The State of Small Business: My Interview with Ashley Williams from Wix.com

By on January 11, 2017

This year, I am launching a new blog post series in which I interview small business marketers, experts, and influencers on what is happening in our space. I’m kicking off the series by interviewing Ashley Williams, Head of Community Outreach at Wix.com. Wix is a web development platform that lets anyone create a beautiful website using simple drag & drop tools – for free!

Brian Moran: Hi Ashley. You lead the community outreach team at Wix.com. Your company helps small business owners take their companies online and participate in the digital world. What’s the state of the market as we enter 2017? Do small business owners appreciate the importance and urgency of having a digital presence?

Ashley Williams: Small business owners generally understand that they need an online presence but they feel that there are so many barriers standing in their way. They worry that they won’t have the time or the tech competence to build a website. Small businesses owners want to focus on their passions, the reason why they decided to strike it out on their own — baking cupcakes, designing furniture, etc — not on marketing, but they know their businesses will never succeed without it.

Ashley Williams, Head of Community Outreach at Wix.com

Brian: What types of companies still don’t have web sites? Are they startups? Main Street local businesses (e.g. pizzeria or a nail salon)? Other companies?

Ashley: Nearly 50 percent of small businesses in the United States do not have a website. These business range from hair salons to dog walkers. Even apps and other tech startups sometimes get so focused on their product, that they almost miss the importance of having an online hub.

Brian: How easy/difficult is it for small business owners to set up and maintain a web site? Is there a fear involved in stepping into the digital world?

Ashley: It’s actually very easy. With Wix, small businesses have a tool that is incredibly intuitive without sacrificing the customization a small business owner craves. That being said, a lot of entrepreneurs are still hesitant. They’ve convinced themselves that technology has to be challenging and overwhelming. A large part of what our team does is break down that fear and show small business owners that they can take control of their online presence. A lot of bravery is required to start your own business. Entrepreneurs just need to tap into that same bravery and realize building a website isn’t scary.

Brian: A big concern for business owners regarding their web sites is “what if I build it and no one visits me?” Does Wix have a program to help companies drive traffic to their web sites?

Ashley: Yes, a website definitely isn’t a “if you build it they will come” scenario. You have to invest time and resources in driving traffic to that site, and Wix offers a lot of those resources. One example is our ShoutOut tool, which gives our users a very easy and seamless way to utilize email marketing. We also have several resources in the Wix App Market to help boost Search Engine Optimization. When it comes to learning all about the world of online marketing, WixEd, our online learning platform, offers a series of courses to help our users promote their websites online.

Brian: Are there tools or widgets that business owners can use to keep traffic coming back to their web sites?

Ashley: The classic is email marketing. There’s no more direct way to engage people than through their inboxes, and Wix ShoutOut makes that process very simple. We also allow many features to captures subscribers, especially on our blog platform, allowing readers to be notified and to keep coming back for more.

Brian: Can Wix help companies capture data from people visiting the site?

Ashley: Wix offers this in a few different ways. One is our integration with Google Analytics, which gives users tons of data on how many people are visiting their websites, when, and from what sources. We also offer a variety of beautiful contact forms that users can take advantage of to capture site visitors for email lists and research. The entries then sync with Wix Contacts, giving our users the ability to see everyone who has interacted with their website in one place, whether it’s through filling out a form or buying a product.

Brian: For small business owners that already have a web site, is there anything coming out in 2017 that is a “must-have” for their site?

Ashley: Wix is continuously building and expanding our product offerings to give users customizable tools to build and grow their online presence. From managing events to increasing SEO, our products offer something for everyone to tailor their sites according to their needs.  

Brian: Last question, what other exciting programs have you been working on that will be beneficial to small business owners?

Ashley: Wix is a global partner of CreativeMornings—a breakfast lecture series for the creative community that happens monthly in 157 cities worldwide—in which we provide both communities the opportunity to share their talents with the world. I’m extremely excited for us to be working with the creative and small business communities to help them build a stunning online presence and strengthen their businesses. Additionally, in December we ran a contest with CreativeMornings and will announce the three lucky winners on January 16.

On behalf of all small business owners, thanks for all that you do to help us run better companies!

About Brian Moran

Prior to rejoining the world of entrepreneurship, Brian was the Executive Director of Sales Development at the Wall Street Journal where he oversaw the sales development and marketing programs for the financial and small business categories among the many Journal brands. From 2002-2010, Brian was President of Veracle Media and Moran Media Group.

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