Adobe Business Catalyst Review - 8 benefits that rock for medium sized businesses

Adobe Business Catalyst Review update 2017

17-Dec-2017 08:46 AM

Our updated review of Adobe Business Catalyst includes 8 reasons to choose the platform for a medium sized business in 2017.

When you want a website developed that is truly custom and bespoke then consider and choose Adobe Business Catalyst.

I would recommend Adobe Business Catalyst for companies that have at least 10 staff and one person dedicating at least 50% of their time to digital marketing.

8 Reasons to Choose Adobe Business Catalyst for businesses Quick Links

Web Tools Your Business Under One Roof That Talk to Each Other

With Business Catalyst, you have web hosting, email, a CRM, a website, a blog, web forms, marketing lists, email marketing, an auto-responder, e-commerce, custom web development and reporting and analytics tools all under the same administration areas; and they all talk to each other.

Let me explain.

Download our review of Adobe Business Catalyst

Enter your name and email to download my review of Adobe Business Catalyst

Business Catalyst Web Forms

Business Catalyst has a drop and drag WYSIWIG web form builder that those with limited technical skills to create and build a web form and add that form to a web page.

Adobe Business Catalyst web forms

You can control the email auto-responder, the email users receive after completing a web form, and can control the confirmation page; the page the user lands on after completing the web form.

Business Catalyst CRM

When a user completes the web form and the information is processed it is sent and stored in the BC CRM.

CRM from Adobe Business Catalyst

Business Catalyst Marketing Lists

With a little more sophistication, you can connect a marketing list or multiple marketing lists to a BC Web Form.

A marketing list is a type of user segmentation.

I can create a marketing list called “buyers” to an online shop purchase form and then send emails to “buyers” who have previously purchased.

Within the email marketing module, you can choose to further segment those "buyers" down to the products they purchased, the order value or when they purchased.

I can add 2 marketing lists to an enquiry such as “Interested In Marketing” and “Interested in Sales” and follow up with emails solely about marketing to those who selected the “Interested In Marketing” list option.

Autoresponders : One Off or A Series of Follow Up Emails

If you are familiar with MailChimp, Aweber or GetDrip, then you will appreciate the benefits of capturing user information and scheduling one off or a series of follow up emails to turn interested users into paying customers.

Depending on your needs, you may only send one off emails to customers or users and BC has a built in email marketing module that enables you to create an email campaign step by step.

Adobe Business Catalyst email marketing

Additionally, those familiar with MailChimp and AWeber understand how to send a series of follow up emails to educate and convince users.

Adobe Business Catalyst have a step by step process that guides you through running an email marketing campaign.

If you are familiar with Mailchimp for email marketing, then this is similar and the cost of 10,000 emails sent per month is included in the monthly licence fee that start at $39 a month for the e-commerce plan.

You can send automated follow up campaigns like you do with MailChimp, although I would like to see the additional feature where you can remove a user from one list if they join another email list.

Creating an email design template within Adobe Business Catalyst

This is a fairly technical screencast outlining how to hack together a responsive email marketing template you can build with some basic html and css knowledge; it works great on mobiles, tablets and big screen devices.

I've tested in Apple Mail and Outlook on about 6 client campaigns.

I don't suggest to be technically savvy and I've taken and extended an idea for Joe Watkins so the template can be re-used again and again.

Now you can focus on content to turn prospects into buyers and existing customers into repeat customers with Adobe's great built in targeting and segmentation tools.

How to create an email campaign in Adobe Business Catalyst from start to finish.

Here's a screencast video where I outline how to create an email marketing campaign from start to finish using the Adobe Business Catalyst platform from start to finish.

Whilst the process only takes 10 or so minutes, it did take me an hour preparation and 4 years’ experience of Adobe Business Catalyst to get to this stage.

360 Degree User View in CRM

With Business Catalyst you get a 360-degree view of every person on your CRM.

You can look at prospects, customers and buyers and how they interacted with your website; provided you set things up correctly.

You can look at forms they have completed, products purchased, emails opened, marketing lists they are on and much more.

You can send emails to them within the CRM, and if you have customer service ticketing enabled and configured correctly, and their replies can be stored in email threads.

Download our review of Adobe Business Catalyst

Enter your name and email to download my review of Adobe Business Catalyst

Business Catalyst CMS and Blog Modules – Pages and Blog Posts

Business Catalyst has a content management system and blog module that let you create and edit pages and blog posts.

You can control the on page optimisation elements include the URL, page header, page title and description.

Adobe Business Catalyst Pages and Blog Posts

Asset Management (Media Downloads, Photo Galleries and FAQs)

Business Catalyst has 3 modules called Media Downloads, Photo Galleries and FAQs that enable you to manage assets.

Upload a PDF, add it to a page, then upload a new version of the PDF at a later date without updating the page the PDF is on.

Photo galleries and a list of FAQs can be created and added to a page with the same update functionality as Media Downloads.

Adobe BC Media Downloads module

Download our review of Adobe Business Catalyst

Enter your name and email to download my review of Adobe Business Catalyst

Back To Top

Front End Design Awesomeness

After you have signed up as a partner, you create a test website.

