20 April 2020
Operating during Coronavirus is as new for your customers as it is for all of us. Every opportunity counts, while your consumers are changing their behavior simultaneously online and in real life. As these shifts continue, our reaction time as marketers is even shorter. This presents opportunities for your brand—as well as your competitor’s—to capture their attention through your digital content. And your customers want to hear from you. In fact, Kantar found that only eight percent of consumers think companies should stop advertising during the outbreak. Be present This is not the time to go dark—either in your social media channels or your website content. Consumer behavior has changed considerably on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Traffic is up, but visits are more kinetic. It’s as if our collective attention spans have gotten even shorter as we process a flood of new information. Maintaining a brand presence between customer touchpoints is always important and relevant and useful information will keep your brand in the consciousness of both consumers and search engines. Be helpful That relevant information should include ways your organization can help in these unusual times. Have you changed operating hours or procedures to serve your customers and protect them and your staff? Tell us about it. Are you pausing operations but scheduling service for the future? Let us know how your biggest fans can get to the head of the line. Do you have a product or service that is particularly useful during quarantine? By all means, tell us more! Be clear Sharing details about doing business with your brand is really only helpful if it’s relevant to the customer. You’re changing your hours to sanitize your vehicles? Lay out how that affects the customer. Having inventory issues? Communicate exactly what is in-stock, what’s not and when you expect that to change. Phone lines jammed? Share that immediately through every other channel at your disposal. People understand these are unusual times for you, too, and they’re willing to be patient when they have a clear understanding. Be consistent Don’t fall into the trap of communicating with your customers once and calling it a day. Update at least as frequently as you did during normal times. Remember, a good part of your content will be pushed down people’s news feeds by the latest news, along with graduation pictures from 1997. Stay active to stay relevant. Be a connector A major theme in much of the consumer-generated content right now is staying connected. People are feeling isolated and are eager for human contact. If possible, demonstrate how your brand brings people together by acknowledging your online community and inviting them to join with your company—and each other—in some community effort. Salute local amateur athletes who lost their spring sports season. Repost the community theater’s rehearsal video. Recognize local students or civic organizations for community service. Be grateful Remember to thank your customers—and your casual followers—for remaining with your brand through this situation. Thank them for their efforts and their sacrifice to stay healthy and help to shorten the duration. Most important, thank your employees—the line staff, technicians, phone center representatives, all of them—who one way or another are facing new challenges right now. Also remember your vendors. A little appreciation, even when you’re the one writing the checks—can go a long way to keeping your supply chain running smoothly now and when we get back to something approaching normal. This post is part of a series on marketing during and after the pandemic. To read the others, follow this link.
06 January 2020
There’s no denying that we live in a review culture now. Social media started it, and online retailers made it the norm. Often overlooked, this element of word-of-mouth marketing has become one of the most powerful drivers of sales, particularly in the “decision” phase of the buyer’s journey.
12 December 2019
04 September 2019
Amidst these days of digital dominance, it’s rare to find a business that doesn’t understand—and try to capitalize on—the importance of good SEO. In fact, you’ll find that most organizations, regardless of size, agree it’s among the most vital factors for long-term success. And yet there are still some that are missing the mark on having a solid SEO strategy in place. Some without a targeted plan at all. Others who’ve just let it slide a little (or a lot). There are countless experts and articles underlining the tactics, trends and tools that still matter—and more important, that still work. SEO is alive and well, so why would any business push it to the back burner? Or worse, ignore it or table it entirely? It’s a long-term strategy. SEO takes commitment, especially from key stakeholders within a company. When it comes to digital tactics, oftentimes the mindset is to simply deliver instant traffic and hit all the desired key performance indicators. *brushing off hands* “Mission accomplished,” they think. In reality, a strong digital media strategy is more complex than that. Of course, all the paid methods such as Facebook ads, Display and Search provide instant gratification. But the critical connection is the one between your SEO strategy and your marketing efforts—meaning, are they working in conjunction? There’s a wealth of keyword information to be had from just one search campaign … including deeper insight into which keywords are actually driving conversions. It lacks a tangible objective. Crazy as it sounds, there are businesses out there that don’t know what their goals are—or have trouble articulating them in a way that can be capitalized upon. Maybe those goals have changed. Just like with paid campaigns, a business needs to have clear KPIs attached to their SEO efforts. Think about what you want to accomplish from your SEO: Generate more organic leads? Increase the number of people reading your content? Create a better user experience? Secure higher placements? Once those details are identified, a clear SEO strategy can be crafted (or adjusted). It’s overwhelming. Many times, companies just don’t know where to start. They know their business objectives, but maybe not how to translate them into SEO objectives. Or an established business has an old SEO plan that doesn’t seem to be delivering the way it once did. Regardless of SEO experience or history, the best thing to do in these situations is to run a comprehensive SEO site audit. This in-depth assessment can uncover items that need to be addressed, added or fixed in order to ensure your site ranks well in a search—presumably, higher than it was before the audit. It can also improve your site’s overall user experience and increase conversions from other sources of traffic such as Google Ads or social media. Getting Started: The place to start often is with a site audit. Through this process, you and your team will identify opportunities to better align your online presence with your business objectives. Then you can track the metrics you’ll use to measure success. SEO is never a one-off project. It’s a continuing process of responding to your customer preferences and user behavior, and adjusting to changes in both the online and competitive environments.
