The ROI of Digital Communications is… Relationships!

The future of marketing is about to rely very heavily on marketers who know how to integrate technology throughout every process of a customer’s experience. The biggest question that faces everyone right now is: How do I leverage online and mobile experiences to produce successful ROI? Again, what is ROI?Read More

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Twitter, Facebook, YouTube… WTF Is Social Media?

Social media is…. A blog, twitter, facebook, YouTube, digg, reddit, and more. Is it really?! The continued debate of what social media truly is has raged on for the past year or more. People, Companies, and Brands are jumping all over the bandwagon as a must have new channel ofRead More

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The ROI of Digital Communications is… Relationships!

The future of marketing is about to rely very heavily on marketers who know how to integrate technology throughout every process of a customer’s experience. The biggest question that faces everyone right now is: How do I leverage online and mobile experiences to produce successful ROI?

Again, what is ROI? Return on intelligence?! Seriously… We need to ignore ROI when it comes to marketing. I get it; we need to measure our results to understand what is working and what isn’t working. Marketing should not be driven by revenue. MARKETING SHOULD BE DRIVEN BY RELATIONSHIPS!

“Twitter is not a good tool for a lot of things. It’s great for conversation, it’s great for relationships, it’s horrible for sales, it’s horrible for marketing, it has no shelf life, and I love it because it creates relationships.” ~ Scott Stratten

What if we took the question, “How do I leverage online and mobile experiences to produce successful ROI?” and re-wrote it to say, “How do I leverage online and mobile experiences to produce valuable experiences?” Better yet, let’s think in terms of the customer:

“How do I leverage online and mobile experiences to produce valuable returns on investments for my customers?”

After all, we are asking our customers to talk, engage, research, and ultimately buy from us. We’re either producing valuable experiences for them or incompetent interrupted experiences that reflects positive or negative on our brand experience.

Remember, there is never a neutral experience with a brand. It goes up or down!

So let’s answer: “How do I leverage online and mobile experiences to produce valuable returns on investments for my customers?”

That depends on the size of your company, industry, and whether you’re a B2C or B2B. There are many factors that go in to creating heuristic experiences, including:

  • Business Purpose
  • Business Values
  • Business Objectives
  • Marketing Objectives
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Marketing Goals
  • * Digital Objectives
  • * Digital Strategy
  • * Digital Goals
    * Digital objectives, strategies, and goals are limited to only a select few companies in the world that have large brand recognition, such as Pepsi, Starbucks, Coke, ect

As you can tell, there are numerous variables that go into answering the above question. It’s not as easy as you might have though. Consider all the above factors for your business and let’s revisit this in the next post. Here is one tip: I repeat, don’t create a separate Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube strategy! You would never have a separate telephone.

What are some successful strategies or activities that have worked for you? I’d love to hear them! A follow up post will highlight case studies with key do’s and don’ts.

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube… WTF Is Social Media?


Social media is…. A blog, twitter, facebook, YouTube, digg, reddit, and more. Is it really?! The continued debate of what social media truly is has raged on for the past year or more. People, Companies, and Brands are jumping all over the bandwagon as a must have new channel of marketing. Social media is this.. it’s that.. it’s…. Seriously people, grow up and listen to yourselves!!!

We’ve been in this debate of what social media really is now for the past year or two. Many businesses and corporations are caught up on the open transparency of social media and the danger that technology is now presenting in terms of privacy. That is one major element, but the other element is that many people view these new advances in social networks as a technology medium to creating a new channel of marketing. In all honesty, social media is the most overused word in the history of the Internet for the past 10 years.

I hate the term social media! Mr. Unmarketing himself say’s it perfectly “It’s called talking!!!”

Why can’t we as human beings be able to talk as part of our business? That is after all how we sell product. Why have we not been able to get over the fear of creating conversation around our brand? For years, word-of-mouth has been one of the number ways of purchase decisions, yet we’ve never been able to hold such public conversations with our customers until now. So what is the biggest challenge facing businesses to understand “talking”?

So if social media is “talking”, then why am I not a talking consultant? I guess that’s a little too simplified for business purposes. So my definition of social media does not involve the term “social media” at all. In fact, I call it “digital communications”.

