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Starbucks Edmonton – mobile office

August 9, 2010 by  

I finally got my new laptop and I’m finally sitting in a Starbucks close to home, taking advantage of the free wifi.

So, what am I doing in Starbucks? Shouldn’t I be working? Well, I am. That’s the whole point of the new laptop and being in Starbucks. I am getting out of my home office.

Sure, it’s nice, but I find working at home lonely and very depressing. I have enjoyed the solitude at times, but I’m a lot more of a social person than even I realized. I’ve learned a lot about myself recently. It’s one of the benefits of getting older!

Working at every Starbucks in Edmonton

Starbucks Edmonton 9719 137 Ave free wifi

Starbucks has free wifi in Canada now

As part of my effort to get out of the house, get some fresh air and get more work done, I came up with the idea to go to my favourite coffee shop and work. Then I thought, why not work at every Starbucks in Edmonton?

I’m not even sure how many Starbucks there are in Edmonton, but I figure there are about 50 of them. I’m going to map out, rate and work at every Starbucks in and around Edmonton over the next couple months.

I thought it would be fun, would be a nice change of pace and give me an opportunity to see parts of the city I wouldn’t ordinarily have a reason to visit.

While I’m at it I am going to take a couple photos, do some reviews and tie everything into Yelp and Foursquare too.

I’m not a coffee snob, well, okay, maybe a little. I’m not really a big fan of Tim Hortons or places that seem to filter a miniscule amount of coffee through an old boot, but I like Starbucks.

I’m going to focus less on the quality of the coffee and more on the quality of the work experience and work friendliness of each location. On that note, I’m going to look at factors such as:

  • Busyness – are there a lot of people coming and going?
  • Noisiness – it’s hard to work with too much noise
  • Power – laptops only have so much battery life, so you need a few outlets.
  • Free wifi – you’d think every coffee place would have it. I’m going to make sure.
  • Staff – how friendly & attentive are they?
  • Seating – are there a lot of good tables conducive to work?
  • Security – how’s the neighbourhood? Do I need to “pack heat”?

It should be interesting trying to come up with more than 50 original reviews of the same chain of coffee places. Let’s see how it goes.

On that note, what are some of the qualities you look for in a work location outside of your home or place of business? Do you know of some mobile workplaces in Edmonton I should check out? Let me know.

Starbucks Edmonton reviews

  1. Starbucks – 9719 – 137 Ave. Edmonton – Aug. 9, 2010 (★★★★)
  2. Starbucks – Safeway – 9499 137 Ave. Edmonton - Aug 10, 2010 (★)
  3. Starbucks – 5956 – 153 Ave. Edmonton - Aug 10, 2010 (★★★★)
  4. Starbucks – 11625 Kingsway Ave. Edmonton – Aug. 11, 2010 (★★★)
  5. Starbucks – 9404 137 Ave. Edmonton – Aug. 12, 2010 (★★★★★)
  6. Starbucks – 13682 137 Ave. Edmonton – Aug. 13, 2010 (★★)
  7. Starbucks – 10387 112 St. Edmonton – Aug. 16, 2010 (★★★★★)
  8. Starbucks – 12507 102 Ave. Edmonton – Aug. 17, 2010 (★★★★★)
  9. Starbucks – 15256 127 St. Edmonton – Aug. 18, 2010 (★★★★)

Social media: is Foursquare worth looking at?

July 14, 2010 by  

A while back I decided to give Foursquare a try. It’s a recent addition to the social media world, and I was quite skeptical about its usefulness when I first heard about it. My skepticism is still there, but as I have tried out the service, I can see how it might be useful, particularly from an advertiser’s perspective.

Foursquare is a mobile social media app that gets users to check in to indicate their location. So, if you’re out for coffee at Starbucks, check in with Foursquare. If you check in at this location more than other users, you could become mayor of that location.

As users check in at different places, they can earn badges. Earning badges is a feature of a couple social media platforms I’m aware of, and give users an incentive to take actions to achieve them.

