TL; DR: Wix is a flexible website builder serving up solutions for over 66 million sites, regardless of web development skill level. With a new “vertical approach,” Wix now offers industry-specific resources that equip hotels, musicians, and restaurants to manage booking, e-commerce, and product sharing online, for free. A power player in website building for SMBs, Wix has also released two new features: Wix ShoutOut and Smart Actions, which allow users to leverage e-Newsletters for broadened marketing.
In 2015 and onward, business owners looking to expand their brand beyond the local market must establish a Web presence, and for industries dealing with event-planning and booking, this becomes both increasingly complicated and necessary. Unfortunately for the average business owner, managing the intricacies of website building and hosting is frustrating and seemingly futile.
If you’re not a CSS styling savant, if programming isn’t on your list of languages, if you’re not quite sure what a “web host” is, but you need to build a website, no worries. There’s Wix. We sat down with Wix Director of Strategic Marketing Communications Eric Mason to discuss Wix and their latest efforts to enhance website building for businesses, including their new “vertical approach.”
New Vertical Solutions: Industry-Specific Approach to Website Building
While many of Wix’s native applications, like the Wix Hive and Smart Action Triggers, cater to a “horizontal” breadth of users, Eric introduced us to Wix’s new “vertical approach” to website building tools. Wix has recently launched two industry-specific business solutions: Wix Hotels and Wix Music, with yet another, called Wix Restaurants, in its early stages. These vertical solutions came about as a result of business owners’ lack of freedom to manipulate the backend and manage their businesses on the Web.
Eric told us that internal and external polling revealed minimal options allowing customers to search and book hotel stay dates, while also allowing businesses to manage the reservations in the backend. “There were ways to do it, but it cost a bunch of money, so we built our own booking agent, called Wix Hotels,” he said.
Usually, these alternative solutions integrate with WordPress or another CMS, or are haphazardly pieced-together quick fixes. Wix’s solution, on the other hand, encapsulates the entire frontend, backend, and booking option into one package. This is incredibly useful to those that need to cover booking, room inventory, and keeping track of all the happenings within their boutique hotel.
Case Study: Quinta da Cancela
We spoke with Arthur Faria Carvalho, who recently revamped the website for Quinta da Cancela, a beautiful vineyard vacation getaway based out of Guimarães, in Portugal. “Our main requirement for our new website was to have an online direct booking tool,” Arthur shared, “and we found that in Wix Hotels.”
In just four years since opening its doors, Arthur’s hotel has received guests from 35 different countries and been recognized as a three-time recipient of TripAdvisor’s annual Excellence Award. “Since the re-launch of our new website with Wix, we have experienced an increase in visits to the website itself, and a 20 percent increase in our direct reservations,” Arthur said. “We would definitely recommend Wix.com as a website building tool for other potential users, and the Wix Hotels application is a no-nonsense way to promote your hotel or B & B!”
Similar to the hotel industry, Eric explained that the music space had plenty of third-party “discovery tools,” like Spotify and iTunes, but very few resources for musicians to upload their own music, share it, and profit from listeners who can actually purchase songs directly from the app. Wix saw an industry need, and set about developing Wix Music.
With Wix Music, artists are given full creative control to design their online store, including album covers. It’s an all-in-one online music player that allows musicians to drag and drop their audio files, set pricing for their songs, and collect the profit in full via PayPal transactions. For fans and music followers, Wix Music is a one-stop shop for listening, sharing, downloading, and purchasing their favorite tunes.
With Wix Hotels and Wix Music, users find frontend and backend tools, as well as integration options with the soon-to-be one-year-old Wix ShoutOut tool and Smart Actions, one of Wix’s newest features for 2015. “It’s much more robust than a simple app,” Eric explained, and both Wix Hotels and Wix Music remain freemium options with no commission rates applied.
Following the enthusiasm behind Wix Hotels and Wix Music, Eric also shared with us another industry on track to reap the benefits of the Wix website building toolbox. The product is still in its infancy stage, but the dining hospitality market is the next industry in line on Wix’s vertical path. Wix Restaurants features an online menu builder that allows restaurant owners to upload and manage their menus, including pricing, photos, and product descriptions, with ease.
Chefs looking to take their culinary expertise to the Web can use the Wix Restaurants tool to promote specialty dishes from their kitchen, or feature “Today’s Special” online or on mobile devices. Users can create a Wix Menus App to market their restaurant’s cuisine, and diners can find the tastes they love anytime, anywhere, with options to include hours of operation and directions directly within this incredible industry solution.
New Features: ShoutOut to Smart Actions
In addition to the most recent vertical approach launches, Wix has scaled out its native application products significantly in the initial start-up years. App information, as well as all of the data pulled from the frontend of the site via contact and/or submission forms, is collected and stored in the Wix Hive, which houses over one million contacts.
ShoutOut E-Mail Marketing
From there, Wix has created a tool allowing users to leverage that information to further propel their engagement via e-mail marketing. In 2014, Wix implemented ShoutOut, a tool that allows site owners to create an e-mail newsletter and landing page, without the technical jargon of click-through rates and conversions.
Wix ShoutOut users can design and share e-newsletters via e-mail or social media, control delivery times and recipients, and manage site subscribers. The product is also available via a mobile app, so busy site owners can view ShoutOut statistics, archive newsletters, and even resend unopened ShoutOuts on-the-go.
Smart Actions with Smart Triggers
As ShoutOut approaches the one-year mark since its deployment, it has played an integral role in the inceptions of some of the latest Wix features. Another new native app on the Wix scene, Smart Actions, implements “Smart Triggers” to blast ShoutOuts upon receipt of purchase payment, contact form submission, or sign-up, enhancing the ability of small businesses to expand their brand autonomously.
Located in your Wix Site Dashboard, Smart Actions allows you to select your trigger and desired resulting action, customize your engagement message, and immediately activate your automatic messaging response system with the press of a button.
Conclusion: Code-Free Simplicity & Continuous Development with Wix
Since the initial launch of a flash website builder product in 2008, to the inception of the HTML5 editor in 2012, and every day since, the Wix website-building team has made continual efforts to build out their platform, as well as their third-party app marketplace (home to 250 apps). “We don’t put out versions of our software,” Eric explained Wix’s “continuous development” strategy for updating their platform. “We’re actually pushing out improvements every day, often times several times a day.”
Wix’s commitment to creativity and continual development is a reflection of the company’s unique culture and overall goal of allowing users to “create early on,” Eric explained. He underlined the emphasis that the team puts on allowing for intuitive execution of website building, allowing site owners to focus on creativity and content.
Styling and editing are seamless with Wix, where you can build pieces of your site in layers, choose from pre-designed color palettes and font suites, or design your own. Users experience simplistic customization in the frontend and Wix dashboard, while Wix automatically rewrites the CSS in the backend. With over 66 million users across the globe, Wix is a free, catch-all solution for small businesses in need of website building.
“We would definitely recommend Wix.com as a website building tool for other potential users.” – Arthur Faria Carvalho, Wix Customer
Backed by Hostway, Wix builds 1.5 million websites each month, serving as the “backdoor to hosting” for over 45,000 new users daily. “We’re interested in the platform piece — building out the tools — and we’ve been that way from the beginning,” Eric said. Moving forward with this mantra, as well as their industry-specific, vertical approach to website building tools, Wix is sure to be an increasingly valued resource to small businesses in need of online solutions.
Photo Sources: wix.com; quintadacancela.com; youtube.com