Marketing with emojis is here to stay

“We ❤️ helping you stay healthy” is the advertising sign I stare at while I stand at the counter of my local Shoppers Drug Mart.

Wow. Maybe George Orwell was closer to being right than I give him credit for. Perhaps, though, emojis take over our English language way before any speakwrite catastrophe happens, as he envisioned in his novel 1984.

Of course it’s just a trend right?

Well, 🍏‘s latest software iOS upgrade announcement would actually support the reality that we all now face. Emojis are here to stay whether you like it or not.

I enjoy being a Digital Marketer / Digital Strategist / whatever the next fancy title I give myself is. But I have yet to fully embrace the emoji world. It’s time to change that.

I am making strides towards embracing it even more these days, now that my 19 year old step-daughter lives away from 🏠. We text more than talk. But I’m still double checking with her if I don’t get what her message said. Heck, I remember when my mom couldn’t understand LOL. As they say, you never understand any generation better than your own. As much as I feel like I get her generation. I never really will, more than I get my own. And we are only one generation apart.

But back to emojis. I can’t avoid them when messaging her and I’m probably learning it best from her.

As digital marketers, it’s 🕔 to take notice

A recent report from  Email marketing daily that said “the use of emojis in mobile and email marketing messages has increased 775% year-over-year”. They are everywhere and marketing professionals have to take notice.

As usual, the big brands have already caught on to this. Check out the Chevrolet Emoji use in this ad: 

So it’s time to embrace the emoji world and help businesses find creative ways to communicate to their potential customers.

Why do we use Emojis?

“People use emoji to fill out their bare text with colorful accents, use them for emphasis, and crucially to convey emotion and tone.” – Joanne from SEOPresser

Businesses will use emojis in a variety of ways. The best digital marketers will figure out how. Here is one article that I found that I think just gives a hint to what’s coming. Emoji Marketing: 8 Best campaigns and what you can learn from them

So I’m all in now. I’ve decided I’m going to figure this out. How will I use Emojis? I have no idea . . . yet! But that’s what I love about my job. Inspiration is everywhere.

Actually, this is probably a great time to stop writing. I just receive a text from my eight year old daughter (and this is real) saying goodnight and I love you ALL IN EMOJIS!!

Until next time everyone


Your Church Website v Mobilegeddon

Mobilegeddon and your church website

Don’t let your church website get LEFT BEHIND

If your website doesn’t pass Google’s Mobile Friendly Test (see the link at the end of this article) then your search engine ranking will be affected when people search for your church with their mobile devices.

What is Mobilegeddon?

It is a word that many are using to describe the most recent update to Google’s algorithm. Every year Google makes changes to their ever-improving search system in order to best determine which websites will show up higher in search results. They make algorithm updates every year and this particular one came with a strong warning on Google’s own blog that non-mobile-friendly websites will see a significant decline with their ranking when it comes to mobile searches. This update started on April 21, 2015 and will probably take a couple of weeks to fully rollout.

How will Mobilegeddon affect your church website?

Fewer people will be visiting your hard-to-read-on-a-mobile-phone website because Google just wont bother recommending your church site ahead of other sites that are mobile-friendly. Google knows that if someone is using their iPhone to search for a local church then they probably want to visit a website with readable text and properly sized links that will be easy to tap. Mobile-friendliness now matters even more.

Does it cost a lot of money to upgrade to a mobile-friendly website?

Not necessarily. Some web companies have very affordable options for creating a second mobile-designed website that site visitors are redirected to when going to your site. Here is an example of a mobile-designed website that we did for our client’s. This is their desktop site.

Responsive Design ExampleA better option, although more expensive in many cases, is to develop a responsive website. Responsive web design is a different approach to web development that is finally becoming mainstream. Unlike the mobile-design approach, you don’t need to create an entirely new mobile-designed website if you are developing a Responsive website. Instead, at it’s core, a responsive website is one website developed to dynamically change in appearance depending on the screen size and orientation of the device being used to view it.

Another Helpful Blog Post on this topic

If you are interested in digging deeper to find more specific answers to whether your website will be affected by Mobilegeddon then I do recommend this post called ‘Mobilegeddon Checklist’. It answers the most common questions people are asking.

Check your church website against Google’s mobile-friendly test

Google Mobile TestHere is the link to the official Google Mobile-Friendly Test to see if your church website is indexed properly for Google and meets their mobile friendly standard.

Did you pass?

