Responding to market needs, Gravitate is becoming more than a website and logo design company, growing revenue 24 percent from 2011 to 2012, and adding 10 employees during 2012, with plans to add another four – bringing the total to 36.
Lynn Elyse, Gravitate’s sales director, said the company, through recent mergers with MindLightning, and Elliott Design, is expanding its services to include “all the activities that an organization can undertake to promote their business online.”
An end-to-end relationship
Elyse said that although many companies design websites and business owners can create a decent looking website with very little skill, that’s not enough.
“The hard part is having your website found online,” explained Elyse. “There are so many websites out there – it’s hard to be found in the crowd.”
Traditional search engine optimization (SEO) techniques may be ineffective in today’s online world, and, she said, even when potential customers find your website, it is important that the site’s content leads them swiftly to the information they are looking for.
Gravitate is looking to establish an end-to-end relationship with clients to solve these problems. To begin, said Elyse, Gravitate identifies target audiences and determines their online media consumption habits and interests. Then, she said, Gravitate assists clients in shaping a strategy to deliver targeted content.
Once the website is up, however, how do you know it’s working?
“Anyone can install Google Analytics for free,” said Elyse, “but the amount of data is overwhelming. Too much information can be the same as zero information.”
According to Elyse, organizations need help interpreting website analytics and setting goals, such as increasing overall traffic, improving conversions, or testing the effectiveness of landing pages.
Putting technology to work
Gravitate is developing a suite of tools to fill the need for content optimization and website performance audits. One such tool is a content strategy calendar. Elyse said the calendar makes it easy for clients to know what they should to do when, such as a blog post directed to this particular audience one day, a Facebook post the next day, a Pinterest post the following day.
Another tool in development at Gravitate is a content audit tool. This tool will analyze a client’s website content, and compare it to the target audience and company goals.
“One of the biggest challenges that clients do not realize is that content is hard to gather and must be concise and highly targeted to the audience,” said Elyse.
Gravitate’s digital marketing department can also create a digital strategy report, which analyzes the competitive environment, including the top relevant search phrases and trending information about which competing websites might be climbing or slipping in search rankings.
A collaborative environment
Gravitate’s newly renovated space in the historic Koplan building (1012 Washington St., Vancouver) is conducive to creativity and collaboration among the company’s own staff and between staff and clients, Elyse noted. The company plans to host an open house in early March, when renovations are complete.
“It’s an airy space,” said Elyse, “with high ceilings and lots of natural light.”
The upstairs level features several areas where in-house teams or clients can collaborate. Examples include a formal meeting room, an informal “creative corner” with windows on both sides and bookcases filled with design books, and a room with all the walls painted with whiteboard paint. Future design plans include an indoor garden and Japanese tea area, a theatre room and a shower facility for employees who want to bike to work or exercise at lunch.
The sense of collaboration extends outside Gravitate’s own space, however.
“It’s really exciting to be part of downtown Vancouver and the effort to bring momentum and life to this area,” said Elyse. “We have 30 or 40 people who will be playing in the park when the sun is out, eating lunch and buying coffee…”
Gravitate also collaborates with the business community through its business incubator efforts. The ground level of the renovated building includes about 10,000 square feet reserved as office space for growing businesses that can benefit from Gravitate’s services, in return for an equity stake in the business.
“It’s exciting to be helping local Vancouver companies succeed,” said Chris Osaka, business development manager for Gravitate Capital, the umbrella entity for business incubation.
The type of assistance Gravitate provides these businesses can vary, depending on their needs. For example, for Circle Technology, Gravitate is helping execute their marketing vision and providing much of their digital collateral, such as website design, print collateral and digital presentations. But Circle Technology, said Osaka, is driving their overall marketing direction.
“The experience we had with Gravitate has been exceptional, allowing us to focus on growth and let the team at Gravitate handle their specialty,” said Steve Hix, founder of Circle Technology. “They helped us create a brand that we feel stands out above the rest, designed an amazing website by combining their knowledge with what we wanted, and developed and implemented a digital marketing strategy for us to build our company’s presence across the web.”
For Vancouver-based Black Rhino Construction, Gravitate is providing more direction for marketing efforts.
“There are other partners, as well,” said Osaka, “but we’re setting the tone for how we want the company to be perceived.”
Another incubator project is The Relo Group, a directory site for relocation services. Founded 16 years ago, Osaka said the company wanted to “take it to the next level.” Gravitate is providing a full redesign of their website to bring it up to date with the needs of the modern online consumer.
For these three businesses, and for all their clients, said Elyse, Gravitate focuses on digital strategy.
“We help create a strategy with tasks that clients can implement, and check with them to see how they are performing against their goals,” Elyse said. “Companies don’t just need a website. We help them figure out what their problem is, we ask questions, guide clients and talk about solutions.”