MainIT-Marketing ⁄ Promotion of the provider and hosting on the market

Promotion of the provider and hosting on the market

The service provider market is a well-established one, with fierce competition and stable profits. It offers both complex and customised solutions designed for customers with high demands on the quality of services and service reliability, and budget segment solutions. The main task of promotion is to make information about itself noticeable against the background of other offers, to find its strengths and emphasise them, to maintain the reputation of a reliable and caring for the interests of customers service provider.

Innovations in provider promotion

The best ways for ISPs to attract customers

Step-by-step guide with examples from a professional marketer

    Sending, please wait... Get on WhatsApp Get on Telegram

    Innovations in provider promotion

    The best ways for ISPs to attract customers

    Creating and promoting hosting from scratch is a difficult task, requiring a large investment in capital expenditures for construction and promotion. In our practice we have encountered different situations, but the sores of both large and small hosting providers are often the same. For example, a company has invested more than $5 million in equipment, construction of a small data centre and organisation of a service provider, but has not thought through marketing and has not planned expenses for it, considering it inexpedient to spend even $2,000 a month on direct marketing to attract customers.

    This bias makes one wonder about calculating financial models. If you buy an object for a million dollars, it should bring profit at least in the form of interest from capitalisation not less than the rate of inflation 😀. But more often people invest money, incur constant expenses and are surprised by the lack of influx of clients. But at the same time they don’t understand why they should spend even thousandths of a per cent on marketing, saving money on things they absolutely cannot. The result is a vicious circle, from which it will not be possible to escape without betting on promotion.

    Few people would dare to take such a step without a serious background. To realise a successful project, you can take a different route, for example, by acquiring a service provider already existing on the market or buying smaller competitors. Using their history, investing in the expansion and modernisation of the server infrastructure, offering in-demand services and services, you can develop and promote your own brand.

    What is most important? First of all, it is necessary to define the goals of the marketing strategy: specific, measurable, realistically achievable, meaningful, limited in time.

    However, there are challenges on the way to achieving them. And the first of them is that most marketing specialists do not have the proper competence, visibility, IT experience. They have their own personal experience, but when the market changes, the use of previous marketing experience from other areas often turns out to be an unsuccessful solution, leading to a waste of budget and time. For example, a marketer who previously specialised in social media promotion of online shops or infobusinesses often relied on a “proven” channel – targeting, which gives good coverage of the target audience. If you bet on it when promoting hosting, the result will be zero. Therefore, when selecting the optimal and most effective channels should not only rely on their past experience, but also constantly test other promotion techniques.

    A specialist in a narrow IT subject must not only know the specifics of the product, but also understand customer reactions, be able to communicate the advantages, gain trust through content and reputation work, without missing the details. Realising that it is difficult for a young hosting company to compete with providers that have long mastered a niche in the market and are represented in the natural output, leads to the search for new promotion tools. If you do not dwell on the “classical promotion”, to promote the project help cases, storytelling, contextual advertising and video production.

    In order to promote hosting and find new customers at optimal cost, you should use all channels and tools, although the main work is built on the basis of 3 whales:

    • SEO, including geoservices (and similar “content islands”);
    • content marketing, namely targeted and contextual advertising (PPC);
    • PR.

    But even in a well-established scheme, there are nuances.

    Peculiarities of hosting promotion

    Modern hosting is not just a website storage. It is a huge complex of various services: SaaS-services, including website hosting, VPS/VDS, backup, renting or leasing (long-term lease with the right to buy out) server equipment, security, as well as numerous related products. To promote hosting services, you need a twist to become different from others.

    For example, the promotion of hosting can be built through the promotion and advertising of solutions that have been on the market for a long time:

    • lease of virtual and physical servers;
    • collocation (placement of the client’s equipment (own or rented) on the territory of the data centre) with connection to electricity, high-speed channels and its transfer to the data centre specialists for maintenance);
    • website and application hosting services (SaaS);
    • PCI DSS (ways of protecting information about bank card holders by the provider);
    • protection against DDoS attacks (full-fledged protection requires a large number of resources and a well-coordinated team of professionals).

    New generation products are emerging in the market that appeal to customers and have the potential to become the focal point of hosting advancement:

    • Kubernetes, a cloud-based microservice infrastructure with the ability to containerise and orchestrate applications, accelerate releases and updates with cloud/network services;
    • various artificial intelligence models, machine learning and specialised servers for them;
    • analytical systems and platforms for processing and storing large volumes of information.

    It is important for the provider to emphasise the advantages, to show what sets it apart from its competitors. In this case, he emphasises the products or solutions that are useful to customers but are not widely available on the market for various reasons.

    Even more successful solutions are the development of motivational programmes for each client, regardless of the size of the company, and broadcasting a personal attitude. For example, to create a long-term relationship with a customer, basic mechanics can be used, which implies that when a customer calls a provider company, they will not only hear the terms and conditions of services, but will also be offered, if it is physically possible, that a representative of the provider will come for a personal presentation, a remote demonstration of work, or will be invited to the data processing centre for a tour.

