Monthly Archives: June 2017

Integrating Communications with the Three C’s: Part 1

There’s substantial scholarship in the area of integrated communications, both against it and for it. The thrust of the argument is whether all communication functions are aiming toward an eventual marketing outcome — driving sales. I’ve frequently said that all marketing is communication but not all communication is marketing, but that could be a style preference: for too many marketers, all stakeholders look like customers, and all channels look like megaphones — I don’t want to “sell” to employees, community leaders, governmental officials, et. al., nor do they want to be “sold” to.
I fully recognize the elegance of a unified approach to communication strategy. We heartily recommend just that, so that even if we’re not all in the same department, at least we can have common objectives.
There are many benefits to integrating communications, but actually pulling everyone into the same department can be challenging, and we have to guard against efficiency getting the best of tailoring messages and methods to our audiences (stakeholders) and business objectives. So how do we realize the benefits of integration without necessarily integrating?
I’ve got a process: The 3 C’s — Communication, Coordination and Collaboration.  I want to give each of these the appropriate amount of attention, especially regarding how you measure, so I’ll tackle the first in this post, then write some more on the others.
Communication seems so easy and basic, but it isn’t.  I’m aware of two organizations – large, global, complex — where you learn very quickly that the various communication functions aren’t talking to each other very much at all.  In particular, matters of budget, strategy and tactics take place in isolation, siloed-off from the beady eyes at “corporate.”
In short order, that leads to inconsistency in go-to-market (we can be consistent and still have appropriate tailoring), and lack of appropriate visibility and strategic alignment. At National City Corporation, a regional bank now part of PNC, we were in the thick of the financial crisis.  The communication team was distributed — a relatively small corporate department, with the business units (Private Bank, Corporate Bank, Retail and Operations) hosting their own departments.
Given the crisis circumstances (anyone remember 2008? Me too), we needed to speak with one voice, to provide leadership and strategic understanding, to know what employees and customers were talking about.  So, we instituted a daily conference call for communication leads across the company. We started discussing these matters — not with an eye to seize the conversation and dictate strategy, but to better understand the situation and provide guidance.
Within five meetings, our working relationships improved. Within a month, we agreed to meet in person and work through a strategic process to better align our groups. Three months in, we were able to cut the meetings to weekly, because we’d started cooperating on many communication opportunities.
Communication opens doors — but only when it’s done with a heart for authentic improvement and understanding, not power grabs and dictates. More on the rest of the 3 C’s in later posts.

3 Ways to Stay Productive at Work This Summer

Warm weather is finally here and with that comes all the joys of summer: BBQ’s, swimming, vacations, late sunsets, baseball games – you name it! But one thing that tends to creep up during this time is a lack of productivity at work. And can we blame you? Absolutely not. When the weather outside is beautiful, and yet you’re stuck inside behind your desk, it’s hard to stay focused. Follow these tips and you’ll be outside in no time!

  1. Take a Sunshine Break: We all get caught looking out the windows, especially in the summer. Try the 50/10 rule where you work on a task for 50 minutes and follow that with 10 minutes of a mental break. During that 10 minutes, you could go outside for a quick walk around the building and get a little dose of vitamin D. You wouldn’t believe how beneficial a quick outside break will be for your productivity and happiness.
  1. Drink More Water: The never-ending pot of coffee at work is a great perk, but the downside is that you’re probably not drinking enough water. Even if you’re only slightly dehydrated, it can cause cognitive side effects and mess with your work capacity. Try swapping out a few cups of joe for a big glass of cold water to stay hydrated and focused.
  1. Manage Time Wasters: We all check our phones and access social media sites constantly throughout the day. While it’s great to keep up with your friends & family while they’re on vacation, you certainly aren’t helping your productivity. If you don’t have the willpower to *not* check your phone, there are several tools that can help! Selfcontrol will block access to specific websites like Facebook, Twitter, Gmail- all set by you, for whatever period of time you think will be best for your productivity. And if that’s not enough, Freedom will disable your Internet connection completely for the specific time frame you choose.

If you find yourself staring out of your window at work more than usual, give these three tips a try to stay productive this summer. Have any tips that you’ve had success with? We’d love to hear them.

p.s. Team True is celebrating the summer with a Spotify playlist! Each team member submitted their favorite songs of summer for this epic playlist! We hope you enjoy it!


What’s New in AdWords Search Advertising (SEM): Volume 1

As digital marketers, we know so well that Google likes to keep us on our feet with frequent updates to their AdWords platform. This can be a blessing or a curse depending on how vigilant you are when managing accounts. As a glass half full type of guy, I like to look at this as an opportunity to stay ahead of the curve and further optimize campaigns. Let’s take a look at two recent AdWords changes in 2017.

1. Changes to Exact Match

There was once a time when “exact” match keywords meant, well, exact match keywords. This is no longer the case. Back in March, Google announced that these match types will now be eligible to show for close variants including plurals, typos, abbreviations and adverbs. They can also ignore word order and function words such as “the”, “to”, “for” etc.

What This Means to Search Advertisers
This could be good or bad depending on how you look at it. One side might say this change is essentially giving advertisers less control over what search queries they would like to target, and as a result forcing them to be more diligent when checking their search terms report for irrelevant queries, and adding more negative keywords to compensate for the terms that otherwise would not have qualified for exact match.

On the flip side, this change could potentially open the door to missed opportunities. At this point, Google is very good at interpreting a searchers true intent. With that being said, a simple misspelling or word order could have previously hindered your ability to show up for exact match keywords that are highly relevant and match your intent. An example from Google is “men’s dress shirt” and “dress shirt men’s”. The intent of both queries is the same, and will now be treated as such.

The beauty of change in digital marketing is that everything is extremely measurable. As Google continues to roll out new changes, we will begin to see the implications they have on our accounts and how to properly optimize them with data-driven decisions.

2. Ad Rank Thresholds

For those unfamiliar with Ad Rank, it is Google’s method of prioritizing paid search results based on an advertisers maximum bid and quality score. What is a quality score, you ask? A quality score is Google’s algorithm that determines the relevancy of keywords, ads and landing page experiences. It also factors in click-through-rate (CTR), and is scored on a scale of 1-10. The higher your quality score, the lower your CPC. Here’s an easy example we like to reference:



So, What’s This New Ad Rank Threshold All About?

The Ad Rank threshold is Google’s way of holding advertisers to a higher standard. As the total number of advertisers using AdWords continues to increase, we can expect continued quality control from Google to ensure they are providing users with the best experience possible. This means advertisers will need to meet minimum quality requirements in order to show on the first page of search results, making your quality score that much more important. Thanks, Google!

Another factor that comes into play when meeting this new Ad Rank threshold is max CPCs. As if increased competition in AdWords was not enough of a battle, there has already been speculation of this change leading to higher CPCs depending on the number of results matching a search query. Thresholds will differ by query type and can be weighted based on the number of keywords with high quality scores.

While Ad Rank thresholds are still rolling out, we can expect to see them take effect going into June. Keep a close eye on quality scores and average CPCs to find out if you’ve been impacted by this change.

Need help making sense of all this AdWords talk? Head over to our Search Advertising page and submit our contact form!