Winter Sports Company is an international niche tour operator, providing ski and snowboard instructor courses and winter sports adventure holidays in Canada, France and New Zealand. A family run business with over a decade in the industry, Winter Sports Company were established in their field but faced challenges from competitors in the sector. As their website is the biggest driver of sales for the company, Winter Sports were looking for an updated design that would increase traffic to the site and improve sales generation.
How we helped a niche international winter tour operator double their website’s visibility with a ‘mobile-first’ strategy and an individual approach to imagery.
When Winter Sports Company approached Hedgehog, they were seeking an updated website design that reflected their friendly, approachable business model.
One that would provide better navigation and user experience for their visitors, to encourage more engagement and conversion to sales.
As Winter Sports attracts a primarily 18-25-year-old audience and has a clear understanding of the digital habits of its market, the brand wanted to focus on a mobile-first approach to design.
The niche tourism industry is highly competitive and drenched in stunning imagery.
As a result, Winter Sports Company’s target audiences had become immune to even the most stunning, high-quality photography.
So, our primary challenge was to create an emotional hook that spoke directly to their customer base and asked the real question; why?
Although the target Winter Sports Company customer is 18-25, the decision-maker is often a parent aged over 40 years old.
We knew that the Winter Sports Company consumer was eager and ready to live the mountain life; we didn’t need to convince them of that.
Our concept needed to inspire these consumers to take the next step. To achieve this, we created the concept ‘The Mountain is Calling’.
An inspiring and motivating redesign of The Winter Sports Company.
One that positioned them as the brand to help their customers realise their goal of becoming a ski or snowboard instructor.
At Hedgehog we believe that, by aligning your marketing activity around a powerful creative platform, you will resonate with your audience.
We always take a holistic approach to our client projects. Thinking about what will work best for their business as a whole and always keeping the vital question of ‘why?’ at the forefront of our minds.
For the Winter Sports Company, we achieved this by establishing their website as a creative hub for prospective ski and snowboard instructors.
We began by undertaking an in-depth discovery session with the Winter Sports Company; to ascertain exactly what motivates the business, what their values are and where they feel they were in most need of improvement.
Secondly, we conducted intensive audience and competitor research. This gave us a thorough understanding of the market landscape, and where the Winter Sports Company fit into it.
We found that, while the niche tourism industry was heavily populated with competitors, few communicated the same values of ‘less party, more potential’ that the Winter Sports Company does.
We then took all this insight, data and research and distilled it into a comprehensive creative strategy. This creative strategy is what informed and defined our final output, the Winter Sports Company’s creative platform; ‘The Mountain is Calling’.
‘The Mountain is Calling’ creative platform needed to reflect the energy and allure of snow-capped mountains to address the challenge of audiences becoming desensitised to high-quality imagery.
We achieved this by using animated, hand-drawn elements in the imagery.
These elements helped The Winter Sports Company to stand out in their competitive niche, while simultaneously speaking to their eager, energetic 18-25-year-old core audience.
The new Winter Sports Company identity is energetic and youthful while simultaneously communicating the authority of a brand with over a decade of experience in the industry.
However, a flashy website with great design is nothing if it doesn’t perform well and get seen by the right people.
For the Winter Sports Company, this meant focussing on a mobile-first approach.
The Winter Sports Company’s old website took eight seconds to load on a mobile device using 3G. That’s five seconds slower than the top-performing competitor sites in their industry.
Every second a site takes to load, 6% of its visitors leave. This means that, with their old site, the Winter Sports Company were potentially losing an estimated 28% of their visitors.
With our web development, we worked to get the Winter Sports Company’s loading time down to under 2.5 seconds; reducing the potential for visitor loss.
When Hedgehog creates a website, we build solid SEO strategies in from the ground up. Our sport SEO strategies take into account the search market, user trends, previous performance and future opportunities.
We combined all of this into a comprehensive search strategy for the Winter Sports Company, one that got them seen by the right customers at the right stages in their search journeys.
Finally, we addressed one of the key challenges for the company; being able to speak to their younger audiences while also projecting an authoritative, reliable image for the parents of their younger customers.
To achieve this we established the Winter Sports Company’s Parent Hub. An area of the site that would provide details and credibility for more mature visitors to the site.
We developed a personable, friendly, secure and reliable tone of voice for the Winter Sports Company. One that communicated the ‘The Mountain is Calling’ ethos of the brand.
Within six months of working to increase the Winter Sports Company’s website performance, we saw improvements in a number of key areas.
The SEO strategy that Hedgehog implemented helped the Winter Sports Company website rank in the number one search result position for several keywords.
And, the number of target keywords that the Winter Sports Company ranked in the top three positions for doubled within six months.
Following the redesign of the website and the creation of the Winter Sports Company’s creative platform, the length of time users spent on the site rose from 48 seconds to 1.59 minutes. While the average number of pages that users viewed increased.
By implementing the ‘The Mountain is Calling’ concept, the redesign of the Winter Sports Company established itself as a leading, energetic voice in the niche tour operator sector.
The animated, illustrated overlays used across the imagery on the site worked to communicate this energetic tone of voice and helped the Winter Sports Company to stand out in its saturated sector.