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Category Archives: Marketing

How To Assess Your Hosting Needs

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So you want to get a website up and running? There are a few things you may want to consider before doing so given the current landscape of the web hosting world .

Initially, you will want to complete the basic checklist below:

  1. Search your domain(s) of choice to make sure they are available.
  2. Purchase the domain if available.
  3. Assess which website hosting product and plan you will need.

After you search for and acquire your domain name, take note of what type of website you want to launch.

Website hosting branches typically break down into the following main product categories:

  • Shared Hosting
  • Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting
  • Dedicated Server Hosting

Here’s a easy-to-understand video we made on the distinction between the various types of web hosting.

As a startup with no traffic, you can start with a Shared Hosting plan and move up as your traffic scales up. The beautiful thing about website hosting these days is that it is scalable and inexpensive to start building your web presence. But as your traffic and software requirements grow, so will your overhead and need to upgrade.

Most companies offer a free domain in conjunction with your first year of hosting. Some companies bill on an annual basis and some will bill monthly, so find out which payment structure best suits your needs as you forecast your financial budget.

If you are looking to scale as your traffic ramps up, you can look into upper echelon products like VPS Hosting or a Dedicated Server, which will give you more power and resources to run your website more efficiently.

Below are a couple common scenarios potential web hosting customers face when starting their first site:

Blogging:
If you simply want to start a new blog or transfer over from a free blogging solution like Blogger or WordPress.com, we would recommend an entry level Shared Hosting plan, with an ability to scale with growing traffic. With only one database required for WordPress and Drupal installations and caching enabled on our SSD hard drives for all entry level Shared Hosting plans, it will be more than sufficient for starters.

E-commerce selling:
For those of you focused on a website that requires a blog app like WordPress and an accompanying eCommerce plugin such as WooCommerce, we might recommend starting on an entry-level VPS account due to the resource requirements. This setup would use 2 databases as opposed to just one. These are only hypothetical scenarios, and for every case there are a variety of things to consider including system requirements and your website’s current traffic.

If you fall outside of these two common scenarios, we encourage you to reach out to our 24/7 U.S. based support team to see which product and plan best suits your hosting needs before you take the plunge. Rest assured that with InMotion Hosting, even after taking the plunge you will have 90 days to test the waters to see if you need something more, less or nothing at all with our industry leading money back guarantee. Contact us by phone, chat or email.

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

October NewslsetterAs the final sentences of 2014 are being written, many are beginning to plan and outline the 2015 chapter of their book. The new year presents a clean slate, an opportunity to turn the page and change the narrative. While most resolutions include ramping up gym attendance, cutting back on the lattes and spending less time binge-watching Netflix, some people are looking to kick start, refine or expand their new businesses. While we can’t run next to you on the treadmill or monitor your caloric intake, we can give you a couple of recommendations on how to make sure the next chapter in your business’ story doesn’t become its epilogue. Below are 5 New Year’s resolutions for the aspiring entrepreneur.

1. Don’t Push a Product, Build a Brand

When you are first conceptualizing your new business, whether it is a software solution, an E-commerce site, a new app opportunity, a retail line or something completely different and innovative, it is common to fall in love with your primary idea or product, rather than first focusing on your presence as a brand.

Most companies, regardless of size or business model, have a staple product or service. Think of Google with its search engine, Apple with iTunes, or Dell with computers. While the development of these products is critical to the success of their respective companies, they all have one thing in common: they have expanded beyond these primary offerings as part of a concerted effort to build a more comprehensive and globally-recognizable brand. Your product is important, but do not neglect defining yourself and defining your company with brand guidelines and culture. As you grow, your brand will be essential as the flag-bearer for your company and a mirror of the values that you represent.

2. Become Data Driven

So often in business, we are faced with defining decisions and are expected to make them based on what we think is best for the company’s bottom line. The “go with your gut” approach, often used by smaller businesses with limited resources, is a dangerous one. Set yourself up to make decisions based on calculated data. Whether it is something as simple as split-testing for marketing conversion rates or as business-critical as modeling out pricing strategies, backing your decisions with informed data is the best way to ensure the decisions you make are moving the needle and lifting your bottom line. Tools such as Google Analytics, KISSmetrics and Adobe Marketing Cloud are very helpful for setting up tests and crunching the numbers for everything from landing page optimization to customer profiling to cost per acquisition and lifetime value. Dedicate human capital to business intelligence to help turn the 50/50 shots in the dark into defining decisions backed by data.