    It is important to provide information about the service provider’s services, involvement of representatives of the target audience, including on a regular basis by organising interactive meetings, online pitches, offline presentations of solutions with partners. Sometimes it is possible to work for the future, for example, by offering universities to organise free excursions to data centres for young IT specialists in their final year of study. Once they are employed, they are very likely to start bringing clients themselves in a year or two.

    How to promote hosting

    Thus, using the mechanics of PR, the process of warming up the CA, stimulating interest and demand, creating and maintaining interest becomes constant. This brings good results, but to maximise the effect of promotion it is necessary to use the SEO-promotion channel.

    The use of these methods is aimed at informing the end client interested in placing their servers at the provider or renting resources, influencing by direct advertising, visual chips. But this is most often not enough. It is necessary to use the possibilities of other promotion channels. For example, in practice it has been proven that the best complement each other PR / advertising, search engine promotion and content marketing in conjunction with the webinar model, allowing you to reach as many potential customers as possible.

    Thus, PR is required to reach potential customers through industry platforms such as Linkedin, Medium, Quora, GitHub, as well as through interviews, business publications. Creating an image of an industry expert helps to build interest and loyalty among stakeholders. At the same time, SEO work covers different segments of the target audience through guides, case studies, informational materials, development of electronic and printed versions of books, mass attraction of information traffic and implementation of mechanics for dealing with it.

    It is important for a provider to attract new solvent clients on targeted and near-targeted topics. If the structure of service provision is properly structured, a client who initially pays for one service will be willing to purchase many more as time passes. Therefore, one of the effective methods of promotion is to expand the portfolio of services. For example, declaring server rental as the main service, the provider in parallel offers the creation of backups.

    Let’s consider it by example. When promoting hosting use different topics that differ in the cost of attracting customers. On them lower competition and budget traffic. Having gained customers through one inexpensive topic, for example, on backup services, they can be converted to other, more expensive contracts or services with a higher cheque. This is because the process of choosing a hosting service and moving to it is long and complex. Such decisions are made only after a long preliminary analysis, so the client prefers to receive all services comprehensively, on the basis of one provider.

    Promotion of a service provider is closely linked to the development of marketing strategy, analysis of the effectiveness of the unit economy. Only operating with metrics such as ROMI, CR, CAC, LTV allows you to determine the most effective marketing strategies. It is impossible to achieve quick results, the B2B sector is characterised by a long transaction cycle and high receipts. In order to understand whether the direction of promotion and marketing of hosting is correct, it is necessary to consider the indicators from the point of view of the trend – whether there are new sales, whether the customer base is growing, whether the number of deals at the approval stage is increasing, etc.

    The hosting provider’s operating model is largely based on LTV, which is why it is so important to increase the company’s profit from each client and lengthen the period of co-operation, finding new ways to be useful to old and new recipients of services. In practice, things look a bit different – the marketing costs of attracting a paying client are not immediately recouped, the cost of the attraction deal is estimated to be higher than the profit that the provider gets for several months from this client. This means that it often takes a month to a year before the first transaction pays off. The business pays off because customers “stick” with their provider for many years, and do not leave the provider without good reason (e.g. lack of a portfolio of required services).

    Impact of offline sales on hosting promotion

    As part of a long-term relationship, the sales team must clearly track customer contact and observe the window between new transactions. What does this look like? Let’s imagine that your hosting service company has 500 customers using virtualisation services. For a certain period of time (3-6 months), they don’t buy additional services. In this case, the sales department should assume the functions of a care service, very unobtrusively offering the client services/services for further business development.

    For example, the care service operator informs the customer that their server performance can be improved by activating an additional service. If the customer makes a transaction, the next focus of attention is planned within the time window. In this way, a reputation is built and customers are assured that this provider offers an ideal service and cares about the development of their business.

    By managing churn and the current customer base, the provider can absorb its smaller competitors with their own customers. As a result, the inflow of money does not wane, there is a constant profit. But it will be necessary to retain customers by offering them a more favourable and convenient service model. When there is an established co-operation between the client and the provider, migration to another service provider is perceived as a terrible headache.

    The process of moving a project with at least 50-100 users in the cloud is never quick. Preparatory work takes at least two weeks, and no one is immune to database mis-synchronisation or unavailability of infrastructure or critical services. That is why companies, having chosen a provider, prefer to cooperate with it for a long time. If customer service is established, everything works stably, the customer of the service will be ready to pay for comfortable work indefinitely, without thinking about moving.

    It is important to understand that this mechanics of development is effective only if the services (products) provided are of really high quality and the technical support service is as customer-oriented as possible. Excessive bureaucratisation leads to the fact that after each communication session the client wants to find a provider with a more human face.

