27 July 2021
Direct mail marketing and print advertising can be powerful additions to a comprehensive marketing strategy. Don’t believe it? According to Smallbizgenius, people who receive a piece of direct mail spend 28% more than those who don’t. At St. Gregory, we’ve been helping businesses launch direct mail advertising campaigns and print advertising endeavors for over 30 years. One area where we’ve seen many businesses flounder is with measuring the return on investment of these campaigns. And if you aren’t effectively measuring, you aren’t getting across the finish line! Below we’ll share two ways we’ve successfully helped businesses measure the impact of their direct mail and print advertising campaigns as well as pro tips to help you avoid common pitfalls. Call Tracking with Direct Mail Marketing and Print Advertising Is your business the type that lends itself to phone calls, such as customers calling to make an appointment or reservation? If so, call tracking is an excellent way to measure the effectiveness of your direct mail piece, print advertising campaign or magazine ad. The concept of call tracking is simple enough; you use a separate, dedicated phone number in the ad and calls to that number are counted. These calls may even be recorded so that information can be gathered about the callers themselves, such as gender and FAQs, and “conversions” can be counted. (Conversions might be the number of callers that actually make an appointment or reservation after speaking with your business.) Pro tip: Call tracking is a great way to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns, but it isn’t just a marketing tool. Listening to calls is also a fantastic way to collect customer feedback and monitor employee-customer interactions with the aim of improving your business’ overall customer experience. For more information on improving the customer experience (and why it matters) read Customer Experience: Getting the Customer is Only the First Step. In theory, call tracking sounds great, but how do you implement it? You could do it manually. Get a separate phone number, have your employees count the number of calls and take notes about the outcome of each call. But let’s be real—that sounds like a huge hassle, right? Luckily, there are much more automated call tracking solutions available. For example, one that we’ve used here at St. Gregory is CallRail. CallRail allows you to get multiple phone numbers, so if you were doing a direct mail advertising campaign and a magazine ad you could have two separate tracking numbers. The service also records calls so you can listen to them later and integrates with Google Analytics so that you can compare call data with other conversions and compare your various traffic sources. Pro tip: Call tracking isn’t just for mail and print advertising. You can use call tracking phone numbers in any form of advertising from social media campaigns to television commercials. In fact, CallRail integrates with Facebook and other platforms to make the process as painless as possible. For more information on successfully implementing call tracking in any of your marketing and media campaigns, call St. Gregory today. Landing Pages and UTMs with Direct Mail Marketing and Print Advertising If you plan on using your direct mail or print advertising campaign to drive website traffic, you’ll want to spend some time thinking about the URL that will be in the ad. There are two solid options to consider. Append UTM parameters to an existing page. The easiest tracking option is to simply add UTM parameters to an existing URL. UTM parameters, also known as URL parameters, campaign parameters, and campaign tracking parameters, are pieces of code you add to the end of a URL. This code passes information back to Google Analytics so that you can better categorize and measure the results of your campaigns. Pro tip: If you’re unfamiliar with UTM parameters and how powerful they can be for most marketing campaigns, dive in with Intro to UTM Parameters. Not only are UTM parameters free to use, they’re also fast and easy to deploy. The only issue with UTMs is that they can make a URL very long. A long URL is unsightly, may be difficult to fit on a direct mail or print advertising piece, and may be asking too much of your perspective customers. In other words, no one wants to try to type in a URL that is 50 plus characters long. And even if your customers are willing to do so, the longer the URL is the more likely it is they will make a typo and end up on a 404 “page not found” error page, which is beyond frustrating! The solution is to drop your URL, complete with UTMs, into a link shortener tool, such as Bitly, TinyURL, or Rebrandly. A link shortener simply takes a long URL and cuts it down. It does not strip off your UTM parameters or interfere with tracking. Use a dedicated landing page. What if you have a special offer or price you want to make available only to the people that receive your direct mail piece? Or for some reason can’t (or don’t want to) use UTMs? For example, if you’re using a web tracking service other than Google Analytics, UTMs might not be an option. In that case, you could create a separate landing page on your website specifically for your direct mail marketing or print advertising campaign. Whether you are creating a brand new page with unique copy or simply duplicating an existing page in order to measure direct mail or print campaign traffic, there are a few things you’ll want to do: Make the page is an “orphan” page. When a page is an orphan, that means that no other page on the site links to it. You do not want anyone to be able to get to the page unless they have the URL, which will only be in your direct mail or print advertising piece. Tell Google (and other search engines) not to index the page. Again, you want to ensure that no-one can get to the page unless they have the URL; the purpose of this is to try to keep your data as pure as possible. By telling Google not to index the page, you’re preventing your direct mail or print ad landing page from showing up in organic search results. Test your data tracking service, whether this is Google Analytics or some other application. Make sure you are able to collect visitor data. Ensure the page has a URL that is easy to type. Keep the URL as foolproof as possible. Pro tip: If you are duplicating an existing page, avoid duplicate content issues on your site by adding a canonical tag to the original page. Read more about canonicalization here. By using the methods in this post, you’ll be able to get a much better understanding of just how effective your direct mail and print ad campaigns are. At St. Gregory, we have talented team members that can help you design a new webpage, write effective sales copy, and implement a solid UTM strategy to get the most accurate tracking possible for your direct mail or print advertising campaign all while driving sales or leads. If you’re ready to see how well your campaigns, direct mail or otherwise, are really performing, let’s talk!