11 July 2019
Daniel Lally When it comes to sharing industry advice—real-world marketing know-how, brand-building next-steps, current trends and important practices—we’ve always got something to talk (and write) about. Now, we’ve taken that talk to the next level: action. Since our launch as an independent agency in 1986, our entire focus has been to build our business around yours … our clients’ businesses. We’ve invested in new technologies and added capabilities, but only when it allowed us to better serve those clients. Because that’s what it’s all about, right? Our goal has always been to work more closely with our clients than is the norm in this biz. And from what we’re told, we succeed. We know that relationships based on transparency and trust are the most successful ones of all. Best of all, this often provides us insights into opportunities for building better relationships between brands and their communities. That insight is what inspired bringing a new division on board—along with a seasoned expert to lead it. Meet Daniel Lally, the newest member of the St. Gregory team and Vice President of Strategic Communication. Dan has been on both the agency and corporate sides of the ad biz for more than 20 years—notably, one of the early adopters of social media techniques among public relations professionals. He even co-founded a nonprofit to study and share best practices for using social media to achieve real-world business objectives. Practical PR at its finest. Along the way, Dan has created and led strategic communication efforts on behalf of leading consumer and B2B brands. He’s launched several familiar products you likely have in your house right now, and appeared on more than a few popular TV shows we know you watch from time to time. We’re confident both long-standing clients and new ones alike will appreciate the resources and experience Dan brings to our table—from marketing, media relations and social media to content development, community relations and crisis communications. More important, we know he’ll make our work for those businesses even better.
07 June 2019
If you’re an auto dealer (or any local or small business, for that matter), and you missed this blog the first time around, we think it’s worth a revisit—or at the very least, a rededication to upping your ante on giving back. Because doing good is never a bad thing. For a car dealership, name recognition and trust are huge commodities—and the lack thereof can be a big hurdle to business success. It’s important to invest in traditional advertising and social media, although the former can be expensive, while the latter is time consuming. But there’s another way to make people familiar with your brand and garner trust and good will: by performing a community service. It may sound cynical to engage in charitable giving or volunteerism with the goal of increasing your business—but here’s why it’s not: When you dedicate your dealership to a cause—whether by sponsoring a school sports team, letting your employees volunteer while they’re on the clock, supplying cars for a nonprofit that needs reliable transportation, or any of an infinite number of possible goodwill efforts, you are first and foremost making the world a better place. (As long as you don’t try to pull something like this.) Whatever your motivations, doing good is doing good. And the fact that you get to leverage your business’s spending power or platform to amplify all that do-gooding: extra-super-bonus credit. And don’t underestimate the morale boost your staff is likely to feel as a result of being part of something bigger than themselves. Just be sure that their involvement is truly voluntary, and that you’re not pulling them away from urgent work in order to participate. A few tips on choosing a charity: Steer clear of anything overtly political, since you could alienate rather than attract potential customers that way. Seek a charity that complements your brand message. For example, one of our clients, a female-owned dealership, donates cars to help transport women to and from breast cancer treatments. Another dealership group that sells family-friendly cars sponsors an event that benefits our local children’s hospital. Go ahead and invest in a cause that’s close to your heart—and feel great about the trust and name recognition you’re banking for your dealership.