You can either create a blank website or you can use one of the free templates, purchase and import a template from various providers.

The other alternative is to use a front end web design tools such as Webflow or Macaw or Froont.

We have experience using the Webflow front end design tool.

You can read this guest post we published on the Webflow blog.

https://webflow.com/blog/building-websites-and-web-apps-with-webflow-and-adobe-business-catalyst

To quote myself “Webflow and Adobe Business Catalyst have proven to be a great match for businesses that need stunning front-end design and a powerful, easy to use back-end content management system (CMS).”

This gives our design and development team the ability to deliver truly bespoke awesome designs for clients with the power of the BC backend.

Website design in Adobe Business Catalyst

Download our review of Adobe Business Catalyst

Enter your name and email to download my review of Adobe Business Catalyst

Back To Top

Business Catalyst Web Apps

The Adobe Business Catalyst platform has a powerful feature called web apps.

To quote:

“Business Catalyst’s “Web Apps” framework provides a powerfully simple way to build basic web applications using a point and click approach. From real estate listings to business directories, you can define mini-databases of “items” and allows users to add new items via an intuitive interface.”

These are custom front end and back end solutions you can add to any Adobe Business Catalyst website; on higher level plans.

Custom web apps come in all different types but more importantly they let developers and designers be creative and solve unique problems and make the lives of business owners a little easier.

But many are unaware of this massively powerful component within BC.

So I decided to ask a number of Business Catalyst experts what Web Apps they have developed so that I could make other developers and business owners aware of how they can use customised solutions to solve web problems or create business solutions.

List of Business Catalyst Web Apps

The name of the web app

Members Comments Web App

Tell us about the BC web app

I use a web app to enable commenting on another web app item. In this case it’s a site where you can list your motorcycle for sale, and if you’re a member of the site you can upload images and videos and other users can comment on them.

Dave Haggblad Bikebook Web App

Used in the Motor Cycle Sales industry

But could be any member site that allows members to upload images and such

How the web app helps the client

They are trying to build an engaged community to support the sales side of the site. Allowing members to upload images and then comment on other members’ items is meant to be part of that.

Watch a short video of this web app

Business Catalyst Partner’s Website

digitalinkmultimedia.com

Link to the web app

http://www.bikebook.com/image-gallery/taking-it-easy

This is my test profile. At this point they haven’t formally launched the site yet. It’s live, but not being promoted.

I used this same concept working with Scott Reynolds on the BCSandpile site for the inter member communication functionality.

Tweet this Web App http://ctt.ec/c0ZbJ+

Back To Top

The name of the web app

Voting App

Tell us about the BC web app

Users can submit presentation ideas, vote on existing ideas, or volunteer to present. The web app items are sorted by the amount of votes.

BC Sandpile

The industry web app used in

Web Community

How the web app helps the client

Provides great insight to potential presenters. They understand what their audience wants to learn.

Watch a short video of this web app

Business Catalyst Web Developer

@scottbreynolds

Business Catalyst Partner’s Website

Thris.com and BCSandpile.com

Link to the web app

http://www.bcsandpile.com/ideas.htm

Back To Top

The name of the web app

360 Degree Business Management System web app

Machinery Hire & Sales

About the BC web app

We built our client an integrated end-to-end business management system to manage client data, machinery hire/location/usage/service, invoicing, sales pipeline, quotations, contract & project management, and internal & external communications.

Big Blue Digital BC Web App

The industry the web app was used in

Machinery Hire & Sales

How this web app helps the client

They have a web-based, integrated line of business application for out in the field, connected to a back-office Business Intelligence dashboard/CRM/accounting solution.

This consolidates all aspects of their business including data integration via API between BC, Xero, Google for Work, Accelo & GPS based systems - integrating client & machinery data management, accounting and internal communications (all available in-house and in the field via tablets/smartphones).

Business Catalyst Partner’s Website

www.bigblue.digital

Link to the web app

http://bigblue.digital/what-weve-done/earth-plant-hire

Unfortunately, as it's an internal business system, it can't be exposed publicly. Even the screenshot at our website is one of the lamest as it doesn't show any data.

We started building these about 3 years ago and have built about 20 of them now.

Back To Top

The name of the web app

Travel Website Web app

Tell us about the BC web app

Our favourite web app that Pretty Digital recently built was for a Bespoke Travel Company - http://www.classicsafaricompany.com.au

They required thousands of web app items showcasing Activities, Cities, and Experiences across several continents. We built 3 web apps to house that content.

When the web visitor finds a location they want to travel to the web app item should show up to 24 related activities or camps in that location. To do this we built a cool solution for linking web app items to other related web apps items (across 3 web apps).

The most complicated part was collaging the related web app items into a slider - http://screencast.com/t/8QF4Uw2LaU

As an optional extra we built a BCAPP to help the customer manage and easily linking the web app - http://screencast.com/t/c3pqy7ooo

Web app items can be added to a basket and enquired about which generates a lead for the sales team in the ZOHO CRM via API.

