How to get web hosting clients in 2021 (short guide)
At a time when the market can find hundreds of thousands of different web hosting providers, users that are looking for accommodation for their websites are becoming lost in all the different choices. This is the main reason for a growing problem for web hosting companies: finding those new web hosting clients. This “How to get web hosting clients” guide was written by two web hosting industry veterans and it has been updated for the past decade. With that being said, both of us used the singular pronoun “I” because it felt more natural.
This guide isn’t the biggest one, so there’s no need to just read the titles and close the page. Read the entire text, and use this as a to-do list. If you cover everything we list here you are guaranteed to be ahead of the pack.
How to grow your web hosting business
Web hosting is sometimes regarded as a business where the money falls from the sky; people who move into the business move because of the thought of “easy money”, but I tell you from personal experience, that it is not so. Web hosting is a difficult job that requires a lot of effort, patience, nerve, and knowledge.
Before we get to the part of “getting more clients”, I would like to address something. There are 3 ways you can grow your business. And that’s not just a web hosting business, that’s any business.
- Get more clients
- Sell your existing clients more often (get them to buy more often, more frequent)
- Increase prices (improve the quality of product, sell other products through upselling and cross-sell promotions, increase average sale)
I learned that from Jay Abraham in a seminar, and it’s helped a lot. Later in this post we will dive deep into the “get more clients for you web hosting business”, but it doesn’t hurt to think about selling more, and selling something that’s more expensive. If you want to sound smart, you could also say that you are working on improving your LTV (lifetime value). That’s the total amount a business will spend with you on average. The higher the number, the better.
3 ways you can grow your web hosting business
So that right there would be the 3 ways you can grow your web hosting business. Here’s advice from internet marketing expert Frank Kern that also makes sense. It’s also split in 3 sections.
- Deliver a great product
- To the right audience
- At the right time
When you are trying to get a new client for your web hosting business, have you asked yourself these questions? Is this the right product for this company? Am I selling them this product at the right time? Is this company the right client for my web hosting services? If the product is great (pure glass of water), offered to the right audience (thirsty person), delivered at the right time (in the desert), the sale comes naturally.
I am no match to Jay Abraham and Frank Kern, but I am the author of this article, so here’s my personal take on 3 ways to grow your web hosting business. Here are the 3 areas of focus for your web hosting business:
- Bring more traffic to your website
- Improve your website so that it converts the traffic
- Improve the product you are selling (in your case, web hosting services)
Later in this guide, you will see that most of the tactics we recommend are returning to these 3 core principles in one way or another.
Here we bring you some, mostly free, methods to reach new web hosting clients.
1. Find your target group
First of all, when you go to work, depending on the amount of knowledge and capital, it is important to find your niche target group. You cannot initially offer all possible hosting services that you know yourself because you cannot endure it all yourself as a beginner. Define your niche, your target group which will be converted and will use your services. This is a recipe for success. Choose from KVM, CDN, shared hosting, game servers, dedicated servers, cloud hosting, or some other vertical. Then, horizontally, you can pick a different target group. Website investors, web designers, WordPress web hosting, small local businesses, restaurants, banks, or any other niche depending on your contacts, skills, or partnerships.
Once you have your target group, look for them in different social media channels and think how you can reach them. More on social media later on.
2. Create a high-quality web hosting website
Companies generally want to make their website look über-cool with a lot of different animations, sounds, background, videos, photo gallery, etc., and there comes a problem. Visitors are not looking for such websites. Visitors are looking for simply designed sites that serve a purpose. Good design is simple and clear—no animation, sounds, and all that I have listed above. The website gives the first impression of a company. In the case of online business, it is therefore important that your visitor or potential customer has a positive opinion from the start. It is difficult to expect that you can pay a professional designer who will design you a unique website, but I recommend taking a look at sites like ThemeForest, etc., where you can find high-quality designs at very low prices which is perfect for the beginning.
What does it mean “high-quality” website? Let’s list some characteristics that you can try to hit.
- Unique and helpful content for your clients (ebooks, whitepapers, lectures, videos)
- With that great content, try to get as many backlinks as possible
- Modern, professional, user-friendly design that’s updated every few years
- Secure website starting with SSL and other protection plugins or software
- A fast website that’s loading in under 3 seconds
- Mobile-friendly website (also known as responsive design)
- Do ON-PAGE SEO (we cover SEO separately later on)
You can test the website speed on one of these tools and mobile-friendliness using Google PageSpeed Insights. If your website is scoring low on these tests, I have bad news for you. If you want to learn more about what are Google Lighthouse and Google PageSpeed Insights and about monitoring website performance, I recommend this article:
Now that you have a great website, and you are improving it over the years, let’s see what else you can do.
