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Traditional outward-bound PR is outdated, and brands should meet audiences where they’re consuming content.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.


It’s 2019, is your website keeping up?

The internet is evolving at breakneck speed and your brand’s digital assets – your website, emails and digital marketing has to keep up in order to survive, let along thrive.

Here are a few handy insights to assist you in making sure you are not being left behind.

Ensure your website does what it is supposed to

What is your website’s purpose? Is it to create awareness, to share information, to educate or to get inbound enquiries? Whatever its purpose, make sure it’s designed and optimised to achieve your objectives.

Most websites, whether business-to-business or -to-consumer are there to generate sales, increase market share and make your brand available on the most important consumer touchpoint. In today’s competitive internet it requires a lot more than including “click here” buttons on your home page and watching the leads pour in. Last year there were 1,8 billion active websites on the Internet, so you’ll have to be much smarter than that.

G&G recommends marketers take a strategic approach to ensuring your website investment gets the return you want.

Convert visitors into leads or enquiries

A visitor becomes a lead when they click on a call-to-action (CTA) on your website or blog. That CTA takes them to a landing page, which includes a form used to collect the visitor’s contact information. This information then triggers a process in your business to close and convert that lead into a customer.

Remember to benchmark your current lead generation so you can track your success and determine where you most need improvement. Some of your pages might make excellent lead generators and you don’t even realize it.

Website audit

G&G will start with an audit of where most of your online traffic comes from, such as,

  • Email marketing
  • Social media
  • Blog posts
  • Inbound links
  • Google search
  • Banners

Once we identify where your leads are coming from, will optimise these pages in order to be relevant to their interests. We’ll update pages with content that keeps them engaged. We will also ensure all information is up-to-date and provides all the correct supporting facts to ensure trust is nurtured.

Optimize each step of the lead generation process

G&G recommends A/B testing two versions of a landing page to find out which one performs better and to see which CTA tactics perform better. We will identify various elements and split test them one element at a time, such as

  • Buttons
  • CTAs
  • Slide-out CTAs
  • Thank you pages
  • Colours
  • Information
  • Subscribe to
  • Downloads
  • Special offers

G&G has seen up to 30% increase in lead generation for a B2B client by simply A/B testing their landing page using the above strategy.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

Blog content is another way G&G recommends you enhance your website’s performance and increase its ranking on Google. Organic visitors who come from Google are looking for solutions to a problem you can solve. Make sure your website helps.

G&G recommends keyword research on a topic relevant to your industry, and then create quality content in the form of articles, white papers and videos. You can make this content, or part of it, readily available or as a download, which will then become another way to convert leads.

Live chats offer excellent customer service and lead generation

Live chat services are increasing not just in their sophistication, but in how many people expect them. G&G recommends an audit of your website to see which pages your visitors spend the most of their time on. Should live chat be a good strategy for your brand, G&G will install a live chat tool on the pages where customers need the most assistance or information. This allows you to casually collect and log insights on their product needs while answering their questions.

G&G recommends you integrate your customer service team with your live chat feature. This ensures every website visitor has their needs addressed no matter where the conversation goes.

Personalize content the ultimate goal

Once you’ve ticked all the boxes above, you could consider serving dynamic content that caters to the experience of each, unique web visitor. People who land on your site and see images, buttons, and product options tailored to their interests are easier to convert into a customer. This can include,

  • Personalized CTAs
  • Welcome back headers
  • Products of interest.

Email marketing

Once a lead leaves your website you want to stay in touch and continue to nurture that lead throughout their relationship with your brand.

G&G recommends a strategic email marketing strategy based on your business needs and budget. It can be automated based on the lead’s actions or can be a scheduled email according to your communication needs. According to Forrester Research, companies that stay in touch with their leads –– and their existing customers ­­­­–– see 50% more sales than their non-nurturing counterparts at a 33% lower cost.

Don’t let your website and digital properties hold you back this year, or ever. Audit, optimise and test regularly and transform them into hard working assets that will increase your brand’s visibility, convert traffic into leads and assist with meeting your objectives.


Boxed in – the great email tragedy

By Charles Ash, Senior Front-End Developer at G&G Digital

In the current great creative explosion of our time, I’m all for freedom, bucking the system and doing the unconventional. When it comes to the really big things though, one quickly realises that unbridled freedom can be a major bugbear in getting even the simplest things done.

Heck, I’m even losing my faith in humanity ever agreeing on the big, really important things, like achieving consensus on matters of the environment, objective morality and global justice, when we can’t even all agree to drive on the same side of the road.

World Wide Web or Wild Wild West?
If you’re in the web development world, you’ll have an even greater appreciation for the global adherence to standards. Not too long ago, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the WWW in your favourite URL stood for Wild Wild West. The browser market was dominated by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and standards and methods of rendering data on your screen differed wildly from browser to browser.

The greatest villain in this technological sham was Microsoft with their divergence from any semblance of technological sanity. The result was the birth of the Firefox browser and the Mozilla Foundation which sought to bring technological consistency and sanity to the world’s browser market.

