19 Oct

How to Make Your Business Stand Out from Competitors

Last Updated on October 19, 2021 by Ruchir Shastri

There are some common slogans most businesses use to catch people’s attention, but not all of them are what the company’s culture preaches. Clients should know if this is the way the company works even before doing business with them. What is the approach the company uses, what are their values, and whether are they in harmony with its targeted audience?

The main objective for every single company is to gain profit, but is the company disposed to take care of the customers and the processes to make the business grow sustainably? These are some questions that we will answer below and that will be the best way to stand out from competitors.

1. Listen to customer needs and focus on pain points

The key to business success is to listen to what the customer needs are, and pay attention to details. By doing so, it will allow us to take ownership with responsibility and give a frame of reference if our company has the skills to take that specific request and how we can overcome any pains customers have.

2. Build a trustworthy company

Listening to customer needs is not enough to show that we care about people. Being honest is highly appreciated. Although honestly does not pay money by exchanging information honestly is the way to advertise your company culture from mouth-to-mouth. In the long run, people will recognize it, they will prefer to stay next to a company that does not put false hopes on them.

3. Customer service

Customer Service

This is something that every single business wants to provide and most of the businesses use this slogan as a competitive advantage, however, this is not enough just to say that. Once you interact with clients, they will realize the type of business you are in, and if they don’t feel you treat them with respect and kindness, they will move even if you provide the best of the product ever. Hence, correctly evaluate the quality of the customer service you offer.

4. Concentrate your attention on a specific niche

Even though during the growth process of our company we realized that there are some products that give more money than others, or even worse there are products that become hyping up and everybody wants them, we must take our strategic company’s vision as the main point. The company has to be known for having something word class. As a common quote says, we cannot mix pears with apples.

5. Create communication channels for your customers

Communication Channels

For example, the official business blog is a good way to build trust. People will know that your company is not all about selling a product, but also you care about providing useful information, so this will allow interacting with your audience, customers, and others interested in what you write and do.

6. Use clear term and condition policies

This is something not that common however really important because when something happens company is supported by those terms and conditions which most of the time people don’t read. Even though we cannot push them to read before getting our products/services, we can advise taking a look at them at least in general terms.

7. Set right expectations

We can’t offer to drive customers to Saturn if we can drive them to Mars only, that’s why your customers should have the right expectations on the products or services that your business offers.

8. Follow up

Follow up even if customer requests are not urgent.  You should show that your business cares about any issues your customers have and it is just a matter of time when their issue will be solved. Stay caring all the time.

9. Deploy promotion for the current customers

One of the biggest mistakes is to promote offers to acquire new customers only. In order to keep the current ones for the long term, we cannot leave aside those that already make us money. We need to keep them loyal and engaged in company processes all the time with the proper loyalty program and special offers.

SoftSys Hosting is one of a few hosting companies that use a customer-first approach. So if you wish to have a reliable platform for your online presence with responsive and caring 24/7 support, order any ecommerce, VPS, or dedicated hosting solutions and we’ll take your online business to the next level of performance.

15 Oct

The Most Common Entrepreneur Mistakes When Starting a Business

Last Updated on October 15, 2021 by Ruchir Shastri

There are some common mistakes entrepreneurs make. Most of them make those mistakes because they want to follow the correct procedure and try to imitate others, or they just do not know how to do it the correct way and perform those mistakes without intention. Either way, we will focus on the most common ones so they can be handled in a better way, or at least you can have them in mind to avoid when starting out your new business venture.

1. Don’t be fearful of failing

Since we’re born, we have learned that fear is part of the process of our life, when we’ve just made our first steps, we fell, and we tried repeatedly until we knew how to do it properly. The same happens when we decide to start a business. We take some decisions that make us muddy and some others that drive us to the moon, so we succeed.

2. Streamline your ideas 

Due to the excitement we have when starting a business, we usually want to cover everything at once, however, it is important to prioritize main tasks to avoid overwhelming ourselves and having disappointment when something will go wrong.

3. Create a plan

Business Planning

You can start with short-term planning, medium-term planning, and long-term planning. This is important because this allows us to accomplish the work accurately and the actions being done in a particular sequence, avoiding costly mistakes.

4. Delegate in a timely manner

According to some research entrepreneur success vastly depends on how effectively you can delegate tasks to others. But this should be done only if you also participate in the process from the very beginning as some entrepreneurs start delegating before they even start or before they even have a clear idea about the plan. The main problem of delegating before having a clear idea about the plan is that others will handle the plan in the way they think should be and the idea or the main objective may fail.

5.  Finances and marketing must go hand to hand

Proper financial planning will help us to make a good decision about the money to spend and marketing – to forecast prospective financial gains. Even though those are 2 strategic keys, some decide to consider this after they start selling, but it is necessary to start building these from the beginning and avoid waste of money.

6. Clear reporting

To have a wide view about everything that is going on in the company, the reporting is essential even though some of those won’t be like we want them to be, however, those will help you to understand and know what are the goals we couldn’t accomplish or what are the ones we can and continue or improve working on them.

7. Be a listener

Taking a piece of wise advice is always the key to our success. It will contribute to the balance of the main objective and help in prioritizing tasks and resources. So not only manage and generate ideas but also listen to other team members, who are experts in their work.

8. Value people around

Despite we have great ideas or we know exactly how to handle business, it is fundamental to have empathetic people skills. Try to understand how it feels to be in your customer’s shoes as well. Having this in mind, you’ll be able to create a pleasant environment that will be transmitted to everybody involved in the process, so we will have happy employees and loyal clients.

9. Hire wisely

Hire people with a desire to learn to become long-term employees instead of hiring genius people who have attitude issues. What is not known could be learned, but attitude problems cannot be fixed.

10. Legal registration

This process not only guarantees that nobody will steal your name or idea but also helps you to have a good reputation on the market and protect your business from serious legal issues.

11. Stay tech-savvy

Tech Savvy

Nowadays it is quite common that everything we want is more or less bound with the Internet. And when people can easily find your business and reviews, this automatically builds trust in them. Build your positive business reputation, host websites and web apps in a reliable hosting space, and create brand awareness among your existing and prospective clients – this all in the complex will ensure your online success.

How can SoftSys Hosting help you when starting a business?

SoftSys Hosting offers a wide selection of web hosting plans at affordable prices including scalable cloud hosting, top-notch Windows and Linux VPS, and powerful dedicated servers. We use a customer-first approach, so you can address any questions you have when choosing a web hosting environment for your business to our responsive support experts who are online 24/7 at [email protected]  or +1-862.214.2255.

24 Sep

Keep Your Business In Business With Reliable Backup Services

Last Updated on September 24, 2021 by Ruchir Shastri

Unexpected downtime and data loss costs your business valuable time and money. Whether you’re facing a phishing attack or ransomware or just an app you need suddenly crashes – having the backup of your data and systems ensures you can recover quickly and get back to work.