21 May 2021
Pre-roll ads—the short commercials that play before online videos—are a relatively new attempt to capture viewer attention for advertisers. But alas, according to a recent consumer study by Magna and IPG Media Lab, 65% of viewers skip them as soon as they get the chance. Here's how you can keep potential customers from skipping your
21 April 2021
We took an informal, office-wide poll to find out what people respond to—and what bugs them—about car commercials. Sure, we’re all marketing and advertising professionals here at St. Gregory Group, but we’re also potential customers. Here are our do’s and don’ts for car commercials.
07 April 2021
The best marketing strategy in the world can only have temporary results if it doesn’t account for the entire customer experience. Sure, our first job is to get people in the door, on the lot or to the website, but that’s just the beginning of the journey. I was lucky to learn this at my first and only job before I started my professional career. I was working at a high-end butcher shop in downtown Cincinnati where the clientele had expectations for their rack of lamb just as high as my current clients do for their multi-million-dollar marketing campaigns. How does a teenager become a butcher at such a place and what did I learn from my time working there? For the first question, ask my dad. For the second, I think it’s safe to say that I learned as much working as a butcher as I did in college. Scary, right? The most important lesson I learned there is that the customer experience is just as important as the product. This is easy to overlook while organizations focus on product and process, but it can be the most important part of your business plan. Marketing’s job isn’t over when the customer comes through the door. In some ways it’s just beginning. Think about it. One of the first lessons at the butcher shop was wrapping orders. At the time I didn’t understand why my father made such a big deal about it. Finally, he explained that the package that goes out the door is a big part of the customer experience. The way it feels in our guest’s hands, the way it looks that afternoon in the refrigerator. The appearance, the aroma, the reveal when he first unwraps his roast or chops to start cooking. All those moments are an opportunity to reinforce his decision to choose us. The challenge is to own as many of those moments as possible. Why is that customer in the market in the first place? It’s a butcher shop, so the simple answer is for food. But probably not because they’re hungry. Usually, our customers were preparing a meal to be shared with others, and likely somebody they wanted to impress. That changes the equation. It means they need more than just quality product. They want and expect our expertise beyond which cut is particularly good that day. We’d make suggestions for preparation and serving, selecting side dishes and other ideas for making their meal a success. We understood that we were playing a role in that special meal and it could very well be one of the most important occasions in our customer’s week … or career or relationship. And the customer experience isn’t complete until the dishes are cleared from the table. How you create an unforgettable customer experience will be specific to your business, products or services, and target audience. However, there are some things that all businesses can do to improve their customer experience. These may seem basic, but in our experience, they’re often overlooked. Ready? Here are our top two tips for creating an unforgettable customer experience. Plus, how St. Gregory can help you implement them. Customer Experience Tip 1: Be Convenient There are many different ways that customers might communicate with your business, including: Phone calls Face-to-face interactions Text messages Online chats Social media messages Website forms Emails Old fashioned snail mail How your customers (and potential customers) prefer to communicate with you about your products or services will depend on a lot of factors such as the urgency of their need and audience demographics like age. Do not force your customers to conform to your preferred methods of communication! Instead, take steps to identify which channels your customers prefer and make yourself available. When it comes to customer experience tip one, St. Gregory can help you identify those preferred communication channels by mining any existing website and marketing data, such as that from Google Analytics, and conducting consumer research. Pro tip: Keep in mind that some people may prefer no communication. Part of being convenient is making it easy for people to find the information they need without having to reach out to you and wait for a response. This can be achieved through website copy, blog posts, an online knowledge base, or chatbots. St. Gregory has experienced copywriters that can help craft search engine optimized and user-friendly copy that conveys necessary information. In addition, our web designers can help you make smart user experience decisions that will make your website more accessible to current and perspective customers. Customer Experience Tip 2: Learn and Grow Guess who knows what your customers really want … that’s right, your customers. In order to create that unforgettable customer experience, you have to listen to current, perspective, and yes, former customers. How