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.
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.
Disruption is all the rage. I can't even count the number of clients who have asked for a “disruptive” marketing campaign. Disruption can be a powerful tactic, but only when it makes sense.
Why do you want to be disruptive?
That's the first question I ask clients, but it's not the only one. These are just a few of the questions you need to answer to gauge your capability for a disruptive campaign:
What is going on in your industry? Your organization?
Do you have the talent, capital, and resources to completely revolutionize your business? And not just for the next quarter or two, but for the next 3-5 years.
Will your target market understand this move?
How many current customers will you lose when you go through this monumental change? How many will you gain?
I know, it’s harder than ever to attract audience attention: Microsoft estimates that our average attention span is eight seconds, down 33 percent since 2000. With unicorns like Uber, Airbnb and Bitcoin causing tectonic shifts of entire industries everyday, no wonder there’s a mad rush to disrupt.
When’s the right time to shake things up?
The challenge is transforming your brand and industry without the epic fail of New Coke or Crystal Pepsi.
SandstormⓇ has helped clients develop disruptive marketing campaigns, including Holden’s disruption of the sales training industry. Holden noticed that traditional training methods had lost their potency and clients needed faster ways to onboard their sales force. Holden borrowed from the eLearning space, crafting software and utilizing gamification to transform their one-time training class into a revolutionary habit-changing tool.
Notice from where their idea of disruption came: an observation of their customers’ repeated struggles with ineffective techniques. Additionally, they understood the equity they had built with their Power Base Selling Methodology and instead of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, they reinvented how they taught effective behaviors. And instead of just changing their marketing message, they also fundamentally changed how they went to market with their campaign.
Do you need disruption or just an evolution?
It’s not the trendy thing to say, but oftentimes an evolution is more appropriate and pragmatic than disruption. We’ve seen many clients focus their attention on overall business growth and product development to align with their clients’ needs only to neglect the marketing that attracts a wider audience to their innovations. They may lose perspective on their marketing for months or years at a time. When they begin to sense that something is going wrong, they call us to discuss a brand refresh. Sometimes a complete rebrand is required because their business and market has evolved beyond their existing brand equity.
When SandstormⓇ gets these marketing strategy requests, we dive into the brand’s existing equities and look at how they match the marketplace. We look outside of their category to garner inspiration and talk to their users, current customers, and potential customers. We find white space for them that is unique to what, how, and why they do what they do. This might be a radical evolution or a minor shift, but either way it creates momentum for their business and helps them grow effectively.
So, before you’re lured by the siren call of disruption, think about what disruption really means for your business. Has the landscape shifted so much that you need to change business model or do you just need to evaluate what you have and pivot?
To discuss the benefits of evolution vs. disruption, or get information on how SandstormⓇ can improve your marketing strategy, contact Laura at email@example.com
I’d been browsing through Stephen King books on a popular e-commerce website. When I clicked over to a news article, an ad for The Gunslinger followed. I barely gave it a second thought when the same ad appeared in my Facebook feed. Then the emails started. For days after, the same ad haunted me everywhere I turned: no social network, email service provider or website was safe. Leave me alone, I shouted at my monitor, the room spiraling out of control. Leave me alone!
I’m being dramatic, but when marketing personalization goes wrong, the user experience gets creepy. When done right, personalized ads and emails provide a near one-to-one conversation between brand and customer. But get it wrong and “personalization” feels intrusive, alienating and leaves customers wondering who’s watching them.
Relevance, not omnipresence
Consumers overwhelmingly desire—and expect—personalized ads.
- More than 70 percent of consumers prefer ads tailored to shopping habits and their interests, according to an Adlucent study.
- The same study found that three-quarters of consumers want more relevant ads that align with their needs and wants.
- Marketers see 20 percent increases in sales on average when utilizing personalized ad journeys.
- Conversions increase by 10 percent with personalized email messages, based on research conducted by Aberdeen.
The same studies show that consumers are willing to provide their private information, but expect relevant content in return. Unfortunately, digital marketers are doing a poor job of delivering on their side of the bargain. A Yahoo survey showed that only 37 percent of respondents found desktop ads relevant. Those numbers were even smaller for mobile and in-app advertising—30 percent and 27 percent, respectively.
