Bryan Kramer

Posted on December 10, 2010 by Bryan Kramer 15

The Cobbler’s Kids Finally Get Shoes

Building a website is the most outward facing piece of marketing for any company. As an agency responsible for building robust sites for our clients, we were challenged with finding a way to accomplish the goals of truly conveying who we are (keeping it authentic), integrating social interaction (two-way communication), and delivering an interactive experience without restrictive technologies (flexible for growth).

The challenge became manageable for ourselves when we approached the initial discovery and planning process as we do for our own clients – by having a clear vision about our company positioning, growth path and the kind of clients and future employees we wanted to attract. Here are some top line key learnings from the process:

“Serious. Fun.” At the end of the day, it’s what we live for as an agency. These two words describe in a simple way the balance it takes to build and grow relationships, architect and sustain a process that works, and get results both for campaigns and overall job satisfaction. Using it to measure our new website, the thoughtful site architecture, navigation, search engine optimization and back-end content management system is serious – it took serious thought, time and expertise to get it all functioning in a way that met our objectives. Conversely, the content (both in tone and actual meat), photography and level of detail are fun. (By the way, a HUGE thanks to our talented on-staff photographer Sam, who has captured our moments and experiences through the years… everything from everyday laughter and gong moments, to celebratory campaign launches and other successes along the way. Our chronicled repository is truly a differentiator.) The key takeaway: Having a clear vision of your objectives and success measures makes building websites – and campaigns – a fun and efficient process.

A “wagon wheel” approach. I have a philosophy about the future of the web and how organizations are eventually going to have to choose where they are primarily represented online. All wheels have spokes and a hub – and whether it’s your site, your blog, your Facebook page or your online community – there can be only one central “hub” that supports the spokes. In PureMatter’s case, we chose our company website and built it specifically to do the “heavy lifting” for our other online properties. By enabling it to pull in our social media from various places around the web (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, flickr, LinkedIn), and push back out from this central place updates and connection points, we increase the engagement on our website – which is where the most relevant content lives for a prospective client or employee. The key takeaway: Prioritizing your online properties and leveraging technology to create focus and critical mass helps people better experience you within the context of your collective brand.

Launch different….ly. Timing is everything as they say, and for us, we saw the opportunity to launch our new site in a big way by literally killing our old website for Halloween. I guess you could say the site was dead to us, so instead of switching over immediately, we created a series of “Dead Website Survival Kits” in line with our ongoing “Office Survival Kit” campaign. The campaign kicked off with an email memorializing our old site, then each day for the next week, temporary landing pages were swapped out illustrating the funny ways we were being forced to communicate with our clients using antiquated office machines – fax, copy, carrier pigeons and other traditional methods. On the eighth day, our new website was “born.” Serious? No. Fun? Absolutely. The key takeaway: The best way to get an authentic reaction to your campaigns is to create from the heart, don’t take yourself too seriously and be willing to take risks that you’re willing to own wholeheartedly if they fail.

Results matter. Our viral website launch did not fail – in fact, it succeeded far beyond our wildest expectations. Our email response went through the roof at an average 50% click-through rate. The campaign went viral and landed in the industry blog “AdRants”, listed with the likes of Disney, AMEX and Gossip Girl. Word of mouth spread and I couldn’t attend an event without multiple people telling me how funny they thought the campaign was. It even helped us usher along a key prospect more quickly than expected by delighting them in an unexpected way. Most importantly, our site traffic increased over 1200% for the duration of the campaign, and since the launch of our new website, has increased by almost 80% the daily site traffic – 40% of which are new visitors to the site. The key takeaway: Results matter – a lot. Measure what you can, learn from it, and make it an intelligent work-in-progress.

Being barefoot was a lot of fun. But let’s just say these Cobbler’s kids will be happily keeping these shoes for a very long time.

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