Let me handle that for you

By Leslie Galbreath

If you work in business, you’ve likely heard the phrase “everyone is a marketer” uttered sarcastically at one point or another. It’s become rather a running joke in my profession. As jokes go, it’s a pretty good one because it rings true more often than it should. When folks say this, it’s usually in response to feedback from an executive who is just “not feeling the design” or a salesperson who “knows for sure that my customers don’t use Facebook for business.” Maybe from a vendor who swears that “shiny paper is making a comeback.” (I can assure you, it’s not). The point is that everyone feels entitled to an opinion about marketing. The question is, why?

The answer is pretty simple else you likely wouldn’t be reading it in a blog, you’d be reading it in my critically acclaimed think piece on the philosophy of communications. Maybe someday, but for now I digress.

Marketing communications is the means by which customers experience brands so we are all, in fact, involved in it to some degree. Websites satisfy our need for immediate gratification by allowing us to buy just about anything online from our favorite vendors. Digital apps allow us to connect with world news as reported by our favorite reporters 24/7/365 with the tap of a finger. Television ads make us laugh, cry and sometimes scream. Communication is emotional and it’s everywhere, and that’s a big part of why everyone thinks they know it – because they see it, use it and feel it every day.

I can assure you, however, that the professionals who create the apps, websites, news programs and television ads, do not do these things based on gut or “cool stuff they saw online last night.” They skillfully engineer their work based on research, training, expertise and experience in the best interest of the brands they serve. This being one among many reasons that it is so important to make sure you choose to work with trained, skilled professionals.

Marketing communications is as of yet an unlicensed profession, which creates a free for all culture that can be risky. Marketers are caretakers for a business’ greatest asset after its people – its brand – and are often responsible for significant budgets and other resources. To elevate our profession beyond the aforementioned culture, many of us seek advanced degrees and accreditation that support industry standards and best practices to grow our expertise. Others rigorously pursue certifications to ensure they are at the top of their game. Others still actively participate in professional associations to benefit from their peers’ experience and guidance. All of these things enhance the credibility of the profession and make us the best suited to decide if the design feels right and if the message is on point.

So, my advice to companies in need of marketing services is look to the experts for input and trust their guidance. To those who think they know better, keep the feedback coming, but let me handle this for you, please.

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We are Thankful

we-are-thankfuldgs Marketing Engineers has much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. From our exciting leadership changes to our continued development of our highly creative team, we are filled with abundant joy and thankfulness for all that we have had the opportunity to experience this past year. And we want to share our season of thanks with all of you – our dgs family.

“This year, I’m thankful for time to spend with the people (and dogs) I love, for people who see injustice and stand up against it and for my bright, kind, creative dgs team.”
– LG

“What I am most thankful for this Thanksgiving is that our oldest son is not deployed, as he has spent a few Thanksgivings in the past five years in combat zones unable to spend time with family.”
– MD

“I’m thankful that I work with an awesome group of people and for my loving family with which I get to spend the holidays.”
– CB

“This year, I find myself much more grateful for and appreciative of every previous president who’s served during my lifetime.”
– JM

“I’m thankful for my health and family.”
– AM

“For Thanksgiving 2017, I’m thankful for the opportunity to travel with my Mom to Raleigh, NC to spend time with my daughter Alison, my son Alex, his fiancé Kimmy and all of her family.”
– BI

“I am thankful that I get to wake up each day and make it whatever I want it to be, and I am thankful that every year my list continues to grow.”
– JB

“This year, I am thankful for the supportive, loving group of friends (both two and four legged) that have been brought into my life.”
– AH

“I am thankful for being around open-minded people who make me smile every day.”
– BL

“I am thankful for freedom, family and good health.”
– MB

“Naturally, as the latest member of the team, I’m thankful for my challenging and rewarding new job here at dgs and for the colleagues who’ve helped me meet those challenges thus far.”
– DF

“I’m thankful for all of the people (family, friends, coworkers) in my life.”
– RB

“My heart is full this year with love for my family and thankfulness my bright, beautiful and sassy child who brings sunshine to my days.”
– MM

We hope you have a wonderful holiday and don’t forget to add that extra helping of stuffing to your plate because, well, you deserve it. We know we’ll all be enjoying our time with our loved ones and sharing thanks for more than the Thanksgiving turkey. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Finding the right talent

By Marc DieboldFinding-the-right-talent

In a professional service business like ours, finding and retaining the right people is the key to sustained growth, profitability, and a vibrant corporate culture. Consequently, we look at the recruiting process as an opportunity to make a positive contribution to the overall health of the company.

