By Terence Lau
In the early days of the web, getting your hosting services noticed was relatively easy, but now, as the number of websites on the Web has grown astronomically, the chances of your hosting services appearing on the first few pages of site directories and search engines are getting slimmer.
In fact, many hosting companies are still under the impression that by building a sign-up site and submitting URL to search engines alone will improve business and rack up sales. Sadly, that is clearly impossible now.
Quit surviving and start escalating your web hosting sales. Here are some techniques.
Are your advertising efforts focused mainly on the U.S? IDC said that by 2003, Internet spending would reach $1.64 trillion. Two-thirds of this projected amount will come from outside the US, with Japan and Western Europe expected to make up 47% of this on-line spending, while in China, there are already approximately 22 million Internet users, and market penetration is expected to grow to more than 60 million by 2005, an increase of almost 300%. In fact, the interactive medium is expected to grow so fast in China that some observers predict Chinese will be the most used language on the Internet by the year 2007.
Concentrating your marketing efforts on the U.S or publishing in local magazines will eventually leave one-half of the potential revenue on the table. Chinese users searching for "" will never find you. Turkish users searching for web hosting services in "web barindirma" will never click your site or French users searching for "Web Hébergement" and "hébergement de serveurs web" will click to your competitor’s site.
Since 97% of the world speaks just 24 languages, you can quickly take advantage of this foreign market by building relevant foreign keywords in your doorway pages and submit these web pages to top 10 search engines to improve site visibility. (Doorway pages are duplicated web pages or gateway pages with specific title keywords optimized for a particular search engine) You can translate specific keywords like "Web hosting" or "Virtual hosting" to other foreign words quickly at http://www.altavista.com/sites/babelfish.
You can also engage in small marketing campaigns on targeted websites in European or Asian countries. Because online advertisement space outside U.K., Canada and the U.S, is generally inexpensive, purchasing advertising space on targeted websites from other countries can produce good results.
One of the ways to boost your business in the right direction is to tell your users to review your hosting services at several hosting directory sites. Reviews "speak" to potential customers in a straightforward and convincing way. The words of a satisfied customer are commanding tools for endorsing trust, building your credibility, and improving sales and profitability. The best thing about this, is it’s absolutely free and well worth the effort as most user reviews are permanent on hosting directory sites, and hence, giving your website a lasting free URL link back to your web site. To do this, you can either insert small buttons of hosting directories on your site to allow your users to review your services quickly or email your users monthly and notify them about reviewing your services.
Another thing I have discovered is that hosting companies do not utilize press releases. Every hosting company can benefit from writing news releases, but very few actually utilize them. Below are some ideas you can use for a press release:
As with everything in the world of marketing, distribute your press releases only to targeted audience sites, market and media outlets. To increase the chances of your news being selected, mail and fax your press release to the relevant person or department in that organization. You can also submit to sites that accept news. A press release that is published on a targeted audience site gives unbiased endorsement for your company that could lead to great returns. Some of the links below allow you to submit your press release in the area of your receptive audience. Remember to book mark these sites.
Describe your hosting plans, network infrastructure and reseller options in details.
Motivational speaker Anthony Robbins once said, "If you want to be successful, find someone who achieved the results you want and copy what they do, and you’ll achieve the same results."
Before you spend a lot of time overhauling your website and adding in new features to your hosting plans, examine successful hosting companies or competitors sites. Take a closer look. The stories of successful hosting companies share at least one common element. Other than providing fanatical support and building an excellent relationship with their customers, these hosting companies describe their hosting plans and options available in complete detail.
Avoid: 30 Pop Email Accounts
Use: 30 Pop Email Accounts with Web based access
Avoid: Web Statistics
Use: IISA 5.0 Web Statistics with real time Who’s On
Avoid: 99.5% Uptime Guarantee
Use: 99.954% Uptime Guarantee
Avoid: Perl Support
Use: Support the latest Perl 5.61 version
Avoid: IIS web server
Use: IIS5.0 web server
Use: Monthly Traffic Allowance
Avoid: Reseller Option
Use: Ability to reseller your web space
Avoid: Server Monitoring
Use: 24 Hour server monitoring
Avoid: Connected with UUNET and Cable & Wireless
Use: AT&T, UUNet, Level3, and Global Crossing Backbones. SONET Ring technology with dual OC-12 and multiple DS-3 fiber optic lines for backbone fail over. Bandwidth capacity kept at twice the peak usage rate. BGP-4 routing protocol provides stable, efficient and intelligent routing
Avoid: Free Shopping Cart
Use: Free Miva Shopping Cart (Value $495)
Avoid: FTP Access
Use: Full FTP Web Root Access
Avoid: Sub Domains
Use: 5 sub domains. e.g. Okey.companyname.com
Avoid describing your hosting services with general words like "world leader in web hosting", "best value anywhere", "the fastest setup service in Mexico" or "fastest connection with Dual OC-12". Help your Internet users to understand what you actually offer and describe it in detail.
Why advertise when your competitors do not? Increase advertising as many of your competitors are thoughtlessly slowing down and you can grab a share of the web hosting pie. Many Webmaster sites and search engine sites have reduced their web advertising cost to alleviate empty advertising space. Negotiate and find out some of the best offers before committing with the usual publishers. It is of utmost importance to find sites that are receptive to your hosting services. To battle the slow economy, many publishers are compelled to offer discounts, and if you are still paying more than US$20 CPM or more for a top-of-page banner on a targeted site, most likely you have missed out many advertising offers out there. With or with no click-through, banners help you to build your positive brand association with your hosting services, heighten company visibility internationally. So the next time when users want or have to sign-up for a hosting service, they can quickly recall your site name.