We’re excited to announce our recent achievement on Clutch.co, a B2B ratings and reviews site. In 2018, Clutch has recognized Walker Sands as a leading company in not one, but four different categories in their Top Chicago Advertising and Marketing press release! These include: Digital Marketing, Inbound Marketing, SEO and PPC.
There doesn’t seem to be an end point to the growth of digital marketing. It continues to evolve in unpredictable ways. As such, our team is always thinking about how to reinvent our strategies to keep up with customer trends and technologies. Our team of strategists and original thinkers at Walker Sands thrive on rising to these challenges, and we’re grateful to have client reviews on Clutch to prove it.
Since joining the ratings and reviews platform, we’ve had a number of our clients take the time to provide their feedback, which we are so thankful for. The reviews not only help with our online reputation management, but show prospective buyers that we can be trusted with their business challenges and deliver important returns on their investment.
To say the least, we’re thrilled to have 5-star ratings on Clutch!
We’re honored that our clients have provided feedback that allows us to be amongst the best of the best in Chicago digital marketing. We will constantly strive to create work that is impactful and leads to results that matter for our B2B brands.
The third quarter is a wrap, and as we prepare for sweater weather and pumpkin everything, we’re taking a minute to reflect on some of the great projects our team completed during summer 2017.
Directly from the creative minds behind it all, here are four projects and campaigns that knocked it out of the park.
CallRail – Funding Announcement
By Anna Shymanski, Account Executive
We love the opportunity to share good news for our clients, especially when we get to announce growth and expansion. When we got the urgent call that CallRail was set to announce a major round of Series A funding in the next few days, the marketing technology team was fully prepared to help them share the news. To give a little background on CallRail, they provide customers with easy to read reports that show where their marketing efforts are performing best.
After tapping into our media relations expertise and communication skills to work with the investment firm, we were able to go to the press with a great story. In the end, we secured feature placements for CallRail’s funding announcements in both The Wall Street Journal and VentureBeat. We also secured mentions in Fortune, MarTech Advisor and other VC outlets. CallRail’s CEO called the team’s efforts “heroic.” We’re proud of the coverage we secured for a client that we respect and enjoy working with, and even moreso the partnership we’ve continued to build with the team at CallRail.
The Future of Retail and Amazon Prime Newsjacking
By Erin Jordan, Account Director
On the retail technology team we pride ourselves on always being up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies, allowing us to better insert our clients into timely news and tell their stories.
One of our favorite internal projects we work on each year is the annual “Future of Retail” study. For the last four years, we’ve surveyed consumers on their buying behaviors to help our clients (and their clients) get ahead of and best prepare for changing shopping demands.
Our vast understanding of the marketplace has led to our launching of the study during some of the most timely retail tech updates in our recent history – and this year was no different. While Amazon was making major moves, our team jumped on the opportunity to use the 2017 report to dig deeper on trends like voice commerce, and leverage the findings to newsjack the summer 2017 Whole Foods acquisition and annually awaited Prime Day.
So far, the study has been pitched 16 times resulting in roughly 125 placements with highlights including Washington Post, Entrepreneur, The Street and more. And it doesn’t stop there. We’ve worked tirelessly to place an additional five clients in over 50 publications, all leveraging Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods and Prime Day. Of those placements, we are especially proud to have our clients and company referenced as a resource in USA Today, PYMNTS, Marketing Land, Business Insider, CNET, Wall Street Journal and Forbes.
Given the report’s success the past four years, it was an all hands on deck effort from our design, marketing, digital and content teams. Having generated more than 4,000 downloads in the past three years, the data from the study complements the work we do for our clients, allows for long-leg pitching and has enabled us us to produce equally valuable mini reports such as the “Future of Retail 2017 Holiday Report”.
