More to Come

Google Adwords Features Make Ads A Bit More Personal

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The search and display advertising landscape is evolving. Simply connecting users to ads with keywords is a start. But as you learn more about your audience, the search landscape becomes more valuable. Google knows this too. Beyond the Swiss-army knife of tools already available in Adwords, there are a few new features to better connect segments of your audience to your message.

Customer Match

Your current customers and leads are often your most valuable assets as a marketer. Google’s customer match is devoted to helping you leverage those groups.

Advertisers can now display ads to Gmail users viewing sites within the Google Display Network (GDN). Facebook’s similar Custom Audience feature has been around for a while now, but Google’s new version comes with a few advantages and limitations compared to the social giant’s offering:


  • You need a big list. Google won’t display ads until you have 100 Gmail users. Even then, once you start applying other targeting (demographics, placements, interests – see benefit below) and factor in click-through rate, your audience can shrink quickly.
  • Google Display Network is big, but it’s not everything. Google claims it covers 90 percent of Internet users, but that doesn’t mean every site they use. So if you want to display on a specific domain, do your homework first.


  • You can reach 90 percent of Internet users! Maybe Facebook isn’t the best way to reach your audience. Maybe you can’t connect ads to a Facebook page to utilize the newsfeed. Customer Match ads won’t cover the whole Internet, but they extend beyond the confines of social media. Think trade media, medical industry, manufacturing. These subjects can be tough to address on social. GDN give much more flexibility in creating relevancy.
  • Similar to Facebook, you can combine your emails with a whole host of other targeting parameters. These parameters aren’t necessarily better than Facebook’s, just different. For example, on Facebook you know a user is interested in a topic, but on GDN you can combine that information with placement management that keeps your ads on highly relevant pages when you’re top of mind.

Remarketing for Search and Shopping

Remarketing for search has been around for a while, but remarketing for shopping users recently came out of Adwords beta test. These search-based tools are a silver-bullet if you understand your audience.

Marketing funnel insight

Users search multiple terms in multiple sessions over a long or short span of time. We’ve always known consistent visibility across the process is important, but we never had much ability to control it on an individual basis.

Full creative control

With search and shopping remarketing, we can apply the same marketing funnel rules from traditional remarketing. A user who added items to a cart should see different ads than a user who only viewed a features page. But there’s one additional layer of control that’s always escaped traditional remarketing: keyword control. With full insight into searcher intent, we call pull individuals through the marketing funnel in a couple new ways:

  • Review-based searches – Connect individuals with pages devoted to customer reviews when they want testimonials.
  • Comparative searches – When users are evaluating your solution against competitors, connect them to a side-by-side comparison. A lot of users will still look for a third-party opinion, but you can remain a part of the conversion.
  • Focus on margin – Specifically for shopping ads, we can now be picky about the users and products that use ad budget. Products with lower margins might receive less remarketing dollars so you can focus on areas with more potential.

You Know What I “Meme?”

You know those funny images your friends are sharing on Facebook and Instagram, that everybody is re-pinning on Pinterest, the ones circulating around Reddit and Tumblr and Imagur… What do you call those?

The common and most simple answer is probably a “meme.” But did you know that what you’re looking at is actually an image macro? Now, I’m not saying that it’s not also a meme, because an image macro can certainly be a meme, but “meme” refers to the concept, and not the physical photo with a catchy quote over it that you are seeing. A meme can actually be any medium. Text, audio, video, really anything that can spread virally across the Internet, therefore inserting itself into pop culture or even transcending across multimedia platforms like television or music. The criteria being that they are generally funny, and they must be viral, spreading from one user to the next and compelling people to put their own unique spin on it via parody, remix or complete recreation. Take this image for example: trueohoto

What you’re actually looking at is an image macro. However the concept of the “most interesting man in the world” speaking about what he doesn’t always do- and leaving it open for users to switch out with something they may find humorous or clever- that is a meme. The base image is familiar, but the caption can be customized to your liking.

