Not Just Gingers And One-Offs: The Enrichening Of English Around The Globe

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This morning, I caught up on the news by reading about the recent terrible accident in Glasgow that took six lives. Most headlines I saw referred to it as the “Glasgow Bin Lorry Crash.” Here, we’d call it the “Garbage Truck Crash.” Sad as the incident was, It got me thinking about a less-tragic cultural phenomenon that I’ve been observing for some time.

When I was a kid, I wouldn’t have had any idea what a “Bin Lorry” was. I remember having to look up words like “treacle” after I’d come across them in books. And books were nearly the only places I ran across such words. I met an exchange student from Australia in high school and was fascinated by slang he taught me like saying “no worries” rather than “you’re welcome” or “not a problem.”

I also remember being confused about the term “mince” or “mince meat” — I thought I’d figured out that “mince” was what we termed “hamburger meat” or “ground beef,” but then I heard about a “mince pie” or a “mincemeat pie,” which sounded like dessert to me. And speaking of dessert, that Pink Floyd song that asked “how can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat!” mystified me a bit, too. I thought I knew what pudding was, but this seemed an odd usage of it.

Mince – as in my first definition (this is a classic)

Thanks to my anonymous Facebook friend for letting me repurpose this picture. The mince pies are in the back…

As a young adult, had an orange tabby cat and learned at some point that these were called “ginger tabbies” across the pond. Which sort of fit, because his name was Nigel.

But now, the term “ginger” (for redheads of the feline or human variety) is perfectly normal for my kids, and it’s not just because we live in a US/UK mixed household (my husband is Scottish). (The other day, I caught my youngest telling his father that “gingers” come from Scotland.) If you don’t believe me, check out this Google analysis of the use of “ginger hair” in American English.

When I’ve looked into where they’re getting words like this, it’s largely from other Americans — young people whose videos they watch on YouTube. Of course, they’ll just as readily watch videos that originate from the UK or Australia or any place else, and they don’t seem to be as fascinated by accents as I was, back in the day.

Many of these “Let’s Play” videos even feature a mixed-nationality cast of players, who apparently met online and now play games together, with no regard for national barriers (barring the inevitable time zone concerns).

Even adults seem to have picked up a lot of sayings that I once deemed regional, such as “no worries” or “one-off” or “rubbish.” Heck, there’s even an entire blog dedicated to observing British slang in American speech, called Not One-Off Britishisms. It makes sense that — with entertainment being one of America’s main exports — U.S. English has long been influencing things in other parts of the world. But most of the British entertainment we get on TV or in movies seems to be of the Downton Abbey variety — set in some long-ago time where the speech seems hopelessly old-fashioned and not worth adopting.

I’m writing about this here partly because I don’t have any other appropriate place, but also because this change is undoubtedly fueled by technology. Our cultures are larger than they used to be — they encompass a much greater geographical area, because we’re able to transmit memes and influence ideas around the word, and in real time. Media like YouTube videos can be more influential than TV.

I’ve always been interested in language, as you might guess from my occupation as an editor, reporter and writer. And having a Scottish husband and in-laws, for whom I occasionally have to translate, has just made this phenomenon even more fascinating. As a writer, I have to cheer, because the more words and phrases we have to choose from, the richer our expression becomes.

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Old-Skool Content Marketing

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Because content marketing is growing in importance and sophistication, it’s tempting to think of it as something new. But, just like Social Media Marketing is an extension of Word-of-Mouth marketing, content marketing has been around forever.

My favorite example is something people likely see every day as they’re commuting back and forth to work — the ubiquitous electronic sign, usually appearing at bank branches, that gives us the time, temperature, date, and, in our community, a listing of local events. That’s content marketing at its best, providing essential utility. We don’t even notice it as such anymore, we take it so much for granted. Yet it still serves its purpose of positioning the bank as a reliable and helpful pillar of the community.

I ran across another example of old-skool content marketing while going through my mother’s recipe box the other day. A realtor back in the day provided homemakers with recipes on index cards, with a watermark featuring the brand and the Better Homes and Gardens logo (was this the distribution method, maybe?). The individual realtor’s name and phone number (note no area code) appears on the back. Love it.


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On APIs & Marketing

I’m in the process of editing a piece that’s focused on APIs — that’s application program interfaces, of course. Along the way, I thought I recalled having written something about APIs back in my ClickZ days.

Here’s what I uncovered…

Back in February of 2004 (more than 10 years ago, folks), I wrote a piece called Web Services: RSS On Steroids. At that point, I guess the term and acronym API hadn’t become popular, so I referred to them as Web Services:

Web services is really just a way of exchanging information over the Internet. Instead of using browsers, it allows applications to talk to one another directly using open standard technologies such as XML, SOAP, WSDL, and UDDI.

