In the world of branding, trust is the most perishable of assets. Polling in recent months shows that increasing numbers of consumers distrust not just the obvious suspects-the banks-but business as a whole. So, it begs the question, how do you choose a web hosting provider that you can trust? Your web hosting provider is your online partner. You rely on your web host to provider quality web hosting for your pages and uptime that doesn’t leave you holding the bag. The company you choose to store your web site and provide access to the world wide web SHOULD be your friend – your business partner. In fact, your web host SHOULD put your interests first. After all, if your web business soars to success, your provider shares in that success with a stable client base.
Trust in the industry
Not long ago, trust and reputation were the domain of the PR department. That approach doesn’t work so well now-and not just because recession, job insecurity, and hammered home values have made consumers disinclined to part with their coin. The days of consumers passively absorbing a TV commercial-or, for that matter, a banner ad-are over. So how does a web hosting provider build trust among its clients? To begin with, look for a long history of web-based success. Look for a company that’s been delivering hosting services for more than 10 years and has management in place to handle an expanding client base efficiently. A web host that looks after its clients sticks around and a company management with years of experience knows how to treat clients. They even know how to help clients achieve web success – something good for the client and good for the host – a win-win.
The importance of trust
Even before the economic meltdown, companies with trust issues began realizing they couldn’t keep talking past the problem with slick banner ads. Trust and transparency are more important to us than ever. Gone are the warm, fuzzy, and inspirational ads celebrating the American dream and hard work. Webmasters are looking for more depth-they are looking for a web host that they can trust. Some web hosting providers have a pretty good story to tell and marketing executives are trying to persuade web hosts to be more transparent and open.
Consumers are telling companies in a thousand ways that if you aren’t open with me, then I won’t trust you.
Does your provider require you to sign a long term contract?
That tells you something right there. Does your provider offer the option to choose month-to-month billing? Some companies require you to sign up for long-term in order to get started. These companies want to lock you in for three months, six months, a year, knowing that you might not hit that home run. Even so, you will be paying those hosting fees for the full term of the contract. If your provider is your friend – a partner that delivers value – there’s no need for a long term contract. No need for any contract at all. Buy your server space and your features a month at a time. As you grow, you can add more space. Or, if you move on to something else, a client centric host is not going to FORCE you to keep paying for services you no longer need.
Real people in the industry
If you’re just starting out in the web world and launching your first e-venture, wouldn’t it be nice to have someone you could call with questions? Someone with endless patience? Someone who recognizes that your web success is the basis of the web host’s success? And you want access to that friend, or a friendly, helpful sub, 24/7. You want someone to explain how to install a blog or to walk you through installing a secure checkout – one-step-at-a-time, even if it takes all night. (it won’t.)
A provider that wants to be friends offers that level of service for as little as seven bucks a month! Providers that are less “friendly” limit access to certain hours, they make you pay for the call and some don’t even have telephone customer or tech support. If you have a question or problem, you have to drop the web hosting company an e-mail and they will get back to you as soon as possible. In the meantime, your web site is not getting built and your waiting for a long-distance email response from tech support – and guaranteed, 50% of the time the email answer does not solve the problem. Does your provider have an “about us” section on their web site with contact information, the story of the CEO, an uptime guarantee and money-back guarantee? If not, then it is possible that your web host doesn’t want you to know their story. Ask yourself, why?
Is your provider your friend? Well, not if they nickel-and-dime you to death. Not if they sell your email address to every “blue pill” pharmacy west of Beijing. Not if they lock you into a contract for a year. With friends like these, who needs enemies?
A good friend will give you what you need to achieve your objectives.
Some web hosts rent you some disk space and leave the rest up to you. Other, friendlier web hosts, provide a tool box that’s filled with free apps and services:
- web site building software
- 1000s of customizable site templates so (1) you don’t have to know a lot about programming and (2) because these templates are customizable, they don’t look like cookie cutter web sites
- free shopping cart and checkout
- free payment gateways
- free blog modules, forum modules and bulletin boards so you create the exact web site to suit the needs of your visitors and your needs.
- security and a ton of it-A friendly web host wants to protect your sensitive client data as much as you do.
- 99.9% up time because when your server is down your business is down. Not very friendly.
Does your friendly provider put you first in all things?
This is a question of corporate culture. There are providers who are in it for the short term and providers who recognize that your success is the basis for the web hosting company’s success so you always come first. These web hosts deliver quality services, 99.9% uptime, a toll-free number and a human to help you with questions. These providers offer all the tools you need to build a web site and the human touch – a person to walk you through the process – even if it takes hours (it never does when you have knowledgeable techies and customer support personnel who are empowered by company management to fix things so you’re happy.) It starts at the top with a client-centric view of business growth – your business growth and the business growth of the service. It’s built into the corporate culture. It’s simply the way the provider does business.
Because the success of your web site depends on your provider.