The Essential Digital Marketing Books

"Digital Marketing asks the questions todays marketers must answer to meet tomorrows challenges. Digital consumers are decision-makers, no longer decision-takers. Successful marketing strategies will have to focus on helping them to optimize their decisions." —Dr. Ulrich Cartellieri, Member of the Board, Deutsche Bank AG Frankfurt.

Today, Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Podcasts are mentioned everywhere and will continue to be talked about. If you really want to learn about Digital Marketing, you're going to do heavy lifting, reading and self discovery.

Here are the Top 20 Digital Marketing Business Books (in alphabetical order) that you should a look on:
  • The Cluetrain Manifesto - Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls & David Weinberger.

  • Crush It! - Gary Vaynerchuk.

  • Groundswell - Josh Bernoff & Charlene Li.

  • Here Comes Everybody - Clay Shirky.

  • Life After The 30-Second Spot - Joseph Jaffe.

  • The Long Tail - Chris Anderson.

  • Made To Stick - Chip & Dan Heath.

  • The New Community Rules - Tamar Weinberg.

  • The New Influencers - Paul Gillen.

  • The New Rules of Marketing & PR - David Meerman Scott.

  • Purple Cow - Seth Godin.

  • Tribes - Seth Godin.

  • Trust Agents - Chris Brogan & Julien Smith.

  • Waiting For Your Cat To Bark - Bryan & Jeffrey Eisenberg.

  • Web Analytics 2.0 - Avinash Kaushik.

  • Web Analytics - An Hour A Day - Avinash Kaushik.

  • What Would Google Do? Jeff Jarvis.

  • The Whuffie Factor - Tara Hunt.

  • Wikinomics - Don Tapscott.

  • Word of Mouth Marketing - Andy Sernovitz.

I got some e-books of these titles, PM me if you are interested in.  So what's yours?

Changes to your Marketing Plan: Are you Prepared?

"Always be prepared"! Isn’t that the Boy Scout motto?

It should also be the motto of good marketing professionals!

Because variables that impact consumer spending tend to change so frequently (especially in today’s volatile economy), and the number of channels for reaching consumers is growing daily; a good marketer is one that is always prepared, and flexible enough to make quick adjustments to his/her marketing plans.

What is your back up plan? How flexible are you when it comes to evaluating and changing your marketing plan? How often do you conduct environmental scans, read the latest news on marketing and consumer trends, the economy or legislation that may impact your business? How frequently do you refer to your marketing research and/or conduct market research?

Do you have to jump through hoops or seek approval from multiple departments before changing direction? If so, how can you streamline the process while keeping all necessary departments informed and involved?

I once had a professor in graduate school who was fond of saying, “It’s the planning that counts, not the plan”. While certainly the plan is important, he was simply trying to emphasize the significance of adaptability. You need to understand that planning never stops. Just because you’ve submitted a marketing plan three or four months before the start of your fiscal year, doesn’t mean that your plan isn’t going to change, or that it SHOULDN’T change over the course of the year. Malleability is a strong attribute in business and definitely in marketing.

I’ve been dealing with several instances lately that require changes to my marketing plans. Those changes will ultimately better serve our organizational needs and stakeholders.

Would it be problematic if I didn’t make these changes? Actually, yes, it would. Because what was originally a round peg designed for a round hole nine months ago, has suddenly become a square peg. Why try to force a square peg into a round hole simply because it’s the peg I originally chose? Going back to the box to get a round peg will require a little extra effort, but that effort will ultimately produce better results, making my life a lot easier.

You get it? I hope so; because you need to.

Is Your Company Meeting Today's Demanding Customer Service Expectations?

Raise your hand it you feel you work in a customer service based industry.

I’m going out on a limb here by guessing that virtually everyone who reads this blog post raised a hand (at least in spirit!).

Now raise your hand if you believe that YOU personally provide excellent customer service.

Again, I’m taking a stab in the dark, but I’m guessing about 90% of you believe you provide excellent customer service.

Last request…raise your hand if you believe that the business you work for provides excellent customer service.

