For those who are just starting to dip toes in the waters of a solopreneur business, creating a website, and thinking about email marketing, there can be a lot to learn, and a lot to ignore. But determining what is beneficial and what you can afford to ignore can be a challenge.
Since most of my clients are in the healing and helping arts, versus selling products online, the need for a lot of online, automated, fancy CRM -- customer relationship management -- is considerably lower than the need large corporations have to track inventory and constantly sell and ship more product.
So this blog post is specifically for clinicians, coaches, and other advisers with a more low key practice and/or already established client admin systems. Because any one topic in this area could take volumes to cover completely, in this post, I'll limit my two cents to:
domain specific email addreses
Wix email marketing (blast email program)
Ascend program (bundled tools)
Domain Specific Email Address
If you bought your domain name through Wix as part of purchasing your Wix premium website, you were probably also offered the chance to buy a mailbox. You might have declined at that moment because the wording can be confusing, or maybe you thought using a free Gmail, AOL, Outlook, Yahoo, or other email account would be sufficient.
What I call a domain specific email address can also be called professional or business email. It just means that your website's domain name is part of your email address. So instead of an address like ContactGloria@ gmail.com, Gloria the panic attack specialist might have a domain specific email such as Gloria@ AnxietyHelp.com if AnxietyHelp.com is her website's domain name.
A domain specific email address is easier for clients to remember, and it is more professional looking. And by not using an email address that everyone recognizes as a free account -- Gloria@ yahoo.com for example -- Gloria is signalling that she takes her business seriously, and is successful enough to afford this small expense.
Plus, it is likely a tax deductible business expense at the end of year, too. We always like those!
Domain specific email addresses are usually available for an additional fee wherever you have purchased your website domain. If you buy this through Wix, you are actually contracting with Google's G Suite.
Wix serves as a pass through for Google for this purpose and you are billed by Google for this email address, not by Wix. G Suite is what Google calls their collection of tools (they call them "apps" for applications) used for business that include Gmail, Google Docs -- their file sharing app similar to DropBox -- Google Calendar and other tools commonly used by small business owners.
If you already have a free Gmail account, your paid G Suite domain specific email inbox will look and operate pretty much the same. This is great for reducing the learning curve when buying a mailbox/email address from a vendor with which you are unfamiliar.
Email Encryption -- Do You Need It?
Many solopreneurs think they need a special encrypted email account to safely communicate with their clients. What is not often realized is that for encryption to really work as intended, BOTH sender and receiver must be using the same encrypted email provider.
That means that if your clients are using a free Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, or AOL email account and sending information and questions to your domain specific email on the encrypted platform called Hushmail, for example, their email isn't really encrypted. And it also means when you reply to your clients by sending from your Hushmail to their Yahoo, etc, there is no true encryption there, either.
In my experience when I used to use Hushmail, zero clients also had their email service on that platform, and they were unwilling to buy an account there just to email me. It made me paying for Hushmail rather pointless.
However, you may have a regulatory need -- such as from HIPAA -- to go the extra mile to try to secure your email communications. One platform said to integrate easily and well with Gmail is Virtru, which is both HIPAA and GDPR compliant.
Blast Email for Marketing Campaigns
"Blast" or "broadcast" are terms you might hear that mean sending one email to a bunch of recipients at once. Vendors like Constant Contact, MailChimp, and Aweber are blast email companies. To keep up with this competition, Wix has developed its own blast application that is just called Wix Email Marketing.
Blast email is useful to service providers if you are positioning yourself as a helpful resource and can send tips and informative content, instead of just constantly bugging people to hire your services. It's a way of reminding people of your expertise and trustworthiness while also providing your knowledge in a leveraged way -- one of you to the many on your email list.
In my opinion and experience, if you already use Constant Contact, MailChimp or Aweber as your blast email vendor, there is very little reason to switch to Wix Email Marketing unless price is your main determinant, and you don't even send out one blast a month. And if you have thousands of people already on your email lists, you are best off sticking with the vendor you've been using.
Wix Email Marketing is free to use -- with some restrictions. You can send 3 emails per month to up to 5000 recipients total. Sending 3 different emails to one person during the month will count as 3 outgoing emails during that period.
I'm not certain if -- in the free version of Wix Email Marketing -- you can add names to your recipients list if those people have not previously contacted you by way of a contact or subscribe form on your website. Do check that out if you are contemplating a switch. You want the ability to add names to your list from the business cards you pick up at networking events.
What is Ascend and Do You Need It?
Ascend is Wix's name for their bundle of various sales management tools. Wix aims to become a one-stop-shop for solopreneurs by packaging most if not all the random tools needed to run a small business. Note that this special option from Wix could be very useful for those with retail businesses, and those with staff to be immediately responsive to client contact via website chat and invoicing. It may not be so useful for clinicians and other service providers who don't sell products, and who need to not be interrupted when working with a client.
Included in Ascend are:
Wix Email Marketing upgrade
automated greeting in Wix Chat app*
Wix Chat notifications for cell phones
immediate automated emails sent to visitors who use your contact form*
Chat conversations saved in your Wix inbox**
Contact info & notes managed in Wix inbox**
automated post creation for social media
Wix Video Maker to create promo videos
integration upload of videos to YouTube
integration of targeted ads on Facebook & Google*
invoice creation with payment button
retail coupons for customer retention & repeat sales*
Workflows - a customer management tool for sales funnel tracking
* These are pressure tactics for converting visitors into customers. As such, it may not be appropriate for the healer /helper /adviser solopreneur whose marketing style is not as aggressive as that of a persistent retailer.
** Even without Wix Ascend, all messages from potential clients who contact you via your website's forms are recorded in your Wix account's dashboard even though they are also sent on to your personal or professional email inbox. Recorded are the entire message, visitor's name, email address, and phone number if you have that field in your form.
At the moment there is no way to prevent this recording in your Wix dashboard except by not using a contact form. Those of you who are required to be HIPAA compliant should think about whether you want to have this backup on the Wix platform, which itself is not a HIPAA business associate entity.
So, in my opinion, few to none of my clients are likely to need Ascend just to handle email with clients. Ascend comes with a hefty cost that is in addition to your regular website premium plan (for hosting) and your domain hosting fee. There's deductible business expense, but then there's smart cash flow. If you'd like more discussion on this difference, let me know and I'll blog about it.