Craigdarroch Castle Victoria, British Columbia

When we began work with Craigdarroch Castle in 2008, their website received fewer than 40,000 visits annually. Over a period of seven years, we diligently fine-tuned the website and branding. In 2014, visitation exceeded 400,000 visitors.

Over that seven year period, we created a fully mobile responsive content management website, integrated online donations, a functional e-commerce store and an events management section, trained the staff, took their photography, created their advertising campaigns, their direct mail, several books, which have sold tens of thousands of copies and their first DVD.

Our services helped establish Craigdarroch Castle as a true Canadian National Site.

The Project

For an eight year period, we worked on creating virtually every aspect of the marketing for Craigdarroch Castle with a focus on the website.

During that time, their online visitation increased from less that 40,000 in 2007 to over 400,000 in 2014 through incremental steps to optimize the site, but the biggest contribution to increased visitation was the integration of Responsive Design, making the site globally accessible on mobile devices.

We are very proud of the work we did promoting this Canadian Historical National Site.

Visit the Site

The Visitor Experience App

We conceptualized and provided the initial storyboard for a Visitor Experience App for Craigdarroch Castle. This App will be the starting point for the interactive displays within the new Visitors Center being developed over the next three to five years.

Using the artifacts photography and combining them with a rich history will provide an entertaining and educational Visitor Experience.

Please check our concept for the App by viewing the portfolio link below;

View Portfolio

The Visitor Experience App

People could walk through The Castle and connect to hotspots which would bring up stories of the artifact the visitor was viewing, providing each visitor with a unique visit and generating rental revenue for The Castle.

The Visitor Experience App

Here is the storyboard we created...

2014 - Events Management Integration

In 2014, we updated and integrated a fully manageable Events Management System which allowed staff to update Events as they were developed, add tickets to the system and manage all aspects of the ticketing system, including sending online tickets to the purchaser.

This resulted in significant online sales.

2014 - Direct Mail

One of our specialities over the past 20 years has been creating beautiful and successful direct mail pieces. This one reflects the identity of The Castle beautifully and is one of a series of fundraising pieces we created, which are reflected within the website.

2014 - Bus Transit Posters

Over an eight year period, we photographed Craigdarroch Castle at all times of the day and featured the photographs in the promotional transit signs which appeared through Victoria.

2014 - E-Ticketing

In 2014, we completed the online E-Ticketing System within the website, which was branded and sent to anyone purchasing a ticket for any of the events at The Castle.

This allowed visitors to simply show up at the door and swipe their phone for access.

It also was part of my idea to ween The Castle away from printing since virtually everyone has an iPhone now. The system also sent a downloadable PDF to the purchaser in case they did not have a smart phone, allowing them to 'print' one copy rather than have The Castle pay for the printing.

Over the years, our initiatives saved Craigdarroch Castle tens of thousands of dollars.

2014 Advertising Campaign

In 2014, we conceptualized a beautiful advertising campaign for Craigdarroch Castle by featuring a few of the many stories from the long and fascinating history while showcasing the exquisite interior craftsmanship with beautiful photography to create a sense of place reflecting the grace of an era when The Castle was truly one-of-a kind in Canada.

This campaign and it's exceptional copywriting was created with my friend Matt Daley.

The 2013 Responsive Website

The development of The Castle website has been evolutionary for me as I have developed it out over a period of eight years now. This features the 2013 Responsive Website prior to the re-branding effort.

When this responsive design of the website launched, visitation shot up from 125,000 visitors annually to over 400,00 visitors annually and increased the conversion rate of online ticket purchases to over 7%... an incredible jump and huge success story.

2012 - The Artifact Manual

In 2012, we conceptualized a beautiful book for The Castle featuring every artifact found within the mansion with historical reviews. It is available in their Gift Shop and is the foundation of the new Interactive App we are developing.

This version shown here features the updated branding created in 2014.

The 2012 QR Code

We've touched on every aspect of marketing The Castle right down to creating a custom QR Code with the logo of The Castle embedded in the code itself.

While this was fun, the QR Code phase quickly fell out of favour but that's the deal with marketing... you try a lot of everything. Some stick, some don't.

The 2012 Ad Campaign

Over the years, the ad campaign for Craigdarroch Castle has also changed every few years. This series features my photography.

The 2011 Newsletter Designs

We designed templates for the staff at Craigdarroch Castle to update and trained them. Each link provided opportunities to donate to different projects being undertaken at The Castle.

2010 Colouring Book

In 2012 we created this best selling colouring book for Craigdarroch Castle which tells the story of the Dunsmuirs from their immigration from Scotland to the construction of The Castle to the family history.

A childrens favorite.

Check out the colouring book >


We also created a children's game called iSpy to keep children interested and engaged at The Castle.

2008 - 2015

Over the past seven years, we created a series of booklets for Craigdarroch which have sold between 4,000 and 10,000 copies annually.

The interiors have changed through the years as the photography we developed for The Castle improved.

Craigdarroch Castle - 2007

This is what we began working with in 2007. The advertising looked like the example at left and the HTML website looked like the example at right. The photography was amateurish, out of focus and there was no consistency.

Over a period of eight years, I personally photographed The Castle to illustrate the ads we wanted to create and re-built virtually every element of The Castle's branding, advertising, website and literature.

Visitation from 2009 - 2016

This is where we like to refer to proper management of a website. This Bar Chart on the right shows the visitation improvements which happened under our management.

When Craigdarroch Castle chose to re-develop the website we carefully created and worked diligently to increase visitation and conversion rates annually for another group in Victoria, it became apparent quickly that the visitation went down dramatically and consistently.

I liken this to the attention to detail I was providing The Castle as opposed to the work being hired out to an agency with high overheads.

A BIG disappointment to me after we worked so hard to build the visitation up for The Castle.

The Solution & Result

The results of our work are significant. Virtually every year we worked for Craigdarroch Castle, we increased their online visitation, increased their e-commerce conversion rates and decreased their advertising spending. When we began working with The Castle, their website received fewer than 40,000 visits annually. In 2014, after integrating responsive design, we were successful in increasing their visitation to over 400,000 annually by 2014. Our attention to detail also increased the overall conversion rate from visitors to 7.80%.

Client Review

Steve possesses a broad skill set and while focused on marketing and business development, his contribution is rounded out with a sound financial understanding of non-profit sector challenges.

Steve recognizes that there is often resistance at the board level to new ideas and he is not reluctant to push for growth with reasonable budget requirements, backed by a belief in his abilities to deliver results.

Steve also works within and around the limitations of our staff time and technical competency in the organization, teaching them and providing us documentation to make our day-to-day work more efficient and puts the effort into creating processes that can be maintained with relative ease.

We value Steve’s contribution and dedication to Craigdaroch Castle.

-John Hughes Executive Director. Craigdarroch Castle.

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