Doug Elmslie Web + Social Media Campaign Case Study

The Project:

  • Doug required a custom campaign covering a period of roughly 1 month — from mid-September to the end of our local Municipal Election period

  • The campaign involved 3 components: a website, Facebook, and Instagram

Overview:

Our role was to support Doug’s efforts to get re-elected as councillor of the new Ward 3 in the Kawartha Lakes. The first thing we did was design and launch a new landing page style website. The website introduced Doug and highlighted his endorsements, experience, and accomplishments. We also featured a section for him to share updates, and integrated Instagram so that his constituents could see what he was up to in the days leading up to voting day. Once that was complete, we decided on a strategy for his social campaigns.

  • Setup & optimized social media profiles

  • Developed social media strategy to increase awareness and engagement

  • Key updates were also incorporated into website

  • Managed community comments and messages

 
 

The Strategy:

  • Developed social media strategy and established a posting schedule

  • Launched Facebook advertising campaigns to increase visibility of new page and encourage engagement with members of the community

  • Shared frequent updates on website News page to ensure greater reach and to improve SEO rankings

The Results:

Most importantly, Doug was re-elected into Ward 3!

Here’s what we accomplished in 1 month:

Website Referral Traffic:

  • Social media accounted for 44% of referrals to Doug’s website

Community Growth & Engagement

Instagram

  • Achieved over 2000 Instagram impressions

  • Content was engaged with over 300 times

Facebook

  • Launched and grew Facebook page to 147 fans

  • Increased reach by 263% to over 6000

  • Content was engaged with over 1900 times


Want to make a bigger impact?

Let’s work together!

Name *
Name
New Website: 21 Charities

Robyn's work in the community has been a valuable networking asset for our business. A short while ago, she met two musicians, Dennis Carmichael and Brooks Robinson, of Canadian country rock band, Boots of Hazard. As they shared some of their story, Robyn became more and more excited. Dennis and Brooks were driven to make a lasting positive impact on their community, and Robyn knew that we could help. 

You see, Dennis and Brooks had envisioned 21 Charities — an annual event comprised of 21 performances over a period of 21 days for 21 different local charities and organizations.

They had no branding, no social presence, and a website that had a lot going on.

First, Robyn worked with them to develop a brand. Here's their new logo:

21 Charities Logo.png

Then I got to work on styling their new website. My goal was to ensure simple, cohesive branding and to improve the user experience from their existing website. They were using GoDaddy for their domain and hosting, but I convinced them that Squarespace was a better fit and got to work on setting up new, streamlined pages.

Check out their new homepage:

homepage.png

The goal for the homepage was to introduce Brooks and Dennis and then immediately drive their web audience to learn more about their mission. Once the homepage styling was approved, I got to work setting up the remaining website pages.

This is their new Our Mission page:

Our Mission.png

On it, we've featured their mission, the 21 charities they've partnered with, and have loaded in some of their media features.

One of the most important pages that was set up was their Performances page. We found imagery to align with each of their upcoming events, and made sure to include the event details and which charity was being fundraised each day.

Here's a sample of the beginning of the page:

Performances.png

One thing that I wanted to make sure of was that the new 21 Charities website featured examples of Dennis and Brook's music. I integrated their hit song, Muddy Water, using Soundcloud and their official music video on YouTube. Here's that page:

Music.png

One of the last pages I worked on was a simple Contact page. I wanted to ensure that anyone that wanted to reach out, or volunteer their time, could easily get in touch. On the old website, their contact information was only available at the bottom of the homepage. 

This is their new Contact page:

Finally, I hoped to have a clear call to action for donations to the charities. After talking to Brooks and Dennis, I realized that the most important thing was ensuring that people show up in person to donate their time or funds to the charities that matter most to them. With that in mind, I set up a simple landing page that redirects back to their mission and their upcoming performances. It might seem unnecessary, but it helps cement the vision behind 21 Charities and ensure that people go back to read the mission and performances pages.

This is the final page of their website:

Donate.png

It was a pleasure (and honour) partnering with Dennis Carmichael and Brooks Robinson on 21 Charities and we wish them every success on their fundraising endeavour.

Our community is lucky to have them!


LIKE WHAT YOU SEE? LET'S WORK TOGETHER!

New Website: Explore Fenelon Falls

Barton Creative Co. was so excited to partner with the Fenelon Falls & District Chamber of Commerce for their new Explore Fenelon Falls brand and website.

Before this new website was launched, they had multiple outdated websites, various social accounts, and an amazing community email newsletter, The Town Crier. 

In our new partnership, we have helped to design a modern website that is friendly, engaging, and mobile-friendly with lots of great features for both tourists and locals alike.

THE NEW WEBSITE FEATURES:

  • A new friendly, nature-inspired palette and branding

  • A fresh focus on the Town Crier and encouragement to subscribe

  • A new business directory highlighting stores, eateries, service providers and more

  • New streamlined Menu

  • New Become a Member page to encourage Chamber signups

  • New sections encouraging submissions to the News and Events pages

  • & so much more waiting to be discovered

HERE'S A QUICK VIDEO WALKTHROUGH (11 MINUTES) 

What is GDPR and How Does it Impact My Small Business?

By now, you might have heard some rumblings online of something called the GDPR. What you might not realize is that if your business has a website, or it uses email marketing, analytics, advertising (like Facebook Pixel), or other third-party tools, you might need to make some changes. Before we go over that, let's dial it back a bit, and start from the beginning.

What is the GDPR?

The GDPR is the General Data Protection Regulation. It enhances data protection for European Union residents and provides a framework to guide business usage of personal data across the EU. 