Digital communications is:

“A communication system with multiple channels of online conversations designed to engage in online conversations for driving offline engagements.”

Digital communications is simply an evolution of communications over thousands of years. From lights flashing in the sky and smoke signals to Alexander Graham Bell’s Telephone inventionand Guglielmo Marconi’s radio telegraph system to TV and finally the Internet. Our communication systems have simply gone from a vague mass and non-relevant system to a mass complex system that allows for one-to-many and one-to-one personable relevant conversations.

Now that we have technology that allows us to have one-to-many and one-to-one personable or relevant conversations, we’re freaking out because the conversations are immediate and constant. The ability to communicate by phone, text, tweet, or post has allowed for constant conversations over multiple channels creating a sense of lunacy in immediate and obsessive responses. This is where digital communications as a system will sort itself out in terms of applicable usage in the coming years.

What are your thoughts on the evolution of social media? Do you like the term digital communications better?

What The Heck Is Digital Communications?!

Now that I’ve defined what digital communications is and calmed down the paranoid around “social media” (hopefully), what is digital communications, what are the channels of digital communications, and what are the wrong ways to be effective at digital communication?

Effective digital communications can take many forms, but the basic premise is the understanding of how your customer receives important key brand messages while completing an online transaction, entering a contest, giving a comment or feedback, creating or engaging in a conversation, and so much more! We refer to this online interaction as an experience that creates an emotional connection with customers.

Digital communications for any business use to be limited to experiences strictly on your website. However, in the past five years, the multitude of channels for experiences has grown immensely. Advances in technology and software development have created new channels that shifted the population towards the new phenomenon in Facebook and social networks. This ultimately shifted the communication away from a company’s website to numerous channels.

This shift in communication has forced businesses to have less control over the experiences of their brand(s) and more engagements with their customers. Businesses are now forced to pay attention to or own multiple channels of possible congregating fans, such as:

  • Blogs
  • Facebook Pages
  • Facebook Groups
  • Facebook Messaging
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Yelp
  • Mobile Apps
  • Social Gaming (eg: Farmville)
  • Forums
  • Newsnets

With an abundance of channels and an infinite amount of online experiences, your customers can never have a neutral experience with your brand. Your brand will either go up or down. There is no middle ground!

Engagement techniques have been around for a while now, just not in the same form as we think of them today. Tip: Don’t talk back to a customer that wants to talk to you. You only turn them away!

As Scott Stratten pointed out in last weeks Unmarketing Conference, “It’s not your job to tell your audience how to consume your content, you just want them to consume it.” In otherwards, don’t kill the spread of content by creating new channels that force customers to engage elsewhere than where they are use to talking. They won’t come!

Second, be cautious of engaging on multiple channels. Creating content for Yelp, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blog, and website may not be necessary for your brand. The danger with this approach is that you can spread your resources, time, and content too thin across the digital spectrum and your customers may begin engaging on a medium you’re not comfortable with. Then you really are S.O.L.

I highly suggest building up one or two platforms at most that provide high levels of engagement, such as Twitter and/or Facebook. Having said this, there is no question that you need to own a presence on all, if not most digital channels, but your content and resources should be heavily focused on just one or two channels.

The Rise Of Social Tourism


In 2009, the world saw its first major international online “Best Job In The World” tourism campaign. Queensland, Australia set out on a mission to create what they called “The Island Reef Job”, holding an online crowdsourcing initiative, collecting videos from contestants around the world. Several Canadians entered the contest, including Vancouverite, Erik Rolfsen who represented Canada in the top 16! Ben Southall from the UK, won the prestigious competition and has since been described as the“caretaker of the Great Barrier Reef” traveling around Queensland blogging, photographing, videotaping, tweeting, and ‘facebooking’ his journey.

The success of this particular campaign can only be summed up it one way:

“No single tourism campaign (and potentially no single campaign) has ever had such a significant global reach across the spectrum of media and generated such a high volume and highly impassioned response from consumers.” Vikram Kharvi, PR Next

• In 56 days had 6,849,504 unique visits, 47,548,514 page views with an average of 8.62 minutes spent on the site.

