Wheel in the Sky: The Journey of Rebuilding Our Website and Marketing Strategy

After three years of thinking about it, and actively working on it for nearly the past year, an all-new Gate 39 Media website (www.gate39media.com) is now officially live! You might be thinking “Hey–isn’t building websites what you do? Aren’t you a marketing ‘expert’?” and “Why did it take so long?” I’m going to share what went into re-building our website and just as importantly, the thinking and changes in our business—so that you can apply these ideas to your own business.

Why did it take a crazy long time to build a new website?

There are a number of reasons to build new websites. Updating design, taking advantage of the latest technology, a change in business services, staying search engine optimized, and maintaining a modern image—well we needed to do it for all of these reasons — and more than others.

The primary goal of any website is to drive leads and generate new business. So while a new design, completely updated text and upgraded technology were needed for a while, I didn’t have time to properly redefine our services and products and, just as important, the techniques, methods and ongoing infrastructure to inform and market our services. To do it right, it was going to take a lot of time and planning.

Setting our objectives

When finally starting the site, I wanted to define our objectives for the website and how it would make us better. Having a new website on my mind for literally years, I knew what I wanted to accomplish:

  1. Redefine products and services
  2. Implement more focused content marketing and SEO strategy
  3. Integrate CRM and marketing automation strategy
  4. Elevate our content marketing efforts
  5. Improve usability and new design

The first objective of the new website is determining what you expect the website to do for you and how. Generating new business is a given, but what clients and services are our primary focus? How do we market a more expansive set of services and products than when we originally built the website?

The first challenge was that clients knew us for either our marketing or technology solutions—but not necessarily both. We needed to better define our products and services which are very deep. To solve this, we created three distinct categories: Marketing, Development and Solutions.

We needed to better define our products and services which are very deep. To solve this, we created three distinct categories: Marketing, Development and Solutions.

Within each area we created separate pages for each product and service, and created additional targeted client types. This allowed us to create content with both the client and SEO in mind. Creating a detailed strategy for product and service content came out to over 60 pages of content. We had some writing to do.

Integrating sales and marketing

As we defined the content of the website, we determined which services were our focus, and what our strategy was to market to them. For instance, our Clarity Tear Sheet Designer is setup for online registration and payment. Our FinCal has a short sales cycle—you’re pretty much in or out, while websites, custom development, and certain applications have a longer sales cycle.

We began to break out the services to determine which ones our CRM could help automate by sending out automated emails, such as follow ups, reminders, and additional information—while for more complex sales it would add reminders and tasks to the sales’ team to-do list.

What CRM do we use? We have tried HubSpot, Salesforce + Pardot, Base, Insightly, and others. We decided on Infusionsoft based on its combination of CRM functionality, integrated automated marketing tools and cost. HubSpot and Salesforce + Pardot are fine and even great systems, but Infusionsoft was the right fit for us and we think for many of our clients (we also became an Infusionsoft Certified Partner in the process).

In having a defined strategy and ways to capture leads and market our products (in many cases in an automated fashion)—we’re relaunching our paid advertising campaigns. We’ll be focusing on re-targeting (the ads that follow you around), and some general ad spend spread across Google and social media. Advertising works, it just has a far smaller return if you fail to define how you’ll continue to market to the leads generated.

What’s our content marketing strategy?

A lot is said about content marketing, and I won’t go too deep into it here. I mentioned SEO and product descriptions above already. Our focus in content marketing is getting the word out about what we do using social media, partnerships with other firms, and leveraging public speaking appearances to create visibility and showcase our knowledge. A typical content marketing strategy is writing articles that help clients improve their business—either through tips, providing news, or other insight. That’s our strategy here.

Our focus in content marketing is getting the word out about what we do using social media, partnerships with other firms, and leveraging public speaking appearances to create visibility and showcase our knowledge.

Sounds easy, and on paper it is. However, getting organized, defining a marketing calendar, tracking editorial content, and getting it written takes work. You’ll see this effort in Engine 39, our blog covering financial marketing and tech. We’ve had success in the past, but haven’t had a regular, ongoing effort to make this happen—now we have a plan in place and the wheels in motion.

When you look good, you feel good

You’ll notice that in the list design is last. We want the design to fit our objectives—so while design is the fun and “easy” part, communicating what the design should convey and its objectives to the designer takes more work.

A number of ideas and concepts were created and scrapped as our marketing strategy and content was fleshed out. Additionally, we wanted to feature our own technology in the images, and use original photographs to personalize the site. I think for the most part we’ve succeeded!

Marketing never sleeps

Finally, the official launch day is here! Creating the site and leveraging new tools took time, effort and money. Now we’re ready to reap the benefits of the hard work we’ve put into not just the website, but the overall marketing strategy. The new site has actually been live for a few weeks while we continue to make updates… and immediately we’ve seen results.

Now that the pre-release and this blog post are in the world announcing the new website—we’re far from done. There are images and content we want to improve, campaigns to implement, and content to create to keep our blog updated and social media fed. So this is just Phase 1—which gets us caught up. We need to maintain and plan what will take us to the next level in making us unique while providing benefits to our clients.

We’re all proud of the site. The new website also got our team and our partners excited about what we do and how we represent (me too!)—and is something for us as a company to take pride in. With that I’d like to thank everyone on our team for contributing: Claire, Eduardo, Feiying, Holli, Maria, Sarah, and Zach for making this happen.

Feel free to kick the tires on our website and even ask questions about our strategy—chances are you’ll be able to implement these ideas for your firm. Also we hope you’ll find the Engine 39 blog a great resource and visit often.