K9s For Warriors is the nation’s largest provider of service dogs for veterans. Determined to end veteran suicide, K9s For Warriors provides a 21-day program designed to help veterans with PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and/or military sexual trauma post 9/11 by pairing them with a highly-trained service dog. While their mission to save lives was clear, their website was riddled with SEO and UX errors which was affecting application rate and donor accessibility. We were brought in to maximize digital reach, connect with potential warriors and donors, and encourage them to convert.
How We Helped
Website Development & Management | Video Production
K9s For Warriors is saving the lives of veterans and dogs every day. Their mission is powerful, but their website wasn’t driving the traffic it needed to aid in saving those lives. Their site had a long list of SEO issues and with over 200 pages, the customer journey was very complex, which snowballed into decreased search rankings and low site traffic. As a national non-profit organization, K9s For Warriors already supported a large consumer base. However, due to the inaccessibility of their website, they had trouble attracting new donors. An attractive and well-structured website is crucial to the success of any company since users enjoy a seamless experience on the site. What K9s For Warriors needed was a brand new website focused on providing users the best online experience while still allowing K9s For Warriors full access to continue to modify the website as business needs change.
Our approach with K9s For Warriors was slightly different than that of our normal client profile. While aggressive timelines and measurable outcomes are always our focus when we begin a project, we spent a significant amount of time connecting with the mission. Over 10 hours were spent speaking with warrior trainers, staff members, and fundraisers. We needed to connect the magic that thrives within the Shari Duval campus with our approach to achieving more applications and donations.
GOLD ADDY WINNER
We are proud to announce that our team won the 2022 Gold ADDY award for both website and video production for K9s for Warriors! We were able to collaborate with K9s to create a seamless user experience for their new website and capture the hardships of being a warrior in their video. Cheers to hard work paying off!
The K9s For Warriors website was riddled with an unnecessary amount of pages and lacked updated content. As a result, users experienced longer loading times and often had difficulty navigating the pages. The company’s existing website was built on Drupal, an open-source content management system. It’s a robust platform, however, it wasn’t the right choice for K9s as its management requires a technical user which the company didn’t possess. The company simply lacked the time and resources to continually update the site as it continued to grow.
As with any website, our primary goal was to drive meaningful site traffic. To do this, we had to give the users a far better experience and simplify their decision-making process. Our team walked every possible customer journey to ensure each pathway was thoughtfully directed. We developed a robust main navigation that worked to simplify the customer journey. Our efforts massively improved site performance, resulting in better search engine positioning.
Prior to Fable Heart Media’s involvement, K9s For Warriors was primarily targeting two main segments:
- Warriors: Post 9/11 Veterans who suffer from PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and/or military sexual trauma.
- Donors: Those looking to support the cause through donations and volunteering.
The company’s site content was centered around encouraging warriors to join the program and encouraged donors to donate their time and financial resources to help the cause. However, during our team’s initial research, we identified an audience profile that was never considered: caregivers. Many veterans have a difficult time managing seemingly simple daily tasks. The process of deciding to save their own lives by navigating to websites like K9s For Warriors and filling out an application may be out of the question. Loved ones, nurses, and friends are often the driving forces in starting the application process.
With this new segment in mind, our team tailored website content towards helping caregivers understand the program and its benefits. The company was able to increase an audience base they didn’t realize was so large, leading to a huge gain in website traffic.
The K9s For Warriors website was not positioned to rank well on search engines. There were bits of SEO on the site, but there was no strategy implemented to truly drive the site traffic they needed. Their site had long load times, misplaced content, and a host of other issues. Here are some of the SEO problems our team found during our initial analysis:
- No Mobile Optimization: Users should have a seamless experience no matter what device they are using. The company’s website had several issues with spacing, column widths, and difficult-to-read text.
- Unsecure Links and Resources: Unsecured websites may result in scary-looking security alerts for a user which can deter the user from visiting the site. K9s For Warriors originally had over 151 links and resources that were not secure. Our team collaborated with the company to make all of its links and resources secure for all users.
- Many Pages Lacked a Meta Description: Meta descriptions not only improve search rankings but also offer the opportunity to encourage users to visit your site. If a web page is missing a meta description, Google will provide one based on what it believes the webpage is about, however, Google is not always correct and can result in misleading information.
- Broken External Links: Having broken external links can confuse/frustrate users and in turn, lower a website’s search ranking. Our team worked to fix these links, thus further improving the company’s SEO.
Previously, K9s For Warriors had a webpage on their site where users could purchase merchandise. Although this was built with good intentions, it lacked featured images of each product and had its products in a list form rather than by category. When Fable Heart Media stepped in, our team utilized Shopify to host their merchandise and included featured images for each product. Additionally, our team broke up the merchandise into categories. Now when users visit the merchandise store, they can view new items and can search by categories such as accessories and apparel. Once again, a focus on improving the customer experience.
Website management involves keeping a site up-to-date, ranking well in search engines, and making sure it functions as it should. Website management/maintenance is a critical aspect in almost every organization and should be done on a continual basis. We provide on-demand support to help with the many challenges associated with a website, such as content updates and the secure hosting of the website. As a result, we want to ensure that websites function correctly at all times in order to help the company concentrate on growth.
600 → 4K+
Increased daily organic site traffic from 600 to 4,000
Previously unsecured links are now secured
100 → 40
Significantly decreasing the page count
In addition, it was important to K9s For Warriors to create and edit content on their own. They needed the ability to continually update their website as changes occurred. Through the use of WordPress, our development team created custom “drag and drop” widgets and templates. The company could now easily add and archive content such as blogs, images, articles, and more.
The concept of PTSD is a difficult one to express with just text or images. The website needed a powerful story that explained the mission of K9s For Warriors to both applicants as well as potential donors. The video needed to show the massive impact that post-traumatic stress disorder causes on warriors and their families without being overly melancholy. Showcasing the silver lining offered by K9FW for both the dogs and the veterans was the ultimate goal.
The American Advertising Federation named this video the best of its kind in all of 2021 in the Jacksonville market, awarding us a prestigious gold ADDY for this work.
Because this video was meant to live in the hero section of the website, we had one unique challenge to overcome… sound! Loading a website with loud backing music or a booming voice-over can actually be a deterrent for users. We had to be able to tell this story without any sound.
While blocking our scenes, we needed to communicate the feelings of fear, isolation, and helplessness felt by both David and his dog Doc. Fortunately, David and his service dog were champions of this goal from the start. We needed the video to feel real without putting David at risk emotionally.
We took our time, built every scene with our warrior, and found a way to tell his authentic story without needing supporting sound.
We handled all pre-production, filming, and editing for K9s For Warriors:
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