[Updated 30/04/12: Full details of Day 2 social event announced - read more and register at: http://www.prettypollution.com.au/business-catalyst-partner-event]

We're hosting the first official Australian BC Partner conference on 4th June 2012 in Sydney, with a full day of Partner presentations lined up. If you weren't able to make it across to Adobe MAX last year, don't miss out on this great opportunity!

The Adobe-sponsored full day event is free to attend for all Partners and is bound to be a great community building event.

To attend, simply book your spot below. We ask that each staff member from your team who'll be attending fill out the form, so we can best cater and manage the event. Once registered, we'll send you through location details and keep you updated.

 

We'll have special guests Jason Tinnin and Cesar Keller from Simpleflame, plus Brent Weaver from BC Gurus from the US presenting, who in co-operation with leading Australian Partners Brett Stockley from Pretty Pollution and Brendon O'Sullivan from Bosweb Systems will also be organizing a full 2nd day of community building activities.

4 June, 2012 (Day 1) Schedule:

Time

Presenter(s)

Topic

8:30 Jackson Palmer
Welcome and schedule outline
9:00 Liam Dilley Getting started with Liquid markup
9:45 Jason Tinnin  Taking Business Catalyst to the next level - case studies and examples
10:30
Morning tea break
11:00 Brett Stockley + Matt O'Malley Best practices with Business Catalyst
11:45 Jeff Perlman Application smorgasbord - integrate with 30 plus applications via a single portal
12:30
Lunch break
13:30 Mark Barrett Going up the food chain - using sales strategies and internal systems to increase projects value and lock in on-going revenue
14:15 Brent Weaver Positioning and selling your Business Catalyst services
15:00   Afternoon tea break
15:15 Declan Reynolds Effectively outsourcing your Business Catalyst projects
16:00 Tim Gentle Expand your reach - setting up an educated BC sales channel 
16:45 Brendon O'Sullivan Customer care and support best practices
17:30 Jackson Palmer
Thanks and closing
17:45
End of day

5 June, 2012 (Day 2) Schedule:

Join your fellow Partners for a day of fun and networking. We'll have barefoot lawn bowling and open-mic presentations throughout the day at the Balmain Bowling Club, then an after party not-to-be-missed at the CBD Hotel, Sydney.

A big thanks to our Master Partners, Simpleflame, BC Gurus, Pretty Pollution and Bosweb Systems for organizing and sponsoring Day 2. It's free to attend and bound to be a great day of community building.

 

Register your spot at: http://www.prettypollution.com.au/business-catalyst-partner-event

Time

Presenter(s)

Topic

11:00AM - 5:00PM
Balmain Bowling Club
Barefoot bowling, networking, open mic, and a sausage sizzle
6:00PM - 9:30PM
CBD Hotel, Sydney Partner after-party, fully catered, buy your own drinks
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Adobe Creative Cloud + Business Catalyst

As you may have read over on the official Adobe blog, Adobe Business Catalyst is set to be a key component in the upcoming release of Adobe's Creative Cloud offering.

The industry is in the midst of an exciting transformation around content creation, distribution and monetization. The Creative Cloud initiative marks a huge investment from Adobe in the future of the Business Catalyst platform, as the primary vehicle for publishing to the web.

We're pleased to announce that as part of each Adobe Creative Cloud membership, customers will receive their very own Adobe Business Catalyst site, running on our popular "Starter" plan. This is a great starting point for anyone new to the platform, whether for a personal site, promoting a small business or for simply distributing the work you've created using Adobe's range of tools.

As part of this initiative, you'll see increased investment in the enhancement of existing Business Catalyst integrations with widely used tools such as Adobe Dreamweaver and Muse (codename). We also hope that further down the line we'll be able to bring you additional value through potential integrations with recently acquired web technologies such as Typekit and Nitobi PhoneGap.

With the range of new users entering the Business Catalyst ecosystem, we're building the platform to effectively scale, meaning existing Partners can expect an even better Business Catalyst - with performance and stability improvements across the board, be it connecting via FTP, navigating your Admin Console, or serving content on a client's site.

Adobe Creative Cloud brings amazing value to customers, including our entire suite of desktop and touch tools all for a convenient fee of just $49/mo. Membership enables customers to express their creativity across a range of devices, then easily publish and share their work via rich services such as the Digital Publishing Suite and Adobe Business Catalyst.

