Key Takeaways from the CIMC Conference

Last week, our team joined hundreds of marketing professionals at the 2016 Canadian International Marketing Conference (CIMC) in Squamish, British Columbia. The two-day event was led by keynote speakers from reputable brands such as Google, WestJet, Unbounce, Disney Canada, Vision Critical, Warner Music, and Yahoo to name a few. We absorbed insights on a wide range of topics related to digital marketing, and would like to share our key takeaways from the conference.

Content needs to be clear, accessible, authentic and relevant


    Oli Gardner from Unbounce emphasized the need for landing pages to be relevant, clear and provide a unique value proposition. A great way to test this is by using the 5-second rule, to see whether users can understand within 5 seconds the purpose of a given landing page. If users have trouble understanding your message, consider using bullet points, better organizing the page and simplifying content.


    Content on websites and landing pages need to accommodate to all users, including those with disabilities (15% of the world’s population lives with a disability). According to Domain 7, “Accessibility is not a luxury, it’s everyone’s responsibility.” Simple executions such as image alt tags on a website and video captions should be used wherever possible to help users with visual and hearing impairments. At the same time, these executions will help with user experience for those without disabilities as well (e.g. when a user watches a video on mute in a public space).

Authenticity and Relevancy:

    Shannon Kelley from Yahoo Canada spoke of the “evolving customer” and how brands need to ensure their content is transparent and authentic. A consistent brand personality that is inclusive, listens, and delivers an emotion is necessary now more than ever. Warner Music discussed how brands need to find out what resonates with their audience when producing content. Similarly, BrandLive noted the importance of creating an emotional connection with an audience through shared experiences.

Research is key


    Best practices for campaign landing pages are frequently discussed, as brands aim to improve conversion rates. Unbounce discussed the need for continuous testing when it comes to optimizing landing pages. They also unveiled data from their recent landing page tests. This research analyzed the optimal number of form fields (1-2 fields generated highest conversion rates, 4-7 showed similar conversion rates), where call-to-actions and forms should be placed on a page (the best placement for a form is 666px from the top of the page) and types of call-to-actions (“my” outperformed “your, and “download now” outperformed “download” in CTAs). However, these results can change depending on the brand, industry and message, therefore testing is important.

Research Methodology:

    When researching an audience, Mediative noted that it is best to use different methodology to help shape your digital marketing strategy. This includes online surveys, in-lab experiments, and heat maps. Eye tracking was also discussed, which helps determine where users are looking when scrolling through a page. This relates to organizing content and testing to optimize for conversions.

6S Marketing at CIMC

Analyzing User Experience:

    The traditional ways used to understand and listen to customers needs to be reimagined. Vision Critical emphasized that the products and services a brand offers will no longer be competitive differentiators: the experiences will be the differentiators in the coming years. Data simply does not explain motivations (the why); it provides insights into the what, when, where and how of behavior. Brands need to dig deep into data figures and engage with their audience in order to determine motivations.

The Future of Digital Marketing

Key Opinion Leaders:

    Bloggers, YouTube stars, Twitter influencers, etc. are emerging as trusted sources for consumers making purchase decisions. When brands begin these types of partnerships, it is important to align with influencers who share common interests and beliefs. Work with Key Opinion Leaders collaboratively to produce the most authentic content.

Chinese Marketing:

    Brands need to begin tapping into the Chinese market due to the purchasing power, market size and this audience’s trust in Western brands. Big media players in China are the BAT: Baidu, Alibaba (Taobao and Tmall), and Tencent (QQ and WeChat). Baidu is the Google of Mainland China and a very commercialized platform, with more ads on the Search Engine Results Page than organic listings. Therefore, SEO is not the best route for Baidu — PPC is a more cost-efficient way of reaching Chinese consumers on this platform.

Native Ads:

    Native ads are ads that fit the form and function of the environment they’re in, unlike the traditional banner ads on publisher sites. This includes advertorial pieces, sponsored content, and in-feed ad placements. Brands need to ensure these ads deliver value (story, information, entertainment, etc.) in order to promote engagement and interest.


    We all know of the evolution of mobile advertising in the last few years. The CIMC confirmed the need for responsive websites and ensuring mobile plays a role in a brand’s marketing strategy. Fab Dolan from Google emphasized the customer journey and mobile being based on micro-moments of intent. Brands, therefore, need to think about when users are performing various actions, such as considering a purchase, going somewhere, or doing something. Mediative focused on their research on mobile search behavior, noting that mobile devices have conditioned searchers to scan a screen vertically rather than horizontally. This has led to only 7.4% of clicks on mobile search occurring after the 4th organic spot. This highlights the importance of having a strong mobile SEO strategy that is supported by paid search ads.

Fab Dolan at CIMC

Live Video:

      Michelle Slater from Twitter discussed the rise in Periscope, where brands have the opportunity to create conversational and influential live videos to engage with their audience. This format works well with events (e.g. Doritos during the Super Bowl), as well as content that has a cause, (e.g. Bell’s Let’s Talk Day on mental health). Immersive video, such as interactive content and 360 videos were also noted for helping create further engagement.

Overall, the CIMC conference was an insightful event that was successful in combining perspectives from various brands on relevant digital marketing topics. Understanding user behavior, intent, and how to engage with an audience through authenticity were themes that appeared through the majority of presentations and panel discussions. Whether it is through immersive video experiences or through mobile devices, a combination of research and listening to the consumer is key in determining a user’s interests and needs for content.

This post was co-written by Tina Star, Kellie Volp, and Looby Qian.

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