The GDPR comes into effect May 25, 2018. It was designed to give individuals more control over the use of their personal data. And, as previously mentioned, it doesn't only affect email — it includes monitoring of behaviour, which most websites and apps do automatically.

It includes three main points:

  1. That individuals provide consent for the processing of their personal data such as their email, phone number, address, and financial info.

  2. That they have a right to have their data erased at any time

  3. That they will be notified in a timely manner if a data breach occurs

does the GDPR still impact my small business?

It might! If your business is marketed to European clients, or if your business holds data for individuals living in the EU, you will need to ensure that you are compliant to the GDPR. 

What does this really mean?

If you meet any of the following, you need to make changes:

  • Your website is visited by those living in the EU

  • Your email list contains information for individuals living in the EU

  • You otherwise market or advertise to those living in the EU

How do I comply with the GDPR?

There are three fairly simply changes we recommend making. This is regardless of whether or not you offer products or services to anyone in the European Union. We think it's better to be safe (and smart) than sorry!

The first is to add a pop up to your website. Let your visitors know that your website uses cookies and that if they continue to use your website, they are consenting to your privacy policy. Make sure that your popup includes a link to your privacy policy and a continue button.

The second is to update your privacy policy to be GDPR compliant. You are welcome to copy ours, though be mindful of any changes you might need to make to tailor it to your own small business.

The third is to ensure that your email marketing practices are up to date. Ensure that you have double opt-in setup. This means that in order to be fully subscribed, one must confirm that they want to join your email list (usually with a checkbox). They are then sent an email confirming that they wish to subscribe. You also have to ensure that one can unsubscribe within any marketing email, or if they email you, that you will delete them from your list within a reasonable time frame. 

What are the consequences of not complying?

Data protection officers are being appointed to oversee compliance in all countries, not just the EU. Those found guilty of non-compliance will face hefty fees.

More serious infringements can result in a fine of the greater of 20 million Euros, or 4% of the total annual worldwide turnover of your business.

Lesser infringements can result in a fine of the greater of 10 million Euros, or 2% of total annual worldwide turnover of your business.

In summary, if there is any chance that visitors from the European Union are interacting with your website, email marketing, or other online service providers, it's best to make sure that you are GDPR compliant.


If you have any questions, or would like our help in ensuring that your website and other properties are GDPR compliant, please leave a comment below or feel free to email us at hello@bartoncreative.co

 

 

New Website: Kawartha Lakes Country Living Show

Barton Creative Co. is proud to be partnering with the Kawartha Lakes Country Living Show for the second year in a row.

This wonderful local event showcases a variety of vendors, artists and artisans for the country home, farm and cottage owner. 

We provide ongoing traditional and digital marketing during the show, and where last year we had the opportunity to design a new logo and brand, this year we were so excited to learn that we would be able to carry that branding over into a new Squarespace website (our favourite!)

The new KLCLS website features:

  • Their beautiful Spring palette and branding

  • Lots of engaging CTA to RSVP for their Facebook Event

  • New interactive Vendors List

  • New streamlined Menu

  • New Artists Gallery

  • New sections encouraging Sponsor + Vendor Signup

  • An email subscription section

Here's a quick video walkthrough (6 1/2 minutes) 

Video Script:

"Hi everyone, I'm Megan Barton, the web + digital strategist at Barton Creative Co. In this video, I'm going to walk you through the newly redesigned Kawartha Lakes Country Living Show website in 10 mins or less.

The KLCLS is a great community show in Fenelon Falls. It's coming up really soon, from April 27th to 29th at the Fenelon Falls Community Centre.

Their main focus is on featuring vendors, artists, and artisans — as well as community organizations — for local country home, farm and cottage owners. There's really something for everyone.

They have a new title sponsor this year, in Enbridge, and will be putting on both a free pancake breakfast, hosted by Enbridge, as well as a partnership with local business, The Barn and Bunkie for their great Hello Spring Sale.

They even have an onsite restaurant this year, provided by On The Locks. There's a lot going for it, and I encourage you to check it out if you live in the Kawartha Lakes.

Diving into the Web Walkthrough...the page you can see now is their new homepage. We added this great announcement bar, and everything is branded to their logo. You can see all of the event details.

The announcement bar can be "x'd" out, and the buttons you see featured lead to this super fun landing page which pulls in ever-changing pictures representing the show — pictures of featured artists work, pictures representing the Kawartha Lakes, and others, what the show is offering.

By clicking RSVP, they can brought to the Facebook event to register their attendance.

Let's go back to the homepage now.

Scrolling down, we set up these great tile icons for calls to action. We have one for confirming attendance, one for meeting the featured artists, one for show highlights, another for getting to the show, one of the most important for the vendors list, and finally, a note from the team.

Underneath that section is this interactive Instagram feed which pulls in the 12 most recent images from the Kawartha Country Living Show Instagram page. This is a great location for them to feature more of the featured artists work, any announcements, engaging activities like giveaways, partner events, and so forth.

The website ends on two main sections which are the featured 2018 sponsors, as well as how to become a VIP Insider for their email list.

By clicking on this, attendees can enter their first name and email address and sign up for either insider news for attendees, or VIP vendor updates as well. The great thing about this kind of feature is that it will grow year after year with just small web updates each year for things like vendors and sponsors. The email list will just keep on growing. 

What we've done is set them up with a streamlined menu with About, Plan Your Weekend, Exhibiting, Artists and Sponsors.

Starting at the front, we have About and that lands on the Overview page. They can get information about what the show is, what it's offering and what the main focuses are. Obviously presented by the Show, and the Fenelon Falls District Chamber of Commerce.