Lost data costs your business money

Any interruption to your business processes can be costly. In IT, we call it “downtime”. And downtime can be a big problem for small-to-medium businesses – closing off part or all of your operations and losing you money every minute that you’re down. In fact, once you consider direct business loss, lost productivity, and lost reputation, a single hour of downtime costs $84,650 on average.

Business Data Loss

There is good news though. With modern backup and recovery technology and processes, your business can avoid data loss arising from malware attacks, human error, and everything in between. And, if you do lose access to some of your business data you can recover it in a matter of minutes – keeping your business running without any interruption.

“545 hours of staff productivity are lost every year due to IT downtime”
Solutions Review

Protect anything that could go missing

From entire servers full of business data to that one PowerPoint deck you can’t afford to lose, your backup and recovery solution needs to be able to protect everything that’s important to your business and team. Because, inevitably, if one system is left unprotected it’s going to be that one that goes down. That’s why SoftSys Hosting offers backup and recovery capabilities that cover more than 20 different platforms – including physical, virtual, cloud, and mobile – no matter where the data rests, how large it gets, or how you choose to move or access it.

Endpoints

  • Windows PC
  • Mac

Physical

  • Windows Server
  • Windows Server Essentials
  • Linux

Applications

  • Microsoft Exchange
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • Microsoft SharePoint
  • Microsoft Active Directory
  • Oracle Database

Cloud

  • Microsoft 365
  • Google Workspace
  • Azure
  • Amazon EC2

Mobile

  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • Android

Restore lost or compromised data in minutes

Your business relies on data safety, accessibility, and security to keep work flowing and growing. Our team is here to make sure that’s possible. With our backup and recovery services in place, data recovery can be completed in a matter of minutes – getting your team back to business almost in no time.

Continuous data protection

With continuous data protection in place, the data we recover for you will include recent changes, making it more accurate and valuable.

Built-in cybersecurity

And with built-in cybersecurity capabilities, we can ensure that your backup data is free of ransomware, malware, and viruses.

Integrated Cybersecurity Capabilities

Nowadays companies face new, sophisticated cyber threats every day. In fact, in 2020 there were 350,000 new malware threats discovered every day. Any of these threats could spell disaster for your business, particularly if you’re an SMB.

Integrated cybersecurity capabilities

That’s why our team included some essential cybersecurity defenses into our backup and recovery services. All backups are protected with advanced machine-learning threat detection capabilities, which are designed to detect and prevent ransomware, phishing attacks, and never-before-seen “zero-day” attacks from impacting your data, and your business.

Learn more & sign up for backup and recovery along with cyber protect services offered by SoftSys Hosting.

31 Aug

How to Grow Your Online Business: 5 Tips for Business Development

Learn how to grow your online business

Last Updated on August 31, 2021 by Joanna Isac

The internet provides many opportunities to be successful, and starting an online business has never been easier. However, the competition can be stiff!

As a business owner, you have to work hard to stay on top of your game and grow your business!

This post will talk about five useful tips for developing an online business into something that will generate sustainable revenue for years (or even decades) to come!

The Basics of Online Business

First, let’s start with the basics and talk about making sure your online business is well-known. If you have a website that no one knows about or never gets any traffic, it won’t matter how hard you work because no one will know about it.

You need to be out there telling people about your business and what you have to offer!

This can be achieved by being active on social media, sending out press releases, and reaching out to local news stations.

You may also want to be sure that the design of your website is professional-looking, clean, and easy to navigate.

If your website is not meeting your expectations, consider hiring a professional web designer and content writer. They can help boost online business growth by creating a site that people want to visit and share.

Once you have a website that gets a fair number of visitors, follow these five tips for online business growth and development.

  1. Have a Well-Defined Business Strategy
  2. Do Your Homework! Perform a Competitor Analysis
  3. Invest in Customer Service
  4. Promote Your Brand Properly
  5. Keep Up-To-Date With What’s Trending

Have a Well-Defined Business Strategy

Grow your online business with a well-defined business plan and business strategy.

A business strategy is a formal plan that outlines the goals of an organization and how to achieve them. Business strategies are based on thorough investigation, market research, competitor analysis, and more!

Business strategy is key to online business growth and development! Without a well-defined plan, businesses may fail or won’t be able to meet the needs of their customers.

If you want your small company to succeed long term, then make sure you work on defining:

  • Clear short and medium-term goals.
  • Monthly expenses associated with running the company.
  • The estimated income from sales.

Remember a well-defined business strategy can help you: define critical goals, measure success, and get the support you need from your team.

Do Your Homework! Perform a Competitor Analysis

Competitors are a great source of information. Learn from them!

Here are some important questions to ask and things to keep an eye on when analyzing your competitors:

  • What sales and marketing strategies do your competitors use?
  • What products or services are they selling?
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • How they are marketing themselves?
  • What they are selling more of?
  • How they are bundling services?
  • Who they are catering to?

This information is important as you can set yourself apart from the competition by providing something different, having a unique approach, or catering to untapped markets. The business opportunities are endless!

Invest in Customer Service

Customer service can either make you or break a business, particularly a small business.

Make sure you have a well-defined customer service plan that is effective and efficient. This includes:

  • Hiring the right people.
  • Finding out if there are any services your customers are not taking advantage of.
  • Getting customer feedback on their experience with your company and services.

Remember! A happy client who comes back time and time again will keep bringing new business too.

💡 Ready to engage more with your customers? Check out these tips on How to Anticipate Customer Expectations and Gain Their Attention!

Promote Your Brand Properly

You don’t want to be spamming, but you need people to know what your business is about and how it can help them. Here’s what you can do to promote your brand the right way:

  • Incorporate a call-to-action into all of the content you produce so that readers are encouraged to take action (e.g., purchase or sign up for something) after reading the content.
  • Have a social media presence as you can use it to share information on new products/services, upsell existing offerings, etc.
  • Network with other businesses and groups to establish new business opportunities.

Remember, all these strategies are great, but they won’t work unless your website can convert that traffic into paying clients or sales. Invest in a good website design and a premium web hosting service.

💡 Not sure where to start? Check out these tips on How To Find a Reliable Web Hosting Provider!

Keep Up-To-Date With What’s Trending

Finally, keep an eye on what’s trending in your niche.

You can get many good ideas for new products and services that you may want to offer and stay relevant with customers when they are looking for options similar to yours.

Don’t be afraid to invest in new products or business approaches!

Companies that have been in business for many years have often had to redefine themselves or pivot their business model. You can stay ahead of the curve by being open to new opportunities and ideas.

***

Now that we’ve covered the basics for how to grow your online business, we want to hear from you! How are you planning on growing your business this year? What other tips do you have?

24 Aug

The Ultimate Checklist To Starting an Online Business

The Complete Checklist To Starting an Online Business

Last Updated on August 24, 2021 by Joanna Isac

Starting an online business is an exciting endeavor, but starting one the right way can also be daunting. This checklist provides all of the steps you need to take before starting an online business and tips on making your business successful.

