What to expect from digital in 2021

By Desirée Gullan, Co-founder and Executive Creative Director of G&G Digital

Many marketing professionals were unprepared for the digital revolution that came with the 2020 global lockdown and the urgent need for businesses and organisations to pivot to digital.

As customers started spending more time online, it was crucial for marketing professionals to engage with their target audience where they’re shopping, socialising or just browsing the Internet.

A major takeaway from the pandemic is that it permanently changed consumer behaviour, both online and offline, and marketing professionals, businesses and organisations need to adapt to this behaviour change.

For many businesses, the move to digital was supported by social media campaigns and online advertising to ensure their products and services were top of mind for their target market. While these two factors continue to drive digital trends, there are more factors to consider to succeed in digital marketing in 2021 and beyond.

Marketing through messaging
Fifty-eight percent of South African mobile phone users use WhatsApp daily. This messaging app is also a great tool for businesses to engage with their customers. In 2021, more organisations will adopt a messaging strategy to better engage with their customers and target market. Messaging apps allow customers to learn more about a brand or business while making them feel valued, as they’re not being spammed with generic content, but personal, relevant and factual messages, especially for them.

“Customers want businesses and brands to talk to them in ways that’s convenient and relevant,” said Desirée Gullan, Co-founder and Executive Creative Director of G&G Digital. “Customers crave instant replies to their queries, and want to engage with brands on platforms that are easily accessible. Messaging apps are cost-effective and easy to implement, and it can be a great tool for a business’s digital arsenal,” she added.

Social and environmental responsibility
Amidst the devastation of the pandemic, social inequality, racial protests and environmental concerns were spotlighted, putting pressure on brands and businesses to reconsider not only their messaging, but their offering, processes and influencers they align with. Brands that show concern for social and environmental issues will flourish.

Enhanced image and video search
Technology makes it easier for users to search for products or services by uploading an image or even a video. This means businesses should enhance their image and video SEO descriptions, and consider including an image sitemap on their website. This will make their products and services more visible, in search query results.

As you prepare for the year ahead, think about how you can adapt and diversify your content to reach a larger audience with these digital trends in mind. Ensure better engagement and a two-way conversation with customers and potential customers, and shift and adapt your strategy by utilising digital tools to stay connected.

The (very) digital wrap-up of 2020

Brands across the globe are slowly but surely coming to terms with a world in the midst of COVID-19. Doing so has resulted in major campaigns being placed on ice or pivoted to a digital execution. The latter has significantly increased as brands used the opportunity to talk to their target audience online.

One key learning is that the Internet is the only place not locked down in a global lockdown. This has inspired communications agencies to create digital work which showed care, love and empathy. Research shows an increased reliance on digital mediums for many aspects of consumers lives.

In addition, consumers have also increased their usage of streaming platforms using mobile devices or smart TV’s.

To remain in touch with your core target audience, communication must take place where consumers spend their time. Here are some tips to meet your audience digitally.

Take learning online 
Online learning has seen a surge during the global pandemic as many people opted to use their time to achieve personal growth and learn new skills. Smart organisations have implemented e-learning programmes to initiate professional growth for their staff and to give their businesses a much-needed boost in performance.

Make use of live-streaming  
Brands are making use of platforms such as Instagram Live, Facebook Live or Twitch to livestream product launches and other important announcements. This is proving to be immensely successful as the conversion rate from viewer to customer surpassed the 12% mark, resulting in increased sales. In addition to converting viewers into customers, many brands find success in creating memorable experiences for their target audience, which goes a long way in retaining and attracting new customers.

Use webinars to educate and inform 
Webinars were once a frowned-upon digital strategy. This has changed as consumers are now connected by a minimum of three devices at any given time. Use webinars to create content that is easily digested, relevant, and available for future reference. Webinars are an effective tool for internal communications for B2B and B2C brands, as well as educational tools for external audiences.

To capitalise on digital strategies, brands should meet their audiences where it matters, online and in channels of their choice. This is an opportunity to not just grow the cultural relevance of your brand, but also convert traffic into customers and increase market share.

To learn more on how your business can experience growth in a digital world get in touch with G&G Digital, or visit https://gullanandgullan.com/.

Accelerate your brand’s growth with digital marketing

By Desirée Gullan, Co-founder and Executive Creative Director of G&G Digital  

Digital marketing accelerated in the first quarter of 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown restrictions disrupted industries and business activity. This disruption pushed marketing professionals into uncharted territories in a short time, presenting new opportunities for organisations to rethink their traditional marketing strategies to meet consumer demands.  

