Digital Festival City

Posted By: on August 5th, 2014
Filed Under: News

If you’re anything like me, it probably feels like Christmastime when festival season rolls around here in Edmonton. Dubbed “Festival City” for a reason, we have so many awesome events going on in the summer, like The Fringe Festival, Heritage Festival, Folk Fest, and who can forget K-Days? Even as I’m writing this, I’m pretty distracted by the fact that I’m going to Taste of Edmonton after work. It’s hard to concentrate with steak bites on the mind, but I persevere. It feels like the overall festival experience keeps getting better and better, and over the past couple of years, a big part of that is because Festival City is making the transition to the digital age. A lot of our Edmonton festivals now have apps available for download with the main goal of making your life easier.

Continue Reading →

Build an Analytics-Driven Dashboard in Google Spreadsheets

Posted By: on July 21st, 2014
Filed Under: SEO & Online Marketing

I’ve always yearned for custom, automated analytics reporting. To me it’s the holy grail of data dissemination for website owners, seo’s, and the like.

Once you get that data into a spreadsheet you can do just about anything with it. Up until recently though, nothing has been customizable enough, or easy enough to use in order to fully realize this. At least as far as I’m aware (I have been out of the game a little while – so correct me if I’m wrong).

Analytics integration with Google Spreadsheets isn’t entirely new, but the previous tool was pretty clunky, inspiring an “I’ll try that out someday” feeling.

When I found out there was a new Add-on that simplified the process I got to work immediately. The first thing I found is that there’s next to no guidance out there. Anything I could find is based on the older methods, and didn’t really help me out much (a lay-programmer).

Here’s where I started, with Google’s documentation.

Pretty sparse, but just enough information to hook me in for the next two days.

… Anyway, I toiled with the reference sheets and when night turned to day again I had built a crazy mammoth dashboard for one of our clients. In so doing I learned my way around the API and, not being much of a spreadsheet master, learned a lot about Google’s application too.

Continue Reading →

Life as an Intern at Top Draw

Posted By: on July 10th, 2014
Filed Under: Edmonton, News


I recently finished my third year of the Bachelor of Communication Studies program at MacEwan University in Edmonton. I’m majoring in professional communication, and after coming to the sudden and terrifying realization that I only have a year of post-secondary left, I thought that maybe I should start professionally communicating. I went through a gruesome process of what felt like 83 interviews (give or take), and ended up turning down three jobs because they actually weren’t what I was looking for at all. After giving up and embracing the idea of doing nothing all summer, I came across a job posting for an online marketing intern position at Top Draw Inc., and since I’m aiming to go into marketing and communications when I graduate, I applied for kicks. Almost a month later, I’ve survived my first week here at Top Draw. Let me tell you, I was nervous. I was beyond nervous actually; this is my first ever full-time job and the moment that I accepted the position, I was scared that I had just sold my soul for the summer. While from some angles that may be viewed as the case, I couldn’t have asked for a better devil than Top Draw.

Continue Reading →

Generational Awareness and Online Influencers

Posted By: on June 27th, 2014
Filed Under: SEO & Online Marketing

Kids these days…

In the nearly thirty years since Al Gore invented the internet (source: The Simpsons), we have seen many mutations of (what started out as) a glorified FTP platform that transformed into the world-consuming, social-platforming, e-commercing second earth that we have today. These mutations are, without precedent, one of the reasons that Mad Men does such an adept job of capturing the feelings of trepidation and resistance to the new medium of Television. This is likely in part due to their own medium’s steady march towards the grave because of the rise of something new.

Continue Reading →

Shooting Product Photography and Video on the Cheap

Posted By: on June 17th, 2014
Filed Under: SEO & Online Marketing

You’ve all seen them: websites chock full of stock photography. Low resolution product photos straight from the manufacturer, customer service girl in the top right. . . is this even a real company?! Would it kill them to take a picture of their team or some of their most popular products? Realistically, it can take a little bit of setup and preparation to take good quality photos. The below instructions are for companies out there looking to do product photography or video on a shoestring budget.

Continue Reading →

Things You Should Know About CASL

Posted By: on June 9th, 2014
Filed Under: News, SEO & Online Marketing

This blog post is not intended to replace the need for legal counsel and there is a lot more to CASL than what I have covered here. The purpose of this post is to raise awareness of the July 1 deadline and give a general idea of what the journey to compliance might entail.

It’s a good idea to inventory the sort of communications your company sends out, study the CASL and how it may apply to your business communications, and retain legal counsel to answer your questions.

If you live in or do business in Canada you may have heard the buzz about Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), which goes into effect July 1, 2014.

No Spam

Brian Curial, Miller Thomson’s Alberta Privacy Officer and the firm’s Prairie Province CASL Compliance Officer, shared valuable information about CASL at the May Social Media Breakfast Edmonton (SMBYEG). You can view the slides from his presentation at the SMBYEG website. Here are some key points I gleaned from his presentation:

Continue Reading →

Why I Hate Bounce Rate & Why You Should Too

Posted By: on June 6th, 2014
Filed Under: SEO & Online Marketing


This is an intermediate level post for people who want to know more about Bounce rate within Google Analytics and how to use it in analyzing websites. I have a site with a bounce rate of 72%. This is a a statement that  I make with no shame at all. If you look at Google’s interpretation of the metric, it suggests that a high bounce rate is likely caused by something wrong you’ve done. Maybe you’ve incorrectly setup your Google Analytics, or have a bad design, or maybe your site isn’t a good user experience. I’m here to tell all of you “high bounce rate” site owners: the sky is not falling, and there may not be anything “wrong” with your site.

Continue Reading →

The Resurrection of the Newsletter

Posted By: on May 21st, 2014
Filed Under: SEO & Online Marketing

“Sign up for our newsletter!” cries the graphic at the bottom of the page of your favourite website. You sit back in your desk chair, laugh and think to yourself, “Oh you sad pathetic call to action, how dare you assume that I want to fill my inbox with your inane, thinly veiled marketing efforts.” This was the prevailing opinion on newsletters for quite sometime, and rightfully so. For a very long time newsletters were simply the equivalent of the weekly or monthly flyers that the grocery store sends out; however, in the new world of Content Marketing and Digital Strategy, companies can no longer afford to put out garbage in the form of a newsletter.

For a time those online newsletters held less value than those weekly flyers, at least you could start a fire with those flyers, but from the ashes it would seem, that newsletters are experiencing a kind of renaissance. So with that in mind here’s a bit of information and a few tips to make sure that you are creating newsletters with rich content and not spamming potential clients.

Continue Reading →