3. Participate in forums and social media pages
One of the best ways to attract customers is to actively participate in relevant forums. In doing so you need to be careful that your posts are not useless like “cheap web hosting – check it out”! Your posts need to contain quality content, pointing out to the reader that you know what you’re talking about. Also, you should put in their way the signature and a link to the web page of your web hosting company. Of course, if the forum rules allow it. My recommendation for this kind of advertising is WebHostingTalk forum in which there are sections to directly advertise your hosting service. With this system of advertising, you will not only get good publicity, but also inbound links to your website, which will fix your reputation in the search engines.
In 2021 the power of forums is winding down, but the discussion hasn’t disappeared! It moved to social media websites! Now people are asking questions in Facebook Groups, Quora, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even YouTube. Go where people are looking for solutions, and bring them back to your website.
4. Write a blog, record a vlog, or start a podcast
Potential clients, but also current ones, like to see that the company they work with really knows their job, and this will be achieved by writing a blog and writing about topics related to web hosting. Show that you know your job, and share your knowledge with others. This will attract new users, as useful and interesting blog articles will be shared on social networks, forums, etc.
If you are not camera-shy, go one step further and record videos, presentations, and lectures and post them on YouTube, LinkedIn, and Facebook or Instagram. It all depends on where your users are located.
Don’t know how to write, and you are camera-shy? What then? Go audio! Start a podcast and use your voice! The most important thing is to create helpful content that your clients can use? For example, if most of your clients have WordPress installed, then offer content such as common WordPress errors, or perhaps double down on WordPress strengths compared to Squarespace.
5. SEO or Search Engine Optimization
Once you’ve chosen a good name, rented a server, designed a simple and clear website, it is necessary to do the SEO. Since SEO is something that you probably will not know how to do well yourself, at the very beginning choose a company to do this for you. When choosing a company that will do the SEO I suggest making sure that it is a company that stresses that SEO is a process, not a one-time service. SEO is a process because the content of the website changes, changing positions on the search engines, and a single service that is a one-time optimization can not forever maintain the results achieved. Today, you are the first, fifth tomorrow, and for a month you are out of the search engine and the first 100 results.
Over the years, SEO is becoming more and more complex. Why? Well, for one, Google’s algorithms are more complex, and competition is stronger by the day. If you have 10 000 web hosting companies, and you Google “Web hosting”, how do you determine which 10 companies should fill the first ten positions?
6. Social media marketing
Once you start a business, it is important to create profiles on social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and become active in them. Create interesting and useful content. Do not be aggressive sellers that non-stop post the link to your website in the status, but create interesting content associated with hosting. Create infographics, place the datacenter’s image, etc. I suggest you initially read the content available on the Internet about social media marketing on sites like SocialMediaToday and others. Later, if you are able, hire a social media agency to do this part of the job for you in the best way possible.
As your business grows, and traffic starts to convert better, and your budget gets bigger, you may want to try paid advertising on these networks as well.
7. Listing your website and company in directories
Another great way to promote your web hosting company in various web directories like WebHostDir. The general directories will not produce a great deal of targeted traffic but they will build your backlinks and help you with some general traffic. If you see a directory that has your competitor listed, you have to be there.
A good way to figure out where your competitors are getting backlinks from is a service called SEMrush, or their competitor Ahrefs. Below you can see what a typical report looks like for a web hosting company we reviewed, Hostinger. As you can see, they have over 100,000 domain names pointing (backlinks) to their website.
8. Local in-person networking
Advertising in your area is an old-school sales tool, but still effective. Explore the companies that are in your area, try to contact them and arrange a meeting. Present them your business, what you offer and tell them exactly why they should use your hosting service to accommodate their corporate website. While researching and contacting various companies, you will certainly reach new contacts and spread the news about your hosting company and increase the possibility that any of them will continue to recommend your company.
9. Sponsoring other websites
Find a few websites that in your opinion have quality content, contact them, and try to arrange a collaboration. The vast majority of website owners do not have much money for a hosting solution, so they will come in handy for you, and in return, you will get a campaign that you use to increase the possibility of finding new customers. This method is effective as well as others I specified based on my experience. Of course, you really have to put in a lot of work and do everything properly.
10. Satisfied clients recommendations (affiliate)
Good news travels fast, is an old proverb. When you get the first few clients, make sure they are happy and satisfied with your services, because they are the biggest advertisement for your business. If the client is satisfied, they will continue recommending you to their friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. It is by far the most effective and best method of advertising. Also, I suggest that current customers get the ability to profit from the partner program. Give them a dollar value reward for each service sold. They will make something, and you will surely get great publicity and increase the number of clients.
