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Web hosting is SO retail!

Posted Friday, October 1, 2004

You have 1 or 2 seconds to make an impression, and 2 or 3 seconds more to make a sale, or forget the web hosting business!!

Web hosting as a business has taken off in the last 12 months, with a vengeance.
How many web sites are on the Web today? They all have to be hosted somewhere, the result being, there are now thousands of web hosts around the globe today. How do people decide to choose you?

Potential customers will talk to friends; perhaps ask a local web design group; or consult their ISP (Internet Service Provider); but this may result in knowledge of only one or two hosting companies. There are hosting directories, and review sites which may be governed by whoever pays for the largest ad or personal opinions that seem popular. The visitor will still have to make the final decision.

If these visitors make their own decisions, and there are thousands of web hosts to choose from, there are very few seconds to deliver your offer, which must be instantly obvious. What can you do to turn this streaming traffic into sales?

First View – The look of your web site
Are the design, content and delivery up to customer expectations? If the presentation has obviously been thought about; a conscientious effort to delivery and content; then it is likely the visitor will believe that the hosting company will also look after their site conscientiously. If the presentation is poor, then forget it, there are more than enough web hosts that look good. Of course, to the other extreme, if the web host’s site looks a million dollars, it is likely that the visitor will be expecting to a pay a ‘million’ too!

The Initial Offers – What are your best packages?
With the sudden growth of the web, the hosting industry has had to take a retail approach to content delivery. In the retail trade the offers are so many, that the customer has to learn to speed read, or speed view. Visitors to web hosting sites have not got the time to read all the details on each of every one of thousands of sites, so speed viewing is a must; or is it?

Web hosts who have nothing to sell usually hide this fact by showing columns of text, expecting the visitor to sort out what is good to them or not. The usual explanation for this is “ The visitor knows what they want and will find it without our hassling them.” The expectation is that with less hassle the visitor will more likely become a customer. Not true.

Web hosts that have special offers, great deals, or offer specialized packages for say private, business or corporate customers; will tell you just that. Think about it, why hide the fact you have a winner? By taking a retail approach to a very retail business, the real dealmakers are not ‘backward in coming forward’.
Obviously making everything on the site an ‘excellent’ offer is the other extreme.

Most web hosts offer 90% of what their competition offers, so to point out every good point offered would be overkill. The likely result would be that you would show the visitor that you are new to the industry, and less experienced; not good in times of future support.

By pointing out the great points in the best reasonable packages, you will catch the eye of the traffic, until previously, zooming past you. What to do when they have stopped for a visit is another matter.

Congratulations on getting the traffic to stop and browse – What next?
Getting the zooming traffic to stop and browse is difficult enough. The look of your web site can catch that peripheral vision of theirs; in an instant they can decide, “I will stop here and have a look”. The offers of 3 or 4 of your accounts, too good to be true, or at least warrant further investigation, entice a visit.
These ‘highway signs’ make you stop and pull over. What happens once the visitors have pulled in? You will have to hold them there, before they up and leave just as quickly. The ‘restees’ have seen the site, they have sampled the best on offer; now what? You know you have a captured audience, all be it for another 2 or 3 seconds. Be careful not to send these valuable potential customers off clicking around your site. They clicked on your special package, the offer on the front page, so take them directly to it.

The visitor has been enticed to your web site; seen good offers and one or two of those are just what they are looking for. Take them direct to the page with the offer; include the price; include basic details that quantify very quickly the worth of the package; and, provide an order form. Do not smother these account pages in common details, or details of other accounts.

There should be only two main pages, the front page and the account package page, that which the customer clicks to. The front page is attractive and entices you to stay, the offer encourages you to spend a few more seconds on the account page consisting of title, offer, basics, price and order form; all this should be on a secure page ready to take credit card information.

No two visitors are the same. There are those that will just sign up straightaway and those that will ‘further investigate’. Put the remainder of your account packages’ details, along with the ‘about’ information, the ‘help’, the ‘support’ etc, on other pages, using links on navigation bars for easy access, keep the offer clean.
You have one or two seconds to sell your product, don’t use it to educate your potential customer, let someone else do that! Give them what they want, this is now a very retail industry, if you are stuck for reference material, then visit a supermarket or local store, retail research has been around for years

About the Author

Fast, reliable and flexible web hosting at discount prices,using CGI,PERL,.Net, PHP, ASP,Frontpage,MS-Access,SQL Server applications on Windows 2000/2003 server with 24 hour support.


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