Have you heard about ‘cinemagraphs’? They are a ‘living image – a still photograph that contains an element of movement looped seamlessly to create a never ending moment.’

Brands like Coke, Chanel and Calvin Klein are in on the cinemagraph craze.

Intrigued, I decided I had to try my hand at creating one.  It was surprisingly easy. Once you know the process, creating these short GIFs or mpg4 videos is about your creativity.

First I had to find a video source. It’s best if your original source is steady with an element of constant movement. If you make your own video, you should use a tripod. I found a free video at Pexels that met my needs.

Then I fired up Photoshop and went to work.

Here is the result.


This is the original video.

Posting on Social Media

I discovered that posting an animated GIF to Facebook and Instagram is not straightforward. If posting a GIF, then you need to upload to a webpage or some other platform like Tumblr, and then post the link. Or you need to save the file as an mpg4 and post it as a video.

Why use cinemagraphs in your online marketing

When done well, cinemagraphs can be hypnotic and eye-catching. Although they’ve been around since 2011, they are not commonly used, and therefore, rather unique. Considering that you have about 2 seconds to catch a viewer’s attention, they can differentiate your brand in a world of still images and videos.

Email Marketing: What You Need to Comply With Canada’s PIPEDA and CASL

You’re about to embark on an inbound marketing program. You have a shiny new website, with engaging content, optimized for conversions and leads, in the works and almost ready to launch. It’s an exciting time!

Hold on though. Does your website comply with Canada’s privacy act (PIPEDA) and anti-spam laws (CASL)? If not, then you could be viewed as a spammer and be subject to hefty fines in the thousands of dollars!


PIPEDA “applies to the collection, use or disclosure of personal information in the course of a commercial activity.” What this means is that you need to inform your customers about how you will collect, use and disclose their personal information. If you don’t you could be fined very large sums.

You Need a Privacy Policy on Your Website

A PIPEDA self assessment guide advises the following:

  • If your organization has a Web site, post your privacy policy on it. Make sure the policy covers all collections, uses, and disclosures of personal information made via the Web site itself; and
  • Take appropriate measures to notify web site users of all your organization’s online information practices, notably the use of “cookies” or other non-visible tracking tools, and explain such practices

Where Do I Get a Privacy Policy?

First, check out the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s website. The Privacy Commissioner also offers a Privacy Tool Kit for businesses. There are many online privacy generators, however, it is best to seek legal counsel to ensure that your Privacy Policy meets the requirements of PIPEDA.

Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)

Now that you have your Privacy Policy, you need to make sure that any information you collect through your inbound program, meets CASL standards.

Some background: Between July 1 2014 and July 1, 2017, organizations were allowed to send Commercial Electronic Messages (CEMs) to anyone with whom they had an Existing Business Relationships (EBR) or Non-Business Relationship (Non-EBR) prior to July 1 2014. Companies were also allowed to message contacts that had “conspicuously published” their email address (i.e. showcase their email publicly on a blog).

After July 1, 2017, Implied Consent contacts may only be messaged for 2 years or 6 months, depending on the type of relationship you have with them. For example, you may email existing customers for 2 years from their purchase date, but you may only email someone that inquires about your service for 6 months from their date of inquiry

Contacts that provide Express Consent can be messaged indefinitely until they unsubscribe.

When you request email opt-in from a contact, the following is required:

  1. When requesting consent, the purpose for obtaining consent is clearly and simply stated, i.e. “subscribe to our newsletter to receive quarterly emails related to inbound marketing.”
  2. The sender or the person on whose behalf consent is requested is identified by their name, mailing address, and either a telephone number, email address or web address
  3. The recipient is informed that they can unsubscribe at any time
  4. Consent must be opt-in, not opt-out
  5. The evidence of express consent is retained. For example, file their IP address, date and time of opt-in.
  6. Consent cannot be bundled with consent for Terms and Conditions

How Marketing Automation Can Keep You Sane

Reviewing and updating your email marketing database can be a gruelling task, especially if you have a large number of contacts. Marketing automation is a practical solution for email marketing, subscriber list management, and to help companies build, manage and update contact lists. Plus, with a marketing automation application, you can easily allow contacts to unsubscribe at any time.

There are several solutions available. Some that I have used are:

Mail Chimp – you can start with a free plan which includes up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month

Constant Contact – offers a free trial for 60 days

Pardot (Owned by Salesforce) – on the higher end

Hubspot – on the higher end, they offer some free tools.

