The Cloud9 Marketing blog covers trending digital marketing topics, industry tips and advice as well as, resort marketing tactics.

how to use hashtags

 

Knowing how to use hashtags is essential for any social media marketing. Hashtags are a great way to expand your reach as they allow users to find your posts based on specific topics that are relevant to their needs and interests. 

What is a Hashtag?

A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by the pound sign, or hash (#). Putting a hashtag before a word on social media turns it into a link that can be searched or clicked in order to find similar content.

Hashtags had their start on Twitter in 2007. Developer Chris Messina tweeted a suggestion that Twitter begin grouping topics using the pound symbol. Initially, Twitter rejected the suggestion. In October 2007, journalists began using the hashtag #SanDiegoFire to tweet updates on forest fires in the San Diego area. This was just the beginning of the hashtag’s widespread use across most social media platforms.

Why Use Hashtags?

Hashtags are a great way to build your brand’s awareness, engagement and expand your reach to new audiences. For example, if you add the hashtag #skiing to a photo on Instagram and someone searches for that hashtag, your photo will appear in their search results. The hashtag allowed your content to be found and potentially gained you a new follower.

Hashtags are also a great way to build momentum for a specific campaign. When businesses are running contests or large campaigns, you will often see unique branded and creative hashtags. This helps expand the reach of the campaign and also allows users to easily follow the campaign. Check out some awesome examples here.

Which Hashtags to Use?

When using hashtags, it’s important to use the right ones. It will take some time to brainstorm and research which hashtags will provide results for your accounts. 

Things to consider: 

  • Are the hashtags relevant?
  • What hashtags are other relevant accounts using?
  • What hashtags are trending?

How to Use Hashtags on Social Media

How you use hashtags will vary depending on the social media platform you are using. Currently, hashtags are used on most major social media platforms. See below for information on how to use hashtags for some of the most popular platforms and the optimal number of hashtags to use, as recommended by Hootsuite.

Twitter

Optimal number of hashtags: 1-2

On Twitter, hashtags are used to categorize ideas and topics. 

Facebook

Optimal number of hashtags: 1-2

Hashtags aren’t used as often on Facebook, and there is a lot of debate as to whether or not they are relevant for the platform. Keep your hashtags to a minimum to prevent your post copy from looking crowded.

Instagram

Optimal number of hashtags: 9-15 (up to 30)

Hashtags on Instagram are used to categorize photos and videos based on what the content is representing.

Have any further questions on how to use hashtags? Or need some help with your social media marketing? Check out our social media marketing services here.

Mountain Alpenglow - Cloud9 Photography

We live in a busy time. And not only are our schedules busy, so is the world around us. When it comes to marketing, it can be hard to stand out amongst all the noise. Both the “real” and digital world are full of distractions, competitors and consumers with short attention spans (by choice)

In a world that is so saturated with marketing, how does a brand stand out? When you have 2.7 seconds to grab someone’s attention, how do you accomplish that? The answer is great photography! 

Naturally, humans are visual beings. 90% of the information absorbed by our brains is visual. Research at 3M Corporation concluded that we process visuals 60,000 times faster than text. Photography has the power to capture a person’s attention, keep them interested and make them remember. These are all important characteristics when it comes to marketing. 

 

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Skills of a Photographer

When it comes to taking a photo, it may seem as simple as the click of a button but that is definitely not the case. Like any specialty, photography takes experience, skill and a natural touch. 

The skills of a photographer include:

Creativity

In order to create a photo that stands out and captures a user’s attention, a photographer must be able to think outside the box. A photographer must be able to evoke emotion and tell a story through their photos.

Lighting 

Lighting is an important factor that contributes to professional-looking and polished photos. This is especially true when it comes to shooting product photos. Lighting can affect everything from colour to size, and the right photos are needed to showcase a brand’s products properly. 

Editing

There are endless amounts of editing software available, but knowing how to properly utilize them is an important skill. A photographer not only has the skills to take the photos but also the skills to enhance them post-shoot. 

 

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Photography in Marketing

Having a solid portfolio of photos to use is extremely important for any brand. Photography can be used in all of your marketing material both on and offline including brochures, websites, social media and advertisements. Showcasing good-quality photos is important to create a sense of professionalism and capture attention.

Check out more of our photography portfolio here

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a great picture tells the whole story. Cloud9 offers professional photography to our clients, often in support of other marketing projects. If you are in need of excellent photography to showcase your business, products or yourself, contact us today.

 

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computer - is email marketing effective?

Email marketing is often overshadowed by flashier marketing techniques such as social media and paid advertising. But just because it doesn’t seem as “fun” or “cool” as other methods, doesn’t mean it should be overlooked. 

