bardia housman

I can't resist! Star performer? Web Apps - again!

I couldn't resist when I saw this. This one (http://shemoves.com.au/t-perth.htm) is an implementation by one of our web designer partners in Perth, Australia. This is a cleverly designed calendar cum booking system that combines our Web Apps to create a calendar of upcoming gym classes. Various web app items (i.e. classes) are classified in different categories to achieve the layout. It combines our booking engine to automate and manage the entire process of booking members into classes.

Neat? Very much so. The best part about it is that this partner was able to implement all of this himself without a single line of coding and without engaging a developer. The bottom line is a significantly faster turn around and more profits in his pocket.

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bardia housman

The evolution of web hosting

For 4 years we've been preaching online businesses, not websites. In the first few years, it was difficult to make people understand and really appreciate what we were saying. Although a little to our detriment it's been well worth it. This vision has ensured that we stayed on the right track throughout.

The tide of online businesses is here. Business owners are much more engaged with their websites than ever before. They appreciate that their website is their business, an online business. When a business owner has this realization, they'll think of and treat their websites fundamentally differently henceforward. The conversation moves away from web pages, content and hits. They look for key business metrics such as leads and conversions. They think of their customers as the core, rather than their content. They use tools to automatically build profiles around customers so they can understand them better and therefore increase their profits. They look for ways to automate and streamline business tasks using workflows and so forth.

In 2-3 years this is how your typical web hosting will look like for all business owners.
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bardia housman

Anonymity is hurting your business

Over the last 10 years website reporting has become stagnant and boring. There is a constant flow of feedback from business owners who are confused and struggling by their website statistics. In fact what I tend to hear from business owners, even with the advent of Google Analytics, is that they still don't have the full picture of their online business. The problem with these reporting systems is - anonymity. If they can't tell you which visitor is Mr Smith and which is Mrs Jones, how does this help you treat Mr Smith differently from Mrs Jones?

As a fellow business owner I can't think of anything more important. I must know who my customers are so I can best serve them. Something to think about for 2008? I think so!
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bardia housman

SEO, SEO and why it's important to you

Business owners are becoming technically more savvy nowadays. That's great to see. One of the questions we constantly receive from our customers is around SEO, e.g. "is your system search engine friendly?". This is a valid and important question, and one that every person should be asking before investing in a potential online system.

Over the years we've made a significant investment in ensuring our system is SEO friendly and I felt it'd be worthwhile to recap where we are at.

Maximum Visibility in Google, Yahoo and Microsoft
We produce the sitemap.xml file for your site each day. Unlike most feeds, the feed we create for your site is encompassing of your web pages, every product in your online shop, references to your forum topics, blog posts and more. This ensures your content gets maximum visibility in the leading search engines. You may want to familiarize yourself with this file and its benefits via the Google Webmaster tools https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/

Friendly URLs
This system produces friendly URLs for your website, blogs and online shop catalogues and products. This approach means your URLs are much more human friendly and contain rich, relevant keywords that the search engines love.

Here's a typical system-generated (unfriendly) URL:
http://yourdomain.com/CatalogueRetrieve.aspx?CatalogueID=123

Here's a typical search engine friendly URL:
http://yourdomain.com/_catalogue/plasma_televisions

Manual 301 Redirects
Often you may want to retire one web page and start a fresh version. If the old page has high PageRank, then the only way to preserve the PageRank is to use the search engine friendly method of a 301 Redirect to automatically navigate visitors accessing the old page to the new. Now you can on a per web page basis setup a 301 Redirect to any other web page.

System Redirects
In general any form of redirect on a customer website should use a 301 Redirect to ensure PageRank is not compromised. Every single system redirect in this system uses a 301 Redirect. This is what the search engines love! You may want to use this tools to verify any redirect to see if it is using a 301 Permanent Redirect or the non-search engine friendly method of 302 Temporary Redirect http://www.internetofficer.com/seo-tool/redirect-check/.

As you can see we've been busy but we know our efforts around SEO can never be finished, it's an evolving world and one that we are totally committed to.

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bardia housman

Guessing they saved $1,000 on development

I've seen designers do amazing things with our Web Apps framework, really doing the line "be a coder without coding" justice. But the other day I came across a site by one of our partners which really impressed me. They've implemented a real estate property listings site with sophisticated search without a single line of coding. View it here, be sure to check the property search feature on the home page. They would have easily saved $1,000's in development costs and weeks on implementation time, meaning more profits for them!
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bardia housman

Business Catalyst Website v4 launched!