OK, if you raised your hand, take a moment to really evaluate the quality of the customer service your business provides. Think about all the people in your company who interact with stakeholders, internal or external, including: the finance department, HR, IT, product development, marketing, sales, CEO, and even the receptionist. Do you think that they would ALL score an “A” on a customer service evaluation? OK, for the sake of discussion, let’s assume you do.

Now take a look at your customer retention rates over the past three years and answer that question again.

If your retention rates have dropped significantly over the past three years, chances are that the quality of the customer service your company provides may not be as good as you think it is.

Yeah, yeah, I know… the poor economy has led to a drop in consumer spending across the board, leading to a drop in customer retention. But consumers still need to make purchases. They’ve just become more selective about who they spend their money with. If you’re not meeting their customer service expectations, chances are, fewer consumers have selected to spend their money with you!

Over the weekend, I was having a problem downloading some software that I purchased for my PC. I contacted the manufacturer and couldn’t get anyone to actually pick up the phone. Right off the bat, I would have given these guys an “F” for customer service. I then noticed that they had a customer service chat room. I decided to give it a try. The customer service representative was quick to respond, patient, helpful and generally provided excellent customer service. Had I tried the chat room first, I probably would have given this company an “A” for customer service. However, since speaking to someone was my first choice (which they didn’t satisfy) and communicating digitally was my second, the best score I can give this customer service is a “B”. I would probably buy from this company again, but not definitely, and what’s worse…I’m sharing my negative customer service experience with others. Believe me, your customers do the same thing. Statistics show that a dissatisfied customer will share that experience with 8 to 10 other people.

Would you be satisfied with a customer service score of “B” in today’s economy? I wouldn’t! You know why? Because I guarantee you that one of your competitors is going to be scored an “A”, and I bet you know who that competitor is. Now compare customer retention rates and see if your competitor’s rates are better or worse than yours over the past three years.

A recent statistic at the outlined the following reasons why customers quit:

• 1% die
• 3% move away
• 5% develop other friendships
• 9% find the service or product cheaper elsewhere
• 14% are dissatisfied with the product
• 68% are dissatisfied with the attitude of indifference shown towards
them by an employee

If you are COMPLETELY satisfied with the customer service your company provides, then just ignore this blog post. However, if you have even one ounce of doubt, I suggest you take another look at your customer service training. In today’s economy, you can’t afford not to.

Should Marketers Do Social Marketing in Vietnam?

As somebody may know, I’m a Vietnamese living in Singapore. So sharing my understanding about social media in Vietnam is something I enjoy to do. This article is writing based on reliable research and reports on Vietnam online consumption behavior and digital landscape, and certainly my personal insights and experience. 

“Social Media is like teen sex. Everyone wants to do it. Nobody knows how. When it's finally done there is surprise it's not better.” says Avinash Kaushik at Google. Coincidentally, this is quite matched to the situation in Vietnam, where social media is emerging and businesses are seeking opportunities online. To understand more, there are 5 main points to mention in the large picture of Vietnam social media landscape.

1. Who are online in Vietnam?
Vietnam internet population is very young with 76% from 15-34 and they spend a lot of time online and enjoy the increasing high-speed connection. It makes Vietnam the fastest growth in internet penetration, outweighing other neighbours like Thailand or Philippines. 50% of urban Vietnam is regularly online - even more in Hanoi. If you live in urban Vietnam and do not access the internet, you are fast becoming the minority.

2. What are they doing?
According to Cimigo's recent report of Vietnam NetCitizens , main online activities of Vietnam online users are:
  • Gathering information. Reading news and using search sites are the most common activities online. Google is the most widely used website in Vietnam. Online newspapers are also in top-visited websites

  • Online entertainment. Online music, movies and gaming are most popular. Zing, the integrated entertainment and networks website, shows the second largest penetration in Vietnam. 

  • Online communications. Communications is a further key activity on the internet. The most frequent usage is chatting and emailing. SMS online and instant messaging are coming next.

  • Blogging and social networks. Social network become familiar with Vietnam online users with the blogging trend. The need of interaction and networking increases significantly

  • Online business. Although there is an increase in online business activities, Vietnam online commerce has not been highly developed yet. The payment system is still weak and the threat of illegal payment is quite high.