Email marketing is one of the oldest and most effective channels of digital marketing. If you’re asking, is email marketing effective? Consider this stat, email generates $38 for every $1 spent, which is an astounding 3,800% ROI.

So what makes email marketing effective? Here are just a few reasons:

Affordable

Most small businesses are working with a limited marketing budget. Email marketing is a great, inexpensive marketing method. It allows businesses to reach a wide audience with very little investment and significant ROI. Most email marketing platforms, such as MailChimp, offer low-cost or even free plans. 

Measurable and Testable

Most email marketing platforms offer thorough analytics and data on email campaigns that you send out. Everything from the number of opens, the number of clicks, and unsubscribers can be tracked which will enable you to make adjustments and improve your email marketing. 

Most email marketing platforms also allow A/B testing which enables you to send out multiple versions of an email and test which version performs better. This information will help you learn about your subscribers and figure out what they respond better to allowing you to construct more effective emails in the future.

Customizable

One of the reasons that makes email marketing effective is that emails can be customized for different groups of people on your subscriber list. This is called segmenting. Segmenting allows you to deliver more relevant emails to your subscribers based on various criteria such as their geographic location, interests, purchase history, and much more. This creates a more personalized experience for your users and will help increase the success rate of your email marketing campaigns. 

Mobile Friendly

Email marketing is a great way to reach people on their mobile devices. Reading and checking emails is the most popular activity for smartphone users. Email marketing allows you to reach your subscribers instantaneously. When designing your marketing campaigns, it’s important to keep mobile users in mind and ensure your emails are mobile-friendly. 

Action Oriented

One of the great things about email marketing is that it is so easy to incorporate CTAs into your email campaigns. Whether you’re looking to direct traffic to a website or encourage people to make a purchase, it’s as simple as adding a button linked to an appropriate landing page. Consumers are looking for the easiest way to take action and email marketing makes the experience hassle-free.

 

If your business doesn’t have an email marketing strategy in place, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. Email marketing remains one of the most effective marketing methods. 

Need help putting together your email marketing strategy? We can help with that! Cloud9’s team of experts build successful email marketing strategies designed to cultivate audiences and nurture relationships with customers and clients, with the ultimate goal of growing sales. Read more on our email marketing services here

girl taking photo - micro-influencer

Guest Blog Post Written by The Hosting Tribunal

Influencer marketing has fast become one of the most preferred marketing methods. In fact, 81% of marketers feel that it is an effective form of advertising.

An influencer has the potential to become a real brand asset. But, the tricky part is finding the right one to work with. In order to maximize your return on investment, conventional wisdom would suggest that you hire the influencer with the highest number of followers. After all, the more followers they have, the better the reach will be, right?

Actually, no.

Potential Reach vs Engagement 

In reality, having more followers does not automatically translate into more reach. In fact, the opposite is often true. As influencers start to build a larger following, it becomes more difficult for them to maintain that same personal relationship with their audience.

It’s a simple logistical matter – answering two hundred comments a week is relatively simple. But, as the number of followers increases, it becomes harder to maintain that action. Imagine dealing with ten thousand comments a week.

The downside of this is that the audience grows accustomed to having a more personal relationship with their influencer. In the early days, influencers work hard to show their audience that they’re valuable. As the influencer takes a step back, followers are bound to feel the difference.

As a result, followers will start to take a step back as well. They’re still likely to follow the influencer, but they’re not likely to check in as often. That also means that they’re less likely to repost, like, or comment on posts – they might not even see the posts on their feeds anymore.

That’s not going to do your campaign much good. What should you do instead, then?

The Micro-Influencer

A micro-influencer is someone who has anywhere between 1,000 and 50,000 followers. They have a following that’s large enough to make it worth your while, while still being able to maintain a relationship with their followers.

Here are a few benefits of working with a micro-influencer:

  •         It’s likely to cost you less: Influencers are typically paid on a scale according to how many followers they have. A micro-influencer is often willing to work for free products, or, at least, a lower rate.
  •       They will get to know their audience better: The larger the audience, the harder it becomes to get to know each person. A micro-influencer normally has a better grasp of what their audience likes and expects.
  •         You can diversify your risk: If you put all your budget into one campaign and it doesn’t work out, that’s money wasted. It’s better to choose two or three smaller influencers, as opposed to opting for one big name.

Final Notes

Working with a micro-influencer makes sense if you’d like to increase engagement, understand your target market better, and save yourself some money. Why pay big money for one influencer when you could get better results from a few smaller ones?

