What the future of PR means for brands

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

Public relations has changed considerably the past few years and is presenting exciting times for business and brands.

This change is primarily driven by technology and how content is consumed by audiences rushing towards digital platforms for information that interests them.

With the power of mobile devices, the idea of sending out press releases is simply behind the times. Younger audiences are all about instant gratification – wanting what they want, when they want it.

Traditional outward-bound PR is outdated, and brands should meet audiences where they’re consuming content. This will ensure marketing professionals are one step ahead and futureproofing their brands for today’s digital tech-savvy consumer.

Here are 4 steps to ensure your brands are ready.

  1. Tell stories
    Engaging storytelling is key. In an era of fake news and consumers increasing mistrust of businesses and brands, good storytelling is vital. Share well-structured, authentic and engaging stories that consumers are interested in, and ensure your content reaches the right audience at the right time to have maximum positive impact.
  2. Add value
    There’s no better time for your brand’s PR to incorporate all types of media into your strategies – paid, earned, shared and owned. This provides the opportunity to address all brand touch points and keep track of reach, frequency and conversion, calculating return of investment and offering meaningful value to your brand.
  3. Manage reputations
    A brand crisis can happen in the blink of an eye, and through social media, reputational damage can spread in a matter of minutes. It’s important for marketing professionals to be ready to address any PR fall-out as soon as possible. This means a smart and strategic crisis communication plan and upskilling staff with the tools to address any crisis, in all channels immediately.
  4. Influencer marketing
    The impact influencers can have on brands should not be underestimated. It’s important to cultivate win-win relationships with relevant influencers, who can provide access to their target audience.

With the Internet of Things and other game-changing technology, the future of PR is uncertain in terms of how it will continue to be affected by technology and social trends. That said, the future is exciting and the opportunities for brands to breakthrough with smart digital-savvy PR strategies has never been better.

Why businesses are shifting their training to digital

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

Think of the world’s most successful businesses, not only do they pursue growth through innovation, they constantly evolve through adopting modern techniques to upskill their employees.

Does this mean the trusted tradition of long in-classroom presentations and training programmes are now defunct?

The answer is a resounding yes. Digital online learning platforms are replacing impractical and expensive training lessons. It not only saves on costs, but also appeals to millennials, who, according to a recent study by Forbes, will make up 50% of the workforce by 2020.

What’s more, millennials are inclined to learn better through interactive platforms that include video content and gamification, easily accessible on their mobile devices.

Here are 4 reasons you should go digital with your training.

  1. Personalisation
    As with retail and on-demand services, millennials seek content and products that are personalised for them. This echoes the old adage that not everybody absorbs information the same way.
    When it comes to employees, each brings a different skillset to the table, it makes sense that complete educational content should align with their role in your organisation. Personalised learning goes a step beyond digital teaching. It allows employees to consume information that is meaningful and relatable, much like online shopping tailored to search algorithms.
  2. Update content faster
    There’s nothing more annoying than learning from content that hasn’t been updated in years. The content you teach, should be relevant to the growth you wish to achieve. Through eLearning, you’re able to update content regularly and inexpensively as the world evolves and keeps up with trends.
    This saves your business money, time and creates a team of employees that are in tune with the progression of your industry.
  3. Performance tracking
    In the past, the performance of employees was tracked through exams or seeing the learned skills implemented in your organisation, so how do you know if your digital training is successful?
    Digital, by its nature, is measurable with built-in analytics, you’ll be able to receive reports on the following:
    – Percentage of employees that have completed the programme
    – The amount of time spent on training material
    – Which sections were difficult and easy
    – What the reasons for abandoning their training was
    This data allows you to further improve your digital training programmes and ensure employees obtain the most from them.
  4. Millennials hate traditional learning programmes
    As with everything else millennials have strong opinions on, what works for them and how learning programmes should be adapted.
    Ignoring feedback poses a tremendous disservice to your organisation, simply because millennials are the future. When they’re not working, they’re absorbing information from a variety of platforms or devices and will switch between types of mediums at least 25 times an hour.

