William Toll - Marketing Pro in Boston and Berlin

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Activate Your Employee Brand Ambassadors In Social Media

Last week at HostingCon – the web hosting and cloud computing industry’s largest yearly event, I presented a session on Social Media in the Sales and Marketing track.  The slides and some follow up comments can be found below.

 

I think the slides tell the story I shared in the 50 minutes I engaged with the audience.  I asked for participation and got several great questions, mainly focused on training and managing employees.  I also received some great Tweets from several leaders at organizations of all sizes.

Andi Mann

https://twitter.com/AndiMann/status/227448239547367424

Anders Trolle-Schultz

https://twitter.com/TrolleSchultz/status/227154636925194241

Jeff Barr

https://twitter.com/jeffbarr/status/227065078233579520

David Gallant

https://twitter.com/davidgallant/status/227050912676450304

I was happy that we only briefly touched on the tools- and remained focused on how to implement a program in the following steps:

  • Listen
  • Engage
  • Inspire
The companies that consistently benefit from the social media programs follow those three tenants closely.  What about your organization, are you leveraging your employes and evangelists?

 

HostingCon 2012 – Web Hosting and Cloud Services Converge #HostingCon

HostingCon 2012  is a Conference and Trade Show For the Web Hosting and Cloud Services Industry

I am looking forward to HostingCon 2012.  This will be my eighth HostingCon – I remember the very first one very well!  For the second year in a row I am advisory board member and I can attest that this year the session selection process was very well organized.  We all collaborated to ensure that the conference is full of educational sessions.

I submitted two sessions, one talk and one panel.  I am pleased that both were selected.  Plus, I live in in Boston, just 4 blocks from the convention center. Please join us for the sessions below!

Sales and Marketing Track: Monday 7/16 3pm at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, Massachusetts

Session Title: Energize and Incentivize Your Employee Brand Ambassadors

I am super excited about this talk, and am looking forward to sharing the slides with a broad audience.  I have been thinking about a session like this since 2009 when I was running marketing for NaviSite’s SMB business unit.  It’s been great to participate in the explosion of B2B content and social media marketing, and I truly believe that employees are the most un-leveraged assets a company has.  I also feel that many traditional Web Hosters are far behind many of the pure Cloud Providers in this aspect of their marketing programs.  Hopefully we can have a great session and learn from each other!

Abstract:

2011 proved that even the smallest companies can have a giant voice. Whether your firm has one or 3,000 employees, there are simple ways you can activate your employees to engage online and produce content. The days of posting spammy articles and having a hard-sell approach are over. Many hosters lost significant traffic and SEO rankings in 2011. The future is socially influenced search results, and your team must be active, or your message and website won’t be found. In this session, William Toll will share his methods for activating and incentivizing employees, whether they are in marketing, operations, support, or beyond, to help drive traffic, visibility and ultimately sales in 2012 and beyond.

SaaS and ISV Panel At HostingCon 2012: Tuesday 3pm ET at the Hynes Convention Center, Boston, Massachusetts

Having HostingCon in Boston this year is like having all of your worlds converge.  I am fortunate to live in Boston, home to over 900 startups in the region.  We have a rich and vibrant startup community here in Boston and I am fortunate to have participated in dozens of events, meetups, conferences and more.  I have met dozens of founders and had so many business case and ptich conversations that I often feel energized from the passion of community.

Many of these startups have relationships with Cloud and Web Hosting providers and at this session it all comes together.  I reached out to several startups and asked them to come to HostingCon and meet their infrastructure provider and share their thoughts on their vendors.  It’s going to be a great opportunity for hoster’s to learn what is working and what is not for their customers in the startup space.  Participants include:

Jeff Seibert, CEO and Founder of Crashlytics (Amazon Customer, based in Cambridge, MA)

Devon Hillard, Founder of Spark::red (SoftLayer Customer, based in Boston)

Claudia Santoro, CTO, Vsnap (Rackspace customer, based in Boston)

Michael Klett, Co-Founder & Technical Lead, Chargify (Managed Hosting Customer, based in Boston)

Phil Stanhope, VP, Engineering & Operations , Yottaa  (Amazon, Other Hosting Provivers, Colocation, based in Boston)

Moderator:
William Toll, Marketing Consultant, Hosting Industry Veteran and HostingCon Advisory Board Member

From the Front-Lines: Boston Area SaaS and ISV Leaders Share Wisdom With Their Hosting Providers

Abstract

The Boston area is one of the top areas in the world for software innovation, from startups to established enterprises. The Boston area is full of companies that are building the next generation of SaaS and Cloud companies, designed, architected and built in the cloud. Every year, HostingCon brings together the world’s leading service providers of infrastructure and services that modern software and services are built on. This panel of Boston area technology leaders will share their insight into how they selected a cloud or hosting provider and what their ideal relationship is like or could be like. The panel will feature a mix of companies and cover topics such as: support and SLA agreements, security and compliance, APIs and marketing opportunities between hosting providers and their customers.