Pretty Digital BC Web App

The industry the web apps were used in

Bespoke Travel Agency

How the web apps helps the client

The client sells $20,000 - $100,000 luxury travel experiences. Their website needs to engage and inspire their clients.

We built a site to do just that.

A website where you can sit around with friends or family and browse, discover possible destinations and activities.

The goal was to generate more leads and the new website does just that.

Watch a short video of this web app

Business Catalyst Partner’s Website

www.prettydigital.com.au

Link to the web app

www.classicsafaricompany.com.au

Back To Top

The name of the web app

Chick Flick Movie Reviews

Tell us about the BC web app

My favourite web app we built is for chick flick movie reviews: http://www.chicksflicks.com.

Chicago Digital BC Web App

The industry the web app was used in

Entertainment Industry

How the web app helps the client

This web app allows users to see custom star ratings for 6 categories such as romance and fashion to help women decide which movies they want to see.

The app doesn’t just display ratings from the Chief Chick but let’s members of the flock contribute ratings with comments.

The site will then show the flocks’ rating alongside the Chief Chick. The user can find movies by a variety of categories or search movies using the advanced search.

What makes it my favourite web app is that it proves how flexible web apps are.

We built the app about 4 years ago and since then we have updated its capabilities by building a Business Catalyst App on top of the web app to allow the client to save drafts of movie reviews and then take her iPad to the movie theater and fill out the rest and publish.

To change the backend experience and add new features we did not need to rebuild the functionality.

Watch a short video of this web app

Business Catalyst Web Developer

@mikesallander

Business Catalyst Partner’s Website

http://www.chicagodigital.com

Link to the web app

http://www.chicksflicks.com

Back To Top

The name of the web app

Custom Blog App

Tell us about your BC web app

My favourite custom web app is a custom blog for a recruitment company.

This blog web app allows the client to have a unique web layout and set previous and next blog posts as well as a related blog post.

It’s really easy for the client to use - create a blog post title, add text, an image and select previous, next and related posts from the drop down options.

Of course, Business Catalyst has a built in, by default, blog module but this client needed the app to compliment their new site design; with all the beauty and features of a search engine friendly blogging tool.

BC Web App

The industry the web app is used in

Financial Recruitment Website

How the web app helps the client

The web app provides a layout in line with the overall design of their new mini website.

Watch a short video of this web app

Business Catalyst Web Developer

@frasermcculloch

Business Catalyst Partner’s Website

http://www.platonik.co.uk

Link to the web app

http://www.core-asset.co.uk/verify/verify-blog

Back To Top

The name of the web app

Complete Meal Web App

Tell us about this BC web app

A standard online shop has catalogs or categories and products are assigned to one.

The client wanted to provide potential customers with a set meal; starter, main course or dessert for special occasions such as Mothers Day, Valentine’s Day etc.; similar to ordering a set meal in a restaurant.

We created a web app based that uses the pre-existing commerce functionality.

Food Shop BC Web App

The industry the web app was used in

Online Food Retailer

How the web app helps the client

Sadly the client did not pursue his online business and returned to the world of finance and banking but this relatively simple web app demonstrate the ability to customise products and product bundling within Business Catalyst using web apps.

Watch a short video of this web app

Business Catalyst Web Developer

Business Catalyst Partner’s Website

http://www.platonik.co.uk

Link to the web app

http://foodelity-backup.platonik.co.uk

Back To Top

The name of the web app

Golf Course Tours

Tell us about this BC web app

One of the most important parts of marketing a golf course is the 18 holes that prospective customers will play.

This app allows golf course operators to give golfers a preview and complete overview of all 18 holes.

Think of it like a try before you play.

With stunning images that can easily be provided by the golf clubs map provider and a commentary from the club professional, members or guests this app enables golf courses to whet the golfers appetite and give a wonderful pre round experience.

The user can click each hole number and ‘walk around’ the golf course.

The app works well in mobile and tablet devices and is very easy to manage and edit.

golf website BC Web App

The industry the web app was used in

Golf Course

How this web app helps a client

This web app would help any golf course attract new visitors if marketed.

Watch a short video of this web app

Business Catalyst Developer

@bcgurus

Business Catalyst Partner’s Website

http://www.bcgurus.com

Link to the web app

http://www.bcgurus.com/template/golf-club

Back To Top

The name of the web app

Travel Website App

Tell us about the BC web app

We were approached to build a destination website for English and Russian speaking customers and show case a range of continents and countries.

First we built the English speaking destinations, duplicated it, then created a new directory and translated it into Russian.

Platonik travel website BC Web App

The industry the web app was used in

Travel Industry

How the web app helped the client

The client was seeking to attract high demographic customers primarily located in London to offer then destination ideas so that they could choose the client to build a bespoke travel package for them.

The web app is easy to use.

They can add and display new countries that link to the continents and this updates the search and map functionality.

Watch a short video of this web app

Business Catalyst Developer

@frasermcculloch

Business Catalyst Partner’s Website

http://www.platonik.co.uk

Link to the web app

http://www.westminster.travel/continent/europe

Back To Top

The name of the web app

Sales Rep Payment App

Tell us about this BC web app

The client has a team of field sales people who would survey homeowners and then propose a range of insulation and energy saving measures for their home.

