Technology is funny sometimes. Advances can create brand new industries seemingly overnight, and then change the core dynamic of those same industries almost as quickly. Having recently attended HostingCon for the third time, I have seen the hosting industry evolve quite a bit. A progression that inspired the topic of the panel I moderated at the conference entitled “Staying Successful in the Days of the DIYs.” The panel of industry veterans we brought in was very knowledgeable and engaging. They sparked a lively and interesting discussion that provided some fascinating insights into the current state of DIY solutions and their impact on hosting providers.
The panel discussion, as well as conversations with other hosting professionals throughout the event produced many valuable takeaways. However a few themes stood out above the rest regarding the state of the industry today, and what web hosting professionals can do to offer the best possible packages to their business customers:
DIY Solutions Are Not Optional
These days, web hosting companies really need to offer some sort of DIY solution just to compete. Fortunately, there are several options out there – such as BaseKit, Duda, and Camilyo – that can supplement any business offering with that key DIY element. While it won’t take the place of primary web pro and hosting services, it’s becoming an important offering that really establishes a full-service hosting operation and their ability to deliver the full breadth of web-based technologies and capabilities that businesses look for today. Customers of all sizes – from SMB to the enterprise – now expect the ability to view and manage the website editor to customize the site as they see fit. By allowing even the critical small business to be as hands on as possible, a DIY solution can help providers stand out for enabling a full range of capabilities.
Turn Expertise into Revenue
By offering clients their expert insights as web professionals, proactive hosters can both provide valuable guidance and advise on how to fill any functionality gaps to optimize the client’s website. Beyond traditional web hosting packages, web pros can sell additional value and monetize their expertise by charging businesses for knowledge and insights through professional consultations.
Incorporating Do-It-For-Me (DIFM) services that offer the less technical and ambitious business customers the ability to seek a needed crutch when building a website is a key area to focus on. Similar to how companies like AffinityX offer design capabilities and creative insights to help strengthen both partner and customer relations, providing consultative services adds value to web and hosting professional’s overall client offerings. WordPress hosting is an example of this potential value from the SMB segment. By providing stripped down, easy to use templates web pros can help clients adopt and utilize a tricky but useful website feature effectively, delivering a direct benefit to the client and strengthening that business relationship.
Add Tangible Value Beyond Hosting
The basic truth behind everything I’ve discussed so far is that all businesses struggle in building their own websites with proper topography and customer-facing functionality. This is potentially problematic considering that whether it’s live chat, online appointment scheduling, document sharing, etc. – consumers want quick, efficient online commercial interaction. In fact, as consumer preferences continue shifting online, website functionalities are quickly becoming vital business technology tools.
As businesses’ primary clientele touch points increasingly shift online, hosting and web pros have an opportunity to seize by demonstrating the ROI e-commerce, enhanced plugins, mobile CRM and client engagement platforms can provide when integrated into a business customer’s website. Providing access to these non-traditional, business critical widgets and tools, along with strategic insights around implementing them, is key to showing clients additional value and creating new revenue opportunities.
Like many other industries today, the web hosting community is transforming. By thinking outside the box and utilizing the strategies and tactics I’ve discussed above, hosting and web professionals can successfully navigate this new industry marketplace and ensure that their services remain relevant and valuable.