We're excited to play such an important role in the Adobe Creative Cloud offering, further empowering web designers like you to build beautiful, functional websites, and we look forward to having you on-board for the ride!

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What is Business Catalyst v3?

Hello BC Partners!

I am Bogdan Ripa, running the Business Catalyst product together with Alexandru. I complement and enhance Alexandru's vision, defining and implementing the BC product strategy - basically I make sure we build the right product. It was a pleasure meeting some of you at MAX this year, and I really look forward to similar opportunities.

Only a few months ago you have probably seen Alexandru's blog post about his new role with our product, and I hope you've started to feel that the energy and passion is back! We're right in the middle of executing and expanding that vision -  because we believe in our product and platform, and we are proud of the exciting results that we see coming out of your hands. And for that, we thank you all, Business Catalyst partners.

We think the future is even brighter! At Adobe MAX, I presented a sneak peek of Business Catalyst v3. It's not necessarily an exact roadmap, because I want to maintain agility as we adapt to the market changes - but it's more of a vision, a collection of high-level improvements and innovations. It does begin with a UI redesign, but we are going to take this much further.

We've prepared a small video highlighting some of the improvements in v3:

UI v3

We have been working for a while now on a new Admin Console UI, focused on the usability of the common workflows. I am glad to let you know that the new UI v3 is released in Alpha, available today to partners. We've created the new UI infrastructure first, and are still conducting UI and usability reviews and listening to your feedback, before releasing it to everyone in Public Beta. When we do this, we'll make sure that we still let you switch back to the existing UI for a period of time while getting used to v3.

If you want to play with the new alpha UI today, you just have go to http://mysite.com/adminconsole instead of mysite.com/admin on any BC website. On the right side of the interface, you'll also find a "feedback" link that will let you share with us your concerns or praise our work (yes, our engineering team thrives on positive customer feedback :)

As I said, the UI redesign isn't everything. We will invest in improving usability, screen by screen. We will take the most used screens and improve them to provide a "perfect" user experience. Managing customers, orders, editing web pages or e-mail marketing campaigns are high on this list.

Of course, we'll continue fixing all those annoying bugs and wishlist items. Little hassles like the inability to add special characters to product names, and import products challenges will be a thing of the past.

To get us there, I've asked one of my product owners, Cristinel Anastasoaie, take the lead on this project and drive it to completion. Expect to see more progress report from him in the near future.

Liquid Markup

Your productivity on BC is paramount - so we're investing a large chunk of our engineering team taking BC's markup language to the next level. Earlier this week, Marius announced BC's support for Liquid Markup. Liquid gives you all the flexibility you need to create the most amazing websites out there. We're received many wishes asking for yet another Web App list template or adding the "cart view" text to resources, and instead of fulfilling them piecemeal, we took a leapfrog approach and decided to give you total customizability of all BC websites with Liquid Markup.

As it stands today, we have Liquid support implemented for the majority of our eCommerce modules, and Lucian's team is working hard to make sure we finish off eCommerce as soon as possible. Soon (within the next few weeks), we'll open this up to our Prerelease community, and enable our cutting-edge users to start playing with it.

Once we're done with eCommerce, we plan to enable Liquid Markup for Web Apps. Imagine what that will enable you to do... Liquid isn't the only enhancement planned for Web Apps. Once we've enabled Liquid Markup, we will also work on enabling more robust relationships between Web App items, letting you build truly relational Web Apps.

We aim to finalize the Liquid Markup implementation for all of Business Catalyst (Web Apps included) by mid-2012. I have asked Marius Andreiana, one of my Product Owners, take on the lead role for this project. Let's wish him good luck in achieving this and expect more updates from him on this blog!

Enabling Productivity

BC v3 will also help you be more productive while developing online businesses. 

Simple tasks like importing an existing site and converting it to a BC template, or extracting a BC dynamic menu from a simple <ul> <li> structure are already possible! (check out our MAX sneak to see how). We want to take this even further, and let you extract web forms from existing HTML <form> elements, or automatically create a BC blog (including templates and content) when importing a site that already has one. Of course, we have to ensure that a reliable implementation of this is technically possible, but we're optimistic. A detailed announcement will come next month.