Previously the sales rep had to phone the office or the accountant in after work hours to process deposit with the householders credit or debit card.

Not only was this unprofessional it also slowed down the sale process.

The sales rep can agree a deposit percentage amount the customer has to pay and then can pass their iPad or mobile phone to the customer who can enter their own card details onto a secure page without sharing their card details and make the deposit payment.

The App uses BC Web Apps and the WorldPay payment gateway to deliver this solution.

The finance team can add new products at the correct VAT rate in the backend of the website.

BC Payment web app

The industry the web app is used in

Home Insulation Services

How the web app helps the client

This app has helped the client reduce cancelled orders and increase the speed sales are closed.

It is difficult to quantify the time saved but the client has expressed that this reduces paperwork and allow sales reps to focus on selling time as opposed to administration time.

Watch a short video of this web app

Business Catalyst Developer

@frasermcculloch

Business Catalyst Partner’s Website

http://www.platonik.co.uk

Link to the web app

http://www.ecosaveinstallations.co.uk/products

Back To Top

The name of the web app

Random Blog Call To Action

Tell us about the BC web app

I wanted to vary the anchor text links on the 500 or so blog posts I have on my website.

So instead of having 500 “contact us” links I could create a range of different links; purely for SEO purposes.

When I want a new call to action I create a new item, name it such as “Speak To Us”.

I placed the random web app code into a content holder and the content holder is added to the blog web app detail list.

Random blog CTA web app

The industry the web app was used in

Website

How the web app helps the client

This was a pure and simple experiment to avoid 500 “Contact Us” links on my website.

Watch a short video of this web app

Business Catalyst Developer

@frasermcculloch

Business Catalyst Partner’s Website

http://www.platonik.co.uk

Link to the web app

http://www.platonik.co.uk/platonik-blog

Back To Top

The name of the web app

Chocolate Conveyor Belt

Tell us about this BC web app

The client established a single location business concept on the 4th floor of Harvey Nichols in Edinburgh.

Their concept is chocolate and champagne served on a revolving conveyor; similar to Yo Sushi.

The website was developed to help rollout the concept to other premium locations and airport lounges.

The client can add chocolates, gifts and drinks to the conveyor belt and when users click they are taken to a detailed page about the item and the company and hopefully share the image on a social network.

BC Web App for a food conveyor belt

The industry it was used in

Hospitality and catering

How did the web app help the client

The website in part helped the client secure a new opening at Dublin Airport where they now serve 10,000 coffees and an untold number of champagne bottles per day.

Watch a short video of this web app

Business Catalyst Developer

@frasermcculloch

Business Catalyst Partner’s Website

http://www.platonik.co.uk

Link to the web app

www.chocolate-lounge.co.uk

Back To Top

The name of the web app

Store Locator

Tell us about this BC web app

Every multi store business needs functionality so that consumers can find the location of their nearest store.

The user enter their postcode (zip code) and selects the stores within a defined radius and the map lists the stores with map icons.

BC Web App store locator

The industry this BC web app was used in

Retailing

How this BC web app helps the client

A store locator simply helps consumers find the nearest retail store; beneficial to consumers who wish to touch, feel or try on a product.

Business Catalyst Developer

@bcgurus

Business Catalyst Partner’s Website

http://www.bcgurus.com

Link to the web app

http://bc-boutique-eu20.businesscatalyst.com/features/store-locator

Back To Top

The name of the web app

Documents and Purchase Transactions

Tell us about the BC web app

A document repository with individual documents set up behind a pay wall.

The client had a specific workflow in mind for the customer experience.

So the typical product > cart > checkout > link to digital download workflow wasn't going to work.

They wanted the customer to be able purchase access to the document right from its page.

We created a second purchase transactions web app and used the items in there to conditionally show a download link in the detail view of the documents web app.

The items in that purchase transactions web app were created by a payment form in the detail view of the document web app as well.

As an added benefit we were able to list out the transactions in any format we want because the transactions are web app items.

BC Web App digital transactions

The industry the web app was used in

Oil and gas

How this BC web app helped the client

It helps the client by making the user experience more pleasant. The more user-friendly the system the more likely it is for the users to want to use it.

This was developed in 2013 and readers should be aware of EU and digital download purchase legislation that has changed since this was developed.

Watch a short video of this web app

Business Catalyst Developer

Tom Conway

Business Catalyst Partner’s Website

Tom Conway

Back To Top

The name of the web app

Admin Web App

Tell us about the BC web app

We developed a CMS within BC using web apps that allowed our client (an agency) to easily make the whole content on their clients site editable by their client without needing to setup Admin accounts.

Their site used 12 different web apps. Web Apps like ‘Pages’, ‘News’, ‘Events’, ‘Blog’, ‘Videos’, ‘Photos’ and more.

They wanted staff from each department to be able to login and edit the items for their department.

The Web App was named ‘Admin’ and each web app item in there was a list of editable fields and field types of the web app they wanted to be editable (see screenshot 1).

