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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Jackson Palmer | BC

Your Guide To Better Client Communication (Part 1)

Communication

You may be a professional web designer, but that doesn't mean you're also a mind reader - that's why it's crucial to have a process for communicating with your clients effectively.

This is the first post in a new three-part series, "Your Guide To Better Client Communication". Over the coming months, we'll be exploring how you can establish a better flow of communication with your clients, starting on day one of your business relationship.

Talk About Their Business

When meeting with a client, what's the first thing you talk about? For most successful Web Designers out there, the answer is unanimous: talk about the client's business.

It doesn't matter if they're a cold prospect or someone who's found and approached you - this is your chance to make your pitch about genuinely improving their business rather than focusing on technology or your own skills.

It's a matter of one simple question:

"So, before we get into it - tell me about your business"

Find out when they started, how business is going, what they sell and how they sell it. Show interest and ask questions - "that's an interesting sales process, how does it affect XYZ?" - you're fishing out information about the way they sell and run their business, so you can customize a solution for them.

Your goal is to set the agenda of the first meeting as being about your client's business and what you can do in your capacity as a web designer to help them improve. Everyone loves to talk about their own business, so this is also a nice way to break the ice.

Understand What They Want

Now that you have a firm grasp of how your potential client's business works, the next logical question is: "what are you hoping to achieve online?"

You've got to understand what their expectations are, their motivation and their desired results. Why are they going online? Why do they want to work with you?

Try and get them to express their goals in business oriented terms - I need to: "reach a wider audience", "generate online sales", "get old customers to come back" etc. Some clients are not going to have a clue and look to you for guidance. Others will think they know everything and promptly go about showing off how much they know.

Both the content of their answers and their attitude in answering gives you important information. You may need to alter their expectations, dialing down their enthusiasm to a more realistic level. On the other hand, you may need to significantly ramp it up, opening their eyes so they can see the possibilities they're missing out on.

The key here is to get inside the head of the client and understand how they work and exactly what they want, before proceeding with the project.

What's Next?

What's Next

So you've talked in-depth about their business and gained an understanding of what the'yre looking to achieve online - all from the very beginning of your designer / client relationship.

The open flow of communication and level of understanding you've established has set the stage for better results and a happier a client.

In the next post, we'll be continuing the series by looking at how you can start talking strategy and setting business targets with 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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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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Jackson Palmer | BC

6 Online Business Showcases To Guide Your Clients - Selling Online

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.

MidoriRideShopCheckout

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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