LiveStories’ Gender Pay Gap Report
By Rosie Gillam, Senior Account Executive
For the past year, one of our favorite accounts to work on has been LiveStories. What we love about this client is how they use public data to tell stories. The product, LiveStories, allows users to find, explore and present civic data all in a single web-based location. When the client came to us for help with a new campaign, I was thrilled to be working with them on another data-driven project.
LiveStories expressed that it needed our help driving awareness about the brand and its product in three major markets across the West Coast — Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The company was preparing to exhibit at state and local government conferences in these cities. We were charged with helping enhance the brand’s credibility before each of these events.
The campaign served to build awareness about LiveStories through a series of localized, data-driven reports about the gender pay gap. Our efforts helped LiveStories land coverage in major news outlets across Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco — All together we garnered over 60 placements including BuzzFeed, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg Law and more.
EXP.com – website launch
By Matt Brown, Senior Digital Marketing Director
As a member of the Walker Sands web team, I can confidently say that not a day goes by where we don’t work as a team. This rings true in the launch of our latest project, exp.com.
Several months ago, exp came to us with a challenge. As a large multinational civil engineering company headquartered in Canada, they needed a new website that befitted their global, modern, prestigious company. Unfortunately, their website at the time suffered from outdated designs, old messaging and capabilities, and poor performance in search results and on mobile.
Since then, our Walker Sands team of content strategists, SEO technicians, UX/UI designers, developers and project managers got to work and invested over 2,000 hours in this challenging endeavor over the past several months. And then finally in September, we were able to successfully launch the new exp.com featuring a compelling new responsive design, optimized messaging and user paths, multi-language capabilities and accessibility compliance for disabled visitors.
We are so proud of the work our team was able to accomplish this quarter. Their hard work in Q3 is telling of what will be accomplished in Q4. Keep an eye out for more highlights!
A strong web presence and brand awareness on the right platforms can be make or break for companies in a digital age. Walker Sands Digital offers demand generation services that drive awareness and impressive results for B2B technology and professional service companies.
Check out the Demand Generation at Walker Sands Video, to hear our VP of Digital Marketing John Fairley, and Senior Digital Account Executive Katie Donabedian, explain how our paid, social, SEO and content teams collaborate to create thoughtful SEO programs. Watch the video to learn how the team utilizes relationships formed with clients and B2B lead generation tactics to drive quality leads:
Adopting a good SEO program is half the challenge of generating quality leads. In conjunction with personalized programs, we create websites that align with our clients’ business goals. Through the strategic integration of cognitive UX, visual communication and content, our teams work creatively to deliver a user experience that is intuitive and optimized for conversions.
In the Websites at Walker Sands video, our Senior Director of Digital Marketing Matt Brown, and Design Lead Jillian Kent, discuss how we work together with open client communication to bring web projects to life.
Today’s digital landscape demands an effective digital lead generation program coupled with a compelling website. Talk to us about your business goals and learn how Walker Sands Digital can work with you to reach your B2B business goals.
Something’s wrong, but you’re not sure what. Your product/service is as good or better than anything else on the market. Your customers love you, but the sales pipeline is drying up and revenue growth is flagging. What’s missing?
In cases like these, the usual suspects are your brand and your website. They are both crucial to the success of your business. But it can be difficult to tell which one deserves an overhaul; if one is off, the other can suffer as well.
Before we help you decide whether your business needs a website redesign, a rebrand or both, let’s discuss what website redesigns and business rebrands actually are – and what it takes to see each project through.
What is a business rebrand?
When a business rebrands itself, it changes the way it presents itself to the public through every channel (not just the website). A rebrand can impact the design of the brand (logo, color palette, typography, photography, icons, etc.), as well as the messaging of the brand (company name, value proposition, slogan, content, voice & tone, etc.) to more competitively position itself in the marketplace.
Like website redesigns, company rebrands are initiated and shaped by business goals and market realities. After tobacco products were exposed for their inherent health risks, Philip Morris realized that its brand was as toxic as its cigarettes. The company underwent a full rebranding when it changed its name – and accompanying design and messaging – to Altria Group in 2003.
