Just as the cobbler’s kids often go barefoot and doctors notoriously make the worst patients, some digital marketing agency websites can be a little…underwhelming. Blayzer’s was no exception.
Here’s the story:
We overhauled our website back in 2017. Aside from a full homepage update in 2018, some content additions and CSS tweaks here and there, and regular website maintenance, we hadn’t really touched the thing. Because we hadn’t had to. The design was fine. The content was fine. The leads coming in were fine. We were tempted to see just how much mileage we could get out of it, but the fact is it was starting to show its age. We’ve grown a lot in those 3 years and our team was bursting with bright ideas. And while we were proud of how much value and ROI we managed to squeeze from our “fine” old website, we knew it was time for a change.
And now, drumroll, please. We are ready to announce our new website. Here’s the big reveal:
A peek at our process
Right from the start, we knew that our biggest challenge was going to be time. We’ve been so busy cranking out new and updated websites and marketing programs for our clients, we simply hadn’t had the time to really look at our site in quite a while. We run a tight ship around here, and time is so precious that we even briefly considered bringing someone on board just to handle our new site content and coding. Ultimately though, we wanted every aspect of our site to feel like ours. We knew that we had to be the ones to do the job. Not just because we’re us, but because making websites that fit their owners like a custom-stitched atelier collection red carpet gown is our specialty here at Blayzer.
We started with a couple months of short and sweet post-lunch meetings to outline our site strategy. The meetings included only key staff for the topic of the week, lasted about 15-20 minutes each, and were held after a break before settling back into our work for our clients. Let us tell you, these were some very valuable meetings, not only for our website, but for our business and our teams. We collaborated, discussed our goals and needs, and began sketching out our design direction. Each voice got a chance to be heard and we all shared our visions for Blayzer and our departments. One day we even got blowouts and put on makeup for photoshoots! Well, some of us did.
From there, we followed our proven process.
Our new site project kicked off on August 4, 2019 and went live on March 30, 2020. This is much, much longer than our typical client site timeline, but it was important for us to keep focused on our clients first. Do we wish we’d had a slow December and been able launch for our annual year-end party? Not really. Because staying busy serving clients is never a bad thing, and we needed to take our time with this site. We work in a fast-paced world where rushing around often feels normal, but it’s not always right. In our case, slow and steady was a winning strategy.
What did we improve?
The root of all our problems, like every other web project and company we work with, was strategy. 3 years’ worth of website meant 3 years’ worth of strategy all jumbled up and piled on top of each other. When you’re in the thick of things, it is easy to convince yourself you’ve got it all organized. But if you step back and look at it from an outsider’s perspective, you’ll see that you probably don’t. We sure didn’t.
Too many strategies in one project can not only collide and conflict with each other, but they make it almost impossible to streamline your processes and adapt to change. So we turned to our 2020 Digital Marketing Strategy for direction. In that document, we had research on our business, our brand, our St. Louis and nationwide audiences, our goals and performance benchmarks, our competitors, our search environment, our marketing assets and campaign structures, our lead generation programs, and our reporting needs. Everything there, all in one place, easily accessible. We had taken the time earlier in the year to do this, and it saved us tons of time in the fall. Process for the win!
After overall strategy, our next biggest gripe about our old site was the navigation menu. Our trusty old multi-level expandable navigation menu with tertiary and quaternary submenus was so confusing. It was also frustrating to use. You needed lightning to strike the town clock at just the right time to jumpstart the flux capacitor and get those buried submenus to show up. So we started by reorganizing our main navigation and then chose a simpler mega-menu for the new site. Instead of endless levels of expanding lists, users start their journey at a high level, then go forth from there following easy, contextual on-page sub-menus. Instead of seeing everything at once and getting overwhelmed, users can follow a simpler path to just what they need.
There’s no tasty way to sugar coat it - we also had WAY too much content on our site. We’ve been in business for almost 20 years. Just like the basement of your parents’ house, it was time to purge and get rid of all the things that didn’t spark joy. Thank you, Marie Kondo. Cutting out more than 30 pages of content helped us to get organized and re-center our messages about who we are, what we do, and how we help. Looking at the site today, you would never know we were able to cut so much without missing any important information. We’ll remember this lesson when we get around to “spring cleaning” our offices!