We've put in some feedback from last year, we have a section focused on the three main focuses of the show: product and service providers, community organizations, and food and drink. We also have other show highlights including the Barn and Bunkie Hello Spring Sale and the previously mentioned complimentary Pancake breakfast provided by the title sponsor, Enbridge.

On the next About page, we featured a brand new engaging feature - the vendor's list. Not only is there this great list of vendors and artists presented as such, but people can actually click on these and get more information on what's being offered.

So maybe they don't know that Daniel Marlatt, one of the artists, will be displaying fine art and mixed media whereas this logo over here is for the Fenelon Falls Brewing Co which will be offering handcrafted premium beer.

In addition to this, we also added in a search function so that people can check, instead of searching through the whole list, to see if one of their favourite vendors will be there.

They can also use this category section to sort based on what each vendor does. So we've got service providers, exteriors and property, home and interior, featured artists and so on. Really, something for everyone.

Under Plan Your Weekend, attendees can get more information on the show hours each day, where it's located, and we have this handy map for them to see where exactly in town the community centre is.

Under Travel, we added more engaging features here as well. With this link, under Car, which will take them to Google Maps with the location already set. Whether they are on mobile, or checking from desktop, they can enter their current location and get detailed directions to the show.

For accommodations, if people are coming from out of town, or want to stay in town for a few days to attend more of the show, they can use this link here to see available accommodations in town.

Under Exhibiting, we have this great page about what the show is, whether a vendor will fit in at the show, and why they'd want to exhibit at the show.

If they decide to move forward, they can check out the Vendor Registration page with this amazing quote from one of the vendors from last year, as well as the downloads for the welcome letter, registration form, and terms and conditions for vendors.

One of my favourite pages to set up was this Artist Gallery. And so by clicking on any of these tiles, we can learn more about the artist or brand on display. For example, Granite Creations features many artists, and so we can click on their profile to learn more about what they do - they're all Canadian, etc. and we've got these great galleries that can be clicked to view the full-size examples of their work.

We also have painters, fine art artists, photographers, pottery and weaving, and woodworking. Lots of great options to check out!

And so the final page, one of the most important, is for the sponsors. Thanking them and giving a little overview of what they do, not just in terms of business, but also for their local communities. And we have a smaller section just explaining how other businesses can become sponsors too.

All in all, we did a great job of branding this website to the event, making it really engaging, and offering a lot of value to future attendees.

If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about our web design packages you can reach out to us at our website, bartoncreative.co or by sending us an email at hello@bartoncreative.co - Thanks!"

Facebook Advertising for Beginners

Facebook has over 1 billion active users and offers an amazing opportunity to inexpensively expand your audience size and grow your sales through targeted advertising.

However, while large businesses and marketing agencies are having great success with Facebook advertising, many small business owners and entrepreneurs are not — either because they have been too intimidated to start, or because they are implementing the wrong strategies.

In this guide, I will walk you through the basics of the Facebook Pixel — a free tool and resource that will allow you to collect data, build an audience, and more effectively sell your products and services. I will also provide a breakdown of a simple 3-step advertising strategy.

Why Facebook Advertising?

Before we dive into the guide, let's start at the beginning.

Why is Facebook advertising a good fit for your business?

Facebook advertising is a great fit for many small businesses and creative entrepreneurs because of the ability to target your ideal audience. This means that when your ads are set up correctly, you are spending smart money only on people that have shown an interest in your business. 

Imagine discovering a magic ATM machine...

You put $20 in, read your account balance, and notice an increase of $40. The next time you stop by, you deposit $100. This time your balance reflects an increase of $300. A third time, you deposit $500 and your balance increases by $2000. That would be amazing, right?

Now, what if I told you that was possible with Facebook advertising?

With the right strategy, and creative testing, you'll start earning a healthy return on your investment. As your earnings increase and your strategies are refined, your ROI will continue to grow until you have a healthy monthly ad budget. Once that happens, we recommend connecting with a Facebook advertising expert. They'll bring the advanced strategies that will continue to scale and grow your business, in terms of audience and earnings, while you retain your time and efforts for the parts of your business that you love best.

But for now, let's dive into how to get yourself set up, starting with the Facebook Pixel.

What Is A Facebook Pixel?

A Facebook Pixel is really just code, a special set of instructions that Facebook interprets and acts upon. This code is integrated with your website, allowing it to track the data of your visitors, which you can then use to build and optimize targeted audiences.

In simpler terms, it looks like this...

 Facebook Pixel Code | Facebook Pixel and Advertising 101: A How-To Guide for Small Businesses | Barton Creative Co.

...and it collects data on people who use your website and interact with your ads.

Why Do You Need A Facebook Pixel?

If your business or brand includes a website, and you currently use (or are curious about using) Facebook advertising to grow your client base and increase your sales, you're part of the 99% of entrepreneurs and small business owners who would benefit from a Facebook Pixel.

Not only can you target users on your website based on specific actions (like visiting a page, or leaving an item in their shopping cart), you can track these conversions. This gives you the ability to troubleshoot and really improve your ROI. For example, if your ads are getting lots of clicks but no sales, your ad is working — but your offer or landing page likely needs some work. You can then learn from this and adapt and refine your process, whether it's updating your copy and offer, improving your branding, or designing a more effective landing page. 

