What Web Hosts Should Be Doing in 2014 – Marketing Edition

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Marketing is always evolving and changing. What works today may not work tomorrow and as new software, apps, and social media brands emerge and die out it’s always important to make sure you keep up and not fall behind. Today I’m not going to look back on the year in 2013, but I’m going to look forward to 2014 and where you should focus your marketing efforts.

Get Social

It’s been said over and over again but a lot of brands still don’t get it or seem to buy into it. You need to get social in 2014. That doesn’t automatically mean jumping on Twitter or Facebook; go where your customers are. There are a lot of indications that search engines are taking into account social signals and the shareability of the content you produce in relationship to rankings but I don’t necessarily mean that. Think about the deeper social web.

Source: http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2010-09-14/

Do you have a group of customers that interact with you every time you talk about WordPress development? Do you notice that you host a large amount of customers with photography websites? Figure out where these groups of people are talking to each other, the online communities or forums they’re involved in and get your brand into the mix.

This doesn’t mean buying ad space or posting promotions, but join the conversation and be that corner of expertise in any topics related to web hosting. You can make just as strong of an impression with passive marketing as you can with direct marketing. You’ll start to build your brand a reputation within that community and just watch as happy customers within that community start referring other happy customers simply because you are where they are sharing your knowledge.

Diversify Your Offering

We all know how oversaturated particular segments of the web hosting industry are right now. Maybe 2014 is a time for you to step away from the crowd and offer something different. Have you seen the exhibitor list for HostingCon 2014 yet? That list is huge and they’re all companies that have something to offer for you, and more importantly, your customers.

It might be time to look at a new control panel like InterWorx. Changing control panels isn’t nearly as scary as it used to be, they all offer ways to transfer in between each other and some of them like InterWorx have some amazing features you’re not yet offering your customers right now. Get outside of the bubble and explore other options, I’m not saying to jump head first into a big change like that but it’s important to always explore what’s out there to better the experience you offer your customers.

Source: http://www.zoodotcom.com/media/comics/094-server-load.png | H/T to @vikkiorlando

Email marketing is not going away either. Ever have that customer that completely takes out their server trying to send out an email to a massive list without rate limiting it? Why not solve that problem by taking that load off of their server and offering them added value at the same time by integrating CakeMail into your product offering. I’m sure those guys would love to work out a partnership with your brand.

There are limitless ways to make your product stand out from the crowd so in 2014 I want you to move away from cookie cutter hosting and diversify your products to offer more value.

Step Up Your Blogging

The last thing I’m going to ask you as a web host to focus on improving in 2014 is the content that you’re blogging, or not blogging in many cases. I see many blogs on a web hosting companies website that are just months and months full of product announcements or outage notifications. Being a web host means that not only do you interact with many different facets of running a business such as marketing, engineering, IT, and development, but you also have customers that have interests in hundreds of different verticals related to your business.

So for 2014 scale back on blogging about your own products or company news and start sharing your expertise with your customers. You know your support team has a list of WordPress plugins they check for immediately when a customer calls in with a problem. Share this advice with your customers and offer them alternatives that will actually improve their website.

If you’re the marketer doing all the blogging you may not have the same exposure or knowledge about some of the more technical topics. However, I imagine there’s plenty of people in your company that would love to sit and talk to you about it for 10 minutes to get you all the information you need to put together a post. This follows the same idea as earlier with getting social, try to find more ways to connect with your customers. Give them reasons to share your content with their friends and followers.

I work with a number of different web hosts every day to help them better market their products so I know how busy things get but if you really want to take your business to the next level, maybe it’s time to try something new for 2014.

Is there anything you’re planning to do differently in 2014 to market your brand? If there isn’t, what is holding you back? What challenges are you facing moving forward?

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