Web hosting companies are a vital part of the Internet’s foundation. The total industry value as of 2019 stood at over $56.7 billion, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 15.5%. That figure will reach $130 billion by 2025.
Yet despite offering essential services, it can be challenging – but not impossible – for many to stand out. Recent events like the global Covid-19 pandemic have helped to fuel the move towards digital activities. Much potential remains in this space, partially driven by growing Internet penetration rates and the increasing number of startups.
In the first half of 2019, eight companies alone spent $161 million on promoting web hosting solutions. That represents a 69% increase over the second half of 2018.
Across all of 2019, only two companies decreased ad spend in this sector: GoDaddy and WordPress. The future for web hosting businesses clearly remains bright.
Let us consider some tactics you can use to grow your business.
Connect with Customers to Elevate your Web Hosting Business
The core of any web hosting business lies in its products and services. What you need to aim for is to go beyond the basics. Building a solid relationship with your customer base is vital to success.
By opening more channels of communication, you can make customers feel valued. At the same time, two-way communications will then provide you with important customer feedback.
1. Serve a Niche Group of Hosting Customers
For those who are new to the business or seeking an avenue of growth to develop, consider niche products. Think of it as aiming to become the biggest fish in a little pond.
If you choose your niche wisely, you might find yourself with very little competition. Aside from helping you build focus, growing with a thriving market can help your reputation immensely.
Some niche segments include game servers, forum hosting, and blog hosting.
One example of a web host that has mastered a niche is ShockByte, which built its reputation by offering Minecraft servers.
2. Participate in Web Hosting Forums Discussions
One of the best ways to attract attention is by targeting spaces beyond your confines, such as forums or other exchange platforms. Keep in mind that this strategy needs careful implementation.
Avoid the ‘sales pitch’ on external platforms, as that might quickly get you banned. Instead, take the opportunity to offer assistance and expert advice. Aside from gathering attention, this also serves to demonstrate your industry expertise and leadership.
Some avenues to consider for this include Web Hosting Talk and Reddit. An example of this on the former can be seen in the screenshot above addressing a member’s question on VPS versus WordPress hosting.
The answer is provided by another member who promotes a brand in his signature but offers direct, non-promotional information to help resolve the question at hand.
3. Learn from Competitors to Grow your Web Hosting Business
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. When it comes to web hosting, you can also learn by observing what the competition does. Naturally, this includes the technologies that form the foundation of their business.
Using a simple tool at WHSR, you can easily strip a website down to see what it’s running on. Other things to note are advertising strategies, customer testimonials, and even areas they are building towards.
A demonstration of this can be observed when we use that tool to analyze the WP Engine site. Below, you can see that they use various analytics tools to understand their visitors better:
On average, expect to spend 10%-20% of your resources towards experimentation of new technologies or marketing strategies.
4. Soft-promote your Hosting Services with Helpful Content
Aggressive advertising to attract new customers can end up costing more than you expect. Thankfully, there are more holistic (and realistic) methods of growing your potential customer base.
The most desirable way of doing this is through organic search rankings. Build content that can help users solve problems while subtly inserting your products and services in-between.
To do this, you need to know what the pain points are that web hosting users face. Having identified that, you can build content around the solutions you offer.
While this may seem challenging, it has been demonstrated to work quite well. For example, Kinsta built helpful articles that targeted WordPress error messages (example) and pulled in tons of potential customers to their blog as a result.
A further example of this can be observed in the following Ahrefs analysis of Kinsta. We can see data indicating that Kinsta ranks for more than 7,900 error-related search terms and pulls in thousands of visitors each month from the United States alone.
5. Leverage Influencers & Celebrities to Establish Trust in Your Hosting Solution
Celebrity endorsements and influencer reviews are giant trust markers and can offer better ROI than traditional marketing channels.
To do this correctly, make sure you work with the right influencers. Choose those more relevant to your niche or brand and make sure they have a sufficiently large following to make an impact.
Take the case of 20i, which tries to leverage on the popularity of Georgie Barrat, a tech journalist and presenter on The Gadget Show. The partnership can also serve as an endorsement of sorts.
Growing a web hosting business can be challenging, though this is true for virtually every industry. Look past the basics and examine details in various areas to get a more profound sense and understanding of the business.
Minor adjustment in detail or simply a shift in strategy does not necessarily have to be big to have impact. Take things progressively and monitor the changes resulting from your efforts – you might be surprised by the results.