How regulated industries are getting results from digital marketing

Consumers are changing—they have less time, aren’t brand loyal, are more socially and environmentally conscious, and prefer experiences over products. According to a Deloitte study, these changes are a result of climate change, economic constraints and increasing competitive options.

 

Marketing professionals operating in regulated industries have the additional challenge of compliance and government regulations, while attempting to engage with their difficult-to-reach audiences.  

 

“Don’t let regulations limit your creativity and how you engage with your customers and potential customers in the digital space,” said Desirée Gullan, Executive Creative Director of G&G Digital. “Focus on what you are permitted to do within your industry regulations and turn challenges into opportunities to remain competitive.”  

 

Gullan shared three insights on how brands operating in regulated industries can win at digital.  

 

1.Understand your audience and make your marketing work harder

Get to know your customers, what digital platforms they use, and what they use them for. Use social to understand their wants, needs and behaviours, and then design a strategy that resonates, provides solutions, and adds value to their lives. You will also save marketing budget and effort by selecting platforms your customers use. For example, if customers only use social media, developing a microsite won’t help you reach them or engage with them.  

 

2. Use the right digital touchpoints 

Paid search, social media, and influencer marketing are effective channels to reach audiences, but for some industries, this may not be permitted. Regulations can be restrictive. On top of that, not all channels are appropriate for your goals. Identify the best platforms, objectives, and when regulations get in the way, work with key opinion leaders and influencers, use digital PR, tag visual content on your website, and optimise content to increase organic traffic.   

 

3. Close the digital gap

Another Deloitte study shows that 75% of customers want consistency from their brands. You can achieve this with content that resonates and tells the same story, using a similar tone, across all digital touchpoints. Brands should also be consistent in their support services so that customers experience seamless interaction and don’t feel like they’re dealing with a business in silos. 

 

Regardless of your industry, online visibility is essential, and when used correctly can yield excellent results for your brand. Leverage opportunities, use the right digital platforms in smart, goal orientated ways. Keep your audience at the centre of your content creation, deliver value, and be consistent across all touchpoints.  

 

 “Digital is always changing and it changes fast, which also means that new and exciting opportunities are always opening up to engage with your customers on their terms, to add value to their lives and to get an ROI on your marketing,” Gullan concluded. 

Meet G&G Digital’s new GM, Samantha Fletcher

Samantha Fletcher stepped into her new hybrid role as Client Service Director and General Manager (GM) of G&G Digital, the award-winning digital marketing agency based in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

While Samantha has worked with the dynamic team at G&G Digital for the past decade, her full-time return as a business partner and Client Service Director in 2019 led to this new and exciting opportunity. And she’s eager to take the agency to the next level as they expand their digital marketing solutions into regulated industries.

“I’m very excited about the future of our business and the smart, value-adding solutions we offer our clients to help them achieve their business goals,” said Samantha. “The past two years haven’t been easy, but our team worked incredibly hard and remained passionate to positively impact our clients by delivering smart and breakthrough communication strategies that engaged our clients’ target audiences and delivered results,” she added.

From fashion to a digital expert

Samantha started her career in the fashion industry, and her passion for digital marketing took her in a different direction. Her drive and determination took her from Account Manager to Account Director and the rest is history.

Driven by purpose

While Samantha will continue to lead the Client Service team, her role as GM will also focus on the business culture. “Smart strategy drives our business and our team excels at collaborative work, and this is what I want to continue to nurture in my new role. When we’re motivated, happy, and client-focused, we deliver work that resonates with our clients and their customers, and deliver results we can be proud of,” she said.

What’s next for G&G Digital?

Navigating full-time remote. After working from home since the pandemic started, G&G Digital is now a fully-remote, bi-coastal agency, and Samantha will oversee the physical and virtual offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

“While we had very little time to prepare for remote work, we quickly adapted,” she said. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, it was vital that our team were safe. As lockdown regulations relaxed, we continued to work from home; it worked for our team, and we are seeing enhanced productivity and creativity. And now we’re all over the country,” she concluded.

Five digital marketing trends you need to know in 2022

By DesiréeGullan Co-founder and Executive Creative Director of G&G Digital

The good news is: the digital marketing revolution is far from over and it’s providing new and exciting opportunities for marketing professionals to raise brand awareness and expand market share.