3. How’s the social media landscape?
As Vietnam has only had internet access since 1997, social media in Vietnam is relatively young; however, it has been growing rapidly for the past one decade. Some popular social media platforms includes:
  • Social networks. Self-expression demand in Vietnam is very high. In the past, social networking in VN just means “blogging”. While the world was eyeing on and, in Vietnam, Yahoo!360 ruled with more than 2 million users. It was not a tool specifically designed for the Vietnam market, but the market took it anyway, with great passion and enthusiasm. Since it closed in July 2009, Facebook becomes the fastest growing market in Vietnam. Local social networks also grow significantly.

  • Photo-sharing sites. Most of popular photo sharing sites in Vietnam are forum based with online gallery. The community used to focus more on professional photographers but now it opens to everyone who is interested in photography. And Flickr is the largest and most popular photo-sharing community in Vietnam

  • Video-sharing sites. There are two popular video-sharing sites in Vietnam, YouTube and However YouTube shows more advantages with better speed,great navigational and usability, reasonable advertising and huge community, while has slow speed, too many banners, weak usability and can not expand community. Therefore, YouTube is leading in video-sharing in Vietnam with fast growing community

  • Music sharing sites. Popular sites are,, Zing MP3. However, majority of users just visit, listen and download music without community interaction

  • Career network sites. These websites, such as or, are for sharing resumes and discussing about career and recruitment trend.

  • Integrated-service sites. These “all in one” websites,mostly locally designed, such as or, offer everything from blogs, news, videos, music to photos. 

  • Forums. Forum seeding is still very effective in Vietnam. Popular forums are,,,, and 

The recent disappear of some popular social networking sites such as Facebook due to government censorship has raised another issue in Vietnam social media situation. It pushed Facebook’s users in Vietnam looking for “black” tips to access to the site. Before that, the government mostly blocks pornographic and political websites, which are against the culture and the government. But this recent censorship on social network sites for invisible reasons is not widely supported by online users.

4. Why doing social marketing in Vietnam?
  • Decreasing traditional media. It is undeniable that TV and Print still dominate in Vietnam but they are losing their attention and all decrease for a “new kid on the block”, online marketing, which is more effective and cost-saving in the current economy situation. The size of the online advertising market in 2009 is estimated at VND 278 billion VND (approx. USD 15.5 million)

  • High penetration rate. Internet user in Vietnam is expanding with “miraculous” speed with 66% home penetration in 4 key cities in Vietnam.

  • Targeted. Social media provide chance to reach the “right” target, especially young audience. 

  • Easy to measure and tracking. With the provided tools and programs designed for social marketing, it is easier to measure the effectiveness.

5. How to apply into practice?
  • Follow the users. Marketers should understand and use what they are using. Interacting with them on Facebook, Blog, RSS, Twitter, Flickr , YouTube , Newsletter and Forums reasonably and wisely should be considered

  • Increase traffic by quality. In order to maximize your traffic, microsite is still ideal for short or seasonal campaign. However, in long terms, marketers should ignore “quantity” and go more for “quality”. A well-designed strategy from the beginning including SEO, SEM, E-mail marketing, E-PR still an effective way to drive traffic.

  • Have an umbrella. Nobody remember tons of micro-sites everyday. Therefore, building and maintaining the corporate website together with your micro-site campaign is crucial. Having brand account on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, etc. is necessary.

  • Measure, measure and measure. Marketers should use social marketing statistics, tools and program, such as Google Analytics, traffic tracking, site ranking, conversion rate, etc. to analyze and measure the effectiveness of their online marketing plan.

  • Connect with offline activities. In Vietnam, social media is not everything. Lots of people are online, but also lots of people are still out there. Social media is just wings for tiger, it’s not replace everything

Overall, there are a lot of opportunities in Vietnam with 25 millions of online population. Young people become more and more familiar with social media. Many online emerging trends have been established in a fast pace. Vietnam online advertising spend continually reaches new highs. So the opportunity is here but the challenge is also here. The decisions are all in hand of marketers.

(Sources: Cimigo’s Vietnam NetCitizens report, Vietnam digital landcape by Mr. Hieu Nguyen)


Does What Happens in Facebook Stay in Facebook? - How to Control?