What can you do with this type of information exchange? The possibilities seem as infinite as your imagination.

And then, two years later, I patted myself on the back for my prescience with a follow-up piece called Attack of the APIs: (I am a complete dork, I know…)

Over the past few months, we’ve seen some compelling uses of these APIs for marketing-related mashups. ClickZ columnist Ian Schafer‘s agency put together a mash-up with Google Maps that let fans of HBO’s The Sopranos re-visit some of the places and events in the gangster show’s past seasons. Nike put together a Google Maps app to plot running routes for its Run London community. And more recently, General Mills’ Nature Valley granola bar brand asked nature-lovers “Where’s Yours?” on a site that uses a mapping interface similar to Google’s. I’m sure there are plenty more I’m failing to mention here. (Feel free to drop me a line if you have some great examples.)

These services have become popular because marketers and advertisers — in search of that elusive “engagement” — have figured out there are two paths to winning consumers’ attention. One is to entertain them. Hence the viral video, long-form advertisement-on-demand trend. The other is to give them something useful with a practical application. APIs can help marketers do both, but they probably lean toward the “useful” realm.

I think what I was talking about there would now be called “content marketing.”

What I totally failed to realize was the impact that APIs would have on marketing organizations operations, specifically allowing them to integrate data from disparate customer touchpoints to get a more holistic view of what’s happening. It’s a topic we are regularly exploring in Marketing Land.

Funny how interactive marketing seems to move so quickly, yet I’m looking back on this stuff — maybe a bit too “out there” for its time — and thinking I wouldn’t say things much differently today.

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The Future Of Search And Digital – notes from the Local Social Event

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No, I’m not asleep. Just resting my eyes, I’m sure.

In preparation for speaking at the Local Social event in Dallas last month, I wrote up thoughts on a few emerging areas that I think will have a big impact on digital marketing, and marketing as a whole, in the coming years. In the spirit of “leveraging content” I’ll publish them here…

One of the most interesting areas we’ve been exploring — and this is a big area, admittedly — is the intersection between the real world and the digital world, sometimes called augmented reality.

When you think about it, we live in the real world and the digital world is just a reflection of that. Why should we have to be tethered to a certain screen at a desk at home to see that digital world, when it’s so much more useful when it’s integrated into our daily lives? We’ve gotten a little taste of that with smartphones, but we’re still mostly looking into a world that’s totally different than the world around us — watching videos, checking Facebook and email — which is one reason why smartphones are criticized as being harmful to society and human relationships.

The Physical Web

We recently published a piece on Marketing Land by Daniel Cristo looking at an open-source project initiated by Google called “The Physical Web.”

The gist of the Physical Web project is that, given there are so many real-world objects — refrigerators, slow cookers, thermostats, etc. — that are now connected and possess digital information, that there should be a way to search and find all of them, and they should be ranked by your personalized level of interest in that particular thing.

This is starting to happen now, where when I go near a Walgreens, a notification pops up on my phone with my loyalty card and a link to the week’s specials, and when I’m near my local grocery store, I get a notification from my Ibotta app reminding me to use their coupons. All of this, of course, is permission-based.

Imagine when we’re wearing Google Glass or Apple Watch, and we can pay for things by waving our devices. And of course, we’ll be wearing our heart-rate-tracking monitors, pedometers and glucose monitors — sharing, or not sharing, the information they’re gathering. So maybe, as a marketer, you could learn whether someone’s heart starts racing when they come into contact with your products or your ads.

Meanwhile, we’re seeing an amazing proliferation of tracking devices, most of them using Bluetooth Low Energy and some using GPS and Wi-fi. The obvious use — already happening with Apple’s iBeacons — is messaging customers when they’re in proximity of your store. Or, in an even more granular application, marketers could virtually show people around a store, and passively observe what aisles are most popuar with different types of consumers — data which can then inform merchandising and future marketing campaigns.

According to ABI Research, indoor beacon installations could top 30,000 worldwide by the end of 2014. We’re already seeing things like an in store proximity based mobile ad exchange, where a brand could pop up a notification when you approach its product display at a retail outlet.

Maybe the next wave of content/experiential marketing is curating a real-world walking tour or sponsoring a complimentary entry into a museum exhibit for a valued prospect or customer.

And brick and mortar marketers aren’t the only ones deploying these trackers. You’ve probably seen consumer-focused Facebook ads or Kickstarter campaigns for the Tile, StickNFind, Duet, Chipolo, Gecko, Lapa and Guardian. The most common pitch here is that they’ll ensure you never lose your keys, your wallet, your pet or your child. Other variations like Flower Power and Plant Link check whether you need to water your plants and how much light they’re getting, and possibly even open a valve to get a sprinkler going.