Interested in learning more about influencer marketing? Wondering if this strategy is right for your business? Connect with us for a free consultation here.

 

influencer infographic - micro-influencer

Infographic sourced from: https://www.smallbizgenius.net/by-the-numbers/influencer-marketing-statistics/

planner and coffee cup - SMART goals

Goal setting is an important aspect of marketing, and really in all aspects of your life.  At Cloud9 Marketing, we set our bars pretty high. We are goal setters not only for ourselves but for our clients. But we aren’t just spontaneously and carelessly going about making wishes and hoping they come true. No, there is a method to our madness!

In order to help guide our goal setting, we use the SMART method. The SMART method of goal setting is a method used by many businesses and people in order to help them stay focused and increase the chances of success in obtaining their goals. 

Although this method will not guarantee success in achieving your goals, it will definitely make the process of goal setting more efficient and give you a sense of direction.

S – Specific

Avoid making generalized goals and keep them specific to you and your brand. Answering the 5 W’s (Who, What, Where, When and Why) will tailor your goal to match the needs of your business. 

M – Measurable

How do you know if you’ve been successful if you haven’t predetermined what success is? Setting tangible indicators of success will allow you to track your progress and let you know whether or not you have achieved your goal. 

Lucky for us in the digital marketing world, there are many useful tools and platforms which provide us with detailed analytics and metrics of our webpages, advertising efforts, social media profiles and more. Read more on tracking website metrics here.

A – Achievable

Of course, it’s great to set the bar high, but avoid setting it TOO high. If your goal isn’t achievable, then you’ve ultimately set yourself up for failure. It’s important to look at where your business stands currently and understand where to set realistic benchmarks. An Important question to ask would be: do you have the resources and abilities to achieve these goals? 

R – Relevant

When setting goals, it’s important to ensure that they are relevant to your ultimate business objectives. If your ultimate goal is to increase in-store sales, perhaps it’s not the best idea to spend your annual marketing budget on a campaign to increase traffic to an e-commerce store. It’s essential to look at the big picture and create a plan and goals that are relevant.

T – Timely

Setting timelines is essential when setting goals because it creates a sense of urgency and pushes you to start working towards achieving success. If you don’t set a start and finish date, your goal is just going to sit in limbo like those tasks that have been on your personal to-do list for the last two years…(obviously not speaking from personal experience).

The next time you are setting marketing goals for your business, try the SMART goals method. If you need even further guidance with your marketing initiatives and strategies, connect with us for a free consultation

Facebook logo - latest updates to Facebook

Facebook has been under a lot of scrutiny lately. While most of their time has been dedicated to dealing with issues in regards to privacy, transparency and security, its developers have managed to put out a few new updates.

Although the platform is constantly changing and adapting, we highlight a few of the latest updates to Facebook that we think are the most important for Facebook advertisers.

Facebook Considering Hiding Like Count

You may have noticed a change to your Instagram feed a few months ago — In an effort to improve user well-being, Instagram removed the like count in 7 countries across the world. The thought process behind this was to bring the platform back to its early days of being more about the content and less about popularity. Now it seems that the developers are achieving the results they hoped for and are looking to expand this change to Facebook as well.

This change poses an interesting question for social media advertisers on whether the amount of likes on a post influences users’ decisions and buying habits. Facebook has confirmed they are considering this change, however, no official trial start date has been determined.

Highlighting Stories From Pages

Although the Stories feature on Facebook hasn’t taken off as developers had originally hoped, it is starting to pick up in popularity and is now at 500 million users daily.

Recently, developers began testing a feature that places stories from pages, including business pages, in a new in-feed panel. The Stories panel is already located at the top of a user’s feed, and this added Page Stories panel will highlight branded stories even more, offering a great opportunity for promotion.

New Business Tools for Messenger

Messenger interactions have become increasingly more important for brands as people take their queries and comments from phone calls and in-person to messaging platforms. Messaging platforms offer ease of use and even sometimes, instantaneous answers with the use of bots. Bot technology has improved exponentially over the last few years and will only continue to grow.

Facebook has announced the following updates to its business tools for messenger:

Lead Generation Flows

As explained by Facebook,
“This new template within Facebook Ads Manager enables businesses to create automated experiences to help qualify leads within Messenger. Businesses can continue the conversation with prospects directly in Messenger and integrate with existing CRM tools to seamlessly track leads.”

Appointment Booking

This update will allow businesses to integrate calendar booking software directly into their messenger bot response flow.

“With this feature, businesses can convert Messenger conversations into in-store traffic, online and phone appointments, and more.”