you solicit this feedback may vary. Here are a few possible options: Customer experience surveys that are sent out after a product is purchased or after a service is provided. Polls sent out to social media audiences or email lists. Polls conducted at community events or community gathering places. Online reviews. Ask your customers and audiences for their opinion and feedback. Analyze the information you receive for opportunities. Then, and this is the most important part, use that knowledge to improve the customer experience! Feedback is useless if you don’t actually learn from it. At St. Gregory, our public relations specialists can help you design reputation management and community engagement plans that includes soliciting customer feedback and reviews. Bonus, not only will online reviews help you improve your customer experience, they can also help you make more sales. A study by the Spiegel Research Center showed that the “likelihood of a product getting purchased increases 270% when it gets five reviews.” Yes, 270%. That is not a typo. And notice that it’s just five reviews; the study did not specify positive versus negative reviews. While you do not want a bevy of bad reviews, a few will not sink your ship, so to speak. In fact, one or two bad reviews mixed in with a bunch of stellar reviews can actually make your business seem more credible. Speaking of negative reviews…. It can be hard to receive critical feedback, especially in a public setting such as Google or Facebook. However, remember, every complaint is an opportunity to provide an unforgettable customer experience. How you act in the face of negativity can be far more telling than how you act when everything is going perfectly. When you do receive a negative review, before responding, read our tips on how to handle negative reviews. St. Gregory is a full-service marketing agency. That means we can help with all of your marketing and customer experience needs including digital and traditional marketing, public relations and community engagement, reputation management, and creative needs like graphic design, video production, and content marketing. We’d love to talk to you about how to take your customer experience to a buzz-worthy level. For a free consultation on how we might be an asset to your business, contact us today.
06 August 2020
Author: Stephanie Meinberg
As a University of Alabama grad and Anderson Twp., Ohio native, Emily Meek has divided her post-collegiate years to exploring Europe and launching her career (often simultaneously). Stonehenge to Dublin to Paris, then Birmingham and now back to Cincy, she’s a hometown girl with a passion for football—she’s also the newest member of the St. Gregory media team. Q: You’ve joined us as our assistant media buyer—tell us a little about your media experience. A: I spent just over a year as an assistant traditional media buyer for the Martin Retail Group, an agency in Alabama focused primarily on automotive clients. My work was with General Motors—Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac—covering TV, cable, radio and print buys for my region, which was about 29 markets. It was basic media assistant work—with my strong background in PR, which was primarily earned and owned media, this role allowed me to transition over to the paid media side, which was really interesting to me … I was excited about learning more from that perspective. Q: So why the move back to Cincy? What appealed to you about St. Gregory? A: I loved Alabama—the school, not the state. [She laughs.] I was really looking for an agency setting, the next step after focused corporate communications where you’re working for the same client every day. The pandemic limited my options, of course, but then I spotted this opening—in my hometown—and with everything that was going on in the world, it seemed like the perfect time, the perfect opportunity, to make the jump. St. Gregory as an agency had a deep roster of clients, a lot of which were automotive, which was my current forte. So, it was that ideal next step—going from what I was doing on just the media side at MRG to a full-service agency that did that and more. It blended my previous PR experience with my current work … all in one job. Q: Thoughts on media—in general? Where it’s going in our highly digital, on-demand world … A: Obviously there’s a lot of focus on digital, but I’m more interested in traditional … more interested in what’s going on in the moment when it comes to advertising, like when I’m watching football in live action on TV (versus paying to skip ads on Hulu when I watch The Bachelor). I think you can go further, do more with traditional media—and I think a lot of people don’t realize all that encompasses … it’s not just TV, it’s also billboards and radio and more … Q: So, your primary role here … and favorite part so far? A: I’m only just now a month in, so I don’t have my own accounts yet. Currently, I’m helping with whatever [St. Gregory media director] Janet needs … forms, adjusting plans and media tools, sending traffic, working with budget sheets, printing invoices, scanning things in for co-op … literally every day is something different. I haven’t done anything twice yet. Which is one of the best parts—I love the option of being able to do different things in different systems with different forms and different setups … nothing is ever boring here.