How To Create A Facebook Pixel

Before you create a Facebook Pixel, I recommend creating a Facebook Business Manager account if you don't already have one. This account will unlock more secure options for managing your business and Facebook advertising needs. You can set up your account by visiting business.facebook.com, which looks like this:

 Facebook Business Manager screenshot | Facebook Pixel and Advertising 101: A How-To Guide for Small Businesses | Barton Creative Co.
 

To get started you simply need to click Create Account. You can then enter your business name, connect your primary business Page, and enter your name and work email. 

Once your Business Manager account is set up, the next step is to create your ad account. If you already have an ad account, you can bring it into your Business Manager.

To do this, or create your new ad account, click Business Settings, then Ad Accounts, then Add New Ad Accounts

 Facebook Business Manager Ad Account settings | Facebook Pixel and Advertising 101: A How-To Guide for Small Businesses | Barton Creative Co.
 

You'll then have 3 options: Add Ad Account, Request Access to an Ad Account or Create a new Ad account. Choose Add or Create. Once your ad account is ready, we can move on to creating your Facebook Pixel.

Still under Business Settings,  this time select Pixels. If your business doesn't already have a pixel, you can easily create yours with the Create a Facebook Pixel button. Please note that each business is allowed one pixel to track their audience's activity. If you have multiple businesses, each needs to have its own pixel in order to ensure that the data collected is targeted to the right audiences. Otherwise your ad performance will be negatively affected.

 Facebook Business Manager Pixel settings | Facebook Pixel and Advertising 101: A How-To Guide for Small Businesses | Barton Creative Co.
 

Once your pixel is created, click on it to visit its Events Manager. Now that you have a pixel, it's time to add it to your website so that you can track your web visitors activity.

Installing A Facebook Pixel

Once you're in the Events Manager, click on Set Up to get started. 

 Facebook Business Events Manager Pixel settings | Facebook Pixel and Advertising 101: A How-To Guide for Small Businesses | Barton Creative Co.
 

You have a few options to install your Pixel code. You can use an Integration, which I recommend if you are using one of the bolded services, like Squarespace. With an integration, Facebook will help you automatically install the Pixel code by connecting your accounts. If you are using Wordpress for your business website, select Copy and Paste the Code. You can then follow the directions on this page to finalize basic setup on your website. 

Retargeting for Beginners

While it's helpful to be able to communicate with your web audience as a whole, it's even more effective to be able to retarget these individuals based on the actions they took. Not everyone that visits your website wants to purchase your services, but by setting up custom conversions with Event Codes, we can target individuals who are showing the right kind of interest. More importantly, as your tracked audience grows, you'll have the ability for Facebook to connect you with a look-alike audience, people who haven't interacted with your website or services but are likely to purchase them nonetheless.

Below I've listed some common event types you can track, and examples of how to use them. You don't necessarily use all of these — only the ones that are most beneficial to your business type.

Search

Track web visitors who are interacting with specific search terms. 

Example: You sell shoes. You notice that your website is getting a lot of recent search results for sandals. You then create a Facebook ad, targeting everyone who searched for sandals with a coupon or other high-value offer. Your ROI will be higher because of your ad's specificity.

View Content

Track views of specific content, like a blog post, or product.

Example: You write a blog post that offers something of value to your ideal client base, preferably something related to one of your paid products or services. Promote that blog post, and your Pixel will track the views. Now you can follow up with a targeted ad, offering a special promotion. Because you've already shared value, you'll increase your conversions.

Add to Cart

Track when a customer adds a product to their cart.

Example: You release a new product and notice that a bunch of people have added it to their cart, but haven't actually purchased. You can create a Facebook ad targeting only these individuals with exclusive coupons or other high-value promotions to finalize the sale.

Purchase

Track people who have already purchased from you.

Example: You have a new product coming out in a few weeks. You create a series of ads targeting customers who have already purchased from your website for instant sales.

Lead

Track people who completed a contact form, or signed up for your newsletter.

Example: You recently surpass 1000 newsletter subscribers. You target them with a series of Facebook ads, offering high-value content like blog posts to boost your credibility. You then create an ad for an entry-level paid service or product to convert some of your readers into customers.

Complete Registration

Track customers and clients who registered for a service or event.

Example: Your upcoming local event is fully booked, and you have an idea for an experience upgrade that you'd like to offer. You create an ad, retargeting those who have already signed up (your leads) with your deal. A number of registrants upgrade, improving your earnings.

3-Step Simple Facebook Advertising Strategy

Alright, it's time for some action!

Let's pull all of these pieces together in a simple but effective 3-Step Facebook Advertising Strategy. This strategy is best suited for local businesses but can work in other niches too. The key here is that if you are trying to jump into advertising your offer without any lead-up, or strategy, it's no surprise that you will struggle to see any success with Facebook Ads. But, if you take the time to really nurture your audience, and provide the right value, you can build relationships, inspire brand loyalty, and improve sales of your products and services.

The Breakdown

STEP 1 — Awareness Campaign. You'll grow brand awareness by providing free value.

STEP 2 — Authority Campaign. In this stage, you will establish yourself as a local expert.

STEP 3 — Offer Campaign. This is when you convert your audience into paying customers.

The Awareness Campaign

The goal of this stage is to make people aware of your business. By "warming" them up to your brand and offerings, you can effectively lower the cost, and increase the success and conversions of the next two stages of your Facebook advertising.

 This is a fantastic example of an Awareness Campaign by SkyTeam. They have featured a video Q&A, which not only introduces their brand to an audience, but offers value too.

This is a fantastic example of an Awareness Campaign by SkyTeam. They have featured a video Q&A, which not only introduces their brand to an audience, but offers value too.