11. Create an autoresponder / newsletter / mail marketing automation
With services like GetResponse, you are able to create your email list. Thousands of digital marketing experts have been raving for years about having an email list, but let’s quickly mention why this is important. An email list lets you build a relationship, help your potential clients and you can do it as many times as you want to do it, and for a near free. Sure, you have to pay for a monthly fee, but it’s not like you are paying for every click that happens. Options are practically limitless, here are some of them.
Use an API, to add an email to your email list, every time you get a sign-up, an ebook download. Set up a landing page where you give something away for free, as long as you get an email address from a potential client. Create a mail marketing workflow, and send different messages depending on your reader’s action. Send different messages if the reader is opening the emails, or if (s)he isn’t opening them.
Another reason why I mention GetResponse, in particular, is because they also offer landing page creation and webinar solutions (which could easily be a 12th tactic of finding new clients for your web hosting business), and they are really low cost. In some cases, all you need is one client to pay for the entire service!
12. Offer something “they” don’t
You probably heard of USP (unique selling proposition). Well, what’s yours? Be bold and offer something “they” don’t. Create a leapfrog product (Steve Jobs’ words) and offer something your competition can’t copy!
If you have something your competitors can’t offer, you are guaranteed to get and keep clients. Remember how Digital Ocean started offering $5 SSD cloud instances and grew so fast that in 2021 they became a public company. Start a brainstorming session, and figure out what are your strengths and what you can offer. Back in the day, my web hosting company offered web hosting packages that grew every day. So if you bought 300MB web hosting package, by the end of your first year you would get 665MB. Now this was way back, and before unlimited web hosting space, but you get the idea. It got the press and clients talking.
13. Build a great domain availability checker
I am not naive to expect the client hasn’t heard of GoDaddy, and other great places to register a domain name but to most clients it’s all the same where they register a domain name. Not to mention, it’s going to be easier for you to help your client setup their website, setup a business email solution like Office 365, or install an SSL certificate. Speaking of…
14. Offer SSL certificate installation
Today it’s ridiculous to host a website without some SSL certificate. Benefits from SSL certificates have been known for a while now, so why not forward that to your clients. Other web hosting companies like Greengeeks (which we reviewed) have created a simple tool where a user can install a free (or paid) version of SSL certificate with a few simple clicks! There is no need for any developer or sys-admin knowledge!
Installing SSL certificates is a great way of showing you care, and with reselling Extended Validation (EV SSL certificates) you can make some extra money with your existing client base. Speaking of SSL certificates, there’s a great SSL API solution that can help you check thousands (or millions depending on your budget) of domain names if they have SSL certificates installed. If there is a SSL certificate installed, you can check when it expires. That way you can check all your existing client base and offer them SSL certificate installation, or transfer of existing SSL certificate.
15. Get reviews from bloggers and potential clients
If you were reading this guide carefully, you noticed I mentioned that we reviewed web hosting companies (GreenGeeks, Hostinger), and that right there is a common tactic of getting backlinks from other reputable websites. Getting testimonials and posting them on your website is another common tactic.
It’s very hard to talk about “getting other websites to post reviews about your web hosting company”, without talking about getting backlinks… Because there could easily be another guide about getting backlinks altogether. So let’s remain on the tactic of getting reviews. These paid and free reviews will bring in traffic of potential clients. This is one of our top priorities established in the beginning of the article. But, it will also improve the domain authority and search traffic.
16. Keep your IP addresses off of blacklists
Having a great product and a service you are offering, is perhaps your top priority. If you have a lousy service, the clients that do come, will quickly leave. If your dedicate IP addresses are constantly blacklisted for spamming, it’s not going to be a great experience for your clients. We already wrote some advice on how to deal with blacklists so we won’t repeat it here. But you can certainly check it out if that hasn’t been your focus until now.
Our Blacklist API can help you setup notifications so that you know the instant when your IP address is blacklisted, you can respond. You don’t want your client contacting you about a blacklisted IP. The clients themselves are capable of setting up free blacklist monitoring. It’s not rocket science any more, you just type in your domain name, and Webmaster.ninja tool does the rest. Eventually, the service emails you when you are blacklisted. A great web hosting provider takes care of that.
17. Offer professional email services
Here’s an idea to grow your revenue and reduce the chance of getting blacklisted. If you know your clients are heavy email users, why not get them away from your IP address? Offer to install them professional email service like Gsuite or Office 365. Your clients will benefit, but they don’t know how to set up MX on your server. Help them with that, and make extra revenue.