Other marketing automation applications you may want to investigate are Eloqua and Marketo.

With your Privacy Policy in place and your forms setup for opt-in, you are now ready to go live with your website. Congratulations!


Office of the Privacy Commissioner Canada


CRTC: Compliance and Enforcement Bulletin, Canadian Government

*Disclaimer: This blog post is my interpretation of the legislations, and based off of my research and experience. I do not intend to provide legal counsel, and if you are uncertain of any rules related to the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation or Privacy Act, you should reach out to your lawyer.

Social Network User Predictions 2016

One of the keys to success in social media marketing, is to know where your audience hangs out.

This handy InfoGraphic, published by Adweek, based on predictions by eMarketer, gives you insight as to where to invest your social time and dollars in 2016 based on social network and age groups. Some key insights:

Facebook continues to be the largest social network

As has been the trend for the past couple of years, those 35+  are the largest Facebook demographic and 65+ is expected to increase

Those 18 – 24 year old love Instagram

Where do your peeps hang out?

Are You Ready for #Mobilegeddon?

You may have heard that Google will be conducting a ‘mobile friendly’ update to start April 21. It will be anything but ‘friendly’ to your search traffic if you have not made your website responsive or created a mobile only site which mirrors your desktop website, with the correct annotations.

Google made an official announcement, on February 26th, that mobile-friendliness will become a major ranking signal and ‘will have a significant impact in our search results.’ Looking at our Google Analtyics stats, I see that our mobile (smartphone) traffic accounts for almost 30% of our traffic. Ouch. This could mean a big hit to our organic traffic if the website is not mobile friendly. Luckily, we have a responsive website, but there are still some improvements to be made for this update.

The Google gods don’t always tell us about their updates. If you remember Panda and others, we are often left wondering WTH when our traffic suddenly dropped off. This time, they are not only letting us know, but they are also giving us tips and tools to prepare for the update.

Tools to Check Your Website for Mobile Friendliness

Use these tools to help test and find out how to improve your website for this update.

Mobile Friendly Test
Tests your website to see if it is mobile friendly

Page Speed Insights
Primary to making your site mobile friendly, is that ‘above the fold’ content must load quickly – under one second! Check your page speed here:

Make your CMS Mobile Friendly
If you are using a CMS, like WordPress, Drupal or Blogger, go here for tips on how to optimize your CMS website.

Are you prepared for Mobilegeddon? Take the Poll!

4 New Toys for Facebook Marketers

Facebook has introduced several new tools for marketers.

  1. Smart Publishing Tool
    This helps to find stories that will resonate with a specific audience and in turn publish stories automatically.
  2. Interest Targeting
    You will be able to target posts to a subset of the people who like your Page
  3. Post End Date
    This will allow you to specify a day and time to stop showing a post in News Feed.
  4. Call-to Action-Feature
    These new buttons link to destinations, on or off Facebook. There are seven call-to-action buttons available:
    – Book Now
    – Contact Us
    – Use App
    – Play Game
    – Shop Now
    – Sign Up
    – Watch Video


Because I’m all about the inbound, I’m very excited about these buttons.

All of these new Facebook tools are available on a limited basis now, but will be rolled out to everyone in the new year.

You can find out more about these features from Facebook:

Website Traffic Tip: Stop Linking to Your Home Page!

When you practice inbound marketing, you want to encourage visits to your website with links to content. You do this to drive traffic, increase your social signals and encourage visits from people who are getting to know you. One mistake novices make, is to link back to their home page, over, and over, and over again.  Don’t do this.

You want to link to content, like an educational blog post or landing page with a valuable offer, instead of your home page. This creates ‘deep links’. You want to deep links because:

  1. this gives your website authority and credibility with the search engines
  2. you will have an increased opportunity to rank for your keywords
  3. you are providing your potential customers with content they want to read.

Write this down. Don’t forget. Deep link.

Vintage Ads 1950s – No Wonder Women Burned Their Bras

I was looking at design styles of vintage ads when I came across these gems.

It’s been said that advertising is a window into a society’s culture. If these ads are an indication of North American culture in the 1950s, then it is no wonder that Women’s Lib took hold in the 60s and 70s, and that bra burning became a favourite past time of feminists. Not to mention the outrageous uses for various products!