What’s vital with online learning is to create learning content that is interactive, diverse and includes videos, gamification and even a small amount of traditional content. This keeps them engaged and results in information being absorbed at their pace.

Before your organisation gets left behind, digitize your training and benefit from a team that is perfectly skilled to perform at their best so you can achieve organisational results.

Why customer relationship marketing is vital for business

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

The average person is bombarded by 5000 or more advertising messages every day, which is why it has become important for brands and businesses to focus on personalised, highly targeted communications that talks to individuals and not target audiences.

At G&G we’re seeing a need for more Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM) and proactive communications in the B2B, B2C and B2B2C space.

People (not target markets) want to know their brand understands them and notice it when their brands talk to them, not at them.

CRM is essential for improving customer satisfaction and to build relationships which is better done by the following,

  • Analysing data and insights to understand customers and potential customers
  • Dramatically improve communications
  • Hyper-individualisation so customers feel valued and appreciated because their brand understand them
  • Learn more about who your consumers are and what they want, making it much easier to communicate with them on a more personal and direct manner.

CRM is vital as consumers continue to embrace digital and new technologies. Consumers are very decisive and selective when it comes to the content they consume and the purchases they make online.

Here are four reasons why you should make CRM an important part of your marketing strategy.

  1. Target the right user at the right time
    Personalised, rich and useful content will not only improve customer experience but also assist in turning the user into a paying customer, and for better taking care of your customers. A happy and satisfied customer is more likely to continue to trust you AND recommend you to others.
  2. Retain customers
    Use the information customers provide and their behaviour to predict their next interaction with your brand. CRM can do this and when applied correctly encourages customer loyalty and builds long-term relationships.
  3. Use data to your advantage
    CRM is data rich and using that data, marketing professionals and their agencies can understand how customers and potential customers interact. These reports indicate what works efficiently and what elements need improvement. Knowing this and making the necessary optimisations will make the customer experience with your brand more enjoyable.
  4. Use education and information to your advantage
    CRM and online learning programmes are an excellent tool for B2B and B2B2C brands who can inform, convince and create strong advocates for your brand.

With so much content marketing out there, you can make your brand breakthrough with more optimised, targeted customer relationship marketing, by ensuring your customers and potential customers value their experience when interacting with your brand. With CRM you can nurture valued experiences, nurture relationships with your brand and create brand advocates. The result? Happy and satisfied customers who return to your brand for the long term. After all the cost of acquiring a customer is usually so much more than keeping on.



7 tips for effective email marketing and to avoid going into junk

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

What does it take to create an effective email marketing campaign that is not only read, but also engaged with? Mailers must convey a message and create an experience that entices the user to take the desired action.

Email marketing has many benefits and is a highly effective channel that can take the lead or compliment other digital channels, such as banners and paid search. Benefits include,

  • Through personalisation and tailored content, your email marketing campaign improves by 14% in click-throughs and an additional 10% in conversions
  • Easier for customers to understand and interact with, which can increase revenue by 60% when used efficiently
  • Good creative is memorable and engaging
  • Excellent response rate as email marketing drives more conversions than any other marketing channel including search and social.

The above can only be achieved through a strategic, well-crafted email campaign, implemented through smart copy,design and UX.

Here are 7 factors to achieve a hardworking email marketing campaign.

  1. Multi-channel integration
    Consumers prefer content tailored to their needs so they need not do additional work to find what is relevant to them. Multi-channel integration such as QR-codes and tailored landing pages get users right where they need to be in as few clicks as possible. Simplicity is key, 90% of retailers report that a simple, integrated emails gets the best results.
  2. Strong visual elements
    Strong, compelling visual imagery isn’t just aesthetically appealing, it also helps convey the key message and reduces the need for too much intimidating copy.
  3. Create an interactive experience
    Users want convenience and ease-of-use such as one-click reviews, purchasing and returns, or whatever your conversion requirement is. Think of your email marketing as effective sales or customer service through a digital platform, in real-time.
  4. Utilise live-content
    Whether your campaign is for awareness, education or engagement, live-content keeps users intrigued. This could either include a live countdown timer, live scores, streaming an event or even rich media. It’s interactive, captivating and effective.
  5. Improve accessibility for disabled users
    Be it Siri, Alexa or Google Home, tech is available for all audiences including visually impaired, hearing impaired or physically disabled users.
  6. Subject lines rule
    Be adventurous and engaging with your subject line. When a user receives an email, the subject line determines whether it will be read or trashed.
  7. Avoid these in your subject lines
    Spam filters have improved tremendously, so take care when writing subject lines. Stay away from,

