Tuesday, September 28, 2010

GoDaddy Gets Back To Being GoDaddy

I could barely believe it when I wrote a blog post praising GoDaddy. And then, over the last two days, two of my clients ran into the same situation over at GD.

Both clients purchased domain names and were told that it included free hosting. This seemed reasonable, as hosting at GoDaddy is dirty cheap (like $4.00 a month), so throwing this in seemed a reasonable way to lure customers over to hosting there. After a year of free hosting, it's doubtful the customers would go through the effort of migrating to a new host. Give one year, get a lifetime.

When I had trouble figuring out how to activate the hosting one of the clients was entitled to, he called GoDaddy and got specific instructions. Sure enough, they were easy to follow.

And now for the catch - when I started deploying files for these customers I realized that site automatically included ads at the top of the page.

In other words, the free hosting that GoDaddy so graciously gives you, forces you to include ads at the top of the page.

There's nothing inherently wrong with this.

What I have a problem with is GoDaddy's not informing customers clearly what they are getting. When a customer buys hosting, they assume they are getting a plataform to host their site in a professional manner. That's just not possible with free ads at the top of the page.

Like their aggressive upselling (buy a certificate and it automatically signs you up for 2 years, not 1), this is yet another example where trust breaks down. It also wastes customer's time - rather than making an informed decision about what to buy at the time of purchasing the hosting, now customers need to go back after the fact and re-evaluate which hosting plan is right for them.

So yes, offer free ad based hosting - just make sure customers know what they are getting into.

Someone at GoDaddy desperately needs to read Seth Godin's wisdom on this topic:

Apparently, a computer is now not a computer, it's an opportunity to upsell you.

First, the setup insisted (for my own safety) that I sign up for an eternal subscription to Norton. Then it defaulted (opt out) to sending me promotional emails. Then there were the dozens (at least it felt like dozens) of buttons and searches I had to endure to switch the search box from Bing to Google. And the icons on the desktop that had been paid for by various partners and the this-comes-with-that of just about everything.

The digital world, even the high end brands, has become a sleazy carnival, complete with hawkers, barkers and a bearded lady. By the time someone actually gets to your site, they've been conned, popped up, popped under and upsold so many times they really have no choice but to be skeptical.

Best of all, he suggests an antitode: be straightforward.

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