Last year’s important trend, personalisation, continues to be relevant as customers demand that their brands understand them better. “Various personalisation strategies help marketers enhance customer experiences and build brand loyalty by establishing strong relationships. Customers will trust brands that have their best interests in mind, especially when it comes to product recommendations,” said Desirée Gullan, co-founder and Executive Creative Director of G&G Digital.

When marketers combine personalisation with innovative digital marketing tools and tactics, they can achieve their goals and better connect with their target audience, building loyalty over the long term. The following five trends should shape your 2022 marketing strategy and help your brand and business thrive.

  1. Conversational marketing1

The days of waiting 24 hours for a reply from a brand are long gone. Consumers want a response––and they want it now––on their preferred platforms, times and in a tone of voice they can relate to. Conversational marketing sets out to connect via chats, text, personalised videos, and emails, all with the intention of putting the individual consumer at the centre and enhancing their experience.

  1. Video marketing1,2,3

Video isn’t optional. A Wyzowl survey shows that 84% of customers buy products or services after watching a video. More than five billion videos are watched on YouTube every day, and other social media platforms are following this strategy. To get more eyeballs on your videos, produce content that your customers want to see, that adds value and makes use of live broadcasts on Instagram or Facebook to drive higher engagement. Repurpose video content for blogs, podcasts, and other channels.

  1. Green marketing1,4,5

Climate change is a major concern, and customers will select brands that are committed to looking after the planet. Ninety percent of Millennials say they’ll spend more money on sustainable and environmentally conscious brands. And for once, Gen Z’s are agreeing with Millennials.

  1. Inclusivity and diversity1

Marketing campaigns should reflect real people––across age, race, ethnicity, gender, language, socioeconomic status, health, disabilities, religion, dietary and diverse body types. You don’t need to cater to every possible demographic in one campaign, but your customers should be able to relate, and importantly, know that their brands of choice are inclusive.

  1. Shoppable content4

Social commerce and online shopping have changed the way people browse, shop, review and recommend. Make this process easy, intuitive and with the least obstacles. Ensure your customers can make purchases or enquiries directly through social posts or connected TVs. And don’t forget, the power of storytelling and customer recommendations to convert.

“There’s a myriad of ways of bolstering your personalised marketing with smart digital tactics,” concluded Gullan, “and you don’t need to use them all at once. Look at your strategy, understand your customers, identify the most relevant channels and innovative tools and content to better engage with them. The best part about digital is you can trial, measure, and optimise, one channel at a time.”

Customers will identify with your brand if they see you’re authentic and when they see themselves reflected in your marketing. Your business and brand can thrive and remain competitive when you understand your customers and converse with them in ways that resonate.

How to align your brand with purpose-driven consumers

How to align your brand with purpose-driven consumers

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

Today’s discerning customers have high expectations from the brands they choose to associate with. According to the 2020 Consumer Culture Report, 71% of customers prefer to buy from brands that align with their values, while 83% of Millennials stress the importance of value alignment. When values don’t align, customers will shift quickly and are not afraid to permanently boycott brands because of their stance on issues.

Aside from ensuring sustainability by reducing the impact on the environment and positively uplifting the communities in which they operate, it’s important that your marketing efforts communicate those values effectively and authentically.

“When brands operate with a conscience and place their customers and the greater good at the centre of everything they do, they will build trust and deliver real value to their customers, communities, and ultimately their bottom line,” said Desirée Gullan, co-founder and Executive Creative Director of G&G Digital.

Gullan adds that at the core of ethical marketing is authentic empathy and true purpose. “When brands prioritise long-term values over short-term financial gain, they become more meaningful, trustworthy and build enduring loyalty.”

Four ways brands should demonstrate values

  1. Get to know customers
    Step into your customers’ shoes. Use analytics, surveys, and customer feedback to gain an understanding of their demographics and behaviours. In addition, get out there and connect with customers. Events, experiences (whether online or offline), customer service and social media are excellent vehicles to gain valuable insights into your customers as people not data sets.
  1. Authentic conversations
    Customers will skip over highly processed content in the search for meaningful, authentic experiences and messages. Get your brand out of its glass case. Staid and monotonous key messaging according to static brand strategies can become irrelevant quickly. Be real, authentic, tell it like it is. Get your customers to do the talking for you.
  1. Make emotional connections
    The point isn’t to drive customers to tears, but to resonate. When brands commit–from the heart–to operate in a world they care about with content that is true and adds value, they will reap rewards, more than just financial. This includes, owning your mistakes, for example, should you face quality or service issues, or let a customer down, honesty is important, own your mistakes, apologise even, with authenticity. This humanises your brand and will earn respect.
  1. Journey with your customers
    Pivot away from industry best practices and expected initiatives. Leave jargon out of it and rather seek out real connections. Facilitate spaces for your customers to make their own memories with your brand at their side and be consistent in tone and sentiment across all touchpoints.