Another request we've been hearing is for a more robust file manager and code editor in the cloud. We envision support for editing multiple files at once, line numbering, tab support, syntax highlighting, and code hinting. This is all part of the v3 vision - and we will continue improving the BC Admin for partners to really accelerate your speed of new site authoring.

Integration with your favorite code editing tool, Dreamweaver

Based on what you told us in our most recent Partner survey, the vast majority of our Partners use Dreamweaver to build their BC sites. We are working hard with the Dreamweaver team to enable Liquid Markup and a new module insertion concept - and if you watch my MAX sneak, you can actually see me using a prototype of this. We are doing our best to make sure this will make it in to the next version of the BC extension, available for DW CS 5 and 5.5, but we expect to have the best integration built-in to the next version of Dreamweaver. (that will also include a better support for managing BC sites natively in Dreamweaver).

For the Coda die-hards, all the APIs you need to develop a plugin are available today and documented on the prerelease site. You'd be rich and famous (well, famous among BC partners at least, and rich in adulation) if you developed such a plugin and released it to the community.

Web Forward

One of our product principles (more to come in a future blog post) is "web forward". This translates to the fact that our platform should really lead the web revolution (HTML5, CSS3, etc), and not follow it. Today, I am not proud of the fact that not every Business Catalyst site validates on http://validator.w3.org/, especially since I've been serving web developers for more than 10 years. Not only will we change this, but we'll invest in bringing the future of the web to BC users now.

One example worth mentioning here is LessCSS. I am happy to let you all know that in the near future, you will be able to upload your .less files, and BC will automatically compile them to CSS on the fly when accessed through a browser. You will still be able to see the source of the file through FTP or through the Admin Console interface - but this will bring new capabilities to BC templates and template skinning.

Many of you know that being a multi-tenant SaaS product, it's hard for us to let you run your custom code on our servers - which is an important limitation of our platform. We're looking to fix this - through libraries such as Node.js, and enable you write custom code in a language that almost every BC user is familliar with (JavasSript), directly on our servers. There are tens of thousands of use cases our modules won't support - but you'll be able to write a custom module to fill that gap code that adds a custom watermark whenever someone uploads an image, listing information from the disk, connecting to custom payment gateways, or a nightly task that synchronizes your inventory. We're imagining a reinvention of Web Apps that, on top of data structure definition, HTML templates, and some client-side scripts, will also add server-side code that validates, processes, or maintains the data as well. This really opens up endless possibilities and we're excited exposing this to you.

While we are very excited about Node.js, to be frank, we won't be able to work on implementing this until late-2012. Still, you should know it's on our radar, and this is where we'll take Business Catalyst.

I hope you guys are as excited as I am about the future, and I am really looking forward to next year.

2012 will be the year for Business Catalyst!

If you want to learn even more about BC V3, sit back and relax while you watch the our Adobe MAX sneak peek. you might see I'm probably not the greatest presenter on Earth :), but in terms of passion for BC, technical depth and web vision, I am your man :).

- Bogdan

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Updated - Wed, 31 Aug, 8:00 AM PDT: Due to some technical issues we had to cancel the release and reschedule it for a later date. We don't yet have a new date and time for when we'll push this release to production.

We will be launching our next release (R166) on the 31st of August 2011 at 1:00 AM PST (check local time). The deployment will take a few hours but we anticipate no major disruptions to the Business Catalyst service during this time.

This release includes the ability to update extended CRM forms, improved support workflows, additional payment gateways and lots of small usability improvements in the admin section.

Extensible CRM database

This improvement will allow site owners to collect additional information and store it against the corresponding CRM area (contacts, order, opportunity or case) and enable site visitors/members update custom information through the Update Customer Details form. We've improved three workflows:

  1. Collect custom information through form fields - we have improved the Web Form Builder to allow partners include Custom CRM forms in a Business Catalyst web form. This will enable business owners to collect additional information through the site front-end and save it against the corresponding database entity. The submitted information will be saved against the entity you've selected when defining a default use for the selected custom form.
  2. Allow customers to edit custom information - we have improved the Update Customer Details module to allow site's visitors / members to update their custom information. As a developer, you can choose to allow customers update all the custom forms or just a single form. All the form fields will be added in block, but you will have the option to remove them from the form; for existing websites, you will need to re-insert the Update Customer Details form.
  3. Assign a Custom Form to existing items - if you decide to add a custom form after the site has launched, the form will also be attached to existing items and you will be able to add values when first editing an item; this will avoid customer having to click on Add custom fields for every old entity

Upgrade site plan

We have introduced a new feature inside the Business Catalyst partner portal and admin section, that allows you to now upgrade a specific site plan to any plan above it, automatically and without interacting with our accounts folks .