If you passed, that’s great! Keep working with your web developer and move the conversation forward to the next level by asking about other Search Engine Optimizing tips. Or upgrade to a Responsive design if you don’t have one yet.

If you did not pass then I recommend reaching out to your current web developer and requesting either a mobile-designed website or a responsive web redesign. Or better yet, give me shout and our team can help you.

Please contact me right away if your web guy doesn’t know what the term Responsive Design means. That’s a sign that you need to make a change.



Tile: Get a yearly reminder that you are forgetful for $25


The white rounded square-shaped item in the above image is a Tile. It is promoted as the answer for those of us who have a habit of losing things. I admittedly, am one of those people. So in 2013 when I noticed the online ad for Tile which stated, “Stick a Tile to anything and track it with your device” I had to jump on the early adopter bandwagon. I purchased four to attach to my potentially wayward items.

Tile on white

How did my real-life testing go?

It went well overall with one glaring concern; that no one else around me has one. As a result, I kind of feel like the first person who bought a fax machine. It will be a much better experience when other people in my community start using them.

If you’re thinking about picking one up, then here’s my take:

Easy to set up

As this blogger shows, it is an easy process to assign your Tile to something and then activate it. When I first attached my Tiles, I had no communication issues. It should be easy for anyone. Just make sure you have an iPhone or Android device.

Bigger and thicker than I expected

When I first pulled the Tiles out of the box they seemed larger than I expected them to be. I don’t think the company intentionally misled people, but the ads that were circulating the internet did a great job of hiding the thickness of these things.

Tile on a Keychain
A Tile attached to a Keychain.

This may not be a big deal for most people, but it comes into play when you make your careful decision as to which ‘thing’ you are going to attach it to. When I decided to secure my Tile to my keyring, I found that it looked more like a vacation souvenir rather than a discrete tracking device. I did it anyway.

I also opted NOT to attach one to my remote control because I didn’t like how much it bulked up the look of my Apple remote. Instead, I went straight to my dog’s collar. That seemed like a good idea at the time.

Don’t let your dog get out of range

The most frustrating part about having a Tile is that it’s not like the ‘Find My iPhone’ app which uses satellite GPS to help my find my phone every time I forget it at the movie theatre. Yes I’ve done that . . . multiple times.

Tiles instead use Bluetooth technology; which means that you need to be within 150 feet of your Tile in order for you to know where it is. This is fine if you’ve just lost your keys in your house or if another lost item ends up within range of another Tile user. But if you’re like me and you live in a small town with no other Tile users then you really don’t want your Tiled ‘thing’ (i.e. dog) running away. Chances are, she’s not going to run towards another Tile user. It’s just better to put your phone number on her collar.

Tracking our suitcases

Another fun test I did was attaching a Tile to my luggage when my wife and I took off for our last vacation. It was a relief to be able to open the Tile App on my iPhone and confirm that our suitcases were indeed on same plane as us and not somewhere else. I was also able to confirm the safety of our suitcases when we got home; while waiting for our luggage to come down the conveyer belt.


Tiles are expected to last a year and I’m told that just before your year is up, the Tile company will send you instructions for how to order a replacement ($25) and how to send back your expired Tile to be properly recycled. There is no way to just swap out the battery.

In Conclusion

The Tile is a great idea and could be worth the $25 if you have something valuable that you would like to track; especially if you live in a city where there is a greater potential for other Tile users. However, if you’re like me and would really only use it for finding your keys or your remote control, then it would just feel like a yearly ‘stupid tax’ to buy a device that reminds you that the remote is lost again inside the couch and that your keys are in your other jacket.

Tips to Avoid Smart Phishing Scams

Most recent phishing scam from fake ‘iTunes’ will catch many people

Today, Cheryl and I both received the same scamming email from what appeared to be Apple. From what I could see, the title of the email, the sender, and the details all appeared legitimate. Below is a screenshot of how this email came in.

phishing screenshot

The email was meant to pose as a ‘receipt’ that iTunes was sending me, and it caused me concern because I didn’t buy anything today from iTunes. So the natural reaction after reading through this email was look for the ‘Issues with this transaction?’ portion. I read through and clicked the only link on the page, asking me whether or not I approved this transaction. I should have had my first moment of hesitation at this time because I most certainly did not rent a movie for $41.99 (a first warning flag).

However, since the link displayed smart text leading me to believe that this was the real deal, I naturally clicked it and was then taken to another screen that also seemed official.  But have a closer look at the image below, because if you examine the screenshot carefully you can see that this is not really Apple.

