I talked recently with Colin Barnes, CEO of Collabor8online, a provider of low-cost construction collaboration technology that I first wrote about 18 months ago (post), and just over a year since I last spoke to him (post). The conversation was prompted by some tweets about the business’s new website and about a new version of its application, released last month.
Web 2.0 marketing
The new website has been developed using WordPress as a content management system, and – as you might expect of the pre-eminent blogging platform – incorporates a blog which the Collabor8online team have been updating more frequently in recent months. Several of the blog posts feature YouTube videos about the application and its new features, while others focus on recently signed-up customers such as Rosebery’s and Smith Lam Architects.
The use of Web 2.0 tools and techniques forms part of a shift in Collabor8online’s marketing strategy, Colin said. Initially, the business had targeted SMEs in the mechanical and electrical services market and had relied upon conventional print advertising, but this was shown to be a “slow burn” after Colin agreed to experiment with an online campaign using Google Adwords. Combined with some organic search engine optimisation, the business had enjoyed a recent surge in sales enquiries from a wider range of organisations – though he accepted this might also have coincided with a general resurgence in the UK construction market after the credit crunch.
Some of the new features on Collabor8online continue this Web 2.0 thinking, including the optional use of avatars in user profiles – these images then appear adjacent to any comments made by users, tasks assigned to them, and any actions they have completed on the “latest activity” feed on the application’s homepage. This level of personalisation will be familiar to users of application such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and can make it easier for users to identify contributions associated with particular individual users.
Another simple change was to change from “comments” to “messages”. Colin said he felt this more accurately reflected the broad range of project communications within Collabor8online.
Recognising that some high-end SaaS collaboration systems can be difficult to use “out of the box”, Colin also highlighted a new two-minute Quick Start video guide displayed on the homepage of any new user added to the system. This gives a quick introductory overview of the product helping users “get started” quickly, and forms part of a new Video Help option in the top right hand corner of the home page.