Hosting Matters When It Comes To Interactive Marketing

Most people choose a Web host based on price, technology and/or the recommendation of their Web agency. All of these are important factors, but most people overlook the destructive impact choosing the wrong host can have on your interactive marketing
initiatives.

How do you choose a hosting company? One of the most important factors when choosing a host is determining which tools and services they support and don’t support. What statistics or Web analytics packages does your host offer? You don’t want to pay a third party a premium for your Web analytics package because your host only provides “free-ware� statistics. Many hosts have strategic relationships with some of the best Web analytics vendors in an effort to provide their customers with powerful site measurement tools bundled into the cost of their hosting packages.

Are you choosing your host because it includes a site building tool? If so, this can be a real advantage to businesses without Web development resources, but buyers should beware that this will most likely impact your Search Marketing initiatives. Most WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) site building applications make optimizing your site for the search engines very difficult at best, with most actually hurting your chances of achieving necessary search engine rankings. These tools in many cases actually prevent Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices from being incorporated into your website.

Does your host provide or offer eCommerce packages? If so, is that the software you will be using to sell your products online? If not, make sure the host will support your eCommerce solution of choice. Many eCommerce solutions require specialized installations which your host may or may not support, even in a dedicated hosting environment.

While website tools and services are important, consistent and reliable email delivery is even more critical to many. How well does your host fight spammers? Do they have controls in place to block spammers from using their servers as launch pads for their spam campaigns? If they don’t do this well, your host may be blacklisted by one or more backbone providers or ISPs.

There are countless instances where email generated from IP ranges or even entire hosting companies has gotten blocked, penalizing non-spamming firms. To emphasize the importance of this let me explain further. Emails from innocent, non-spamming companies can be blocked unknowingly if the company’s Web host is on a blacklist due to a lack of protection of its email servers. The main recommendation here is to do your homework by going to sites like http://www.spamhaus.org or http://www.dnsstuff.com to see if your host is currently blacklisted.

Another obvious issue is server uptime. While being down for a few minutes here and there is unpleasant and causes missed revenue opportunities, the real impact is felt if there is significant downtime. Significant downtime - being down for days, not hours - can cause significant revenue loss, tarnish your organization’s brand and cause temporary losses to your Search Engine rankings. While most hosts boast 99.9% uptime, many have a history of data center, router and/or backbone issues that have impacted their customers for lengthy periods of time. This is not something they will likely disclose freely, but some good Search Engine research will uncover most hosts’ past given the abundance of blogs, consumer sites and hosting review directories.

In addition to server uptime, there is server performance to consider. As we all know Web visitors aren’t going to wait for pages to download. Many hosts pack their shared servers with too many websites. This not only causes downtime, but can cause poor server performance. Imagine a scenario where you’re paying significant money for a well-performing Pay Per Click (PPC) Campaign. If your pages are prone to load slowly given your host’s server performance, you are likely to pay for clicks that don’t even view your landing page. This not only impacts your eMarketing campaigns, but will have negative effects on all your Web visitors and ultimately impact your brand’s value in the marketplace.

In summary, choosing a hosting company is more complicated than just comparing the traditional features such as disk space, bandwidth and price. This decision can have a significant impact on your eMarketing initiatives. Do your homework and make sure your host supplements your online marketing initiatives versus creating barriers that work against them.

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