The key to success in digital marketing = Happiness

I posted a version of this article originally on my Blog in 2011.  I am excited to share that the LinkedIn Pulse Publishing platform is certainly worth the investment of time and commitment to good content.  I am thrilled and humbled by the feedback I have received from this article both on LinkedIn and Twitter.  I look forward to ongoing contributions.  The response is inspiring!





This is a fast paced digital world we live in and we as marketers are always looking for new ways to get customers to buy.

Why is this relevant now in the age of an exploding digital media landscape where consumers are living online and across multiple devices like never before?


Perhaps we need bring marketing and advertising back to basics and take a queue from our favourite MadMen Ad exec. Don Draper says: 

“ Advertising is based on one thing:  Happiness. “


Bring digital marketing back to the basics.  There is content coming at us fast and furious – whether in search engines, on social networks and news portals.  We are witnessing a digital media convergence where more and more media is available online across multiple platforms, and to add to that we are accessing digital content across multiple devices. How do we really make consumers happy now?  Is it still as simple as delivering on a promise and providing a product or service that makes your customers Happy?

I think so!  Now, how do we engage with consumers who are changing their online user behavior as quickly as Facebook changes its profile layouts?  We are marketers are constantly second-guessing where we are allocating our marketing dollars, seemingly because of the following fears:


FEAR of missing the next big thing.

RESOURCES – both financial and human.

CONFUSION about what tactics to focus on as the online world shifts again – and again – and again.


My advice? Bring it Back to Basics:

  1. Know Your Customer (this will make them Happy)
  • Check your website analytics for top referral traffic and keywords used to find your website, then continue to build on the content that is attracting and engaging your customers to ultimately buy from you.
  • Use a social media monitoring tools like Hootsuite or Sprout Social or free tools like Google Alerts, Facebook insights, Twitter analytics or others to “listen” to your customers and understand how to make them Happy.
  • Allocate time and resources to understand changes in how your target audiences are researching and transacting online.  Read and educate yourself about digital marketing tactics that work to make customers happy.  I know a few things that work.  Price transparency and the delivery of a brand promise.  Pretty back to basics right?
  • Most importantly, if you’re taking the time to ‘listen’ to your customer’s online– be sure you act on that information. Simply monitoring the conversation without adjusting your strategy, or communicating with your brand ambassadors will not help you understand how your consumer wants to receive your messages now and in the future.
  1. Keep Your Eye on the Prize. Understand Your Objectives
  • What are your objectives in your digital marketing campaigns?  Are you looking to increase sales? To build a new audience? Launch a new brand? Increase brand engagement?  It will make both you and your customer happy if your advertising is delivering the right message, at the right time, to the right consumer.  Win win win = Happy!
  • With all of the new tactics available to marketers today, it is more important than ever to set specific and measurable objectives for campaigns. This makes me nostalgic for the Mad Men days really.  This whole marketing thing has become a little bit mind numbing.
  1. Stick With What Works.
  • If you have already developed an active Twitter following and you’re seeing ROI (in sales and or website traffic etc) keep going!
  • Continue to build on what works to make your customers happy. Build a team of Tweeters to help in building and engaging your audience further or in providing CRM – think about what would take a successful campaign to the next level.
  • If Google AdWords campaigns worked well last year to drive targeted traffic during need times, or to sell specific packages or products – build on it and do it again with a new twist, or put some dollars towards other search channels such as the Yahoo/ BING network that might provide a smaller reach but more conversions.  Don’t be afraid to test new channels.  Consumers are spending a great deal of time online, therefore advertising budgets need to adjust.
  1. Search is still king.  Your customers are Happy when they find what they are looking for.
  • Focus on making sure you have a strong web presence across all online channels that help to guide your consumers to transact.
  • Ensure you have taken care of the basics like search engine optimization, good creative and content, Google Places optimization, a good mobile version of your website etc. and then you can focus on other channels to build your traffic.
  1. Integrate. Integrate. Integrate.
  • Make sure you integrate your campaigns online and offline.
  • Your brand’s digital footprint should have a consistent tone, creative brand message, and should always drive your target consumers to transact. This is key and is sure to make them Happy.  Ensure that all your brand web assets are navigating customers to act.
  1. Test + Measure and then Adjust.  This makes stakeholders Happy.
  • Measure performance in analytics and benchmark against past campaigns to continue to improve advertising efficiency. Make sure you have defined KPI’s in place such as increases in unique website visitors, increases in time on site and of course –  sales.
  • Did you launch a new Blog that has increased traffic to the website by 20%? How do you grow it from here or how do you encourage more transactions on the website as a result of the Blog traffic? Test, measure and adjust.
  • Have your efforts on LinkedIn increased leads to your sales department?
  • What can you do to ensure you grow these successful marketing channels?
  • Do the tactics outlined in your Marketing Plan work to build on what you have already started?