Consumers also want a voice in the conversation: over 65 percent want the option of privacy controls, and almost 60 percent want ads based on information they proactively provide.
So, how do you develop unique, actionable messaging without crossing the line? Use these tips to create engaging conversations and avoid the creep factor.
1. Respect your audience
You want to show consumers that you understand their desires—not that you’re following them at every turn. Be implicit instead of explicit: imagery or copy that confirms a customer’s DMA is great, while creative that confirms you have their address information is too much.
2. Know your channel
A personalized salutation is almost expected in email these days, but a digital ad is probably the wrong place to address your customers by name. Only 29 percent of consumers who completed a recent study said they would engage with ads containing personal information like their name. Go where your customers are engaging and give them the power to start a conversation.
3. Humanize your brand
Whether you’re B2B or B2C, there’s room for some personality in your brand communications. The goal of personalized marketing is to have a one-to-one conversation, and who wants to talk to someone without a personality? Whether you’re a Joker, a Dreamer, a Rebel or a Hero, let customers feel your personality.
4. Test and optimize
Even if you start with strong creative, its effectiveness will diminish as time goes on. A study conducted by ReTargeter found that clickthrough rates decrease by nearly 50 percent after five months. An A/B test can be a simple way to find the most effective creative and power optimization. Dynamic optimization can help achieve significant uplifts in conversions.
Sandstorm® is ready to help you develop a digital marketing personalization strategy that engages your customers, without creeping them out.
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!
What started in 1982 as smiley-face punctuation :-) has transformed into a new, ubiquitous pictographic language. The “Face with Tears of Joy” emoji was even named Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries in 2015. There's no escaping emojis, and more businesses are catching onto this new language.
However, there are pitfalls with any new development. Emojis are seen as emotional punctuations, coloring whatever text adjoins them. Utilizing a personal form of communication within business conversations can be tricky, but not impossible. So we compiled this list of things to consider before you slap a smiley face in your marketing materials.
1. Who is viewing the communication? Emojis are a personal iconography that evokes emotions, making them a great tool for relationship and loyalty building. Using them for inter-office communications or within the B2B space can make sense, but less so with a potential new client.
2. What emojis are you using? Finding the right emoji is harder than it sounds. Emojis look different on different platforms and are open to interpretation: an emoji may look surprised to you yet scared to your user. Utilize this chart to see how emojis look across platforms and reduce the chances of miscommunication.
3. When do you decide to use an emoji? Conveying context and tone in written communications have always been a challenge. Emojis illuminate context in a fun way. Just like the original emoticon was used to connote humor, you can use emojis to clarify your intention or to activate your text.
4. Where should you use an emoji? Emojis are an online language, so including them in print materials is difficult, as USA Today learned. While emojis are being utilized more often as design elements, like on clothing or book covers, it is still best practice within the business world to limit emojis to online communications (like social media).
5. Why use an emoji at all? Emojis can help reach business goals. More and more companies are utilizing emojis in their email subject lines, which draws attention in a field of mostly text and can improve open rates, among other metrics.
Like most marketing tools, emojis can be beneficial when used in the right circumstances and with the right audience. Their main purpose is to create emotional reactions, which works when building relationships and loyalty. However, there is a risk of looking gimmicky if they're not used properly. Unlike texting with your friends, you need to think through the entire process before adding that smiley face.
The Paris runways are not a normal inspiration source for home decorating projects. But that is exactly what inspired Sandstorm® when Hydrology came to us for a new website. Hydrology, a high-end purveyor of kitchen and bath furnishings in Chicago, wanted an online user experience that mimicked their sleek & luxurious products. To capture that opulence, Sandstorm® tapped into the ambition and extravagance of the fashion world.
The home furnishing industry standard is nearly the opposite of runway glamour. It features flat and transactional product images that focus on product details while ignoring the bigger task of a completed room. This limited industry representation was an opportunity to set Hydrology apart. Pulling inspiration from fashion designers like Burberry, Sandstorm® crafted the new online experience to feel less like a product website and more like an editorial spread of your dream house.
Check out the new Hydrology site here
Enter the Clickstream
- Where are visitors entering and exiting your site?
