Marketing & Advertising insights
Acquiring new clients and increasing sign up rates
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3. Marketing, Advertising, and Branding
Some general marketing, branding, and advertising insights for your new hosting business you can read below.
Branding is often not among the key points in a marketing plan of a web hosting company, yet it can be just as valuable as other forms of advertising. Branding is hard to measure and this is one reason why most businesses tend to stick to PPC or direct advertising. This is a mistake and you need to think about the internet as being a new country with each part of it being a different state and city you can build your brand in. It is very similar to niche marketing only you are branding instead of expecting direct results. Social media is also a great place to brand on both large and small scales. There are considerable advantages that branding can have and some strategies exist that even small hosting companies can take to implement it.
The major goal of branding is to have your name easily recognizable by consumers so that when they decide they need web hosting they instantly think about your brand. Of course it is very hard to outperform the big companies and outstand the competition since you have a limited budget but it can be done by targeting a specific type of consumers and branding sites they might frequent. A small hosting company can focus on local clients or clients that are interested in a given vertical market, for example the CMS scripts hosting. Using this method one can target and branding their hosting business as the hosting company for people and businesses primarily interested in CMS hosting. Branding is meant to drive traffic and also to increase conversions. Studies have shown that someone who has heard of your brand is way more likely to signup with you if they see a more direct ad at a later time.
If you are a small hosting startup business trying to target the general hosting market is not recommend for you. Trying such branding and you have already made some bad business decisions. For a small host who has chosen a niche the key to branding is to develop your brand inside that niche. For an example niche we will get a hosting company X that is focusing on business ecommerce hosting. If that company wanted to develop a branding strategy they would want to target locations that people visit who are looking to open an ecommerce store and need help. A good advice to them would be to run ads on forums related to ecommerce, sites with ecommerce advice, and to try to go one step further up the chain and advertise in local business magazines. By doing this they are exposing their brand to a targeted market and hopefully increase the number of prospective clients and increase their conversions.
If you are a small hosting company you need to dig a niche of people you will build your brand in. If you are large company this is not a factor or if you have a large budget you can afford to focus on the broad general markets. The point is that you want to break down your audience to a more manageable size.
3.3.1. Define Your Virtual City
Who makes up your customer base that you want to target? Think small and the size of your budget should constrain the size of your target audience. For example if I was going to focus on entrepreneurs who were in college that is probably a good one for a mid size hosting company. To define who makes up that virtual city I would make a list of forums, web sites, and social networks that those people operate in. After you have this list go to number two.
3.3.2. Start Branding
In the social networks, forums, sites, and so on that you have targeted start pushing your company name. Do anything you can to get your hosting companies name mentioned. The goal is that you want people in your virtual city to hear your company name 2 to 10 times at different locations. Why? They are more likely to buy from you, more receptive to your ads, and when they need hosting services most likely to think of you. That is what branding is for.
3.3.3. The Benefits
Your conversions from that audience should improve, traffic will increase and so on.
If you want to try to measure the effects of branding try this. Run your ads for a few months and then switch to focusing on branding. Brand your company in a small chosen segment and then run your more direct ads again and you should be able to see an improvement in conversion ratios. Just keep in mind branding is a long term strategy and hard to measure regardless of the above test. A well known company has the advantage because everyone knows its name and people are more likely to trust it.
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