Contrast that case with Google, which has essentially retained all of its design and messaging since emerging as a search engine, despite growing into a company that today has a hand in cell phones, home systems, business applications, cloud storage, driverless vehicles and more. Google’s periodic rebrands have included type changes and tweaked color palettes to keep up with design trends, along with other updates like redesigned favicons and new sub-brands to support products like Gmail.
A rebrand as subtle as Google’s can also be referred to as a “brand refresh,” but it’s important to remember that all rebrands exist somewhere on a spectrum. The elements that you reinvent, scrap, enhance, or keep as-is should always be considered within the context of your business goals.
Your corporate rebranding can enhance brand equity if it succeeds in attracting and retaining more customers, bolsters brand loyalty, and improves brand recognition. The rebranding decisions you make along the way will no doubt impact the design and/or messaging reflected on your website, but rebranding your business is not the same as redesigning your website.
What is a website redesign?
A website redesign is more than a new look. It’s a re-engineered website that is written, designed and developed to help your business accomplish specific goals. Priorities vary across businesses, but they can include:
- Driving more traffic
- Increasing user engagement
- Generating more and/or higher-quality leads for your sales team
Clearly, these are KPIs that every business would love to see improve. Unfortunately, website redesigns don’t happen overnight. Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version of what our own website redesign process looks like:
- Stakeholder Surveys and Interviews
- Competitive Analysis
- UX and Information Architecture
- Design and Content Creation
- Programming and Implementation
- Analytics and Marketing Automation Setup
- Optimization for Search Engines
- Final Go-Live Checklist and Launch
Each of those phases requires meetings, informal communication, research, management responsibilities and sub-tasks. The time it takes to complete any given website redesign project depends on a number of factors such as website size, number of stakeholders and technical complexity. But when your business is counting on a more productive website that supports business goals, the investment of time and effort is worth it.
Take the CloudCraze website redesign for example. Walker Sands Digital redesigned the e-commerce company’s website after they had just completed a rebranding. (Note the different logos.)
Before the redesign, the CloudCraze website had a busy design, complicated user paths, and a relatively slow load speed. After the redesign, the CloudCraze website was clean, easy to use and fast to load. If you’d like the full story on how we did it, we encourage you to read the case study.
So, how do you tell if your business needs a rebranding, website redesign, or both? Here are a series of questions to help.
Does your business need a rebrand?
If you suspect that it’s actually a rebranding that your business needs, then ask yourself these questions:
- Have the products or services we offer significantly changed since our last rebranding or inception?
- Has our target audience evolved (demographics, perceptions, goals, budget, etc.)?
- Is our brand out of step with current design trends and market expectations?
- Is our messaging and/or design aesthetic inconsistent across channels (e.g., website, sales materials, business cards and email signature)?
- Does our business lack a strong point of view?
- Are our key audiences unable to understand what we do?
- Are our key audiences unable to understand what we stand for?
- Are our employees unable to consistently and succinctly say what it is that we do and the value we offer?
- Are our internal marketing and sales teams asking for brand assets and guidelines to communicate with external audiences?
- Is it difficult to distinguish our business from our competitors?
- Is our brand more of a liability than an asset?
More than three yes’s indicate that you should probably consider a rebranding for your business.
Do you need a website redesign?
If you wonder whether it’s time to update your business website, ask yourself these questions:
- Have we redesigned our website within the last three years?
- Do we ever hear compliments about our website?
- Does our website compare favorably to other websites in our industry?
- Have we seen traffic to our website steadily increase over time?
- Do our website pages load in 3 seconds or less across all devices?
- Is our website mobile-friendly?
- Does our website have SSL or HTTPS security?
- Are visitors finding our website on search engines?
- Are visitors converting on our website (e.g., submitting forms)?
- Do our visitors convert at or above industry averages?
- Is our website easy to navigate?
- Are visitors staying on our website and clicking around?
- Am I proud to share our website with prospects?