The “Harlem Shake” is an example of a video meme. Everyone from the Victoria’s Secret supermodels, to the Miami Heat showed the world their version of dressing up in the wildest costumes available and dancing as outrageously as possible to the song. Work places everywhere were scheduling a piece of their day to making a video to show the world just how fun and goofy they could be. Thousands of these videos were being uploaded. And people were watching. And talking. And sharing with their friends. These videos went viral, and a meme was born.

So, the next time you’re trying to find a word to call the post your friend left on your timeline, or Googling the perfect image to leave in response to a friend’s post- remember that unless the concept is viral, it’s an image macro, not a meme.








Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down for Facebook’s New “Dislike” Button?

If a group of friends get together for drinks and laughs and never post a picture of themselves on Facebook, did it actually ever happen? In its relatively short existence Facebook has redefined social norms, privacy and even the term “friend.”

Facebook is at it again. Or at least Mark Zuckerberg is. He confirmed that Facebook is finally working on a “dislike” button. While marketers and brands are assessing the treasure trove of analytics and insights this will produce, as a society, I don’t believe we are ready for it. While Facebook is a wonderful channel for connecting with old and new friends, I’m not sure we’re ready for the responsibility a “dislike” button will bring.

When I was a young boy, I remember my father telling me not to ask others about religion, money, politics or even sex because, “That was too personal.” That advice has always stuck with me but what was once private and not discussed openly among friends is now common posts on Facebook and other social networks.

There used to be topics that were off limits for discussion, but not anymore.

And what started as a Facebook friend purge during election years because of hate speech and political rhetoric, now happens weekly for me. I no longer can keep quiet as friends draw their social and political battle lines.

So what happens now as Facebook introduces an actual button to “dislike” something? I pray they don’t actually call it that. By giving us a tool to publically tell someone we don’t like a comment, picture, news story or other post, are we prepared to talk about our differences in a civil manner? I doubt it.

Furthermore, at True Digital Communication we counsel brands and companies on how to engage and connect via social media. Add a “dislike” button and it will add another dimension to online customer service. I’m not sure most brands are ready for this.

Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.

My Top 10 Takeaways from #CMWorld

image2 (1)After two fantastic days at Content Marketing World 2015, my brain is swirling with thoughts and new ideas. Both days of the main conference were filled with great topics, wonderful speakers and networking with marketers from all over the world. (53 countries to be exact!) Here are my top 10 takeaways from this conference!

1. Andrew Davis is the best presenter I’ve ever seen. I thought this at last year’s CMWorld when he was one of the keynote speakers, and the same goes for this year. I went to his session on Social Momentum, and I can say that this was my favorite session of the conference. Main takeaway: Stop making noise and instead build social momentum. Stop vomiting your content on every channel and instead distribute your content when your audience needs it, not where.

2. Jay Baer had the best one liner of the conference that really stuck with me: “Are you creating content, or are you making a difference?” I won’t elaborate more on this, because I believe this statement says it all.

3. Saying “no” is a powerful thing. Kristina Halvorson, one of the opening keynote speakers mentioned we always want to say “yes” but when we say yes to everything we do a lot of little things and overlook the big things and the talents of others. Main takeaway: You always have to start out with “Why?” Why are we doing this in the first place?

4. Does your content pass the “mom test”? Jay Baer’s keynote was awesome. His key point: Your mom will always tell you the truth, no matter if you want to hear it or not. So, would your content pass the mom test? Main takeaways: If your mom doesn’t like it, no one will. Content is having a transformative impact on the world- so don’t give up! You’re under a lot of pressure to me a “marketing machine”– but don’t forget we are lucky to do this. Creating content is an honor and an opportunity to help people and improve lives.

5. Ann Hadley’s breakout session on “Good Content vs. Good Enough Content- a fight for sore eyes” had great tips for creating bigger stories, bolder marketing and braver tone of voice. Main takeaway: 51 percent of B2B companies will spend more money on content marketing in 2016, but only 30 percent know if their content marketing is effective.