With lockdown restrictions, consumers started spending more time and money online. Some brands were prepared, while others had to adapt quickly to new digital strategies to meet their target audience’s changing behaviors. 

“Technology and innovation are essential to help businesses meet their customers’ ever-changing demandsespecially at the speed of change happening in today’s environment,” said Desirée Gullan, Co-founder and Executive Creative Director of G&G Digital. “Marketing professionals can give their business the edge by increasing their digital focus and with that the ability to meet customers’ demands instantaneouslyDigital is measurable, so it also allows you to identify and optimise what’s working and pivot quickly to change what’s not workingIt also shows that a business is agile, adaptable and ready for any challenges,” she added. 

To stay ahead of the curve with digital marketing, here are some proven methods.  

Use data to inform strategy
Data, search, and analytical tools can help identify who your target audiences are and help you understand their ever-shifting needs. These insights should inform strategy and drive creative teams and media strategists to execute meaningful campaigns that drive higher engagement and achieve ROI. 

Digitalfirst gives brands a competitive edge
Target audiences have pivoted to be more online, and that’s where your business needs to be. It’s not enough to have excellent products or services; your businesses should implement digital marketing strategies that can quickly react and scale to customer expectations.  

Meet customers where they’re at
As consumers spend more time online, make sure your brand meets them in their preferred digital spaces and push these leads down the marketing and sales funnel. By shifting marketing budgets from traditional to online, brands can raise awareness of their products and services and ensure sales conversions. And it becomes easier for marketers to engage with customers in real-time, assuring customers that their favourite brands are listening to their needs.  

To maintain growth beyond the pandemic, continue to build on the strategies and platforms you embraced during your pivot to digital. This will contribute to your long-term growth and deliver outstanding customer experience. By doing so, customers feel valued, knowing their brands respond to their immediate needs and interests and are there for the long haul.   

What is advocacy?

By Michael Gullan

The 2020 pandemic continues to disrupt industries and businesses while having a significant impact on world economies.

As business leaders shift their focus to a new way of working, they’re also looking at the continuity of their organisations and embracing new methods to upskill their workforce and create brand advocates.

Online learning and training is an effective way to upskill all stakeholders. G&G Advocacy takes eLearning to another level as it intersects eLearning, incentives and loyalty.

Content Capsules™
Content Capsules™ help learners better understand and engage with content. They’re bite-sized learning moments, presented through short and long-form articles, quizzes, audio, video, polls, gamification, and so much more. This helps users retain information and increase their knowledge.

Watch this video by Michael Gullan, Co-founder and Managing Director of G&G Advocacy.

Why microlearning is making a big impact on business

Over the past 20 yearsthe human attention span has rapidly decreased from 12 seconds to eight seconds, according to a Microsoft study. 

A short attention span has huge implications on how effectively an individual retains information. And it impacts an organisation’s approach to upskilling their employees and other stakeholders, to give their business a competitive edge 

What’s more — almost half of South African Millennials are employed and Gen Z’ers are slowly entering the workforce. Growing up in a digital age influences the way they consume content and the way they learn, and it’s important for organisations to adapt to this, especially their learning and advocacy strategies. 

“We’ve seen how businesses have to change the conversation to meet the needs of Millennials and Gen Z’ers. For organisations to not be left behind, they need to engage with their younger workforce in ways that resonate and empower them,” said Michael Gullan, Co-Founder and Managing Director of G&G Digital. “This includes how they learn and upskill their various stakeholders. G&G has taken microlearning to a new level by introducing an innovative Content Capsule™ methodology. This learning method empowers people to control what they learn. And it addresses the short attention span and busy schedules,” he adds. 

Microlearning is more than a buzzword 

Microlearning isn’t a trend. It is a digital learning methodology that delivers valuable and insightful information in bite-sized and easy-to-digest modules. Microlearning is strategically designed to allow employees to complete and assimilate one learning objective at a time. 

Microlearning is not restricted to professional learning, it can also impact an individual’s ongoing, continuous learning, as the success of the popular TED Talks shows. 

Here are three ways microlearning can benefit a business.  

