This is a sponsored post from our friends at Weebly.
In this sponsored post by Weebly, I had a chance to catch up with Chris “Selfie” Sheridan, Head of Strategic Partner Sales at Weebly in the run up to NamesCon later this month.
DNW: Weebly Cloud launched in early 2015; so we are coming up on the third anniversary of the platform. Tell us about some of the highlights.
CS: It has been a very busy and exciting three years. In looking back at the evolution of the Weebly Cloud platform, I see three key developments/highlights:
1. The website market opportunity remains very big. There is strong demand for fully featured, easy-to-use web building platforms. We are supporting 200+ web hosts, registrars, and telcos as of today. These partners are leveraging our Cloud platform to capture their fair share of the 50% of SMBs that still do not have a web presence. It is really a great time to be in the website market. In addition to the offline market, we also see a lot of clients looking to switch website providers (most being driven by mobile) and this also provides a huge opportunity for our channel partners.
2. The website “product” has really evolved. When we launched in 2015, we focused on providing a solid Editor experience that was powered by our drag and drop tools. Fast forward today, the Weebly Cloud platform is now supporting Resellers with custom app integration, custom theme integration, and extended API commands like “sub-reseller” support. So, the level of engagement from channel partners with the Cloud program is increasing and becoming a more critical platform for them.
3. Ecommerce is becoming more a strategic focus for our Partners. This is a key change from 2015. It’s no longer good enough to just provide a high quality web building solution – it is now more critical for Partners to take a larger role in providing ecommerce solutions and catering to the needs of ecommerce sellers. Ecommerce customers are a higher value customer as well – they will spend more for the right ecommerce solution and they will also utilize more services from the Hosts, Telcos, and Registrars – specifically domains, security solutions, and more “selling” tools like SEO, SEM, and email marketing services.
DNW: What are the key trends you see in 2018 for the Hosting and Domain space?
CS: The underlying trend coming out of 2017 is that the “website builder” is no longer viewed as a “product” or a “feature”. It is viewed as a platform that customers will utilize to run their entire business and manage their customers. This is a huge difference. Platform vs. Product. Based on this I see two trends in 2018:
1. Web hosts, registrars, and telcos will make significant efforts to go bigger in ecommerce. I see this as a big driver for growth in Weebly Cloud. We spent significant effort on building out our ecommerce business. This strategy is working in our retail business and I look forward to extending more of this functionality to our Cloud channel. Specifically, we will be extending our new “Performance” plan to Resellers in 2018. We already offer a Business (ecommerce) plan today. The Performance plan will allow our channel to target more ecommerce client directly with improved shipping, tax, and other ecommerce features.
2. We should expect to see the website platform/product take a larger share of marketing spend and be the strategic focus of more telcos, hosts, and registrars. This transformation will take many shapes, eg. diminished promotions of domains/hosting in favor of larger web builder promotions, partnering with companies like Weebly Cloud, or some folks taking the step of building their own web builder.
DNW: What makes you personally excited about the website opportunity in 2018?
CS: Great question! In 2017, I was very encouraged to see Hosts, Registrars, and Telcos become interested in custom themes and custom apps. It signals a deeper focus by them on the website platform and their desire to further customize/differentiate their offering. Similar to this trend, we also opened up access to our channel to the Weebly App Center in 2017. This was widely adopted by our channel and is proving to be a key tool in keeping users engaged with their sites.
This deeper engagement by the Channel has been built around the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) business. As the channel becomes more successful in selling & supporting DIY services, it positions them for success on ecommerce as well. Ecommerce is its own “world”. So, after three years of supporting 200 partners in building success in DIY, I feel very confident and excited about the potential of DIY ecommerce sites and how that will material revenue and client success for our partners.