3. Salvation via Automation

Marketing automation has become an essential tool for marketers across all industries. Getting involved with automation at the early stages of business development can set you up for success by guiding you in how to think about your marketing approach. When your marketing efforts are guided by a logical progression of rules, triggers and conversion data, you begin to see the returns of hitting targeted segments of customers and prospects with relevant, specific messaging. Marketing automation can also be a time management savior, especially in regards to communications with daily, weekly or monthly cadences. Rather than pulling lists, sorting through customer journeys and scheduling these emails manually, you can rest assured that the messages you want to send will be done like clockwork, with auto-generated reports to back up your program logic. Automation industry leaders such as Marketo, Oracle Marketing Cloud and Pardot all support these trigger functionalities and have built-in integrations for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, such as Salesforce. Enable your marketing and sales teams with the creative freedom and flexibility provided by marketing automation.

4. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Fitting the right pieces around you as your business evolves is vital to your company’s growth and success. While finding the most talented candidates for each position is ideal, it is also important to surround yourself with individuals that will contribute to and thrive under your company culture. You want people who you will work amicably with, but will also not be afraid to challenge and push you when necessary. This is especially important for smaller businesses with a few core contributors doing the bulk of the grunt work and making the majority of the decisions. You are only as strong as the weakest link in your corporate chain, so make sure you are selecting talented members who fit into your team’s personality and aren’t afraid to innovate and challenge.

5. Bring Your Website out of the Stone Age

Chances are, if you started your company or created your website before 2010, the web has officially outgrown your design. The introduction of responsive design, tailored to fit the device the consumer is viewing your site on, and the adoption of HTML 5 and CSS 3 have given web designers a whole new arsenal to use when creating intuitive, dynamic designs. In a recent piece highlighting key digital trends for 2015, eMarketer underlines consumer tendency shifts to take into account when giving your site a facelift. Focus on the boom of phone and tablet traffic with a responsive redesign. First impressions of your brand are of the utmost importance, so make sure if your potential customers are coming to your site to see what you are all about, they are getting the best possible experience.

We all know that New Year’s Resolutions are made to be broken. Gyms start to thin out by Valentine’s Day, and how long can you really be expected to say no to chocolate? As an aspiring entrepreneur, make 2015 the year your business turned the page on outdated tactics and began a new chapter driven by analytics, marketing automation and a strong brand identity backed by a flawless, responsive web design.

Gearing Up For The Holiday Season

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‘Tis the season to get your online store ready for the busiest time of the year. InMotion Hosting is giving you some important things to check off your holiday list to help your online store gear up for the season.

1. Participate in all the shopping days
The first important date to target is Black Friday, which lands on November 28th this year, with a lot of stores pre-releasing their deals to the public before the day even hits to help people avoid lines and traffic. Another one for local shops that have an online presence is Small Business Saturday, which takes place on November 29th this year and is the perfect time to include in-store and online promos. To top it off, before the big day of Christmas, you have Cyber Monday, which lands on December 1st.

Summary of major dates to target:

  • Black Friday – November 28th
  • Small Business (Saturday) – November 29th
  • Cyber Monday – December 1st

2. Get to the wallet first with a good first impression
You will want to start by figuring out which offers to push and when to push them. Typically, you will want the highest discounted offer to hit first before everyone runs dry on funds by the later targets like Cyber Monday. Adobe has shown in recent data that the deepest discounts will be given the Monday before Thanksgiving this year, and holiday shoppers are some of the savviest around, so keep that in mind when positioning your offers. The idea is to get to the wallet before others do or before it gets tapped out, so why not hit them with your best offer first before everyone of your competitors.

Check out the marketing data compiled by Adobe in their Holiday Predictions Report for 2014…

3. Use channels that you know are proven and brace for cart abandonment
Focus your efforts on outreach to the channels you know are revenue workhorses. For many online retailers, one of the largest engagement opportunities is email. For some, email may not be the primary workhorse and you may have a stronger audience in terms of revenue per visitor on Instagram or Facebook. But in either case, work your channels with both warm-up messaging and messaging on the day of the offer release. Another idea is to use multiple channels at once to get the synergy and hype going.

Make sure you also utilize remarketing via Google or Facebook for all lost prospects with discounted offers to return and finish the sale. With all that extra holiday traffic, you will surely want to build some solid audiences in your respective advertising networks that you can go back to. Unfortunately, an expected consequence of online store traffic is the dreaded cart abandonment.

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Here are some of the key insights for cart abandonment gathered by the people at Virtual Website Optimizer from their recent 2014 eCommerce Survey:

  • “unexpected shipping cost is the biggest reason for cart abandonment among online shoppers.” (Simple fix: Addressed below with offering free shipping…)
  • “having to create a new user account is the second biggest reason for cart abandonment.” (Simple fix: Allow guest checkout or social login)
  • “shoppers say they will purchase products they left in their cart, if offered again at a discounted price.” (Simple fix: Offer cart abandonment emails with a dynamic discount coupon that expires certain days after their visit to prompt urgency)
  • “shoppers among 25-34 age group open to retargeting via discounts.” (Simple fix: addressed above with remarketing via Google or Facebook)

4. Develop your holiday editorial calendar
As aforementioned, you will want to have dates locked down on your calendar for when to start exposing people to your upcoming offer. Along with warming up before the offer goes live, you will want the hard dates that your offer will not only be marketed, but go live on your site.