Definitely unsure. Today, what happens in Vegas stays in Facebook and what happens in Facebook may stay…everywhere. So has society become less private or is it Facebook that's pushing people in that direction? Is privacy online just an illusion anyway? Do people no longer need to keep access to some of their personal information online limited just to trusted friends?

Nowadays, people probably are becoming more comfortable telling the world at large about more and different parts of their lives. But it doesn’t mean it's ok to take away peoples' choices and force them to make public some of their information all the time. Facebook became a huge success on that premise and ought to be able to continue to thrive without doing a 180-degree turn on privacy. 

More than millions, tens or hundreds of millions of people around the world have reason to limit visibility of their personal information from the web but still want to be able to share that information with trusted contacts. But privacy doesn't mean secrecy. Therefore, people need to know about privacy settings to monitor their social networking presence effectively.

Have a look at the answer of what really happens on Facebook in this video below before thinking of making some changes for your Facebook profile.

Facebook's continuous security problems make its users not happy. Among its 400 million users, many have been threatening to delete their account due to the security and privacy issues that keep surfacing. Most of the complaints are stemming from the older users, mostly aged over 35.

So how to control things, not to end it up? These are some Facebook’s basic privacy settings, which could help to avoid threats caused by the public to your personal life
  • Grouping friends into lists (using “tags”) to apply specific privacy policies to them. 

  • Remove yourself from Facebook search results. There are numerous reasons you may not want to be found by others on Facebook.

  • Remove yourself from Google. If you want to be easy to find, making your search profile can be a great idea. However, many other people may feel unpleasant when everyone can “google” their name and comes out which every single aspects of their personal life on different social networking sites. 

  • Make your contact information private. Frequently people we don’t know end up contacting us and we have no idea how they got our contact information. So it is better to public your contacts to people you want to share only.

  • Avoid the infamous photo/video tag mistake. You let loose for a few hours one night (or day) and photos (or videos) of the moment are suddenly posted for all to view, not just your close friends who shared the moment with you and the result can be devastating. 

  • Protect your albums. By setting specific privacy on them , you will ensure that the only people that can view your photos are the ones who you really want them to see.

  • Prevent stories from showing up in your friends’ news feeds.  Sometimes it is not good to let all of your friends and business contacts hear that you just break up with your girlfriend or are in any new relationship

  • Protect against published application stories. Frequently, a news feed item is immediately published to your profile when you add an application. But it is unsure that your professional contacts are interested in seeing “Nick just published to the world that he is having sex!” after your visit to a so-called “Have sex” application. 

  • Avoid embarrassing wall posts. Just because you use Facebook for business doesn’t mean your friends do. That’s why once in a while a friend of yours will come post something embarrassing or not necessarily “work friendly” and it can end up having adverse effects. 

  • Keep your friendships private. It’s often a good policy to turn off your friends’ visibility to others to avoid people make use of your friends’ profile for different purposes while some of your friends may not want to live public lives. 

All in all, the best way to prevent embarrassing items from showing up on Facebook in the future is to not make bad judgments in your personal life. We’re all human though and being completely paranoid about every choice you make is probably not the best way to live your life. Be aware of what privacy settings are available and be conscious of what your friends may be publishing about you.

In the worst situation, when your online presence is turning bad, there are some websites could provide solution to delete your existing social networking profiles and virtual friends such as Web 2.0 Suicide Machine or or However these sites are facing the social network giant Facebook’s strong protest. Whatever it happens, they still receive a lot of visitors and do many “deleting” actions each day. Hopefully everything goes well with your social networking experience, so you do not need to visit these sites. Good luck!

Frugality is our Future: How will you adapt?

All economic indicators show that we are now beginning to recover from three years of growing unemployment and public discontent as well as shrinking investment portfolios and consumer spending.

Or are we?

While we are beginning to see more job creation, we’re not seeing a drop in the unemployment rate. Why? Because that rate is determined in large part by the number of people filing for unemployment. Therefore, while companies are starting to hire again, more people who have been unemployed or underemployed are only now beginning to file for unemployment benefits, thus balancing out the job growth.

Though, we should still be very pleased with the recent trend in job creation. The U.S. netted an additional 162,000 jobs in March.

