What started as an affinity for World War II airplanes quickly grew to a world-class aerospace and science education center in the Air Zoo’s 40 year history. Founders Suzanne and Pete Parish opened their doors in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with hopes to preserve the legacy of flight for present and future generations.* We began our partnership with the Air Zoo two years ago to create a website that would allow visitors to engage with the content in a fresh way. As more time passes, the need for a site that engages users has become even more important.
The Air Zoo came to Speak with a series of questions that we set out to answer by providing an unmatched online experience for their potential visitors.
How can we strategize our online presence to stand the test of time, yet be dynamic enough to evolve depending on our current needs as an organization?
The Air Zoo heavily relies on the programs they’ve developed for engaging with their community through STEAM education. Our goal was to start from scratch to design and build a new website that would not only be visually stunning but would also capture strategic results for the Air Zoo; from increasing interest in those STEAM subjects to assisting visitors plan their learning experience.
As the future of in person activities began declining in March, the demand for inclusive, exciting digital content happened almost overnight. We created the Launchpad to Learning portion of the site to allow kids to experience Air Zoo at home. After creating the site, we passed the baton to the Air Zoo to generate the content. Amidst only having a few people allowed in the building at a time, they were still able to record engaging, educational content on the fly. Users can choose from a list of activity types, such as story time, crosswords, and podcasts, and even join in on the conversation from social media. Also featured are assets from some of their partner organizations, such as NASA. Launchpad to Learning jumped to the second most visited page on their entire site.
The Air Zoo’s online presence is supported by patrons who are invested in the knowledge they share. The Air Zoo recognized the need to pivot, but wanted to pivot towards something that would continue to be fruitful in the long-term as opposed to a short-term solution. In order for their pivot to stand the test of time, they knew their audience would need to connect with the content.
How do you create a digital presence that fosters a more emotionally invested customer?
The differentiating factor between a mere one off visitor and patron retention is the emotional connection. Impactful websites, apps, social media posts, and videos all serve to create a sense of investment within the guest — between both the visitor and their experience and the families they share it with. To do this, we implemented the use of high quality, large-format photography and videography to give people a look into the experiences the Air Zoo has to offer and easy access to the resources to help them plan their visit. They’ve now since updated their website to mostly include videography that subtly features patrons with masks and socially distanced exhibits to prove their permanence as a brand.
Rest assured, your organization’s unique personality won’t be lost in all of these visuals. In fact, the Air Zoo brand and history is still front and center, simultaneously evidencing the unique offerings available nowhere else. Once the website is up and running, we know our partners will have a site they are proud of, but getting the site in front of the right audience is the crucial next step.
How do we continue to drive traffic both to our engaging content and our onsite experiences?
At Speak we pride ourselves on being a full service agency, meaning we don’t just make your website then drop off the face of the earth. We view each project as a chance to lay the groundwork for an amplified online presence. We’ve built up an incredible team over the years who specialize in Web Design, App Creation, Video Production, Ad Placement, Print, Branding, and Photography to all supplement the initial service offered.
We continue supporting the Air Zoo in a strategic marketing relationship by running their social, search and display ads and SEO. Our goal when running ads is to bring the same engaging feel of the website to the platforms where new audience members exist currently.
One way that we see traffic driven is when organizations are invested in their community. At Speak, we greatly value partnering with organizations that are making a difference in the lives of those in their neighborhood. Air Zoo partners with Museums for All, an initiative that encourages individuals of all backgrounds to visit museums regularly by offering free or reduced admission prices that may be a barrier to many lower income families.
We work with dozens of cultural attractions, many who offer this same program, so we think this initiative is pretty powerful, especially during these tough times with limited options for family entertainment. By continuing to stay available for all members of their community no matter their present situation, organizations can meet their people wherever they are.
If you’re not a cultural attraction, there are still plenty of resources for your organization out there. A quick look at your local chamber of commerce or industry associations’ site can introduce you to connections to further develop your business presence. There’s no rulebook that keeps you from creating your own initiatives and special events to be inclusive and accessible to your community.
Are you losing your potential customers in a mediocre online experience? Are you seeing your users only spend a couple of seconds on your site? We’d love to chat through strategies of driving traffic to your site and through your doors.
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