The first clear indicator is that the address bar has a wonky name; it’s coming from something with the phrase ‘endoftheinternet’ in the address. The second concern I had was that the links at the top of the page were not real links at all; nothing was happening with I clicked on them. And finally, when I pressed on the ‘Apple’ logo and dragged it to my desktop, the whole page came with it, confirming my suspicions that this whole page is just one crisp screenshot (image) that someone with basic photoshop skills grabbed and put up to trick people.

apple scam screenshot phishing

Thankfully I was able to recognize this before any information was submitted. I quickly went back into my email and click the ‘report phishing’ button in my gmail program so that some programmers at Google could stop this from happening to too many people. The reality is, however, that many people will be fooled and I’m told that the next screen after this one, if you follow through on the ‘iTunes Sign In’ page, is a screen requesting your credit card information, similar to these iTunes scamming blog pictures.

Be careful my friends and try these tips:

  1. Watch for fake addresses in the address bar that don’t have clearly defined domain names. Have a read of this:
  2. Ask yourself: Do all of the buttons on the site behave as expected? Does any of the design feel out of place?
  3. Take time to read the content of any website that is requesting you to log-in or submit personal information.
  4. Always check to make sure the site has https in the address bar and not just http. Think of the ‘s’ as standing for ‘SECURE’

If you do feel like you’ve given too much info, quickly go into your account (iTunes in this case) and change your password to be safe.

It doesn’t hurt to change it up regularly anyway.


Flickr is worth using now


Yahoo comeback?

Yesterday, Yahoo announced the purchase of Tumblr and they have promised not to screw it up.  But what I find more interesting is their announcement regarding Flickr. They finally gave some much-needed upgrades to the ‘once awesome’ platform.

In Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s own words, “Flickr was once awesome, and it languished… now we want it to be awesome again.”

One Free Terabyte of Storage

We’ll see if it really turns out to be ‘awesome’, but one thing is for sure, it’s ready to be relevant because every flickr account now has a free terabyte of storage. That’s enough to store a million photos (at 1mb per photo) and it’s now the most affordable online photo storage platform for all of those old pictures that you don’t want to transfer to your new computer.

So maybe your spring cleaning list included ‘Do something with those old computers’ because you are hanging on to those machines that have valuable pictures on them. Well if you can, take a little time this year, pull those pictures out and consider storing them on Flickr. Then you can throw away that old ugly laptop that’s collecting dust next to the litter box.

Beyond Airplane Mode – My 5 Travelling Tips for iPhone users

Go Beyond Airplane Mode
Go Beyond Airplane Mode


This post is for those who are travelling out-of-country but want to avoid being charged any roaming fees. I know that most people are hesitant to even bother taking their cell phone with them on their trip just so they can avoid that frustrating glance at bill when you get home.

Believe it or not, there is more that you can do than just changing your settings to ‘Airplane Mode’ option. That’s the obvious #1 on this list, but most people forget that you don’t have to go completely off the map if you don’t want to.

1. Turn your phone to Airplane mode (the obvious one).


This can be done in Settings. It turns your phone into an iPod touch and disables all communication with your cell network, thus eliminating the possibility for data or usage charges.

2. Turn your Wifi ON


Turning on your wifi whenever you are near a wireless network. This doesn’t affect Airplane mode yet still allows you to use any of your apps that use data. Once you have found a solid wifi connection, you can proceed to try tips 3,4 and 5.

3. Use iMessage to communicate iPhone to iPhone


Have you ever wondered why sometimes your text messages are blue, while others are green? That’s because blue messages indicate that you have sent the message through iMessage, not just through your cell network. So if you see this above message, then click cancel and proceed to send a text message to another iPhone user. No charges will come your way.

4. Use Skype


Many people have Skype accounts and use them occasionally. If it’s well planned, then Skype is an easy fall-back for any quick communication. Also, if you’re nervous that your Skype call will still charge you, then install the Skype Wifi App which is the fail-safe app designed with all the same features of the full app, but without any ability to connect to a cellular network so you really don’t have to worry about any charges . . . just in case you were.

5. Try the Walkie Talkie Approach with ‘Voxer’


My favourite option on this list is using an app called Voxer. It turns your phone into a walkie-talkie and works great on the road. Of course, you need to ensure that you are connected to a Wifi, but it is a very fun way to communicate if you don’t want to leave a voicemail, or you can’t reach anyone on Skype.  This app also has the ability to send text messages and pictures.  It may sound too simple, but if you’ve ever tried it, it’s a blast to use the old ‘push and talk’ technique to share your travelling experience with your friends back home.