6. “Hug your Haters” session with Jay Baer: Customer feedback= a petri dish for content marketing. A place where ideas can flourish! Main takeaway: Embrace the complaints of your customers- if will make you a better marketer. Complaints and questions of your customers= your content marketing ideas!

7. Juntae Delane’s session “Smart Content: Using Big Data to Inform Your Content Marketing Strategy” had great points. My main takeaway: We create content first and then analyze the numbers. We need to flip it around and analyze the numbers first and create your content from there.

8. Orange snacks are everywhere! Main takeaway: Who knew there were so many orange snacks?

9. John Cleese was hilarious! I was in tears at some points from laughing so hard. Main takeaway: John can’t believe people live in Cleveland. (Hopefully his opinion changed after walking around!)

10. Our learning as marketers never stops. I think that was my favorite part about the conference; being surrounded by 3,500 like-minded professionals who face the same struggles and challenges. Main takeaway: If you can make it next year, I highly recommend going to this conference in 2016. Save the date- Content Marketing World will be back September 6-9!

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The CMW Food and Drink Guide to Cleveland

If you’re anything like me, the first step in planning a trip is deciding where to eat. So if you haven’t already developed your Content Marketing World eating agenda, you’re already behind schedule. But it’s ok. I’m here to help.

When Cleveland started to shake off its worn-out rest belt ruins image a few years ago, food was a big part of the transition. In fact, one of our best restaurant neighborhoods only happened because it was a place where chefs could get cheap rent in the early 2000s.

Our restaurant scene rivals any city out there and we have Iron Chef Michael Simon and recent James Beard Award winner Jonathon Sawyer to prove it.

Now that you’re convinced, let’s talk about some of True’s favorite spots. Let me start by saying, just because something isn’t on the list doesn’t mean we don’t like it. We can only cover so much, so these are just our favorites by proximity to the Convention Center. From near to far, wherever you are – whether you want 4-stars or a cozy bar:

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Downtown/Gateway/Civic Center District – 5 minutes walk south of convention center

This is the heart of downtown. This is where you will see people coming to/from Indians games, shopping, headed to concerts. Make sure you walk around a little bit. See the casino. Check out Tower City.

Nice dinner | East 4th

There are a several great restaurants on East 4th St. This short pedestrian street is as far as a lot of tourists dive into Cleveland’s food scene. All great spots, but it’s the tip of the iceberg. If you’re eating here, my favorites are:

  • Chinato – Outstanding Italian – Far beyond meatballs and red sauce. See what I mean . Chef Zach Bruell is among the best in the city. Of his eight restaurants in Cleveland, this is definitely my favorite.
  • Butcher and the Brewer – Unique setting, great brewery, lots of meat. Think bone marrow apps, lamb ribs and dry-aged beef.

Cheap yet delicious dinner | Barrio

Barrio started as a little taco shop a couple years ago. Now, they have three shops across the city with the recent addition of a downtown location. The big idea: tacos your way. You choose the meats, toppings and sauces on a tear-off ticket and turn it over to the waitress. The only possible mistake is a burst shell due to overstuffing. Recommendation: Opt for the stoner shell. It’s a hard shell fastened to a soft shell with chorizo and queso.

Dessert | Colossal Cupcakes

There are cupcakeries all over this city, but this one stands out. For two reasons: One, amazing cupcakes inventions like s’mores and strawberry french toast. Two, it’s in the 5th St. Arcades – a historic hotel/shopping center hybrid you have to see to believe.

Downtown/Flats – 5 minutes walk west of convention center

Full-disclosure. This is the part of town I eat the least often. There’s a lot of new stuff going in to this part of town right now. There’s also a certain amount of construction. More stuff is constantly opening up so I’m not fully up to date on what’s good here. Please… don’t hold it against me.

Nice Dinner | The Willeyville

This place has a really unique menu. Something for everyone – from a burger to ramen bowls with house-made noodles. They describe their food as “handcrafted” and they mean it. If it can be made in-house, it is.

