HostingCon: Increasing Profits and Prospects with Marketing Best Practices

There was one more session I thought you would all  appreciate hearing about called “Increasing Profits and Prospects with Marketing Best Practices” by Hartland Ross (Ebridge Marketing solutions).

Heartland started the presentation with the basics, and slowly built us up. The first question I heard was “What is your business strategy?”

If you don’t have one you need to decide are you:

  • In Global ..  National …  or Local market
  • Low cost leader or Differentiation
  • One stop shop with suite of hosting plans (Blue Host) or just one plan … or a  budget shared one brand .. or perhaps have multiple brands
  • Consideration (cost, cannibalization, simplicity of one brand, dilution of a brand)

Who are u targeting?

  • Consumers – the focus on conversions
  • SMBs – then focus on conversions
  • Enterprise – then focus on lead generation
  • Specific group/niche (e.g. Developers) – then focus on  both

Implications of Target Audience

  • Layout and language of the site
  • Types of testimonials
  • Domain name
  • Marketing Channels
  • Types of customer support (hours)
  • Company culture (impression is important)
  • Reliance on upstream providers – DCs, level of redundancy
  • Publications of news via newswires, social media

Market needs

Once you are clear on target audience become clear on the needs

  • Consumers don’t need much, but they want it all and for cheap (very price sensitive)
  • SMBs (resellers) need more valued services, you are still to think about the price
  • Enterprise customers’ needs are higher, but prices are higher

Positioning

Now you have to position yourself as the best solution to fulfill those needs. Here are some suggestions:

  • Describe the level of Customer Support
  • The more testimonials the better
  • Post last Awards
  • Provide an SLA
  • Keep news and blogs current
  • Post comparison charts of top competitors vs you (take a look at what SingleHop hoster is doing)
  • Update your copyright dates
  • No Voice Mail (pick up the phone when clients call)
  • Offer Trial Periods VS Guarantees (yes, give your customers to try out your services)
  • Add a personalized letter from President, CEO or owner (this is who we are, this is what we believe in, here is where we are going.. if you have any questions or concerns you can reach to me personally (take a look at Silicon Valley WebHosting under  About Us section)

The Marketing Mix

Let’s identify Niche vs Mass Marketing approaches first

Niche is when you are using:

  • PPC – use specific keywords
  • SEO –use  specific keywords
  • Trade Publications
  • Sponsorship or exhibiting at Industry events
  • Direct Mail pieces
  • Online developer communities

Mass Marketing is when you are using:

  • Newspapers
  • TV/Radio
  • Sports Events
  • Hosting Dir Sites
  • SMBs sites
  • More general search items

Implementing your Mix

  • Tracking – ex Google Analytics
  • Be attentive to your marketing
  • Make changes / update banners, offers, websites
  • Always know what your competition is doing (take a look at the sites – compete.com, spyfu.com, keywordspy.com)
  • Trends – stay informed on economy, industry, products / technology

Be your customer’s friend

  • Offer support alternatives (video chat is getting more popular)
  • Provide prompt support (don’t make your clients to jump through the hoops, fix it)
  • Perform a customer satisfaction surveys
  • Remember every piece of communication counts
  • To the extent possible get to know your customers (develop relationships with your customers.. personalized approach, personal notes)

Ways to reduce Costs

Quote to remember If you can not measure it – > you can not track it -> and if you can’t track it -> you can not change it

  • Ensure tracking solutions are in place so you know which 50% of your marketing is working
  • Renegotiate terms with your vendors (easier in current climate – do it now)
  • Focus on Customer Retention and increasing conversion rates – not just more traffic

Ways to increase Sales

  • Website is user friendly & check out process is not confusing – INSTILL confidence
  • Optimize Conversions – Use A/B split testing or multivariate testing (Google Optimizer, Webtrends)
  • Offer incentives (referrals, urgency, bundling)

Retain Customers

  • It all comes down to understanding the Lifetime span of a customer
  • Referral programs – lowers CPA from 1 to 3 years of revenue
  • Get customers to sign up for longer terms
  • Offer Package deals (hosting plan + design + ?? = 10% discount)
  • Offer other services to strengthen relationships and aim to be a “one stop shop” you will have sticker customers.

Conclusion: It’s all about being innovative while having a solid strategy, knowing who your customers are and what they are looking for.