• A Google search for “bestjobintheworldisland” achieves about 52,500,000 listings, 231,355 blogs and 43,600 news stories.

Wanting to know what happened to the unsuccessful candidates of the competition? Well some of them were fortunate enough to travel there on their own dime and still passionately blogged, photographed, and shared video of their own adventures. In fact, Anny Chih from Vancouver who made the top 50 decided to undertake a three-month road trip throughout Queensland documenting her travels along the way. Her own adventure resulted in local publicity as well!

The Queensland campaign was the first of its kind spurring on numerous spin-off campaigns by other major brands and cities. This past summer was the Flight Center competition dubbed “Best Travel Job Ever”, in which Vancouver’s own Sam Macmillan was fortunate to win with a free trip to Eastern Europe (semi-finalist prize) and Australia (grand prize). It appears that the Flight Center campaign was quite successful, but nothing has garnered as much attention as the Queensland campaign.

After Sam came back from his trip in Australia this past September, a new campaign started called“Transat Vacationer” that Sam has since submitted another successful entry. Sam is fortunate to be in the Top 10 once again for a year long travel position that allows him to explore his newly found passion of documenting travel adventures and telling stories through video and photography. This past week, I was privileged to sit down with Sam and discuss some of his travel highlights and insights into the rise of social media in tourism.

It’s my opinion that a lot of the case studies have missed out on one important fact surrounding these types of competitions. The PR buzz around the competitions is great for immediate returns, but as Sam points out, the amount of content generated and archived in digital format and stored on the web for years to come is invaluable to any brand or country. Travel blogs that don’t highlight the “marketing speak” of popular attractions, but rather share insights into the unique unknown portions of a city is what can make or break a possible destination for someone.

I encourage you to check out Sam’s final part of the interview to learn about his skills and benefits for becoming the Transat Vacationer!

Erin Garrity From Magnify Digital Joins The Now Revolution Panelists


With just over three weeks to go before The Now Revolution Tour touches down in Vancouver, we are very proud to announce that Erin Garrity, VP of Strategy and Interactive Content at Magnify Digital will be joining our elite discussion panel of socialmedia strategists. As a central architect of Magnify Digital’s proprietary ALERT™ system, Erin has guided many businesses and organizations through the design and execution of successful online strategies. Erin is an active member of Vancouver’s Social Media Meetup Group.  A natural trainer, Erin has led online strategy workshops, and done consulting work in a variety of sectors, including financial, environmental, medical, artistic and cultural, as well as governmental.  Celebrating past successful campaigns ranging from Vancouver 2010′s Cultural Olympiad, Whistler Film Festival, to the District of Maple Ridge, Erin now has her sights fixed on Magnify Digital’s recently launched licensing system, ALERT™.  Prior to working in online strategy, Erin produced one of Canada’s first cross-platform (television-internet) broadcasts.  The Emmy-nominated show ran for six years on CBC TV, rumored to have inspired Al Gore’s Current TV.

Erin will be joining and adding to an already amazing panel featuring:

  • Jay Baer, Co-Author of The Now Revolution & Principal of Convince and Convert
  • Shane Gibson, Co-Author of Guerilla Marketing: Social Media and Sociable
  • Mark Smiciklas, Digital Strategist at DIG360

Guerrilla Marketing: Social Media Available For Purchase At Now Revolution Tour in Vancouver
In addition to Erin’s announcement, we’re pleased to announce that not only will you be able to walk away with Jay Baer’s, The Now Revolution Book, but Shane Gibson will also be selling his autographed book, Guerilla Marketing: Social Media for $20. Shane is a leading social media strategist in the Vancouver area blogging since 2002, and podcasting since 2004, Shane drives the majority of his business from social media, and social networks. In addition to Guerrilla Marketing: Social Media, his previous book co-authored with Stephen Jagger is available for purchase in Kindle format.

Groupon Challenges For Vendors As Seen By A Customer

Last night I attended the Vancouver Giants hockey game having purchased the 2 for 1 Groupon that was offered in late November. I’m also going to the game on Thursday with the Groupon offer. However, not all is bright and cherry for this promotion. With all good things, there are limitations. But when those limitations become major inconveniences, disaster can strike. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Giants and will always go to my usual two or three games a year, but Groupon & Vancouver Giants provided a very poor brand experience last night.

