James Wynne is Director of User Experience for Sandstorm and has been in digital product development since 1996. He has worked as a UX designer for a myriad of clients including large eCommerce brands, mobile device manufacturers and integrated marketing agencies.
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In the spirit of our 3rd core value, Have Fun, each year Sandstorm has a Super Secret Event! Our Co-Captains of Fun, Alicia Newland & Nathan Hass, plan everything with our CEO Sandy Marsico. In past years we have gone to a Cubs game, an arcade & bowling.
This year we grabbed lunch at Emerald Loop, to ensure everyone was maxed out on energy for the main event: a scavenger hunt. The staff broke up into 5 teams for a digital scavenger hunt taking us all over the loop. The riddle clues led us to familiar landmarks like the Chicago Theater & the Chicago Cultural Center, and some interesting new places like Harlan J. Berk Ltd., coin dealer, looking for trivia answers. Some of the clues were a little more active and we had to snap a picture of the team doing ballet outside of the Joffery Ballet, posing on 1 leg with Calder’s Flamingo statue in Federal Plaza and double-checking the time with the famous Marshal Fields Great Clock.
Our core values help us accomplish our mission: to create a place for like-minded people to have fun & do things in a way that hasn’t been done before. We understand that some of the best ideas come from giving our inner-selves a place to explore & play. Beyond our Super Secret Event, we keep the fun rolling with a Guac Off, Halloween Costume Contest, Holiday Pajama Day and other pop up events throughout the year.
If “Have Fun” is one of your core values, check out our join the team page for open positions and to submit your resume.
Machines possessing hopes and dreams is a classic theme explored in science fiction. Sandstorm® explored this theme when Acxiom IT restructured their organization and needed a rebrand to reflect their new position as a tech company that dreams of the future.
Acxiom IT recently became a standalone infrastructure management services business, which required a new name and brand strategy to set them apart from their former parent company. Sandstorm® was hired to guide the 46-year-old business as they developed a new corporate identity. The result: the Ensono brand and a vision for the future.
Sandstorm®'s first step was diligent research. We examined the client's history, needs, behaviors and desires to understand where they've been and devised a marketing strategy to help them reach where they wanted to go. In speaking with their senior leadership, it became clear that they wanted to position themselves as a solution that meets the needs of the present and the future. Although they offered industry-leading mainframe solutions, Ensono needed help representing themselves as a company that develops and innovates for the future.
With renewed focus on addressing current client needs while engineering solutions for the demands of tomorrow, we turned to creating a new name. Sandstorm® went international while exploring the concepts of progress and dreaming: "enso" is a Zen concept that refers to strength and creativity, and "in sogno" is an Italian expression meaning "in dreams." By merging these words and concepts together, Ensono, or the company that dreams, was created. This idea of inventive and adaptable thinking followed through the positioning statement, key messages, content marketing tactics, and digital marketing strategies.
Sandstorm® assisted Ensono with their brand launch and website development and has continued to partner with them on many projects including: collateral materials, promotional video, product campaigns, corporate signage, and assisting with the interior design of their new office space.
If you are dreaming of a new marketing strategy, Sandstorm can make it a reality.
Extend your team and scale your efforts by outsourcing your marketing efforts. Imagine having on-call crazy-talented creatives, writers full of curiosity and wit, incredible UX architects, thoughtful marketing strategists, visionary video producers, and senior-level web developers to allow your team to do what they do best. From creating high-level concepts to executing on your entire marketing plan, our team would love to collaborate with yours!
Benefits of outsourcing your marketing:
- Free your team up to lead, manage, and focus on your company's growth
- Immediately have your marketing team up and running on day 1 (rather than hiring over 60-120 days)
- Access to all skill sets (like having your own in-house marketing firm, writing, design, UX, and web development department)
- Gain insight and perspective on how other companies and industries are solving their marketing challenges
- Work with top talent (agencies attract some of the best creative minds in the industry)
- Minimize HR costs and overhead
- Mitigate employee management
- Accomplish more within your marketing budget with our flexible retainer structures
Examples of marketing that is often outsourced include email campaigns, banner campaigns, videos, marketing collateral, whitepapers, direct mail, trade advertising campaigns, market research reports, e-books, marketing brochures, web analytics reporting, sales enablement tools, videos, annual reports, infographics, trade show booths, SEO & SEM campaign management, and internal marketing communications.
