Example of dark mode user interface

Dark mode started to take off in 2019 and has grown to be adopted by most operating systems, plugins, apps, some websites and even made its way into print. 

But why has it taken the UX and UI worlds by storm? Well besides the inherent cool factor of being dark and moody, fonts and elements stand out significantly more on a dark background, increasing the accessibility for sight-challenged people. While these are good enough reasons alone, there are a few more that should grab your attention.   

Cheers to Your Health

With the vast amount of time we spend on screens, the option to give your eyes a break is a coveted concept. Bright screens create stress and strain on eyes that can result in dry, tired eyes and lead to a suppressed production of melatonin, affecting sleep. Dark mode can alleviate these issues by reducing the total amount of white light your eyes process over the course of a day. Particularly in darker environments, dark mode is more relaxing on the eyes.  

Extend Your Battery Life

Using dark mode on devices significantly increases battery life. Depending on what level of brightness your screen is at, you can save between 15% and 60% of your battery compared to screens viewed in bright white. While it’s nice to go further between charges, this can be extremely useful in emergency situations when your phone is your lifeline.  

Captivate Your Market

For the same reasons Dark Mode increases accessibility for sight-challenged people, the contrast of fonts and elements on a dark background are attention-grabbing for any user. But we all know it’s not just about grabbing attention, it’s holding it as well. Some research has shown that utilizing a dark theme increases the length of user engagement, meaning more interaction with your site. This makes dark mode a potentially excellent tool to captivate the attention of prospective users. 

Top Tips for Dark Mode

Here are some of our top tips when it comes to incorporating dark mode:

  • Avoid Pure Black – First and foremost, be sure to avoid pure black as the primary surface colour. A dark grey, such as colour code #121212,  is easier on the eyes.
  • Bold Doesn’t Mean Bright – Avoid the halo effect of pure white text on a black background by using a darker white font. This results in greater contrast and a more bold appearance.
  • Don’t Over Saturate – When it comes to the colour saturation of text and graphics, dial it down when working with a darker background. The most visually pleasing colour range is between 200 and 50. 

 

Curious if your business can benefit from incorporating dark mode into your brand strategy?  Book a consultation at Cloud9 Marketing today! 

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

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.

Staying on top of trends is something that is essential to every marketing strategy. Summer is the time to heat up your marketing plan. Here are some ways to keep your strategy looking fiery and how we can help you.

Go Mobile

You may think it seems obvious but the warmer weather drives more people outside and away from their computers. You need to adjust your marketing efforts to mirror this. Think about how well optimized your mobile site is. If you are using paid advertising, increasing bids on mobile devices will create positive results.

New ideas to boost engagement

Summer is a great opportunity to try new ideas to boost engagement. Just because your business is winter focused doesn’t mean that you should drop off the radar in summer. Think outside the box. Contests are a great way to engage with your audience. Get them to post their summer pictures or share your posts.

Get involved with the community

Summer events mean plenty of opportunities to reach out to the community and connect with a new audience. Sponsor a sports team or even create your own event. By having fun with your marketing strategy you can build solid relationships that will benefit you later in the year.

Pick a theme

Choosing a theme for your summer marketing strategy can be really effective. Tell a story around it using tactics that build on each other throughout the summer.

Focus on visual content

The sunshine means people have less time to consume content, therefore you really have to grab their attention. You can post images with shorter captions, do a vlog, or even start a podcast. Creating downloadable content that people can view when they don’t have cell phone reception is effective too. You may find that social platforms that are more visual, such as Instagram are more effective in the summer.

Evaluate last year

It’s always important to take some time to step back and think about what worked last year and what you could have done better. Evaluate the results and build on successful campaigns and learn from unsuccessful ones.

Build momentum for Fall

If your business is seasonal, you want to be using summer as a time to plan your marketing campaigns for the winter and build momentum coming into fall! Network with new and potential clients, or create buzz for a product or service that you will launch once the summer ends.

Need help with your summer marketing strategy? Book a consultation at Cloud9 Marketing today!

computer

As we learn to navigate these uncharted waters, confusion and uncertainty are at an all-time high. Not only is this situation putting pressure on everyday life, but business owners are also feeling the pressure and impact of these troubling times. 

With people around the world being told to stay home, one of the heaviest hit industries has been the tourism sector. And here in Whistler, we have certainly felt the impacts of this. Many local businesses have temporarily shut down operations including tour operators, hotels, restaurants and more, causing a trickle-down effect to our mountain town.