This also allowed them to easily be able to make a new Web App and then make it editable by just adding one Web App item to the ‘Admin’ Web App with the name and fields of the new Web App.

Instead of creating static Add, Edit and Delete pages for each web app we developed our ‘Admin’ web app that generated the Add, Edit and Delete pages dynamically (see screenshots 2 and 3).

By default in BC, you can either edit all web app items or just yours.

They wanted someone to be able to edit any web app item for their particular department.

So we used classifications, tied to the CRM so that when someone logged in based on their CRM record we could display all the records that they could edit even if they hadn’t submitted those themselves.

The web app was used for a church

This was for a Catholic organization but it could easily be applied to any organization with many departments, each needing to edit their content without having to add and pay for 100s of BC Admin accounts.

How the web app helps the client

We were able to allow the client to edit all their content through our custom admin screen, without them ever needing to login to the BC backend.

Business Catalyst Developer

Karim Ardalan

Twitter Address

Personal is @KarimArdalan or @aidbc for business

Business Catalyst Partner’s Website

http://www.aidbc.com

Web App Screenshots

aid bc web app

aid bc web app

aid bc web app

Back To Top

Conclusion our round up of Business Catalyst web apps

This expert round up of Adobe Business Catalyst web apps would not be possible without the amazing contribution of fellow Adobe Business Catalyst developers and partners.

I thank them for their contribution and I trust you find these examples interesting and helpful.

Download our review of Adobe Business Catalyst

Enter your name and email to download my review of Adobe Business Catalyst

Back To Top

Growing Apps and Plugins Marketplace

If you are familiar with WordPress, you will know there are thousands of plugins that are small solutions to solve particular problems.

Some are free plugins and some are paid for.

Business Catalyst has a similar army of apps, plugins and widgets that help to solve business problems that aren’t available in the main BC features.

Here are some examples of my favourite apps

Download our review of Adobe Business Catalyst

Enter your name and email to download my review of Adobe Business Catalyst

Back To Top

Landing Page Builder a Game Changer

Anyone familiar Leadpages or Unbounce will understand landing pages are required to run Google Adwords, Facebook Advertising and other digital marketing campaigns.

Two years in development, I was able to get onto the beta programme for the BC Landing Page Builder app.

This is by far and away the best point and click web app ever created for Business Catalyst.

  • 1. I can build landing pages for advertising
  • 2. I can build coming soon pages
  • 3. I can even build a brand new website 

The BC Landing Page builder also enables you to fully customise the layout and design of BC web forms so you have a landing page that will capture user information and store the information on the BC CRM for follow up email marketing.

Business Catalyst landing page builder app

landing page builder screenshot

Download our review of Adobe Business Catalyst

Enter your name and email to download my review of Adobe Business Catalyst

Back To Top

Hosting and Customer Support - No Worries

In addition to the in-context help when you are using the administration section of a BC website there is excellent customer service and hosting provided.

Whilst you don’t get telephone support, live support chat is good; I generally get issues fixed straight away and the forum community is very helpful.

To be fair Adobe’s support has improved over the years.

If only they invested in core module development the way they invested in support, most BC partners would be a lot happier.

In terms of hosting, since BC is a service as a software solution, hosting is managed by BC engineers.

I’ve only had one issue in 9 years, that was fairly minor, and it’s re-assuring to know a brand like Adobe has your back as opposed to some bloke in a garden shed office.

Download our review of Adobe Business Catalyst

Enter your name and email to download my review of Adobe Business Catalyst

Back To Top

Strong Community

With Business Catalyst you are never alone.

BC Sandpile is a group BC partners who openly share their knowledge to help improve all aspects of developing and designing with BC.

BCGurus is a paid for community that offers learning tutorials and pre-engineered design templates.

BC Academe focuses on advanced web development tutorials especially learning and applying Liquid programming to BC web developed.

EZ-BC provide custom templates, PSD to HTML conversion and PSD to BC conversion; think of them like an outsourced web development team.

Platonik Marketing host free and paid for marketing related tutorials for BC.

In addition, you’ll find BC at various Adobe Max conventions every year.

Whilst BC is small compared to other web platforms the community is very strong, helpful and welcomes all to the fold.

Download our review of Adobe Business Catalyst

Enter your name and email to download my review of Adobe Business Catalyst

Back To Top

SEO Experts Recommend Business Catalyst

Here are some thoughts from Search Engine Optimisation expert, Craig Bradford, on what he thinks about Platonik, alternatives systems and getting ranked highly on Google.

"I first came across the Platonik CMS when working on a client's website.

As our company specialise in SEO, the platform on which a site is built can make my job very easy or very difficult.

When I started digging around the back end of this clients’ website I straight away found it a relief to see the high level of functionality.

It's built in such a way that you can update your own website just as easy as using something like Microsoft word and adding pages is extremely easy.

I always find it frustrating when I decide to add content to a client site only to find that their web designer charges them £50 every time they want a new page, the Platonik CMS makes adding content easy and free.

To my delight Google and other search engines seemed to love the platform as well since the site started to rank quickly in all the major search engines with very little work.