 

Something light and engaging, like a blog or video, can work perfectly for this step, as long as it aligns with what you are offering. Content that performs well at this stage is usually educational and entertaining and fits in well with normal Facebook content.

You will need to use some initial ad targeting that aligns with your ideal client in the broadest sense. For example, targeting by location, age, gender, earnings, or other helpful factors. Any individual that clicks on these ads will be added to your initial ideal client audience.

The Authority Campaign

The goal of this stage is to establish your authority in your niche — whether that's because you're an expert at your profession, or because you have the best product or service out there. The easiest way to establish authority at this stage is to provide a higher-value piece of content. What's most important is that you are sharing content of value to your ideal audience and not simply making content that you feel has value. In order to determine the difference, it's really important to do some research on what your ideal client's needs are. What can you offer them that will not only provide value, but demonstrate your expertise too?

 This is a fantastic example of an Authority Campaign by Grace Lever. In this example, she's offering a mid-size e-book on Automation. By providing a ton of value to her ideal audience for only $4.95, she can demonstrate the value of her programs and other paid offerings. This is a newer ad, hence the lack of engagement, but in general, Grace's ads perform very strongly!

This is a fantastic example of an Authority Campaign by Grace Lever. In this example, she's offering a mid-size e-book on Automation. By providing a ton of value to her ideal audience for only $4.95, she can demonstrate the value of her programs and other paid offerings. This is a newer ad, hence the lack of engagement, but in general, Grace's ads perform very strongly!

 

If these new, higher value ads, don't get engagement you aren't offering the right value. If you get engagement, but no conversions, your content might not be aligned well with your paid services, or it could be that your landing page needs some copy or imagery updates. 

Whereas the last ad campaign targeted a broad ideal client audience and only some people clicked through, this ad will specifically target the individuals who DID click and showed their interest. Depending on how much data your pixel has collected, it's also possible to add a look-alike audience at this stage.

The Conversion Campaign

Now that your audience is familiar with your brand, and you've taken the time to establish your authority and share real value, you are positioned to run your conversion campaign. This is where you will pitch an offer, or call to action, which should be proportional to the value provided thus far. For example, you shouldn't pitch a multi-thousand dollar service, when your audience hasn't yet invested in your more affordable starting products. 

 This is a wonderful example of a Conversion Campaign. HubSpot regularly shares high value content for free in their other advertised posts. The difference is that this one has a conversion in mind. This ad offers a 30 day free trial to see if their social media tools are a good fit for their target audience. If someone gives their social media tools a try, and find them helpful, they have a new monthly user and will easily make back their ad + offer initial investment.

This is a wonderful example of a Conversion Campaign. HubSpot regularly shares high value content for free in their other advertised posts. The difference is that this one has a conversion in mind. This ad offers a 30 day free trial to see if their social media tools are a good fit for their target audience. If someone gives their social media tools a try, and find them helpful, they have a new monthly user and will easily make back their ad + offer initial investment.

 

Some examples of offers for this stage include signing up for a free 30-minute consultation, registering for an upcoming workshop or webinar, or offering a free trial or 3-day money back guarantee — essentially any kind of high-value activity that will convert a targeted individual into a paying customer for your higher-priced offerings. These individuals have already become familiar with your brand. They see you as an authority, and if you did your research and listened to their needs, you've been proving your value all along. They are now now much more interested, and cheaper to advertise to, than if you had pitched them your offer right off the bat. 

Remember: slow and steady wins the race. You only want to ask for small commitments from your audience — a blog post here, a video there. A webinar or consult. Then a sale. If you approach it with the right mindset, of creating a community based on value, your brand will only continue to grow as your audience and sales do too.

7 Reasons Why Your Small Business Needs Squarespace

We've worked with many website platforms, hosting services, and domain providers over the years, from WordPress and Wix to SiteGround and GoDaddy. Waaaay back in the day, we even tried our hand at self-hosted pages. But it's not the early 2000's anymore, and there are way better options to work with.

Previously, the platform we had the most experience with was Wordpress and our favourite domain and hosting provider was none other than SiteGround. And while WordPress certainly has its strengths, we weren't exactly fans of some of its downsides, and neither were some of our clients:

  • Its user interface is clunky, outdated, and not always straightforward to navigate.

  • It requires frequent check-ins to make sure plugins are up to date.

  • Most concerningly, it is a frequent target for malicious hacking attempts.

You might think as a small business that your website won't be targeted, but alas, that is not the case, and while there are some great security options out there, the best of them are paid.

If you are going to pay more for add-on services, why not upgrade to a better platform that offers more value including built in security?

That platform is Squarespace.

Here are 7 reasons why your small business or personal brand would benefit from Squarespace:

1 — It's very well designed

Yes, WordPress has more templates. But we think Squarespace's are better. By offering a limited amount of starting templates, Squarespace is able to guarantee something that most other platforms can't — consistent high quality design and functionality.

Every single template they offer features a modern design that is versatile and easily customized, ensuring that your website is fully unique to your business and brand. They even offer a variety of starting points for different niches — whether you're an artist, blogger, service provider, brick and mortar, musician, or something else entirely, there will always be options that work for you. 

Most importantly, your website is not only going to look professional, but function professionally too. If you are just starting out, or are are worried about moving over a lot of content, Squarespace offers the means to streamline everything together beautifully, both through its own options and with customized code.

And hey, let's say you are setting up your own website on Squarespace and you just aren't a fan of how your template is working out. You can easily change your template at any time and your content will be saved — you'll simply have to update your branding in the new template's design settings, which is so much quicker and cheaper than with other platforms.

