Blog - News & Views

A&W Franchise Recruitment Marketing Project

May 2nd, 2017

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Sparktank Franchise Marketing – our new franchise marketing division – recently launched one of our most exciting projects to date; teaming up with A&W on their franchise recruitment marketing to help the iconic brand expand their reach across Canada!  As a longtime fan of A&W’s burgers and frosty cold root beers, I was very excited to see this project come to life.

A clean and modern bilingual website plus series of landing pages were created to replace an outdated website and ultimately increase conversions.  In addition, we managed the production of two videos for the French and English speaking markets that had the video crew interviewing A&W franchisees and staff all across the country.

We are also working on their online marketing strategy and management to help attract new prospects and increase sales.

Curious to learn more?  Check out the full case study >

 

Getting the Right Web Content to Boost Business

April 8th, 2016

Can web content make or break your business? Rick Sloboda, seasoned web content copywriter and strategist, who conducts content studies with the likes of Yale University, suggests it can. We recently spoke to him about the impact of good and bad content, and how to establish content that gets real results.

ST: You’ve been quoted in various publications, stating content should come before design. What’s the reasoning?

RS: People go to websites for content to complete tasks. When sites are designed with dummy text or blank boxes to be filled in later, it implies content is secondary. This approach is fundamentally flawed because it forms how things are communicated before deciding what needs to be communicated. Identifying and establishing key messages up front helps visitors get the specific info they want or need, quickly and with ease.

ST: What are common pitfalls when it comes to web content?

RS: Common culprits include self-centric, ‘we’-driven content. ‘We are great, we are amazing’ messaging doesn’t resonate with people. It’s like going into a store and the salesperson starts boasting about herself non-stop. I would politely leave the premises as soon as possible. Of course, online visitors can leave immediately with a single click or tap. Visitor-centric, ‘you’-driven web content is more engaging and much more effective.

Another frequent offender is long-winded, jargon-heavy content. We must be careful not communicate what we want to say and instead communicate what visitors want or need to read. We must always write for the intended audience. Business owners often fail here because they’re passionate about their business, get excited, and blab and blab and blab. A third-party can go in objectively and filter out unnecessary verbiage.

ST: Writers often discuss features versus benefits. Can you speak to that?

RS: An old-school editor taught me years ago that features tell, benefits sell. We must remember that we’re emotional beings — we make decisions emotionally and then rationalize them logically. Benefits get people to care and take action.

So, for instance, if you’re selling binoculars with an oversized lens — what’s in it for them? That’s just a feature, and we need to convey what it does for the customer. It provides low-light performance. Okay, we’re getting warmer. Keep going! They’ll capture bright, sharp images from dusk until dawn. Okay, now we’re really getting somewhere.

ST: What other tips can you provide to establish content that works?

RS: Don’t forget to ask for the sale. We might be working in the digital age with fast-moving technologies, but the good, old-fashioned ‘ask for the sale’ still applies. Online, we do this with a call to action, also known as a CTA. It can be to prompt a visitor to call, email, request a quote, subscribe, download a report, or some other desired action.

Business owners must keep in mind that people go online for products and services to accomplish specific goals. They don’t want to waste their time. So, to help visitors complete desired tasks efficiently and effectively, your web content needs to be organized logically and intuitively, and communicate key points clearly.

When you do the heavy lifting up front and organize and fine-tune all of your content, it makes it more enticing and easier to do business with you.

 

Rick Sloboda
Rick is a Senior Web Copywriter and Content Strategist at Webcopyplus, which helps designers and businesses boost online traffic, leads and sales with opti-mized web content. His clients range from independent retailers to some of the world’s largest service providers, including AT&T, Bell Mobile, Tim Hortons and Scotia Bank. He advocates clear, concise and objective website content that promotes readability and usability, and conducts web content studies with organizations in Europe and the U.S., including Yale University. Rick speaks frequently at Web-related forums and seminars, and serves as a Web program committee advisor with various organizations, including Langara College and Vancouver Career College.
You can connect with Rick via his content blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

 

 

Case Study: New Design and Online Marketing for a Chocolate Franchise

January 5th, 2016

 

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Location: Vancouver, B.C.