Almost immediately, Firefox started eating away at the Internet Explorer fiefdom and Microsoft was brought to heel through market loss and other players (including Google Chrome) taking a more co-operative, rational approach to the enforcement and adherence to web standards.

The email challenge
The email market now finds itself at the same nexus the browser market found itself in 10 years ago. The market is fractured and wildly inconsistent. With the rendering of HTML in email clients varying so wildly, it’s enough to bring even the most accomplished web developers to their knees.

You see, while the world races ahead technologically, the market for email clients and the rendering of HTML emails has remained obstinately stuck in the past. Even the lowly animated GIF and transparent PNG enjoy very spotty support (at best) in email clients.

That jaw-dropping design your creative team produced for the next award-winning mailer? You may want to rethink those background images, paddings, margins and CSS3 effects. Unless you’re planning on emailing a link for people to see your creative wizardry in their browser.

The case for simplicity
So how does one distill sanity and send out functional, viewable mailers that don’t bring the design team to tears; alienate the client and don’t cause your developers to want to immigrate to Antarctica? You can start by taking a back-to-basics approach.

Uppermost in your mind is that most of your end users will likely be viewing your emails on their mobile phones, so it makes sense to target this particular segment first and scale up your design to cater for users who may be accessing your emails in Outlook, Apple Mail, Thunderbird and heaven-forbid, Lotus Notes or Groupwise.

Only one click away
Until the technology underpinning the rendering of email gets dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, we need to shed the notion that the HTML email must be as creatively expressive as the website you’re trying to lead the end user to.

This isn’t 1999, where only a select group of people had access to the web and so it made sense that the email touch point be as flashy as the website you hoped to lead them to. Don’t lose sight of the fact that almost every recipient of your email in the world today, is just one click away from the website you’re trying to lead them to.

Be realistic. Save time. Save tears. There’s wisdom in simplicity.

Digital and TV, sitting in a tree

By Kathryn McConnachie, Head of Copy & Content at G&G Digital

When it comes to powerful marketing combinations, digital and TV go together like peanut butter and syrup. Sushi and wasabi. Thick-framed eyewear and creatives. It’s the yin to TV’s yang, or the Kim to TV’s Kanye. Here’s why:

Digital is growing
While digital has historically been considered the elite playground of the higher LSMs, the data is starting to suggest otherwise. Facebook, for example, is consistently seeing digital engagement across the spectrum in South Africa. This is hardly surprising considering that 19-20 million South Africans are now online thanks to increased smartphone penetration and lower data costs.

TV is no longer the dominant screen

A large percentage of mobile phone usage is happening at home – while users are in front of the TV. Watching TV as an activity has evolved to become less of a passive experience and more about active engagement. And this engagement is happening online, in social spaces where audiences can feel connected. This is particularly during live screenings, major events and (especially for South Africans) weeknight soapies and popular dramas.

People are curious
If a viewer wants to know more about a character, they’ll Google it. If they missed something in the show plot, they’ll Google it. If they’re intrigued by an ad or product, they’ll Google it. In fact, a significant 27% of ‘second screeners’ look up product information online after seeing a TV ad.

This means that if you’re doing TV but not looking after your digital presence – and more specifically, your search presence – you’re missing out on a major opportunity to get closer to consumers and potentially close the loop in the path to purchase or conversion.

Measurable impact
Adding a digital layer to a traditional campaign can provide a new level of insight into the impact of your marketing effects. Going well beyond reach and impressions, proper digital monitoring and measurement can tell you sentiment, track user behaviour and correlate awareness with sales.

It can tell you, to a large extent, what type of action your TV campaign inspired. Whether viewers Googled the backing track of your ad or immediately went to purchase your product online. It’s an invaluable tool to evaluate the success of your above-the-line marketing.

Adding depth
If you invest in TV media, you should ensure you get optimal value from the extra exposure for meaningful brand interactions. If a TV ad piqued the interest of a viewer enough to have them type your brand’s name into Google, make sure that when they find you, they like what they see. Also make sure your digital platforms are optimised for conversions – whether e-commerce or building a consumer database, close that loop.

Better together
To get the most out of digital to support a TV campaign, its essential to ensure the campaign is aligned from the outset. This means digital cannot be seen as an afterthought – it should form an integral part of the original conception and ideation phase.

Establish your conversion objectives upfront and gear your TV collateral to drive people to your digital platforms. Research shows that when TV and digital are used together for a campaign, there is an 18+ point increase across all brand markers.

The bottom line? Don’t waste the opportunity.

Awards baby, awards

We experienced the sweet taste of success in 2015,
And we’re hungry for more.

So in 2016, let’s do the work that matters.

Let’s take on the campaigns that make your competitors think: ‘Damn, wish we’d thought of that.’

Let’s create unforgettable experiences.

Let’s create out-of-this-world content.
The content that makes people stop mid-scroll on Facebook.
The articles that make you stop, think and ask: ‘Hey, did you see this?’
The videos that you just have to share. Immediately. With everyone.

Brave ideas need to be backed by even braver clients.
So let’s push each other to think bigger. Think smarter.

Let’s solve problems.
Let’s make an impact.
Let’s win some awards.
Let’s make 2016 the year we break through.

Let’s do this.