Not only do the settings use the same menu as before, but all of these themes are accessible to you with the monthly hosting fee that you pay. Squarespace also offers free trial periods (which we include in our web design timeline) so that you can be sure that the platform works as well for you as it does for us. 

2 — It's ridiculously easy to use

Not everyone is a technology wizard, and we totally get that. This is why we so strongly recommend Squarespace to everyone no matter their technical skill set. Squarespace makes it extremely easy for users to navigate the backend by featuring an intuitive menu structure, drag and drop functionality, easy-to-insert widgets, and straightforward page layouts.

Whether you need to publish a blog post, update your event calendar, add a new page, tweak some copy or imagery, or edit some settings, there's virtually no learning curve. And unlike Wordpress, the interface menu isn't going to change depending on what widgets you're using, because they've all been accounted for in the first place.

If you're looking to move forward with one of our web design packages, you'll be happy to know that we do include custom video tutorials that walk you through how to complete the most common updates on your website, and we are happy to offer more as needed.

For those that prefer to set up their own websites, we will also be releasing a walkthrough of our own website's backend, as well as some beginner's design tutorials, so that you can learn from those too.

3 — It includes built in mobile responsiveness

Gone are the days when its okay for a website to be solely designed for desktop use, and its surprising just how many websites still exist in this form. In fact, most websites nowadays are being viewed from mobile, with many having 50-80% of their traffic coming from smartphones. 

It simply won't do to have a website that is cut off, misaligned, or with features that don't work on mobile devices. Which is why we are excited to share that every single Squarespace template is fully responsive, whether you are viewing from desktop, tablet, or mobile.

For the most part, you don't have to do much as Squarespace does most of the heavy lifting for you. They also offer a selection of mobile design settings depending on your chosen template, and even allow you to test your website in desktop, tablet and mobile form so that you can ensure that everything is displaying optimally for your web audience before you go live.

4 — It's effortless to integrate with 

Let's start with the most simple and popular integration — social media. While every platform is capable of integrating with social media, we especially love how easy Squarespace makes it for you to integrate with, and even stream your content between, your favourite social platforms. 

It also takes this a step further by integrating seamlessly with a variety of common digital services including:

  • G suite for business management and a professional email

  • Xero for financial tracking and analytics

  • ShipStation for shipping your e-commerce products with ease

  • MailChimp for basic email marketing

  • Acuity for online booking (this is one of our favourites)

  • 500px, Flickr and Instagram for displaying your photography

  • Google Maps to embed an interactive Google Map with a location pin

  • OpenTable or ChowNow for restaurant booking or food ordering

  • YouTube, Vimeo, Animoto, and Wistia for sharing videos

And those are just some of the most popular, there are many others.

If you are working with a service that isn't officially integrated, you'll be pleased to know that most other services can be easily integrated using a code block and (optionally) Zapier to complete automations.

If you think about it, having the ability to easily integrate these services with your website can potentially save you hours of time each week and significantly increase your profits too. It all comes down to your systems and strategy. 

5 — It's fees are straightforward and inclusive

Unlike with many other platforms, Squarespace can function as both your host and domain provider. The fee for hosting can be paid either monthly or annually and if paid annually, often includes a free year for your domain.

As Squarespace Circle Members, we can also offer you 20% off your first year of hosting if paid annually, which, combined with Squarespace's discount, often equals out to 40% in savings. If you have a domain with a different provider, this can either be transferred to Squarespace or kept with your provider and connected.

Really though, it's not about how expensive this service is, it's about how much value it brings your business.

Let's break this down a little further. Squarespace currently offers 4 different plans with different features which are divided under two main categories, Websites and Online Stores. The four different plans are as follows (please note that pricing is in USD and doesn't include our discount):

Personal - $12/mo if billed annually, or $16 month to month

This plan is perfect for those looking for a beautiful and simple website. It includes unlimited pages, galleries and blogs with up to 2 contributors which can have different permission settings. It also includes basic website metrics, SSL security and 24/7 customer support. 

Business - $18/mo if billed annually, or $26 month to month

This plan is what we use and most frequently recommend to our partners. It includes all of the above, plus unlimited contributors, advanced website metrics, professional email from Google (G Suite account) for 1 year, $100 Google AdWords credit, promotional pop-ups, and fully integrated e-commerce with the ability to sell unlimited products (physical, digital or services) and accept donations with a 3% transaction fee. Finally, it also features complete customization with CSS and Javascript, premium blocks and integrations (like Acuity) and an announcement bar. 

Basic - $26/mo if billed annually, or $30 month to month

This plan is perfect for the e-commerce entrepreneur. It includes all of the above plus no transaction fees, powerful e-commerce metrics, label printing via ShipStation, integrated accounting via Xero, checkout on domain, and customer accounts.

Advanced - $40/mo if billed annually, or $46 month to month

This plan is perfect for a bustling e-commerce business. It includes all of the above plus abandoned cart recovery, real time carrier shipping, automatic discounts, gift cards, and orders API so that you can integrate with any of your other service providers (order fulfilment, etc.)

6 — It's security and support are invaluable

As I've mentioned before, I've worked with WordPress websites that had hacking attempts against them daily. Some had security teams at the ready, and even with their efforts, their website would be drastically slowed and in some cases were completely inaccessible.

In other cases, limited or no security was in place and the hackers were able to wreak havoc on the website, stealing bandwidth, slowing down pages, and spamming the website with ads. 

This doesn't happen with Squarespace.

A variety of security measures are included in your hosting fee. In addition, all of the platform updates are performed automatically and on Squarespace's end — you don't have to lift a finger.