Every step in our process is carefully planned and executed, from the wording in the employment ad, to the questions we ask during a phone interview, to the personality and skills assessments done during in-person interviews and testing. In the end, we’re looking for a candidate that not only has the job skills and experience to be productive, but also has the type of personality that will fit in and contribute positively to our corporate culture. If we’re successful in finding the right talent, it’s a win-win for the company and the new employee.

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Why Collaboration in the Workplace is Important

workplace-collaboration

Time and time again, history and experience have proven more can be accomplished by many than by an individual. It is not surprising this truism extends to the workplace in the form of collaboration. Collaboration is a buzz word in business today. Companies are trending toward open-office environments and even pulling remote employees back into the office to facilitate cross pollination of ideas. There is much to be gained from understanding the benefits of effective collaboration in the workplace.

In a collaborative work environment, businesses are able to complete more projects. There is efficiency in numbers. When work is delegated strategically, tasks are assigned by competency and bandwidth. This ensures the task will not only be completed well, but in a timely manner.

Sharing ideas and suggestions promotes cross-functional understanding within departments. Brainstorming in a group setting allows individuals to think outside of their specialty or niche area. Greater awareness of business operations inspires cohesive work. It also puts employees in a position to better serve internal stakeholders. After all, your coworkers are also your clients.

Lastly, positive collaborative environments increase employee engagement. Frequent communication allows team members to develop bonds. Humans are social creatures by nature. Workers who feel their input and work is valued by their management and team are more motivated to contribute and less likely to leave.

Collaboration inspires work that is efficient, cross-functional, and valued. When a workplace environment is conducive to producing this type of work, everybody wins, not just the business.

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Personalize your content to reach the right target

Is your content in the driver seat or is your focus on hitting deadlines and meeting expectations? Slow it down and reassess. Successful campaign copy is focused, personalized and targeted on the key audience. Try these top tips to staying true to your message.

Know your audience. Target the content to meet your specific audience, sharing knowledge that drives their interest, sets you apart from others in your industry and engages the reader to look for more from your business.

Watch your language. Sure, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the English language currently contains over 170,000 words at the present moment, but that doesn’t mean you have to use every one of them in your copy. Maintain a level-playing field when it comes to content and keep the context relative.

Play it Out. Your content will flow through various platforms and come in contact with numerous end-users. The trick is to maintain focus on the audience, watch their engagement and look for opportunities to add value to your brand messaging.

When it’s time to create your next campaign, whether it’s social or content, ask yourself – do I know my audience? Don’t hit ‘SEND’ until you have determined if Uncle Jack is really the right fit for that social post on the newest campaign. He just might not be the right audience.

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A Week Without LG

Those who know the dgs team well, know that we go by our initials most of the time. LG is Leslie Galbreath, Chief Executive Officer. I’m RB, Rebecca Boyle, Executive Assistant to the CEO. Initials make for fast communication, especially when you’re referring to the same people’s names about a million times a day. And it soon becomes habit. You even begin to think in terms of and call people by their initials instead of their names.

Recently, LG was on vacation and I’ve spent some time reflecting on what goes into a week without her here at dgs from my point of view. As you’d guess based on our job titles, LG and I have a very close working relationship. As LG’s assistant, my job calls for a variety of different types of work each day–work that supports LG, work that supports our clients and work that supports our agency as a whole. When LG is out of the office, I step in to handle a number of things that she’d usually handle if she were here. Some are expected, some are things that you just can’t plan for.

I may review work on behalf of LG and send it to a client without her seeing it, I may create a solution to a client’s challenge without her feedback or I may even manage an urgent project from start to finish. Sometimes I know I’ve got it, sometimes something takes me a bit out of my comfort zone. That’s where a combination of past experience, judgement, advice from my coworkers, that gut feeling of “am I comfortable with this?” and self-confidence comes in.

