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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Dave and Kim Kolb share experiences in growing their business, – ideas that could help grow your design business.

After meeting at a resort, falling in love and being laid off at the 2000 tech bubble burst, Dave and Kim decided it was time to build their own Web company.

By combining and complementing their strengths in strategy, design and marketing, was born.

MP3 audio interview of Dave and Kim Kolb, has them candidly sharing:

  1. Finding motivation in each other and maintaining a "CAN DO" attitude, to get through the tough times.
  2. Have fun doing it - Love what you do and "whatever you do", do it well.
  3. Taking time to follow up with every client (Kim sends personal welcome cards to every one of their customers).
  4. Dave shares his feelings on building their own CMS and the pain of using lots of 3rd party open source plug-ins, that didn't always work.

In their words:

  • Keep it simple and excel at the basics.
  • Don't be all things to all people, you'll drive yourself crazy.
  • Know who you are and what you do.

A Business Catalyst feature that benefits their clients:

"We view InContextEditing as the strongest sales tool within the tool set that BC offers. You can take a mere mortal and have them updating their website in no time with little or no training. The power this gives the client is priceless. They feel like they are actually participating."

I hope you enjoy hearing some of their story as much as I did.

Adam :)

Click here for the mp3 interview of Dave and Kim Kolb.

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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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Brett Welch | BC

Increasing Online Conversions: The Window Shopper Syndrome

Every business owner wants to increase conversions. Whether it's trying to get browsers in your street level clothing store to buy, or website visitors to add a product to their cart, we're all playing a game of converting browsers into buyers.

Naturally there are some browsers in your shop that are really quite serious and almost ready to buy. And there are also various degrees of browsers. I'm going to bunch all the browsing customers and call them Window Shoppers - ranging from completely uncommitted passers by to browsers in your shop tugging at a new sweater.

Recently I was in a store that I had no intention of buying anything from. As I walked through the store casting my eyes around, I started wondering:

How could this store's owner turn ME into a buyer?

Which leads me to a second thought. If I'm in your store I'm 1000 times more valuable than someone in the street, even if I have no intention of buying today. Why? Because you have my attention. It's your shop, your staff and your message. You should have a pretty good chance of converting me. Maybe not today, but one day. Buying decisions are often cumulative things.

But before we get too deep into this, let's try and get inside the head of a window shopper.

The Window Shopping Syndrome

While this would apply to both online and offline stores, I'm going to focus on ecommerce, or online stores. In this context, a window shopper is someone browsing your ecommerce store.

Window shoppers, the lovable little creatures that we are, share some similarities in the way they think. I've identified two things that are true of online window shoppers (By Brett's hand-waving theory of common sense and reasoning).
  1. They're actually looking for a product they want that you have, but they're not ready to buy yet. This is sometimes called pre-shopping - finding out information and prices etc before the purchase.
  2. They're interested in some information that you have, or just like to look at the latest widget thingy-ma-bob. They're a fan. In any case, they're not buying anything in particular, but you probably sell products or have information that they're generally interested in.
Thankfully when your shop is online your visitors are usually fairly targeted already. You're not so likely to get people wandering onto your website who are just waiting for their tardy friend.

So if that's what they're, how can we keep them happy? How can we convert these browsers into buyers - even though they're not really thinking of buying?

I think there's two things to accept up front:
  • They probably won't buy today.
  • They might buy in the future, but you can't be sure.
With that in mind, we've got to come up with ways so that they remember us when they DO want to buy.

3 Tactics to Increase Conversions: Recruit the Window Shoppers

Use Email Newsletters to Snag Future Customers

Have you got an email newsletter? Throughout your site, think about how you can prominently display your newsletter. Explicitly ask your website users to subscribe to your newsletter.

Use wording to incentivize the sign up - remember, you have to answer their inevitable question "why should I sign up? Phrases like "Sign up to receive updates on our products" are okay, but not as good as "sign up and receive discounts inside our monthly newsletter". Make sure you follow up on these promises though!

Give the Fans Even More Great Content

Search engines love content; so do fans. If you have reviews and comments on the latest iPod, it will be of interest to iPod fans. Write honest reviews of your products. Take photos and post them. Make videos showing you using the product or service if possible, and put them on YouTube. These things make your site a hub of information for people, and make you their top-of-mind store to buy their favorite widget from.

Build a Community

People like to hang out. They like to discuss and post their thoughts. Give your visitors a reason to stay! You can use Forums - why not link your forums to your products, so that people can discuss particular products? Or you could simply enable comments on your online store so that people can tell others what they think.

The 4Cs

Most of these ideas are easily derived out of the 4Cs framework - it's all about Content, Credibility, Conversion and Customer. Remember to keep what your customers are looking for right at the top of your list of priorities, and you'll be heading in the right direction.
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bardia housman

Upcoming Book: Website Breakthrough 10 Easy Steps

Recently I was honored to be asked by Luke Hayes to participate in an advanced reading of his upcoming book "Website breakthrough 10 Easy Steps". Luke is an extremely successful internet marketer and has been in the game for a long time. I respect his mission (and drive) to help business owners succeed online. I found his book to be an easy read. He cleverly breaks down all the concepts so that those new to the game can grasp them quickly. More importantly it covered everything a business owner needs to know to start-up and begin to run a successful online business. 

You may have read about my 4C's of online success (Content->Credibility->Conversion->Customer). In his book, Luke sets the foundations for a perfect lead-in to the critical 4th C (the Customer) where Business Catalyst plays such a vital role. Our approach to see the customer (rather than content) as the centre of an online business enables business owners to understand their customers so they can increase their profits. After all it's cheaper to market to existing customers rather than pursue new ones.

Make sure you read Luke's book when it's published, as to get to the 4th C, you need to have covered the first three.
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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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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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