Vintage ad 1950s

Thank goodness we have Tim Hortons now.

Vintage 1950s ad #1

Lysol as a douch & birth control. Seriously?

Vintage 1950s ad #2

If Santa brings me a Hoover I’ll stop believing!

Vintage 1950s ad #3

Did people really believe it was OK to feed their babies 7 Up?

2 Free APPs to Make the Most of Your Content Writing

To rank highly in the search engines and succeed at inbound marketing you need to create content. Written content is the easiest and least expensive content to create.  You don’t need to invest in graphics or video software.

It’s Not so Easy!

Writing, however, can be a daunting task! If you have not trained to write professionally, then you might wonder if it’s good enough for the world to read. Even if you have been trained to write self-doubt can create issues. Perhaps you are blocked by a fear of criticism.

The content you write needs to be not only grammatically correct, but also engaging and relevant to your audience. To check for spelling and grammar, you can run your copy through your word processor’s spell and grammar check. Evaluating relevance and engagement is more difficult.

Yes, you could have several people read your content. However, their opinions may be subjective. Or you might work alone and not have the luxury of having others proof and read your content.

Never Fear. There’s an APP for That

I, too, suffer from content writing insecurity. In my quest to improve I’ve come across two cool tools that help me and which I hope will help you.

Atomic Reach

atomic engager score 73%

Atomic Engager scores the engagement of your content and offers tips for improvement.

Atomic Reach will score your content ‘… to show when your content is optimized for your target audience.’ The APP goes further by offering concrete tips and suggestions for improvement. The improvement areas cover:

  • Title
  • Audience
  • Structure
  • Linguistics

Atomic Engager Lite is free. There are also paid options.

My first attempt at writing this blog post garnered a score of 54%. Not bad. However, the APP tells me I need to go for a score of at least 60% for optimal audience engagement. The APP also gives tips and suggestions for improvement.

Using some of the writing tips and suggestions, and after several revisions, my next score improved. The score was 73%.

Try it. You’ll like it.

It’s Not All About You – Customer Focus Calculator

Customer Focus Calculator

Customer Focus Calculator Scores the Engagement of Your Content

The next APP to try is Customer Focus Calculator. You must know that customers have pain points and problems to be solved. Your job is to write content that will satisfy those needs. But how do you know if the content you write is doing its job? Enter Customer Focus Calculator.

You simply enter your URL and company name. The APP will then calculate the customer focus of your content. I entered the URL of a web page I wrote and found that the customer focus was 61.9% on the customer and 38.1% self focus. Whew. Glad to know this page is more about our customers than about us.

Suffer No Longer

So you see, there’s no need to agonize any more about the quality of your content. Give these APPs a try.

Let me know if they help you by leaving a comment.

Focus on SEO


As mentioned in my ‘Be Found’ post, I review many websites,  to make recommendations about how they might be improved.

With regard to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the same issues occur with almost every website I review. The on-page SEO is seriously lacking!

Why On-Page SEO is Important

First, you may ask, ‘What the heck is on-page SEO’? Very simply, it is a way to attract more visitors through natural (organic) search. Ultimately it means that you will not have to pay as much for online ads!

On-Page SEO consists of placing your most important keywords/phrases within the content elements of your web pages. These on-page elements include:

  • Unique Title tags without the company name (Max 70 characters)
  • Unique Meta Descriptions (Max 130 characters)
  • URLs
  • Headlines
  • Subheads
  • Body content
  • Image tags (alt tags)
  • Links

A Word About the Meta Description Tag

The Meta Description tag is not necessarily something that the search engines (SEs) use to understand the topic of your web page. It is, however, one of the elements, along with your website name and URL, that people see when they search. Think of it as a small advertisement and as an opportunity to entice people to click on your link.

On- Page SEO can be a time consuming, tedious task, but well worth it when you consider that:

  • Your pages will be more focused and therefore relevant to your visitors
  • If done well, your web pages will rank higher in organic search – hopefully within at least the top five results – saving you money when it comes to paid ads.

It’s Worth It

Organic Search StatsAfter making changes to the website I work on, and optimizing pages for on-page SEO, our traffic from organic sources increased by a whopping 52% vs. the previous year! Our overall unique visits have increased by 45%. So, yes, taking the time to focus on your SEO is most definitely an investment worth the time!