Keep it simple – stick to the digital marketing tactics that will help you achieve your objectives and don’t worry about all the noise.

It can get overwhelming to look at all that is available to us today. If you execute marketing programs efficiently, with the proper focus on measurement of ROI, which is very do-able in the age of digital media, you may have the confidence and extra resources to be able to adjust and try new things.  This will make you a Happy marketer!

To take a lesson from Mad Man, Don Draper – Budget + target demographic + medium = time for a scotch.  

Just make them Happy!



Alicia Whalen is a digital + social media marketing strategist, author and speaker specializing in the travel and tourism industry. Alicia has spent over a decade driving successful digital marketing campaigns and educating tourism professionals about how to embrace digital and social media. She is the co-founder of and the digital marketing conference for tourism  An avid tweeter and lover of travel, technology and the Ah-Ha moments.  Connect with Alicia on TwitterLinkedIn or at 


YouTube Strategy Tips from A Couple of Chicks

The online buying process is shifting rapidly with consumers in general spending more of their online time on Facebook then on Google, still stopping at review sites, social networking sites, blogs and forums, and now YouTube to round out the buying funnel – and in many cases starting the buying process.

YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google itself, which means that a properly defined YouTube marketing strategy with the goals of engaging consumers, drive them to continue the research process towards other brand content on social media sites, review sites etc. – and finally leading them to conversion or purchase is a must.

With expanded marketing opportunities such as customized YouTube channels, promoted videos and display Ads, and in-stream advertising – there is a huge opportunity to position ad content around rich media – which is more emotive and “real” than descriptive content on a website or photos and reviews on Tripadvisor. This is especially relevant to marketers of travel and tourism as travel research and buying is an emotive process.

YouTube Strategy Basics:

1. Tag content with proper keywords – According to Google, approximately 1/3 of all videos watched on YouTube use search to be found, this means tagging the content and understanding your target keyword market just, like we do with the SEO for websites, is crucial for any marketer utilizing video content.

2. Consider placing ads alongside content from well known brand channels targeted to specific niche end users (like Home and Garden Television for example) or run Ads against competitor content and user generated video’s that have been tagged to be found for the keywords your audience would likely use to research travel.

Example: A search in You Tube for “Bay of Fundy” serves up video content such as this Local Tourism associations or hotels and Resorts could position Ads appearing on the content and guide the interested consumer towards making travel plans.

These are examples illustrate how effective YouTube advertising can be in leading your customer to transact. These types of ads are available as overlays or in-stream, and can click to a website or a YouTube Brand Channel.

Tip: When setting up a YouTube campaign such as this, ensure that there is a strong call-to-action and a relevant landing page to send your traffic to as opposed to simply sending the click to a home page.

YouTube Beyond the Basics:

1. Promoted Videos: The Ad message and target keywords are tagged to the video. The video then appears on results pages for contextually relevant searches, and alongside other relevant videos. This is a pay-per-click model much like Google Adwords, where the advertiser pays only when a user watches the video.

2. TrueView’ Video Ads: These ads appear in-stream pre or mid-roll, as an option to choose one ad, or as regular commercial breaks.

3. Mobile Youtube Roadblock: For an entire day, all visitors to will receive the advertisers marketing message, in a variety formats. This tactic would require a large marketing spend and would be effective for targeting a specific niche audience or for overall brand marketing efforts.

4. YouTube Brand Channel: A brand channel or destination page is a customizable interface between your business and users on the YouTube platform. Users click on video’s that have been uploaded and live on a brand channel and the content will play in the brand channel, and the surrounding videos and links belong to that brand only (not other advertisers can place ads against this content).

This is a great way of keeping users involved with your content longer, and to ensure that they are not jumping off your content to a competitor who is buying your brand terms.

YouTube brand channels also allow for in depth tracking and for content from the channel to be embedded into a site or ad. Advertising products available to brand channel advertisers include; Homepage 24 hour Roadblocks and Masthead placements, which allow brands to deliver a creative message to enormous audiences. A brand channel is not for every business and requires substantial budgets to maintain – but it is also incredibly targeted and measurable and a must for large well-known consumer brands at this stage of the game.

