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Personalization Power

- Wednesday, November 01, 2006
One of our partners recently read my last blog post and came back with a neat idea. He was thinking along a slightly different track, but the result was a good one! It all came from his comment that research had shown that your could improve conversion rates (the percentage of browsers that convert to buyers) by 30% if you personalized your content to include the customer's name.

Of course you can do that using our email marketing, but what about on web pages? Imagine going to a web page and seeing the content personalized for you:

    "Brett, your life is at a cross roads. Buy our product now and we'll help you."

Ok, so maybe my copy could do with some work, but you see what I mean - it's about personalizing a web page for a particular customer. So you could feasibly use the "Curly Urly" trick to personalise a page for recipients of your email campaigns! This is how you'd do it.
  • Create the landing page you want your customers to land on. I’m going to call it “lando”.
  • Write your copy for your landing page, but wherever you want their first name to appear, write : {module_url, name}
  • In your email campaign that is going out, insert a link to the "lando" page.
  • Modify that link by hand, so that the "href" part points to{tag_recipientfirstname}
So now, when you click on the link in the email it will replace the {tag_recipientfirstname} with the recipients first name. That will get passed to the “lando” page which will, in turn, replace with the recipients first name!

Neat-o! 30% Higher conversion rates, here we come...

Of course, you could use CSS stylesheets to make the name stand out more too!

Aside: The research that yeilded the 30% figure was not conducted by us and we do not have access to the source of those figures. However, we do know that personlization of email marketing campaigns is highly effective, so it stands to reason that web pages would have the same effect. If anyone has any other stats or research on the topic, leave us a comment so we can check it out!

Curly Urly

- Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Time for another hidden feature - one that we’ve used on our new site! This one allows you to pass values along any URL. You can use this for pretty much anything that catches your fancy! Warning – this is a little advanced – HTML and javascript knowledge required!

So, have you ever wanted to grab values out of the URL? E.g.

And why would you want to? Well, you can grab these values from your URL and use them in your javascript to do different things. For example - on the BC home page, take a look at the URLs on the left-handside that all point to the Tour page. See how they all slightly differ? When you click on them, we grab the value from the URL, and use it in our javascript to hide/show DIVs which contain different strategies.

So how can you do this? Try { module_url }

Simply pass in the variable name in the query string. In the above example, the variable name is “Value”. So when we use module_url, { module_url,Value } will display : "NewUser"

And so, in your javascript you can start doing some great stuff.

<script language=javascript>

var query = '{ module_url,value }';

if (query == 'NewUser')  {
        // make some div visible
        document.getElementById('somediv').style.display = 'inline';
else { 
        // make some other div visible 
        document.getElementById('anotherdiv').style.display = 'inline';


So you can see that now we can make our pages really dynamic, passing in variables to achieve various effects. Imagine a search engine keyword marketing campaign where a different keyword was passed in based on which ad the user had clicked on. We can then customize the landing page to maximize conversion. There’s literally thousands of ways you could use this feature – any ideas?

You couldn't possibly do something like this...?

- Friday, October 06, 2006
I’ve heard it a few times from partners (and potential customers).

“This might be a stupid question. BC probably can’t do this, but I thought I’d ask anyway... My client wants to...”

In fact, this is not a stupid question. It's one that people should ask more often – because the answer is “yes” more often than you might realise. Let me throw an example out there. Lets say you wanted to put book reviews on your site. Each Book Review would consist of:
  • A photo of the book
  • A review text
  • An author (of the book)
  • An author (of the review)
  • An ISBN
  • A publisher
You might want some more things in there, but that'll do for my little example. What I've just done is define a type. Now i can add items of that type. Once I've added items, you can easily make these items:
  • Searchable - to find a review quickly
  • Into a RSS feed - to keep readers updated with the latest
  • Formatted - to display them in a list format and an easy to read detailed format
This functionality can be used for almost anything - all you need is to define a type that suits your business needs! Job openings, team profiles, holiday packages... whatever type of content type your business might deal with, you can create, add items to and make searchable and syndicate-able in minutes without any programming. So next time you're wondering whether BC can do something you think is a little too custom - think twice. Or better yet - ask us :) You can read more about how to do this yourself here.

A postcard from my dentist

- Friday, September 29, 2006
Are you sending out loyalty campaigns? You should be! If you're not sure what they are, or how to do it - read on, dear reader.

I used to get little postcards from my dentist every year or so to remind me to go and get my teeth checked. It was a great touch, and always helped make my choice of dentist a whole bunch easier. Some mechanics do this to remind you to take your car for a service. For almost every business, there is something that you could be reminding people of!

Loyalty campaigns are like those postcards, but via email - and they are built in to the Business Catalyst email marketing package. How do they work? Well there's three "types" of loyalty campaigns we need to discuss first.

Send an email out a few days before a customer's birthday. Tell them happy birthday and invite them in to your store for a special birthday discount.

Campaign Join
Sends an email based on the day the customer subscribed to your email newsletter. So you can use this sort of campaign to send out a series of emails after a customer subscribes. A great example of this is like when you sign up for someone to send you their top 10 tips, sent as 10 emails. No matter when you sign up, every person gets the same ten tips, in the same order after they sign up.