Data Overload!

And you thought you were overwhelmed by the amount of data you’re dealing with now!

That leads me to another area where I’m seeing a lot of promise — tag management. It’s sort of outgrown that moniker but the idea is that you can have a central interface to all of those tags that live on your web site — analytics, ad networks, remarketing lists, a/b testing, etc. etc.

The beauty in this is that all of the data flows into one place, too, making it easier for you to change vendors perform tests, because you have access to all your customer and prospect data yourself. In addition, you can get a more cross-platform picture of your customer, when information about their interactions with email can be married to their location history and even an Apple Pay-enabled transaction record.

We’ve seen a lot of consolidation in the marketing technology business lately, partly by big companies set on building an end-to-end solution that uses and shares the same data in multiple marketing disciplines. But with tag management, theoretically, you could choose best of breed solutions in each of their respective categories, yet still control and integrate the data.

Seeking Marketing Technologists

Of course, I’m talking in a very blasé way about technology that’s going to take some serious smarts to deploy and use well, especially given the need to respect consumer privacy. And that’s not to mention the challenge of choosing the right technologies among so many competitors.

And that brings me to the third area, which is the important need in our industry of hiring and training marketing technologists — those rare birds that not only understand the needs of marketers and consumers, but also “get” technology at a bit of a deeper level.

This is going to be a huge challenge but also a big opportunity for those individuals who have the skills to really take advantage of the vast array of tools at our disposal — but in a clear-headed, and not starry-eyed way.

P.S. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the event was a fundraiser for traumatic brain injury support charity Trymunity. Given the prevalence of TBI in all of our lives — concussions among football players, strokes, etc. (I’ve had two people close to me have strokes in the last month) — I believe it’s a critical issue that should be supported.

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Speaking In The Next Month

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It’s going to be a busy few weeks — and it’s already started!

Tomorrow, SMX East begins in NYC, and it’s still possible to register on site – or get free expo passes that include admission to certain sessions.

Then, next month (which is coming up rapidly), I’ll be in the Dallas area with some notable industry figures for the Local Social one-day event, benefiting traumatic brain injury research.

More to come, but hope to see you somewhere!

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Come To Tonight’s Email Marketing Panel in Austin

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Image courtesy of Active Prospect.

If you’re in the ATX, I hope you can come to the 512 Interactive event that’s happening tonight at the offices of ActiveProspect, Inc. (4203 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78751). I’ll be moderating a panel of email experts talking about acquisition, nurturing and retention. It’s from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and it’s free. Register here.

Image courtesy of Active Prospect.

Attendees will enjoy a networking reception including light appetizers, complimentary drinks (and maybe even a little ping-pong) from 6:00-7:00 p.m., followed by the one-hour interactive panel discussion.

On the panel, I’ll engage in a discussion with marketing experts from PostUp, the email marketing company, and UnsubCentral, which works in email compliance, suppression, and opt-out management. (Both companies were founded by Austin entrepreneur extraordinaire, Josh Baer. There’ll also be ample opportunity for you to ask your own questions.

Panelists include:

  • Brandon Badger, PostUp Director of Integration
  • Robin Green, PostUp VP of Sales
  • Cris Angelini, UnsubCentral Sales Director
  • Todd Boullion, UnsubCentral General Manager

Hope you can join us! It promises to be a good time!

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How NOT To Do Content Marketing

The “Can I do a guest post on your site?” emails are arriving fast and furiously, and may have reached its peak with this that came in today:

Hope you are doing great!!!
We have a unique, genuine and good quality content for your site – which needs to be published on your Site.
We promise you that Once this content is published we will not share with any other blogger.
Please let us know if we can send the article to you for review.

Uh… no thanks. Does this really work?

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No More Lost Data: How To Back Up Your SmartPhone

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Every once in a while, I’ll hear from a friend or family member that they’re mourning the loss of their precious smartphone. What’s worse, they’re often wrecked because of all the data — emails, pictures, contacts, etc. — that has disappeared when the phone got lost, dropped or wet.

We are way beyond that, people. We are living in the future. There is absolutely no reason for you to lose important data — or at least not that much of it. If you’re one of these people, let me enlighten you. Techie folks, please know that I’m trying to make this as simple as possible for those who NEED this info.

For iPhone Users

Chances are, if you’ve got an iPhone, you’ve also got an Apple ID and a free iCloud account with 5GB of storage. What this does, basically, is back up your phone data — when you’re connected to Wi-Fi, plugged in, and your screen is locked, anyway. So, no worries, right? Wrong. If you’re like me, you’ve gotten an error message that says:

“This iPhone cannot be backed up because there is not enough iCloud storage available.”