This post is designed for those looking to start their own online business, but even experienced business owners can gain insight from this list of helpful tips!

  1. Research Your Idea
  2. Determine Your Target Audience
  3. Create a Business Plan
  4. Find a Company Name
  5. Register a Business Entity
  6. Register a Trademark
  7. Set Up Your Bank Account
  8. Register a Domain
  9. Find a Reliable Hosting Provider
  10. Design a Logo
  11. Build Your Website
  12. Secure Your Website With an SSL Certificate
  13. Enable Plugins and Widgets
  14. Set up Business Email Accounts
  15. Add Content to Your Website
  16. Create a Google Analytics Account
  17. Use Google Ads To Get More Website Traffic
  18. Set up Social Media Accounts
  19. Setup Email Marketing
  20. Wrapping Up

Research Your Idea

Starting an online business might seem like an easy project, but it often takes more research than you might expect.

To be well prepared when starting your online business you should:

  • Research the market for your product or service to see if there’s a demand.
  • Find out how much competition exists in this space.
  • Do some preliminary financial planning so you can figure out how much starting capital you need.

Determine Your Target Audience

It is essential to define your target audience and understand who they are before starting an online business. This will help you design your website, products, or services in a way that is appealing to your audience.

Create a Business Plan

A business plan is a document that details the steps you will take in starting and running your company. It can include short and mid-term goals you hope to achieve and how much money it will take to do so. A well-crafted and compelling business plan can help you get the necessary funds to start your business or find strategic partnerships.

Find a Company Name

The company name is often the first impression you give a potential customer. Your brand name can resonate with potential clients or give them second thoughts about doing business with you.

When choosing your company name, think of what you want your business to stand for? Take time out now to start brainstorming some company names that will set up an excellent foundation!

Register a Business Entity

Before starting an online business, it’s essential to figure out which legal structure is best for you. Different types of businesses have different tax burdens and benefits associated with them, so research your options carefully before deciding on one.

In the U.S., registering a business entity is usually done at the state level.

Register a Trademark

Once you’ve come up with a good name, it is important to register your trademark for that business or product(s) to prevent other companies from using the same name. In the United States, this can be done through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Set Up Your Bank Account

You’ll want to set up a business bank account before starting your online business so that you can keep business-related expenses/income separate from your personal ones. Your business bank account will also be used for tax purposes.

Register a Domain

Choose a website name with an easy-to-remember URL. In most cases, your website name will be the same as the company name. Once you have found the right website name, register your domain. You can register your domain for a minimum of one (1) year.

Find a Reliable Hosting Provider

Choose a web hosting provider that offers reliable services and 24/7 customer support. Depending on your needs, you may also want to check if the hosting provider offers full server management, email services, and backup protection.

A logo is a vital part of your website and branding strategy. Your logo will help you distinguish your business itself from other businesses in the same industry.

Make sure to find a design that is visually appealing and reflects your company’s identity. If you need assistance in designing a logo, you can hire a freelancer from Upwork, Fiverr, or Freelancer.

Build Your Website

Once you have your domain name and hosting account, it’s high time to start developing your website. Create a clean and mobile-friendly design for your website that is easy to navigate.

Select the type of website that best suits your business needs – whether eCommerce or a CMS site, like WordPress.

Secure Your Website With an SSL Certificate

When starting an online business use an SSL certificate to secure your website

Website security is critical when starting an online business. The first step you should take towards securing your website is to get an SSL certificate. SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer.

When installed on a server, the SSL certificate will activate an HTTPS protocol and encrypt information between the server and a user’s browser. The SSL certificate

ensures that your website users can safely submit their information without the risk of being hacked or have personal data stolen.

All major browsers will now flag your website as “Not Secured” if you don’t have an SSL certificate set up.

Enable Plugins and Widgets

Add Relevant Plugins and Widgets to Your Website such as SEO tools, social media sharing widgets, Google Analytics, GDPR consent tool, live chat, etc. These plugins and widgets will help you provide a better user experience to your website visitors.

Set up Business Email Accounts

These will be email addresses that your customers, potential clients, and partners can use when reaching out for support or other inquiries about your company.

Your business email should reflect a professional image, so make sure you choose something memorable like ‘[email protected]’ or ‘[email protected]’ or [email protected]’.

Add Content to Your Website

Once you have a website up and running, you need to add some content relevant to what you are offering. Such content might include service or product descriptions, images, videos, text articles, blog posts.

Relevant content will help your website visitors learn more about your company and help with SEO rankings because search engines will index your content when they crawl your site for updates.

Create a Google Analytics Account

Google Analytics is a powerful tool that helps you track traffic on your website and provides valuable insights into what people are doing on your site. You can learn which are your most popular web pages, which pages have low traffic, how users get to your website, and more.

Google Ads can help get more traffic to your website. This is especially important when you are just getting started with your online business.

With the right keywords in your ad copy, you can get in front of potential customers. You can also use retargeting to stay top of mind for those users that visited your website but didn’t make a purchase/decision right away.

Set up Social Media Accounts for Your Online Business

Social media has become an essential part of starting and running any type of online business. Set up accounts on the major networks – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, etc. to follow and engage with your target audience.

Choose accounts on those social networks where you can best engage with potential customers.

Setup Email Marketing

Set up email marketing software like Mailchimp, Constant Contact or ActiveCampaign, to send regular newsletters to subscribers who want updates from you via email rather than social media channels.

Wrapping Up

Once everything has been set up according to our checklist, go ahead and get those sales rolling in by following marketing strategies and data-driven insights from experts in the field.

P.S. If you need some inspiration for your business, check out Best Online Business Ideas for 2021-2022.

16 Jul

How To Anticipate Client Expectations and Gain Their Attention

Anticipate Customer Expectations and Increase Customer Loyalty

Last Updated on July 22, 2021 by Joanna Isac

Building a relationship with your clients is key to long-term success. One of the best ways to build a strong relationship with your clients is by anticipating their expectations and then delivering on them.

Don’t be mistaken! There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to keeping clients happy – but there are some general guidelines to follow.

This blog post is for you if you want to provide your clients with a stellar experience that will keep them coming back for more.

Here are six tips on anticipating customer needs and creating a win-win situation for both you and your clients.

6 Clever Tips To Anticipate Customer Needs and Gain Their Loyalty

Pro Tip #1: Put Yourself in the Clients’ Shoes

The best way to anticipate customer needs is by understanding their business and what they are looking to achieve.

Anticipate client expectations by understanding their business and goals

Whenever possible, have a conversation with your new customers to learn more about their needs.

Top Questions To Ask Your Customers:

  • What are your goals? TIP: make sure these are measurable goals.
  • How can our service/ our company, contribute to your success?
  • What would make you feel like a success story? 

Pro Tip #2: Create a Customer Journey Map

Creating a customer journey map will give you a clear idea of the customer buying journey and help you predict potential client questions and issues before they arise.

