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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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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In the last post, we looked at some great examples of Blogs and Email Marketing on BC. This time, we're looking at how to "Automate Your Customer Service" 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 Serve Their Customers

Does your client find themselves on the phone all day? Do their customers complain that they can't be contacted after hours?

Today, Business Owners are using self-help portals to automate their customer service allowing them to work on the business, not the phones. They're using web-forms to qualify enquiries before directing them to the right person to answer them, and they're directing customers to FAQs, how-to's and do-it-yourself articles. All this cuts down the live help load.

Here are some great examples of automated customer service on BC:

Spitfire - great service from a rebranded partner...

For our rebranding partners, you can turn your free partner site into a self-help portal for your own clients by following this fantastic example created by MDX Interactive. Once an existing customer logs in, they are provided with links to a knowledge base of self-help tutorials, video training, forums and the unbranded Online Business Wiki. Setting up a secure support zone for your client's customers will help ease the demand for time-consuming Live Help.

Bogan Bingo - automating booking enquiries...

Created by Renaissance Funk, this fun Online Business is managing booking enquiries using web forms. You'll notice that the form collects details such as Venue, Date and No. of Guests, alerting the business owner of the enquiry and allowing them to quote a price based on these fields. You can set up a similar system up for your client using Web Forms, triggering a Workflow that notifies them when a new enquiry is made.

Food Matters - serving customers with an FAQ...

Always Interactive has helped Food Matters answer customer queries by building an extensive FAQ that provides all the relevent information in one place. For example, clicking "Can I call to place an order over the phone?" provides customers with a direct phone number they can call. FAQs are a great way of organizing the most important information for your client's customers in one, easy to navigate page.

Selling the 'Automate Your Customer Service' Strategy To Your Clients

Although employing different tactics, there's a familiar theme present in all three sites we've looked at - they all succeed providing customers with the information they need in an automated and efficient manner. This strategy is about taking the stress and distraction away from the business owner by streamlining the customer service process and allowing them to focus on running their business

Help your clients automate their customer service by implementing features such as FAQ's, Enquiry Forms and building Self-Help Portals for their customers.

In the next post, we'll be looking at how BC Partners have built sites that Generate New Leads for their Clients. 

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In the last post, we looked at some great examples of Online Communities running on BC. This time we're looking at "Amplify Your Voice" as a strategy for your Online Business. This means that you're selling a solution to increase publicity for a cause or organisation. In particular we're focusing on sites using Blogs, Email Marketing and RSS, in synergy, to achieve this. Check out what we had to say last October, as part of our 6 Online Business Strategies.

Blogs as a Marketing and Publicity Channel

Small business owners and organisations are now using blogs to publish content to attract new customers and keep them interested. Blogs should be used as part of a broader, integrated Marketing strategy, where customers are alerted to blog and announcement updates via Email Marketing, and RSS Feeds.

Here are some cool examples of BC powered blogs:

Artsprojekt - reaching artists worldwide...

This stylish site by Level9 Design aims to "liberate artists worldwide" and keeps in contact with it's community by way of blogging. The Artsprojekt team use a BC Blog to post interviews, promote competitions and announce new products. If you look at the bottom of the right-hand side bar you'll notice a 'Email This' form which is an example of the 'Refer-a-Friend' module being added to the site template.

Dubbo City Council - media releases via blogs...

Dubbo City Council
Created by Bos Web Systems, this local Government site uses blogs and announcements to publish media releases and news, bringing the local community together. New content is displayed on the home page via an Announcements module, increasing blog visits. It's a great way for Dubbo council to keep in touch with it's constituents compared with the traditional mail-out that most other local Governments have.

Rob Munnik Productions - creating a media stream using a blog...

Community Productions
Joi Design has customized a BC blog that Rob Munnik & Community Productions use to post embedded video episodes of their weekly Television series called SchoolsInc Television. Embedding video on a blog is an easy (just copy and paste the HTML embed code from the video site of your choice) way to create your own media stream, like having a personal TV Channel.

Using Email Marketing to Increase Blog Traffic

Don't expect people to automatically come and visit your site when you make updates. You'll need to use Email Marketing and RSS to push updates to your audience. As part of an integrated marketing approach, "Subscribe Me " and "Tell a friend" forms can be used to capture users in your CRM database, whom you can email on a regular basis to tell them about site updates and news.

If your audience isn't interested in giving their email address to you but still wants to be updated then you still have the option to provide an RSS channel for them to subscribe to. 

Selling the 'Amplify Your Voice' Strategy To Your Clients

This strategy is about keeping an open and constant flow of communication between your client and their customers, so prospects are not forgotten, and neither is the business. Nothing is more powerful than fresh, high-quality content in attracting an audience. Make sure you make the most of it by using a combination of of Blogs, Announcements, RSS and Email Marketing so you can regularly update your audience on what's new!

In the next post of the series, we'll be looking at how BC Partners have built sites that automate Customer Service for their Clients.

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In the last post, we looked at some great examples of eCommerce shops running on BC. Luckily for you, there's more to work than just building online stores with products, catalogs and checkouts. This time, we're looking at sites whose main focus is building an online community.