Bummer! The first line of attack here should be customizing what’s being backed up in iCloud. Here’s a great tutorial from Payette Forward that explains what that’s all about and how it works.

Keep in mind that most, if not all, of the apps you have on the phone are likely already saving your data to somewhere else than your phone memory, so there’s little reason to spend precious back-up space on that application data. All that said, you may run into trouble — like me — when the size of your Photo Stream exceeds 5GB.

Luckily, iCloud should only be your first line of defense. I’d also recommend backing up your photos to Flickr, if you have an account — the latest version of the app has a setting that you can use to auto-upload every one of the pictures from your photostream — these go up as private pictures by default.


Additionally, I’d suggest installing the Google+ app. It also has a setting to auto-upload all photos in a private folder, which appears on Google Drive – it doesn’t have unlimited storage, but it’s very affordable (only $1.99/month for 100 GB of data).

As for your calendar data and your contacts, I’ve been using Google for those, as well, and have never had any problems — it’s both wonderful and strange to still be using the same contact database I used more than 10 years ago, because it’s never been disappeared. Since I’m not intending to re-invent the wheel here, I’ll link you to ways to sync your Google Calendar, Contacts and Mail (each of these can be done independently) with your iPhone.

Key to all of these app-centric solutions is that the app in question actually has to be downloaded, installed and ACTIVE for these backups to take place. When I’ve noticed that no backups have been happening for a little while, I open the app in question and it usually starts to get to work immediately.

For Android Users

Since, in most cases, Android phones are already very integrated with Google, it would probably be a good idea to follow the above Google-related instructions. Your calendar and contacts data, if you sign into your apps with your Google account, will be automatically synced (and therefore backed up).

Make sure you install the Google Plus app, if it’s not installed by default, and enable the photo auto-upload feature. The screenshot below is from my iPhone, but I wouldn’t imagine the interface would be TOO different on Android.


As you can see below, there are lots of options for when and what to back up, so you can minimize the impact on your data bill, if that’s an issue.


Your back-up back-up for photos could be Flickr, which appears to have the same auto backup functionality in Android as it has for the iPhone.

For The Slightly More Technically Inclined

If you’re especially paranoid (and somewhat techie), you can also use a tool like If This, Then That, which — once you’ve set up your various accounts — lets you do all kinds of things like make spreadsheets out of emails you receive, or back up your photos to systems like Dropbox and others.

If This, Then That (IFTT) operates on the “Recipe” principle and understanding them is pretty simple — they say if X happens, then do X. Like, if there’s a new photo in my iPhone Photostream, send that photo to a certain folder on Dropbox.

You don’t have to write your own “recipes,” though you do need to set up your own accounts. In most cases, someone else has been there before you and written helpful “recipes” that you can just utilize.

(Note that, as with any app-centric solution, for IFTT to sync with your iPhone or Android device, you need to install the mobile app (and make sure it’s running) — the links earlier in this sentence will take you to the appropriate app store.)

Here are a few already-written recipes you might find useful:

Got it? If I’ve missed anything, or if it isn’t clear enough, let me know in the comments or contact me.

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How To Make Lists Look Better In HTML, Part 2

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I started this mini-series with a look at how to spread things out more easily using standard (though outdated) HTML list tags. Now, a look at my secret weapon — fake lists. It looks like a list, but it isn’t a list at all.

By the way, these tips are meant for folks who aren’t on intimate terms with CSS or are working on sites where they don’t have access to the CSS — there may be more elegant ways to accomplish this stuff, but I’m no designer/coder.

So, first, let’s look at the problem we’re trying to solve:

(Note: I’m using an example from George Aspland’s recent Marketing Land column, so be sure to check it out.)

The above doesn’t look terrible, but, for my taste, it’s kind of bunched up. I’d like some spaces between the bulleted items. And, in some cases, I’d like to break up the bulleted items into multiple paragraphs. It’s just easier to read with a bit more space.

So, what I do — and this may or may not work depending on how your CSS is set up with regard to the display of blockquotes — is cheat.

Rather than make an unordered list, I enclose all the to-be-bulleted items between

tags. This indents the text (on both sides), which adds some nice white space.

But what about the bullets? Well, turns out there’s special code — • or • — to create a bullet. So I add those to the front of each bulleted paragraph.

Here’s how it turned out on my edit of the above text:


You can do the same thing with ordered lists. Just write the actual numbers or letters, rather than using a

  • tag within an ordered list. The bullets or numbers aren’t out in the white space, as they are with real lists, but I prefer that quirk over bunched up text.

    Works for me. Maybe it’ll work for you. Thoughts?

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