Industry: Food & Beverage

Website: www.minkchocolates.com

Mink Chocolates is a Vancouver-based franchisor with their own line of award-winning, artisanal chocolates. They sell their chocolates through retail chocolate cafés and an online e-commerce store. Their website hadn’t been redesigned in a number of years so they turned to Sparktank to refresh the look and update the technical standards of the site.

 

Goal #1: Redesign the website.

Our first goal was to assess their website to make it more visually appealing and user-friendly.

Mink Chocolates are more than just a food item. They’re a simple luxury that allows you to celebrate special moments in life with friends and family.

The new website images capture the lifestyle appeal of the brand, with photos of smiling people enjoying chocolate with friends and loved ones. We gave the layout a more modern style, while keeping the overall colour scheme and branding consistent.

Goal #2: Make the website responsive (compatible with mobile devices).

Prior to the redesign, the Mink chocolates website was not designed to work optimally on mobile devices. With nearly 50% of all e-commerce traffic coming from mobile users, Mink understood they needed to make it easy for customers to get information and shop online on any device. The new website adjusts perfectly to work on cell phones, tablets and desktop computers.

Goal #3: Setting up email marketing.

We also set Mink Chocolates up with a new email template so they could keep in touch with customers and website visitors. Email newsletters are a simple way to turn leads into potential customers, encourage repeat sales, and establish stronger brand loyalty with customers.

“Please accept my heartfelt thanks to you and your team. I’m thrilled with the results. Thanks for bringing me into the modern age!”
—Marc Lieberman, President, Mink Chocolates Inc.

 

Ready to get started on your project? Get in touch >

 

Case Study: Extending Premium Menswear into the Digital World

September 4th, 2015

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Location: Toronto, Canada

Industry: Fashion

Website: www.vassi.ca

Vassi is a high end menswear brand based in Toronto, Ontario. The growing business has built its stellar reputation through word of mouth and by attracting local clientele in the business community.

Despite having well-established retail location, VASSI did not have a web presence. They turned to Sparktank Creative to translate the tactile, premium experience of shopping at the VASSI boutique into the digital world.

 

Goals and Creative Solutions

Before diving into the project, we conducted a Discovery Session with the VASSI team to learn as much as possible about their customer base and business needs. Sparktank’s Discovery sessions are typically filled with illuminating brainstorms and new ideas that get everyone excited about the project. Using a detailed questionnaire, we dig deep to really understand our clients’ businesses and come up with strategic solutions to help them succeed.

Together we identified four goals for the VASSI website:

  1. Communicate their high end sophistication.
  2. Expand their reach beyond their local following.
  3. Showcase their clothing line.
  4. Build long term relationships with customers.

 

Goal #1: Communicate High End Sophistication

VASSI excels in giving customers a premium experience in their retail store and through their physical products. They wanted a website which mirrored the brand’s sophistication and emphasized their customized, personal shopping experience.

On the homepage we showcased a high end video that conveys a sense of sophistication, prestige and sex appeal. We also incorporated imagery and a sleek design to appeal to VASSI’s discerning business clientele.

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Goal #2: Expand VASSI’s Reach

Superior service and products helped VASSI expand rapidly in downtown Toronto. Their next business goal was to reach new clients outside their local market.

With a new website, VASSI will be able to promote their brand to clients through advertising, search engine optimization, and other online marketing channels. The site also highlights their membership program which encourages repeat customers and rewards brand loyalty with exclusive discounts and other benefits.

 

Goal #3: Showcase Clothing Lines

Naturally, VASSI wanted to showcase their clothing lines on the new website. We created a photo gallery which highlights the variety, craftsmanship, and attention to detail in every product. VASSI can easily update their collections with the simple WordPress onlin

e system we used for this project.

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Goal #4: Build Relationships with Customers

In addition to attracting new clients, the VASSI website is a starting point for building a relationship with customers.

We set up a newsletter template and website newsletter signup box so VASSI could easily send out news and special promotions. Regular communication with existing and potential clients will help turn visitors into paying customers. It can also increase brand loyalty and foster long-term client relationships.

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Keeping Your Eye on the Goal

A custom website must be crafted to meet the needs of the client. We built the site not only to look good, but to make a statement. The finished product exudes the luxury and quality on which VASSI built their reputation. And as an extension of their brand, the VASSI website will reach more clients and enhance their brand’s visibility.

Next up? An e-commerce website focused on VASSI’s popular line of ties.