What is an interesting contradiction to this trend however, is that even though we’re starting to see signs that the recession is receding, consumers who have been badly burned by the economic downturn, do not seem likely to revert to "pre-recession" spending habits anytime soon.

A recent article in the Sun Herald by Jeannine Aversa and Bernard Condon said, “In the AP’s new quarterly survey, a majority of economists agreed that a new frugality will persist even as the recovery gains firmer footing.”

While this isn’t actually eye opening, as I’ve read this prediction several times before; what I find compelling is that… I’ve read this prediction several times before! These findings aren’t an anomaly. They are very consistent with other studies.

The questions this forecast creates in my mind as a marketer are: How will it impact hiring in the marketing sector? And, how will continued consumer frugality impact product development and marketing strategy over the next several years?

I believe that smart businesses will continue to focus on product integrity and ensuring they don’t abandon their primary market segments…even if they are a luxury brand. Once a company loses sight of its brand essence and core customer, kiss it goodbye.

However, that doesn’t mean that even a luxury brand can’t consider more value based messaging. After all, a luxury brand is typically more expensive because of its quality. And higher quality equates to greater value.

I also think that smart businesses will grow their marketing investments in an aggressive approach to the evolving economic landscape. Confronting today’s unique marketing challenges with inexperienced marketers, in an effort to save money, would be a huge mistake.

That being said, today might be a good time to consider buying a few shares of stock in TJX Companies, owners of TJ Maxx. Too bad Goodwill and the Salvation Army aren’t publicly traded.

Key Facts of Social Media across Asia and in China

One of the biggest stories in 2010 is going to be the exponential growth of social media in Asia, not only in terms of reach but also content created in varied Asian languages. Web users in China, Japan, and the rest of Asia comprise a massive online population, and no surprise; they're adopting and interacting in online social environments at incredible rates. While Facebook and Twitter might rule in the US and Europe, it’s a whole different game in Asia

The raising question is: “What is different about social media in Asia as compared to North america, Europe or Australia?" Are they the factors of “the scale of users”, “cultures and languages”, “monetization strategies” or “the localization”? Let’s find out!

The answer was significantly revealed in these below insightful presentations by Thomas Crampton, Asia-Pacific director of 360 Digital Influence for Ogilvy, and Mindy Zhang from China. There are also some takeaways extracted from their presentations for readers to remember and think of.
• Facebook would be the fourth largest country in the world in terms of users
• Facebook makes money from advertising, while Asian social networking sites make money from digital goods
• Dominant Social Networks: QQ in China, Cyworld in South Korea, Mixi in Japan
• Dominant Search Engines: Baidu in China, Naver in South Korea, Yahoo in Japan
• China has over 300 million netizens (larger than the US population)
• Chinese people have more online friends than offline (real world)
• Asians enjoy creating and sharing content significantly more than people in the US

• Government censorship promotes local players who innovate, not just copy
• Nearly a half of Chinese netizens are urban, but rural base is growing 
• Chinese netizens mostly access the internet by mobile phone (46%) or in internet cafes (35%)
• Internet usage is primarily for entertainment, information and communications
• A quarter of 120 million social networking sites’ users login primarily to play games
• A third of video content is user-generated while the rest is pirated
• Bulletin Board Services are very popular, especially for exchanging product info
• Viral memes quickly become cultural phenomena through social media
• Chinese users are more engaged in their online lives compared with Americans

It is obvious that social media in Asia is dominated by local players who, although partly inspired by the success of western services, have diversified their offerings to suit local tastes and interests. Outsiders will find it hard to compete in this space but may utilize the tools they offer as a platform for targeting their users. Mobile and gaming are also big factors here with a greater emphasis on having fun and the form factor content is consumed on playing a major role in its consumption. All requires marketers to understand the difference of local social-media consumption-behaviors across Asian markets in order to achieve successful social media strategy in this area.

(Sources: Thomas Crampton, SocialMediaToday, RandomWire)

6 Things about Social Bookmarking

Recently, I had a research and analysis on social bookmarking sites and found that nowadays several websites have benefited from the social bookmarking in terms of driving traffic to the site. So I have been thinking about sharing information of this interesting and effective social marketing tool.