Be sure to follow the hashtag on Twitter #HostingCon  If you are at the show, be sure to say hi!  I’ll share the slide decks after the conference.

William

ProductCamp Boston 2012 Expectations

There are few events every year that exceed my expectations like ProductCamp Boston has two years in a row.

ProductCamp Boston 2011

ProductCamp Boston 2011 at Microsoft Research & Development Center

ProductCamp Boston is a great day of learning, exploring new ideas and ways of looking at things and meeting people that leave lasting impressions.  It’s an unconference for Product Managers and Product Marketers.  If you have not been to an unconference, be sure to look for one in your community.  (An unconference is a participant driven conference, with a crowdsource approach to topics and speakers).  If you live here in Boston, be sure to register for #PCampBoston 2012, it will be held on Saturday June 9th.

 

productcamp boston

At my first PCampBoston, I lead a talk on Product Management, Product Marketing, and Marcom, and the new fluidity in the roles and definitions.  I shared my experience in moving between the roles and how I was fortunate to have worked for employers that supported these roles.  Because I was leading a talk at an “unconference”, I invited audience members up to the front to share their experience and or how their organization is structured.  The participants shared their experiences – and it seemed that from consumer goods to chemicals to software, we were in a transitional phase – where strict Product Management roles and responsibilities were blended with those of Product Marketing.

Having run Product Management and Product Marketing teams I find the dynamic between the two roles fascinating as we move further into the age of the consumer.  There has never been a time where consumers were in more control of the message and buying process than we have today.  Social Media is opening the communication floodgates where Product Managers, Product Marketers and customers all meet.

The unprecedented ability we have to “listen” to the buyer is driving an increasing amount of the strategy and roadmaps that Product Managers are planning for their product lines.  No longer do we need to have the same level of obsession over surveys and expensive market research studies.  From simple Tweets to blog posts and comments – Product Managers can see into the minds and wishes of their target customers like never before.

Product Marketers are also gaining from a windfall of content being created both by customers, and other influencers.  From analysts who are more free to share some of their thoughts publicly to thought leaders in almost every field, Product Marketers have access to a great amount of dialog in their industry. Product Marketers and Managers are engaging in these conversations and shaping the future of their industry.  The natural language used by buyers to explain their problems and needs is being translated into the content that drives modern content marketing programs.

As the excitement builds around PCampBoston 2012, I look forward to wrapping up a talk I am preparing for it.  With any luck, :-) my talk will get voted in and we can have a dialog on the topic of Social Media and employee ambassadors.

(Disclosure, I am on the marketing team and running the social media programs for ProductCamp Boston 2012)

Parallels Summit 2012 – The App Economy Comes to Web Hosting

This post was originally published on theWHIR on February 21st 2012 http://www.thewhir.com/blog/parallels-summit-2012-the-app-economy-comes-to-web-hosting

The Yottaa team has just returned from the Parallels Cloud Summit 2012. Parallels is one of the leading platforms that web hosting providers build their businesses on.  Whether it’s a small hoster with a single server running Parallels Plesk Panel, or it’s a large provider with thousands of servers and millions of active websites running Parallels Automation, Parallels’ has a tremendous ecosystem.

Backstory

At the summit I experienced a new level of excitement in an industry that I’ve been a part of for more than a decade.

I have been incredibly fortunate to have led marketing and product efforts at some of the biggest hosting providers in the world.  At each provider I was part of a team that truly “got it.”  So as I listened to presenters from Parallels, Tucows, SoftLayer, Gartner and beyond convey succinctly what we all know: hosting was cloud before the word cloud existed, and the industry has always been focused on the cross-sell and upsell.

Back in the 1990’s the second largest hosting provider in the world was ValueWeb (now Hostway), co-founded by John Enright (now at HostMySite). I was lucky to start my career in the Web hosting industry working for John.  We were pioneers.  We were the first hosting company that had a fully integrated and automated provisioning for an E-Commerce account.  New customers could signup online – and we automatically provisioned their domains, website space, DNS, FTP accounts, email accounts, databases, Miva Merchant shopping cart software, SSL certificates, and merchant accounts.  Customers could be online and selling their products within minutes.  We never stopped adding complementary services like Constant Contact email marketing services, blogging software, website templates, photo gallery software – even online marketing and web design professional services.