A well-defined customer journey map will allow you to proactively address pain points before they arise or become significant roadblocks in the customer relationship.

Anticipating your customers’ needs and expectations when purchasing a product from your company could be the difference between gaining new customers or losing them.

 What’s included in a customer journey map?

  • The buying journey.
  • Expectations and goals.
  • Pain points.
  • Proactive solutions.

Step-by-Step Process To Create a Customer Journey Map

  1. Define your buyer personas. Create a customer journey map for each buyer persona.
  2. Research how your clients find your company (organic search, paid ads, referrals, etc.)
  3. What do they do once they get to your website? What pages do they visit, do they ask for support (via live chat, email, phone), what is the average purchase time? What steps do they need to follow to become a client?
  4. Identify obstacles that may deter customers from purchasing and how those might be addressed (slow website, complex sign-up process, unclear website content, etc.).
  5. Map out potential client pain points.
  6. Brainstorm solutions to help clients reach their desired outcomes with ease.
  7. Understand what your clients are looking to achieve with the use of your service and set expectations.

Pro Tip #3: Allow Customers to Influence Company Decisions

If you want to anticipate your clients’ needs, it only makes sense to ask for their input and let them have a say on how the business should evolve.

How to make customers part of the decision-making process:

  • Get their input on what new products or services you should offer next. What’s missing from the mix, what would make them achieve their goals easier, what could make the client experience better than before?
  • Be accountable! Share your company roadmap with your clients – let them know what’s coming next and how soon they can expect to see new features/services.
  • When launching a new product or service, make customers early beta testers – get their feedback before making your new service available to the general public. What could say “I value my customers’ input!” more than this?

Pro Tip #4: Make Customer Feedback More Accessible

There are many ways for clients to provide feedback through social media or email. However, a process is only effective if it’s efficient; therefore, you need an organized and timely approach when collecting customer feedback.

How To Collect Customer Feedback the Right Way

  1. Create a dedicated customer feedback email address, for example, [email protected], where customers can submit feedback or feature requests.
  2. Create a customer feedback form on your website, in-app notifications, and social media platforms. You can link this feedback form to the email address you have previously created to gather all feedback in a centralized place.
  3. Let clients know when they should expect a change. Customers need to know how much time it will take for their feedback to be acted upon and which department will review their comments. 
  4. Don’t forget to thank your customers for taking the time to share their feedback and valuable insights.
  5. Implementing these steps will encourage more people to provide their honest opinion and help you identify any service gaps that need to be addressed as soon as possible.

Pro Tip #5: Conduct Regular Customer Surveys

Use customer surveys to identify customer expectations

Customer surveys help companies identify customer expectations and learn how to serve their needs better. Businesses that measure customer satisfaction often find they have increased customer retention and loyalty. 

There are a variety of ways to measure customer experience. Here are the most common types used by businesses.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

NPS is a way of measuring customer loyalty by asking customers to rate on a scale of 0-10 how likely are they to recommend your company.

Client Satisfaction Surveys

consist of questions about the quality of service received from the company. The company then uses this information to identify client expectations and learn how to better serve its clientele.

Customer Effort Score (CES) surveys

CES measures how much effort the client had to put in for any given interaction. The CES rating ranges from 0-100, where 100 means extremely easy, and 0 means very difficult.

Examples of CES Questions Are:
  • Rate the ease of use of feature X.
  • Rate how easy it was to find information about service Y on our website.

How To Create Customer Surveys That Will Get Results 

  • Conduct client satisfaction surveys regularly.
  • Keep surveys sweet and short. No one likes 30-minute surveys.
  • Include a mix of open-ended questions and “yes or no” questions.
  • Share the survey results with everyone on the team.
  • Keep track of feedback so that you can identify repeated issues.
  • This one is golden! Always and I always follow up with customers that provided feedback.

Pro Tip #6: Offer 24/7 Stellar Technical Support

Providing 24/7 customer support shows that your customers are your top priority.

Offering 24/7 customer support will help your business improve customer satisfaction and build customer loyalty. You will also have the opportunity to identify customer expectations better and learn how to serve your customers better.

To provide 24/7 excellent Technical Support, try these best practices.

Technical Support Best Practices

Technical Support Best Practices. Improve customer satisfaction and build customer loyalty with 25/7 support
  • Offer a dedicated support email address ([email protected]) and/or phone number where your clients can always reach the technical team.
  • Use customer support software that enables your team to prioritize support tickets, collaborate easily, and keep track of customer interactions. 
  • Implement an SLA (Service Level Agreement) – an SLA sets client expectations for an agreed-upon level of service.
  • Answer client questions promptly.
  • Know what you don’t know! – “I don’t know” is an acceptable answer as long as it’s followed by “but I will find out.”
  • Always follow up with customers if you are unable to answer their questions right away.
  • Learn how your clients use your services so that you can proactively offer support.
  • Offer an FAQ page or Knowledgebase where they can find answers themselves on-demand.

Conclusion

Customers are an essential part of every business, but ensuring high-quality customer service can be challenging. 

In this blog post, we’ve listed six pro tips on how to anticipate client needs. These six tips will help you deliver an exceptional customer experience and gain your customer’s loyalty.

About SoftSys Hosting

At SoftSys Hosting, we take pride in providing stellar customer support 24/7. Our team is here to help you with every part of your online business journey: from getting your project or website successfully launched to scaling large traffic mission-critical websites. 

With a team of in-house experienced sysadmins, we’ll do all the heavy lifting so you can focus on what’s important – growing your business.

Let us know how we can help you with your VPS hostingdedicated server, or cloud hosting needs! Contact us at [email protected] or +1-862-214-2255 (Ext 203).

01 Jul

Why Social Media Is Essential For Business Marketing

Social Media Marketing. Tips to grow your business and successful examples.

Last Updated on July 1, 2021 by Joanna Isac

Social media marketing is a great way to promote your business and grow your customer base. Through social media, you can engage your existing customers while also bringing your brand in front of new users. According to a report from April 2021 by DataReportalan estimated 4.33 billion people are on social networks. That’s over 55% of the entire population. 🤯

It’s no surprise that marketers are noticing the benefits of social media marketing and allocating more resources to it.

In this article, our team at SoftSys Hosting will share some of the benefits we’ve seen from social media marketing. Additionally, we’ll also share a few examples to help you get inspired and achieve success with your strategy!

What Is Social Media Marketing and Why Is It Important For Business?

Social media marketing (SMM) is a marketing strategy that uses social networks to promote a brand, product, or service – all while building relationships that will turn your followers into loyal customers.

We get inundated with emails, texts, and spam phone calls every day.

Quick! How many unwanted emails have you deleted today?

Unlike other marketing strategies that clutter your inbox, social media gives a chance to be seen by potential customers who are interested in what we’re offering at our business.

Let’s look at some of the ways you can use social media to grow your customer base.

