TL; DR: Ionblade offers a comprehensive set of global hosting services and website management tools, including application design and domain management, through its four Tier 3 datacenters. One of Ionblade’s key differentiators is its affordable managed support plans that help customers solve issues in a fraction of the time that it may take with other hosts. The company also aims to edge out competitors with its nimble rollout of new technologies that enable customers to more quickly leverage the latest innovations.
As B2B commerce prepares to enter another decade, research suggests that customer experience is poised to overtake both price and product quality as a key brand differentiator. In the hosting industry, Pasadena, California-based Ionblade has built a successful business model that satisfies that new dynamic.
Ionblade emphasizes superior levels of support and responsiveness for its wide array of hosting services — which it also prices competitively. The company strives to provide a superior level of service for all tiers of its products — matched only by the premium tiers offered by other hosting providers. That dedication results in high satisfaction and growth within a crowded industry.
And Ionblade has been around long enough to understand the value of organic growth in the hosting industry.
With a corporate lineage that dates back to 2008, the company has built out its IT estate in line with the growth of its customer base. From its four Tier 3 datacenters, Ionblade offers most of the services today’s global businesses need, including shared, managed, dedicated, VPS, and cloud hosting, among others.
The company provides additional service layers with its portfolio of website building and management options. Ionblade offers webmaster support, app design, and other value-added tools — including an SEO suite and SSL protection. The host even provides web domain registration and management to round out its comprehensive portfolio.
But even against that backdrop of services and tools, Ionblade’s support still stands out for many modern businesses that need solutions fast.
“Customers who have moved over to us say they’re accustomed to up to 72-hour waits to have support requests serviced,” said Mark Stathatos, Ionblade Business Development Lead. “That’s a long wait if you have a website problem that is hurting your business. Ionblade gets issues resolved in a fraction of that time.”
Ionblade emerged from its European parent when it saw the opportunity to take its successful hosting model across the Atlantic. Its team saw an underserved market and other hosting companies unwilling to deliver high levels of customer support at non-premium prices.
“The breakthrough came in 2012-2013, when we saw a lot of U.S. hosting clients not being well serviced by their hosting providers,” Mark said. “So we replicated the strategy that had worked well in Europe. We don’t offer the lowest price with cut-rate service levels. Instead, our strength is in our reasonable prices — but with really, really good customer support.”
As the company took off, it expanded its service portfolio to include virtual private servers, dedicated servers, and cloud hosting. And businesses in the U.S. quickly began to recognize the benefits of that responsive, affordable support.
According to a Zendesk survey, 72% of respondents blame their bad customer service interactions on having to explain their problems to multiple people over successive calls. That frustration also applies to B2B clients, as wait times can significantly impact revenue and customer retention.
“We looked at our competitors — especially large hosters — and found what was lacking came down to customer support,” Mark said.
“It seemed discounted prices necessarily entailed sub-standard support fulfillment. With some of those providers, you could place successive support request calls and speak to a different person each time.”
Some hosting providers enter the market believing that their services will yield stable and assured revenue streams, and that rapid IT estate growth will facilitate customer acquisition. But the risk is in not keeping up with the technological evolutions that impact the industry.
Some hosts build out large datacenters, but while they’re busy finding customers, some new, game-changing tech renders their assets obsolete.
Ionblade has avoided that scenario by preparing for the future. According to Mark, slow growth equates to stable growth. Plus, smaller hosting providers can often add value and win customers in ways that their bigger rivals can’t.
It comes down to tracking market changes and nimbly adapting to technological developments. But Mark said that the challenge in the hosting market is not the change itself.
“Having the ability to implement new technologies quickly to offer their benefits to clients as soon as is possible is what counts. With bigger service providers, more issues can arise, and it takes them longer to roll out their new offerings,” he said.
But, even with a large Tier 3 datacenter footprint, Ionblade can adapt quickly to the shifting technology landscape.
“That’s a major benefit for us,” he said. “As new technologies gain market acceptance, we can roll them out to our customers much more swiftly than our rivals, I believe.”
The additional dimension to Ionblade’s business model is its portfolio of security features and website-building tools. The company helps its customers through each level of their journey with services ranging from domain registration to graphic design to webmaster support.
Other value-added services include a four-pillar SEO suite and SSL protection (from Comodo). Many of those features come with tiered pricing so customers can find a package that best suits their business needs.
“Customers tell us they like the fact that they can do everything in one place, through one service provider — host their website and add domains and other value-added products,” Mark said.
Most hosting companies don’t offer these kinds of services because web services can become quite time-consuming, according to Mark. The companies have to work closely with clients, find solutions, and create packages. Many aren’t built to accomplish all of those tasks promptly.
“At Ionblade, our thinking is different. We offer clients the full portfolio so that they do not have to go somewhere else,” Mark said. “They don’t have to divide up a project and deal with a bunch of different companies.”
And Ionblade’s commitment to high-level support also plays a significant role in its popularity. In the event of a website issue, the company can troubleshoot the entire technological service line, from browser to backend server.
Ionblade’s distinctive approach to the market demonstrates how hosting services providers can differentiate themselves in a competitive market. With its hosting, server, and cloud portfolio, its aim is premium-grade customer support at reasonable prices. Its web builder offerings are designed to allow clients to purchase what they need — and rates are structured accordingly.
The company is also preparing for a new phase of expansion heading into the next decade, and its products and services are under regular review.
“We update our portfolio at least three or four times a year,” said Mark. “It is, basically, an ongoing process — something we think about pretty much every day.”
One example of that is the company’s dedicated hosting offerings, for which it provides specialized quotes. The reason for that is that the company doesn’t use dedicated vendors for hosting. Instead, Ionblade searches for the best value proposition for the client before providing a quote.
And according to Mark, Ionblade will continue to improve its value proposition by meeting customer demands that other companies can’t service. Ionblade doesn’t aim to be the cheapest hosting services provider on the market but strives to offer the services customers need and the best support at its price points.
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About the Author
Sean Garrity is a Managing Editor at HostingAdvice with more than 10 years of experience researching, writing, and editing for numerous industry-specific trade publications. At HostingAdvice, Sean is charged with orchestrating the site’s content production, overseeing a team of writers, and ensuring the quality of feature and how-to articles. His goal is to keep organizations and entrepreneurs informed on the latest trends and technologies that can help them streamline operations and thrive online. When he isn’t wrapped up in discussions with experts, you can find Sean in front of his monitor, looking for what’s coming next in the fast-changing tech landscape.