Squarespace has 99.9% uptime and 24/7 support staff that are amazing. They are extremely friendly and really take pride in their work. All of their support staff are located at their headquarters in New York, Portland and Dublin and they offer twitter, email and live chat support.

In addition to that, they also offer articles, videos, and community forums for any other extra help you might be looking for. I've used all of these services myself and am extremely happy with them as you can tell!

7 — It can literally make you money

Now this point was kind of included in point 5, but I thought I would elaborate a little here.

Your website should be working for you. It shouldn't just be looking pretty.

Squarespace's websites can do heavy lifting for your business, and you can really think of your website as your newest employee. When you think of how much time your website can save you, and make you, it really makes their fees all the more valuable.

It's also easy to scale up your account as your earnings increase, which is why we love the integrated e-commerce features that Squarespace provides to its users. It is so quick to integrate your website with Stripe and PayPal, making it easy for you to list and sell both products and services directly from your website, whether they be physical or digital in nature.

And even if you are a bit old fashioned and wary about trying this feature out, consider this — many people today value convenience above all.

I'm not saying that's always right, but that is usually the case. So if someone looks at your website, and your competitors, and one of your competitors make its easier to purchase, book, or otherwise access what they need, there is a good chance that your competitor will get that business over you.

If you're the better choice, make sure your website reflects that. E-commerce functionality is just one puzzle piece that can go a long way to make you stand out. 

Related Resources:

Squarespace Pricing

Squarespace Features

Have any questions about Squarespace and whether its right for your business? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

Website Relaunch: Morgan Bress Photography

I still remember the day that Morgan Bress reached out to us for more info on a possible website rebrand — I was so excited! We absolutely love partnering with photographers because they bring such high-quality and high-impact emotional imagery to work with.

Morgan, a highly-respected photographer out of Lindsay, Ontario, was no different — her photography is stunning.

Even more excitedly, Morgan was interested in a website that could work for her and her business. I was able to offer some options for how we could use Automation to free up more of her time for the part of her business she loves the most:

Photography!

Morgan came to us with a beautiful brand.

While we would have been happy to provide our Brand services, Morgan's was already perfectly suited to her style and business and provided lots of options for us to work with. Her branding offered a feminine palette, two main fonts, and lots of great logo variations.

All the pieces we needed to implement her brand effectively onto her new website.

MB_Colours.jpg
MB_(3).png
MB_(2).png

Her old website, while very cute, didn't flow with Morgan's branding and didn't necessarily align well with her needs.

From a web branding perspective, the design of her website was actually competing for attention with her photography rather than complementing it.

I knew that we could design a more effective website that better highlighted and showed off her amazing work.

And that's just what we did.


On January 20th, 2018, her new website went live.

It features:

  • A stunning homepage gallery

  • Dynamic sizing for viewing from tablets and mobile

  • An actionable footer that highlights her 3 most important pages with stunning picture icons, her recent adventures (new blog posts), and her 9 most recent Instagram posts — allowing us to display more of her beautiful photography in group of threes.

  • Improved menu efficiency

  • Engaging Testimonials page

  • Interactive Investment page

  • Updated Instagram-style portfolios

  • A Gorgeous Blog with Pinterest-style feature images

  • & a NEW Get Started page with scheduling and accounting automation


Here's a quick video walkthrough

(4 min 49 sec)

Video Script:

"Hi, I'm Megan from Barton Creative Co., a co-founder and digital strategist specializing in web design, automation and digital marketing. Welcome to our first Video Web Walkthrough which promises to highlight one of our amazing websites in 10 minutes or less. This one aims to show off the recently redesigned website for Morgan Bress Photography.

Morgan, a well respected photographer out of Lindsay, Ontario, was amazing to work with — she's very friendly, easy going, and quite obviously provides a very high quality of photography for us to work with.

Jumping into some of the updates and features of her new web, from top to bottom:

ONE — a newly streamlined menu with a focus on her most important and actionable pages. We've all got lost in confusing website menus before, and so by limiting the number of initial links, we can provide a better user experience and drive her audience to the right pages.

ONE.png

TWO — and likely the first thing that caught your eye (I know it caught mine) is Morgans dynamic gallery which returns the focus to her photography and skill set, no matter whether you're viewing from laptop, tablet or mobile.

THREE — a redesigned website footer, meaning that no matter what page her audience views, they will always see the following: three beautiful photo icons to her most important pages, a Recent Adventures section highlighting the 3 newest blog posts, and last but not least, a feed of her 9 most recent Instagram photos, always keeping the focus on Morgan's work.

THREE.png

FOUR — heading over to the Meet Morgan page, you'll notice that we were able to incorporate her script font as one of her main headers. This allowed us to better maintain her brand while adding a feminine, refined touch to her pages

FIVE — an updated Testimonials page offers an engaging slider which connects each of her testimonials to three of her favourite photographs featuring that family. Even though her testimonials are amazing on their own, it's easy to see how her photography pulls it all together.

FIVE.png

SIX — her updated Investment page has been upgraded to be more actionable and transparent. Her web visitors can now download her wedding collections brochure, get more info on her sessions and how they work, and you'll also notice a new Book Now button which I'll dive into shortly. 

SEVEN — an updated Portfolio page offers a custom coded hover effect, and clicking on any of these will reveal her stunning new Instagram-style portfolios.

SEVEN.png

EIGHT — Morgan's Blog features Pinterest-style feature images for a more dynamic effect. Pinterest is one of the best sources of blog traffic, so by using this style of image, it makes it even easier for Morgan to drive more traffic to her website. Opening a blog post reveals dynamic stacked galleries, each of which beautifully tells the story of that day.

