TL; DR: Already one of the world’s largest web hosting providers and domain registrars, 1&1 recently completed its merger with Germany’s leading cloud infrastructure specialists, ProfitBricks. The company, which was rebranded as 1&1 IONOS, is going beyond the cloud to deliver optimized web hosting, domain, email, marketing, and cloud solutions geared toward a variety of different customers. With their sights on offering enterprise-grade cloud services that compete with industry leaders, CEO Achim Weiss and CRO Christian Böing described the 1&1 IONOS approach to market opportunities and caring for customers.
How do you reinvent an already globally recognized brand? CEO Achim Weiss had to look to the clouds to characterize the exciting new chapter of 1&1 and ProfitBricks.
Between Earth and space sits the ionosphere, a layer of the atmosphere that contains a high concentration of ions and free electrons.
“It’s inspiring to look at, whether viewing from Earth or from outer space,” he said. “It’s a sphere around the world. It includes all the markets we’re presently in, along with all the technologies and products and brands we have so far — as well as those still to come.”
That otherworldly perspective led to the birth of 1&1 IONOS, the new company that emerged from the 2017 merger of 1&1 and ProfitBricks, and is innately tuned to provide forward-thinking infrastructure and customer support to more than 6 million customers.
The teams took more than a year to integrate 1&1, web hosting and domain experts, with ProfitBricks, the first Infrastructure-as-a-Service provider in Germany, into a seamless and comprehensive product portfolio.
To mark the achievement and indicate 1&1’s progression beyond web hosting and domain registrations, Achim and company leaders followed the typical checklist of searching for a name: something that is short, memorable, and universally accepted. In addition to the all-encompassing nature of IONOS, Achim identified and appreciated a nerdier explanation.
“If you look at the word, it’s IO and OS,” he said, referencing the abbreviations for input/output and operating system. “It’s an interpretation I like very much because I’m a technical guy and excited to move our brands to this and take it to the world.”
Expanding Enterprise Cloud Offerings to Compete With the Big Three
Cloud applications and IaaS products currently account for only 25% of 1&1 IONOS revenue — but Chief Resource Officer Christian Böing and other company leaders anticipate massive growth in this segment, particularly among small businesses.
“There’s a huge potential for us to tap into this new market of cloud adoption that is coming up in the next few years,” Christian said. “There’s a nice future growth predicted, and that makes us very optimistic to pursue these segments more than we did in the past.”
1&1 IONOS will leverage ProfitBricks’ IaaS expertise and move up the chain to start offering more services in the Platform-as-a-Service realm. The company is already developing a managed Kubernetes product, according to Achim, and is examining adding Database-as-a-Service and perhaps an Internet of Things stack.
“One of our promises is to build best-in-class products for our professional customers,” he said. “These are developers, administrators, web agencies, and freelancers. We are expanding our product portfolio with even more cloud applications that help our customers grow their internet success.”
The company’s shifting focus to enterprise-grade cloud solutions has drawn the attention of industry market research firms in Europe, which consider 1&1 IONOS as poised to infiltrate the ranks of cloud titans, including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform.
“They already know we’re changing, and they recognize us as one of the largest or leading challengers of the Big Three hyperscalers,” Achim said. “That’s exactly what we are. We’re chasing them and growing in their direction.”
NEW: Personal Consultants Provide Tailored, Free Advice
With the launch of the 1&1 IONOS brand, the company also announced the introduction of dedicated personal consultants that will guide customers throughout their hosting journey.
“The insight we have from the past is that customers who have problems with service are often frustrated if they have to ask the same question to different people and have to explain their problem again and again,” Achim said. “What we’re doing is giving our customers the chance to log into their control panel and decide to have a personal consultant forever. Our customers will get the direct phone line for their personal consultant, as well as their email address and direct chat box.”
The free service will help usher new customers to the right products and enable existing customers to expand their online presence. The personal consultants will provide a central point of contact, expert recommendations, easy-to-understand explanations, and simple advice on topics ranging from email marketing and SSL encryption to search engine optimization and domain registrations.
“We’re not only focused on giving service and solving the problems of all customers,” he said. “We provide an even broader, convergent approach, which means we’re helping our customers become more successsful with their web presence in the future.”
The personal consultant program, which is free to all 1&1 IONOS customers, took the company more than a year to prepare.
“This is not only investing in terms of money, we’re investing into our staff,” Achim said. “Our people are very much excited to offer a great service experience, which is not something most companies can offer. These people will be our customers forever, if they’d like.”
5 Customer Profiles 1&1 IONOS Aims to Serve
1&1 IONOS currently reaches more than 6 million customers, roughly half of whom are small businesses, Christian said. The company oversees more than 25 million domain name registrations, making it one of the largest web hosting providers and registrars in the world. As such, the company groups these customers and their generalized product needs into five categories:
- Prosumers: Individuals without much experience who typically use the 1&1 IONOS website builder, domain services, and email products
- Small businesses: Organizations with up to 20 employees use the company’s “do-it-for-me” products about 60% of the time, while the others prefer more self-service hosting products
- Professionals: More experienced website owners who gravitate toward the shared hosting or WordPress-optimized services
- Resellers: Developers, entrepreneurs, and web agencies that slice off parts of their virtual server, cloud environment, or dedicated server for their own customers
- Corporate: Typically coming from 1&1’s dedicated server ranks or ProfitBricks’s services, these customers are typically looking for hybrid or cloud infrastructures
According to Achim, 1&1 IONOS is uniquely positioned to provide tailored services that resonate with each type of consumer because of the company’s focus on vereinfacht, the German term roughly describing simplicity, fairness, transparency, and ease of use.
“It means there’s no fine print,” he said. “There’s really clear price points. There are no routes where you accidentally buy something you don’t want. It’s just fair policy on how to deal with customers and be reliable partners.”
Seizing Market Opportunities With Web Pros and Small Businesses
When examining various opportunities for growth, Achim and Christian essentially included the entire list of customer segments. They placed particular emphasis, however, on small businesses and cloud adoption.
“In our footprint, we’re averaging about 3.2 million small business customers, where the potential is about 56 million customers,” Christian said. “We see the cloud penetration with these customers is quite low compared with what we see with young professional customers. The cloud penetration with them is about 70%, but we currently only see about 26% with small businesses.”
New products are on the way for small businesses and prosumers, Achim told us, adding that the company is also looking to set up product and marketing channels more targeted to web professionals such as agencies, freelancers, and programmers.
“The ways we want to reach new customers and better serve the ones we have is through this global brand initiative and our global platforms,” Achim said. “We’re integrating these brands and their infrastructure where we can leverage all the products and APIs and different technologies across 17 datacenters to make a seamless platform for customers in all the markets we’re in. We grew our culture quite significantly and organically, and these are our building blocks for our growth.”