    For those companies that are determined to maximise their interaction with big business, another win-win chip. It is not related to direct marketing, but it is indicative of the level of approach to business and attitude to the client. It’s about creating a super cool executive office. Taking the idea of wow-effect as a basis, the provider does everything to make a visitor who first gets into the office amazed and pleasantly surprised. The client starts to think that if the office looks so great, then what kind of advanced technology and experienced professionals work in it! In the end, the investment in the exterior design of the space pays off, increases conversion rates.

    Tips for young hosting projects to build an effective marketing mix

    When the provider is engaged in its own promotion, the accuracy of actions is important. For this purpose, there are already tested schemes, following which increases the influx of customers in the end. As an example of mechanics for certain blocks of promotion, we note the following points:

    • analysis of the target audience (purpose of purchasing hosting services, objectives of the purchased product/service), segmentation of clients, creation of their avatars;
    • creation of informative articles under the semantic core;
    • case studies publication;
    • technical analysis of competitors (Netpeack, Serpstat);
    • development and launch of mass retargeting (by gender, location, service/product of interest, type of traffic, etc.);
    • audit of landing pages for all hosting services/products from the point of view of business benefits (including usability, SEO, markup of micro- and macro-conversions, analysis of resource potential.

    Promoting hosting, you need to create a checklist of works. It must necessarily include:

    • installation of target pixels for retargeting customers and the possibility of further work with the collected base;
    • preparation of advertising offices;
    • assembly of mailing funnels;
    • development of motion video and video funnels.

    How to make a return on investment in marketing in six months

    Marketing plan for hosting promotion

    1 month

    Briefing with the client, analysis of the matrix of company services, analysis of semantics (collection, clustering of blocks, parsing, minus-queries), creation of content plan of informative articles under the semantics of hosting and provider, marketing analysis. Audit of the site, contextual and targeted advertising, SMM of both the client and his competitors. Selection of retargeting mechanics for the client and audit of the client’s project status. Checking of working offices, connection of pixels.

    If we talk in more detail, let’s consider the moment obvious to everyone – audit of the client project, on the basis of which the further work on promotion is built. Marketing analysis of landing pages, performed at the very start of work, determines how much the services offered by hosting is beneficial and useful to customers. Attention is paid to usability, usability of the mobile version, SEO-optimisation, markup goals, analysis of the potential of the site as a whole.

    However, if you drill down even further, taking, for example, only the project analytics in terms of Ads auditing, you will need to check:

    • links between Google Ads and Analytics;
    • setting and correctness of targeting;
    • setting of micro-conversions;
    • use of call tracking;
    • integration with Analytics;
    • engagement metrics (bounce rate, time on site, depth of views, etc.);
    • scrolling depth;
    • click map.

    Only after making sure that the analytics settings are correct can you start checking traffic and making recommendations for adjusting other parameters (sites, including search, geography, age, gender, OS, bounce rates, browsers, etc.). And this is only a small part of what is done at the start of promotion as part of the audit!

    Based on the audit results, a project structure is created, in which all information about the client is collected (sites, accounts, counter numbers), links to content, minutes of work/interviews, communication map, conversion and retargeting goals on the site, budgets by traffic channels, dynamics of lead generation/calls/subscriptions, detailed plan of promotion works. Then separate pages of the promotion plan are created with a detailed structure concerning the traffic structure, retargeting, retargeting audiences, CA portrait, plan-schedule step-by-step (month-by-month), media plan for a month in advance.

    2 month

    Semantics blocks are parsed, conclusions on geo+services bundles are drawn. Materials are loaded into advertising offices for retargeting. First materials are packaged, coordinated and published. Scripts for sales funnels are prepared.

    3 month

    A funnel is launched on the chosen service, at least two advertising offices with two groups of adverts are created and tested. The received traffic is evaluated, for example, by the end of the third month the site should receive 5 thousand conversions and 1 subscriber in the funnel. Readiness of the provider’s site to receive traffic is checked. Partner integration is agreed upon (e.g. leads are transferred to the client to purchase hosting services).

    Innovations in provider promotion

    How a provider can find customers in the IT market

    Step-by-step guide with examples from a professional marketer

      Sending, please wait...

      Click the button and you'll get Access to the checklist and the lead generation system we build for our clients

      Get on WhatsApp Get on Telegram

      4 month

      Motion video for funnels is recorded. Social media and Google* retargeting is launched. Advertising offices across all groups are switched to maximise conversion bindings. Traffic is built up according to the plan (for example, at the end of the fourth month you should get 10 thousand conversions and 3 subscribers in the funnel).

      Month 5-6.

      In-depth analyses of the advertising campaign (by sites, conversion results and other slices), confirmation of hypotheses or construction of new ones. Traffic growth (15 thousand conversions + 5 subscribers). Video funnels are being implemented, work is underway to support and set up sales funnels (including work with content, creative development, retargeting monitoring).


      Petr Dzyuba

      IT marketing expert

      Inline Feedbacks
      View all comments