28 July 2020
Author: Daniel Lally
There’s a saying among litigators that goes something like this: If the facts are on your side, pound the facts. If the law is on your side, pound the law. If neither is on your side, pound the table. The thing about that maxim is that it works equally well as a mocking review of almost any argument with which you disagree, or as pretty solid career advice for anyone who aspires to persuade people for a living. Like lawyers. Or advertisers. That’s because marketing strategy depends on having a conversation with your customers that is both relevant to them and highlights the specific benefits of your brand. In the late 1960s, major home appliances like washing machines had become harder for advertisers to differentiate. The performance and features offered by the big manufacturers were pretty comparable, particularly when it came to higher-end models. But one copywriter at Leo Burnett found a way to frame the purchasing decision in a way that ensured his client would definitely stand out. The insight pointed out the worst part of owning a major appliance was when it stopped working. Other, larger competitors pointed to their national networks of factory-trained repair technicians, but based on that insight, they were making the wrong case. And so, the Maytag Repairman came to be. With a single idea, Maytag changed the conversation from which machine was bigger or got whites brighter to which one you could actually depend on. Framed that way, Maytag would continue to chip away at the market share of its much larger competitors for another 35 years or so, when one of them finally gave in and bought the company. Combine a new insight with a creative idea and you’ve got a powerful force. These are the proverbial unicorns—those truly revolutionary products that are exactly what everybody wanted or needed and just didn’t know it until a new gizmo came along. This week in particular, air conditioning comes to mind. But if your brand has real competition, and your customers have real options, you’ll likely benefit from framing the discussion to the context that best suits your benefits. Which conversation you decide to have can make all the difference.
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.
04 December 2019
Author: Steve Bleh
Any plan for identifying, targeting and attracting customers to your brand almost always involves some sort of analysis of the customer journey. It’s the path from the Zero Moment of Truth, through something like a Sales Funnel, and leading ultimately to the Last Three Feet. Then we’re done, right? Everybody high-five and start filling out the awards submissions. The reality is that last moment of truth is not where the marketer’s job ends—it’s just where it starts over. With some notable exceptions—burial plots come immediately to mind—most of the brands and clients we serve are hoping for something more than a one-off transaction. So, what can we do to keep those customers coming back for more? First, be certain that the earliest customer experience is not only more than they expect, but clearly what they expect. Advertising messages that confuse your audience or imply a different kind of experience will leave guests confused, disappointed or worse. That means that a clear definition of who the product or service is for has to be baked into your strategy. This requires an analysis that goes beyond demographics or psychographics and gets to what customer need that initial purchase meets. It’s fair to say that the MegaMart and the art gallery have very different customer profiles, but patrons of the arts still, on occasion, need batteries or shoelaces. Second, anticipate that there still will be customers who walk away confused, disappointed or worse. Whether it’s because of an operations issue or a disconnect in your messaging doesn’t matter—it’s still marketing’s problem to address. There once was a saying that a satisfied customer tells two people, but a dissatisfied one tells 12. That’s still mostly true, but through social media that unhappy customer could reach 12 dozen or 12,000 in a matter of hours. Have a plan for responding to these situations that in a way that reinforces your accurate brand story and reinforces your commitment to meeting and exceeding expectations. Third—and this where the journey starts over at the beginning—your marketing plan needs to remind all those happy (or at least satisfied) customers about the best parts of their experience invite them back. Many mass-market retailers and food service establishments solicit comments at the cash register or create rewarded surveys. For high-value purchases or those that are less frequent, consider a personal contact to ask about the experience—good or bad—and even to ask for referrals. With so many options for any service or product in the market, brands need to make sure that every step the customer takes with you is on the right path. The first transaction is just the beginning of the relationship. And the beginning of a new journey.
14 November 2019
Author: Gail Back
Independent and family-owned companies tend to grow up with an ingrained do-it-yourself ethic. It’s part of the attraction: Working in a place where decisions can be made quickly and most tasks can be handled in-house. But that’s not always the best option when it comes to decisions that require specific expertise or where your managers make purchase decisions less frequently. It’s not unlike the annual ritual of selecting health insurance for your team: There are dozens of options, each with different features and benefits, and only limited visibility to what others are paying for similar results. More often than not, you’re better off working with a professional. That’s also true when it comes to advertising media buying. The contracts are complicated. And while you may only make your advertising decisions a few times each year, usually you’re negotiating with professionals who handle the same kind of deal every single day. Often, professional media planning not only saves your company more money than it costs—it also simplifies your life. Your media planner will present you with a couple of options that meet your marketing objectives for timing, reach and frequency. A comprehensive plan will also combine print, broadcast, streaming and digital elements to make the greatest impact for your advertising investment. If you’re not sure about the offers and options you’re fielding from different advertising outlets, take a look at what your agency’s media department can do for you. We can simplify the decision-making process and can also be a business owner’s best friend when it comes to watching the budget.