How To Use Social Media To Grow Your Business

Nurture Leads

Your leads might not be ready to sign-up for your service yet, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a future opportunity. It’s been proven that people are more likely to buy from brands they follow on social media channels.

Use social media to keep in touch with new leads and old ones alike by staying top of mind through targeted posts. This makes it easier for your leads to recognize your company as a trusted source of information and reach out to you when there’s a need for what you offer.

Increase Website Traffic

Social media is a quick and effective way to drive site traffic without spending money on ads, as you’re able to share content with your followers. A common form of driving traffic to your website is by linking to your blog posts, support articles, and product pages.

Create Hype and Encourage Conversations

The quickest way to generate hype and encourage conversations on social media is through contests, promotions, and exclusive announcements that will get people talking.

Another excellent way for you to interact with your fans would be by commenting on their posts, asking questions, and making sure you respond when they comment back.

Build Brand Awareness

Get your followers to know you by sharing your company’s story, events, milestones, mission, and values.

When you share stories about the people behind a business or the values behind a brand, you create an emotional connection between your followers and your company. And guess what? People are more likely to buy from companies that they identify with on an emotional level.

Reach Your Target Audience

Before social media and the internet, people used to advertise in newspapers. But the ad reach was limited by how many readers were getting a copy of that newspaper.

Fast forward to today, you can reach targeted audiences outside your geographical location easily through social media paid ads.

You can target audiences based on location, demographics, interests, behavior, keywords, and more. Then place an ad tailored for your audience so that you can get your message in front of the right people.

Access Real-Time Data Through Social Listening

Social media platforms provide a great way to stay on top of current trends, but it can be challenging sifting through all the noise. That’s where “social listening” comes in!

Social listening is the process of monitoring and analyzing what’s being said about your website or brand online.

It can help a business identify customer needs and keep track of new trends.

Social listening has become an essential tool for understanding what people are talking about online and how their opinions may impact your business or marketing strategy.

Popular social listening tools include Hootsuite, Brandwatch, and Mention.

Create Loyal Customers

Social Media Marketing is a great way to make your customers feel like they are part of the conversation. They’re more likely to be invested and engaged if you let them know that their input matters!

Here are some ways to build trust and increase loyalty within your existing customer base on social media:

  • Create content relevant to their interests or industry.
  • Share product announcements.
  • Highlight customer successes.
  • Address community questions.
  • Share customer testimonials.
  • Learn more about your customers through polls and surveys.
  • Create conversation-starter posts.
  • Get them involved in launching new products by asking for feedback.

Want even more tips for creating loyal customers? Check out our “7 Ways To Improve Customer Loyalty and Retention” guide to learn how you can make your customer base a more profitable one.

Examples of Businesses Who Use Social Media Successfully

First off, it’s essential to acknowledge that the social media landscape is constantly changing, so best practices are always evolving.

There are so many different ways to achieve success. You have to find what’s right for your business and enjoy the process!

Let’s explore the companies that know how to have fun with their social media marketing while also engaging users and increasing brand awareness.

FAST.CO

Fast is bringing much creativity to their hassle-free checkout process. Here’s a post from Fast’s Twitter account before a product launch.

They encouraged Twitter followers to retweet the picture in exchange for having their own profile picture edited with a “Fastronaut” helmet.

Social Media Marketing Examples
Image Source: Fast.co via Twitter

This creative and fun tweet got them hundreds of retweets and a lot of exposure.

Twitter user @guptast1c and her puppy are making a fashionable statement in their Fastronaut helmet.

Social media marketing strategy
Image Source: Fast.co via Twitter

GYMSHARK

The popular fitness clothing company Gymshark creates not only functional products but also creative, fun games for its Facebook community.

One question they posed to their followers was, “Would you rather have an endless supply of the best coffee in the world or best snacks in the world, at your office?”

The post got over 18K likes and nearly 500 comments from the fans on social media.

Social media for business
Image Source: Gymshark via LinkedIn

MICROSOFT

Microsoft took us on a trip down memory lane with this image about Clippie. So many Microsoft users loved the now-discontinued office assistant. No wonder their post got 6K likes!

Nicely done, Microsoft!

successful social media campaigns
Image Source: Microsoft via Twitter

There are many other examples of successful social media campaigns that you can get inspired by. But the bottom line is, don’t do what everyone else does – find what works for you and your followers!

Conclusion

As we’ve seen in this article, social media can be a powerful tool for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Whether you’re looking to generate buzz, reach new potential customers or just keep your current ones interested in what’s going on with the company, social media can be an invaluable resource for your marketing strategy.

17 May

Best Online Business Ideas For 2021-2022

Best Online Business Ideas For 2022

Last Updated on June 3, 2021 by Joanna Isac

If you are in the market for a successful online business idea, you’ve come to the right place. We have created a list of some of the most popular online business ideas for 2021-2022, and we know you’ll love them!

The internet is a powerful tool. Alongside computers, it changed the way we interact with each other, the way we work, the way we go about our daily lives. It opened doors to many new business ideas that were difficult to imagine back in the ‘90s when people started buying computers.

You can now build a successful online business from anywhere in the world. If you’ve got something good to offer, all you need is a good internet connection and a computer.

If you’re looking to start your own company, these popular online business ideas should help get the ball rolling.

Popular Online Business Ideas You Can Start Today

  1. Become a Freelance Content Writer.
  2. Offer Consulting Services to Small Businesses.
  3. Become a Virtual Assistant.
  4. Create & Sell Digital Products.
  5. Build an Online Store.
  6. Become a Creator on Patreon.

Become a Freelance Content Writer

With this type of work, you can write from anywhere and set your own schedule. You’ll be able to make money by providing valuable information to people who need it. It’s an exciting opportunity that will allow you to grow as a writer and entrepreneur while being your own boss.

Popular Forms of Content Writing Include:

  • Blog Posts.
  • Case Studies.
  • Email Templates.
  • Copywriting (ads, website copy).
  • Ghost Writing (content credited to other people).
  • User Guides.
  • eBooks.
  • Social Media content.

If you are new to content writing the internet is packed with great books and courses on this topic.

Some of our favorites resources on content writing are:

On Writing Well – a book by William Zinsser, will teach you how to write well. This book is packed with examples and will give you a clear understanding of the fundamentals of writing non-fiction.

Unlearn Essay Writing – by Julia McCoy is a great course for new writers. Julia’s course will teach you the fundamentals of online content writing. It also includes a ton of resources, templates, and tools you can use in your journey to becoming a successful content writer.

Writer’s Digest University – has everything, from writing workshops to self-paced courses, to help you boost your freelance content writing career.

Offer Consulting Services to Small Businesses

Consulting for small businesses it’s a great way to earn revenue. On top of that it gives you the ability to learn many of the ins and outs of running a successful business.

A business consultant is an expert in their field and can provide advice to companies that need some help growing or getting started. Consulting services can include a wide range of topics, including marketing, leadership, business development, product development, technology. The list can go on, it’s up to you to find what you excel at.

