Web hosting has always been a competitive industry, but in recent years, due to the explosion of affordable storage, bandwidth and computing power, it’s become tougher than ever. Hosting providers now have to carefully configure their prices and offerings in order to effectively engage and retain customers.
That said, there does seem to still be plenty of opportunity for web hosting ventures that successfully differentiate themselves from the competition. While digital transformation is taking hold among businesses, nearly a third of small businesses still don’t have websites. As customers shift their buying activities online, all businesses are expected to put up digital presences. Web hosting is even expected to become a $154 billion market by 2022.
Solopreneurs and small business owners who still don’t have websites now find themselves eager to catch up, which means they need more from their web hosts than just some server space. The demand for a vibrant digital presence has even given free content management systems like WordPress and Joomla a huge boost in popularity. Self-service website builders, meanwhile, have become big business – so much so that the most successful ones run TV spots during the Super Bowl every year.
So, in order to compete, web hosts have to deliver great value in terms of the features, service, and support they provide to customers. One great way web hosts can do this is by providing powerful site building capabilities as part of their packages. Fortunately, self-service site building platforms like Duda are available to web hosts which they can integrate with their own offerings. Industry-leading 1&1 IONOS, for example, uses Duda’s API to power its own site builder on a white labeled basis.
“1&1 is setting out to create a complete new experience for small businesses, and we are actually tapping out being a host and into being a digital partner for small businesses, and that’s the whole difference,” said Joachim Ritter, 1&1’s Chief Product Officer for Small Business, during his presentation at this past spring’s CloudFest.
“And the way we do that is we need to expand our portfolio of applications, and we are actually betting on partners. We are selecting the best partners per use case – one partner per use case – and integrate that into our environment,” he continued.
“In contrast to our competitors, we actually want our partners to be innovative and remain independent – to really drive innovation into these use cases. And what we do is, we integrate them and then add value on top of it by integrating it onto our platform and providing seamless user experiences across all the different applications.”
By partnering with Duda, 1&1 IONOS is able to provide an especially strong website building option that any SMB can use to quickly launch a secure, fast, full-featured digital presence, and with no need to dedicate development resources to the product.
Other hosts can benefit from such capabilities as well. Here are four key ways a site builder can boost the value of any web host to its customers.
1. One-stop shop
Business users who are easing into digital transformation are looking for convenient ways to build their web presences. They typically don’t have the time or resources to make web development a protracted endeavor by needing to engage various parties such as coders, designers and writers just to create a website.
By offering access to a powerful self-service site builder alongside services such as domain registration and hosting, a web host essentially turns into a one-stop shop since users would have all the essentials they need to build and publish their own branded website.
Having these capabilities also allows service providers to attract cost-conscious customers. Web hosts could creatively customize their bundles and offer them at competitive prices that fit the needs of their clients.
2. No coding needed
The best site builders don’t require any coding while allowing for a great degree of customization. Users are able to readily integrate functionalities such as contact forms, landing pages, and social media integrations. The published sites are even responsive and mobile ready and can even operate as progressive web apps (PWAs) because of the mobile app-like experience they have.
There are other free ways to build websites, like WordPress and Joomla, which are popular and powerful content management systems. However, many such systems still need some form of technical knowledge and coding to effectively use and customize, optimize and optimize for mobile.
Self-service site builders also allow users to customize their sites at any time, unlike sites developed from scratch, where further customization needs make for rising costs. By providing this perpetual convenience, web hosts can reduce customer churn.
3. Out-of-the-box optimization
Another advantage of site builders is optimization. They are designed to generate fast-loading and responsive websites without requiring any added work from users. Even experienced web coders and designers can struggle to ensure that custom-built sites load quickly across a variety of devices and connection types.
This not only allows the site users to find information quickly or perform tasks faster both on desktop and mobile devices, but optimized websites also rank higher in search engine results.
This becomes a major advantage for small business owners, since ranking high in search is exactly one of the best ways to enhance businesses’ visibility online. Customers who enjoy meeting their goals of online visibility are also likely to keep their hosting subscriptions, allowing web hosts to maintain longer and more fruitful relationships with clients.
4. Faster go-live
Aside from fast loading times, another speed-based advantage of site builders is that they allow users to publish new sites instantaneously. Conventional web development typically requires some back-and-forth between developers and customers to discuss functionality and design considerations.
By taking away the need for complicated web development and empowering users to do it all themselves, websites can go live with just a few clicks. This way, businesses can benefit from their investments immediately.
Once the site is up and live, they can instantly mention or link to their site in their marketing collaterals, business cards, and social media profiles, instantly giving their brands a boost. Search engines are also able to index and profile sites so that they will appear in search results as soon as possible.
Site builders give web hosts more means to thrive in a highly competitive space. Through such capabilities, web hosts will be able to attract customers that need to build sites quickly.
Web hosts that have integrated site builders have reported significant increases in sales. The convenience that site builders provide also helps web hosts retain clients and reduce churn.