While there are sometimes moments of feeling a little in over my head, I start with the most important thing, then move to the next most important thing and work my way down the line. There are always a bunch of things that I’d love to do that temporarily get put aside.

At the end of the week, there’s exhaustion (especially if it’s been a crazy week at home too) but there’s also a sense of accomplishment knowing that I’ve done my best and that I’ve helped the dgs team do their best. I love being able to check all of the important things off the to-do list. It makes me feel good knowing that I can hold down the fort for a little while so that LG can get some well-deserved rest. I definitely couldn’t do it on my own, but I have a strong team of dgs friends around me. There are times when all of us step up to do things that we wouldn’t normally do. That’s what makes us a team and that’s what makes us successful. But, I always look forward to when LG comes back. I miss her when she’s gone.

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Why are your emails never opened? 5 tricks to improve email open and read rates

5 tricks to improve emailEmail marketing ranks as the third most effective marketing channel to reach your audience. Studies suggest that it has great reach, offers a high ROI, and is the preferred communication channel for most clients. Despite this preference, it isn’t always easy to convince readers to open your email.

If you catch them at the wrong time, say the wrong thing, or make a simple mistake, you can lose their attention. To help make sure your campaign is as successful as possible, here are five reasons people may not open your emails, and how you can fix it:

1. Your subject line is generic

Your audience is bombarded with many marketing emails every single day, so if yours are lost in the shuffle they’ll never get opened. Personalization and incentive offers are a great way to grab somebody’s attention immediately and give them a chance to consider opening your email. In fact, studies show that simply personalizing an email subject line had higher clickthrough rates than emails that did not. All you need to do is start adding first names before the rest of your subject line.

2. Your preview text isn’t working

Email is no longer a traditional desktop-based communication tool. According to Litmus’ “State of Email” report, 54% of emails were opened on a mobile device in 2016. As mobile usage continues to increase, this number stands to increase as well. What this means is that your preview text is more important than ever. When a user opens their email application on a mobile device, they’re going to see three things — the sender, the subject line, and the preview text. You’ll have about 100 characters to convince the reader to open your email, so you need to make every word count.

3. You’re not using other forms of engaging content

Using videos in your email is a great way to increase clickthrough rates, how much of your email people read, and even conversions. Simply including the word video in your subject line is often enough to encourage people to open the email and look. If your emails struggle to attract opens or conversions, creating some videos and advertising them is an easy way to give your campaign a quick shot of adrenaline. You can also integrate other interactive coolness.

4. Your email went out on the wrong day

When you have your audience’s undivided attention they’re more likely to open and read your email. You need to be smart about when you send your messages. These studies show that by far the most successful email messages are sent on Tuesday. Accordingly, email open rates tend to be lower on Wednesday. During the weekday, Thursday tends to be the day with the lowest amount of marketing emails sent, and it also tends to be the day with the highest open and engagement rates. Thursday should be your plan B. Oh yeah, you want to avoid weekends — open rates drop drastically over the weekend because your audience is busy and less willing to open business-related emails.

5. You’re emailing the wrong audience

Segmentation — one of the most obvious reasons that people don’t open your emails is because it simply doesn’t apply to them. If you find that open rates are particularly low, it’s entirely possible that you either have the wrong message or the wrong audience. The solution to this is carefully segmenting your audience and developing a message specifically for them. Create campaigns based on their position in your marketing funnel. If they’ve already bought from you, offer them tips and how-tos on how to get the most from your products or services. If they haven’t, give them more targeted information.

Having trouble converting in your email marketing campaign? Let us help.

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Answering your simple questions with Google Analytics

Answering your simple questions with Google AnalyticsWhen used to its full potential, Google Analytics can be a useful tool that provides insights and answers to burning questions about the effectiveness of your website.

The data in Google Analytics reports can help you answer questions such as how well your online (and offline in some cases) campaigns are performing and how effective your website is in achieving the overarching objectives of your business. Analyzing and understanding every report in Google Analytics however, can be challenging and overwhelming even for the most experienced users.

Following is a short guide with some of the most common questions that Google Analytics reports can help you answer.