Part 2 - Build Your Community

"To build an online community, you'd need to nurture a social site with a discussion forum and post regular news on a blog to keep visitors coming back. Make a space for photo-uploads to show what's going on in your community, post podcasts of speeches or presentations for your visitors to download in a members-only area. Make sure members know about your site and that they contribute as well!" - taken from the BC Blog, last October.

Community Sites on BC

Why would you build a community site? Traditionally, not-for-profits like churches charities and government organisations used these to get their message out. However we're now seeing savvy marketers use online community sites to drive traffic to a product/service or a cause. The community (in the form of a blog, forums and anything else user posted) generates credibility and fresh content that attracts and builds an organic following. Let's have a look at a few:

Youngstown Metro Church - a modern online community...

This non-profit site by The Media District takes church community building to the next level by empowering visitors to contribute through the forums, prayer wall (comments) and a mini-site called metro-connect that's a dedicated portal for registering as a church volunteer or a family group. The site is centered around the blog on the front page which is used by the staff to post news and share thoughts. There's also a media page where you can download podcast sermons as Literature items. The whole gamut of BC features being used here to achieve an immersive user experience.

Best Buddies Australia - a simple charity site...

Best Buddies Australia Thumbnail
A more conventional not-for-profit site to help those with intellectual disabilities socialize and find employment, Best Buddies was built by Bos Web Systems. They've used secure zones to create the 'Buddy Up' login area for members and they've used eCommerce to allow donations and merchandise sales to raise money for the community.

Evolution Through Vacation - community sites as a marketing strategy...

Evolution Through Vacation
So far we've showcased a church and a charity, now comes the community site that's part of a marketing strategy to drive more sales - this type of site has been gaining traction for several years and is now reaching the mainstream. Check out Evolution Through Vacation by Osmond Design. Using BC Blogs to publish content, E-Commerce to sell their 'e->v' guide and email marketing to send a regular newsletter, this site also has a neat modal photo uploader for users to submit their own photos. Photos are sharedusing a Flickr flash slideshow (presumably the site owner vets and moves photos from their own site onto Flickr).

Selling The Online Community Site To Your Clients

These are some fantanstic examples to follow when building an Online Community. The main focus here is for users to be able to interact in some way - contribute their own content, register to become a members, communicate with other site users or the site owner and these are the topics you should be talking to your prospects about. Media and marketing are about having a conversation and presenting your prospects with a community site proposal will illustrate a clear need to upgrade from their 3-4 year old ecommerce-only or brochureware site.

In the next post of the series, we'll be looking at how BC Partners are using Blogs and Email Marketing to amplify their voice- and be heard.

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Software Designer
How often have you engaged a client who's not quite sure what they want from their website? A lack of clear direction leads to a website that's a haphazard mish-mash of content, images, ads and navigation menus that's a nightmare for the user and doesn't convert because it bounces visitors.

To counter this problem we need to think with the end in mind when designing for a client. We need to guide them through different strategies for different types of sites. This post kicks off a 6-part series where we're going to carefully and concretely examine each of the 6 Online Business strategies in action using live BC Partner Designed sites as showcases...

Part 1 - Selling Online

"To reach sales targets and reduce shopping cart abandons, you'll need to focus on an all-in-one eCommerce site complete with catalogs, products, shopping cart, shipping and a payment gateway and that provides an immersive and seamless shopping experience." - taken from the BC Blog, last October.

Catalog and Product Layouts

Are featured products being displayed on the homepage? When designing online shops make sure you put a large gallery or catalog of featured products on the front page (just like a department store front window display) - it entices customers to click through and makes the intention of the website clear, this is an online shop and I'm here to buy. Furthermore, it's a good idea to have catalog-subnavigation on the homepage as well so browsing products is only 1 click away. A great example is Designer Mum by GloobleWeb.

Designer Mum Screenshot

Shopping Cart Design

One of the most overlooked elements of online store design is a clearly accessible 'Checkout' button that's accessible from anywhere on the site (not just the catalogs/products subsections) - Pretty Pollution show us an elegant solution by putting a customized checkout button in the page template header for ArtCoolMad.

Art Cool Mad
As for Shopping Cart customization, iBingz by Click2IT takes the prize here with their very simple summary of products you've ordered and their 2 calls-to-action - you can either checkout or continue shopping. I like this approach to limiting options for the shopper (less thinking).

iBingz Screenshot

Checkout Design

Finally we go to MidoriRideShop by MoultonStudio for an example of how to customzie a Checkout form. They've made it easy to fill out by segmenting it into 3 distinct bite sized pieces and asking for the minimum information they need. There's less fields, it's less daunting and a nice touch is the final order price in large font at the bottom with the 'Place Order' button underneath.


Common Themes across Different Shops

We might've chosen 4 different sites to showcase different features but the recurring theme we glean is that each site is a laser-focused online store that's easy to use and navigate from end-to-end in the online shopping process. We're presented only with as much information as we require, and we only need to make a minimum of mouse-clicks to make the purchase. It's an integrated and seamless experience with no speed humps. These are excellent examples to follow when you design your online shop.

In the next post of the series, we'll be looking at how BC Partners have built Online Communities to attract traffic.

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