Consumers of all ages have evolved, particularly since the pandemic. People favour scrutiny, are less quick to part with their money, are over insincere marketing initiatives, and are less trusting of big business. Your consumers are looking for real connections. The sooner brands get real with their customers and get real with their responsibility to the sustainability of the planet, the sooner they will not only make an impact in their people’s lives, but also to the greater good.

4-Step marketing toolkit

The four steps to push your brand to the top

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

Marketing professionals have always been creative problem solvers, and these skills need to be ramped up when operating in regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals, healthcare, finance, insurance and hospitality.

Stringent laws and regulations, not to mention lengthy approval processes, can seem like too many obstacles in the way of highly effective creative communication campaigns.

“Marketing in regulated industries shouldn’t feel stifled by rules and processes,” said Desirée Gullan, Executive Creative Director of G&G Digital. “It’s an opportunity to flex your creative problem-solving skills in a smart and disciplined manner.”

Here are four steps to help you reach your audience in regulated industries.

1. Plan ahead
Due to long approval processes and other due diligence matters, adhoc campaigns may not be possible. Smart, long-term planning that doesn’t feel forced, dated or irrelevant can get excellent results, and can help you save money by avoiding costly mistakes, and oversights.

2. Pull in the same direction
Your team need to be aware of what’s at risk with the smallest error or oversight. It’s also important to work in the same direction. Invest in training, and take the time to educate and oversee the process. This will prevent issues all the way from through the campaign planning to execution. Remember, the weakest link can cause the most damage.

3. Build trust and authority
In regulated industries, you don’t have the luxury of making big claims, even if you have the data to back it up. Focus on building trust and authority, which allows you to reach your audience organically and push them further down the sales funnel. Key opinion leaders can assist this by bolstering carefully curated ideas. Use thought leaders in your industry to build trust.

4. Tell authentic stories
Innovative, and relevant storytelling can set your brand apart from others, and give you the opportunity to really explode in reach, relevancy and engagement. Consumers tend to veer toward brands that have a story they can resonate with, especially in highly regulated industries.

“Craft every detail, from the way you tell a story, to the amount of planning you put in–it all comes together in the long term,” Gullan added. “With the right approach, discipline and experience, you can find success despite the circumstances. Now’s the time to reshape your strategy and pursue opportunities for growth.”

Before POPI

Powerful e-marketing and POPI

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

Data breaches are expensive and cost South African businesses more than R40 million in 2020 alone. Although most organisations are implementing robust measures to keep customer information secure, it’s concerning that some of the most serious data breaches, such as the Experian breach in 2020, was only identified after two months and contained after three months.

Data breaches aren’t good news for customers who are at risk of identity theft, credit card fraud, and question whether businesses can protect their valuable information.

On 1 July 2021, South African’s Protection of Personal Information (POPI ) Act to protect customer information, went into full effect. This act is positive news and reassuring for customers, as they know their details are secure and are protected from unsolicited email newsletters or phone calls they didn’t sign up for.

What is POPI Act?

This act protects customers’ personal information and regulates how businesses manage customers’ details, such as age, gender, religion, culture, language, contact details, location, and communications preferences.

What happens when businesses don’t comply with the act

Section 107 of the POPI Act specifies that if any person doesn’t comply with the act, a 10-year prison sentence, a hefty fine of up to R10 million, or both can be their reality. And businesses can suffer from reputational damage in the case of a data breach.

“This is a necessary law designed to better protect against online scams that can be damaging for individuals and organisations. It also presents an interesting challenge for marketing professionals as we need to understand how to ethically obtain customer information, remain compliant and still add value to their lives,” said Desirée Gullan, Executive Creative Director of G&G Digital.

POPI compliant communications made simple.

  1. Ask customers to opt-in

Always include an opt-in on all marketing communications. Section 11 of the POPI Act clearly states that a person visiting a website, should have the option to opt-in to receiving emails from the business or brand. Have a link to your company’s Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy so users can easily understand what they’re signing up for. Always keep a record of customer agreement that is POPI compliant.