Over all I couldn't recommend the Platonik platform more, for the amount of functionality you get from the back end of the site it's well worth the money.

Needless to say shortly after working with that clients’ website I got my entire site changed over to the same Platonik online business software."

Craig provides Search Engine Optimisation services.

Issues With Adobe BC

No matter which web platform you use there are always challenges, issues and missing functionality.

Business Catalyst are no different.

  • Don’t innovate enough
  • Online shops - EU and VAT
  • BC Analytics
  • SSL Certificates
  • Not for everyone

Business Catalyst Innovation

The innovation comes from BC partners and web developers as opposed the Adobe staff.

EU and VAT for Online Shops

I’m inclined to use Shopify now for online stores because BC just hasn’t kept up with the e-commerce space.

There are issues with EU and VAT functionality if you intent to sell online to businesses.

There are new EU VAT laws relating to selling digital products and services such as hosting, software and digital goods.

Even after 4 years of shouting, Adobe ignores.

BC Analytics need a re-vamp

Adobe Business Catalyst reports are not at the level of Google’s reporting tools and they have had issues over the years with robots and spam visits being included in the visit report results.

In addition, Adobe say they measure visits differently from Google but, from experience, there’s generally a huge gap between these 2 reporting methods.

So my advice would be to invest in a little custom development and use the new Apps solution and have your Google Analytics account added to your dashboard.

Adobe BC Dashboard

SSL Certificates

Although an https url is only a small ranking factor many BC partners want SSL certificates for client websites.

Whilst BC is a PCI Level 1 Compliant platform, the addition of SSL Certificates will give larger business a greater perception of web security.

BC is Not For Everyone

On the home page Adobe Business Catalyst proclaim “everything you need to build an online business”.

And then “built for web designers like you”.

Even if you are reasonably competent with html and css, you are still going to struggle with Business Catalyst.

You are going to need some advanced jquery and coding skills and, now, Liquid language experience.

Adobe’s technical team have over the years gradually retreated to hide away not only from their core clients, partners, but also from the overall web community.

Sadly, Adobe doesn’t offer everything you need to run an online business.

Download our review of Adobe Business Catalyst

Enter your name and email to download my review of Adobe Business Catalyst

Back To Top

An Interview with an Adobe Business Catalyst customer

We did a little question and answer with one of clients, United Sports USA, a sports scholarship consultancy who act as the conduit between kids looking for sports scholarships in the USA and coaches looking for potential athletes.

Here's the q and a with their Managing Director; also called Fraser.

Fraser, you had a website before we met and discussed your business.

Q. What made you change from the old website?
A. The old website was not as user friendly, and had no onsite optimisation.

Q. What has happened as a result of the new website?
A. We have had more enquiries and we are now able to be found by google, and we are ranking higher every week with google.

Q. What specific feature did you like most about Business Catalyst?
A. The fact that we can see which coach logs into the site and follow up with them straight away.

Q. What would be three other benefits about using Business Catalyst?
A. BC send me a weekly report on enquiries, site visits etc., this makes it easy for us to see what is working. We have email and text alerts when somebody fills out the enquiry form online. Also, the fact that we can send out a group email from the back end to all of the coaches on our database.

Q. Would you recommend Business Catalyst? If so, why?
A. Yes, definitely. It makes your business simpler and you are able to track things effectively.

Download our review of Adobe Business Catalyst

Enter your name and email to download my review of Adobe Business Catalyst

Back To Top

Adobe Business Catalyst Pros and Cons

Here is a summary of the main pros and cons of Adobe Business Catalyst.

Pros

  • Reliable hosting, no plugin updates, never gets hacked.
  • All in one Content management, Web forms, CRM, email marketing,blogging and e-commerce.
  • Good technical support and live chat.
  • Great web form to CRM to email marketing workflow.
  • Strong loyal web developer community.
  • Perfect for small to medium sized businesses that need custom and bespoke websites.
  • Ideal for lead generation focused businesses.
  • Web Apps provide a blank canvas for developers to build and develop pretty any custom website or solution.
  • Liquid coding for web developers.
  • A pathway for Adobe Muse website that want to go to next level.

Cons

  • Hosting same price as Shopify but higher than WordPress.
  • Limited pre-built templates and marketplace.
  • Not for DIY users. You really need to be a web designer or developer to use.
  • Limited plugins and apps
  • E-commerce functionality very outdated.

Back To Top

Adobe Business Catalyst versus WordPress

Comparing Adobe Business Catalyst with WordPress is like comparing apples and oranges.

They are 2 entirely different solutions.

But what I’ve created is a quick guide to compare the main features; Business Catalyst features that win are on the left and WordPress features that win are on the right of the infographic.

Hosting with Business Catalyst and WordPress

BC hosting is more expensive than the typical hosting for a WordPress website.

Typically my clients pay $39 a month for 3 admin users with Business Catalyst.

I have a WordPress website hosted with GoDaddy and I’m paying £9 a month.

However in the last month I’ve had to pay my web developers to update some plugins and fix some issues as a result of those plugins.

2 hours of development plus the GoDaddy hosting fee means I’m actually paying more for WordPress than Business Catalyst.