    • Caps lock, because who wants to be yelled at by an email?
    • Punctuation marks and obscure symbols are triggers of spam filters.
    • Avoid language such as, free, act now, visit our website, for a limited time only and guarantee.
    • Try not to be too salesy. The best subject lines suggest and intrigue users to read more.

In addition to a well-crafted email campaign, the benefits are substantial through the implementation of the following,

  • Due to low cost per contact, it is cost effective
  • Highly targeted with the correct databases on hand, which can be customised by interests, region and language
  • Highly measurable with the correct tools
  • Constant growth through the creation of new databases
  • Sending four emails per month instead of one which significantly increases the number of users opening the email
  • Email marketing generates more conversations than any other marketing channel
  • Revenue for B2B brands increased by 60% through email marketing automation

Each of the benefits are not just measurable through data, but also clear KPI’s to ensure a significant ROI is gained. This is measured through,

  • Open rate per mail sent out
  • Clickthrough rate
  • Number of emails shared
  • Number of social shares
  • Database growth
  • Delivery and bounce rates

Consumers are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages a day, make sure yours is targeted, relevant, engaging and easy for your target market. This makes your desired conversions achievable which will assist with your objectives.



The evolution of branding through the digital agency

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

One of the most valuable assets for any business, no matter its size or sector, is its brand.

While many marketing professionals consider a brand to be a corporate identity consisting of carefully considered fonts, icons, image guidelines, tone of voice, themes and values, the emphasis in the digital era should be on the experience. Consumers no longer see a difference between their experience of a brand and the brand itself.

Over the past decade, digital agencies have become vital in offering brands the reinvention they crave through the ability to be ever-present (mobile), dynamic (data-driven) and most of all, a joy to use (interaction design), all of which can develop an almost unbreakable bond between brands and consumers. Using these same insights, we are witnessing a disruption of sectors like never before, take Uber and Airbnb as examples.

Before you think of adding another analogue brand to a digital world, here are some factors to consider,

  1. Become a digital first brand
    Businesses can no longer afford to spend time, money and effort creating analogue communications. The digital experience has to lead the strategy.
  2. Digital is the better brand steward
    How often do you first interact with a brand on a digital platform? The answer is probably — always. Despite the age of the brand, its digital presence is pivotal in understanding the consumer and engaging with them.
  3. Embrace the tech-brand
    While most new brands are born with genetics rooted in technology, legacy brands should embrace technology to stay relevant. Take Glossier as an example, a young brand positioned as a tech company in the make-up business. Sephora, a legacy brand, has embraced the use of Augmented Reality to evolve their brand experience and reach today’s tech-savvy market.
  4. Evolve. And evolve fast
    Consumers have reached a point where they prefer streaming content to owning it. They see TripAdvisor as the replacement to a traditional travel agency and prefer mobile banking to making a trip to the bank. Brands have to adapt at the speed of digital.

Digital agencies are well poised to offer deep digitalisation strategies and implementation. The age-old truism about first impressions hasn’t changed, what has changed is the difficulty for a brand to recover from a bad digital first impression, especially in a time when a consumer just needs to tap, click or swipe to get the instant gratification they desire and to share their opinions.

Your brand’s digital interaction with your target market is the most significant branding to consider. Lead with the digital experience and let your other channels play a supporting role.

How your brand can navigate a world of mistrust, misinformation and multiple mindsets

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

We live in contradictory and conflicted times, with ongoing debates around diversity, inclusion, gender equality, identity and hot-potato culture. What’s more, consumers no longer trust brands without serious consideration.