  1. Easy opt-out

Make the unsubscribe option as easy as possible. One click, and they’re out. Even though you want to keep your customers on your mailing list, make opting out clearly visible. When a customer opts out, it’s your responsibility to remove them from your mailing list, and permanently delete their data to protect your business and them in case of a data breach.

  1. Voice of authority

We all know that getting new customers to want to receive ongoing communications from your business and brand is difficult and costly and requires a well-considered strategy and plan. At the core of this plan should be providing content that adds value and establishes your brand as a voice of authority on a specific topic. Make it easy for customers to share your content with their friends and families, and in the process, you will not only create brand ambassadors but also increase your mailing lists. People are more open to subscribing to newsletters and emails when a peer, friend, or someone they trust suggests it to them.

  1. Offer exclusive content

Reward your customers for subscribing to your database (and for their ongoing loyalty) by offering them exclusive discounts, special events, access to free gated content, new product information previews and news first.

“As technology advances and communication regulations become more necessary, marketing professionals may feel blocked by Draconian regulations and laws. This need not be the case. A tight brief can bring out the best in your communications agency. Most communications agencies are filled with smart creative solution seekers. POPI and any other industry regulations need not put the brakes on your marketing and communications ambitions and objectives. A smart strategy based on deep industry insights and a full knowledge of all regulations, that takes all the steps to get approvals (local and global) can get results,” Gullan added.

Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is widely considered the blueprint of customer data protection laws, and our POPI Act meets these international standards, signifying our commitment to protect customer information and their right to privacy.

“Remember while your competitors become bunny in the headlights as a result of new laws or industry policy changes, now is the best time to take the first mover advantage,” concluded Gullan.

Why you need social commerce

Why you need social commerce

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

Shopping has always been a social activity. Just two years ago, you would find people discussing the good and bad about their recent purchases over coffee.

Today, e-commerce finds people shopping from the comfort of their home, and social commerce means they’re still shopping while being social on their preferred platforms such as Instagram Checkout or Facebook Shops. Here’s how social commerce has impacted consumer behaviour.

How consumers react to social commerce

Consumers are always looking for benefits when selecting a product, or a store, and one necessary benefit, in today’s fast-paced world, is saving time. This is where social commerce comes to the fore. Consumers are supplied with comparative information about their imminent purchases in a click, or a tap, eliminating the need to check other stores or competitor products.

What’s more, studies by Hootsuite found that consumers trust social media more than brand websites for feedback on products and customer testimonials.

Social commerce offers brands the opportunity to capitalise on this fast-growing behaviour.

“Social commerce proves that consumers are not just influenced by social media, they trust it more than traditional online commerce,” said Desirée Gullan, Executive Creative Director of G&G Digital. “As marketing professionals for B2C brands, you should include social commerce in your strategy or you’ll be ignoring a vast portion of your target audience and allowing them to walk past your store and not take a look.”

How to harness social commerce

How to harness social commerce

For years, brands have used social media as an awareness or education tool, now, social media has entered it’s ‘Buy now’ phase, which inspires and empowers consumers to see, like and buy. Here are some insights to help you turn audiences into customers using social commerce.

While many consumers still shop in brick-and-mortar stores, data tells us not to ignore social commerce. By introducing social commerce, brands can continue to streamline the path to purchase, and meet audiences in the spaces they occupy.

Advertising to a generation that blocks advertising

Advertising to a generation that blocks advertising

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

The nature of advertising shifted drastically over the last year. Not only are consumers seeing less experiential and traditional advertising due to COVID-19, they’re also growing tired of the constant bombardment of ads across their favourite media platforms.

For many consumers, Ad-blockers are the answer, which leaves marketing professionals with a new challenge of how to break through the digital wall. One of the ways to do so is by crafting a digital strategy that speaks to modern generations, while resonating with the needs of older generations.

What we can learn from millennials
Millennials are first generation “digital natives,” always connected and attached to smartphones, smart devices and laptops. This impacts the way they find, research, make purchasing decisions and consume products.

Millennials look for three unique influencing characteristics.