This means that you will be able to save time when upgrading a site plan, and we hope that you will be using this feature extensively :)

Improved consolidated Help & Support workflow for partners

We are aware that support is one of our biggest areas for improvement, so we've embarked on a vision where we'll significantly improve the main support workflows, both for free and paid partners.

Some highlights:

  • There is a new single entry point for all Help & Support, that merges the search for support with chat, forums and support cases.
  • The first step in any support incident is now an integrated search where you can switch between Knowledge Base and Forums, trying to give you the opportunity to help yourself before reaching support.
  • If you don't find the right information in the KB, you'll have the possibility to chat with our support people. This feature will available initially only to standard and premium partners, and is now the 1st support choice, trying to improve our reaction when answering your support cases
  • Finally, if chat support is not available or your problem is too complex to be solved in a chat, we've introduced a simplified Support Case submission form

We're also happy to announce the BC support lounge, a public chat room where you could hang around, ask and answer questions, or just brainstorm ideas with other partners. It is available at http://businesscatalyst.com/support/lounge (while it's not officially supported by the BC support folks, we're sure it will be a great place to talk about BC).

Next, we will consolidate the Small Business Owner help & support workflow in a similar way. We are also working on improving and updating the Knowledge Base content, trying to also suggest you the right answer automatically for popular searches on our website.

Small usability improvements

This release includes tens on small usability improvements that aim to increase web developers and business owners productivity when using the Business Catalyst admin. It's the beginning of a longer journey where we will focus on making BC easy to use and its main workflows very simple to understand. Here is a list with the highlights:

  • Updated Live Feed to link and opens the target item (order, case, opportunity) instead of customer details
  • Updated WYSIWYG Editor to create paragraphs instead of break lines when hitting Enter
  • Stopped reloading the UI in view mode after adding a custom CRM field to a customer, case or order
  • Removed the scroll to top after saving on most user interfaces (please report any one that has been missed)
  • When setting up shipping options, payment gateways, tax codes you have an easier way of selecting the country
  • Updated customer list to allow users list all customers and not just the ones added in the last year
  • Updated all lists to not display disabled items
  • Use the web app template when adding new web app items.
  • Load the blog post list instead of blog details screen when selecting a blog on the Admin menu; the same change has been applied to all lists with similar behavior
  • We are showing now specific FTP connection details in file manager
  • Many other small tweaks were made in many UIs, we hope you'll find them useful in your day to day use of BC.com - we'll continue adding much more improvements for the next release.

Introducing a new payment gateway

As part of our efforts to extend our global support for our partners, we are happy to announce the addition of Ogone payment gateway support. Ogone is one of the leading European Payment Service Providers with thousands of clients across 35 countries. Ogone is a seamless payment gateway that will allow your customers to process one-off or recurring payments for the following European countries: Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France.

Other updates

  • Improved mobile support for Admin (yes, now it works on iPads!): We've updated the charting library to include HTML5 and mobile support. Starting with R166, you will be able to view a Business Catalyst report on a mobile phone or tablet regardless of the platform.
  • Increased eWay PG security support: Improved eWay payment gateway integration by adding support for eWay's Beagle Fraud Detection System

Issues fixed by the August 31st release

  • Enforced server side validation on Captcha v2 (bug id: 2729912 & 2850293)
  • Updated the Sign-up wizard causing the signup domain to appear empty (bug id: 2916036)
  • Fixed a bug in Sign-Up UI blocking users from creating a partner after inserting a wrong promo code (bug id: 2932441)
  • Fixed a site replication problem that preventing partners from replicating a Pro site that didn't had any products created (bug id: 2946521)
  • Fixed a bug causing {tag_stepname} and {tag_workflowname} tags to not be rendered in the workflow reminder and escalation emails (bug id: 2935700)

Enjoy!