NINE — finally, my favourite page and feature, the Get Started page. Along with web design, offering Automation is one of my favourite parts of what I do. I want to help business owners free up more of their time for what they love most, and by using automation we can help free up hours of time each week. This provides an amazing opportunity for an improved work life balance, or depending on your goals, to scale up your business and further increase profits.

TEN — clicking on Book Now reveals the new scheduling software, which, in the back end, has been automated with new accounting software as well. You can see how booking a session has now been automated based on the schedule that Morgan offers. We were able to add in up-sells, the ability for her clients to choose their own location, and even automated welcome and reminder emails depending on session type. 

TEN.png

IN SUMMARY to date, this has to be my favourite website that we've worked on, it allowed us to really show off what we can do, which is create a visually stunning website that is not only efficient and user friendly, but that also literally works for Morgan and her business. Feel free to leave and questions or comments below. See you next time!"

I'd love to know — what was your favourite feature that you saw today?

SEO for Beginners

One of the topics we are most frequently asked about is how is to improve SEO.

Many of our clients understand the importance of ranking high on Google, but they don't know what SEO is, or how it relates to their business. In other cases, they are familiar with SEO but feel intimidated as to how to use it effectively. I'll just say this — if your business has a website, SEO is an extremely important strategy to address. The higher you rank on search engines like Google, the more free traffic will be sent from searches to your website, increasing your opportunities for brand awareness, list growth, engagement and sales.

Unfortunately, many people expect SEO to be a quick fix to their website's traffic problems. The truth is, SEO is a long-term strategy, and it's always going to be most effective when it's practised consistently. You don't have to waste time or money on SEO experts if you understand how Google works and what practices you can implement to improve your ranking.

What is SEO?

SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization, a collection of strategies that are used to improve your site's ranking on search engines like Google. 

Anytime anyone searches a topic on Google, Google "crawls and indexes" (analyzes) pages, based on the chosen keywords, displaying a list of results based on what is most relevant. 

The closer you rank to the top, the better, and here's why:

Some interesting facts about Click-Through Rates

Ignite Visibility, an award-winning SEO company,  released a case study in 2017 on click-through rates. They analyzed over 5,000 searches to discover more about how often the page 1 links (top 10 search results) are clicked in comparison to one another. 

They discovered:

Nearly 50% of clicks go the top 3 search results.

20.5% of the total clicks go the #1 search result.

If half of all clicks are going to the top 3 results, and you aren't ranked in those top 3 results, your business is missing out on a ton of traffic. Thankfully, we have the perfect solution:

The secret to SEO is Content.

In fact, we would argue that content is the most important component of your website. Content not only aligns you with your audience and ideal client, it affects your ranking too. 

You can load up your website with all the right keywords, but if you aren't providing the right experience, and offering the right value with your content, your keywords won't convert.

Which is why we believe the best way to improve your SEO is to focus on creating and sharing content that's relevant and of high-value to your readers. And Google themselves agree:

Google SEO starter guide excerpt: Search engine optimization is often about making small modifications to parts of your website [...] Even though this guide's title contains the words "search engine", we'd like to say that you should base your optimization decisions first and foremost on what's best for the visitors of your site. They're the main consumers of your content and are using search engines to find your work. Focusing too hard on specific tweaks to gain ranking in the organic results of search engines may not deliver the desired results.

They also share the following in their Webmaster Guidelines: Give visitors the information they're looking for. Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage. this is the single most important thing to do. If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract many visitors and entice webmasters to link to your site. [Create] a helpful, information-rich site [with] pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic.

Content is key because you're writing for people, not search engines.

If you provide value, traffic and rank growth will follow.

The SEO Foundation You Need

While content is the most important ongoing strategy to implement to increase your growth, there are some important foundational steps that you should implement first.

Step 1 — Submit your website to Google

Google offers a number of ways to submit your content and increase your visibility. One of the first ways you can ensure that your website is visible is by submitting your URL.

Visit the link above and click Add your URL to submit your website.

 Get your content on Google | SEO for Beginners | Barton Creative Co.

Step 2 — Add Your Sitemap in Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools helps you monitor your website's health and standing. It's not required to rank on Google, but does offer opportunities to improve your ranking. 

Before you can access these resources, you need to verify your website.

 Google Search Console | SEO for Beginners | Barton Creative Co.

Click Add a Site and enter your website URL. Now let's submit your sitemap. This will provide Google with a virtual map, allowing them to more accurately rank your website.

 Search Console Sitemap Submission | SEO for Beginners | Barton Creative Co.

Click on your domain name to access your Site Dashboard. You should see a panel of options on the left, click Crawl, then Sitemaps. You should see a big red button that reads Add/Test Sitemap. Squarespace users can type in sitemap.xml and then click Submit to finalize.

Step 3 — Check Your Status with Fetch as Google

If you have any concerns, or would just like to check how your website is being analyzed, you can use the tool Fetch as Google under the Crawl section of the dashboard.

 Search Console Fetch as Google | SEO for Beginners | Barton Creative Co.

Click Fetch for a quick check or use Fetch and Render for a more detailed one.

You can learn more about Google and SEO with their free SEO Starter Guide.


Now that you've established a foundation for your website's SEO, it's time to switch your focus to creating SEO-friendly content of high-value to lure in more of your ideal audience.

Want to learn more about SEO? We'll be back with more posts soon, on topics like SEO for Squarespace, and How to Create SEO-Rich Content that actually Converts. 

In the meantime, I'd love to know — what's one new thing you learned about SEO?