More important than what we cut, though, is what we added and updated. We created a whole new section for our Content services, expanded our portfolio, added lots of downloadable resources, and loaded our content up with supporting videos, photos, and graphics. We looked for places to make the content interactive. Things you can click, reveal, and scroll through. We wanted our site to be a fun and engaging place to come and learn not just about Blayzer, but about websites and marketing and lead generation. We’re not just your agency, we’re your advisors. We wanted to make sure our content provides some real value, not just funnel visitors into our sales pipeline.
Let’s see...big changes in strategy, navigation, and content? A new logo, too? Those are all clear calls for a fresh new website design. We found a base theme with cool fashion-forward features, excellent mobile responsiveness, and great support for video. Then we got to work gutting it down and tailoring it to fit our brand, our content, and our required functionality. This was way more than just a face-lift. It was a full-on American Idol style transformation.
Right off the bat, we ditched our old site’s desktop-friendly column-and-a-sidebar layout for the bulk of our new site’s content pages. The mobile web has had a big impact on user behavior and expectations. Users have grown familiar and fond of simple, clean, 1 column content on mobile and those preferences have extended to the web. Even on a desktop or laptop, people now expect simplicity and clarity. Our new website has an even more modern and mobile-friendly layout than before. We kept the sidebar on the blog so you can click around the archives easier, but everywhere else has been streamlined. We think the new single-but-segmentable column layout is a vast improvement and much easier to read. Would you agree?
The biggest, best change to our site is something you can see the moment you land on our home page: VIDEO. Netflix might have convinced you that there is a ‘Tiger King’, but we promise that in 2020, video still reigns supreme. We’ve been quietly adding video work to our portfolio over the last half-dozen years, and we not-so-quietly announced the official addition of video content and video marketing services to our list of services in 2019. This meant that good support for video integration throughout our design was an absolute must-have for our 2020 website.
Do you remember those glam-cam photoshoot days we mentioned earlier during our planning process? Those pictures can be found all around our site, used in places where in the past we might have used stock photos. You can even see our smiling faces right there in the nav menu. Like most people, we were shy about that idea. But once we saw it in place with all the rest of our content and imagery and words, we were sold. This is our website. This is us. Welcome to our world!
Putting our clients in the spotlight
We’re proud of clients and proud our work. A portfolio to showcase our clients’ websites and marketing campaigns and all the great things we do together was imperative. We do a LOT of work, though. Many different services for many different industries and types of companies. Our previous websites’ portfolio was one of its remaining strengths, with lots of flexibility in how you can search for project examples that fit your needs by industry, service, and technology platform. The only trouble is, no one actually used it that way! So we pulled back a bit and focused the segmentation primarily on the type of business the project is for.
Here are some industries that we work with. See what we’ve done for companies like yours!
What did we keep?
We made a LOT of changes to our marketing agency website, but some aspects of our new site are as tried and true as 2020 is long and strange. We made sure not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. The baby, in our case, was our search engine rankings. Search engine optimization doesn’t happen overnight, even for professionals. There are some quick ways to game yourself to the top of SERPs temporarily, but long-lasting organic search success takes time to build. Like a new romantic partner who’s been hurt in the past, you have to earn the trust of search engines by proving yourself over time. We’ve been building up our SEO mojo for over 20 years and it was important to preserve those decades of work and goodwill from Google.
We researched our rankings, found our best strengths and weak points, then factored SEO in from day 1 of our content development. Every page of this site was carefully sculpted around SEO. We paid special attention to our 301 Redirects, diving back through history to make sure every old link led to a new destination. With well over 300 pages in our sitemap (including blog and portfolio, we’re not totally crazy), this was no simple task. But we got it done and sailed smoothly through go-live. That’s the way it goes when you entrust your site migration to the pros!
Do you like what you see?
Now that you’ve learned all about our new marketing agency website, we encourage you to have a look around and let us know what you think. Give us a call to share your thoughts or schedule a free, no-obligation digital marketing consultation today.