If your business has been forced to close or limit its services, you may have questions as to what the best practices for marketing during a time like this are. A lot of businesses have chosen to “go dark” and have completely put a hold on all marketing efforts including social media.

But is going dark on social media the right move? In our opinion, no. 

The term “social distancing” has become a staple in our everyday vocabulary as of late. However, we believe the term we should be using is “physical distancing.” This is a time more than ever that we need to maintain connections with people and be social, digitally that is. 

(If you’re more of the listener than a reader, hear more about this topic on our very first podcast, Social Media Marketing During a Time of Crisis. Listen now at: https://bit.ly/2y79Ue2.)

Why You Should Be Posting

With most of our time now being spent at home and away from public situations, people are turning to social media for entertainment more than ever. For some, social media may even be the only social connection they have. Before this pandemic, the average adult spent two hours a day on social media, imagine where these numbers must be at now…

Social media enables businesses to connect with people all over the world. Maintaining a presence during these times will allow businesses to expand their community and maintain the one they have worked so hard to build. Now is the time to establish who your brand really is and invest in relationships rather than transactions.

And with so many businesses choosing to go dark, this could, in fact, be the least cluttered time ever on social media for tourism businesses. Use this time to stand out from your competitors enabling you to be top of mind for when things return to ‘normal’. 

What You Should Be Posting 

As these are unprecedented times, it can be a challenge to determine what posts are appropriate. With so much anxiety and heaviness surrounding the situation, businesses should be focusing on content that is light-hearted and inspirational. 

This is also the time to present the human side of your business. People are looking for a connection more than ever. Tell stories, show personality, find a way to connect with your audience. Be sure to also monitor and reply to any comments — this is a great way to make things personal.

Some examples of what to post:

  • Repost user-generated content
  • Create video tutorials
  • Share stories of favourite past memories
  • Introduce your staff
  • Support any local initiatives or emergency communications

Other Marketing Efforts

So we’ve established that maintaining social media presence during this time is important, but what about other marketing efforts? 

We recommend refocusing any efforts towards achieving conversion goals to efforts that help build community and engagement. This includes turning off any paid advertising across all platforms.

Planning For the Future

Although we hope this will all be over soon, we cannot predict exactly when everything will return to business as usual. We can, however, use this time to start planning for the future and ensure we have a strategy set for when the time comes. Because when it comes, it’s going to come suddenly and those that are not prepared will be left behind.

Create a plan starting at the beginning of the end of all of this. If possible, begin to create quality content to use in order to avoid scrambling at the last minute — Draft posts, create videos, write blog posts, etc. 

We also believe that focusing efforts on regional markets will be more successful at first. It will take some time for economies to recover and travel bans to lift, which may create barriers for international visitors. 

For more on this topic, be sure to listen to our very first podcast, Social Media Marketing During a Time of Crisis where Cloud9 Marketing team members Virginia-Rae Choquette and Hailey Elise discuss how to navigate social media during this current time of crisis. Listen now at: https://bit.ly/2y79Ue2

cash register - consumer journey

Depending on your type of business, there is almost guaranteed to be multiple touchpoints in which a consumer will interact with it before making a purchase. These touchpoints can range from seeing a print ad in a magazine, liking a social media post on Facebook, visiting your website or emailing your customer service department. 

All of these interactions are part of what’s called the consumer journey. The consumer journey looks at the overall experience of your business’s customers from discovery and awareness to (hopefully) purchase.

Consumer Journey Mapping

Although understanding the steps along the consumer journey is a great start, an even more effective strategy is to create a consumer journey map. 

A consumer journey map is “a visual representation of the process a customer or prospect goes through to achieve a goal with your company.”

How you create the consumer journey map is entirely up to you. For some, a blank wall with sticky notes is sufficient, while for others a detailed spreadsheet on Excel is the preferred method. The most important aspect is that you are able to understand the map and make use of it. There are some great consumer journey map templates that can found online with a quick search on Google.

Why It’s Important

“With the help of a customer journey map, you can get a sense of your customers’ motivations, needs and pain points.”

Consumer journey mapping is important because it allows you to see exactly how your consumers experience your brand rather than how you think/want them to.

A consumer journey map allows you to step into your customers’ shoes and understand things like abandoned shopping carts, page visits and more. This understanding allows you to better refine the journey leading to a better and more effective consumer experience.

