Web Hosting Is Vital to Marketing Success
If you’re an e-commerce merchant, then the success of your digital marketing campaigns is directly linked to the architecture and health of your online store(s). You can run the best marketing campaigns ever created with the best automation capabilities ever devised, but if your website has issues converting web traffic into sales, you won’t achieve the ROI you’ve come to expect from many proven marketing strategies.
Conversion rate optimization is equal parts art and science. If you want to increase the likelihood that a website visitor will make a purchase, there are dozens of metrics and factors that you can look at. As a result, you may mistakenly neglect a foundational building block in the success of your conversion rates – your hosting infrastructure.
“Your #web hosting infrastructure has more to do with #digitalmarketing success & #CRO than you might realize,” says Robert Rand of @JetRails CLICK TO TWEET
You may be surprised to learn just how many hosting-related factors can impact your digital marketing and ultimately sales success. Here’s a consolidated checklist of items to make sure you’re thinking about increasing sales, protecting your brand reputation, and increasing customer lifetime value.
☑ Scalability: Can you handle a growing amount of web traffic?
As you drive traffic to your website, it’s crucial that your hosting environment can support the increased number of concurrent visitors on the site. Ideally, your hosting account should be load-tested to determine if it can handle anticipated spikes in traffic. Even when using a hosting cloud like AWS, you may need to load-balance traffic across more than one server. Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) can also play an important role.
If your site slows down or starts delivering error messages to shoppers because it can’t handle the traffic you’ve received, you’ll simultaneously lose sales and damage your reputation.
For instance, if you deploy an email campaign to a list of a million contacts with an average click-through rate of 4% for similar campaigns, you can expect 40,000 visitors to your site. You can further review data to better identify trends for how many of those 40,000 visitors are likely to be on your website at the same time, and then you’ll know what numbers to load-test against.
Now imagine, as is likely the case, deploying several campaigns to that audience in a short period, outside standard sending frequency. All the campaigns combined could drastically increase simultaneous onsite traffic. Major holiday shopping days are a prime example of this. Therefore, load testing against these spikes is crucial.
Case in point: by deploying a more elastic hosting solution, Splash of Pink saw the conversion rate for an annual holiday sale jump from 3% in 2017 to 5% in 2018.
☑ Loading speed: Does your site load in under three seconds?
According to Google, 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than three seconds to load. If your web-hosting infrastructure isn’t properly optimized for speed, you may be losing out on visitors that stick and buy.
A good host should provide modern hardware like SSD drives, caching technology that compliments your e-commerce platform, and an overall optimization plan. Ultimately, your host should compliment the work done by your developers to ensure that your site loads quickly in browsers.
As loading speeds factor into Google Ads quality scores, they, in turn, have a direct and indirect impact on your marketing campaigns themselves. Loading speeds indirectly impact organic search engine rankings as well. By engaging with a white-glove e-commerce hosting team, Furnitureland South benefited from much higher conversion rates and greater revenue generation.
☑ Error monitoring: Spot and fix pages that aren’t loading
In some instances, your website may load, but certain pages or resources, for whatever reason, aren’t. Your host can help you monitor for such issues that would otherwise continue to hurt your brand reputation and disrupt your sales funnel.
It isn’t uncommon for hard marketing work to be completely lost due to malfunctioning web pages. Imagine launching a well thought-out and beautiful digital campaign only to find that a major percentage of the inbound clicks are receiving a “404 error” due to a typo in a link. I know I’ve seen a handful of apology or “oops” emails from some of my favorite brands – it happens to the best of us! How would you be alerted if a link in your campaign had a typo or wasn’t working? What’s the process when 404 errors drastically spike on your site? Quality hosting providers can provide real-time monitoring and reporting for such events, giving you an opportunity to resolve the issue before it’s too late.
☑ Security: How healthy, safe, and secure is your website?
Should your website be infected or suffer some other security breach, the results can be severe. A breach of credit card data, for example, would have a lasting impact on the loyalty of your customers. Similarly, malware in your website can trigger web browsers and antivirus software suites to display scary blacklisting warnings to shoppers trying to reach your website. Metaphorically speaking, I’d liken these warnings to an evacuation notice for a giant storm about to hit – the message they convey is a very resounding “get out of here!” The explanation message you’d need to send contacts after that sort of catastrophe would not be pleasant for anyone.
“An infected #website, #securitybreach, or ‘blacklisting warning’ can have a lasting impact on #customerloyalty,” says Robert Rand of @JetRails CLICK TO TWEET
In a less intrusive, but still damaging situation, Restaurant Supply was having their resources sapped by “a significant influx of malicious bots,” leaving their site slower and less responsive for shoppers. Luckily, they were able to alleviate the issue by blocking bad traffic.
☑ Shared resources: Is it time to adopt a dedicated server?
If you’re on a shared or VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting account, you’re sharing a server with other users. In such situations, it’s unlikely that your hosting account is as secure and optimized for your business as you should want it to be. In most cases, dedicated server(s) or cloud server(s) are well worth the investment.
In a shared environment, imagine if a “neighbor” decides to launch their own large email campaign, spiking traffic. Although shared environments may have some dedicated resources and a buffer for performance, when load testing, what other factors could be at play? What happens when all users of the shared resources are experiencing high volume? These are just a few factors that are simply out of your control.
☑ Uptime: How sure are you that you’ll be up 100% of the time?
A good host will guarantee 100% uptime while taking action to deliver on that promise, including services to monitor your website and to jump in and resolve any issues if they do arise. They should also include plans for replacing failed hardware quickly and storing offsite backups to restore your site in the case of file corruption or some other disastrous event.
Downtime can cause permanent damage to your brand, so it’s necessary to put plans in place ahead of time to minimize the chances of your website crashing or staying down. Additionally, regardless of whether downtime is caused by errors, scalability issues, security issues, or constraints of a shared hosting environment, downtime can hurt your search engine rankings.
Downtime quickly leads to the wasting of valuable marketing dollars on active ad campaigns or email sends which would lead nowhere or simply get suspended. ShopAkira’s website was especially prone to crashing, which was resolved by moving to a more reliable hosting infrastructure.
Web hosting and related issues or benefits might not be at the top of your priority list until it’s too late, but it needs to be if you want to maintain a reliable, cohesive, safe website for your customers.
Scalability, load speed, error monitoring, security, server use, and uptime are all critical aspects of hosting to think about. While all of these relate, in one way or another, to the support that your host is providing you, exceptional service for you is also a key ingredient of successful web hosting. Fast response times and meaningful responses will help to mitigate hosting issues that can impact the success of marketing.
It’s best to seek a web-hosting team that will provide proactive management plus a consultative approach. Find a hosting provider that understands your needs and business challenges. Finally, select a great partner that can help you achieve increased growth and continued marketing success. ◾
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About the Author
Robert Rand is Director of Partnerships & Alliances at JetRails. He has more than a decade of experience in helping merchants benefit from sound e-commerce strategies and is highly experienced at harnessing the power of e-commerce tech to help businesses of all types and sizes succeed. Robert has earned numerous distinctions and accolades from his work with merchants and partner organizations. JetRails is a fully managed, white-glove, e-commerce hosting service.