Some of the badges include things like the Barista badge, where you have to check in at five different Starbucks locations (got that one). There’s the Local badge, where you need to check in at a location three times in a week.

There seems to be a wide variety of badges available and once you’ve added a bunch of friends, you can check out their badges to see the ones you might try for.

That’s really about it for Foursquare. I’m using the Blackberry app, and there is an iPhone app. If you check out Foursquare’s app section, you’ll likely find one for your phone if it’s not an iPhone or Blackberry.

How useful is Foursquare?

Ah, the key question. Really, how useful is a lot of social media? I wondered just how useful Foursquare really would be. Fundamentally it’s a game, but it depends on how you use it. The key will be how Foursquare develops.

It’s probably most important to look at it from the perspective of a check-in location, or potential advertiser. I think these organizations are the linchpin in terms of any value derived from Foursquare and this is primarily why I decided to try it out.

I noticed that Starbucks had offers of price reductions on its drinks if you were the mayor of a Starbucks location. It offers people some incentive to try and become mayor and get the price reduction, but if it’s just a dollar off, it’s not much incentive.

If that dollar off were to be offered to each person who checked in, there’d be more incentive for others to come to that location.

I can see a huge amount of potential for some businesses to offer promotions through Foursquare and they could, naturally, promote it through Twitter. There’s definitely some incentive for Foursquare to increase its user base. I’m not sure how many Foursquare users there are in Edmonton, but there seems to be a fair amount.

Advertisers could offer a limited number of larger gift certificates, say ten $25 gift certificates for the first ten people who come in and say they saw it on Foursquare.

Edmonton locations I've checked in at & am mayor of.

Or an advertiser could draw for a much larger item after a month, offering it only to Foursquare users. Imagine the attention an organization like Future Shop could get if it was offering a draw for a new laptop exclusively to Edmonton Foursquare users who had checked in at a Future Shop.

Perhaps they could make it so they actually had to enter the store and get a daily code word from a manager. Foursquare could modify its apps so that visitors could enter the code word and it wouldn’t be visible to other users.

As if Apple needed the help, they could do a couple things: run contests to get people into their stores, or use products like the iPhone 4 or iPad as prizes through other advertisers. Everyone’s so gaga over the iPhone and iPad that I’m sure Foursquare users would be breaking down the door to get one as a prize.

It almost goes without saying that these types of contests would be promoted through other social media such as Twitter and Facebook, but if you’re doing traditional media such as radio, TV or newspaper advertising, why not include it, or make it the primary focus of those ads?

City of Edmonton event & destination marketing

Cities could really use something like Foursquare to their advantage if they worked in conjunction with events, festivals and destination attractions to promote them online.

My son has been bored already this summer and looking for things to do. I found a good list of things to do in Edmonton and a light bulb went off. Why doesn’t the City of Edmonton use Foursquare to promote events such those in the list I mentioned and use Foursquare as a type of online passport? Edmonton could use help in the branding and promotions department apparently.

Once Foursquare users had checked in at the appropriate venues, they could get a special t-shirt and be entered into a draw for some cool prizes. The city has some great events coming up like the Grey Cup, the Honda Indy and Taylor Hall playing for the Oilers. Why not offer some of those tickets as prizes? How about a grand prize of a $5,000 shopping spree at West Edmonton Mall (or a mall willing to sponsor it)? I’ve talked about the inadequacies of an Edmonton mall promotion before.

It doesn’t have to cost the city much to do it either. It can use social media to promote it throughout Alberta and Western Canada. It could even supplement it with a bit of traditional advertising.

I could go on all day about the different kinds of promotions that are possible and I’m sure there are even more creative people out there who’ll come up with better ones.

Foursquare growth & users

There are a variety of badges & incentives for Foursquare users.

You may have heard of some of the downsides of Foursquare, such as giving stalkers a roadmap of your activities, or potential thieves an indication that you’re not at home. This is a decision we each have to make. If you’re not comfortable with publicizing your location, don’t bother using Foursquare.