25 April 2019
There’s been a lot of talk about television viewers cancelling cable and switching over to subscription services like Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu, otherwise known as Over The Top (OTT). We see headlines like “Cord-Cutting Accelerates as OTT Video Keeps Growing” and “The Number of OTT-Only U.S. Homes Has Tripled Over the Last 5 Years.” But so far, the numbers don’t seem to reflect the giant migration advertisers had feared. While the headlines do reflect facts, they don’t provide much in the way of context. According to a 2018 report from the Video Advertising Bureau, the number of households exclusively using OTT streaming services and devices has tripled since 2013. But that adds up to only a small fraction of the U.S. market—anywhere from 11 to 13%, depending on which survey you look at. In fact, about the same number of U.S. households still use antennae to watch broadcast television—and nobody’s panicking about the rabbit ears taking over. The main OTT services—Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and Amazon Prime—account for more than two hours of daily viewing per household per day, on average. Ad-supported television, meanwhile, averages 7.9 hours of usage each day. And most people who use OTT devices and apps—about 70%— also have cable. Some aspects of OTT subscription make estimating viewership a little fuzzy. Nobody’s quite sure what the effect will be of forthcoming OTT platforms like Disney, Warner, Apple and NBCU; we can assume that OTT viewership will increase, but there’s some question as to whether we’ll reach a saturation point at which viewers resist subscribing to yet more services. Further, it’s likely that we underestimate OTT viewership, since sharing passwords is so ubiquitous. And finally, since subscription information comes from the services themselves, critics like FX Network CEO John Landgraf accuse OTT services of “grading their own homework”—i.e., potentially spinning the facts to benefit themselves. While OTT subscriptions are growing by leaps and bounds, it’s not time to abandon traditional advertising just yet. A wise marketer will determine the balance of media advertising allocations based on the demographics they wish to reach—and keep all advertising options on the table.
13 March 2019
Junior Achievement Job Shadow Day is like a holiday at St. Gregory: We plan and prep and look forward to it for weeks, discussing what worked last year—and what caused the kids to start inspecting their fingernails. Last week, we got to host Ms. McCoy-Lampkin’s eighth-grade Junior Achievement class from Withrow University High School. As always, we were blown away by the talent and potential of JA kids—not to mention energized about our own jobs. Eighth graders don’t exactly roll into our office itching to talk marketing. In an effort to break through kids’ natural reticence with strange, overly enthusiastic adults, we decided to give them a taste of what it’s like to work here. We divided the kids into two groups and assigned them to create Instagram videos promoting Junior Achievement. The teams jumped right in and worked on a very tight timeline, concepting, writing and shooting the spots in only about an hour and a half. After that, our crack video editor, Scotty, grabbed the footage and edited it into two creative, fun and inspiring spots. In between concepting, writing, and filming videos, we talked to the students about how companies use social media to advertise their products, how they target customers, and how branding works to influence buying decisions. We also talked about the career paths our team has followed to get where they are today, and shared a few tips on breaking into the biz. We finished with pizza (thanks, LaRosa’s!), candy and the exciting world premiere of their JA spots. Check out the videos for yourself. They really show off the creativity of JA kids—and their appreciation for Junior Achievement. A message to Ms. McCoy-Lampkin’s eighth-grade class: Next time we’re on deadline and struggling, can we call you guys in to brainstorm with us? View this post on Instagram From childhood to career, @jacincinnati exposes students to career resources, teaches them money management and helps them create their future. #wuhs #8thgraders A post shared by St. Gregory Culture (@sg_culture) on Mar 14, 2019 at 6:32am PDT View this post on Instagram If you believe, you CAN achieve. And @jacincinnati can help. #8thgraders #wuhs A post shared by St. Gregory Culture (@sg_culture) on Mar 14, 2019 at 6:56am PDT
01 March 2019