- How many people visit specific pages? What content is drawing the most attention?
- How many people immediately leave? Which content is failing to retain them?
- How many people are first-time or return visitors?
- How long do people stay on your site?
- Where are your visitors geographically located?
- What browsers, operating systems, devices, and screen sizes are they using?
- What keywords are driving people to your site through search? What pages are delivering search traffic?
- How do visitors flow through your site? Are they efficient and inefficient paths? Do they see your intended message or offering?
- How much response does each call to action get?
- What referrers are directing visitors to your site? From which search engines (organic results or marketing campaign), social networks, blogs, web pages, etc? What content are they being directed to?
- How fast do your pages load? When and where are the peaks and lows?
- How are the specific goals you’ve defined in the analytics tools being met?
- How are your pay-per-click campaigns working?
- What additional demographic data is available for each of the questions above?
That's great - But What Do I Do with It?
The answer to each of these questions can help you optimize the user experience, raise your search engines rankings, tailor your message expand your audience or focus on a specific segment, and build data-driven personalized relationships online.
The answers to these questions are often quite valuable to your business. Some are immediately apparent, such as the answer to “How much response does each call to action get?” Others, however, may seem to have less business value, at least at face value. For example, “why do I care where my web visitors are geographically located?”
To use an example, one of our clients has offices in three states. After reviewing their traffic sources, we identified a great deal of traffic from two states where they did not have offices. The visitors from these two states matched their target demographic too. So, analytics helped our client identify potential locations to expand their business.
Building a Better Business
When it comes to data analytics, clickstream sources are often the most available to business owners. You can use these 15 questions to adjust your business strategy in an informed and insightful manner.
For a more comprehensive view of how you can use analytics, data-driven website optimization, and search engine, Sandstorm offers full consulting and implementation services that support and improve your marketing strategy.
By all accounts, Sunday’s Super Bowl game was a defensive masterpiece. On the offensive side of the ledger, the broadcast included commercials for toenail fungus and toilet envy, topped by a walking, talking intestine.
These shudder-inducing moments aside, the commercials of the 2016 Super Bowl offered tremendous range, from Colgate urging us to conserve water to Helen Mirren excoriating drunk drivers. Some of the evening’s highlights:
Best celebrity performance
T-Mobile’s “Restricted Bling” had Drake happily and self-deprecatingly agreeing to comic revisions of “Hotline Bling” offered up by attorneys representing a rival carrier. Every ad person was nodding in appreciation.
Honorable mention: Hyundai’s “Ryanville” spot, which transported us to a small town in which every person is a distractingly attractive Ryan Reynolds. “Can you give me a warning?” “Sure. Warning—here comes your ticket!”
Best use of a pop song
Heinz Ketchup’s “Stampede,” which had dozens of dachshunds dressed as hot dogs loping through a field to Harry Nilsson’s “Without You.” I dare you not to smile.
Honorable mention: a flock of sheep surreptitiously harmonizing Queen’s “Somebody to Love” in the Honda Ridgeline “A New Truck to Love” spot. Until this spot, no one had even heard of a truck-bed audio system.
Best use of a soft voice amid all the shouting
Jeep’s “Portraits” acknowledged the many people and moments that have shaped the brand’s 75-year history. The spot helps make Jeep’s story the story of America.
Honorable mention: “Text Talk,” aired by NO MORE and the NFL, which aims to educate viewers of the warning signs of domestic violence and sexual assault. Quietly chilling.
Best use of a cultural icon
Snickers’ “Marilyn” spot, in which an irascible Willem Dafoe morphs into Marilyn Monroe on a movie set. Nice legs, Willem.
Honorable mention: The Hulk battling it out with Ant-Man for a can of Coke in the epic, city-shattering “A Mini Marvel.” Glad you two could finally get along.
I’ll spare you a review of the worst spots, which have to include the Steven Tyler Skittles sculpture and Liam Neeson scaring people into buying an LG OLED TV.
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!”
Sandy has a featured post on Executive Street, the Vistage blog. “3 tips to designing a holiday party that your employees will love” is all about Sandy’s (and Sandstorm’s) unique approach to celebrating the season successfully.
Happy Holidays (and have a great holiday party)!