Sandstorm® recently acquired some new hardware when we took home the Best Launch Award at the B2B Marketer Awards & Conference for our marketing campaign rebranding Holden, a global leader in sales performance development.
Like many businesses, Holden was in a shifting industry and looking for a way to stay relevant while standing out. Sales training was seen as an ineffective & inefficient necessity, leading Holden to borrow from the eLearning industry to disrupt their industry by repositioning as a SaaS company. Sandstorm came in to create their new brand strategy, which included the bold claim that "sales training is over".
This disruption, punctuated by the new tagline game-changing sales habits, moved Holden away from a traditional sales training organization to an innovative, educational solution for developing talent. The brand launch campaign, that included a new identity, tagline, digital marketing, website and marketing collateral, helped Holden achieve 106% their annual lead gen goal in the first 5 months.
Congratulations to the award winning, Sandstorm team: Chief Strategy office Laura Luckman Kelber, Executive Creative Director Janna Fiester, Creative Director (Content) John Rausch, Account Director Alicia Newland and UX Art Director Nathan Haas!
B2B content marketing is the cornerstone of a successful digital marketing strategy, and it involves the continuous creation of relevant content (be it blogs, white papers, video, etc.) intended to convert visitors into leads, build thought leadership, improve brand engagement, and drive awareness. It makes a huge impact on search engine optimization, and with the "right" (we mean strategic, researched, and thoughtful) content marketing plan, you can multiply your marketing effectiveness, improve the overall impact of your web design strategy, and build a platform to market your company that lasts for years.
Lucky for you, we’re crazy about B2B content and are armed with a team of gurus at our agency who love creating quality content in just about any form you can think of. Best of all, it’s the kind of content that people love coming back to and sharing with their peers.
At Sandstorm, we can help you develop your data strategy including identifying your business goals, questions and/or issues, identifying the available data sources and developing a plan to seamlessly integrate the data in order to analyze it in real-time.
Almost every organization is trying to figure out what to do with their data and how to do it. So you are not alone, we work with a variety of clients in various states of data collection and analysis to help them get smart about leveraging their data and uncovering hidden insights to inform their business.
As 2015 draws to a close, Sandstormers are busy wrapping up our New Year’s resolutions before the clock strikes midnight. Help us celebrate the completion of each goal with these fun GIFs!
Be sure to check back each day until 2016!
Resolution: Save Money
Megan is counting her pennies as 2015 winds down. Looks like somebody is ready for a vacation!
Resolution: Take Fewer Ubers
Adam is determined to spend less time in Ubers in 2016 and more time on his feet!
Resolution: Finish a scarf
Just as the snow begins falling again in Chicago, Alicia is finally getting around to finishing that scarf she started back in 2007. Better late than never!
Resolution: Exercise more
It is everyone's perennial resolution - as soon as January 1 rolls around, those gym memberships start flying in. Unfortunately most of us fall off the bandwagon by February. This year Lisa has been creative in getting her lift in wherever she can.
Resolution: Learn Spanish
Executive Creative Director Janna is putting in some last-minute study hours to try and perfect her Spanish before the clock strikes medianoche!
Resolution: Relax more
Developer Jeff can always be found hard at work building a jazzy website for our clients. So now he is trying to get in some last minute rest time before the new year.
Resolution: Unsubscribe from email lists
Our Art Director Nathan had too many emails flooding his inbox. So this year he made the choice to finally get around to unsubscribing from all the lists he was no longer interested in. Of course, we were there to help him celebrate his accomplishment!
Resolution: Read all the books Laura has recommended
Laura Luckman Kelber, our Chief Strategy Officer, is a voracious reader. Luckily, she always lets us know when a particularly good book crosses her path. This year, Kellye devoted herself to tackling the “Laura-Recommended Reading List!”
You know you need to perform analytics on your site, but which data points really matter and how can you use your web analytics to make good business decisions? For too many companies, they either end up logging in once a year, or find themselves in "analysis paralysis." So how do you know if you are achieving your web and business goals?