Business Catalyst and WordPress Themes and Templates

There are simply millions of WordPress templates available.

I recently purchased a web directory WordPress template for a client project than would have cost 10 times more and taken 5 months instead of one month development had I developed this solution in Business Catalyst.

Even though I purchased a pre built theme for WordPress I still had to hire my developers to spend around 80 hours customising the theme to suit the client’s business needs.

I purchased the theme from ThemeForest.

It was obvious from the theme support comments that other customers needed custom development on top of the template they had purchased.

WordPress have Plugins, Business Catalyst have Web Apps and Apps

There are millions of WordPress plugins as you would expect from the most popular CMS.

BC don’t have plugins they have Apps and widgets.

The BC App store is only a couple of years old but App development has increased rapidly this year.

If there isn’t a plugin then you need to develop an App or create a custom web app in Business Catalyst; the advantage being you don’t need to maintain the app or continually update it.

Business Catalyst and WordPress CRM and Web Forms

One of the advantage of BC is the ability to create and add a web form and the user data is submitted and stored within the CRM.

A web form can capture an enquiry or capture a product purchase and the data is added to the CRM.

This is great when you want to easily send follow up emails to prospects and customers.

WordPress doesn’t have this built in functionality.

WordPress users need to bolt on solutions such as MailChimp or, as I’m not using now; Get Drip.

Beyond 100 subscribers GetDrip is $49 a month but super customisable.

Blogging with Business Catalyst and WordPress

There’s very little difference between the blogging functionality of WordPress and Business Catalyst.

WordPress, who practically invented blogging (after Blogger) do edge this feature for me because of the drop and drag functionality.

Business E-Commerce module and WordPress WooCommerce plugin

With the $39 a month hosting plan Business Catalyst offer an out of the box e-commerce solution to sell physical and digital products.

But the e-commerce module will require customisation and web development.

To do e-commerce with WordPress you are going to have to pay for a plugin such as WooCommerce and have that customised by web developers to suit your needs.

My business has have moved away from e-commerce towards lead generation websites as the e-commerce market is simply too crowded with Shopify and Magento owning the small and mid to enterprise e-commerce space respectively.

SEO and Social functionality within Business Catalyst and WordPress

When it comes to on page optimisation and social sharing WordPress is slightly better than Business Catalyst by virtue of adding Yoast or All In One SEO plugins.

In saying that you can still customise BC to achieve the same levels of on page SEO and social sharing.

Lately however, I’ve started using the Readability options within Yoast to help with better optimise page and user readability.

Bear in mind that on page optimisation is only one part of the larger SEO strategy; research, content creation and link building are much more important ranking factors.

Support from Business Catalyst and WordPress

The fee I paid Business Catalyst 8 years ago to attain partnership status is a sunk cost now but I love how I can get live chat support for any customer issue and get more serious issues to the engineering team.

You simply don’t get that support from the open source WordPress platform.

Support from GoDaddy is pretty good when hosting a WordPress website; especially as they automatically update new versions of WordPress.

But with all the plugins I have I either have to spend my time updating plugins or paying my web developers.

We are managing small business websites; those who 10 or more staff so trust, reliability and a responsive partner is important.

In a recent proposal a client asked me what would happen to their website if we went out of business or if I died.

I told them Adobe have their back.

So I believe having a $17 billion company behind your company website is really important.

WordPress and Business Catalyst Community

Of course the WordPress community is larger by virtue of their popularity and plugin popularity but the Business Catalyst community are smaller, loyal and feel like a family once you get to know them.

And of course BC community is a sub set of the larger Adobe suit of products.

Share this Business Catalyst v WordPress infographic

Adobe Business Catalyst v WordPress Infographic

Back To Top

Business Catalyst versus SquareSpace, Pros and Cons

Unlike other many reviewers, I have actually built live websites in both SquareSpace and Adobe Business Catalyst.

The SquareSpace website I "designed" was for a small start up company that were offering drinks at entertainment and hospitality venues.

  • 1. I knew the client requirements and budget; small.
  • 2. The client knew what he was looking for and showed me similar websites.
  • 3. I focused more heavily on the logo and unique artwork in the project.
  • 4. I knew the content the client had would be fairly minimal.

Who is SquareSpace aimed at?

SquareSpace is, in my opinion, more geared towards the small business owner, the start up or the person looking to design their own website.

You start with a free template design.

I used the Montauk template to customise.

Design and Customisation Steps

  • 1. Logo - I started by uploading the logo my designer Andy created.
  • 2. Template - I choose and customised the Montauk template.
  • 3. Style Editor - I went to the style editor and changed all the colours and typography to the brand guidelines my designer provided.
  • 4. I added an announcement bar
  • 5. I added a mobile information bar
  • 6. I created a MailChimp form and added to SquareSpace
  • 7. I added images and words to the pages.

I had to add some custom css to remove the page divider line over the main navigation.