“We’re thrilled with the new website. Sparktank worked closely with us to identify our business needs and came up with great solutions to expand our brand. They were very easy to communicate with and went above and beyond to listen to our needs. We’re confident the new website will help us grow our business.”
— Andre Vassi, CEO, VASSI

 

 Ready to get started on your project? Get in touch >

 

Make a Great First Impression With Your Website Homepage

July 15th, 2015

 

When a potential customer lands on your homepage, you have at most a few seconds to catch their attention. If your website doesn’t make a strong first impression, you may not get a second chance.

But what exactly makes a good homepage? Over the years we’ve spent studying and designing websites at Sparktank Creative, we’ve noticed certain differentiators that make effective homepages stand out from the crowd.

Here are four qualities that top-notch website homepages have in common:

1. Clear Messaging

With such a short window of opportunity to make an impression, your messaging must be clear and concise. If possible, condense your company description into a single phrase that tells people who you are, and what you do.

 

Example: MailChimp

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We’re fans of MailChimp, a user-friendly email campaign program. MailChimp’s website greets you with one pithy invitation: Send Better Email. Below that they give you even more reason to consider them: “Join more than 8 million people who use MailChimp to design and send 600 million emails every day.”

They tell you what they do (send email), how it benefits you (your emails are way better), and why you should go with them (they’re trusted by millions of other people).

 

2. Visually Attractive

When it comes to websites, looks matter. Of course content is extremely important too, especially for SEO (see the next point). But a visually attractive website tells visitors that your company is professional and trustworthy.

With so many options to surf on the web, a poorly designed site can be enough to cause visitors to reject the website and move on to something else. And don’t forget to make your website responsive, so it looks amazing whether it’s being viewed on a phone, tablet, or desktop screen.

 

Example: Zipcar

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Zipcar’s website is not quite what you expect. Instead of a photo of say, a car, you’re greeted with a picture of hikers high in the mountains, and an intriguing suggestion: “Upload yourself to the cloud.” The website conveys a sense of adventure and makes you want to be part of an elite group (the cloud of online Zipcar users). Beneath that splash they clarify how Zipcar works.

 

3. Draws Visitors In

So you’ve got an attractive website with clear messaging. Great! Next you want to engage visitors to draw them further into your website.

Creating a Call to Action is one way to engage customers. What is your ultimate goal of getting visitors? Is it to get them to sign up for your program, or to contact you to discuss working together, or to make a purchase? Make sure this is easy for a customer to find.

And substance matters as well as good looks! We highly recommend a blog, or at least crafting valuable, intriguing content that engages customers. Offering useful content also improves your website SEO and is a way of demonstrating that your company is the expert in your industry.

 

Example: NatureBox

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NatureBox has a clean landing page with a clear call to action: Start your free trial. They give potential customers an incentive to sign up by offering a free trial. Other incentives could be a free e-book for joining your newsletter, a discount on a customer’s first order, or a free 30-minute consultation for joining your online training program.

 

4. Speaks to Your Audience

Learn as much as possible about your target customer. What are their needs? What questions and concerns will they have when they visit your site?

Try this exercise: Create a persona for your target customer. Describe in detail their age, gender, background, and other demographics. Get really detailed. Some companies even give this target customer a name. What are their goals? What are their primary needs and pain points? What are their main questions and concerns?

Make sure that your website copy addresses these needs and goals. The more you speak directly and anticipate their needs, the more likely you are to attract your ideal customer.

 

Example: Dove

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Dove made headlines with its “Real Beauty” campaign in 2004, which celebrates different body types and showcasing real women rather than models in their advertisements. Today Dove’s website still features real women who are confident with their bodies. Their homepage also highlights their Self Esteem Project dedicated to helping girls overcome beauty-related anxieties. These campaigns speak directly to their target audience: women account for 85% of all consumer purchases in the U.S., and 75% consider themselves the primary shoppers for their households.

 

It’s a Win-Win

By crafting a clear message that is visually attractive and engages visitors, your website homepage will be a positive and memorable experience. And if you speak directly your target audience, you’ll be able to connect with your ideal customers.

This is a win-win: customers enjoy their visit to your website and feel connected to a brand that speaks to them, while you are able to engage with customers and make a strong first impression.

What sort of impression does your homepage make?