Drinks | Portside Distillery

This place is becoming one of my favorite breweries in Cleveland. You can find a few of their beers throughout the city, but the pub-exclusives are top-notch. Not the type of place to rage until 2 a.m., but a great place for a quiet beer.

Ohio City – $5 Uber West

This is still Cleveland. I only state this because the question always comes up. Ohio City is a little walkable neighborhood just west of downtown with some of the best bars and nightlife in the city. If that’s not enough, there are three breweries less than a 5-minute stumble apart. But on the food side, there are a few standouts.

Nice dinner | Black Pig

Expertly prepared French-inspired food. I have never had a bad meal at the place. From daily pastas to short ribs to some of the most adventurous charcuterie in the city. As one of the better seasonal menus in the city, you can pretty much shut your eyes and point and end up with an amazing meal.

Cheap yet delicious dinner | ABC the Tavern

Don’t be alarmed by The Misfits playing on the jukebox. This is some of Cleveland’s best food served out of paper boats. Daily specials, lamb quesadillas and atomic dogs (split hotdog, stuffed with jalapenos, wrapped in bacon, deep-fried, finished with Sriracha aioli – enough said).

Drinks | Nano Brew

Originally it was a pretty small space, but “Nano” brew has taken over adjoining real estate. They still specialize in nano (smaller than micro) batches of beer. Beyond house beers, there’s a great selection of crafts. Also, the rooftop patio has an unbeatable view of downtown.

Dessert | Mitchell’s

The word’s “Mitchell’s” and “ice cream” are synonymous to a lot of Clevelanders. Great seasonal flavors. Plus, the Ohio City shop has a full view of their state-of-the-art kitchen so you can see where the magic happens.

Tremont | $5 Uber South

Remember that thing I mentioned about the food neighborhood with the cheap rent? This is it. It is nearly impossible to have a bad meal in Tremont. In its rise to Cleveland food stardom, the cheap rent thing is no longer true, but it is chalk full of great restaurants.

Nice dinner | Lolita

A lot of people would disapprove of leaving Iron Chef Micheal Simon’s Lola out of the Downtown East 4th section, but I’m a big fan of his original place in Tremont. Much more intimate and laid back. All great food, but he has the best prosciutto in the city and his fried Brussels sprouts are always a crowd pleaser.

Cheap yet delicious dinner | Edison’s Pub and Pizza

Cleveland is not a city known for its pizza. That said, this place makes the meanest, greasiest, tastiest slice of pizza in the city. Sometimes I go out to dinner in Tremont and end up at Edison’s having pizza and a beer for dessert. Yes, I know I have a problem.

Drinks | The Spotted Owl

I’m not a huge fan of craft cocktails, but this place does it right. It’s in the basement of an old university turned swanky apartments. We’re talking exposed brick, stained glass and a classic lounge feel. A craft cocktail is mandatory in a place like this. These guys go far beyond your standard sazerac and old fashioned for some truly unique cocktails.

You can’t go wrong with any of the above choices. And as always, if you have any questions, or need more recommendations of what to do during your time in Cleveland, tweet us @TrueDigitalCom and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction!



Google Trends: Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks


I’m often asked by other communications friends what digital marketing tools I’d recommend for them. It’s a fair question. I do work for a very good digital marketing firm. Shameless plug I know. And we do use some really cool tools every day. Some are free and others are very expensive. I do pay the bills here. There are so many wonderful tools that make us smarter, faster and more insightful. The key here is finding ones that are simple to use and easy to engage with throughout a busy workday.

One of my favorites is Google Trends. It’s tools like this one that make me sound really smart in client meetings. Who am I kidding? And cocktail parties too. Google Trends is a searchable tool that allows you to determine how much interest there is in a topic by showing past and current search behavior. You may remember that Google first tested its Trends tool by predicting the severity of the flu in the U.S. a few years ago by tracking searches regarding flu-related topics. I don’t even like to search for the flu on Google. Since then, Google Trends gave the flu its own site. So hypochondriacs all over the world can decide if they want to ever leave their homes again?