While traditionally a lot of the consulting services were done face to face, today this type of business can easily be done online through popular collaboration tools.

Some of our favorite collaboration and project management tools and solutions are:

  • Google Workspace (Google Meet, Google Drive, Google Sheets, Google Docs).
  • Microsoft 365 (Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Planner).
  • Airtable.
  • Atlassian Tools (Jira, Confluence, Trello).
  • Clubhouse Project Management.

Become a Virtual Assistant

Working as a virtual assistant (VA) offers the perfect opportunity to start your own business. You can work from home, set your own hours, and enjoy the flexibility of working with clients all over the world.

The requests for virtual assistants have been growing at a rapid pace, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic.

A virtual assistant is the perfect solution for companies that:

  • Need assistance with only a specific project.
  • Want to save time by delegating smaller tasks.
  • Want an extra set of hands without having to hire another employee.

As a virtual assistant you can do anything that a personal assistant would do:

  • Manage a company’s calendar.
  • Schedule appointments.
  • Manage their emails.
  • Respond to phone calls (using VoIP – Voice over IP).
  • Data entry.
  • Marketing and social media management.

Create & Sell Digital Products

Knowing where to start when dealing with a project outside of your area of expertise, can be overwhelming. Sure! There is a ton of information available online but research takes time and then you need to figure out how to implement what you’ve learned. That’s where experts and creative minds come in.

Digital products are becoming increasingly popular because they allow anyone with expertise in a specific process or department to share that knowledge with others who may not have the same level of experience.

If you have valuable insights to share or have a knack for creating digital assets, this is the perfect opportunity to create and sell your products online.

Online Business Ideas: Create and Sell Digital Products.

Start by doing a self-assessment. What are you passionate about, what do you have experience with, what are you secretly good at?

Once you have identified your top skills it’s time to start creating.

Popular Digital Products Ideas:

  • Online courses.
  • Templates (email, resumes, marketing, social media, brand awareness).
  • Calendars, planners, and organizers.
  • “Done for You” spreadsheets.
  • Frameworks.
  • Checklists.
  • Playbooks.
  • Workshops.
  • eBooks.
  • Online graphics.
  • Logos.
  • Digital art.

You can sell your digital products on popular marketplaces such as Creative Market, Etsy, Udemy, Skillshare, or, you can create your own online store.

Build an Online Store

If you would rather sell your digital products on your own website, without working with 3rd party websites, you can start your own online store.

The internet is a hotbed for business, with 7.9 million online businesses already in operation around the world! However, there is plenty more room to grow.

To build your online store:

  1. Identify your target customers – what industry are they in, what age group, which states/countries, what is their job function, what are their pain points.
  2. Purchase a domain name for your online store.
  3. Choose an eCommerce platform.
  4. Find a reliable hosting provider.
  5. Build and launch your online store.
  6. Work on your promotion and marketing strategy.

Check out our “Step-by-Step Guide To Starting an Online Store” for a detailed overview of these steps and all the things you need to consider when starting your online store:

Become a Creator on Patreon

You know those cool people on social media that have tons of followers and always seem to be having a great time? They always share small tidbits of valuable tips. But did you know many of them might also be doing awesome deep dives into those topics using Patreon?

If you are an influencer or a well-known speaker you can make money by becoming a content creator on Patreon. This membership platform makes it easy for creators to get paid and offers a great way of monetizing content online. Content creators earn monthly payouts from their supporters, called “patrons.”

You can create any type of content from early releases, exclusive content, and videos, podcasts, behind-the-scenes type of content, mini and micro-courses, templates, frameworks, and more.

Patreon allows creators to set up multiple tiers based on how much people pledge per month (the more you give, the better your rewards).

Some of our favorite Patreon creators are:

Michael Laws – the creator of “Teaching Tech” shares technology-related content, tips, and tutorials to ramp up your technology skills.

Shannon Morse – the creator of “ThreatWire” provides access to news about cybersecurity, privacy, and online threats in addition to exclusive rewards.

John Bonini – creates “Some Good Content” and shares valuable insights on everything from planning, writing, and optimizing content.

To start creating content on Patreon, simply choose one of their available plans.

Patreon Content Creator Plans

A Patreon University (Patreon U) is available to educate creators on how to use Patreon and run a successful business.

We hope these online business ideas inspire you to start your own company in 2021-2022. Whether you’re looking for a side hustle, or want to make the jump into full-time entrepreneurship, it all starts with an idea.

04 May

7 Ways To Improve Customer Loyalty and Retention

Last Updated on May 10, 2021 by Joanna Isac

Customer loyalty and retention play a key role in the success of any business.

But how can you build customer loyalty? What are some of the strategies to turn customers into your biggest advocates? We’ve got answers to these questions and more!

This blog post will teach you some of the best practices to provide ongoing value and get loyal recurring customers.

Customer Loyalty vs. Customer Retention

Customer loyalty and customer retention are both concepts focused on strengthening your relationship with your customers and increasing revenues. The longer and stronger the relationship with customers is, the more revenues you are going to generate over time.

However, there is a significant difference between these two concepts.

What Is Customer Retention?

Customer retention is focused on preventing your customers from leaving by delivering ongoing value through products and services that address their pains and contribute to your customers’ success.

What Is Customer Loyalty?

Customer loyalty is a measure of how committed customers are to your company or brand.

Loyal customers are more likely to buy additional services from your company and stay with your company for a long time. Loyal customers are also your best brand advocates. They are also more likely to recommend your business to others, which can lead to new sales.

Generating strong customer loyalty will consequently increase customer retention.

How Can You Measure Customer Loyalty?

Net Promoter Scores (NPS) are a great way to measure customer loyalty. When you’re looking for quick feedback, this is the tool that will let you know how satisfied customers are with your services.

The NPS is a data-driven tool that measures customer loyalty by evaluating the willingness of customers to recommend their favorite brands. The term Net Promoter Score was created in 2003 by Fred Reichheld, a partner at Bain & Company. The team at NICE Satmetrix provided data to help find the best questions for measuring customer behavior.

Reichheld and the Bain team found that high scores on one specific question correlate with renewals and positive references!

Use Net Promoter Score to Determine Customer Loyalty and Retention

The results can be divided into three categories

  1. Promoters – Customers that rate you the highest, 9-10, are your loyal customers who are most likely to give you a positive review and have a high Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). These are called promoters.  
  1. Detractors – Customers that rate you between 0-6 are your detractors. They are the opposite of promoters and most likely to cancel and give you a negative review. 
  1. Passives – These are customers that rate you 7-8. They are satisfied for now, but they might just as easily leave if they get a better offer. Passives are not included in the NPS formula.

Net Promoter Score Formula

Net Promoter Score (NPS) Formula

Once you have the results of your survey, calculate the percentage of respondents from each category. Your Net Promoter Score is calculated using a simple equation: subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.

NPS it’s a great tool because it lets companies see who are their most loyal customers, and which customers are not getting the expected outcome.