That’s all! Thanks for reading.


Divorcing in a Facebook World (Part 3): 5 Simple Steps Forward


As I stated before in my previous posts, living in today’s Facebook world means that there are new challenges to any person who is going through a relationship struggle. It is especially difficult if you find yourself in a separation and/or divorce. Stresses are magnified and a complicated process can get even bumpier.

My previous posts about divorcing in a Facebook world:

  • Part 1 – My Facebook Divorce
  • Part 2 – Is it harder than dealing with the death of a loved one?

5 Simple Steps Forward

I want to offer simple steps that you can take in order to navigate this time in your life successfully and keep the collateral damage to a minimum.

#1: Take a Facebook Time Out

The best thing you can do early on in a relationship crisis is to take a deep breath and step away from the Facebook flood. Taking a bit of time and going offline is freeing. Go for more walks, more coffee visits, connect with people around you who aren’t just behind another screen.

It may save you from prematurely de-friending all of your in-laws or posting hate-filled/cryptic messages to your common connections.

#2 – Set a Facebook Curfew

Once you are ready to engage on Facebook again, be sure to set some boundaries about your online activity. Consider abandoning any late-night browsing. It can be costly.

Not only do you risk reacting to others and posting careless emotional comments, but you’ve probably ruined a good night’s sleep by not turning off your brain. Pick a reasonable hour and challenge yourself to go offline a good hour before laying your head on a pillow. A fresh mind and body are necessary to successfully walk this leg of life’s race.

#3 – Vent Elsewhere – There’s an App for that

Choose to talk through your emotions somewhere else other than your Facebook timeline. You may have a friend who is walking the journey with you, but they probably have their own lives and can’t be there every moment to hear the latest updates and daily frustrations.

I recommend downloading a journaling iPhone app like Momento. It let’s you easily record short thoughts/moments. You may not realize it at the time, but taking this simple step can keep your thoughts from circling.

From experience I can also tell you that looking back on those messages feels encouraging now because I can see how far I’ve come and I can thank God for very specific moments of provision & strength. It’s sometimes easy to forget the little things that God did in the middle of the storm.

#4: Find a Trusted Texting Companion

Another great solution to help with the daily unexpected emotions is to find a friend who is willing to carry some of that burden by simply texting you and receiving texts. Someone who doesn’t mind getting random rants, outbursts and awkward play-by-play announcements. Tell this friend that they don’t have to solve your problems. They just need to listen (so to speak) and be a support.

It’s really important, however, that they are a trusted, mature person. A pastor, mentor or even a fellow church-member. Definitely not an immediate family member who is too close to the situation. You don’t want to cause unnecessary resentment and anger.

#5: Play the movie

Finally, Dr. Henry Cloud, in his book 9 Things you simply must do to be successful in love and life, has a memorable way of explaining that successful people make decisions based on subsequent consequences. They “Play the movie,” meaning that they think about how today’s actions and words will play out tomorrow, next month, and in the years to come. Thinking about the effects of a decision help you prepare, and maybe avoid future challenges.

Think about how your angry post about or at your spouse/ex-spouse hinders any healthy steps toward healing or hurts your attempts at reconciliation. Think about how your children will view your character, or the emotional burden that you’ve put on them by dumping on their parent. What are you teaching them?

Remember: Think twice. Post once.

See also ‘Five Facebook no-no’s for Divorcing Couples’ by Time Magazine.

A last word: You can choose

One challenge I didn’t anticipate, while writing these posts is that I may be quickly judging those of you who have already made false starts on your journey. It’s obviously hard to take back words that have been posted on Facebook. So for you, I would say that today is a new day.

You can choose to forgive yourself for yesterday’s mistakes. You can choose to seek forgiveness from anyone you may have hurt. You can also choose to start fresh today.

A hidden blessing in life is that you always have a choice to live today better than yesterday. You can’t control other people and their reactions, but you can choose to be proactive and make your own steps forward. Today can be filled with fresh opportunities to change for the better or you can live defeated and reactionary to the negative world around you. It’s your choice.

My hope is that you will choose to take control of the one thing you are responsible for, yourself. So if you are walking through relationship challenges today or find yourself in a separation and or a divorce, then please consider taking right steps so that you can navigate this storm in your life.

The real last word comes from the ancient book of Philippians, found in the New Testament of the Bible.

Phil. 4:13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”