Basically, social bookmarking creates a true web of resources and connections—one that is not limited to individuals and their folders but represents the interests and judgments of a community of users.

1. What is it?
  • Social bookmarking is the practice of saving bookmarks to a public website and “tagging” them with keywords. Basically it means that if you like something, you capost it to a social bookmarking site who'll then put it on their site. If other people also like it, they can vote for it and give it a better ranking and thus more prominence. 

  • Visitors to social bookmarking sites can search for resources by keyword, person, or popularity and see the public bookmarks, tags, and classification schemes that registered users have created and saved.

2. How does it work?

Social bookmarking opens the door to new ways of organizing information and categorizing resources. Because social bookmarking services indicate who created each bookmark and provide access to that person’s other bookmarked resources, users can easily make social connections with other individuals interested in just about any topic. Users can also see how many people have used a tag and search for all resources that have been assigned that tag.

3. Which sites are operating social bookmarking?

Social bookmarking dates back just a couple of years, when sites like Furl, Simpy, and began operating. Here are some popular social bookmarking sites:


  • Reddit

  • Furl

  • Clipmarks

  • StumbleUpon

  • Newsvine

  • Mixx

  • Diigo

  • Propeller 

4. Who uses social bookmarking?

Lots of people. They are young and might be a bit geeky, but overall they are the people who are going to be contributing to your website. If you want user generated content, you can get this in here. Social bookmarking users not only go around bookmarking pages but comment on your pages as well. They'll make suggestions of things you can change. They'll blog about you on their own websites. These are the people who generate the noise.

5. What are the benefits?
  • Give users the opportunity to express differing perspectives on information and resources through informal organizational structures. It is a chance to build your personal branding as most of the social bookmarking sites allow users to develop your own page on their site. 

  • Allow like-minded individuals to find one another and create new communities of users. It lets people take advantage of the insights of other users to find information related to the topic you are researching, even in areas that aren’t obviously connected to the primary topic. 

  • Encourage users to keep coming back because the collections of resources are constantly changing, therefore, increase website traffic.

  • Bring opportunity to get a better Search Engine Optimization (SEO) system, as social bookmarking sites help to build more relevant links easily. Normally, it is difficult to do that in a mass scale without going round lots of sites asking them for links or going around blogs and posting comments so that they'll link back.

6. What are the downsides?
  • Social bookmarking is done by amateurs. There is no oversight as to how resources are organized and tagged. This can lead to inconsistent or otherwise poor use of tags.

  • There is a risk of presenting a skewed view of the value of any particular topic because social bookmarking reflects the values of the community of users, For example, users might assign pejorative tags to certain resources

  • Social bookmarking means storing data in yet another location that you have to maintain and update.

From all the aspects considered above, it is seen that understanding social bookmarking, taking its advantage and applying it properly can help marketers enhance their brand’s online performance and increase their social media campaign’s effectiveness.

CMO in Residence at NBC Universal: Will it work?

According to a recent article in the Media Daily News, NBC Universal (NBCU) is developing a CMO in Residence program to try and collect knowledge about the needs of specific industries from marketing leaders who used to work within those industries. NBC hopes this effort will lead to more effective integrated marketing campaigns that will improve business for NBC’s clients while also enticing advertisers to invest more in NBCU.

According to Maryam Banikarim, SVP of of integrated sales for NBC Universal, "'The goal is to utilize the expertise and insights of top CMOs in specific categories, so NBC can ‘enhance our ability to develop programs and ideas that more directly address the needs of our clients’”.

Personally, I find this approach to be fresh and very smart for two reasons. First, the experts will know what works best for each respective targeted industry. Second, I’m quite certain that NBCU will have these experts utilize their clout and relationships to lobby advertisers on behalf of NBC. The questions are will it have legs and will these CMOs play well with others?

I see little downside here unless the cost of bringing the former CMOs aboard exceeds the amount the program will net on the back end. Although I find that prospect unlikely.

The first CMO to join the NBCU family is former K-Mart marketing executive, Bill Stewart. Clearly the discount retail industry is a mark. It will be interesting to see what other categories are targeted. But place your bets on automotive, travel & hospitality, electronics and real estate as a few options.

Hmmm…I wonder if they will include the nonprofit sector in the program?