Interland Debuts New Small Business Services

By Patricia Fusco | Posted June 24, 2003

There's basically two ways to grow a business — acquire rival firms or acquire new customers. It's difficult to do both at the same time because growth by acquisition requires extending resources toward integrating old customers into the new fold. Organic growth, actively finding and serving new customers, requires an entirely different set of resources.

This explains why Interland, one of the leading providers of Web hosting and online services to small- and medium-sized businesses, recently reallocated its resources. The Atlanta-based Web hosting firm has shifted its priorities away from buying other businesses toward focusing on how it can provide new, exciting services to all its customers — old and new alike.

Interland recently debuted two new services that Don Bulens, Interland senior vice president of mass-market services, said are just what small businesses ordered.

"We systematically surveyed our Site Builder customers to understand what they need to do online — we wanted to understand their goals and learn about what they want to accomplish online," Bulens said. "From these surveys and focus groups, we developed a fundamental set of goals that small businesses expect to fulfill from establishing on online presence. "

According to Interland's research, the top priority that motivates a small business to develop a website is to generate new sales leads. Bulens said that 90 percent of small businesses simply want to find new customers through the Web.

"Almost all small businesses want to generate new leads and get new customers through their websites," Bulens said. "Seventy-five percent want to use the Internet to more effectively to market their goods and services to existing customers. Seventy percent want to share business information with customers, and only half want to sell products and services online. Four years ago, this figure ran around 100 percent."

Bulens said making marketing goods and services to existing customers a top priority shows how savvy small businesses are about using the World Wide Web.

"The fact that three-quarters of small businesses with websites want to better serve and market their goods and services to their existing customers is crucial because most Web hosting providers hadn't thought about this in the past," Bulens said. "Many small businesses want to stay local, not go global — they want to strengthen their relationships with existing customers."

Of course, Interland also needed to understand what stops small businesses from establishing an online presence. When it comes to barriers for developing a website, Bulens said it's a familiar story of time, know-how and money.

"Of the small businesses we surveyed that don't have websites, 80 percent said they did not have enough time to develop a site," Bulens said. "Two-thirds said they don't have the knowledge required to build a site and another two-thirds said they don't have the money."

Most of the small businesses surveyed thought that developing a website would cost about $2,500. According to the Boston-based research firm the Yankee Group, the average cost for small businesses (those with fewer than 20 employees) to set up and develop a Web site is $1,477. Interland figures it can remove the price barrier for small businesses that want to develop a Web presence with its new design service — the new design program starts at $399.

"Our design services are a lot like a motor vehicle factory," Bulens said. "The more sites we create the more we can drive our production costs down."

Interland's team of highly trained website developers use Site Builder to design a unique website and then hand over the keys the small business to update and maintain the site. Site Builder technology incorporates a series of templates with suggested placement for content, images and other elements for a website. Its point-and-click simplicity has proven popular among Interland's customers and partners — more than 4 million businesses have used the design system to build a website.

Interland's Design Services are cost-effective and time saving solutions for businesses that want to kick-start their online presence with a professionally designed website or online storefront — everything from initial consultation to design, implementation, and ongoing support is available from Interland at prices small businesses can afford.

The Interland Design Services team provides counsel on defining the content, services and features that should be included to best represent each unique small business. Through a comprehensive interview with the customer and examination of current marketing collateral, Interland's Design Services team eliminates the guesswork normally associated with outlining, creating, implementing, and maintaining an effective Web presence.

Interland Design Services are available in a basic or e-commerce package. The basic package includes an easy-to-grow five-page, professional Web site, complete with three interactive features such as mapping, directions and weather reports. Basic hosting and associated e-mail services start at 22.95 a month.

In addition to all the features included in the basic design package, Interland's e-commerce package provides the ability to conduct secure sales transactions on the Web. Design services for a five-page online storefront start at $479.

The e-commerce package is available as part of Interland's Business Solutions. The e-commerce sites are built with E-store Builder, another Interland-built technology, enabling businesses to easily open up a shop on the Web. Interland designs, builds and integrates the original storefront as part of the core Web presence for a small business.

Interland doesn't stop helping customers once the site has been turned over to them — that's where Interland's new online marketing services come into play. Last week, Interland teamed up with Google to provide part of its new online marketing programs designed to help small businesses gain visibility online.

Interland customers that are already participating its e-commerce business solution program automatically receive the Google AdWords offer as part of the overall service portfolio. Basic users can add Interland's Online Marketing service to its mix for $44.95 a month. The Online Marketing service comes with a variety of basic e-marketing tools, such as e-mail list building and tips on how to use it, plus a search engine submission program and the Google AdWords program.

Google AdWords is a keyword-based advertising program that enables businesses to instantly create and place targeted advertisements on Google, as well as its partner sites including AOL, Ask Jeeves and many others. Interland customers get $50 worth of keyword advertising as part of the new marketing program.

Google AdWords is the largest and fastest growing search advertising program in the industry, offering cost-per-click (CPC) pricing, around-the-clock online support tools and performance reports. With Google AdWords, businesses of any size and in any industry can quickly and easily market their products and services to potential customers locally or around the world. The program provides businesses with immediate exposure and measurable results. Customers simply choose keywords associated with their products or services and when a potential customer enters those keywords in Google or one of its partners, their ad appears on the search results page. There are no monthly minimums or time commitments, making this an ideal online marketing tool for smaller businesses.

By providing new design and marketing services, Interland is becoming far more than just another place to park a domain name. With Interland's new design and marketing services, it has never been easier or more affordable for a small business to put their business online. Interland seems to understand that time and money are vital assets to small businesses.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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