As marketing professionals, you may be wondering how all of this will impact your brands and bottom line, what the next major platform will be, content trend, device or viral sensation. Here’s G&G’s thoughts on what influences will shape the future and how we can source solutions through digital innovation.

  1. A digital world without borders
    Our world is essentially borderless, enabling us to communicate digitally with others from around the globe through in seconds. This isn’t just a collection of platforms, it’s the ultimate representation of globalisation.South African marketing professionals need to be mindful how much our local target audiences are influenced by global trends and we need to remain relevant. What’s more, we need to be even more strategic in our channel selection and targeting to reduce waste and ensure effective reach.
  2. An audience that is always-on
    People’s FOMO is seeing them being more involved, interactive and co-creating at all times of the day and night. They expect brands to communicate directly with them in an honest and authentic manner––and to take responsibility to have the right values and drive cultural change.Brands can no longer just be about making a sale. Marketing professionals have to interrogate what real value their brands are adding beyond just their features and benefits and make sure they are leaving the smallest environmental impact and the greatest positive impact on the community.
  3. I’ll share if you share
    Consumers have a heightened awareness of digital surveillance and data capture while understanding the value of their personal data to corporations and digital channels. Their behaviour goes from just “accepting cookies” to wanting something in return.
    Marketing professionals should carefully consider the type of data you truly require in order to understand your audience and to ensure you ask for the bare minimum from them to engage. Ensure your tone is conversational, humorous and most importantly, honest.
  4. Difficult but necessary conversations
    Whether #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo or #MindYourBusiness, many important conversations are taking place and shaping our culture, right now. Never assume your brand can simply join the conversation and get easy exposure along the way. Many brands have been called out attempting this.Brands wanting to be part of a movement must approach with sensitivity and authenticity. Examine your brand values, messaging and communication to make sure it genuinely belongs and can add value to the conversation.
  5. Be locally legit
    Social media allows us to travel without actually travelling and gives us access to various cultures, trends and mingling with communities. That said, people still identify with subcultures based on where they live, work and play.Hyper-localised targeting is the new benchmark for successful audience reach. What’s more, your brand can still remain global in outlook, but local in culture, by celebrating its origins and sharing local cultural nuances with your audiences.

Though 2019 and beyond may seem daunting, it’s an exciting time for brands and their marketing partners as we’re forced to introspect our values, remain focused and authentic and make a positive impact on the world around you. The options of finding new ways to reach your audiences with deep insights, smart strategy and breakthrough creative solutions has never been more exciting.


“OK Google”, what’s next for SEO in 2019?

We don’t surf the internet like we used to because technology continues to evolve and drive our behaviour. Thanks to Google, search engine optimisation (SEO) is also changing.

As Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” If you want different SEO results, you have to think “human”, add value, and seek out leading SEO tactics. If you’re new to SEO, fear not. These SEO fundamentals can get you started on how to boost your rankings.

7 game-changing SEO trends to watch in 2019:

  1. Mobile optimisation
    Online searches are increasingly conducted on mobile phones. In response, Google has intensified their customer-first approach with the rollout of their mobile-first index in 2018. Google rankings now heavily depend on a quality user experience (UX) on mobile devices. Make sure you have a mobile-friendly version of your website as it will soon take priority over desktop versions for indexing and ranking. See how mobile friendly your website is with Google’s mobile friendly test. 
  2. Voice search optimisation
    The shift to mobile as the primary search device continues to drive the demand for voice search functionality. It is estimated that 50% of searches will be spoken queries by 2020. “OK Google, what does that mean for SEO?” For starters, a more human approach to content creation and keywords. Users will search it like they say it, which means keywords will have to become more conversational, often phrased as questions, not statements.
  3. User intent optimisation
    User intent and voice search optimisation goes hand in hand as users can now clearly express their intent through verbalised voice search queries. Whether typed or spoken, user intent optimisation calls on you, the marketer, to think “human” when creating content and analysing the potential user intent behind keywords. Consider your own interests and content preferences, how you would phrase a search query, and what calls to action you are most likely to act on.
  4. Video optimisation
    Video will continue to dominate and is estimated to represent 82% of all internet traffic by 2021. Video quality is becoming increasingly important, as is video optimisation through engaging titles, keywords, descriptions, transcripts and thumbnails. As the second largest search engine, a YouTube presence is essential in getting your brand front and centre.
  5. Structured data markup
    Structured data markup is a way of formatting HTML, an extra layer of coding if you will, to tell search engines how to interpret your website content. With Google taking AI to the next level, structured data will become vital for AI to effectively process content within context, and deliver rich results. It can be implemented for an array of page elements from organisations, people, products and services, to events, places, addresses and reviews.
  6. Featured snippets
    Snippets refer to the short summary of information that appear with search engine results. But not all summaries are made equal – some are more relevant, answering user queries directly, and are therefore featured at the top of Google’s organic results. Featured snippets can greatly increase brand exposure and click-through-rates. Getting featured requires strategically crafted content that answers one or multiple queries directly.
  7. Blockchain for SEO
    Bitcoin might have taken a dive but blockchain technology is alive and well with near-endless use-cases, including making the internet more secure and refining online marketing. Although blockchain SEO is still a developing field, it may soon be integrated into websites to authenticate clicks, reduce advertising fraud, verify product integrity, and build trust.

The only constant in SEO is change, but with change comes new opportunities to outplay the heavy wallets. Build your SEO strategy with the future in mind, whether that be AI, machine learning or blockchain technology. G&G Digital’s SEO services are geared to enrich the usability and overall user experience of your website with spot on keywords, relevant value-added content, and a firm grip on current SEO best-practices.

Look out for breakthrough insights from G&G’s SEO experts.

SEO in practice: How to boost your SEO rankings

Once you have a thorough understanding of the SEO fundamentals, you can put each element into practice and track your efforts with ongoing reviews of your analytics. Keep in mind that your SEO methods must keep up with changing user search habits and evolving ranking factors in search engine algorithms.

A good starting point is to consider the user-friendliness of your website, as usability and SEO rankings go hand in hand. Search engines not only rate the relevance of your keywords but evaluate the time users spend on your website, the number of pages viewed, the extent of interaction with your content, and repeat visits.

G&G Digital’s SEO services are geared to enrich the usability and overall user experience of your website with spot-on keywords, relevant value-add content, and overall compliance with SEO best-practices.

Here are 10 ways to boost your website usability and SEO ranking:

  1. Produce original high-quality content: Value-add content crafted around user needs is the most powerful driver of website rankings. By keeping content fresh and relevant, you can increase the amount of time users spend on your website and the likelihood of your site being bookmarked, which search engines use as an indicator of quality content.
  2. Optimise your site for mobile: Mobile is the number one go-to search device. Google rewards mobile-friendly websites with higher rankings, so be sure to offer a seamless mobile user experience. Keep in mind changing search trends, that mobile users behave differently and that mobile landing pages may require tailored strategies.
  3. Perfect your keyword selection and usage: Carefully consider the keywords you want your website to rank for, based on the search words or phrases (long-tail keywords) your target audience is most likely to use. Avoid overusing keywords and always write for the user by ensuring that keywords read naturally wherever they are used.
  4. Improve readability with layout and formatting: Improve the overall readability of your website by breaking page content into easily digestible sections. Relook the layout and formatting of each page and incorporate well-structured header tags, subheadings, read-friendly fonts and colours, short paragraphs, line spacing and bulleted lists.
  5. Improve your page load speed: Users have little patience for slow websites, which is why search engines place a high value on fast page loads. You can increase your website’s load speed with clean, minimal coding, optimised image and video sizes, a caching plugin, and by reducing the number of redirects and unnecessary plugins.
  6.  Maximise every tag and meta descriptor: Search engines rely on tags and meta descriptors to read and index website content. Look at every tag and descriptor as an opportunity to reiterate your keywords and signal relevance. Be sure to write proper alt text (alternative text) to describe your images and videos as these cannot be read by search engines.
  7. Enrich your site with multimedia: Offer your content in diverse and compelling ways, i.e. through infographics, videos, animations, slideshows or podcasts. Search engines take into account the effort that goes into creating multimedia, particularly interactive content, and considers it an indicator of high-quality content.
  8. Put social sharing to work: Every Facebook share, tweet, Pinterest pin and other social media shares can drive your website up in ranking. Make it easy for users to share your content with clearly visible social sharing buttons. You can boost social sharing through social media influencers or by running campaigns designed to drive social shares.
  9. Include credible external links: Increase the value of your own content by including links to well-respected and highly ranked sites. By associating your site with other thought-leaders in the field, you can affirm your site’s credibility to search engines. Remember to use descriptive anchor text to describe each link, as opposed to vague “click here” links.
  10. Keep links and contact info up to date: Search engines associate broken links and outdated contact information with old and irrelevant websites. Make use of online tools to scan your site for broken links and become a site trusted by search engines by keeping your contact info up to date and interactive, i.e. via a “Contact us” link or convenient contact form.