The Groupon offer:

$24 – 2 Red Zone Tickets & $10 Gift Card


  • Tickets only available for Red Zone (not the best seats in the Coliseum)
  • Groupon’s can only be redeemed to games in the month of December. (Limited games available)

So I knew all this ahead of time.

My total savings was approx. $12/ per ticket + $5 per person on a gift card.

What I did not know prior to purchase:

  • Tickets can’t be redeemed via Ticketmaster.
  • Tickets can only be redeemed at the Pacific Coliseum Box Office.
  • The Box Office is only open on game days. (Open times: Weekends – Noon & Weekdays – 3pm)
  • The Box Office has 10 windows and only 1 window is dedicated for redeeming Groupons. (Yes, it moved quickly considering how long the line was)

Personally, I found the number of limitations provided a very poor experience in trying to attend a Vancouver Giants game. Normally, I simply log on to Ticketmaster and purchase tickets to the game without worrying when I am able to purchase them. Typically, you can redeem gift cards or other promotional codes on Ticketmaster as well. So I was quite disappointed to learn that my Groupon code would not be eligible to be redeemed on Ticketmaster.

Not only would I have to redeem the Groupon on the game day, but also my friends and I ended up standing in a long lineup for 20mins in the pouring rain redeeming the Groupon’s at the Box Office managed by Ticketmaster employees. For a savings of $17/ per person, I found the Groupon redemption method a major headache and inconvenience. If I weren’t a passionate fan, then I would not be returning.

Having said all this, if you’re coming from a fair distance away such as Abbotsford/ Chilliwack, Vancouver Island, or elsewhere, then the inconvenience for the process of redeeming the Groupon may be worth it for you. But for your everyday fan that lives in the lower mainland, I found this offer to not be worth the value gained or inconveniences experienced.

Tip to any business: If Groupon is providing any customer redemption limiations to your business that could provide a negative experience, then don’t do accept. Providing a discounted deal for a bad experience will only hurt your brand and sales in the long run.

Here are some other major risks that Groupon presented to businesses as described:

  • Discount-focused CRM is not ideal for most local businesses. While consumers might prefer a relationship channel solely focused on deals, local businesses probably do not. Non-deal CRM platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter provide broader context for: branding, engagement, introduction of new products, customer service. Many local businesses might utilize deals to get new customers through the door, but it’s unclear their next step is to encourage them to drive them to their Groupon page.
  • Groupon’s success here may work against itself. Should Groupon users start following their favorite businesses, a friction will emerge where users expect to be alerted of offers from their merchants, but merchants would want to surface its deepest discounts to everyone but their current customers.

Funny, I was recently blind-sided by some similar Groupon unexpected redemption problems. I purchased the $100 credit at Larry’s Sports that was offered a few weeks ago, and redeemed it on my iPhone. Despite Groupon’s assurances that I could present it on my mobile device, when I got to the store the owner expressed a little surprise that I hadn’t printed it out, and then said I had to email it him so he could print it off. After taking a screen shot and emailing it to him, I had to wait for him to serve other customers, then walk back to his office to get the coupon. All told, it probably added (a very boring) 10 minutes to my shopping experience. It wasn’t as frustrating as your experience by the sounds of things, but it was enough to make me question the disconnect between Groupon and the retailer.

A friend and I were actually talking the other day about Groupon and Larry’s, about how the partnership never really seemed like a good fit. Larry’s is well known for offering discounts to their customers – it’s not uncommon for a shopper to be given 10-15% off the sticker price as a matter of course. When it happens, the shopper feels like they got a really good experience, and that Larry’s really cared about their business; Larry’s felt like your buddy, who was going the extra mile for you.

But with the Groupon, the customer doesn’t feel special, they feel instead like bargain hunters who would switch retailers in a heartbeat if a different Groupon was offered. It took something that felt given, and turned into something that felt entitled. From a customer experience standpoint, the former is a much better feeling.

