader to experience, but it does make sense you would have it at the bottom to help create that longer page viewing session. And I also learnt some very intriguing word comparisons:
-The word ‘my’ is way more popular than the word ‘your’
-The words ‘download now’ is more popular than ‘download’
-‘Get started now’ more popular than ‘Get started’
-The word ‘click’ is more popular than no mentions of clicks
-‘Click here’ more popular than ‘click’
“We, in this room are creating the future.”
Mobile, it’s all we hear about as of late, why? Because, it’s the future already. Did you know that nearly 80% of local searches on mobile devices turned into purchases, with nearly 90% of those purchases being in a physical store? It’s crazy to think that these little gadgets can really inspire so much motivation to actually go out to a physical store and buy a tangible item. Right? Some more interesting facts on ad placements:
-Ads that are shown several times increase in engagement the more times the ads are shown.
-Ads to the side and within the page content are viewed for longer and receive the most clicks.
I love this tidbit from an inspiring session consisting of having a role in an online marketplace:
E-commerce has changed the game, shopping is now both local and global.
It’s true though, now we can just buy everything online, so how do we actually maximize the opportunities for said actions? First, focus on what works, which are 3 things: active management, competitive price points and customer service. Don’t focus on what doesn’t work, which are also 3 things: “sell it, and forget it”, no industry research and poor reputation. This is how to maintain that competitive edge over your neighbours, strike a chord with your consumers and make a lasting impression, it works every single time.
Something that was reiterated to me again, as I have already researched this topic (and I’m sure many of you know about it too,) is engagement and how important it is. You want to know why certain brands and/or bloggers are more successful than others? Read: yes. It’s because they engage, they think about who their audience is and they interact with them. It’s all about trust, if you promote a particular product that you’re not really fond of, your readers are going to know, and hate to break it to you, but they’re not going to be very pleased with you. It’s all about maintaining authenticity and a unique point of view. You need to ask yourself, how authentic are the customer relationships that you’re building? If you don’t think you have customers because you’re a fashion blogger (hola!) than think again, because your readers are your customers. They are investing in you, your brand, and your voice. You need to establish trust and a lasting connection with them, they’re going to be the ones there for you and they will know if they can’t trust you if you don’t maintain the relationship. Sound familiar?
“Customers crave authenticity. Find the signal in the noise.”
A few things to think about: How can we, as marketers build that story? How can we get people to be apart of the experiences? This is once again bringing home the point of engagement, if you don’t engage with your audience, than they don’t feel special, they don’t feel like they’re apart of the experience and/or conversation. Make that happen people, you need to strive for a dedicated audience. Why do you think bloggers are more influential than celebrities these days? It’s because you know when a celeb wears something it’s been endorsed, they’ve gotten paid to wear it (and its 2016, bloggers are too, let’s be honest) but bloggers are winning at authenticity. They’re telling you what’s up, if the top they’re wearing isn’t made with high quality fabric, if the makeup they’re using isn’t showcasing the right pigments, etc. Bloggers are breaking through the noise, they’re telling you what fabricated stories and people are not. “Influencers are given the chance to create something that’s true to them.”
A few notes from a speaker session on the future of Ad words and Google search marketing: What are the trends in marketing? Youtube, video is huge and redefining. We know that Snapchat has seen such a huge surge in engagement and popularity over the past year, why is that? It’s because people want to experience the ‘unfiltered’ life of a blogger, a marketer, an editor, whomever it may be, they want to know that these people behind the screens are real, they aren’t just a perfectly curated Instagram feed. Think about getting into video, think about the success certain Youtubers are having and why they are having it. I’m so glad that this topic was discussed because it’s something I know is the future, especially with the launch of Facebook Live. Anyone on that? “Think about your consumer journey, measure absolutely everything you’re doing. Think: Are people actually interacting? (Did they play the video, did they sign up for the newsletter?)”
Experiential marketing, and how to ace it:
These tips about experiential marketing were from the likes of Greg Plata who is in charge of WestJet’s experiential marketing. Things to jot down:
-Make it about the guest (or reader)
-Surprise and delight, give back, use innovative technology, real-time giving.
-Make a difference, reflect upon need vs. want
-Build network and brand awareness, focus on social media, ticket giveaways
These tips were all very helpful from Greg who was in charge of spearheading WestJet’s popular Christmas campaign. See video below:
With everything I learnt at the conference this year, the fun didn’t stop there, I had an amazing time experiencing the ‘spirit of Squamish’ with Tourism Squamish and Marwick Internet Marketing. The hotel was courtesy of Sandman, it’s a wonderful accommodation for this conference because its convenient (literally, I walked to the conference every morning because it was just 10 minutes away!) and the view was incredible. I mean, to be surrounded by such natural beauty is amazing. Sandman was very accomodating especially because there was a complimentary breakfast every morning too which was perfect before starting a busy few days ahead. Don’t worry about getting around in Squamish if you don’t have a car (AKA me), because Alpine North Limousine offers transporation throughout Squamish and even Whistler for the day. It’s an amazing way to experience Squamish because its a luxurious ride accompanied with a knowledgeable, personable and safe driver. It’s really the only option, you guys.
We did so many wonderful activities and the timing of everything was planned out so well. For those of you who aren’t aware of Squamish’ whereabouts, it’s located halfway between Vancouver and Whistler. It’s known as the Sea to Sky Country and I love that about it because it truly is situated where the ocean meets the mountains, I mean could you really ask for a better view?