Alexandru Costin
Adobe Business Catalyst Segment Owner

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We will be launching our next release (R165) on the 3rd of August 2011 at 1:00 AM PST (check local time). The deployment will take a few hours but we anticipate no major disruptions to the Business Catalyst service during this time.

This release includes new features on our blog engine, additional social integration features, bug corrections and infrastructure updates. As you can see, the speed has decreased a bit, as we're focusing most of the engineering team on several major initiatives you'll hear about soon :).

Free additional mailbox storage

As part of our ongoing efforts to provide customers with the best email platform possible, we have upgraded the standard mailbox size to 5GB of storage, up from 2GB. There's no additional cost to you, and there's nothing you need to do to implement these changes.

The upgrade has been already completed, allowing both new and existing sites to take advantage of the additional storage.

Site plans infrastructure updates

To streamline our support process and help you avoid waiting a couple of days for upgrading a site plan or changing billing frequency for your sites, we planning on automating these tasks and allow you or your customers upgrade plans or change billing frequency directly from your Partner Portal or site admin.

One of the first steps in this release is to consolidate the myriad of plans we currently have on our system into a limited set that matches our current offering. As a result, we will update the names and limits of our older plans. This change comes at no cost for you or your customers and will result in increased limits for some of the sites on our system. The change will be effective immediately after release, and reflected in the System usage panels displayed in My Admin or Client detail in Partner Portal.

Facebook login

With the R165 release, we are extending our social integration functionality by offering site owners the possibility to allow their customers to login in secure zone or forums using their Facebook accounts. This will increase customer retention and, with additional improvements from our side, increase the interaction between the site and its visitors.

Enabling Facebook login on a site requires you or the site owner to register your website with Facebook and get an App ID and a Secret Key. The App Id is a unique identifier for your site that ensures that Facebook has the right level of security in place between the user and your website. Once done, you can go ahead and update the login screens on your site and add the Facebook login module. As configuration options, you will be able to select to which secure zones customers can login with their Facebook account, and configure the button appearance and text. Furthermore, you can also allow site customers to Link/Unlink their site and Facebook accounts directly from the "Update Customer Details" form.

Because Facebook login automatically creates an account if one does not exist, login with Facebook only works for simple authentication flows, and cannot (yet) be integrated with flows like adding the user automatically to a secure zone, subscribing to a newsletter, or initiating a workflow.

This feature is only available in our Pro 1, 5 and 10 user plans for now, but we're considering an approach where you will be able to add it as an add-on to other plans - stay tuned.

Blog improvements

Similar to other blogging platforms, we are now allowing customers to change a blog post author by selecting it from a list of site admin users. Additionally, site users can now enter a short biography and profile image that can be included in the blog post layouts using the: {tag_blogpostauthorbiography}, {tag_blogpostauthorpictureurl} and {tag_blogpostauthorpicture}. The user can change both user biography and avatar from My Account interface, while site administrators can update them from the user management interface.

Site settings

We are starting to consolidate some of the site wide settings in a new section called Site Settings. With this release, we're enabling you to define Facebook, form security (Captcha) and shop setting. In future releases we plan to allow customers use this interface to update site timezone, country and other global settings.

  • Shop settings: we're giving you or your customers the possibility to set the shopping cart lifetime (let's you define how many hours a cart content is kept in the system for returning customers) and the ability to enable/disable the productfeed.xml which you can use to publish your products on product directories like Google Product Search.
  • Captcha settings: this is used to enforce server side check on Catpcha for the Refer to a Friend, Campaign Subscription and Comments forms. The forms built with our web forms engine have this setting incorporated and they check for Captcha only if you've added the field when you've created the form
  • Facebook settings: this is where you can enable Facebook login for your site and enter your Facebook application details (URL, App ID and App Secret Key)

Pre-built mobile templates

To further improve our multiscreen support and provide you the tools required to build modern sites, we have started to update our templates to add tablet and phone support. The first template made available on all devices is Impressum and we'll continue to add more in the near future.

