Google released its 2021 Economic Impact Report on Florida this week, highlighting that it provided $31 billion in economic activity last year for thousands of businesses, publishers, nonprofits, creators and developers in the Sunshine State.
According to the report, more than 1.5 million businesses received requests for directions, phone calls, bookings, reviews, and other direct connections to their customers from Google in 2021. The tech giant also provided $34.14 million of free advertising to Florida nonprofits through the Google Ad Grants program, and employed over 70 Floridians full-time.
“Technology provides economic opportunity for Americans–it helps business owners find new customers online (87% of businesses said that using digital tools to find customers was important) and workers develop skills for new career opportunities. Google is helping Floridians learn digital skills so they can reach new customers and find new job opportunities,” Google said in a press release.
GORUCK, a veteran-owned sportswear company located in Jacksonville Beach, was one of the businesses highlighted in Google’s Economic Impact Report on how they used digital tools to reach customers. Its founder, Jason McCarthy, discussed how assembling a ‘go-bag’ for his wife, a Foreign Service Officer working in the war-torn city of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, served as the catalyst that led him to launch his business in 2010 and take it to the next level with Google.
“In the Special Forces, when you go out on a mission, you put extra supplies and gear in the trunk of your Humvee in case your vehicle gets disabled and you have to fight,” said McCarthy, a decorated combat veteran who served overseas in the Special Forces from 2006 to 2008. “So I made her a bag filled with medical supplies, radios, and other things that were adapted to her lifestyle on the Ivory Coast.”
When his wife’s colleagues began requesting bags of their own, McCarthy thought he might have a business opportunity on his hands. With no previous business or product training, McCarthy turned to YouTube to learn more about how to design backpacks from online tutorials. From there, he created the GR1, a bag designed for use anywhere — in Baghdad or New York City. He would officially launch GORUCK in 2010 but was unsure how he was going to sell his products online.
Once McCarthy realized the high costs of producing his first rucks, he knew that going digital was the difference between “life and death,” and he turned to the internet. GORUCK would continue to thrive thanks to a partnership with a marketing agency to use YouTube and Google Ads to speak directly with consumers and share its brand message.
“Google Ads generates 11% of our web traffic and roughly 15% of our sales revenue,” continued McCarthy, who cites an $11 return for every dollar spent on the platform.
McCarthy’s business, which boasts 30 employees, says they use Google Analytics to keep an eye on their campaigns and Google Optimize 360 to run A/B tests and make adjustments on the fly. They also use Google Trends and Google Correlate to help them find search patterns in real-time and rely on G Suite to communicate and stay organized.
Google Ads notes that they’ve helped GORUCK serve more than 55,000 customers to date and will continue to be a pillar of its marketing efforts moving forward.
“I think it’s telling that our customers are making more than one transaction per customer,” McCarthy added. The company has grown both in size — it now has 30 employees — and in impact. It hosts hundreds of events each year to help people get out and engage with the world. That includes its hallmark team endurance event, the GORUCK Challenge. “Technology is great, but we view it as a means to get people more active and involved in their communities.”
To see other Florida businesses featured or to view Google’s full U.S. impact, click here.