And a better consumer experience leads to increased sales, brand loyalty and more efficient marketing strategies.

Need help with understanding your customers’ journey? Not sure where to start? We can help! Connect with us for your free one-hour consultation.

 

Quotes taken from this great Hubspot Article: How to Create an Effective Customer Journey Map

person holding phone - local SEO

Most business owners that have a website have heard about Search Engine Optimization or SEO. But what about local SEO? 

What is Local SEO?

SEO is the process of optimizing your website in order to maximize the amount of organic traffic directed from the search engine results. 

Local SEO goes one step further and is the process of optimizing your website for a local audience. This process will help ensure that people in your area will be able to find your business online, and in turn in person. This is especially important for businesses that offer regional services or have a brick and mortar location. 

Statistics show that over 46% of all searches on Google are seeking local information so optimization for local SEO is essential for any business owner.

The Google 3-Pack

Being in the Google 3-Pack is an important goal for any business. Google uses the searcher’s location and displays the top three ranked businesses in a prominent location near the top of the search results page. The Google 3-Pack also displays relevant information to the user that they may need immediately, including address, phone number, store hours and more. 

Local SEO is not the only factor that determines which businesses are displayed in the 3-Pack, however, it does play a significant role.

How to Optimize Your Website for Local SEO

Here are a few tips and strategies you can follow in order to optimize your website for local SEO.

Google My Business

Claiming your Google My Business (GMB) listing is the first step to improving your local SEO ranking. If you have not claimed your listing yet, you are not alone — approximately 56% of businesses have not claimed their GMB listing. 

Completing your GMB listing will enable your business to be listed on Google Maps and in local search results. Your listing will show location, business hours, a link to your website, reviews and more.

Claim your Google My Business listing here.

Location Pages 

Adding location pages to your website will also help increase your website’s local SEO ranking. This could be in the form of adding your location address to a “Contact Us” page, or by creating separate pages for each location if your business has multiple locations. 

It’s also important to ensure that your full and accurate address is listed on your website in at least one location. We recommend adding it to the footer of your website so that it appears on every page of your website.

Business Reviews

Reviews from customers can play a role in your website’s ranking and inclusion in the 3-Pack. Positive reviews also encourage search engine users to click on your listing. Encourage your customers to leave positive reviews through email newsletters, signage in your store or just simply by asking them. 

Local-based Content

Consistently adding local-based content will help boost your local SEO. Consider writing a monthly blog post about a local event or highlight and be sure to include keywords that are relevant to your local area. For example, if you are a Whistler-based business, you could write about the World Ski and Snowboard Festival and include keywords such as World Ski and Snowboard Festival and WSSF.

Mobile Optimization

Most business searches are done on a mobile device so ensuring your website is mobile-friendly is extremely important. Mobile-friendliness impacts SEO overall so it is an important aspect for any website in general.

Although these are just some of the ways to optimize your website for local SEO, following these steps will surely improve your ranking and increase your chances of being featured in the Google 3-Pack. 

Need help with your website SEO? Not sure where to start? We can help! Read more about our Search Engine Optimization Services here.

sparklers - Marketing Trends for 2020

With 2020 just a week away, it’s time to step into the future. Marketing is all about planning ahead so the time start is now! 

The online marketing world is constantly shifting as technology grows and we gain more insight into what consumers like. New tools and features are continuously being added to social platforms to make the experience better for both the user and the marketer. In order for your business to be successful online, it’s important to keep up with trends and shift strategies to include these new tools and features. We take a look at some marketing trends for 2020 to keep an eye on and consider when making your plan for the new year.

Influencer Marketing

Since the beginning of social media, the use of influencers has continuously been on the rise. In 2020, it is expected that influencer marketing will only become more prominent on social media platforms. Social media users are increasingly becoming tentative towards ads and looking more to their peers for purchasing influences. When considering who their peers are online, social media users often will include celebrities, artists, and other influencers in addition to their friends and family.

Although influencer marketing can come with a hefty price tag, it’s not just reserved for big businesses. Smaller businesses with tighter budgets can take advantage of micro-influencers for their campaigns. It has often been debated if micro-influencers might be even more effective than big-name influencers as they have a niche following that is very focused on specific hobbies, likes and habits. Read more on micro-influencers here.