Detractors are customers whom you should follow up with right away. Find out where you’ve missed the mark, what are their expectation and agree on a plan to solve these issues if you want to reduce churn.

7 Ways to Improve Customer Loyalty

  1. Deliver Excellent Customer Service.
  2. Offer an Affiliate (Referral) Program.
  3. Keep in Touch Through Company Newsletters.
  4. Be Active On Social Media Channels.
  5. Make Customers an Integral Part of Your Business.
  6. Build a Customer-Centric Culture.
  7. Encourage Customer Reviews.

Deliver Excellent Customer Service

If you want to build customer loyalty, it’s important that you offer great customer service 24/7. In today’s digital world, with global customer bases, having someone on staff 24/7 is no longer an option, it’s a requirement.

Customers are drawn in by friendly, knowledgeable employees who are able to quickly answer their questions and resolve the issues they have.

To deliver excellent customer service it’s important that you provide your employees with ongoing training related to your products and how to handle specific customer issues.

The main takeaway is this; providing great customer service will help your company stand out from the crowd and build customer loyalty.

Offer An Affiliate (Referral) Program

You’ve probably heard the saying “word of mouth is one of the best advertising methods.”

It’s true!

According to Nielsen’s 2015 Global Trust in Advertising report which polled more than 28,000 respondents in 56 countries, word-of-mouth is still one of the most powerful advertising methods.

In fact, a whopping 83% of respondents from all around the globe said they trust their friends’ or family’s opinions when making a purchase.

The best advertising you can have is a loyal customer.
Source: Shep Hyken, New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author via Twitter

Customers are your best brand advocates and love sharing their experiences with friends and family. Why not reward them for bringing in new business?

An affiliate or referral program is one of the best ways to build and increase brand loyalty. It’s an easy and rewarding way to get satisfied customers to talk about your business. With a referral program, you can easily spread more brand awareness and generate more revenues.

You can reward your affiliates by offering a commission on every sale that comes from their referrals or, reward them with a percentage of their next purchase. Either way, it’s a win-win situation for both parties involved.

Keep in Touch Through Company Newsletters

Another way of improving customer loyalty is by sending out regular company newsletters. Sending out a monthly or weekly newsletter will keep your customers up to date on what’s happening in your company.

What can you include in your company newsletter?

  • Relevant information about your products or services.
  • Helpful tutorials.
  • A summary of new blog posts.
  • New feature releases.
  • Customer use cases.
  • Updates about company events.
  • Contests or limited-time promotions.

PRO TIP: Newsletters are meant to be informative and helpful. Don’t use your newsletters just as a means of up-selling or further promoting your services. You have to be able to provide consistent value to your readers if you want to keep them engaged and turn them into loyal customers.

Be Active on Social Media Channels

Social media is a great way to keep your customers informed on your latest updates. It’s also a great way to keep them engaged with your company and services and stay top of mind.

PRO TIP: You don’t have to be on every social media platform. Find the platform(s) that your customers use more frequently and focus on those.

If you are a small business just getting started, it’s better to start with one single social media platform and focus on making that successful. Once you nail your social strategy on one platform you can expand to other social channels.

9 Ways You Can Build Customer Loyalty With Social Media

  1. Engage with other user’s posts.
  2. Respond to comments.
  3. Post updates about new products or services.
  4. Share updates from your blog post.
  5. Create contests.
  6. Offer promotions for social followers only.
  7. Share user guides or how-to tips.
  8. Create social proof by sharing photos/videos/testimonials from other satisfied customers.
  9. Keep your customers informed on industry trends by curating relevant content from other sources.

Don’t Miss Out! Follow Us on Facebook or LinkedIn for the Latest Updates From SoftSys Hosting.

Make Customers An Integral Part of Your Business

Every company has a team that’s in charge of testing new products and services. But who will better test your products than the actual users?

Your customers are the experts on their own needs. They know what they want from a product, what works for them, and what doesn’t. So why not make your customers’ feedback an integral part of your business?

Create better relationships with your customers by giving them the opportunity to contribute to the service roadmaps, beta-test new features before releasing them to the general public, and give them the tools to submit feature requests.

Take your customers’ feedback seriously and make them feel valued. You’ll be surprised how much more successful your company will become by listening to those who use your products most often!

Build a Customer-Centric Culture

Every company has its own distinct corporate culture that is shaped by a set of common beliefs and values. A customer-centric culture (also referred to as customer-first culture), creates an organization where customers are at the center of everything.

The internet it’s packed with stories and insights from companies who have been successful in building a customer-centric culture in their organizations. Companies such as Zappos have gained many loyal customers due to their focus on customer needs and customer excellence.

Make sure everyone is aligned across your organization and incentivized to deliver the outcome that your customer needs. The goal of your employees should not be to make the customer temporarily happy. The goal should be to solve their issues and provide the outcomes that will help your customers succeed.

PRO TIP: Whether in service value or support, always give your customers a little more than what you promise. This will help your customer feel valued and will increase customer loyalty.

Encourage Customer Reviews

Asking your customers for reviews can seem intimidating. You may be worried that you’ll come across as pushy, but the truth is that most people love to share their experiences with others. You just have to ask!

Another reason why companies don’t often ask for reviews is they are afraid of bad reviews. If you offer a high-quality product and service, you have nothing to worry about. Even if you get some negative reviews the majority of your customers will be happy to recommend your services if they are also getting value from them.

And the truth is every company will have a disgruntled customer who could leave a bad review. That doesn’t necessarily mean the company cannot be trusted. According to Bizibl Marketing, 95% of users suspect a company’s reviews are fake if they only see 5-star reviews.

Good or bad, make sure to respond to every review. This will show customers you care about their feedback and value their opinions.

What Is the Best Time To Ask for a Review?

Don’t ask for a review immediately after purchase. Give your customers a chance to use your product or service first. The best time to ask a customer to provide a review is right after you have assisted them with an issue or after or immediately after they have renewed their service.

You can also use a third-party app such as Trustpilot, G2, Reviews.io, Google My Business, and other tools to send review requests to long-time customers periodically.

Final Takeaways

Loyal customers are essential to the success of any business. They are your best advertising! To retain them, you need to be thoughtful about how you engage with your customers and provide ongoing value. The seven strategies we’ve outlined above will help you do just that!

30 Mar

Critical IT Infrastructure Required To Ensure Business Success

Last Updated on March 30, 2021 by Joanna Isac

It’s no secret that IT infrastructure plays a key role in the success of any business. Can you try picturing a scenario where your IT infrastructure that hosts your business-critical application or website fails? Imagine the time it would take to restore your data and apps. You may be losing thousands of dollars or even be out of business before you have a chance to be back online.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, businesses need to have a secure and reliable IT infrastructure in place.

Moreover, they need an IT infrastructure that is flexible enough to adapt to their ever-changing business needs, yet robust and resilient enough to withstand potential system disruptions.

What Is IT Infrastructure?