 

As mentioned earlier, the platform is constantly changing and these are just a few of the latest updates to Facebook.

Are you having a hard time keeping up with changes to Facebook? Or not even sure where to start when it comes to social media marketing? Cloud9 Marketing can create and manage your social media campaigns with effective strategies that drive quality engagement. Learn more about our Social Media Marketing services here.

domain name

Guest Blog Post Written by The Hosting Tribunal

Currently,  there are countless websites with more to come tomorrow, the day after that, and so on. If you want to create a successful website, you’ll need to pull out all the stops to catch the attention of online visitors. This includes having a great domain name as well. It’s 2019, and a lot of the catchiest names have probably been picked. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create a domain name that will never be forgotten.

Go Beyond a Single Word Domain Name

One thing that popular brands like Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Yahoo have in common is that they all have single word domain names. Don’t pressure yourself in trying to create something similar, as shorter isn’t always better. People would choose a long and catchy domain name over one that is short but easy-to-forget.

Here’s the deal:

Try using a phrase as a domain name. If you are starting a food blog, go with something catchy like “BoyEatsWorld.com” or “TheFoodie’sGuide.com.” What’s great about taking this approach with your domain name is that you’ll be able to immediately project what your website is about. It’s also easy to remember these phrases once your viewers have associated themselves with it.

…Or Stick With Tradition

While long domain names work, sometimes shorter is indeed better. One challenge when using short, single-word domain names is that you won’t be able to let visitors know what your website is about straight away. On the bright side, short domain names are easier to remember and are very catchy when done right.

Stick With Well-Known Domain Extensions

A domain extension is a word at the end of your domain name that starts with a “.” There are many domain extensions available, and there are some that are more fitting for certain types of websites. It’s best for you to stick with some of the most well-known extensions such as .net, .info, and the ever-reliable .com.

Also, avoid using unique or uncommon domain extensions, as these might lead visitors to believe that your website is suspicious or is a threat to their cybersecurity.

Most importantly, you should use a domain extension that’s appropriate for the type of website you are running.

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Some Help

When all else fails and you still have to come up with a good domain name, get some help from your friends. Alternatively, you can use this domain name generator to find a name or quite possibly some inspiration for what your website should be called. By putting in the nature of your business in this platform’s text bar, you’ll be able to get a list of available and appropriate domain names.

Some web owners say that the hardest part of starting a website is picking a domain name that will stick with the audience. However, if you exert some time and effort into this process, you will benefit from it greatly. Don’t rush this process if you don’t want your website to drown in the vast ocean that is the internet.

Need some helping with your website? At Cloud9 Marketing, we offer a variety of web services including web development, hosting, SEO and more. Read more on our web services here.

 

Best domain name

Infographic source from: https://hostingtribunal.com/blog/domain-facts/

monitor with data - website metrics

Web analytics are an integral part of a successful website. Detailed website metrics tell you about your website visitors’ behaviour and are the key to accelerating continual positive online growth.

With the installation of a piece of code onto your website, called a pixel, platforms such as Google Analytics can collect anonymous data about your visitors and the actions they perform on your website. The data collected is considerable, and can often be very overwhelming for people who are not familiar with analytics and website metrics. 

These are the top 5 website metrics to track in order to measure the performance of your website:

Traffic Sources

Being able to see where your traffic is coming from is a very important tool. This allows you to measure the success of marketing efforts across different platforms such as email marketing or social media and determine where to put your time and money. 

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of users that enter your site and then leave after just viewing a single page. A high bounce rate can be a strong indication of possible issues. These issues could include problems with your website such as slow load speed or problems with your advertising efforts such as targeting the wrong groups or irrelevant keywords. Understanding why your website has a high bounce rate may take some time and research, however, it is important to fix as soon as possible — It doesn’t make sense to be spending time and money on directing people to a website for them to leave right away!

Conversions

Tracking conversions does require some extra legwork as you will need to set them up individually in your analytics platform. In Google Analytics, conversions are set up as “Goals”. Conversions will vary by website. For some, it may as simple as a newsletter signup, for others it could be an online sale in an e-commerce store. Understanding how many users are converting on your website allows you to determine if your efforts are successful. If conversions are low, new strategies will need to be implemented and could include paid advertising, stronger calls-to-action, or other techniques.  

Behaviour Flow

Most analytics platforms will allow you to track your website users’ behaviour flow. This enables you to see your website visitors’ actions as they move through your website. Google Analytics provides a flowchart which shows which pages people are visiting, where they exit your website and their journey from one page to the next. This will give you a better understanding of which content users find the most useful, if your calls-to-action are leading users to the right pages and if people are leaving your website where you want them to. 