Shopping on Social Media

New tools and features on social media have made the purchasing process so easy for consumers. Social media users can now shop directly from their Instagram feeds without even having to leave the platform. This seamless process allows conversions to happen quickly and effortlessly, which is great news for businesses and marketers. In 2020, the use of shopping on social media will only grow as more businesses include this option in their marketing and consumers get more used to the idea of shopping on social media.

AR

Technological advancements have made the use of Augmented Reality (AR) a credible tool for marketing. We are already seeing it pop up in certain industries such as real estate, fashion, home decor and more. The use of AR makes the buying process so easy for the consumer allowing them to make purchase decisions without even having to leave their home. As technology grows even more, we can expect to see the use of AR become more mainstream in 2020.

Chatbots and AI

We have already seen an increase in the use of chatbots and AI-based technology, however as more data is collected and algorithms are improved, this technology will become “smarter.” In the past, chatbots mainly ran when triggered by certain keywords, answering with prewritten sentences. With new technology, chatbots are able to read and fully “understand” what users are writing to them. They now have the ability to search the web and adapt their answers. 

The use of chatbots and AI-based technology allows businesses to improve their customer service which has increasingly become an important aspect for consumers.

Voice Search

As people become more comfortable with the idea of voice assistants and AI-based technology, the usage of smart speakers has grown exponentially. We saw a 51% increase in the usage of smart speakers by Canadians from 2018 to 2019 alone. In 2020, it is estimated that almost 18% of Canadians will use smart speakers. This presents a huge opportunity for marketers, as well as a new list of challenges. Although it’s not mandatory to completely shift strategies for voice search, certain content optimizations should be considered — Generally, users are asking the speakers direct questions so including content on your website that answers these questions will ensure your content is found and used by the smart speakers. 

With 2020 just around the corner, it’s time to get cracking on your strategy. Need help with your marketing strategy? Not sure how to incorporate these marketing trends for 2020 into your business plan? Connect with us for a free consultation here.

christmas tree - social media marketing tips for holiday

The holiday season is a time of joy, festive fun and family time! But it’s also considered one of the busiest times for both online and offline sales as shoppers scramble to find the perfect gifts for their family and friends. 

When it comes to marketing, businesses are doing everything they can to inspire shoppers with amazing deals and catchy campaigns. Standing out on social media during the holidays can feel a lot like being the needle in a haystack, or a single snowflake in a snowball to be more seasonally relevant. So, how do you stand out in such a crowded environment? We share some social media marketing tips for the holiday season to help your brand get noticed during this busy time of year.

Holiday Spirit

Show that your brand has holiday spirit by posting holiday-themed images and posts. Use festive colours, imagery and symbols to evoke emotion from your followers. Be sure to include festive captions with your posts including holiday quotes, festive song lyrics and more. 

Storytelling

The holiday season is all about the warm fuzzy feelings and a good story is a great way to trigger those emotions. Storytelling is a great way to show personality and connect with your audience. It’s also a great way to create content that can be repurposed for multiple platforms. Read more about storytelling and what it’s something you should consider adding to your marketing strategy not just during the holidays but all year, here

Social Media Holidays

For social media marketing, Christmas and New Years aren’t the only holidays that you need to post about. There are many “social media holidays” such as #NationalHotCocoaDay or #InternationalMountainDay which are great ways to boost your social media marketing during the holiday season. Now, these holidays may seem a little cheesy, but they are a great way to take advantage of trending hashtags and increase engagement on your posts. Check a full list of social media holidays here.

Engagement

Engaging with your social media followers is important at any time of year, but putting an emphasis on it during the holidays can help your brand stand out amongst the competition. As businesses put a focus on promotions and sales, social media users can start to feel less like an appreciated fan and more like a business transaction. Maintaining engagement with your followers will help build personal connections between your customers and your brand. 

Collaborations

The holidays are a great way to collaborate with relevant and/or other local businesses. As the saying goes “two heads are better than one” and this is true when it comes to social media marketing — working with other brands helps expand your audience and reach a lot more users. 

One strategy for the holiday season could be a group of local businesses working together to raise money, toys, food, etc. for a local charity. It could be a friendly “competition” between businesses or just a nice way to give back to the community. Another great way to collaborate could be a prize giveaway featuring prizes for a group of businesses. 

The festive season is a magical time of year, but it’s also a busy one when it comes to marketing. Be sure to follow our social media marketing tips for the holiday season to make this festive time for your brand merry and bright! 

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.