As you review your answers to the questions above, any more three no’s should have you considering a website redesign.
Check the foundation once more
After you ask yourself these questions, it’s important to consider whether the challenges you’re facing are related to your website, your brand, or your actual business. Your website and brand are both extensions of your core business, but rebranding and/or redesigning your website will have very little effect on your bottom line if fundamental business shortcomings are left unaddressed.
Gain new perspectives from colleagues
If your answers to the above questions have you leaning toward either (or both) a website redesign or a rebranding project, then it’s time to begin the conversation inside your organization. Canvas your colleagues across departments and levels of authority to get a sense of how important those initiatives are to them, and what they would want a website redesign or a rebranding to achieve.
Connect with the right partners
As consensus for a website redesign or company rebranding project builds, open up conversations with digital agencies and/or branding agencies. Ask them questions about their processes, experience in your industry, and how they measure success. This will get you started on the path to finding the right partner that can help you execute the right project. The investment of resources will be worth it, as it will allow you to best position your business for success in the years to come.
Looking for some inspiration?
Check out some of our favorite website redesigns and rebranding projects in our gallery of client work. If you’re interested in how Walker Sands Digital can help you reach your business goals with either a website redesign, rebrand or both, then you can get in touch with us here.
At Walker Sands, we pride ourselves in our ability to infuse unexpected creativity into B2B brand driven campaigns. Last year we worked with a long-term client of ours, CompTIA, to launch one of the agency’s most interactive and social centric campaigns to date.
CompTIA, the nonprofit trade association for the tech industry, came to Walker Sands to help them address one of the largest issues in the IT space, the gender gap. CompTIA wanted to tackle this problem by bringing mainstream awareness to the tech industry’s chronic lack of diversity and position itself at the center of the change process.
CompTIA asked Walker Sands’ to come up with a campaign that would shine a light on why so few girls are pursuing careers in IT, looking beyond the popular myth that girls simply aren’t interested in technology. The end goal: capture the imagination of tech employers, tier-one media outlets and most importantly the up-and-coming generation of female tech professionals.
The team, lead by account director Annie Gudorf, kicked off the project with a review of existing research and quickly discovered the current data available lacked the scope and focus necessary to identify the real issues preventing girls from pursuing technology careers. Gudorf’s team worked laterally with other departments of the agency to create an integrated campaign that would catch the attention of both the media and their target audience, young girls.
The path was clear for understanding the people the campaign needed to reach. The team developed a comprehensive focus group approach of girls ages 10 to 17 to capture data that would be hard hitting with IT execs.
To focus the campaign, and drive home its message, the team centered the campaign on the cultural icon Rosie the Riveter. Birthed from the migration of women to the workplace in World War II, Rosie provided the perfect vehicle for connecting with the campaigns’ diverse audiences. This time around Rosie would be called on to take over the IT space, from developing cybersecurity solutions to creating mobile apps in the IT workplace.
In essence, the campaign used the Rosie icon as an entry point for telling the stories of women who’ve made their marks in tech and inviting a new generation of women to incorporate tech careers in their own stories, hence the campaign name and slogan “Make Tech Her Story.”
The campaign centered around an interactive landing page that allowed visitors to build their own Rosie avatar from a diverse selection of attributes. The hub also housed a 30-page e-book based on the research and compelling documentary-style video with scenes from the focus groups and one-on-one interviews with girls.
Through gaining the support of industry influencers and an integrated communications strategy, the campaign garnered more than 600,000 social media impressions, 35,000 video views, 180+ media placements, including features in national media outlets like The Economist, Fast Company, Forbes, CIO, plus a host of other impressive metrics that can be found in the case study here.
Most importantly, the campaign connected with the individuals capable of making change happen by steering more women into IT careers.
Looking to infuse a little more creativity into your B2B strategy? We thrive on partnering with clients to creatively engage their B2B audiences to tell their story. Reach out to our creative services team to learn how we’d help to influence your brand’s influence.