Behind the scenes of your website - save time and money!

Written on the 17 August 2008

When it comes to your website, it’s not just what’s on the outside that counts.  The public front end of your website is your shopfront, so you’ve probably spent a lot of time getting that up to scratch and working effectively.  But have you thought about adding more functionality to your site, that only a chosen few can see, that will take your website's value and your business to new heights? 

There are a lot of tools you can use behind the scenes of your website to streamline your internal processes, simplify communication with staff and add real value for your clients.  These are all tools that can plug-in to your website so you can use them in conjunction with the front end of your website to get more customers, make more money and save more time. 

Knowledge base

A knowledge base is simply a collection of pages on a website design that is divided into categories and answers.  We use this tool on the Bloomtools website to give you support and information about how to use all our products and systems – check out how it works here.  The knowledge base is a great tool if you have a large amount of information to get across and want to make it searchable and easy to navigate.  A knowledge base can be public for everyone to view, or it can be password protected so it can contain information specifically for certain groups, such as employees, clients or agents etc.

Example – a large law firm has dozens of documents covering processes and procedures for staff, but the logistics of getting this information to 50 staff across several offices were far too complex and expensive, so they put it all into a knowledge base.  Staff can easily access it through a secure section on their website, quickly search for the information they need and even print it out if they need to, saving everyone time and money.

Wholesale shopping cart

An online shopping cart is a great strategy for businesses to get more customers and make more money from their website.  But a shopping cart doesn’t have to be just for your retail customers – businesses can use an online system to streamline their ordering process for their sales agents too.  Agents can use a secure login and password to access the shopping cart, and view their wholesale prices and order what they need.  The system cuts administration time because it automatically sends an invoice to the agent and even monitors stock levels for the business.

Example – a manufacturer of office furniture is sick of trying to manage the phone and fax orders that come through from his 80 sales agents, so he uses a wholesale shopping cart system on his website.  The general public can browse and purchase from the cart and pay the retail price, but his agents have their own login details to view wholesale pricing and order their stock.

Client filing system

Many businesses constantly have clients calling to ask for another copy of some document or form, and the time spent on these calls and then on finding and sending what they need can be very costly.  A client filing system or client repository is the answer to this problem.  Using a system like this, you can store all your client’s private documents in a secure section of you website and issue them all with individual login details to access their own information.  This is also a great added-value service for clients because it saves them time too and shows them you care about them.

Example – an accountant's team was spending too much time with clients seeking copies of their financial documents, taking them away from doing proactive work.  So she gathered up copies of all their client’s documents and stored them all in an online repository.  Their clients can now login via their website any time and print copies of what they need -  a service that their clients appreciate (especially as they are not being charged for the time taken to produce the documents each time for the client).

Automated emails

Email marketing is a valuable communication strategy for any business because it is so simple and cost-effective.  It also has the ability to save your business a lot of time because you can set up emails to automatically send at a certain date or time or based on a particular action.  You can automate everything from appointment reminders, to regular client letters, to newsletters, to birthday ecards – it really just depends on your particular business and how you communicate with all your stakeholders.

Example – a physiotherapist could use email marketing to cut his phone and printing costs.  After a client books their first appointment, they get an automated (but personalised) email welcoming them and giving them some exercise tips.  They get emailed an appointment reminder the day before their appointment and a survey for the physiotherapist to find out about their health, nutrition and fitness before they come in.  They also receive a birthday email, a monthly health tip and an email survey every six months to check their progress.

Membership Directory

Having a listing of other businesses on your site is a great idea - it adds value for your site visitors, adds revenue to your business, and is another way to attract new clients.  The membership directory tool is ideal for making this look good (i.e each listing looks the same, with images, contents and links) and for making it really simple to edit.  The directory gives you the opportunity to have a searchable list of businesess that can be delivered in two views (i.e. an summary listing view of all businesses and an item view of only the one selected business).  It also enables members to be able to update their listings themselves.

Example - a clothing hire company builds a directory of other services that teenagers getting ready for their school formal may want, such as hairdressers and limousine hire.  This adds more value to their site, attracts lots of visitors, enables them to advertise strongly, as well as provides another revenue stream for their business.

Advertising manager

If your website has a high amount of traffic, you could sell advertising space on it to bring you some extra revenue.  To minimise the administration time you spend on organising the ads, you could use an advertising manager system.  This tool would link to your content management system and allow you to upload ads for your site, control the amount of time they appear on the site and automatically captures statistics to give to the advertiser.

Example – A real estate agent often had other businesses contacting him about advertising on his site because of the number of locals that used the site.  He was keen to arrange some advertising but didn’t have the time or knowledge to set it up himself.  He began using an advertising management system so he only had to upload the ads and then could forget about them.