First stop was locals favourite hot-spot: Fergie’s Cafe at Sunwolf. This is truly one of the best brunch meals I’ve ever had, it’s not only the cutest most quaint little cafe, but its actually right near the river, so while you’re waiting for your meal, take a stroll down by the river…Back to the food, everything is locally sourced or made in-house, from the free-range eggs from the farmer down the road to the fresh fish in the sea to sky. Let’s talk about the decor, it’s rustic, homey and boasts some of the most welcoming staff I’ve ever come across, not to mention, their two little ones are adorable too.After filling up at Fergie’s, the next stop was an exhilarating flight seeing tour with Sea to Sky Air. If you think you’re not the type that enjoys soaring high above in the clouds, don’t worry because this is an experience you will definitely want to take up. Not only was the flight a mere 20-ish minutes, but the pilot was friendly, knowledgable and knew how to make sure his passengers felt okay with a few good jokes here and there. Every single staff member at Sea to Sky Air makes you feel welcomed and safe, there’s nothing to worry about for those less fond of flying. The experience itself is something I will never forget, a few favourite sights of mine were: flying above the revered Stawamus Chief, it was pretty unbelievable to be above the people who made it to the top as they look so tiny in comparison. Pretty crazy to imagine hiking that mountain and flying over it afterwards, another highlight was flying over the Howe Sound, it’s simply stunning in every season, the teal-like blue waters and the forestry surrounding it makes for one heck of a sight. I, being an avid snowboarder (and true lover of all things snow!) really appreciated flying by the local mountains such as the mighty Tantalus Range and mount Garibaldi, the way these mountains look so majestic is breathtaking. It’s definitely something I would recommend for anyone, maybe even a Mothers/Fathers Day gift too, hint hint.After hanging out in the air, we experienced lunch with one of the best views Squamish has to offer. This was at The Summit Eatery and Edge Bar, which by the way, boasts one of Squamish’s most impressive views, and is the only place to dine 885 metres above Howe Sound! In the summer, opt for drinks on the stunning Summit Lodge deck for one heck of a happy hour, seriously, the view is incredible, what a way to celebrate after embarking on a big, strenuous hike hey? First, to reach that view, one has to go on the Sea to Sky Gondola which is a beautiful 10 minute ride to 885m above sea level. This is a wonderful activity for all ages, the ride up the Summit Lodge provides stunning views of Howe Sound fjord, the lush forest and surrounding mountains, even new views of Shannon Falls and the Stawamus Chief area. Once you’re at the top, a variety of activities are on offer, you can choose between beginner to intermediary to expert level hikes, and what I’m most excited to try, the Via Ferrata experience. (Via Ferrata is for the mountain climbing enthusiast, or, if you’re like me, and you just really want to give it a go!)
A stunning view of the Howe Sound from the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola
After hanging out 885 metres above Howe Sound, I made my way back down (read:to reality) for a wonderful mining tour at Britannia Mining Museum. This prestigious museum is located just 10 minutes south of Squamish and offers many activities for all-ages. Take an adventurous train ride and rumble into an underground tunnel where you can learn all about the different types of situations the miners had to deal with many years ago, and experience the true atmosphere of what it was like in a dark mine with little to no light as your guide. Honestly, this tour really opened up my eyes as to how much the miners had to deal with back then and what it was like with their working conditions day in and day out, throughout the tour we were even shown the different kinds of drills the miners had to work with, the earliest of which gave the poor miners lung conditions because of all of the fumes from the drills. After an eye-opening tour, take gold panning for a spin and you just might leave with some fools gold, or, gold if you’re lucky.Because you can’t not take a selfie in a miners hat, right?And yes, again.Inside the tunnel..This was inside of the mill, it’s insane, the stairs on the right were what the miners had to use back then, could you imagine? And the track on the left was what the miners used to haul their supplies up, there is one single cable cord holding it in place, let’s hope that cord didn’t snap..this tour was so fascinating, the poor miners had to endure so much.
After a long day in Squamish embarking on many wonderful adventures, the last stop was a fun tour & tasting at one of Squamish’s locals favourite joints, the Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company. This is rated highly as one of the best pubs in the Lower Mainland, and I don’t disagree. This pub boasts high ceilings, fireplaces, a killer view on the patio and, an in-house brewery too. It’s a beautiful way to show off one of Squamish’s most revered viewpoints; the Stawamus Chief and of course, the rest of the fantastic forestry surrounding nearby. Some crazy cool facts about this brewery are:
-Since 1996, Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company has been in the brew business brewing award-winning ales and lagers in BC
-These days, you can find their beers throughout the province of BC, many parts of Canada and even some areas in the US too.
-If you’re in the mood for springtime brews & bites, opt for the Spring Beer Pairing Series which includes four course dinners paired with four Howe Sound beers for just $50!!! Seriously good deal.
There are soo many different types of beers on offer at this brewery, but a few brews that struck a chord with me were: Whitecap, Garibaldi, Skypilot, and Coffee Ale, to name a few.Thank you so much to Tourism Squamish and Marwick Internet Marketing for putting together this wonderful experience, if you’re ever in the Squamish area, these are some must-dos that you have to check out! And, if you’re in the mood for some wicked marketing discussions, networking opportunities and killer after parties, than I suggest buying your tickets early to CIMC 2017 next year asap. Trust me, these tix are going to go fast.