At scale these services created a passionate customer base that was successful on the Web.  With high ARPUs (average revenue per user), low churn, and customer service excellence, the Affinity brands of ValueWeb and Gate.com, were leading the industry. With our comprehensive integrated suite of applications, hundreds of thousands of businesses built successful, revenue-generating web presences.

Now every host can win in the “App Economy”

Apps and add-on services have always been the keystone of the industry.  At every hosting conference I’ve been to, analysts from 451 Research, Gartner, Microsoft and others have pleaded with hosts to expand their offerings.  For years these pleas fell on deaf ears.  Most hosts continued to focus on “power, ping, and pipe.”  Millions of dollars of add-on revenue was left on the table as SMBs acquired these applications and services through other channels.

Sure, back then the world was not ready for apps and marketplaces, until Apple launched the iTunes app store alongside the iPhone.  Sure, this was also before the transition from desktop and client-server software to SaaS.  This was also before the growth in APIs, SOA and mashups opened the door for frictionless innovation in apps and their distribution.

But now that market infrastructure is in place, it’s time for hosters to take what ValueWeb did back in the 1990’s and extend it to millions of hosting customers around the world. Parallels APS (application packaging standard) has for the first time truly made that easy and lucrative.  This is exactly what we needed in hosting today, and a fresh team at Parallels is enabling it.

Now the fun starts.  It’s time for hosters to package up, bundle and cross-sell services like backup, SEO, social media services, website acceleration and CDN services, hosted PBX,  mobile enablement, hosted desktops and more.  As telcos enter the space, MSPs expand their offerings, and SMBs move from traditional on-premise solutions, hosting providers and their resellers only stand to grow their revenues and deepen their customer relationships.

The team here at Yottaa is extremely excited to be a part of the hosting industry and the Parallels ecosystem. 2012 will be a year of growth for hosters in the Parallels ecosystem and we’ll all see greater revenues and deeper customer relationships.

Oh, and we can’t wait for many of you to come to our home town, Boston,  in July for HostingCon 2012.  You are all going to get to meet some of the great startups, ISVs and infrastructure companies from the Boston area.

Part II Parallels Cloud Summit 2012 What I Want to Learn and Chat About

This post was originally published on theWHIR: http://www.thewhir.com/blog/part-ii-parallels-summit-2012-what-i-want-to-learn-and-chat-about

Last week I published Part I of my goals for my participation at the Parallels Cloud Summit next week in Orlando.  It’s always a great event and this year promises to be the best yet, in terms of keynotes and the quality of the attendees.  The Web Hosting ecosystem is attracting a large amount of attention during the transition to cloud.  Last week I covered the Shared, VPS and Dedicated Hosting spaces.  This week it’s Cloud (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) and E-commerce.

 

Cloud IaaS

 

The market for Public, Private, Hybrid IaaS solutions are growing and scaling rapidly.  Yes, Amazon has massive lift in their wings, but Hosting.com, SoftLayer, GoGrid, Rackspace,  SingleHop, BlueLock, iNetU, etc.  are all growing just fine.  Again, 2012 will be a year of services. Services that make the cloud and the applications hosted on it, more integrated, more secure and more useful. Companies that focus on services are killing it.  For example, I think about the success that FireHost is having with their cloud and the security services they offer like log management and two-factor authentication. The market for Cloud Computing in the SMB will continue to grow rapidly for a few years. It will also remain somewhat fragmented.  This McKinsey article sums up the fragmentation nicely.

 

Cloud – PaaS

PaaS platforms are undoubtedly maturing at a rapid pace.  While they are to date rather removed from the traditional “Web Hosting” ecosystem, I suspect that will change a lot in 2012. We have one our ecosystem’s own, Microsoft, gaining some momentum and broadening the appeal of Azure. Other leaders in PaaS including, Jelastic’s Java platform, VMware’s cloud foundry, AppHarbor, Salesforce.com’s Heroku should all be watched closely by hosting providers. At the Parallels event, I am interested in learning about hosters that are embracing the PaaS offerings and building products that incorporate PaaS features or integrate directly with platforms like Azure.  There is a big opportunity to partner with these rapidly growing and developer friendly platforms.

 Cloud – SaaS

Email and collaboration solutions paved the way for SaaS as some of the earliest offerings.  Countless offerings have been built on the Parallels platform.  In 2012 we are now in an age where multiple SaaS applications are being integrated.  If you are Salesforce.com and need to integrate a new SaaS app, you can simply buy another SaaS app provider.  If you are a SaaS company with a point solution, 2012 will be an opportunity to add features or integrate with other SaaS applications.

