After 40 years working with clients as a media marketing executive, I now have a couple of years under my belt working with media representatives and other marketing vendors from the client side. I’ve learned a few new lessons and reinforced a number of those already learned while working in the media world.
In my August blog post, I advocated for media organisations to embrace Web hosting as a means to fully and strategically engage as a partner with their advertising clients.
Well, as I review year-end outcomes and look at 2015 versus 2016 budgets with organisations I am now involved with, I am even more firm in the conviction that Web hosting is a strategic necessity to secure the digital revenue streams necessary for success.
Of course, it is not as simple as offering a server, connectivity, and an IP address. In this blog post, I’ll discuss some of the ways Web hosting has provided a strategically advantage to a non-media vendor that works with its clients.
1. The Web hosting firm has made a study of “best practice” site design and applications. It does not rely on its clients to “tell them what they want.” Rather, it guides the client in a consultative manner to understanding what it needs and can afford in a Web site. And it has developed effective proprietary tools and design elements that are “licensed” for use by the client for the site.
The result? The client pays for hosting and licensing fees each month. More revenue – and the client is now bound to the provider. The client cannot simply move its site to another low-cost Web provider. Move the site, lose the license, and the client then has to start over designing a whole new site.
2. It understands that building and hosting an effective Web site is just the first step, not the end game. The constant tweaking needed to maximise on-site SEO is an example of an additional client need that represents additional revenue opportunities.
In fact, I have observed that the investments associated with creating a truly effective Web site are often matched or exceeded by the ongoing annual investment in the additional services (optimally provided by the Web creator/host/vendor) that sustain the site’s efficacy.
3. Fresh content added frequently is essential. Presented on-site and off-site (in social media, via e-mail newsletters, and even through general, niche, or industry-specific media outlets and Web sites), strategically developed content is a powerful tool, especially when driven by SEO strategies.
While a Web client can outsource to freelancers, write its own articles, etc., the client is unlikely to have the time and expertise to do it well. If the Web host partner offers content development services at a competitive price and quality, it is likely to secure this revenue stream as well.
4. It has been my experience that, as a part of the SEO process, the Web provider is also assisting in identifying the target customer using Web analytics. That leads to its “expert” recommendations on media planning and potential partners.
And this model works. I have seen the numbers of not only organic search growth but transactions and market share. Consider these year-end 2015 numbers for one client (that already had a good growth year in 2014):
- Year-over-year search growth was 59%.
- Share of search (SOS) improvement versus its top competitor was 57%.
- SOS growth within its industry segment was 93%.
- Conversions to business booked? Up 16% in 2015, and up 46% in the first 60 days of 2016.
The client has a marketing budget in the modest six-figure range (under US$300,000) and is spending a good third of it with its Web provider, not media outlets.
What if the Web provider was a media organisation? The superlative skill sets within the media industry applied to building traffic and content on media Web sites are rarely deployed to drive revenue/benefit media clients.
This is a huge blind spot that is costing the industry not just millions but billions of dollars. If you doubt this, do the research on what businesses are spending on their Web presence versus paid online advertising.