By implementing web analytics into your site, you have the tools to understand the characteristics and behaviors of your audiences, measure how changes are affecting engagement and conversions, and formulate insights to sustain and grow relationships. We implement web analytics with every site experience we build at Sandstorm®, giving our clients the ability to see where users are coming from, what’s driving them there, and what (if anything) is making them leave. In addition, we offer a variety of follow-up services depending on your needs.
We integrate the analytics we’ve implemented with your other website analytics, optimization testing, customer experience, social tracking, campaign management or other CRM tools to offer you an all-encompassing view of your customer.
Using your business goals, target metrics, and other drivers defined in the marketing workshop, we create dashboards tailored to the needs of your marketers, executives, and other key stakeholders. Using the dashboards and automated notifications, your decision makers have valuable information at their fingertips to track key indicators and make the most informed business decisions.
On-Going Assessment Reports
After initial dashboards are created, we offer consulting services to review the data and provide advise on additional opportunities. These services include monthly/periodic reports assessment, analysis and insights around your KPIs, with actionable recommendations to increase goal completions, enhance the user experience, and adjust dashboards to identify changing trends.
Sandstorm offers education on how to review and enhance dashboards and reports, as well as how to export data for other analysis tools.
Analytics Implementation Audit
Sandstorm performs an examination of your current analytics implementation to identify potential gaps or other issues. Sandstorm collaborates with you to identify the key performance indicators and tie them to target metrics across organic search, social engagement, conversion funnels, and PPC initiatives. Mapping business goals to website data, we will ensure your existing analytics solution is properly tracking and clearly reporting status that's relevant to your goals (business, marketing, website, social, etc). After identifying what gets tracked and why, data collection points, and current technology, Sandstorm provides recommendations on how to adjust tools and techniques to optimize your business.
Sandstorm analyzes your current business data to identify your visitors, leads, customers, and influencers, and their behavior. This incorporates your websites, social channels, log file collection, first-party and third-party data management technologies and methodologies, dashboarding, and other relevant data. We will provide insights on where your goals are being achieved, where you can improve, what blockers you face, how you can tailor your content and navigation to drive conversions or other actions, as well as how to optimize your site for the best operational performance. Sandstorm provides recommendations on what data to collect across your channels and 3rd party data providers, how data should be collected and integrated, and technology to best achieve these goals, supported by data-driven evidence.
SEM & SEO
We do both, search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) for our clients (and for our own company as part of our digital marketing plan and web design strategy for lead generation). Here's a few things that you should know:
Search engine marketing is getting so expensive so quickly, that it just kills us when we take over a pay-per-click (PPC) Adwords account and see yet another company creating Adwords campaigns that are competing with themselves, therefore raising the cost per click... on themselves and everyone else competing for that phrase. If you think this might be you, please give us a call and let us review your account. This happens so often and everyone loses.
Search engine optimization alone does get you to the top of the search engines. It's a part of your big picture strategic planning which should include content marketing, social media marketing, and web analytics reporting. This is a game changer for so many companies. Let us help!
Want to learn more? Tell us how we can help you with your website analytics today.
We can work with you on building custom machine learning models to help you forecast and predict your business. We deploy a variety of data mining and statistical techniques, machine learning and predictive models to help you leverage historical data to inform the future.
For example, by examining customer purchasing data and analyzing customer behaviors and characteristics, we can determine how a particular segment of customers will act in the future - namely what products will they purchase and when?
Sandstorm is proud to be one of “Chicago’s 101 Best and Brightest Places to Work For” as named by the National Association for Business Resources.
It’s wonderful to be honored for something we’ve been passionately striving for – making Sandstorm the best place to work! Of all the small businesses in the Chicago area, we are in the Top 50. The selection process looks at all aspects of business including: compensation, recruitment, achievement and recognition, work-life balance, and more.
“It is rewarding to see that we excel at employee enrichment and engagement. 'Learning and Sharing' is a core value for us,” says our CEO, Sandy Marsico. “Every day Sandstormers grow and pass along their knowledge to other creatives, developers, and strategists.”
We also scored particularly high in strategic company performance. Our entire team is aligned to move us and our clients forward every day. Our consultative approach is always thinking about the latest digital trends and how to find white space opportunities for our clients.