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For more help with the top holiday dates and scheduling your calendar, check out ExactTarget’s 2014 Email Marketing Holiday Calendar here.

5. Go the extra mile on your holiday offer
Not only will you want to offer an exclusive, time-sensitive offer and in some cases flash sale on your site for the holiday, but you will also want to get creative and avoid the mundane percentage discount. You can offer free shipping at a certain purchase threshold with an added incentive such as free swag.

Regardless of the offer, you also want to make sure you make it easy to return items and possibly extend your return policy for items purchased within the holiday season like Best Buy.

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6. Don’t forget about mobile!
Make sure everything looks good on mobile devices. We are now in the mobile-first era of online shopping. For this, you can test using your own device or devices, or utilize services like BrowserStack to test out your website on multiple devices (whether desktop or mobile) to make sure the experience is fluid and in unison across all modern-day platforms.

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For those that want to check their email offers on multiple platforms we recommend the following sites for email testing:

Data provided by emarketer shows that sales volume is continuing to grow year over year thanks to mcommerce, the “always-on commerce” in your pocket. With that being understood, we can not emphasize enough that your online store and marketing messaging have to work well with desktop, tablets and mobile devices. The advent of cashless systems like Apple Pay and Google Wallet will help streamline the mobile commerce experience, which will in turn make buying via mobile device more popular. So again, make sure you don’t miss the boat with your website and emails and disregard the user experience on mobile.

We hope these last minute tips will help you this holiday season on gearing up for more sales.

Best wishes on your holiday endeavors from us here at InMotion Hosting!

5 Misconceptions Marketers have about their Customers

Understanding your target audience and customer base is the most important component in formulating effective marketing campaigns and communications. While understanding the value of your product to your prospects is the first step to increasing conversions, a lack of knowledge of your customers’ tendencies and pain points will sabotage your efforts.

Here are five common misconceptions marketers have about their customers, and some helpful suggestions for how marketers can align their efforts with the mind of the most important person in their business: the customer.

1. You = Your Customer

As much as we may want to believe this, it isn’t true. Many marketers and business owners fall into the trap of thinking that they know everything about their customers and how they behave. Don’t let personal opinions and preferences dictate the design and content of your website.

Re-align: Continuously interact with your customer find out who they are and what they want.

  • Use email and social media to deliver surveys and feedback forms
  • Place comment boxes on web pages
  • Utilize analytics software (like Google Analytics) to understand what your customers are telling you with their behavior on your website
  • Take advantage of web-based testing with services like UserTesting.com

2. The customers don’t know what they want

A 2012 report titled “Digital Evolution in B2B marketing” put out by CEB and Google revealed that, on average, customers progress nearly 60% of the way through the purchase decision-making process before engaging a sales rep.

Re-align: Recognize that today’s customer is educated and in most cases has already done a great deal of research before initiating the sales process.

3. More is better

Even though the consumer may be in the market for information, that doesn’t necessarily mean that more information is better. Ease of access to information and clarity of messaging is more important. According to Taylor and Francis Online, you only have about 0.05 seconds to make a good first impression on your website. Make it count.

According to a study by Google, users’ first impressions of websites are influenced by two design factors:

  • Visual complexity: How complex is the visual design of the website
  • Prototypicality: How representative a design looks for a certain category of websites

Re-align: Follow the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep it Simple, Stupid) when it comes to your web design and content and you’ll have a better chance to keep your customer on your site (and convert).

4. My customer doesn’t use mobile devices

According to the annual State of the Internet report by Mary Meeker from KPCB, mobile usage continues to grow rapidly and is at 25% of Total Web Usage vs. 14% Year over Year. This trend is even more prominent in emerging markets. For example, in Asia mobile usage is more than 35% of total internet usage. Mobile data consumption is at an all-time high of 81%, with video content being consumed even more.

Re-align: Start preparing your mobile strategy NOW if you haven’t already.

5. Personalization is optional

This is true, but it’s no longer about just including the customer’s name in an email message. Personalization has become much more sophisticated over the past few years.

According to a study last year by MyBuys and the e-tailing group, customized messaging and promotions based on past shopping or buying experiences increases the likelihood of buyer engagement and corresponding sales.

Re-align: Understand that consumers are aware of online personalization and they  tell us that they both value and expect it, as it makes it easier for them to find products that are most important to them.