Brett Welch | BC

Generating More Traffic With Affiliate Programs

Affiliate programs are a great way to help generate traffic to your online business. Here's how they work:

  1. You give your affiliates a special link that they then place on their website or their email campaigns
  2. Your affiliate's customers click on that link and come to your site
  3. That customer's actions are recorded taking note of the affiliate that referred them
  4. You can then reward your affiliate based on the actions that customer takes

Affiliate programs are a great win/win way to grow your traffic - and with BC, working with Affiliates is easy!

If you haven't already, create an Affiliate program in your system. You can do this by going to Content->Tools->Affiliate Programs. Click Add New and then give your program a name, and specify a landing page. The landing page is the page that customers land on when they follow a link on an affiliate's site or email.

Now you need to add your clients to your affiliate program. If they are not in your customer database already you should add them first via Customers->New Contact.

If they are in your database already, simply go to Customers->Search and then search for their customer record using their email address or name. When you find the right client, click on the record. Now click the Subscriptions tab. Under Affiliate Program Subscriptions click Edit.

Tick the check box next to the affiliate program you want them to be a part of, and click Save and Finish.

Next to the Program you just subscribed them to, click View Info.

A pre-made email will pop up for you to send to your newly minted affiliate, as well as some information on how to take the next steps.

And you've begun Affiliate Marketing - Huzzah!

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Brett Welch | BC

Creating A Searchable Article Database

It's quite common for businesses to want to publish a set of articles on their website. These articles are a great way to build credibility online, while adding high value content to your site for Google bait.
So why not build a searchable article database? It's easy to do using Web Apps. In fact it's probably THE most simple Web App around :)

So here's how:
1. Go to Content->Web Apps-> Create your own Web App.
2. Give your Web App a name like "Marketing Articles" or "Fishing Articles" depending on what your articles are about.
3. Click Save. And then - "Move on, nothing to see here..."

Yep, Believe it or not, that's it. Skip the "Fields" tab entirely, you don't need anything else but what's in a default Web App.

Now you've got your article database. Go to Content->Web Apps->Fishing Articles. Or whatever you called the Web App.
1. Click Add New, give your article a name, and select a template.
2. Click Save.
3. Go to the "Editor" tab, and enter in your article's content in the editor.
4. Click Save.

Now you've added an article. Sweet.

But wait.. there's more. I did promise to make these articles searchable.

Firstly, adding these to a page (as a list) is done via the Module Manager. Simply click on Content->Web Pages. Select your page and load up the editor, then click on the Module Manager. Under "Web Apps" you can see  "Web Apps" -  this will allow you to add a list of articles. But there's also "Web Apps Search Box". Select that, choose your articles app and insert it into the page. Once in the page you can customize the search form's look and feel.

And we're done -  a searchable database of valuable articles for your business, in less than an hour. Next time you see a coder, challenge them to create the same web app for you in the same amount of time :)

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Brett Welch | BC

How to Get Help with BC

We're always thinking of how to help our customers get the most out of BC. And we're always open to suggestions - if after reading this post you've got some ideas or comments on how we can help you better, tell us!

So here's a breakdown of all the resources around to help you use Business Catalyst.

  1. The Training Manual. Complete, comprehensive and ready for consumption chapter-by-chapter. Find it in the admin interface, top right corner: Have Questions? Get Answers!
  2. Training Videos. Watch and learn! Find them in the same place: admin interface, top right corner: Have Questions? Get Answers! You can also find them under the Support tab of this website.
  3. Knowledge Articles. Articles about DNS, FTP and more. Find them under the Support tab of this web  site.
  4. FAQs. Frequently asked questions! Search through them under the Support tab of this web site.
  5. Forums, where you can ask questions and get answers from us and our community. Find them in the administration interface, top right corner: Have Questions? Get Answers! You can also find them under the Support tab of this website.

And best of all
Freeeeeee online training sessions every Tuesday (AM) and Thursday (PM), with one of our trainers (they know stuff, and they're nice *wink* ). These Q&A sessions allow customers and partners to dial in and ask questions, while seeing the answer performed on the screen using screen-sharing meeting technology. It's a great way to learn, and you can attend as many times as you like. Bookings are essential: Book yourself in online, now.

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Brett Welch | BC

Slam The Web Form Spam

Don't you love how web forms on your site integrate directly into your customer database? And that you can get SMSes and Email notifications when customers enquire? It's so important to have your finger on the pulse of your online business, and BC makes that easy to do!

BUT nothing is more frustrating than Spam Web Form Enquiries. Blagh, yuck, ick.

So since in my last post I was talking about email spam and our anti-spam measures, so I thought it was appropriate to talk about another type of spam - Form Spam. You get Form Spam when computer programs known as bots or spiders come to your site and start looking for forms to fill in. They then automatically fill in those forms and submit them!

This then populates your customer database with bogus spammy entries that are of no value to your business.

Thankfully you can easily avoid this happening, using a Captcha. Captchas are simply an image that contain some letters and numbers and asks the person submitting the web form to identify the letters and numbers. This task is easy for a human, and really really hard for a computer program. Here's what a BC Captcha might look like:

Below this image would be a text box for the user to type in the letters and number they see.

To use a Captcha on your BC forms, go to Content->Web Forms and click on the web form you want to protect from spam. Click on the Forms tab and check the Image Verification check box. Click Save and then re-insert the web form onto your page via the usual methods (your choice of 1-Click Insert, Triangle or the Module Manager).