1. What exactly am I measuring here?

A fundamental component of our RPIE process at dgs is to define and set objectives for the campaigns that we run. Evaluating your efforts against your objectives (the “E” in the “RPIE”) is imperative in knowing if you have met your objectives and in understanding where you can improve your campaigns. Within Google Analytics you can create and set up Google Analytics Goals that help you measure certain actions that visitors on your website take. Conversions on these actions will provide you with the insight you need to evaluate your digital efforts.

2. Where do my users come from?

Understanding how visitors landed on your website will help you answer questions such as if your SEO efforts are paying off, how many people are clicking on your paid search ads and how effective are your social channels in driving people to your website. You can also get invaluable information from custom reports that will provide you the insight you need to understand which of the traffic sources produce the highest rate of conversions on your site.

3. Does the profile of my website visitors match my target audience?

You probably already have a good idea of what the profile of your target market looks like. The data in Google Analytics can help you confirm your expectations that the people visiting your website are within the same demographic profile as your target market. If your expectations are confirmed then you are in good shape; if your target market is people over 40 years old but your website visitors are mostly within the 20-30 age range, then it is probably time to rethink your strategy.

4. What do people do when they visit my site?

Google Analytics reports can help you understand the behavior of visitors after they land on your website. Behavior reports can be a good indicator for which type of information is the most attractive to your users, what your users are searching for on your site and what type of information is interesting for your visitors but they have trouble locating.

5. Is my website optimized for all devices?

With mobiles taking over desktop devices, making sure your site is responsive and mobile optimized is an essential component of your development process. The Mobile Overview report within Google Analytics can help you identify if there should be any concerns with your website’s optimization and mobile responsiveness. If there is a high discrepancy among different device users on the total time spent on the website and the number of pages they view, then this might be something that is worth checking into.

6. The bounce rate on my site is high.

Should I be worried? Bounce rate is defined as the percentage of people who visited one page on your website and left without visiting a second page. Whether a high bounce rate should be a concern depends on your site and your strategy.

A high bounce rate could be an indication that the wrong audience is visiting your website or that your site is not meeting their expectations. It could also mean that your digital efforts do not deliver what they promised. On the other hand, if your strategy is to drive users to a single landing page, or if your landing pages are contact forms, support pages or pages with articles, then a high bounce rate should not be a major concern.

7. How do new users behave differently on my website compared to returning visitors?

Google Analytics provides you with data that allows you to determine the behavior of new users vs. returning users on your site. Gathering this data can help you easily answer questions such as which segment of users interacts better on your site or which segment converts more. Using this report will help you realize the potential of each type of visitor and essentially plan your marketing efforts to effectively reach the best segment.

Make your data work for your business

Google Analytics is a powerful analytics tool that can provide valuable insights on the effectiveness of your website as part of your overall strategy. The simple questions above are only the beginning to what can prove to be one of your most effective measurement tools.

The use of most complicated and custom-created reports that can help you better understand the behavior of your visitors and ensure that your marketing spend is optimized can be time-consuming and cumbersome for most users but at the end of the day, it is well worth it.

Find out how our Google Analytics certified experts at dgs can help you answer your most common or most challenging questions on your data.

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IS IT AMAZINGLY UNIQUE? PROBABLY NOT. Top 10 Words Content Writers Should Avoid

As writers, we want to create content that ignites action and compels our audience. It’s best to use language that simply and accurately describes your product or service, with the end goal being to educate and persuade. The words you choose make the difference between a message that may be passed over or one that hits home.

To keep your content fresh, avoid the use of words that are so generic and cliché that:

A. Your content becomes boring and doesn’t differentiate your product or service

B. No one believes you, since your words have been overused and aren’t expected to hold true

C. Readers lose interest due to lack of relevant, specific details

Next time you sit down to write that epic (speak of the devil) email, social post or company brochure, check out our top ten list of words to avoid before you let the old standbys weaken your writing and dilute your ideas.

1. Groundbreaking
Unless you’re literally breaking ground on a new facility, “groundbreaking” is just another buzzword we’ve all learned not to take too seriously. It does have an impressive sound to it, but make sure you have the goods to back it up.

2. Amazing
Before you use this word, ask yourself if what you’re talking about is “amazing” enough to cause astonishment or great wonder. With innovations happening at a rapid pace, very few things actually fit this bill. Be creative and use your thesaurus to get closer to what you’re actually describing.