While the data science isn’t exact, it does provide interesting and useable data that can be filtered by time, geography and by Google search features like news, images, shopping, YouTube and other key categories.

Is Google Trends perfect? Far from it. Is anything perfect other than a sunrise or the sound of a baby’s laugh? Our search engine marketing and analytics team refers to Google Trends as Google Adwords Keyword Planner for Dummies. I’m never sure if they’re serious or just making fun of me?

Give Google Trends a try. It’s easy to use and provides a quick report on the relevance of a specific or related topics. We’ve used it when developing key messages for clients and when determining marketing angles. And at cocktail parties when people ask me if I’m on Facebook all day.


5 Easy Ways To Tackle Your Inbox

Does your email inbox make you want to pull your hair out? Does it immediately cause you anxiety when you log on in the morning?  (Maybe avoiding it at all costs, for that matter!)  Or do you find yourself constantly checking your inbox when you get a notification of a new email? We’ve all been there. But the challenge is to find a solution that will help you hate your inbox less, and instead embrace the power you will feel when you take control of the situation! Following some (or all) of the following tips for tackling your inbox:

1. Turn off email alerts: I know- call me crazy. But having little bubbles pop up alerting me of new emails in real-time is enough to cause a panic attack. When the notifications become nuisances and takes me away from my task at hand, it’s counter-productive. Yet, without fail, I have to check it. So, my suggestion- simply turn off the alert feature. Schedule times to check your email throughout the day- it’s a much more productive use of your time!

2. Keep mails short: Let’s face it- no one wants to read a long email. I try to keep my emails to under 5 sentences to help save my time, and the recipient’s time! If an email needs to be longer than 5 sentences, my thought is that a phone call is probably best anyway.

3. Take an email break: If you have a deadline or a huge project that needs your undivided attention- I highly suggest turning on your vacation response with a simple note to say you are away from your computer for the day. (Even if you’re actually still on it.) I also suggest giving a phone number for absolute emergencies- but this will do the trick if you really need to focus.

4. Unsubscribe to pointless subscriptions: Everyone has subscribed to emails, but do you really find them beneficial? If you answered no, Unroll me is your solution. All you do is sign up, check out the list of your subscription emails and unsubscribe from the ones that no longer serve you. Similarly, this feature can also solidify all of your subscriptions you find useful into one convenient email a day.

5. Color coding: Last, but certainly not least- color coding your inbox. This is my personal favorite and I have been doing this for years (even though my co-workers think I’m crazy.) But once you get a system in place, it really is the most effective thing I’ve found that works for me. Each of my clients have a specific color and as soon as I receive an email, I label it accordingly. Similarly, I will move any particular email to it’s designated folder once I have responded and taken care of what is needed.

So, there you have it! My top 5 tips for making your email inbox more manageable! Do you have any other tips that aren’t on the list? I’d love to hear them!


Can We Truly Be “Unplugged”?


Street art in NYC from my vacation.

Reflecting back to last week when I was on vacation, I really thought I would keep my iPhone usage to a minimum. At least that’s what I told myself before I left. Realizing now that I failed miserably has made me question if in 2015 and beyond, can we ever be completely unplugged?

From taking pictures, to posting on Facebook and Instagram for family and friends to see, to using the GPS more than I’d like to admit and relying on alarms to signal where I needed to be next- and let’s not forget listening to Spotify- I’m pretty sure I used my iPhone more on vacation than when I’m at home.