Average Session Duration 

Similar to the bounce rate, average session duration allows you to determine if your content is relevant to the people that are finding their way to your website. If people are spending a lot of time on your website, it most likely means that they find the information interesting. However, an average session duration could also mean that visitors are having a hard time finding or understanding the information on your website. This is why it is important to be able to understand various website metrics that could be correlated. 

 

While analytics platforms are relatively easy to install and access their dashboards, understanding the information and using the data to manage and improve your website takes experience.

Cloud9 Marketing offers Google Analytic set-up, reporting and ongoing data analysis with monthly actionable recommendations to improve your website’s page rank, visitation, increase conversions and more.

For more information on our web analytics services, read more here

If you own a business or are building a brand, you may be questioning the importance of social media marketing. You may be asking yourself: Does your business need to be on social media? Does social media marketing really work? The simple answer is, ABSOLUTELY!

As of May 2019, there are almost 3.5 billion active social media users worldwide with Facebook leading the pack at just over 2.3 billion users. The average person spends over 2 hours a day on social media.

Today’s consumers are influenced significantly by what they see on social media. In a 2017 survey, 78% of consumers said that companies’ social media posts impacted their purchases.

If you’re not using social media for your brand or business, that’s a lot of missed opportunity!

Here are just a few of the many reasons why social media marketing is important for any brand:

Brand awareness

Social media platforms offer a great opportunity to build awareness for brands. From targeted advertising, hashtags, geo-tags and more, the opportunity to reach new audiences and gain exposure is vast.

Building brand awareness doesn’t always have to come from the brand’s side either — when customers feel loyalty to a brand, they are often compelled to share their love in posts and photos, spreading the awareness even further.

Authenticity

Social media allows brands to show their human side and be authentic. Authenticity resonates well with customers and allows them to feel a personal connection.

Engagement

Whether through comments on posts or direct messages, social media provides a great way to connect directly with customers. Engagement on social media can also improve customer service experience in the event of an issue as customers are able to communicate with a brand instantly.

Traffic Increase

Social media is a great way to drive traffic to a website. There are numerous opportunities to direct people from social platforms to a website such as links in posts, posting blog posts to social media, using product tags on Instagram, and many more. Social media advertising allows even greater opportunity to drive traffic to a website.

Customer Insights

Most social media platforms and social media scheduling platforms offer great analytics tools which can be used to dig into information about customers and followers. This analytical data provides brands with access to real-time data which can be used to improve marketing strategies and increase effectiveness.

 

Looking to boost your brand’s social media presence but are not sure where to start, check out our social media management services here.

With Cloud9 Marketing managing your social media, we boost your brand awareness, improve online credibility, and increase sales and/or customer acquisition.

woman using mobile phone and desktop to search for products

We all know that the last few years have seen a dramatic rise in mobile searches. But how prominent actually is it? Studies have shown that even though most searches are done on mobile devices, 80% of conversions still happen on desktops. Here is how you can tailor your strategy for today’s modern consumer.

Think about Mobile

You need to think about what your audience is looking at when they are using their mobile phone. Users are usually spending time texting, scrolling social media and doing some basic searching. You can use this to think about how you can reach your audience. Creating ads that are engaging that won’t seem disruptive, will help reach customers at an earlier stage of the sales funnel. You should note as well that mobile devices account for more clicks. While most conversions happen on a desktop, you should still make sure you adjust mobile bids to get the best results for your campaigns.

Send customers to stores

You may be surprised to hear that 90% of sales still happen in actual brick and mortar stores. Use this information to send customers straight from their mobile devices into your physical store rather than solely focusing your mobile efforts on directing customers to your website. Consumers use mobile devices to access coupons, compare prices and check reviews to make sure these elements are all optimized.

Think about the sales funnel

You can reach the right audience at the right point in their sales journey by thinking about the sales funnel. If you tailor your mobile ads to consumers first showing interest while creating desktop ads aimed at increasing conversions your sales will dramatically increase.

Boost Shopability

Customers who want to buy, often want to buy right now. Make it as easy as possible for them to complete an online purchase. You can add chatbots to your site to help users who have questions.

Smarter Search Strategies

You will find by creating a smarter search strategy you will generate more conversions. Make sure your business listing is up to date with the correct address and opening hours. Use ads to promote local instore inventory and have an in-store pick-up option.

Analytics

Don’t forget to use analytics to analyze data. You can use the results to tailor your strategy to make sure you’re reaching the right people at the right time to sell more of your product.

Here at Cloud9 Marketing, we can help you maximize conversions. Book a free consultation now!