Sends based on custom anniversaries that you can set and define for each customer. Take the mechanic for example. She might decide "Anniversary 1" should stand as (for all her customers) as a service date. Anniversary 2 might be for tire changes, and Anniversary 3 for your wife's car's service date - as a thoughtful female mechanic might do. Now we can send reminder emails to each customer as *their specific anniversary* approaches. She could even let you book your car for service online. The system allows 5 custom anniversaries to be set for each customer.

When creating these campaigns, you set the number of days before/after the date the email should go. Negative days (i.e -5) are for 5 days before the date. Positive days (i.e 5) are for 5 days after the date. Easy :)

So now, for each individual customer, an email will go out on the days relevant to them only. Just like we mentioned in our "Behind the Scenes" page, this is how we can efficiently have 1-1 style interactions with large numbers of customers! Once you've set the campaign up the first time, the system takes care of the rest. You'll never have to set it up for another customer again.

So why suddenly write about this? Because I just started talking with development about an idea I had - what about a loyalty campaign that sent emails after a purchase was made? If we added "Purchase Made" as a built in loyalty campaign, we would be able to allow you to follow up with customers after their purchase. What do you think?

The power of a page name

- Friday, September 22, 2006
There’s a lot of little things in Business Catalyst that make the solution so flexible, but many of them are unknown or unadvertised. In fact, it often takes a customer asking us: ”how do I use this to do that “ it dawns on us that that particular thing is actually possible! One such moment actually came about one day when Clinton (our intrepid designer) turned to Barry (a fellow support/development guy) and said:

“Hey Barry? If I want my images in my template to change as the page changes... Well what’s the proper way to do that?” Barry thought for a moment and said “You can’t do that.” Clinton then triumphantly said “Well, I’ve done it, but I think it’s a little dodgy... So I was wondering if there was a better way. See I used { module_pagename }.png as my image name, then named each image after the page it was supposed to match with.” By then I had started listening in, and started thinking about it. Barry sort of half smiled and remarked “That’s pretty clever! I didn’t think of that.... Of course that works!” We all agreed that was pretty neat, and started thinking of all the other things you could do with it...

And so, BC “Hacks” was born – a series of little tricks that are perfectly legal yet unintentional uses of modules and tags that are built into the system. { module_pagename } is one of those cool, unassuming things that works so well for so many things. There’s plenty more and I’ll introduce them all in this blog, in time.

Update: Please note there shouldn't be spaces after and before the curlique brackets { }. As our partner Jim has pointed out, the  module works so well that when I originally wrote it in the post (without spaces) it got replaced with "BC Support Blog" :-)  So I put the spaces in to stop it. Didn't think of that, did I?

How It Works
{ module_pagename } is pretty simple. Anywhere the Business Catalyst page processor finds { module_pagename }, it replaces the tag with the page name you’ve set in the page’s details tab. It doesn’t matter whether the page is in the template or the page itself.

Possible Uses
You can use it for anything that tickles your fancy, but most often we use it in a template when we want to make some element of the template change depending on the page the customer is looking at. Clinton used it as describe above, to make a particular template image change depending on the page being viewed.

More advanced uses of this module could be in javascript code, to do something dynamic depending on the page name - the possibilities truly are endless.

That’s all for today folks! Of course if you’ve got any great ideas for a post, any cool Hacks you’ve discovered or some nifty uses of this hack, leave them in the comments for us to pick up and show off.

Update: For Example... (added, by request!)

Let's say you want to change an image in your template depending on the page you are looking at, and you have three pages "Soap", "Shampoo" and "Conditioner". Let's also assume you want a picture in the template that changes to a picture of soap, shampoo or conditioner, depending on the page you are viewing.

So you name your images Soap_image.jpg, Shampoo_image.jpg, Conditioner_image.jpg.

Now go to your template and place one of your images on the template. Select Shampoo_image.jpg images. Now click on the image in the editor. At the bottom of the screen you'll see a button "Set Image Properties". Click on it and change the Image Src from :
    /Img/{ module_pagename }_image.jpg.

Click OK and then Save and Publish your template.

Now when the page is served to the browser, the source of the image will change to /Img/Shampoo_image.jpg or /Img/Conditioner_image.jpg or /Img/Soap_image.jpg, depending on which page we are on.

Neat :-)

Driving lessons with Spiderman's uncle

- Wednesday, September 20, 2006
One of the most exciting things about Business Catalyst is the flexibility we give our customers. The system is extremely powerful, and it’s possible to bend that power to almost any effort. But, as many great people have said (including spiderman’s uncle): with great power comes great responsibility. Not on your part though - on ours. Why? Because we need to make sure you know you’ve got the power to do amazing things with Business Catalyst. We also need to teach you how to harness that power. After all, what use is a Porsche if you don’t know how to drive?

So this blog is a continual driving lesson – you’ll learn simple things like wiping your windshield, all the way to advanced power-slides and high speed stunt driving :)

Be welcome and we hope you enjoy.

P.S If there are any topics you’d like us to cover, leave your idea in the comments and we’ll pick it up!
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