Yes, it does seem that as fast as Groupon has arrived, it could be gone just as fast if it continues to erode the value of a brand or brand experience. You are most certainly right that customers don’t feel that special anymore when it comes to receiving kind retailer gestures. Groupon is starting to turn customers, even myself, into price sensitive shoppers that expect to find bargains.

I have another experience that happened today with Groupon to share as well. I went to Steven Nash Fitness World & Sports Clubs today to redeem my Groupon purchased in October. However, little did I realize that Fitness Worlds were just an umbrella of the Steve Nash Fitness Clubs. Unfortunately I didn’t do my homework on this deal and read the fine print as closely as I needed to. The Groupon did state that the deal only works at Steve Nash Fitness Worlds at the specific listed locations.

A read flag would have risen if I had seen this. I purchased the Groupon thinking that it could be used at any Steve Nash Fitness Worlds & Sports Club location. I thought they were all the same. Fortunately, I ran into the Sales Manager at the Sports Club and I got a tour of the facilities where I then decided to sign up for a membership.

The Sales Manager was the one to inform me of the limitations I did not read on the Groupon. Instead of denying my use of the Groupon, he turned my immediate negative experience into a positive one with friendly customer service and appreciation of my current situation. He then allowed me to use my Groupon and went further yet to accomodate my needs with other offers included in my membership.

I definitely think you’re right that Groupon can and is likely to produce a very negative brand experience for someone because of it’s stipulations and control. If Groupon continues to turn customers into bargain hunters and entitled shoppers, then Groupon will see a quick fall.

I purchased 2 KIVA Gift Certificate through the Groupon website. The next day, I got a terse e-mail, saying that my purchase amount had been refunded. I e-mailed them, asking what the issue was. No reply. I asked again, a day later, as I am a big fan of Kiva, and wanted to know if there was a problem. No reply. I went on Twitter, and suddenly, I got a reply… from a CSR who said I hadn’t purchased it in time. Except I had, and I called her on it. So she made up some other excuse… which was also transparently a fabrication. I finally got an apology on Twitter, with a brief explanation, saying it should have been taken off their website, but wasn’t.

I would LIKE to think that Groupon:

a) Would have honoured the purchases made, as KIVA is a Charity.
b) Would tell their CSR’s that lying is not a good thing.
c) Would have enough sense to protect their brand, and answer concerns quickly and efficiently.

I WOULD have thought that… but I would have been wrong.

Now, I am a Grooster customer, as Groupon has permanently lost me as a client.

Good luck with any future purchases… and CAVEAT EMPTOR… Let The Buyer Beware !!!

Happy New Year !!!

  • Anonymous

    I will continue to read my Groupon fine print but I will tell you with over a dozen Groupons redeemed I am happy, happy, happy – so far!

    Mostly, I use restaurant and retail groupons and every experience has been excellent. My most recent purchase, however, may be less than stellar but fully my fault. I bought the American Apparel groupon thinking this would be good for upcoming birthday gift purchases (a nice top, for instance) however, the stuff is over-the-top trendy and not great quality. Still, it will work. I had it confused with American Eagle Outfitters that have a bit more selection.

    Anyway, we ate our way through NYC this summer courtesy of Groupons and that was a GREAT way to see different parts of the city and it was all delish. Back at home on the westcoast of Canada, I am a semi-regular customer of the handmade chocolates that were my first Groupon. They make a great hostess gift instead of a bottle of wine (since our new driving laws mean I won’t be drinking.)

    Interesting experience… That’s the first I’ve heard of that happening with Groupon. Not surprised to find out that the site didn’t come down when it was suppose to.

    Bob, I agree that you they certainly need to have improved transparency that takes ownership and is transparent at that same time. You can’t be having negative CSR as the fastest growing company in the world.

    As with any business, there will always be road blocks, mistakes and uncontrollable variables. I think one thing that needs to be noted here, is that we are a advertising resource. Plain and simple. We cannot control every part of the process (as hard as we try). We are the middle man from a buyer to a company. What we can control is: intensive vendor prep, comprehensive fine print, step by step vendor instructions, links to the company’s website etc. But we cannot control the actions of the vendor, what is retained, what the purchaser does or doesn’t read before they purchase, and in the instance of Ticketmaster- the compatibility or cooperation of other third party sites who do not wish to collaborate with us.