In this “How to get web hosting clients” guide we already mentioned you should create an autoresponder or a newsletter service. Do you think your clients could also benefit from that service? If your clients are constantly emailing their clients through services like Roundcube or their local Outlook program, why not offer them a service like Mailchimp or GetResponse? You can make money through their affiliate programs, or just score points with your client by helping them find a better solution.
18. Make billing, tickets, and other admin work a breeze
Once you get to around 100 clients, it doesn’t make sense to manually send invoices and handle tickets via emails. That’s when a system like WHMCS comes in very, very handy! It will automatically send invoice reminders to all your clients. And since customer support in web hosting is very important, you will be happy to know that WHMCS has a ticketing system as well!
Earlier in this guide, we mentioned you could resell SSL certificates, well that’s a couple of clicks away with WHMCS. Now that I think about it, perhaps we should write a review of WHMCS because it’s a really helpful tool when it comes to growing a web hosting business.
With WHMCS it’s easy to automate domain registration, open new web hosting accounts, and pretty much any action in your web hosting business can be automated.
19. Pick a great dedicated server or datacenter
When I first started my web hosting company, I bought a resell plan from a local web hosting company. We designed websites, and we needed a place to host them. Once we grew enough, we rented a dedicated server, and that was a big turning point for us. Unlike some web hosting companies, we weren’t overselling a lot and our clients repaid with renewals.
What is overselling?
If you are not familiar with the term overselling here’s the gist of it. When a web hosting provider sells more bandwidth and disk space than they physically have. So let’s say you have 100 Gb disk space, but you sell 100 X 10 Gb disk space to your clients. Essentially, you sold 1000 Gb of disk space because you knew your clients will not use all of it.
Overselling is not a big problem if you have experience and procedures in place. Also, you have to be careful not to oversell (through web hosting reseller package), on a web hosting provider who is known for overselling. It becomes like a house of cards, and crashes are inevitable.
Once you have enough clients and you have the budget to rent a dedicated server try not to spend all your profits on this one server. Hetzner is a good cost-effective solution.
20. Offer great customer support (chat, 0800)
We’ve already established the importance of customer support in web hosting business, so let’s expand on that. You can install a chat service on your website. For example, we are using Tawk.to, and can definitely recommend it to you. You need to have a great ticketing system, you can use both Tawk.to or WHMCS. And, if you are a larger company, a free phone number (0800 in the US) is a must.
You have to make it super easy for clients to reach out to you.
When you are starting out, don’t host your website on the same server with your clients. That way, when the server is down, they won’t be able to reach your website.
Your website (along with a chat, or 0800) always has to be available.
21. Backup everything
I know I am going out on a limb here. This is a “how to get more clients” guide, and I am writing about backup. That’s why I left this advice for last, but it’s definitely not the least important. Why? Would you believe me if I told you I know at least 2 web hosting companies that went bust because they haven’t backed up? If you run a web hosting business, I guarantee that you will have a “disaster day”.
On that day, you will either have a disaster recovery solution in place, or you will start looking for a job. You can play offense (getting more clients) only after you have your defense up and running. A great disaster recovery solution today isn’t very expensive and can save your business on that judgment day. Trust me, it’s not a question of if it will come, it’s a question of when it will come.
22. Make uptime a priority
What are the clients paying you, what is your one job? To keep the website up and running. So what do web hosting clients hate most? Website downtime of course! So make it your top priority to have near-zero downtime. When you do experience downtime, go out of your way to communicate this clearly with your clients.
Cost of website downtime is on the rise will all the WordPress websites installing WooComerce, and website builders like Wix, Squarespace focusing more on eCommerce. The success of Shopify is well known, so it’s clear that commerce is moving online every day. If your server is not up and running, it means that your clients are losing money!
23. List of small improvements you can do today
- Use private nameservers with your company name
- Create stunning hosting packages with a special bonus
- Make sure your website doesn’t have any errors (including grammar)
- Install EV SSL certificate on your website
- Install chat on your website (it’s literally copy-pasting the code in the footer of your website)
- Get one good backlink pointing to your website
- Ask your best client for a testimonial, or contact details of 3 potential web hosting clients
- Make uptime a priority
If you thought this was helpful, check our short guide on digital marketing for SAAS.
We are absolutely sure you will be able to apply some of the principles to your business! In that post you can read about: blogging, research, white papers, infographics, social media, newsletter, direct mail, and marketing automation, landing pages, conversion rate optimization, and search engine optimization. It’s a massive post with over 4000 words, and we think it will really add value to your online marketing strategy or at least spark a few great ideas.
This article was originally written by Branimir Grabovac back in 2015, but it was updated and expanded several times by Goran Duskic since then. Both of us were running a small web hosting business (separately) that we eventually sold.