With 100 million unique monthly users, YouTube has become an important consideration for marketers. For more on developing a YouTube strategy or to receive the full version of this article, contact The Chicks – and of course you can check us out on YouTube too!

A Brand Evolution: A Couple of Chicks gets a Facelift

As we near our 5th anniversary, we have been very reflective of the journey that has brought us here.

From “A Couple of Chicks who just know what we are doing,” to more than 12 Chicks (and guys too) who are work on online marketing programs with brands such as the new Intercontinental New York Times SquareIgnite Magazine, Destination Halifax and many more – we have come a long way baby!

It was time for the original chicks‘ – named for our childhood nicknames “Cici” (Alicia) and “Petunia” (Patricia) to step back and take a little break. (never to go away forever we promise!)

We are happy to report that both Cici and Petunia are resting on a beach with some margaritas as their new iconic chick counterparts take over as the face of A Couple of Chicks eMarketing.

A Couple of Chicks eMarketing

A Couple of Chicks eMarketing

The journey we took to get to this new look was intense as we spend so much time working on the “other people’s websites” and overall marketing, that taking a hard look at our own brand was eye opening.

As we have evolved from primarily a Search Engine Optimization company five years ago, to the full service Digital Marketing Agency that we are today – with services that include everything from Online PR to Social Media Marketing to ongoing digital marketing program management, it was time to take the plunge.

Ross Rodgers and his amazing design team at Radonic Rodgers Design + Marketing, along with our own Chick creative architect Amy Seagram, took us through the journey to determine how we were going to maintain the fun and personality in the brand – but evolve the look and content to speak to what we really do for a living!

The result as you can see here on the Blog, and on our profile are the first to go live, with the website updates coming in April.

As we have worked on so many web presence re-fresh projects over the past five years, we are glad to have taken this project on as what we have been reminded is that there is no good time to do it!

We are lucky to have a team of people who have assisted us in this exercise and are thrilled with the result. A good reminder that sometimes you need to take the time to take a good look at your own branding and what is says about you. A nice 5th anniversary gift to the Chicks we think – enjoy the beach ladies, you have had quite a good ride!

Try Google Real Time Search – A Chick tutorial

Check out Google Trends to see what real-time search is going to look like. This is really cool – and a little scary! It looks like a live newsreel within search results.
Wow this is the future of search. A total game changer for us in the Search Engine Optimization world.
Try a real time search by clicking on Google Trends and then clicking on one of the trending topics. You will see a live feed of results happening real time associated with those hot trending topics. (would not want to be Tiger Woods today!)
Google’s Blog says that it will be rolling this out across all search moving forward.

Googled yourself lately?

Managing your reputation in a Digital world is no easy task! Have you taken the Google test lately?

What about a Twitter search for your name or your business? When we first started out, our first job was to ensure that when the company name “A Couple of Chicks” was searched that our content appeared in the results (eliminating some questionable websites that would appear for a search containing the word “Chicks!” – I will not elaborate…)

Often people Google themselves or their business and are shocked to find not only competitor websites appearing in the results, but unfavourable web or blog postings about their brands. Disgruntled customers, an angry ex-partner or friends can post blogs and photos that portray you or your business in a negative light. The growth of personal blogging has made online reputation management (ORM) a sought-after service and everyone can effectively manage their own online reputations or at the very least be aware of the implications of NOT “Googleing” your own name.

At the very least – I always recommend adding a “Google alert” with your name and variations of your business name. Alerts are delivered right to your inbox whenever Google indexes content that contains those keywords. Content includes anything from your Profile to news articles you are quoted in.

At the end of the day, a negative post or article can never be permanently removed, but most web searchers never click beyond the first page of search results. A negative post or article can be ‘bumped’ to secondary pages with a little work, reducing the likelihood of being seen by others. This can be done by creating profiles on various sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Digg, LinkedIn and StumbleUpon, under the exact same name the negative page ranks for. This will help to bump the negative post to the second page and create a more positive picture of yourself or your company.

Managing profiles on multiple social media sites can be overwhelming and time consuming. There are a number of free online programs that can easily update all of your profiles and help maintain a consistent online reputation. Websites like, can manage personal websites, social networks, blogs, contact info and photo albums all in one profile. This will help you remain at the top of the search results with content managed by you.

These are just some easy ways to maintain your online reputation, however if your online reputation management issue is more complex, you may need to seek expert advice from online marketing firms who specialize is strategies that include SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Online PR in addition to the tactics outlined in this post.

Go ahead…Google yourself…I know you want to!

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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