 

2012 will provide plenty of examples of one SaaS app integrating with another.  Companies like Backupify exemplify this trend and are built on it—but what about the hosting ecosystem of SaaS application providers? I think applications from companies like MyHosting.com, Apptix, AppRiver, VARDynamics and Fpweb.net could be a spring board into other applications and business processes.  Sure, email archiving and security have been a part of these offerings for years, but in 2012 we will see more CRM platforms and BI tools become integrated.  As I observe HubSpot, Marketo, ZenDesk, and the dozens of other SaaS apps that are taking the SMB space by storm, I wonder: will these offerings join the hosting and Parallels ecosystems?

I am excited to hear that Parallels will be announcing additional applications at the Summit this year and will be sharing their vision for where APS (Application Packaging Standard) is going.  There are so many great SaaS applications beyond email, collaboration, website building and marketing automation.  Examples include MailChimp, UserVoice, Get Satisfaction. One area of great interest to me, and of great confusion for most SMBs is how to leverage SaaS solutions for Social Media. There are numerous Facebook page builders, Facebook app builders, Social Media management tools and reporting tools available.  I can imagine a hoster adding services to their portfolio of offerings like GaggleAMP or Sprout Social.

 E-commerce:

E-commerce is exploding.  This last holiday season set records almost every day from Black Friday to the last day of shipping before the holiday.  We have gone from having a handful of shopping cart platforms like Miva, Pinnacle Cart, ShopSite and Magento to having a growing list of rapidly growing full service e-commerce offerings from companies like Volusion, Shopify, ProStores and BigCommerce.  E-commerce hosting is where all the worlds collide: hosting, shopping cart applications, security services,  3rd party-add on applications and more.  After this holiday season, I would be interested in hearing from hosters that are seeing growth in their e-commerce offerings.

 In Summary:

I am very much looking forward to the Parallels Summit and the opportunity to continue these conversations with fellow attendees.  I’ll be at the event with the Yottaa team, and we are eager to meet our existing hosting partners like Jess Coburn, CEO of the Windows Cloud Hosting company, Applied Innovations as well as new potential partners.

 

What about you?  What do you want to learn and chat about at Parallels Summit?  Comment below to tweet @utollwi.  I would love to hear your thoughts.

#ParallelsCloud Summit – What I Want To Discuss and Learn

This post was originally published on theWHIR http://www.thewhir.com/blog/parallels-summit-2012-what-i-want-to-learn-and-chat-about-part-i

 

Wow! another year has passed and the hosting industry is not just surviving in the face of the Cloud, but finding its firm foundation at the center of it.
Shared, VPS, Dedicated and Cloud – all of these hosting markets are in transition, and many of the hosting providers that are leading the charge will be at the Parallels Summit.

Shared Web Hosting

Let’s start with Shared hosting, a market I’ve been passionate about since my employment at great companines like ValueWeb – Affinity, (aka HostWay), NaviSite and Verio.  Shared hosting has been and always will be the bread and butter (read: the profit center) for the big hosts.  Even large enterprise hosting providers realize this, as evidenced by last year’s re-birth of HostMySite by Hosting.com.

Beyond the continuation of the Endurance International roll-up strategy and the Vistaprint acquisition of Webs.com, what makes me most excited about the shared space are apps. We are in an app economy. Almost any “How to start your small business” article says to “get a website and start a blog,” and many of these articles mention WordPress, Drupal and others.  With Parallels Plesk Panel and Parallels Business Automation making it simpler to role out niche application-based hosting plans, why are so many hosts reluctant to follow this strategy?

The real key for shared hosts is to leverage their strategic position with small businesses to help those customers not just have a website or a blog, but have a successful one. Today’s “content marketing” and social media marketing strategies are all about driving visitors to websites with valuable, shareable content.  That means getting the buyers to your site, getting them to learn from your site, and getting them to interact with your site. In other words, getting them to trust your company enough to buy not just hosting, but the whole suite of services.

If I were a shared hosting business leader today, here’s what I would ask my team: “what are we doing to make our customers successful”? What additional services can we offer that will not just increase revenue and decrease churn, but genuinely make our customers successful?” Have you seen the current TV commercials for Web.com, Network Solutions, and Intuit, the message is all about the apps and services, it’s not just web hosting. Several vendors can help shared hosters help their customers be more successful. Examples include Mobile website enablement services from Unity Mobile or website acceleration services from Yottaa, my employer, spring to mind.