Other updates

  • Social integration updates: we've improved our social integration support by adding two new modules: Facebook Activity Feed and Facebook Send. Additionally, all social modules are now them available in the Insert Module menu from Admin and in our Dreamweaver extension as well.
  • Alternate email address: we have added an additional email field for every user, that will be used to send forgot password emails. This is particularly useful for those users hosting their business email with us and had to go back to their partner or our support team to recover their password. Starting with this release, they will be able to receive the email on a secondary email address at their choice.
  • Remove related DNS records: when customers remove a domain name or its "www" counterpart, the system will automatically delete all related records (redirects, mail records, etc.) after requesting and receiving a conformation.
  • Added subscribe & unsubscribe to newsletter confirmation pages - this will prevent automatic mailing list subscription or unsubscription to mailing caused by search bots indexing web mail; as consequence, instead of automatically subscribing or unsubscribing users to mailing lists, we have added a page requiring users to press a button to confirm their action. You or your customers can modify the page content and appearance by updating two additional System Messages layouts: Subscribe Confirmation Form and Unsubscribe Confirmation Form.
  • Replaced modal session alert - starting with this release, we have replaced the modal session time-out alert with a non-window-modal one to reduce disruption when working on a Business Catalyst site
  • Payment gateways infrastructure updates - payment infrastructure updates for enhanced security and reliability.
  • Updated our WYSIWYG editor to the latest version which includes better support for iPad and lots of bug fixes

Issues fixed by the August 2011 release

  • Enabled video streaming for iOS by adding byte-range support - (bug id: 2764788)
  • Fixed a bug that blocked user login if password contained quotes (bug id: 2889483)
  • Fixed an issue in Email Marketing causing {tag_recipientusername} and {tag_recipientpassword} to not work in email campaigns when placed inside links (bug id: 2912306)
  • Corrected an issue in our APIs which template list unavailable in Triangle Extension (bug id: 2914399)
  • Fixed an bug URL engine generating invalid web app items URLs in site search result list (bug id: 2914555)
  • Updated the Online Business Builder to display the signup domain in the registration screen (bug id: 2916036)
  • Fixed a bug in order management preventing users from printing package slips when the order was attached to a company (bug id: 2920372)
  • Web app items can now be edited in front-end even if they contain special characters in their name (bug id: 2919503)
  • Corrected an issue on the URL engine causing SEO Friendly URL starting with the URL of an Web Page to displayed instead of the URL of the page when Partial URL Matching is ON (bug id: 2920535)
  • Fixed a bug in web app item display causing image tags to get rendered as is ( {tag_photo 1,470,390}) when the source image is not present (bug id: 2921912)
  • Correctly export numbers in Excel reports

Enjoy!

Alexandru Costin
Adobe Business Catalyst Segment Owner

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If you want to turn off a potential client, talk about HTML, CSS, Javascript and technology features. 

BC Partner Fraser McCulloch shares his thoughts on plain talking and owning the deal.

Read on over at Adam Broadway's BC Evangelist blog.

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In the last two posts, we've taken you through some easy steps for establishing better client communications.

Today, we'll talk about how you can create a solid action plan and sow the seeds for a long-term relationship with your client.

Create An Action Plan

You've gained an understanding of your client's business, talked strategy, and set some business targets. By now, the client is probably asking "How are you going to pull this off?" and you're most likely wondering that too. This is where you can demonstrate your expertise by giving the client an understanding of the Online Business you're about to build for them and outline how it will achieve their goals.

Once you've explained the motivations and what the goals are, you need to provide a documented timeline of where it goes from here.

1. Short-term
Your clients most immediate need is for you to build a website to roll-out and go live. The goals tied to this are all structural:

  • You need to provide suggestions for what content is required (and a mini plan for your client to deliver that content)
  • You need to discuss with your client what features are going to be implemented e.g what questions they need to ask in their contact form to qualify their customers? Do they need an online shop? What about a blog or forum?
  • What about the navigational structure of their website?
  • Other features and widgets or integration with social media?

2. Medium-term
Talk about launch and post launch marketing activities. These might not be done by you, but you need to give them a plan so they know how to nurture and grow their Online Business. Remember that a failed website often boils down the website owner having a "set and forget" mentality to maintaining their site.

Maintaining your client's website is an on-going process - think about eCommerce updates, new revenue generation, Email Marketing, SEO, SEM, utilizing the CRM Database and Advertising.

3. Long-term - What's next?
This is all about looking to the future and achieving long term goals. Websites need to stay dynamic or they quickly appear static and fall behind. What are you going to do to help your client overcome this?