I can say that it’s fun checking in at places around Edmonton and seeing what other users are doing or have to say about the places they check in at. A good feature of Foursquare is the ability to post tips about the places they visit.

If Foursquare is to grow, they need to “show me the money.” Sorry, I know it’s a worn out phrase, but it fits. Foursquare will benefit by growing its user base and in doing that, its attractiveness to advertisers. With advertisers on board and good offers to users, more users will be drawn in.

The advertiser offers have to be something that doesn’t require a ridiculous amount of work or cost, are fun and are really worth doing a bit of work for. People today are busy and quickly decide whether something’s worth the effort or not.

I don’t know how much of a budget Foursquare has for promotions, but using some older sales techniques probably wouldn’t hurt. Would it make sense for Foursquare to have a marketing and promotions rep on the ground in a place like Edmonton for six months to a year so they can reach out to local businesses and help them get some innovative promotions off the ground? I think so. Perhaps they could use a few cities around North America as a test case to see how that might work.

You can always wait for these things to happen, or you can short circuit the process and make it happen.

It’ll be interesting to see how Foursquare develops over time and whether it goes in some of the directions I’ve speculated about. There’s nothing saying that potential advertisers out there now can’t use Foursquare as I’ve shown. I certainly haven’t cornered the market on the creative possibilities!

Edmonton has a strong social media community that is eager to participate in innovative products and promotions. I suppose it’s really up to innovative Edmonton marketing companies to get out there and show those potential advertisers the possibilities. I’d say that Foursquare is worth a look from the perspective of users and advertisers, but its value comes from how you use it. Seems to be the same for all social media.

Shrinking PPC & SEO budgets?

December 1, 2009 by  

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How Agencies View Client Search Marketing Budgets

It’s no surprise that with the recession, marketing budgets have shrunk. It’s affecting people with big pay per click marketing budgets and small ones.

I’ve seen it happen with some of my clients and I have talked to many others who have seen the same shrinking online marketing budgets. That’s why I thought Marketing Sherpa’s chart about how agencies view client search marketing budgets was interesting.

There aren’t many agencies out there with clients who have too large of a budget. There’s been an increase since 2008, according to online marketing agencies, of clients whose search marketing budgets for pay per click marketing are too small. I’ve also experienced it on the SEO side where ongoing SEO has been scaled back from planned levels.

It is frustrating because while the initial SEO phase is very important, the ongoing SEO linkbuilding phase is equally as important. Of course I’m not the one at the accounting controls, but the end goal of an SEO campaign is to increase traffic and click through to a client website. Once those visitors are on site, they can become customers.

It’s not a quick and easy process and I think that’s where educating clients is important. There will be ups and downs along the way, but it’s worth the effort in the end. It is an investment and not just a cost.

Recession: time to invest in SEO & website

With this recession, I see it as a great time for companies to invest in their website, making it more responsive to visitor needs and, in so doing, to get those visitors as your clients. Depending on what point those visitors are in their buying cycle, they may not become clients immediately, but may when their situation improves or once they’ve moved through their decision process.

Here in Alberta, with its recently overheated economy, we have swung from some companies saying ‘too busy to do it’ to ‘we don’t want to spend anything.’ It’s funny in a way, but disappointing because they’re missing out on a perfect opportunity to focus on the long-term marketing of their company. I’ve talked with people in a variety of IT sectors that have said the same thing about their segments of the market.

I’m not worried though. The outlook for the economy is improving, and from a search engine optimization perspective, every time I search in Google, I see websites that need to be optimized. Is yours performing as well as you’d like?

Page One SEO is an Edmonton SEO company specializing in organic search engine optimization and pay per click advertising. If you’d like to increase your online visibility, traffic and move your site up in organic search results, contact us for a free online marketing consultation.

Mall or website: keep visitors on your site

November 16, 2009 by  

kingsway-mall-edmontonBeing in the field of marketing, I often see marketing campaigns, online and offline, that make me go wow! Then there are the campaigns that make me feel embarrassed for the people who’ve put them on. And then there are those where you wonder just what the hell the marketing people were thinking.

