Campaigns are a unique breed when it comes to their websites. They need to look good, but be launched quickly. They need to be robust, but affordable.
They need to collect data, but be able to export that data to other systems easily. They need to be flexible, but easy to manage.
The result, all too often, is a mishmash of technologies, vendors, and widgets that looks nothing like this. There is an emerging solution that has brought reliability, features, and ease-of-use to the business world that campaigns should start to use -- Adobe's Business Catalyst.
Business Catalyst is an integrated application that combines web content management, ecommerce, contact database, email marketing, and analytics. BC delivers everything a political campaign needs in a technology platform because of its flexibility, integration, and stability. So here's five specific reasons any candidate or consultant should seek out Business Catalyst for their next campaign.
Political campaigns are all about speed -- getting more done in a shorter period of time. Business Catalyst makes this possible for political campaigns unlike any other content management system.
Business Catalyst is a hosted solution, which means installing a new website is as simple as filling out a form. There's no hosting to setup. The servers are maintained by Adobe, meaning that if an issue comes up, a global team of IT experts is on it fast.
When it comes to design, Business Catalyst make it easy for any web designer to create the design the way they want it, then quickly convert that design to a functioning website.
Fast design, fast buildout, and fast launch. All make for a winning campaign site.
Following Barack Obama's successful tech-heavy reelection, "data" is the buzzword that has taken over politics. Here again, Business Catalyst really shines.
Because every Business Catalyst site contains an integrated CRM, email marketing tool and web form module, data management is very easy. Administrators can create an unlimited number of web forms -- even including forms with credit card processing. Web forms could be created for email signups, volunteer signups, online contributions, event registrations, petitions, and more.
Every time a form is filled out, Business Catalyst looks for a match in the CRM, based on email address. If a match is found, that web form's information is added to the existing contact. If no match is found, a new contact is created. Either way, over time your CRM builds profiles of your supporters and all of their interactions with you.
Once the campaign knows how supporters have engaged, administrators can create reports to slice and dice the data, then use those reports to send targeted emails.
One of the most frustrating tasks on a campaign is keeping a separate email tool up-to-date with email lists from across the campaign. New donors, volunteers, and potential supporters are always coming in from dozens of places. It's almost impossible to keep loading all of that new information into the email tool, not to mention then being able to create targeted communications based on those lists.
Business Catalyst has an integrated email marketing tool, making email communications quick and easy. You can easily design your own email templates, and then add content as quickly as writing a blog post.
Business Catalyst allows for an unlimited number of email lists, making it easy to slice lists into finely targeted audiences. Lists can be explicitly included and excluded from email campaigns, meaning that if there was a specific list that should not receive an email -- for instance, a list of prior donors who should not receive a prospecting email -- then it is easy to exclude that list so they don't get the email.
Business Catalyst also has a feature to create loyalty campaigns. So a campaign could easily create a string of automated follow-up emails when someone first signs up, or takes a particular action.
Another benefit of having email marketing baked into the CMS is per-email analytics that include not only open and click-through rates, but also conversions. So pulling the ROI of each email is very easy.
Despite all of the advances in technology over the past decade, processing online donations is still frustratingly complicated. Companies like Square are changing that for mobile devices, but that doesn't help web commerce. To make processing donations easy, Business Catalyst has a built in ecommerce tool that integrates with over 90 payment gateways, including Authorize.net, Google Checkout, and PayPal.
Once a payment gateway is setup, administrators can create an unlimited number of web forms with credit card processing. Business Catalyst also has a complete shopping cart solution built in, so making an online store for the campaign is easier than ever.
Plus, all of that ecommerce data is dumped directly into the CRM, so it's immediately available for export and follow-up action.
Business Catalyst comes loaded with most of the features that any campaign needs to run their digital presence. But no system will contain every feature every organization needs. In addition to the features it comes with, one of the best reasons to use Business Catalyst in a political campaign is it's ability to integrate with third-party systems.
Business Catalyst also has a built-in API that securely opens up the CRM to access by external systems, such as a CRM or other middleware to sync data across platforms.
Campaigns have access to a lot of great content management systems, email marketing systems, online contribution systems, database management systems, and analytics systems. While it would be possible to pull together enough systems to replicate, or even exceed, the capabilities of Adobe Business Catalyst, the time lost in site management and data syncing give Business Catalyst a competitive advantage.
For the smart campaign that wants to make digital a more integrated part of their political, finance, and communications efforts, Adobe Business Catalyst offers the best value. More importantly, Business Catalyst can be a strategic asset to help campaigns accomplish their main goal: Win.