Provide them with a plan for yearly site redesigns and encourage fresh, new content. Sow the seeds for future promotional work, email marketing templates, or advertising creatives - all of which you can provide them with in the future.

What's Next?

After working with their Online Business for a while, your client will figure out what works and what doesn't and they'll be much more involved in the next iteration of their site.

The key here is to establish yourself as an expert who will enable their business to succeed online, so in the future, they'll seek out you on-going assistance and require your services.

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Jackson Palmer | BC

Your Guide To Better Client Communication (Part 2)

Communication In the last post, we ran through the first two steps toward better client communications, beginning at your initial meeting. So far, you've talked in-depth about their business and gained an understanding of exactly what they want to acheive online.

Today, we're looking at how you can start talking strategy, and set business targets.

Talk Strategy

You need the business owner (your potential client) to see that what you're talking about is of strategic value to their business.

We've talked with them about what they want to achieve, so now we'll take a step back and paint a bigger picture. Show them that it's about more than a website, explain to them how they can use Twitter, comments on products, email marketing, or SEO to help achieve their goals.

At this point, we're aiming to make it clear - a simple website doesn't cut it anymore. A website is an integral part of their overall business strategy

As part of this strategy, their website requires a marketing plan. Websites need thought put into to how they will convert their visitors, meet business goals, capture leads, and make money. Expressing this truth to your client is what makes the difference between them seeing you as overpriced vs. them believing your services are worth every cent.

A business owner who treats a website launch just like they would treat the opening of a new office or branch is almost sure to be successful. Just like their brick and mortar store, their online store is a business that needs on-going attention, planning and strategy development.

The two goals here are to:

  1. Help the client perceive how important a website really is
  2. Make them to see you as an expert, offering a valuable, strategic service which will help them succeed.

Set Business Targets

On a piece of paper in the meeting, try and draft 3-5 basic and easy to understand business oriented goals for their Online Business.

Try for a short term, medium term and a long term goal. Here are some example of great goals that will excite clients:

  • 10 new customer leads from the web per week
  • $300 of online sales per week
  • Building a marketing database - 1000 subscribers by years end
  • 50 entries in their online competition
It's important here to avoid setting a goal for site traffic, as it's not meaningful. Always relate goals to something with meaning for their business - leads, revenue and costs.

You need to make sure the targets reflect what the client said they want to achieve, that they are buying into these goals and they don't feel like you're rushing through the process.

What's Next?

What is next? So you've opened your client's eyes to the need for stategic thinking in doing business online and set some solid business targets.

The key here is to establish yourself as an expert in what you're offering and show the client where you can help take their business.

In doing so, you're building the trusting relationship needed for better client communications well into the future.

In the next post, we'll be capping off the series by looking at how you can create an action plan for acheiving the goals you've just set and stick to it in the long-term.
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In the last post, we looked at some great examples of how you can Generate New Leads using BC.

This is the final part in our "6 Online Business Stategies" series, and we're capping it off by looking at how you can "Build Customer Loyalty" as a strategy for your Online Business.

Help Your Clients Build Customer Loyalty

Attracting new customers to your site is a time consuming and expensive task in itself, but many business owners often forget to use their Online Business in catering to the needs of their existing customers.

Switched on business owners are applying subscription models to a widening range of businesses to generate a recurring cash flow from a loyal customer base. They're reaching out to their existing customer base by using email marketing and personalizing the online shopping experience by offering discounts, vouchers and recurring billing options.

Here are some great examples of how you can build customer loyalty using BC:

Art Needlepoint - encouraging newsletter subscriptions...


This beautifully designed site encourages customers to suscribe to the newsletter on the "Sales & Specials" page by promoting a Buy 3 Get 1 Free offer for registered members. Buy 3 Get 1 Free is a great tactic that Art Needlepoint has used to gain their customers permission to send mail emarketing to them and follow-up on a regular basis.

Another benefit of subscribing is the Refer A Friend system. Every time a customer refers a friend and that friend makes a purchase, the customer is credited with a $10 gift code. This is a great way to encourage newsletter subscriptions via word-of-mouth or referral marketing, helping your clients expand their customer base.

Kampai Wine Experience - offering recurring billing...