  • Deep meaningful communication
    Millennials communicate far more than other generations. When deciding if something is worth buying, they speak to friends, read reviews on social networks and conduct research. Marketing professionals can use these insights to communicate better with their target audience and find ways of giving them instant digital gratification and the information they need, when they need it.
  • Create memorable experiences
    Millennials don’t just want a product. They want an experience––from the way a brand interacts with them to the way it’s delivered. They crave a unique experience that resonates and touches them deeply and gives them something to talk about on social media. Craft breakthrough brand experiences and you will not only create brand loyalty, but also an army of brand advocates who talk, post and comment about your brand helping you achieve priceless word-of-mouth recommendations.
  • Give more than you take
    Millennials want more, and they want it now. During the brand consideration process, they consult with friends and do online research. This presents a wonderful opportunity for marketing professionals to create relevant and engaging content that adds value. Not just hard-sell marketing messages, but related content that adds another value and dimension to their lives.

What we can learn from boomers
Marketing professionals believe that older generations are more reluctant to switching brands. Research has proved that the opposite may be true, that 50+ consumers are as stuck in their ways as previously believed.

  • Demonstrate practical benefits
    Unlike millennials, who are easily swayed by their communities, mature consumers are less easily influenced by peers. They rely on their own experiences, practicality and logic to sway them out of their comfort zones.
  • Stick to the facts
    Sweeping claims don’t work on mature consumers who will do substantial fact and cross checking of information to ascertain whether marketing claims are valid and true. What’s more, they’re much more likely to return items that don’t live up to expectations or brand claims.

How do you navigate a world rich with diverse audiences, who are able to block your brand messages at the click of a button?

Desiree Gullan, Co-founder and Executive Creative Director of G&G Digital, offers the following advice, “there’s no need to allow ad-blockers and the increasing demands of consumers to block your marketing campaigns. Take insights from both millennials and boomers and merge those into a high-performance hybrid strategy that is well rounded with credible brand and lifestyle messaging, sticks to the facts, delivers on promises and it creates memorable experiences at all touch-points.

It’s time to break out of the inbox

Break out of the inbox with smart brand messaging

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

In the digital era, it’s never been more difficult for brands to break through the deluge of information and penetrate consumer’s ever decreasing attention spans. Your brand messaging is one of the most important aspects of a marketing communications strategy. From the language used, to the tone it is delivered in, successful brand messages will result in your target audience resonating with your brand, and be more open to receiving your content.

It takes between five and seven points of contact for a brand to make an impression. Here’s some ways you can make sure your brand impressions last.

Be customer-centric

Before planning and crafting your brand’s key messaging, make sure you view your brand as a consumer would. Use survey data and qualitative intelligence to better understand your target audience. You will probably find they’re looking for relatable, relevant content that adds to their experience, without being too hard sell.

Be clear about your brand’s why

Take the time to introspect on your brand’s vision and mission. This should raise questions on where you see your brand in the next two, three and five years. Understanding your brand’s short- and long-term progress will mean you can apply that in your brand messaging, ensuring your brand stays relevant.

Break out from the competition

Study your competition thoroughly. What are they doing, where are they going, and who is their target audience? Understanding this will empower you to craft unique and authentic content rather than more of the same as your competitors.

Make channels work

Use channels that are relevant for your budget, your brand and your target audience. More consumers are staying home, which means the most important place to reach them is online. From Instagram to TikTok, people are looking for spaces to connect without the risk of contracting COVID-19. This gives you the opportunity to meet your audience on a platform they resonate with.

 

Four tips to crafting brand messages that resonate

Be consistent

Make use of all relevant platforms, keep your brand message consistent and tailored to each audience. This will show your target audience that your brand will deliver on its promises with the same consistency as your messaging.

Show why you’re unique

If a competitor can safely say the same thing you’re saying, your brand is not that unique and there’s not much compelling reason for your target audience to choose it. This means it’s time to dive deep and find out what sets your brand apart, then go on to tell your target audience about it in a compelling, honest and creative way –– all aligned with your brand tone of voice.

Prove you’re unique

Ensure that any and every claim you make is true. Avoid outlandish statements that make you “the best in the world”, rather focus on what truly makes you different and better.

Be noteworthy and memorable

Consumers look for memorable communications and experiences that inform, uplift, entertain and inspire. Make sure your brand delivers on their desires in a way that is personable and relatable to your audience.

 

With effective brand messages, you can go from inboxes to check out and from social media to visits to your website. What’s more, you can forge lasting impressions and transform your customers into an army of brand advocates.

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.