In the midst of the holiday rush, website platform developer Wix delivered a welcome gift to small businesses: an integrated suite of marketing products called Ascend.
Although I didn’t have a chance to write about it at the time, I did attend the launch, and wanted to recap the announcement because the new suite can really help small businesses take digital marketing and CRM to the next level.
Most Small Businesses Use a Hodge Podge of Disconnected Marketing Tools
Small businesses increasingly rely on digital channels to market and sell their goods and services (Figure 1). According to SMB Group research:
- 60% of small businesses have a website, and 20% plan to create one in the next 12 months.
- 35% have an ecommerce storefront, and 21% plan to add one in the next 12 months.
- 56% use Facebook to engage with customers and prospects, and many use other social channels as well.
Small businesses also use a variety of other tools to help them establish, manage and grow customer relationships. The problem is, most have cobbled together an unwieldy assortment of spreadsheets, email contact managers, and disjointed point solutions to help manage these functions.
And, although 56% of small businesses say that application integration will be a very important or important capability for their businesses to have in the future, few have the resources or skills to even figure out where or how to start connecting the patchwork quilt of tools that they use today.
Enter Wix Ascend
Wix was started with the aim of making it simpler and faster for entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and small business owners to create a website. Now, the company is launching Ascend to offer small businesses an easy on ramp to the marketing and business management capabilities that they need to create a more professional business persona and grow their companies.
Ascend includes twenty different solutions, including search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, chat, scheduling, memberships, and more (Figure 2).
The really great part is that these solutions integrate with Wix websites—and with each other—without the need for confusing plug-ins.
Instead of toggling back and forth between different solutions and platforms, a small business can use Ascend to do things such as set up online chats, offer personalized discounts, post to social networks, provide quotes, and schedule service appointments—all from one dashboard. It even enables customers to create and send invoices.
As important, Wix puts the whole customer conversation at a small business owner or employee’s fingertips. Wix funnels all customer interactions into one, unified inbox. Users can view the interaction history and respond to customers from a smartphone, tablet or PC.
Ascend also includes workflow functionality to enable automatic replies to customers that visit a Wix website (Figure 3). For instance, a small business could send automatic thank you notes, or generate automatic invitations or quotes.
Wix sells Ascend via a separate subscription, offering three plans to choose from, with pricing ranging from $9 to $45 per month.
Most small businesses want to unify customer communication, workflows and information, but typically find it too complicated or expensive to do so.
Ascend addresses this issue by providing them with one place to go for all the tools they need to more effectively interact with and project a more responsive, professional image to customers and prospects. The integration with Wix websites allows small businesses to easily manage customer and prospect information, communication and behavior from one dashboard.
Wix’s packaging scheme is spot on. The comprehensive, easy to use Ascend tool is engineered to integrate seamlessly with Wix websites—making it a no-brainer for existing Wix customers to try. In addition, it should help Wix attract a larger share of new website customers to its platform versus those of competitors.
The one missing link to date is for small businesses that have existing websites on competing platforms. Although the Wix-Ascend value proposition is appealing, most will need some–as yet undeveloped–migration tools to lift and shift their websites. However, the Wix team certainly understands this issue, and I expect that they will address it in the not too distant future.