Business Catalyst Showcase San Francisco Zoo

San Francisco Zoological Society uses Adobe® Business Catalyst® to revitalize its website and digital communications to reach wider audiences and attract new memberships

When people think about the zoo, it’s likely they’ll conjure up images of large exotic animals; cute, fuzzy newborns; and slithering, scaly reptiles. Since 1929, families have flocked to the San Francisco Zoo to get a glimpse of more than 260 animal species they’d otherwise have to travel the world to see. As a family destination, the Zoo’s mission is to connect people with wildlife and advance conservation action while portraying a safe, inspiring, and adventurous environment.

Since its inclusion in the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in the 1930s, the Zoo has changed dramatically, evolving over the decades to include new buildings, conservation centers, and membership opportunities. However, its website and other online properties didn’t match the Zoo’s progression and mission, or offer modern day convenience. The most recent evolutionary step involved marrying the look, feel, and functionality of its website with the family-oriented, world-class experience the Zoo aims to promote.

The San Francisco Zoo adopted Adobe Business Catalyst to redesign its website from scratch, making it easier to navigate, enabling online purchasing, and creating a softer, more inviting online experience. “We looked at a variety of different solutions to help us revamp the website and our ongoing member communications,” Fletcher says. “Adobe Business Catalyst provides all the tools we need to create exactly the experience we want and in a very cost-effective manner.”

San Francisco Zoo

A new view of the Zoo

The previous iteration of the San Francisco Zoo’s website had an impersonal feel and limited functionality. While the site did have a fair amount of content, modifying and managing the layout was a time-consuming, manual process. More importantly, several important online engagement points—such as calendars, event registration, and the ability to purchase admission tickets or memberships—needed updating.

With Business Catalyst, managing the website and adding rich, dynamic functionality is simplified. The fully integrated online marketing platform provides a comprehensive array of content management, customer database development, and email marketing solutions from a single, intuitive dashboard.

The Zoo staff uses Adobe Photoshop® to enhance images for the site ranging from close-up portraits of the animals to brilliant photographs of wild plants to panoramic views of the Zoo’s grounds. Images are uploaded to the Adobe CMS using simple point-and-click operations, where they’re dropped into the website HTML framework created in Adobe Dreamweaver® and transitioned through the Dreamweaver extension to Business Catalyst. The Adobe solution features web page templates and other pre-built web forms, including a robust customer relationship management (CRM) function, enabling Fletcher to simply move creative elements around to produce highly customized, and engaging web pages.

San Francisco Zoo

“Adobe Business Catalyst has a number of built-in forms and modules that make it easy to incorporate business-critical applications without coding or plug-ins,” Fletcher says. “Now we have dedicated spaces for news and events, registration forms, photo galleries, and online ticket and membership purchasing options; things we couldn’t offer in the past.”

In addition, the Zoo uses the integrated email marketing and built-in analytics features to reach out to Zoo visitors and track the effectiveness of the communications. The Business Catalyst CRM module automatically captures and compiles visitor data from form fields. “Now it’s easy for us to build highly-targeted lists for each of our outbound channels,” Fletcher says. “Adobe Business Catalyst provides a number of templates for our newsletter and email marketing campaigns where we simply add our own content, choose a list, and send without having to spend hours sorting data or scheduling delivery.”

For all its outbound communications, the built-in analytics are helpful in determining the relevance and impact of the content. Business Catalyst records each interaction Zoo visitors have with the Zoo’s website and its outbound communications. Without requiring complex tracking codes, the Adobe solution can instantly monitor and report on email open rates as well as visitors’ online activity. Combined with deep insight into the most popular web pages, visitor navigation pathways, and even net gains or losses in email lists, Business Catalyst provides a powerful, comprehensive look into how effectively the Zoo is reaching existing and potential visitors.

San Francisco Zoo

A wider reach

Business Catalyst has had a profound impact on the San Francisco Zoo’s marketing and community outreach activities. Adobe solutions have made creating a more engaging, dynamic website and digital marketing deliverables faster, easier, and more cost effective. The result has been an impressive upward trend in the Zoo’s online visibility and awareness of its membership options among the general public.

“Adobe Business Catalyst has simplified the process of creating complex digital assets that attract more web traffic and hold visitors’ attention longer,” says Fletcher. “The photo galleries and carousel on the home page that link to landing pages promoting events, camps, and classes are fun ways of engaging audiences that can be easily tracked to show how many visitors clicked on certain elements and help us modify and adapt content faster.”

Because Business Catalyst provides outstanding flexibility and intuitive controls, other Zoo employees are able to contribute to the ongoing website improvement, taking charge of managing certain pages or content in their respective areas of expertise. “Not having to worry about learning how to make changes to HTML or CSS lets other team members get more involved,” Fletcher says. “Now, our personnel in finance, membership sales, and education and conservation can make edits they feel are necessary and have access to all the data on the back end they need to do their jobs better. Adobe Business Catalyst is everything we need it to be.”

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