Hindsight Is 2020: How We Helped Our Clients Get Through a Tough Year

By Josh Barrer | Published December 17, 2020 | Categories: Ecommerce , SEO , Beacon News , PPC , Digital Marketing , Higher Education

Listen, we know and you know, it's been a hard year. In fact, hard is probably an understatement.

Beacon shirt

But we're not going to focus on that. We want to look at the positivesthe good things that happened in spite of all the terrible 2020 has thrown at us. Because even in a year like this one, life carried on and good things did happen. Members of our team got married, had kids, and took on new opportunities and challenges. There was plenty to celebrate on the business front, too. 

Serving Higher Ed With New Tools and Improved Sites

There were new technologies and tools, of course. One of the coolest we started using was BugHerd, a website testing tool. It gives users the ability to browse a site and when they encounter an issue, document it in real-time directly on the site. It then creates a ticket with relevant info about the issue and sends it to the program's admin area with other tickets. By creating a single interface to manage reported issues, BugHerd makes testing the functionality of a website a simpler and more streamlined affair, especially higher ed websites that can have page counts in the thousands.

This year also saw the launch of several major higher ed site redesigns to meet the needs of our clients' students. These include Mount St. Joseph University, Ferris University, and Hawai'i Pacific University. Incorporating usability testing into our website designs gave our higher ed clients a better understanding of how their site will function for their users.

We also beefed up our content strategy and content development work for higher ed clients, adding more insights and data to our strategy phase and working directly with school stakeholders to craft engaging content. This was an important step, allowing us to better serve the colleges and universities we partner with to create sites that serve their increasingly online student bodies.

In other words, even in this unusual year, it was business as usual as we delivered top-notch, transformative work for our clients every day.

Celebrating 20+ Years of Growth and Success

Of course, one of Beacon's most exciting moments of the year was being named a Fast 50 Award Winner by the Triad Business Journal. This award celebrates some of the fastest-growing businesses in the Triad area, and how their success will have a strong and positive impact on the Triad's economy for years to come.

The award is a big win for us: we've been in business since 1998, and this honor confirms that more than 20 years later, our best days are still ahead. Recent years have seen major growth and our team has expanded to include an array of developers, project managers, designers, tech support professionals, content experts, and more, all so we can better meet the needs of our growing list of clients.

Our current staff is made up of more than 55 employees, and it was the work they do every day that not only made this award possible but also led to Beacon's other bright spots throughout the year.

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Making a Difference With Digital Marketing

Our digital marketing services team truly exemplified how we adapted and succeeded.

Andrea Cole, director of digital marketing services, explains: "This year forced many of our clients to reconceive what it is to be a brand online."

More and more of our clients were forced to rethink their business models, and Beacon was there to offer support and help them navigate a new way forward.

"As the world felt the need to retreat and pull back, many companies were panicking and tightening their budgets," says Mark Dirks, CEO / SVP. "We kept reminding clients that the digital world would still be active and to stay in the game."

Computer with chartsConsider our work with Bassett Furniture licensee stores. When the pandemic led to shut-downs and quarantines, business owners were understandably looking for areas to cut costs and considering ending their pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaigns. As their digital marketing partners, we were ready to work with them on whatever course of action made the most sense for their business, but after reviewing the data we had at hand, we recommended that they keep up their campaigns. That way, customers shopping online would still find out about their products, and they'd build considerable awareness and consumer trust for when restrictions eased.

Many of the Basset Furniture licensees chose to keep their campaigns active. The results: increased sales and engagement that helped them weather this challenging time.

burton + Burton, a gift supply wholesaler, saw similarly positive results. Though they initially cut back on their PPC budget during initial shutdowns, Beacon's digital marketing team strategized their marketing across channels, resulting in an online revenue increase of 17% over last year by November.

Across the board, we saw our clients' engagement and ecommerce conversion rates equal or exceed previous years' figures.

bb-covid-chart.png "For the companies that kept up their digital marketing, we were able to not only obtain higher returns but sustain revenue and position them well when the pent-up demand opened up," Mark says. "I was so proud watching our team act in a critical advisory role, using data and—honestly—their incredible expertise to manage paid search, SEO and social media. It really paid off. Incredible."

A New Day

Though the future remains (very) uncertain, the trends and successes seen this year are not likely to be flukes, but rather are indicative of key new trends.

"A lot of in-person activities were not an option so things like shopping for custom furniture, finding an apartment, or taking classes have been forced to go virtual. And the funny thing is, not a lot has been lost by doing so," Andrea explains. "Yes, certain things are better in the 'real world' but design appointments, virtual tours, and virtual classes can be just as good and have created a high-converting entry point to the lead process. 2020 stinks but when we look back, it will be a vital event in the digital world—spurring new digital technologies and creating a populace that is finally ready and willing to use it."

The truth is that so much of our daily lives have moved into virtual, online spaces. And even when COVID-19 is a thing of the past, many of the changes we've seen and experienced this year are likely to persist. As such, it's imperative for your business or higher education institution to be ready to meet your audience where they are: online.

Fortunately, just as Beacon helped our clients navigate the uncertain tides of 2020, we can also help you find the best path forward. So whether you need digital marketing or web development and design or content strategy, we will deliver work that gets you results.

So reach out to us today. Together we got through the worst. Now we'll work together to make the most of tomorrow.

Let's bring on 2021!

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