The term IT infrastructure refers to the underlying framework for how technology services are delivered. These technologies include servers, storage devices, routers, operating systems and software applications, and other tools that support business processes.

The purpose of a critical IT infrastructure is to ensure business continuity by ensuring that you can run your business smoothly without any glitches or interruptions.

What Are the Key Components of IT Infrastructure?

Every IT infrastructure has key components that need to work together. The two main groups are hardware and software:

Hardware – includes everything from facilities, data centers, servers, storage devices, network switches, routers, to the physical workstations or laptops.

Software – includes operating systems (OS), web applications such as PHP or Java applications, database systems such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress or Joomla, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) & more.

Types of IT Infrastructure

There are two primary types of IT infrastructure:

Traditional IT Infrastructure

A traditional IT infrastructure consists of physical servers and desktop computers that are typically installed on-premise for a single company or organization.

Benefits of Traditional IT Infrastructure

One of the major benefits of traditional IT infrastructure is increased security. With all hardware being set up on-premise and access being restricted, there are fewer risks for vulnerabilities. Increased data security and compliance requirements are the reasons why some organizations might still opt for this type of infrastructure.

On the other hand, it is more expensive to set up and maintain traditional IT infrastructure. It requires large upfront investments and a dedicated IT team within the organization that can maintain the infrastructure. Changes to resources or software upgrades are also not as flexible as with a cloud infrastructure.

Cloud Infrastructure

A cloud infrastructure, also referred to as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), is an infrastructure that can be provisioned and managed over the internet from anywhere in the world! IaaS it’s one of the three main types of cloud computing service models along with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). In a cloud infrastructure, hosting providers can deliver resources that are typically bound to physical hardware, virtually, in any location around the world that is accessible via the Internet. The process that makes this possible is known as virtualization technology.

Cloud IT Infrastructure

Benefits of Cloud Infrastructure

  • Lower Cost – A cloud infrastructure requires a lower upfront investment since the hosting provider is responsible for acquiring and maintaining the underlying hardware.
  • Flexible Commitments – Most hosting providers will offer flexible terms of contracts with monthly, quarterly, or annual billing options. Some services might even include a pay-as-you-go billing model.
  • Improved Agility and Flexibility – Thanks to the cloud, you can now have your software and application up-and-running in no time. That means small businesses and start-ups can remain agile with their IT needs while also being able to use resources at a much lower cost than if they had invested in traditional IT infrastructure. Similarly, businesses can use their time more wisely by being able to quickly set up multiple virtual machines from different locations around the world. In other words, you no longer have to deal with all the heavy lifting that comes with setting up and maintaining your own servers.
  • More Efficient Resource Scaling – In a cloud infrastructure, you can easily scale your business without having to worry about what type of equipment you’ll be using down the line. You can scale servers vertically (upgrade specific resources) or horizontally (add more servers) as needed. When you need more computing resources for your business, you or your hosting provider can easily upgrade/downgrade resources, typically with just a few clicks.

Minimize Downtime, Maximize Success!

Network availability, or uptime, is one of the critical features to look for when choosing a web hosting provider. A study performed by Gartner in 2014, estimated the average cost of downtime to be $5,600 per minute, well over $300K per hour.

What is the cost of downtime

These numbers are reinforced by a 2019 survey by Information Technology Intelligence Consulting (ITIC). In their 2019 Global Server Hardware Server OS Reliability Report, which polled over 1,000 businesses worldwide, 86% of the respondents indicated that one hour of downtime can cost their organization $300.000 or more.

Furthermore, from the 1,000 businesses polled by ITIC, almost 300 indicated the cost of one hour of downtime exceeds $1 million.

Best Practice: To maintain critical business functions or quickly recover in the event of an unplanned downtime all companies and organizations should have a Business Continuity Plan (BCP).

Why Every Business Needs An Effective Business Continuity Plan

A business continuity plan will outline the procedures that you need to follow to be up and running in the event of a major infrastructure disaster or unplanned downtime.

There is a common misconception that natural disasters are unlikely to affect a datacenter. Anyone who has ever lost data due to natural disasters knows it can happen at any time. The recent fire at the OVH datacenter in Strasbourg, France is a clear example of this.

Having a business continuity plan can save your business not only millions of dollars but years’ worth of work.

Tip: Think of a business continuity plan as a checklist that you can follow to bring your website and applications back online in the event of a major natural disaster or cyberattack.

Five Key Services to Improve Website Availability

Along with the business continuity plan you should consider the following key services when thinking of your IT infrastructure:

Service Level Agreement (SLA) – Your web hosting provider should have an SLA of at least 99.9%. Anything less than “three nines” is something to be concerned about.

Redundancy – Verify that the hardware that your IT infrastructure runs on has an additional redundant layer to eliminate single points of failure.

Uptime Monitoring – Having a monitoring system in place will help you track availability and know right away if there’s an issue. SNMP and PING are commonly used at the server or router level while advanced monitoring tools can be set up for HTTP/SMTP/SQL services.

Backup Policy – Make sure you always have at least one automated backup policy with multiple days or even weeks of backup retentions.

Best Practice: In addition to automated backups keep also an additional local copy of your critical data. You can never have too many backups!

Disaster Recovery Plans (DRP) – In a major disaster, such as the OVH datacenter fire, or unplanned downtime you will want to have a Disaster Recovery Plan in place. These can vary based on an organization’s requirements.

An effective way to implement a disaster recovery plan is by using replicated servers. With replicated servers, you have an identical copy of your primary server that can be spun up in the event of a disaster. Servers can be replicated:

  • In the same datacenter – which would ensure that your websites are up and running in the event in which the underlying hardware that hosts your primary server fails.
  • In different datacenters/locations – this adds an additional layer of uptime protection, in case of a major disaster that affects the entire datacenter, as in the case of the OVH fire.

The Disaster Recovery Plan and Business Continuity Plan are both designed with maximum availability in mind in case of a major disaster or cyberattack. The primary difference between them is WHEN they are implemented. A Business Continuity Plan will focus on keeping your business up for as long as possible DURING a major incident while a Disaster Recovery Plan is focused on bringing your website/applications up as soon as possible AFTER a major incident.

Conclusion

Today’s businesses need more than just an IT team, they need a reliable hosting infrastructure and the tools and means to ensure continuous data availability.

Hosting critical websites and applications can often be a burden for businesses, but it doesn’t have to be. By having a Disaster Recovery Plan and Business Continuity Plan plan in place you can ensure that your website is always up and running in the event of a disaster.

About SoftSys Hosting

At SoftSys Hosting we use 100% redundant Juniper network devices that eliminate single points of failure and can handle more packets with higher throughput.

With a team of 24×7 in-house experienced sysadmins and a 99.9% uptime guarantee, we take care of your entire IT requirements so that you can focus on growing your business.

If you are looking for high availability and disaster recovery solutions from a reliable web hosting provider, please get in touch. We’d love to learn more about your business and provide solutions that will empower your team to accelerate growth.