Now your form is spam-proof!

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Brett Welch | BC

A Note on Lists, Subscribers and Unsubscriptions

Spam is nasty! That's why BC takes our Anti-Spam measures very, very seriously. I wanted to provide a little understanding about how unsubscriptions work in the system to give you and your customers some peace of mind.

A customer in the system can belong to many lists, but the record is never duplicated. So a Subscriber is always the same customer in the system, even if they are subscribed to many lists.

Now, customers do not unsubscribe from lists but your campaigns. Your list is simply a set of your customers that you use to send an email newsletter to. However if a customer does not like your email newsletter and opts to unsubscribe then the system will record that they unsubscribed from a specific campaign and will mark them disabled from all future campaigns.

So, the customer will remain in this list(since the list is nothing more than a set of your customers that you have grouped together). But, for this customer to receive future emails newsletters from you, you will need to request permission from them to do so. You can do this in the subscriptions tab when viewing the customer record.

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Brett Welch | BC

Improving Customer Experience with Notes and Tasks

Did you know that you can record notes and tasks against customer records, orders and cases? It's a neat feature can often come in handy.

In dealings with customers, at times you may want to leave notes or create tasks for yourself. To do this, simply click on the Tasks button. The tasks button is viewable on any tab when viewing a customer record, and you  add a Note or a Task/Call/Meeting by simply clicking on it (Calls and Meetings are simply specialized Tasks).

You can also add reminders for Tasks, Calls and Meetings. Simply check the "Add Reminder?" checkbox and select the date and time to be reminded- An email will be sent to you at the time specified to remind you!

Finally, for a birds eye view of all of your tasks, you can view all tasks and retrieve tasks for a time period under Home->Tasks.

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Brett Welch | BC

Using Cases to Manage Customer Interactions (pt 2)

Last post I went through what a case is and how they are created - now, in part I'll show you how you can publish those cases online. There are many situations where you might want to allow your customers to view their cases online. For example a finance company may want to show customers the progress of their loan application. Whatever your businesss need, you can do this easily in a few steps.

1. Set up a Secure Zone for your customers.
2. Create a new web page and add it to the secure zone.
3. For that web page, click on the Editor tab and open up the Module Manager.
4. Under Secure Zones, you will see the case related modules such as
     a. Case Search, to search for cases by their name or ID number
     b. Customer Case History, to display all of the cases for that customer, or all of the cases related to a particular workflow(such as a loan request workflow for the finance company).

Insert the module you want to use, and you're done. As usual, you can customize the layout and the data for your cases in Administration->Customize. Click on "Customer Cases Templates".

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Brett Welch | BC

Using Cases to Manage Customer Interactions (pt 1)

Let's start with discussing what a Case is.

A Case is a record of a customer’s interaction with your business - simple as that! They can be created both manually and automatically. Cases would be created manually by the sales or customer service representative, when the customer contacts your business directly in person, via the phone or via email.

Cases are created automatically when a web form is submitted on your web site. The custom fields on that web form are also captured in the resulting Case Record. It is generally true that most cases in the system will be created via web form submissions.

It’s important to remember that a case should be created each time a customer interacts with your business - online and off! If you also create cases manually for all interactions with the customer, it will enable you to keep a history of all interactions with the customer! This is a key to creating better customer service and improving your customer's experience.

In part two i'll go over something really powerful - publishing customer case history in a secure zone on your web site! That means your customers can log in and see their case history...

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Brett Welch | BC

Uploading PDF and Word documents

Lately there's been a few questions about Literature - that is, uploading PDF and word documents to sites for customers to download. So here's a quick rundown on literature and how you use it.

What is Literature?
Literature is an extremely powerful tool for instant publishing of downloadable web content. Your online business can very quickly develop a literature library for access by website visitors. When Literature is downloaded by a website visitor, a record is made of the action. This means that you can now accurately track when literature is being viewed, how often and so forth.

Adding Literature
To create literature you must first author a document or file in its native format - such as Microsoft Word or PDF. Once you have the document in the format that you would like to be uploaded, go to Content->Literature

  1. Click Add New Literature.
  2. Enter Literature Details in the Details tab. Note that:
    1. Role responsible (advanced option) will notify the selected role if the item expires
  3. Click Save
  4. Upload Literature in Content tab
  5. Classify the Document if it is required (Classification Tab – see below for details)
  6. Add the Literature to a Secure Zone if it is required. (Secure Zone Tab - see below for details)
  7. Add the Literature to an RSS Channel if it is required. (RSS Channel tab – see below)
  8. Preview the Literature if desired (Preview Tab)

Note: You may decide not to use the Literature feature and upload or FTP your documents directly to your website. If you use this approach then you will need to manually create links to these documents. Also no usage tracking is available for these documents when Literature module is not used.

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Brett Welch | BC

A Time Saving Tip

Did you know you can prepare some content ahead of time? Blog posts, announcements, FAQs, web pages, products, catalogues (pretty much anything actually) can all be prepared before they are needed and scheduled to go out using the "Release Date" field. You can also use the "Expiry Date" to make the content disappear too - for a christmas sale catalogue in your shop, for example.

So when you've got a moment prepare next week's announcments and schedule them to go out when you desire :)

P.S This post was scheduled a few days ago. Why? Because I could :)

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