    I know sometimes redemption can be a little tedious, but it is really important for our buyers to understand that the way they are set up are crucial to the businesses. Our redemptions are set up to insure that our vendors are able to catch fraudulent Groupons and track customer redemption.

    I am a buyer too, so I have definitely been there where the transaction isn’t as speedy as I would have liked. I think from a buyers perspective, we have to remind ourselves to be gracious with these redemption situations, since they really are for the greater good of both the vendor and the buyer (although for an instant gratification gal like me that is sometimes a bit obnoxious:)

    From a business perspective, most of our vendors are very very good with our subscribers (even the buyers who are not so good to them). In the oft case, where we have a vendor who does not live by our Groupon promise, we have a very flexible and understanding return policy. The reason we have this is we completely understand that we can’t control everything, and so in the instances where something is less than ideal for a subscriber we want a safety net in order to keep them coming back.

Vancouver’s Now Revolution Tour Is Excited To Announce Two New Sponsors With The Vancouver Sun & Urban Barn

In addition to yesterday’s announcement, we’re very pleased to announce sponsorship with two local amazing businesses, The Vancouver Sun and Urban Barn.

The Vancouver Sun has been breaking news to the local community since 1912. As B.C.’s largest newsroom, they continue to evolve and deliver compelling, engaging content across all platforms – in print, online at, on your mobile device, iPads, through news alerts, community blogs and a wide variety of social channels.  The Vancouver Sun will briefly share how navigating change is part of that commitment.

As one of Canada’s leading furniture and home décor retailers, Urban Barn is one of the leading local businesses engaging in social media. During the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, Urban Barn embraced social media head on by providing an interactive in-store experience both online and offline for many of its customers and viewers. In fact, their campaign was so successful, that it gathered international attention from major media outlets and is featured in The Now Revolution book. Our panelist, Mark Smiciklas will highlight some of the activities and successes Urban Barn achieved during this promotion and how it’s used social media since then.

Vancouver’s Now Revolution Tour Partners with 6S Marketing


Vancouver’s Now Revolution Tour team is pleased to announce a partnership with 6S Marketing this morning. 6S Marketing has been and continues to provide outstanding digital marketing services throughout BC and Canada. With clients such as Opus Hotel, Donnelly Hospitality Group, Blanche MacDonald and the MacLean Family Law Group., 6S Marketing has become one of the iconic digital marketing companies in Vancouver offering services in paid search, email marketing, social media, and search engine marketing for over 10 years now.

We’d like to thank 6S Marketing for their involvement with The Now Revolution Tour here in Vancouver. It’s not every day you get to partner with a very social team!

7 Reasons Why You Should Attend The Now Revolution Tour In Vancouver

In the spirit of Jay Baer and Amber Naslund’s book, The Now Revolution, we’re keeping in the theme of “7 Shifts To Make Your Business Smarter, Faster And More Social”. Today, we’re listing the seven reasons why you should attend The Now Revolution Tour in Vancouver [of course there are many more]. Without further ado, here are the seven reasons:

  1. You are using social media.
  2. You may be unsure what resources are needed.
  3. You work with or are a SMB wondering how social media can work for you.
  4. You are wondering how to implement social in your business.
  5. Your corporate culture is not social? If your sales team talks to customers, it is.
  6. You’re business is on Twitter, but no one is talking with you.
  7. No one is joining, commenting, or liking your content on your Facebook Page.

“Once upon a time, customer contact was centralized around the switchboard, and the phone was the preferred method for communication between companies and customers. When it rang, you answered, because it was likely a customer or a potential customer on the other end of the line. Now, the calls are coming through online, via the social phone.” ~ Marcel Lebrun, CEO of Radian6

If you need more reason to attend The Now Revolution Tour in Vancouver, then check out the following interview. One of Vancouver’s finest social media strategists, Trevor Turnbull, who is anExecutive Consultant for tMedia Strategies and Founder of Social Connect Blueprint recently did an interview with Jay Baer discussing the essence of The Now Revolution.