3. Epic
We all fell in love with this word not so very long ago, but it’s time to let it go. We are open to suggestions for a suitable replacement. Anything except amazing.

4. Unique
There are no varying degrees of unique. Something is not “very unique” or “somewhat unique”, it’s either unique or it isn’t. It is more likely your product has a unique or special feature. Tell us in concrete terms how you or your product does what no one else’s in the universe does or choose an alternative word with less exclusivity, such as distinctive. Consider this also. Man landing on the moon was unique the day it happened – now it’s simply special.

5. Bandwidth
Buzz words that your audience may not understand are never a good idea. I know, it sounds cool, but keep it simple and save the jargon for that annoying dude in the sales department.

6. Just
This is one of those words that doesn’t add any real value to a sentence. Leaving it out almost always results in the same meaning and makes sentences tighter and more direct. Try eliminating this filler word from your writing and see just how much better it sounds.

7. Solution
The word solution in and of itself is not bad, but it has been used so often, it carries all the excitement of a deflated balloon. When you use the word solution, be sure to back it up with facts and benefits that explain why it’s a solution, what problem it solves and how it solves that problem.

8. Immediately
Some companies do respond immediately, such as tech support via instant chat. But unless you are offering true, real-time service, be careful with this one. Instead of saying we will contact you immediately or we deliver immediately, find a word with less literal connotation such as promptly or quickly.

9. Revolutionary
Peace out, man. This was a great word in its day, but it’s been overused for so many years, it has lost its power. Don’t say your company or product is revolutionary, demonstrate it with specific examples.

10. Expert
If you have to tell someone how great you are at something, you probably aren’t. True experts highlight their specific experience, benefits and strengths, and let the audience come to their own conclusion.

If you found this blog helpful, keep an eye out for next month’s where we’ll share our top ten tips on avoiding common grammar mistakes. From exploring apostrophe abuse to helping you get a grip on misplaced modifiers, we’ll do our best to keep you off the grammar nazi “cringe” list.

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Why research matters

By Leslie Galbreath

Why do leaders fail?

Why Research Matters

Put simply, they make bad decisions. Sometimes those decisions are based too much on emotion or gut instinct. Other times, decisions are made to appease key influencers without considering the masses. In some cases, decisions are made too quickly or not quickly enough. And sometimes, decisions are based solely on habit – this is a particularly risky one, can’t see the forest for the trees and all that. There are a slew of reasons leaders make bad decisions, not the least of which is the absence of reliable information. The same can be said of strategic planning.

The ability to make sound decisions with regard to communications strategy, tactics and budget rests solely how well we effectively size up the situation and then act on it. As consumers, we get it – we research everything. We vigorously scour the internet to compare airline ticket prices, hotel rates, mobile phones, appliances, cars, shampoo, clothing, computer technology, shoes (maybe that’s just me) – the list goes on and on. The point is, if you have a big decision to make you take the time to look into it. Companies should do the same with their marketing programs.

Now, I’m going to blow your mind with this next line, so hold on to your hats. Marketing is not about convincing customers to agree with you. Quite to the contrary, good marketers understand that communication is meant to help companies identify sentiment and preference among their customer base, uncover and understand what they need (even when they don’t know themselves) and adjust to fill this void in a unique way that grows business. Sometimes research guides product development directly, other times it alerts companies that they aren’t talking enough about the great things they do. Either way, it connects customer need with goods and services, which is what we’re all after.

Research can be a scary word that brings to mind huge dollar signs, annoying phone calls, little bingo cards that fall out of your favorite periodical and all manner of other things. But it doesn’t have to be. The brave new world of digital media has opened countless doors for companies large and small to tap into customer opinion and behavior at a fraction of the cost of yesteryear. Online survey tools make it easier and more affordable than ever to check in with folks who just attended your open house. Native website analytics give you loads of useful information about the content habits of users. CRM-based marketing automation makes it possible to customize communication based on interest and buying history. The possibilities are endless.

The bad news is that failure is a part of life. It happens to all of us at one point or another. The good news is that with a little effort, we can learn from it, dramatically reduce the likelihood of it happening again and in the process delight our customers by giving them what they need, which we can all agree is a win for everyone.

I love this topic, so stay tuned.

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