Customers are more likely to survive a plane crash, complete Navy SEAL training, or summit Mount Everest than they are to click on a banner ad. Statistically, 85% of people won’t click on an ad, and about half of the clicks that do happen are “fat finger” accidental clicks. On top of that, 56% of digital ads are never seen by a human. It’s easy, therefore, to conclude that web ads are ineffective—but the truth is that you may have been measuring the wrong thing all along. The Web Advertising Environment Web advertising takes a variety of forms. The basic form is the banner ad, which comes in a suite of typical sizes and can be found on every website, where businesses use them as a way to monetize their web traffic. These are the most easily identifiable as ads. Other types of digital advertising include native ads, paid content designed to look like the media in which it’s inserted; ads built to be shared on social media platforms like Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram; retargeting ads, which use data about users’ web behavior to serve them repeated ads that follow them across websites; and search ads, which appear in the results of Google and other search engine queries. An oft-repeated statistic in the marketing industry claims that the average internet user is served more than 1,700 banner ads per month—but that number is from 2007. The ubiquity of mobile devices means that the rate is almost certainly much higher now. Clients are accustomed to judging the success of web campaigns by the click-through rate (CTR), the number of clicks divided by the total number of impressions. But depending on the type of campaign and its goals, CTR doesn’t tell the whole story. What you measure should vary depending on what your goals are. Here’s how you can plan for and evaluate a successful web campaign. Setting Expectations and Goals Before you decide what type of web ads you want to make and how you should measure their effectiveness, you need to set clear, measurable targets. Those goals will then dictate what key performance indicators—KPIs—you should document. KPIs are, more than anything, a form of communication. They allow all stakeholders to check their efforts against an agreed-upon metric of success that builds toward a desired outcome. Examples of common KPIs could be conversion rates, bounce rates, or unique visits. When CTR Matters There’s one scenario in which the CTR is very important: when there’s a call to action on a banner ad. In that case, the goal is to inspire someone to take action (click). If you’re confident about targeting the right audience through your ad buy but you’re seeing a low CTR, then it’s time to tweak the creative in order to inspire more clicks. CTR directly influences an ad’s quality score or relevance score on Facebook and Google AdWords. Use Google’s Keyword Planner to find out what customers are searching for, and use those terms in your advertising—but be sure to back them up with relevant content on your site. Boosting Visibility/Reach If your goal is simply increasing brand awareness, impressions and reach should be part of your equation. Impressions are the number of times your ad is displayed. It’s a good starting point for understanding the big picture, but it doesn’t tell you a lot all by itself because it doesn’t mean anyone actually saw the ad, only that it appeared on a web page or app. Reach is the number of unique individuals who were served your ad. Because ads are generally shown to the same people multiple times, the reach will always be a lower number than the impressions. On social media, your reach increases exponentially with each share. That’s why “going viral” is such a dream-come-true for marketers. The problem with using reach and impressions as your main KPIs is that there’s no way to directly track the impact your web ads have on conversion. So while you should keep track of reach and impressions, consider one of the following KPIs as a more educational metric: Completing Conversions A conversion is basically whatever goal you’re leading a customer to the website to complete. It can mean a sale, or filling out a lead form, or signing up for a newsletter. This is the most direct KPI, and it happens near the end of the customer engagement process—as opposed to the click-through, which happens at the very start of the engagement process. Native advertising and retargeting ads help to focus the audience for web ads and make them more targeted. Users who receive retargeted ads are 70% more likely to convert. Viewers engage native ads 53% more than banner ads. “Bounce rate” is kind of like the opposite of a conversion. Your goal should be a high conversion rate and a low bounce rate. A bounce is a single-page session on your website, meaning someone clicked on your ad but left your website without looking at any other pages. Typically, this means that your ad is promising something that the website doesn’t deliver. You can test your ad to determine where the problem is by changing one element at a time—the ad copy, targeted key words, offer or landing page—and then watching what your bounce rate does. Google explains “bounce rate” as “single-page sessions divided by all sessions, or the percentage of all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page and triggered only a single request to the Analytics server.” Increasing Engagement Engagement is whenever your audience interacts with your brand. On social media it can mean likes, retweets, mentions, favorites, shares, clicks and comments. Brands that incorporate quizzes, games, calculators, assessment tools or contests have the most success increasing engagement rates. Creating a successful web ad campaign takes time on the front end: establishing your goals, choosing the KPIs that will get you to those goals, and then crafting web advertising that gets you those KPIs—but time put into planning is never wasted. With our track record of winning web strategy, consider letting St. Gregory take the reins on your next campaign.