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How Much is Too Much? A Perspective on Web Hosting & its Unlimited Potential

by Matthew Basile on October 7, 2009

weWeb Hosting ServersRegardless of the industry, today’s marketplace is hungry and competitive. Submerged within this “what’s in it for me?” generation of consumers, customer acquisition and retention have never been more vital to the success of a business. So imagine if you will the “unlimited” potential that using the word unlimited has when describing your product or service. However, the issue here is that companies are not trying to describe their services, they’re selling them, and now customers who are searching for an added value see unlimited and feel inclined to gravitate towards it. It may not be the determining factor that causes someone to buy, however it most definitely creates buzz and intrigue.

Suppose the response an auto manufacturer would receive if they advertised the unlimited features available on a new car, or a travel agent offering the unlimited feature vacation. So why in the tech world of web-hosting does the word unlimited get used so liberally? My theory is that the language of Web 2.0 is still quite new to potential buyers, and when making a decision about choosing a web hosting company for your website unlimited potential sounds pretty enticing. In the end I will explain and suggest why the word unlimited may seem important but that it ultimately does nothing to leverage your company in the marketplace.

A recent update made by a comparative web hosting review gave an evaluation of 10 Web hosting companies. The list provided the company name, monthly fee, disk space, bandwidth space, service highlights, and rating in a preferred order. Now there are three things that drive me crazy when I read sales materials (all three of which appear in this analysis). Two of them are the use of bold and the use of exclamation marks! This top-ten review is peppered with them as if reading the information itself wasn’t enough, it needed to be highlighted and shouted in order to get the customer’s attention.  The third is what a former instructor of mine describes as using basket words. A basket word is a real word with real meaning used in the context of selling, however it adds no real benefit. Words like; Free! Forever! Best! Better!  And of course Unlimited! Doesn’t it seem like these words are trying too hard? What I believe is more important than the use of the unholy trinity is: flexibility, support, the ability and willingness to educate.

For example, 10/ out of 10 of these companies declare unlimited features, whether it’s disk space or bandwidth, yet  only 4 of 10 offer or review their own customer service as a reason to choose them, ( two of which offer it 24 hours a day).  A couple of things frustrate me about the manner in which this is being presented. The first being that what this list fails to mention is an explanation that some, if not most, unlimited hosting plans are usually provided by shared hosting companies. From Wikipedia:

“A shared web hosting service or virtual hosting service or derive host refers to a web hosting service where many websites reside on one web server connected to the Internet. Each site “sits” on its own partition, or section/place on the server to keep it separate from other sites. This is generally the most economical option for hosting as many people share the overall cost of server maintenance.”

In my opinion the use and validity of the word infinite becomes lofty because, unlimited for who? Everyone? How can everyone have infinite capacity to one shared web hosting service? And if that is the case is there some other hidden policy  or rule to regulate usage, such as a daily limit or even a restriction the number of allowed files? Now although this may be possible, where is the explanation?

The second being: who on earth needs unlimited space anyway? If Donald Trump can manage on fixed space surely Joe Somebody can make do as well. It seems as though these companies offer packages that appear desirable yet offer minimal information and use tactics such as the Bolded Unlimited! Unlimited may seem empowering, but where do you go from there? What are the next steps?

At myhosting.com we offer a slightly different perspective on the business of web hosting.  There isn’t any “unlimited”, no bolds, and exclamations. What we do have is package and price flexibility, and accessible and knowledgeable customer support at the forefront of our service.  The alternative that we’re providing is series of hosting plans with realistic limits.

The top-ten list could very well be a useful tool, and the web hosting companies listed in that top-ten could be very deserving of the title. However what seems to be neglected in the pursuit of selling web hosting services is that although a customer may know they require the service does not imply they know the workings and the language of the service itself. They must be educated, given realistic flexibility, and reassurance that should an issue arise it will be clarified.

So if you are in the market for a web-hosting service, don’t just agree to the first unlimited package you come across, do your research and know what’s available to you. See if there is a local company that offers the same service that an international one does, and be confident that you’re getting into something you understand or else you might be wasting your time and money, which is most likely not unlimited.

Related posts:

  1. The Truth About Unlimited Web Hosting
  2. Web Hosting Reviews: Spot The Fake
  3. Shared Success with Shared Web Hosting: A Testimonial
  4. Domain Names, Web Hosting & Branding
  5. New Web Site! New Web Hosting Plans! New Hosting Platform!

{ 6 comments }

Andy February 1, 2010 at 11:46 AM

I own a market research firm and our research indicates an increase in unsatisfied Web hosting customers. Most of the unrest exists in the services being provided, not the core infrastructure (e.g., Web server technology). Core infrastructure capability has commoditized, and the core architecture is well understood. Most companies complain that their provider is not delivering service levels to their need level, yet we commonly find that the provider is indeed meeting the letter of the service-level agreement (SLA).

PotsNPans January 27, 2011 at 10:45 AM

I’ve fallen for “unlimited” advertising schemes in the past. I wish I’d looked more at specifics and less at words in bold print that sounded impressive.

Stoddard February 28, 2011 at 11:17 AM

It’s amazing how few companies advertise their customer service. You’d think this would be a top selling point.

Randy5 April 20, 2011 at 8:45 AM

I agree with what you wrote about exclamation marks and bold letters in advertising. An exception would be if bold letters were used to highlight important concepts, to make skimming more efficient.

silkysmooth September 2, 2011 at 4:47 AM

avoiding overreaching claims and exclamation points and the like demonstrates a company’s confidence in what they have to offer.

Texas2Step October 21, 2011 at 10:53 AM

Interesting points, Andy. Good service is hard to commoditize, so it’s crucial that you research a company’s service record before signing any contracts with them.

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