  1. Affordable and scalable
    Microlearning is “learning moments” that are targetedstrategic, short and tailored to suit organisations’ needs and budgets. It’s highly interactiveaccessible from all devices and provides a rewarding digital experience for employees.
    As business processes and industry insights evolve, it’s essential to communicate these changes and upskill teams in a seamless manner. Microlearning will assist businesses to keep learning information relevant, updated and to be able to update it as need be, with no disruption to the learning process.  
  2. Utilising rich media 
    Microlearning offers employees an opportunity to interactively engage with diverse, rich media content allowing them to be fully engaged in horizontal and vertical learning. 

    Using stories, videos, audio, infographics, short and long-form articles, learning becomes more rewarding, easier to understand, and accommodating of an employees’ short attention span and busy schedule.
  3. Data friendly 
    Employees can easily access learning materials from any device, including smartphones, tablets, iPads and computers. And, with the short duration of learning material, accessing the content from smartphones is achievable and not data intensive. 
    With microlearning, businesses can continue to refresh and reinforce employees’ knowledge and skills for the workplace. It is effective and engaging, and as organisations continue to adapt to technology and digital processes, microlearning can help turn learning, training and advocacy into their most powerful business asset. 

How a pandemic has shaped the future of business

The COVID-19 pandemic forced millions of people around the world into lockdown and social distancing to help control the spread of the virus. This public health crisis is also driving businesses to implement remote working to ensure business continuity.

While adjusting to a new way of working, businesses are embracing technology and employees are learning new skills, as they look at digital tools and platforms to stay connected and productive.

Webinars are essential in today’s environment, as they put back the human connection and assist in enhancing collaboration that many people crave while working remotely.

“Marketers may be in crisis mode right now, but the benefits of webinars present a new tactical opportunity,” said Michael Gullan, Managing Director of G&G Digital. “All you need to do is move fast and get your webinar strategy in order to replace the revenue you were generating from areas that are no longer an option,” he added.

Webinars have a myriad of performance enhancing benefits that include the ability to engage with small to large groups, interact with the audience in real-time, record sessions, as well as reporting and analytic tools. Whether a virtual team building, onboarding of new employees, launching a new product or service, or a product demonstration, webinars are a powerful tool that can assist organisations strategically.

Here are four ways webinars add value.

  1. Encourage open dialogue
    Webinars allow for real-time questions from the audience, no matter where they are. Presenters can easily weave audience questions and comments into the presentation and provide real-time feedback. As webinars are live events, they are more conversational as presenters can ask the audience questions, encouraging engagement.
  2. Position organisations as industry experts
    Inviting experts to join in, organisations can expand their reach to other businesses and potential customers, as they position themselves as leaders in their industry.
  3. Soft selling
    By using webinars effectively, businesses can teach and sell their products or services at the same time, in a more organic way. And the registration process allows organisations to build a database, along with an opportunity to attract new customers.
  4. Gaining insights

    Although webinars are live events, they can be recorded to review and use in the future. These recordings offer opportunities to gain insights into attendees’ behaviour and inform future topics. And if used successfully, analysing questions asked during webinar sessions, can also help inform an organisation’s content strategy.

“With tradeshows, conferences, and events cancelled for just about everyone, the new coronavirus COVID-19, is forcing businesses everywhere to pivot many of their marketing plans and strategies overnight,” said Gullan.

Webinars are much more than a product launch or demonstration. They’re an excellent marketing tool that offer organisations an opportunity to convert attendees into customers, all while being cost-effective to deliver an essential marketing role. With an opportunity to expand the business and stay top of mind, webinars are the beginning of a new way to engage organisations and take your business to the next level.

How brands can be there for at-home consumers

By Michael Gullan, Co-founder and Managing Director of G&G Digital

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly disrupted everyday life, as millions of people worldwide are practicing physical and social distancing. Adapting to this new way of life means embracing teaching, learning, exercising, shopping, and working from home through online platforms. Spending more time indoors, and alone for some, means people are welcoming new ways to keep their minds active and healthy. This presents the perfect opportunity for savvy brand professionals.

As the new normal sets in, people are spending less money on non-essential items like makeup and outdoor activities, and more time and money on consuming online media. It is important for marketers to understand this shift in consumer behaviour, and to adapt quickly. By understanding and analysing at-home consumer behaviour, brands can meet consumer marketing demands. Here are three insights to consider.