This week we released the 4th version of the BC website. It's been in the works for a little while and it's fantastic to finally release it to the public. A big thanks to our design and marketing teams who worked so hard and did such a marvelous job with it!

Since 2004, we've released a new version of our website every year. To be precise that's 4 different websites. Certainly we didn't plan it like that, but given the growth of our business and the rapid changes in the industry it has made sense to make these changes. I think it's just part of the business. After all a website is constantly evolving and can never be finished. How many facelifts have you given your website?

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Brett Welch | BC

Aside: Modern Day Gladiators - A Little Inspiration

In many ways, the small business entrepreneur is a modern day gladiator. They are sportsmen and women, their field is their business, and profits keep score.

But like all sportspeople, it's easy to get down. Fighting, running, striving, strategizing and improvising is tiring. Small business entrepreneurs never say die, but sometimes you might feel like giving up. Investor Yossi Vardi used this quotation from Roosevelt in a speech to entrepreneurs (found via TechCrunch).

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt, 1910.

I hope that in your daily endeavours for your business' success, that you find this as inspiring as I did.


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bardia housman

Email Marketing v2 continued..

Back in July I wrote about a major enhancement we were making to Business Catalyst's Email Marketing feature. With the new release now entrenched in BC and being used on a daily basis by our customers, I wanted to highlight what this really means for a business owner. If you are a newbie or even a veteran in the email marketing space, you'll know that the only metrics available to you to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns are things like: how many people received your newsletter, how many opened it, which links where clicked on and so forth. Our new approach goes beyond open rates and bounces and measures customer actions. Actions are those things that customers do on your website that have a bottom-line impact, e.g. customer purchased $200 from your online shop (as a result of your email newsletter), or customer booked into your upcoming event (as a result of your email newsletter) and so forth.

Below is a campaign we sent out to a segment of our customer base at the beginning of September. The results are both fascinating and demonstrative of how clearly we are able to measure the effectiveness of our campaign.





After we sent this campaign we filled 12 out of the 14 spots of an online training course we are holding, and we received a number of other enquiries on other matters. The results speak for themselves. Campaign successful! I certainly believe this heralds a new era in email marketing.

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bardia housman

Business Catalyst running Business Catalyst

This past weekend was all about BarCamp and as a new attendee, I can only give the experience two thumbs up. There was a real mix of entrepreneurs both seasoned and those starting up and the level of discussions was non short of passionate. We did our presentation at 10:30am and as Brett mentions in his post, we got a great reception to the product. One of the questions we got asked during our session was whether we run our online business through Business Catalyst. And of course the answer is unequivocally 'yes'.

But it made me think. What is it that we actually use BC for and what would we do it if there was no BC. At a basic level we use Business Catalyst to host our website and run our corporate email. We use it for all our email marketing campaigns. We use it to do our customer service and manage SLAs. We use the recurring billing system to send out invoices to our customers and automate the collection of payments from them. We use it as our contact management aka CRM system. And the list goes on.

What's scary is if we had to buy each of these components from separate providers and manage them as one cohesive system. I'd even go as far as saying that I think we'd need to hire a junior person to shovel our information from one system to another to undertake all the sales, service and marketing activities that our business needs. But then there is the cost factor. But we can leave that for another time!

 

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bardia housman

Email Marketing v2?

Today we put the final touches on our new revamped email marketing reporting framework  which we will be adding to Business Catalyst. To give some background, email marketing has been a part of our plaform for a few years now and the reporting is definitely due for a facelift. But in that time we've launched our Goals Framework which acts like a brain for all Business Catalyst customers. The new reporting framework will provide customers with information previously near impossible or too time consuming to collect. Email marketing is a commodity and you can expect reports such as: open rates, bounces, popular links, subscriptions and unsubscriptions from almost any provider. Now imagine without having to add a single line of code to your Business Catalyst website, you get stats like:

Of those who opened the email:

  • 10% bought product x, 22% bought product y
  • 23% filled in your "December Sales Enquiry Form"
  • 5% subscribed to your other monthly newsletter
  • 22% made a comment on your blog
  • Average sale price via the online shop was $344
  • and the list goes on..

I'm pretty excited about this improvement and what it'll mean for our customers and partners. I know it'll turn the email marketing game upside down!

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