Designed by Receptive Technologies, this Online Business offers quarterly recurring billing and delivery as part of their Kampai Wine Club. By automating the back-end transaction process, Kampai are simplifying the shopping experience for customers, allowing them to focus on the great service being provided rather than manually organizing the billing.

Subscription Billing is a great model for encouraging customer loyalty and we're seeing more and more consumable/perishable products (especially in the boutique end of the market) being sold using this model. For example, you can sell weekly catering or boutique deli/grocery deliveries, monthly magazine subscriptions, or yearly access to downloadable content on your client's site. Think about how you can help your clients by implementing recurring billing and try it out today.

Best Friend NYC - personalizing the customer experience...


Best Friend NYC maintains customer loyalty by personalizing their shopping experience. By joining "The Best Friend Club," customers are given access to a range of exclusive features such as personalized product suggestions, a "favorites" section, and special discounts. Best Friend NYC are making extensive use of our Secure Zones feature to implement this functionality.

As a member of the club, you also receive a "Birthday Present" for your dog, based on the date you enter when signing up. By personalizing the online experience and making the customer feel as if they have been given individual consideration, Best Friend NYC keeps their customers (and their pets) smiling.

Selling the 'Build Customer Loyalty' Strategy To Your Clients

There is a familiar theme in the three sites we've looked at today - they all succeed in maintaining a strong relationship with their customers through personalization and regular communication.

This strategy is about keeping in touch with satisfied customers and periodically reminding them why they bought from you in the first place - all with the aim of encouraging repeat visits and purchases.

Help your clients build customer loyalty by:

  • Promoting newsletter subscriptions and using Email Marketing to stay in touch
  • Implementing subscription billing to generate automated, on-going cash flows
  • Personalizing the customer experience to keep them coming back

That's it for the "6 Online Business Strategies" series - we hope you've learnt some useful hints and tips for building powerful Online Business for your clients.

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Jackson Palmer | BC

6 Online Business Strategy Showcases Part 5 - Generate New Leads

Last month, we looked at Automating Customer Service using BC. This month we're looking at how to "Generate New Leads" as a strategy for your Online Business. Check out what we had to say last October, as part of our 6 Online Business Strategies.

Help Your Clients Qualify and Generate New Leads

Do your clients have a strategy or a process for generating new leads and passing them on to their sales team? Do they sell a highly customized or intangible product that can't simply be given a price and sold online?

Business Owners today are using web forms and quotes to automate the process of qualifying and generating leads. They're using workflows to alert the sales team via email and SMS, cutting the time the customer is waiting for their enquiry to be followed-up.

Here are some great examples of lead generation and capture on BC:

SimpleFlame - lead generation from a rebranded partner...


For our partners, you can optimize your own lead generation process by following this great example created by SimpleFlame. By placing effective calls to action at the base of the page they are funneling visitors to their contact page. The contact page uses a customized web form to capture additional information, including company details, cell phone number and most importantly, the type of job that the prospect is interested in engaging Simpleflame to quote and complete.

Every time this form is submitted, a workflow is triggered, alerting the sales team via email and SMS. If you or your client have large sales teams, you can use Customer Service Ticketing to delegate the enquiries to the team member with the least load. For more information on setting up CST, visit the:


House Of Bamboo - capturing leads using web forms...


Created by Click2It, this Online Business uses two highly customized contact forms to capture and qualify leads. You'll notice that the contact form collects information regarding the current project the prospect is working on. This is important for businesses who offer services that can't be sold online because the quoting process is too complex. Collecting this additional information gives the sales team a better understanding of the lead, allowing them to generate quotes and take a more personalized approach.

House of Bamboo also has a seperate business contact form, helping seperate sales leads from business or career enquiries.

Selling the 'Generate New Leads' Strategy To Your Clients

A familiar theme exists in the two sites we've looked at - they both effectively direct prospects to customized web forms, generating and qualifying new leads. These forms capture additional information about the lead which greatly helps the sales team in approaching them.

Sell this as a strategy to your clients where you can help them generate new leads by wisely placing calls to action, implementing customized contact forms and triggering workflows which automatically notify the sales team via emails and text messages.

In the next post, we'll be looking at how BC Partners have built sites that Build Customer Loyalty for their Clients. 


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