I was recently lucky enough to attend CIMC 2016, a superfab digital marketing conference in beautiful Squamish, BC (about 45 minutes outside of Vancouver). I haven’t been to that many conferences in my time so far but I really wanted to attend this one because of the world-class speakers involved.

CIMC 2016

 

Surprisingly, a few of the talks that I didn’t think would be very relevant to me ended up being my favourite ones, and the ones that gave me some great new ideas to take back to work with me.

I also gained like over 100 new Twitter followers, so yeah, I guess you could say it was kind of a big deal.

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I’ve listed a few of my highlights from the conference below, based on my over 57 pages of notes that I took. ????

 

1. Supermetrics for Google Sheets

The fact that this amazing add-on for Google Sheets exists just blew my mind. Actually I have to admit that I’m not too savvy on the addons available for Google Sheets just yet, but definitely have solid plans to check that stuff out now. Talk about saving me time at work! Automation, baby, it’s the way of the future.

This add-on like automagically fills in data from Google Analytics, your social media profiles and can even (nerd alert) be configured to run custom SQL database queries. I’m practically hyperventilating from how awesome it is. Click to get it!

 

2. The Rise of “Dark Social”

Sounds ominous, but it’s true. “Dark social” refers to any kind of social media that isn’t public, or at least not overly public — things like Snapchat, Periscope, WeChat and other similar apps. It’s not just for teens anymore, these apps have gone mainstream and they’re changing the way brands interact with their audiences.

Dark social apps have super high engagement rates, mostly because the people using them appreciate their privacy and intimate nature. You create content for only your friends, or at least people you invite into your social circle, and there’s the idea that it filters out all the junk out there on other social networks. It’s focused on that “one to one” interaction, between friends.

Brands are using that “one to one” approach more than ever to come across as approachable, fun, fresh and youthful. And it works. For the right businesses, Snapchat is becoming a huge player in the social media strategy game.

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3. Drive Your Strategy with Data

Data is where it’s at, babes. Gone are the days of Mad Men-esque advertising, when you could sit comfortably in a recliner with a cigar and a glass of scotch, think up a great pun, slap it on a billboard and call it a day. There’s no set it and forget it in marketing anymore.

Now, you’re never done. There’s no such thing as creating a campaign, putting it in action and then walking away. Now it’s all about informed marketing. Not just knowing your personas, but having data to back that knowledge up. Data that allows you to constantly tweak your campaigns, make adjustments, A/B test and generally stay agile and responsive to constant change.

By identifying what works and what doesn’t, you have an obligation to stay on top of everything for your clients. Your clients have a lot higher expectations for ROI on marketing dollars now. Because things can be measured so well, you better be measuring and tweaking constantly. Werk it!

 

4. Direct Mail Isn’t Dead

So, at CIMC 2016, there was a presentation by Canada Post on direct mail marketing, a new program they call SmartMail Marketing. I was kinda thinking, “Why is there a presentation on direct mail at a digital conference?” Pa-shaw. But boy was I surprised. This ended up being my favourite presentation.

Direct mail is NOT dead. It’s still a useful tool to use as part of an overall, larger digital campaign. You can’t be successful without digital, but adding physical mail into that campaign can really boost your results.

My favourite examples of some great uses of direct mail as part of a larger digital campaign were BMW’s Christmas Card, and Maes’ Famiy Beer.

 

BMW’s Fastest Christmas Card in the World

This was a super fun campaign. BMW sent a bunch of owners this direct mail card at Christmas time:

BMW's Fastest Christmas Card in the World Direct Mail Piece
BMW’s Fastest Christmas Card in the World Direct Mail Piece

 

For such an expensive car brand, this looks a tad odd, eh? On the back was a URL to direct people to watch a video. Then, all became clear…

 

Maes’ Family Beer

Maes is a big beer brand in Belgium. They’re one of the largest, but they were being outsold by their competition almost 4:1. They decided to take action.

Using direct mail targeting, Maes sent a piece to everyone with the last name “Maes” giving them a free barrel of beer. Maes happens to be the 3rd most common last name in the country. In addition to targeting actual Maes-es, they told everyone in the country that they were doing this, and to find a friend names Maes so they could share.

People named Maes were told to go online to claim their barrel of beer, and pick it up at a designated time, turning the digital and direct mail campaign into a great PR stunt and event too. The campaign got so popular that people around the country were pretending to change their last name to Maes on Facebook in hopes of scoring a free barrel.

 

 

I really was surprised by Canada Post’s presentation. There were some other great case studies shown as well, but these two were my favourite.

 

5. Make Your Website Accessible

I learned something really cool about accessibility. Did you know that the ALT tag for your images is good for more than just SEO? It’s actually what a device called a screen reader uses to read out what a website says and looks like to a blind person. I had no idea!

So just by adding some simple descriptive text to your ALT tags, you can improve your SEO and improve your website’s accessibility for blind people. Amazing.

 

6. Fight For Your Ideas

My last big takeaway (although there are many more smaller ones) is that as marketers and strategists, we need to fight for our ideas. When you know something is good, you gotta fight.

Sometimes clients may be afraid to push the envelope or take a risk. That’s okay, but when you really feel your client has an opportunity to make a big splash, get their message across and accomplish their big goals, don’t let that idea get watered down by conservative revisions or fearful hesitation.

Believe in the integrity of your ideas, and give that integrity to your clients. Be honest. Tell them when you think they are missing an opportunity. Ultimately, it’s always the client’s choice on what finished product gets sent out, but don’t just blindly do as you’re told. You were hired for a reason: to make that client’s work epic. So tell them when they are being unepic.

Fight for your ideas, bro.
Fight for your ideas, bro.

Whew. Well, those are my major takeaways from the conference. I had a great time and met a lot of interesting new peeps. In terms of other observations from the two day digital awesomefest: my hotel room was pretty sweet, wine glasses are poured at least 68% fuller in Squamish vs. Vancouver, and apparently my nose bleeds at high altitudes (awkward).

I’m grateful I was able to go, thanks to my awesome employer, and am really excited to implement some of the great ideas I learned. It’s amazing how just a few days of being outside the office can reinspire you and give you a fresher perspective on what you really do every day.

Enough mush. It was good. The end.

I’ve helped hundreds of bloggers and B2B businesses grow their profits with actionable content strategy advice. As a marketing agency brand strategist and copywriter, I’m on a mission to prove that you don’t need a fancy degree to market yourself, you just need the right tools. Find your voice online and grow your business! I’m known for being a crazy cat (+dog) lady, German car enthusiast and a bit of a wino.

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