Pros of SquareSpace

  1. Huge number of great template design selections, free to use and you can switch the template very quickly if you don’t like it.
  2. Easy to use backend administration area - you customise in the browser, all in the left hand menu, perfect for the non technical person.
  3. Easy to add web pages and a blog.
  4. Easy to buy a domain.
  5. Easy to follow instructions for adding your own domain.
  6. Easy to integrate a form or newsletter with MailChimp.
  7. Easy to add Facebook and Social Share.
  8. Analytics are great.
  9. Looks fantastic in mobile devices - preview your site in desktop, tablet and mobile as you customise.
  10. Typekit fonts are easy to apply to truly customise your website in line with your brand.
  11. SquareSpace even offer a service to design a logo.

Length of Time to Customise SquareSpace.

  • Took me a day to customise, add page content and put live.
  • This was the first time I had ever used SquareSpace.
  • I would call myself an intermediate web user; with a fairly good grasp of html, css and building website projects.

Cons of SquareSpace

  1. SquareSpace is for the DIY user, build yourself user, not a web developer.
  2. Accept you are customising a template & not building from scratch.
  3. I would be concerned about creating long form page content on SquareSpace.
  4. There doesn’t appear to be extensions you can build on top of of a SquareSpace website - like BC web apps or WordPress plugins.
  5. Business Catalyst web app functionality give a blank development canvas for custom websites.

In summary, SquareSpace is ideal for the do it yourself, start up market and I have to say it’s a very alluring proposition.

However, like the siren who lured the sailors with her looks and music, just because a website is pretty doesn't mean it will deliver business results.

A business still needs a strong proposition or product and its website need great content, great backlinks and a good conversion rate for it to delivery business results.

For me, SquareSpace is ideal for those new to the web or selling online but Business Catalyst is for my higher end established business clients who need a totally bespoke and unique website built from near scratch or who have outgrown limitations of solutions like SquareSpace.

Back To Top

Leadpages and Adobe Business Catalyst integration

Step 1 : Log into Adobe Business Catalyst admin

Step 2 : Go to Email Marketing

Select Mailing Lists

Add Mailing List

Select Actions

Get Subscribe Box HTML Code

Enter a url in the Redirect After Submit box

Generate HTML Code

Copy the html code

(Customise the Autoresponder)

Step 3 : Go to http://jackson.businesscatalyst.com/lab/form-cleanser

or Google “Business Catalyst Cleaner”

Paste Code in the box

Hit Format

Remove the following code

<div>

<h3>

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP

</h3>

Remove from the bottom

</div>

Remove

if (theForm.CaptchaV2) why += captchaIsInvalid(theForm, "Enter Word Verification in box below", "Please enter the correct Word Verification as seen in the image");

Remove

<div>

<label>Enter Word Verification in box below</label>

Captcha Image

</div>

Step 4 : Go To Leadpages

Select My Account

Integrations

Select Other Copy/Paste

Select Green Active button

Select Lead Notifications

Enter an email address to receive notifications

Hit the Add Email button

Step 5 : Select Templates

Select a Template to use

Give the page a name and save

Select the Call to Action button on the page

On the Top Left

Select Integration Settings

Select Integrate Form with : box

Select Other

Go back to BC Form Cleaner

Copy all the code

Go Back to Leadpages

Paste the code into the html box

Select the Integrate with Lead Notifications

Select the email address to use

Hit Okay

Save the page (top left)

Make all your copy and image changes to your landing page and save

Hit X - top right

Step 6 : From Templates - select Thank You option

Create your landing page

Name it and Save

Customise the thank you page and save

Then hit x

Step 7 : Set up Your Conversion Goal on your landing page

From then dashboard

Select Edit next to your landing page.

Select Conversion Goal

Select the Leadpage you are using as your thank you page for this campaign

Done

Step 8 : Select your call to action button

Select the Thank You page

Uncheck the box

Enter in the Thank You page url

Okay

Okay again

Step 8 : Select Publish to Publish Page

Select Your Own Server

Select Download HTML

Go to your FTP Client

Upload the page to your BC site

Step 9 : Go to the Admin section of BC

Select Site Manager

Select Pages

Select your page

Under SEO Metadata tab

Select Hide This Page from search engines

Enter the Page title and Page Description

Update

Preview

Remove the ?Preview=True after the .html

Hit return

Test the Page

Step 10 : Test the Page and Form

Hit the call to action button

Enter Your name and email address

Check that your form redirects you to the chosen thank you page

Go Back to BC Admin area

Go to Marketing

Select Mailing List

Select the list you were using

Select Subscriber tab

Step 11 : Go to Lead Pages

From the dashboard, check to see the you have a 1 and tick to signify you have a successful conversation.

And that is you done.

Back To Top

Wrapping Up Our Review of Adobe Business Catalyst

We have been BC Partner for nearly 9 years and recommend Adobe Business Catalyst because we trust them with our clients' business and data.

We don’t have to hire an IT guy just to maintain a website.

We don’t have huge development costs when clients want extra work or additional functionality.

We can concentrate on the business side and our web developers can solve most technical challenges as a result of their skills in spite of the platform limitations.

Download our review of Adobe Business Catalyst

Enter your name and email to download my review of Adobe Business Catalyst

Leave a comment

 

Get in touch

Fill in the form below and let me know how I can help.