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Why your website may be losing you business
Back in 1999, after putting a couple of our designers through some training in web design, we landed our first website project following a branding project for the same client.
We quoted keenly and explained to the client that as well as being their first website, it would also be our first client site, hence the attractive costing. It went well. We launched it a few weeks later and the client was over the moon. It featured animated graphics, some great photography and linked up to their ordering system.
That was how it started, the first wave of the web
Clients knew they had to get online, we were also keen to play with the new technology, so over the next few years, these simple corporate sites were fairly regular projects alongside our other design work.
Then things started to change. Around 2005 clients also wanted to play with the web technology, so we started to replace the static sites we'd built with dynamic sites with database-driven content management system (CMS) which we'd developed ourselves and allowed our clients to create lots of content, very easily and at no extra cost. In addition, they wanted to be popular on Google, so we started working with them on SEO to achieve better ranking. At the same time, Wordpress was becoming popular, so we built a few sites on this platform too. In addition, email marketing really took off as did e-commerce.
This is what we called the second wave of the web.
Around 2010, mobile came into play, the iPad was launched and we started to find clients who wanted their websites to do even more, but not necessarily with any more budget. They wanted to start analysing their visitors, make their website even more dynamic, add calls to action (CTA's), capture data through multiple web forms and make their site earn its keep even if it wasn't an e-commerce site. They saw the likes of Amazon, John Lewis and Microsoft using the web to it's best and they wanted the same.
So here we are now in 2015, the third wave of the web.
Brand and design will always rule and the first impression of any site has to be the best it can be, no question. Beyond this though, the technology that also makes the site cutting edge, is almost as important. Why have a site that looks fantastic without any substance to convert visitors into customers? In addition, we now have to consider that the web is 'mobile first', so our designs have to be 'responsive' and work just as well on mobile as they do on desktop.
This brings me to the platform we've been using for the entire third wave. It's not bespoke, so it won't use your entire annual budget. It's not Wordpress as favoured by many design agencies and smaller clients (we also see some badly advised larger clients using Wordpress too). What's wrong with Wordpress you ask? If you're on a very tight budget, it's fine - we still use it for very small clients. Essentially designed as a blogging tool, it's now a competent, if complex CMS to use, however it does little else without the help of third party, often unsupported, 'free' plug-ins. Free these plug-ins may be, but not exactly what you want if your site is business critical. If a plug-in is not compatible with the latest Wordpress update, it can sometimes pull your entire site down.
Also, as the most prevalent CMS in the world (something a web designer may use as a justification for using it), it's also a hackers delight. See this link for 'breaches of Wordpress sites', it's a little alarming.
A Wordpress site is also a physical install, nothing changes from the day it is installed unless your developer keeps it updated with the numerous plug-ins they will have used. This will obviously incur some support costs to maintain.
So clients now not only want a CMS, they want to integrate their email marketing, they want to create events, be able to blog, view live stats, maybe include e-commerce and possibly a CRM system too.
Previously, the list may have read: Wordpress, MailChimp, Google Analytics, Magento, Woo Commerce, Salesforce or Infusionsoft.
Our list reads: Adobe Business Catalyst.
BC gives you 5 systems in one – a CMS, CRM, Email marketing, Analytics and E-commerce with a host of offer modules such as events and blogs, all fully integrated into one admin dashboard. In design terms, there are no restrictions, we'll ensure it's mobile responsive and as the front end is HTML based, it just works beautifully and simply.
BC is also fully hosted system, in other words, it's not a physical install, it's a cloud-based system known as SAAS (Software as a service) and sits on Amazon Web Servers. In simple terms this means it's constantly being improved.
The cost? Design and development is obviously based on the project, but suffice to say, there are no major platform set-up costs and annual hosting is in the low to mid hundreds.
BC does around 90% of what most companies need out of the box, and then we simply build 'Web Apps' to allow you to add things like 'Case Studies' and 'People Profiles' easily, that match the rest of the site without the need to have any web development skills.
We can create secure zones with different levels of access so that you can allow visitors to download or view restricted content.
Need to run and event? - just add it using the events module and promote it on the site or create a landing page based on a template we've designed for you.
Search engine optimisation (SEO)
BC also performs fantastically well for SEO - try a Google search for 'used dairy machinery' and you'll find our client Machinery World on page one or try 'oasis posters' and you'll see The Original Poster Shop on page 1. Good, relevant content is obviously key here, but it proves BC can do anything Wordpress claims to.
The BC dashboard is the first thing you see when you log-on – stats show visits and sales if you are selling anything on line, live feeds show email campaign stats, web enquiries and e-commerce activity.
Why your website may be losing business in the third wave of the web.
There are two reasons. Firstly, to run all the separate systems mentioned above is both time consuming, counter productive and costly and we don't find many clients that have the resources, so they may miss a few of these out and miss out on new business acquisition.
Secondly, these separate systems don't talk together automatically, so you may have to export your data from one system to run an email campaign for instance. Perhaps you had an email enquiry from your site but you overlooked it? With BC you can set reminders in the CRM to follow-up and also assign these web enquiries to others, perhaps a sales or customer services team.
The Manufacturing Technology Centre moved from one of our advanced bespoke content management systems to our BC platform last year and cannot praise the system enough. There are no limitations to what they can do online and with minimal training, they update the site daily in terms of Member updates, case studies, news items plus page edits and other additions.
The Focus Group had been using BC's CRM module for about 5 years through another agency. Once we had been appointed as their BC partner, we built an entirely new site on the platform so that they could leverage the full tool kit including email marketing, e-commerce and events.
As an Adobe Business Catalyst Premier Partner, we could talk all day about how BC can help improve your business and walk you through over 20 case studies of BC sites we've built. In reality, it only takes a few minutes for most clients to see the benefits and when we put the platform together with our creativity, most want to know how quickly we can get them up and running on BC.