If you are going on a late-summer vacation, or just trying to limit your daily screen time (a digital detox if you will), here are some things to consider:

  • Pick a time to check your notifications: Research shows that the majority of mobile phone users check their devices up to 150 times per day- on average every six minutes. I’ve found that it’s easier to set aside certain times throughout the day where you check your email, social, news, etc. You will know the best times to set for yourself more than I do- but for me, checking once in the morning, once after lunch and once in the evening have proven best for my sanity!
  • Manage the biggest “time wasters”: If you don’t have the willpower to *not* check your phone, there are several tools that can help! Selfcontrol will block access to specific websites like Facebook, Twitter, Gmail- all set by you, for whatever period of time you think will be best for your productivity. And if that’s not enough, Freedom will disable your Internet connection completely for the specific time frame you choose.
  • Power down for one hour a day: If you read this and thought, only one hour? Then by all means, power down for more! But if you’re constantly connected- start out by taking an hour, either the first hour of your day or the last hour of the day, and enjoy some peace and quiet without the digital distractions. Use this time to do something that makes you happy- take a walk, do yoga, play with your kids, read a book, meditate, cook– whatever happiness looks like for you– just do more of that! I promise you won’t regret it.

I hope these suggestions help you to appreciate the people and places around you. And who knows- you just might start to see the world a little differently when you put your phone down and keep your head up!

Tips for Working Remotely

IMG_7404One of the biggest advantages of working in marketing can also be one of the biggest disadvantages. With today’s technological capabilities, we marketers can pretty much work wherever the Wi-Fi takes us. The capability of working remotely has its obvious advantages, which is very convenient for a person like me who now works from home most days of the week, however there are some definite hurdles that can be hard to overcome. The disadvantages of this luxury come into play when you’re working from home and that productive energy cultivated in the office environment is missing or your mid-day errand runs longer than it probably should have. Over the course of my young professional career, I’ve developed some helpful tips to stay motivated and on-task in a remote-location environment.

  1. Set a strict, reasonable to-do list of tasks you want to get done before the end of the day and don’t let yourself finish working until you’ve checked everything off your to-do list.
  2. Create a designated workspace at home to help separate your work life from your personal life.
  3. If you’re feeling tired and unmotivated, get up and walk around your house. Take 15 minutes to jumpstart your brain with physical exercise and then get back to it.
  4. If or when cabin fever sets in working from home, take that opportunity to work from a local coffee shop or food spot with free Wi-Fi. If noise is an issue, local libraries work as well.
  5. Leave personal, non-urgent calls and visits for after-work hours. It’s easy for family and friends to assume you’re available if you’re home, so set a designated work and social time for them.
  6. Make an effort to stay up-to-date on local current events. It’s effortless to live in a bubble at your home-office, but staying up-to-date on current events will keep you in the loop with your coworkers.
  7. Continue to push yourself, grow and learn. Referring back to the home-office bubble from #6, don’t let the comfort of your remote location make you complacent in your career goals.

So, there you have it! My helpful tips to keep you motivated while working remotely. And appropriately, I wrote this post from my local Starbucks. Happy Home-Working!

SEO, SEM or Both?

At SMX Advanced last week there was a lot of discussion about SEO and SEM best practices. The two topics were divided into separate session tracks; casual conversations with other attendees showed most agencies and in-house departments handled one discipline or the other, but not both. One attendee commented that they always concentrate on SEM rather than SEO because it gives their clients a “quick win.”

While organic optimization efforts take time and often show results over a period of weeks or even months, SEM can boost a site’s visibility immediately. But we believe there’s merit to approaching paid and organic search as complementing rather than competing strategies.

SEO research can establish what keywords already rank and convert well, providing valuable insight into where paid search budgets should be concentrated to fill in the gaps or further capitalize on high-value terms.

Likewise, a site audit for organic search can identify which pages contribute to visitor conversion and uncover areas that need to be adjusted for better performance. Optimizing a site for organic search ensures the content and code are well-focused and eliminates barriers to navigation and conversion. Those same activities ensure paid search visitors as well as organic search visitors move easily through the site. A better landing page experience contributes to better quality scores from Google, which in turn lowers overall costs for Adwords.

And while paid search’s impact ends as soon as campaigns are turned off, insights gained from those campaigns can feed back into a long-term SEO strategy that will deliver results for months or even years to come.