  1. So much time
    For millions of people, the first few days of lockdown were structured with established routines and schedules, however as the days turned into weeks and months, time started to blur and schedules became a thing of the past. Consumers started craving routine amid heightened anxiety and uncertainty about the future.

    Smart brands should be using this time to build deep relationships with customers. By engaging with consumers about their interests and helping them with their challenges, brands can remain top of mind. Whether sharing a secret recipe or helping consumers with their at-home exercise routines, brands that create structure, fill the void and add value via useful and relevant content, will get share of mind and build loyalty.

  2. Working from home
    The president requested that organisations able to work from home, should. This presents a challenge for business owners and team leaders who need to keep their teams motivated and productive. It also presents an incredible opportunity to use digital solutions like never before, from digital team-building exercises, skills development, and new online learning solutions, such as continuous learning, and advocacy programmes.

    Understanding consumer’s online behaviour, advocacy programmes are strategically designed to offer content in bite-sized chunks, at the right time and place. This microlearning methodology provides highly interactive content, presented in multiple and effective ways, assisting audiences in retaining their newly acquired skills.

  3. Consuming more content
    Consumers digital habits are also changing, as they spend more time consuming content all hours of the day.

    This can include downloading audiobooks, streaming series, movies and motivational talks, or engaging with tutorials on self-improvement. This, again, is creating new opportunities for brands and businesses to connect and engage directly with their customers or their advocates.

    Marketing professionals that offer useful information about your brand, product, and services through innovative digital learning platforms, that offer interesting content in rich-media formats, will inspire and shape behaviour.

This shift in consumer behaviour creates new opportunities for brands. Consumers are embracing new channels to fulfil their needs, whether learning new things or staying connected with colleagues and family, while at home. By adapting to this new consumer behaviour, brands and business can elevate themselves, showing they’re ready to meet their consumers in a new world.

Enhancing brand value through advocacy campaigns

By Michael Gullan, Co-founder and Managing Director of G&G Digital

Brand advocacy is a powerful marketing channel at the intersection of e-learning, loyalty and incentives. Leading local and global brands are recognising its value and including brand advocacy in their strategies, with proven results.

A Deloitte survey indicates that 71% of Millennials are comfortable with technology, embracing its benefits, feeling positive about using digital devices and expecting results. This and other insights into e-learning, social media consumption, the psychology of word-of-mouth referrals, loyalty and incentive marketing, layered with people’s digital behaviours informed G&G to develop a bespoke technology Advocacy platform, unlike anything else in the world.

The platform delivers slipstreamed and highly effective advocacy programmes designed to assist B2B, B2C and B2B2C businesses to not only meet, but exceed, their business objectives.

Here are four reasons why G&G ADVC™ is breaking through.

  1. Market tested
    G&G’s ADVC™ solution has assisted local brands in a highly regulated sector to surpass their business objects in the midst of radical staff and budget cuts.
  2. Hard-working platform customised to brand objectives
    Using front-of-wave technology, G&G’s ADVC™ platform is customised to deliver on our client’s strategies, by delivering bespoke content to the right stakeholders and taking them on a journey to understand, integrate and apply their knowledge to becoming powerful brand advocates.
  3. Rich, micro-moments
    G&G’s team of strategists and content creators develop a smart-working content strategy and execute on that strategy to ensure our clients’ target audiences receive the most appropriate, informative and engaging, rich and diverse content and experiences. Through G&G’s ADVC™ platform the content is then delivered at the optimum time and pace to nurture powerful brand advocates.
  4. Data, insights and performance
    At the heart of the platform is a reporting engine, empowering agency and client with granular information on each user’s behaviour, allowing us to draw insights, push users through a learning journey, make optimisations, and, most importantly, achieve business outcomes and prove a ROI.

Advocacy is the smart channel for brands looking to get real results beyond the traditional spray and pray techniques of a website, paid search, social media, digital PR and search engine optimisation. Advocacy delivers crucial information to key stakeholders and builds a force of loyal brand advocates who will go to market and recommend and refer your brand on your behalf.

Brand advocacy – the most powerful route to market growth

By Michael Gullan, Co-founder and Managing Director of G&G Digital

As marketing communications becomes even more competitive, it’s more difficult for brands to stand out. Many smart brand professionals are incorporating strategic advocacy programmes into their plans. Advocacy is the process of transforming customers and internal stakeholders into brand advocates.

What is a brand advocate?