G&G Digital bags New Gen Awards for innovation

Founded in 2012, the New Generation Social and Digital Media Awards are the largest celebrated digital media awards in South Africa. With a strong focus on results and insight-based success, it is a celebration of creative ingenuity and the innovative use of social and digital media to promote brands in groundbreaking ways.

But what’s in an award? The traditional advertising industry has long been criticised for being overly focused on awards when measurability and client business growth should be front and centre. Enter digital marketing – where most initiatives are measurable. To keep the industry on its toes and in step with international trends, the New Generation Awards continually evolves to include new industry technology, platforms and trends to identify true excellence.

With partners Reckitt Benckiser and Zenith Media, G&G Digital has won awards for the superior use of technical innovation and innovative gamification. “Creativity is dreaming up new things but innovation is about executing them well”, says Desiree Gullan, Executive Creative Director at G&G Digital. “The annual event is an invaluable opportunity to self-reflect, learn from our peers and fuel our inspiration. The real reward, though, is igniting our motivation to create breakthrough work that builds brands and adds value to our clients”.

SEO fundamentals: The building blocks to online success

Google processes over 3.5 billion searches per day – each query guiding users to one of the 1.8 billion websites that can be redefined as ‘the competition’. In this ever-expanding space, online visibility is vital to success. And by visibility, we mean getting your website ranked on the first page of Google’s search results because 90% of people don’t search beyond that.

Search engines offer two types of search results: organic and paid. Organic search results are web page listings that are most relevant to the user’s search query. To drive your website up the ranks and secure more visitors, you need a robust Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy. This involves the use of SEO tactics to improve the visibility of your website.

Typical tactics include:

  • improving the speed of your site
  • encouraging greater visitor engagement
  • improving the quality of your content
  • focusing on topics instead of keywords
  • adding your site to local business listings
  • crafting compelling titles and descriptions
  • building backlinks to your site
  • guest posting on other sites to get your name out.

Here are five SEO fundamentals to start your journey up the ranks:

  1. Domain and page authority score: This is determined by your domain name relevance, content quality and relevance, internal links between pages, mobile-friendliness, loading time and content promotion on social media.
  2. On-site optimisation: Make it easy for search engines to find and index your content with a well-structured and smooth functioning website, clean and minimal coding, target keywords, and the optimal use of titles, tags and meta tags.
  3. Content marketing: SEO cannot exist without the articles, videos, infographics and podcasts you create. Consistently publish value-add content and expand your target keywords to build your brand and secure repeat site visits.
  4. Link building: Create content on external websites to build your brand, establish your credibility as a thought-leader and develop opportunities for viewers to link back to your site.
  5. Measurement and analysis: SEO results are meaningless without interpretation. Make use of tools like Google Analytics to track your site’s progress and make constructive changes to your strategy.

SEO is as much about search engines as it is about the people who use them. G&G’s SEO services are engineered to strengthen your website’s potential to hit that #1 spot by enhancing your website functionality and user experience, crafting relevant value-add content, and ensuring overall compliance with SEO best-practices.

NEXT: The basics in practice: How to improve SEO rankings, what search engines look for and common mistakes to avoid.