VPS + Dedicated

Having worked at a large enterprise managed hosting provider (NaviSite) where the average customer spent thousands of dollars per month (and some hundreds of thousands) I am closely following the slowing of growth in “un-managed hosting.”  Unmanaged dedicated and VPS plans had their place in a pre-cloud world and are still great foundations for other businesses, like hosting companies.  But we have to admit that the majority of today’s new applications and new startups are architected for, and deployed on, public clouds of the IaaS and PaaS types.  I want to learn from and talk with dedicated hosting providers and their plans for new revenue streams and customer retention.

In part II I’ll share my thoughts on what I want to learn at the Parallels Summit 2012 in regards to Cloud (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) and Ecommerce hosting segments.  In the meantime, leave some comments below on what you want to learn and talk about at the Parallels Summit 2012!

Accelerating Ecommerce Revenue With Social Media

I was invited to speak at a seminar for ecommerce site owners which focused on the customer being an asset.  I gave two talks, one about ecommerce and website speed, with a Yottaa focus and the other about how to leverage social media to accelerate ecommerce revenue.

My social media talk focused on a survey of ecommerce websites and their use of Social Media tools to drive referrals and engagement with buyers.  Using Amazon as a benchmark the talk reviewed several websites in Denmark.  The presentation also left attendees with a strategy and process for moving forward with social media by listening, engaging and inspiring their ecommerce website visitors.

Based on feedback during the day long seminar, I believe there is a lot of interest in harnesses the power of Social Media to drive customer engagement and revenue, however there is no doubt a lack of knowledge on how to proceed.  SaaS-IT has some great programs that can help companies in Europe move forward with a program for growth.

Your Customer Your Asset Seminar, Copenhagen Denmark

http://np.netpublicator.com/?id=n76801379

Event Website: Your Customer, Your Asset - Seminar on how to ensure that customers act as anticipated or complete the purchase when they interact with you online.

Date: November 28, 2011

Location: Copenhagen Denmark – Auditorium Edvard Thomsens Vej 10, St. 2300 Copenhagen S

Sponsor: DIBS Payment Services – the Nordics leading provider of payment services.

Organizer: SaaS-IT – An established SaaS Consultancy that helps ISVs, Service Providers and the IT channel leverage the new SaaS and Cloud ecosystem.  My good friends Anders Trolle-Shultz and Vagn Kohler are the principles of SaaS-IT and my contacts for this event.

Accelerating Ecommerce Revenue with Social Media: Slideshare

 

Photos: 

William Toll, VP, Marketing Yottaa

William Toll, VP, Marketing at Yottaa

Photo by: Flemming Eiberg http://www.linkedin.com/in/flemmingeiberg

 

Your Customer Your Asset Seminar Copenhagen Denmark Nov 28 2011

Attendees at Your Customer, Your Asset Seminar in Copenhagen Denmark Nov 28 2011

Photo by: William Toll

Stop Online Piracy Act: What You Need to Know [INFOGRAPHIC]

Stop Online Piracy Act: What You Need to Know [INFOGRAPHIC].  - Mashable

 

Sign The Petition at SaveHosting.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Event: Your Customer – Your Asset

I am excited to announce an event for B2B and B2C professionals “Your Customer – Your Asset“.  It will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark on Monday November 28th, 2011.  The focus is ensuring customers complete their intent to purchase online.

I will be presenting two sessions:

  • Understanding How Ecommerce Revenue and Website Speed Correlate
  • Accelerating Ecommerce Revenue with Social Media

Social Media and the empowerment it bestows to the consumer is bringing disruption across every industry – in countries across the world. Ecommerce retailers the world over are rapidly adopting social commerce tech­niques to leverage employees, partners and customers to share stories, recommendations and interact with influencers.

In these two sessions I will show how ecommerce websites that leverage the power of social networks to drive word of mouth can drive higher conversions, average order sizes and customer satisfaction.  I’ll also show how adding social components to a website and shopping cart do not have to make the website slower. Faster websites have higher conversions, average order sizes and are more likely to be shared and generate repeat visits.

More information on the event can be found in this brochure:

The sponsors and speakers at the event include:

DIBS Payment Services

SaaS-iT – SaaS Consultancy

Yottaa – Website Performance Services

Convince Interactive – Digital Marketing Bureau

iHedge – Software Analysis Firm

Mimecast – Email Management Services

More Information About The Event Can Be Found On This LinkedIN Event Page:

http://events.linkedin.com/Customer-Asset/pub/842630

 

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