Brand advocates should not be confused with influencers. They are individuals who,

    • Elevate your brand through word of mouth and recommendations
    • Give positive reviews about your brand
    • Refer new customers.

While on the surface, this may seem to align closely with influencer marketing, it differs vastly in that brand advocates aren’t compensated for recommending your brand. Instead, they do so based on information, experience, loyalty and a strong belief that your product or service offering is positively life-changing.

Five groups of people who make effective brand advocates

Ideally, anyone that supports your brand and your business’s growth can become a brand advocate. However, for best results, these are the five people to focus on for your next advocacy campaign,

  1. Customers or end-users
  2. The strongest brand advocates aren’t affiliated with your brand. Instead, their support is genuine and deeply influential. 92% of customers seek recommendations from friends, family, colleagues and other customers before trying a product.

  3. Your customer’s customers
  4. A typical example of the B2B2C route to market, where fellow professionals such as doctors, pharmacists, dentists, brokers and sales teams recommend your brand to customers. These advocates may not be affiliated with your brand but based on their position of authority, they are powerful brand advocates who can influence end-users.

  5. Employees
  6. They are familiar with your brand’s culture and everything there is to know about your offering. They can be influential based on inside knowledge, making them ideal brand advocates. It’s important to nurture your internal advocates with ongoing internal advocacy campaigns.

  7. Branches and franchises
  8. Due to their deep-rooted knowledge of your brand and the culture behind your products or services, branches and franchises affect purchasing decisions based on being part of the bigger network. Again, a strong advocacy programme will ensure your business is getting the best out of these potential advocates.

  9. Business and brand partners

Comprised of charity organisations and other companies affiliated with your brand, these brand advocates are loyal because your brand has always been loyal to them, allowing them to recommend you to a larger target audience.

The above five groups of powerful advocates are best positioned to influence your target market, meet your marketing objectives and increase market share. Research by Forbes shows that 76% of people are more likely to trust information and recommendation by ‘normal’ people. This makes brand advocacy one of the most effective channels in any B2B, B2C or B2B2C marketing strategy.

Why should you consider brand advocacy for your company?

The right advocacy programme offers brands many short- and long-term benefits that are highly targeted, effective, build loyalty and brand recommendations. Advocacy programmes are proven to obtain a higher ROI on your marketing budget, and the benefits include;

    • New customer acquisitions
    • Build loyalty amongst existing customers
    • Communication with existing clients in a more tailored and personalised approach
    • Ignites learning and interest about your brand and its values
    • Encourages advocacy amongst internal and external stakeholders
    • Data insights gives you a deep understanding of each user and empowers you to optimise and improve results.

To find out how you can harness the power of brand advocates, talk to a team that’s leading the way with advocacy programmes for local and international brands.

Digital trends changing advocacy and CRM in 2020

By Michael Gullan, Co-founder and Managing Director of G&G Digital

The year 2020 once seemed so far away — with flying cars, robots, video calling and even smart homes. Well, the future has arrived, and hasn’t changed much.

Especially in business.

No matter the sector or size, businesses rely heavily on customer loyalty. Loyalty can best be achieved by listening to customers, acknowledging their value and solving their needs.

Advocacy and Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM) are smart strategies to create loyal customers and will give businesses the edge over competitors.

Here are three digital components that will give your advocacy and CRM strategy an extra boost and help take your business to the next level.

  1. Data
    Business can collect a vast amount of data on a single customer. Data has no meaning unless it is accurately mined for insights. And then using those insights to create new opportunities, that add value to customers on an ongoing basis. This will build brand love, affinity, loyalty and ultimately advocates.
  2. Artificial intelligence
    Artificial intelligence (AI) can enhance advocacy and CRM strategies. By integrating AI with advocacy and CRM, customers receive information on their device of choice at just the right time to add value to their lives.Effective AI and automation delivers personalised content triggered and delivered just when your customers need it most. A proven effective way to boost brand engagement and loyalty.
  3. Quality content
    Producing quality and authentic content is key to any CRM and advocacy marketing. Using the same insights mined from your data to inform engaging content creation then build that brand customer relationships by delivering content that adds real value.Adding to that, it’s essential for businesses to interrogate their content performance, and surprise their customers with what they’re not expecting, while at the same time always learning and refining their content process.

Technology will continue to impact businesses, and when used effectively can significantly assist businesses in achieving their objectives. Advocacy and CRM will become your most effective tools as they would embrace 4IR.