The Kingsway Mall in Edmonton put on one of those “what the hell were they thinking” campaigns to celebrate their grand re-opening recently.

They are putting on a shopping spree. Sounds good. The shopping spree is in New York, London or Paris. Really? Celebrate the grand re-opening of the mall by winning a trip and shopping spree to places that will put the mall to shame? Or, celebrate our grand re-opening by spending all this money somewhere else?

The slogan for the campaign is “see shopping in a whole new light.” I’m hoping they’re referring to Kingsway Mall. If I were to head to London, Paris or New York, I’m sure I’d come back to Edmonton and see how different it is here, and likely the shopping just isn’t as good.

kingsway-mall-edmonton-shopping-spreeSure it’s a great prize. I think I missed the point of the campaign though. Wouldn’t it have been better to keep the people in Kingsway Mall here in Edmonton? Imagine the possibilities if they’d done a real push in traditional and online media in Edmonton.

They could get the contest winners on an even bigger shopping spree in Kingsway Mall. Follow them around with photographers and videographers showing how great a time they were having on their shopping spree… at Kingsway Mall! They could be leveraging social media like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr to broadcast the whole shopping spree, but also to pull people from those social media sites into side contests to get them out to the mall as well.

It’s a shame really. They missed a golden opportunity to marry traditional and social media and really do something exciting that would really keep the focus on Kingsway Mall.

Keep people on your site

This situation with Kingsway Mall reminds me of websites that use Google Adsense ads or banner ads to make money. That’s not a bad thing, but I’ve also seen it on some corporate websites where they’re trying to convert visitors to customers.

Adsense can be a lucrative way to make money, particularly when you’ve got a lot of great content and the site is has proper SEO. But then, that’s usually the primary goal of these types of sites: pull the visitors in with great SEO and content, and hope they click on an ad so we can make money! Sounds simple? It is, but it’s not easy.

I just don’t understand why you would want to create a corporate website in hope of convincing visitors to contact you, buy a product immediately or take some sort of action beneficial to them and you.

Instead, you give them a reason to leave your site for something else that may tickle their fancy, all in the hopes of making a few bucks on Adsense. Most people don’t make much on Adsense either, so wouldn’t it make more sense to keep them on your site and hope that they avail themselves of the opportunities your site gives them?

The other thing is that Adsense serves up ads related to the content on your page. So, you could actually end up having Adsense ads from your competitors! Insanity! Yes, I know you can filter the ads, so you can stop it to a degree.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to put your time and effort into making your site better and trying to convert those site visitors you’ve worked hard to attract (hopefully with great content, design and SEO) instead of letting them leave your site for a few Adsense dollars?

If you’re considering using Adsense or banner ads to make money on your website, you’d better really think about whether or not you should. Is making big bucks on ad revenue your goal? If it’s not, I’d seriously reconsider putting them on your site.

Want to know more about how to get visitors on your site and keep them there? Page One is an Edmonton SEO company that can do that for you. Contact us for a free online marketing consultation.

Official launch of Page One SEO

June 2, 2009 by  

istock_000006518705xsmallIt’s taken a while to make it official, but this is the launch of Page One SEO.

I’ve had the name picked out for a while and have been busy with a variety of search engine optimization, copywriting and communications projects. I’ve been like the cobbler whose children don’t wear decent shoes.

No longer! I decided I needed to have my site up so people who are curious about what I do can come and have a look.

Things won’t change for my clients, except the name. And for those of you who might be interested in becoming clients, please look around and feel free to ask me questions.

Talking about SEO & Internet marketing

I really like to write, so I’ll be using this space to talk about search engine optimization and Internet marketing topics. That pretty much gives me free reign to talk about almost anything!

I’m a big fan of social media and it can be quite useful for SEO purposes. I’ve done a fair amount of writing on social media in the past and will continue. A few of my favourite social media platforms are: Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.

So, keep checking back as the site grows and I add more content here! Thanks for stopping by.

Alain