Peer 1 Hosting is a leading provider of Cloud, Managed and Dedicated hosting services in North America and EMEA. The business has grown quickly and was recently sold for $600m to Cogeco, a Canadian cable operator. UK headquarters were established in 2010 and in just five years the company has grown to be the UK’s second-largest provider of managed hosting.
In early 2013 Peer 1 had made inroads into the UK market through the use of a high quality paid search approach - driving inbound “chat” traffic and then converting a small percentage into customers - but with low order values.
Having won several larger clients through an approach using “partners”, the leadership team made a strategic decision to focus their efforts on a few key sectors - which seemed to have the ability to grow exponentially once on board. The chosen sectors were eCommerce and Online Content businesses.
Each of these sectors demonstrated amazing organic growth in compute consumption, both in the UK and across Northern Europe. The challenge lay in how to engage fully with these vertical markets, both unique buying cycles & partner landscapes.
Buyingtime were engaged initially to advise on how to tackle a single vertical (eCommerce), but our relationship rapidly expanded to include each sector in turn.
In order to maximise engagement with System Integration partners, Buyingtime developed “Commerce Futures”, an events initiative that binds Peer 1 directly to the heart of the eCommerce ecosystem.
The aim of the initiative was to enable online retailers (who at the time were experiencing explosive growth) the help they needed both from one another as well as the technology community. The themes of these events ranged from strategic planning for international expansion with a corresponding selection of third-party suppliers, through to reducing abandoned cart rates and SEO workshops.
Peer 1 co-hosted and jointly funded these events with a group of technology partners who implement eCommerce projects, changing partners according to the theme and target audience of each event. Buyingtime acted as an outsourced partner, looking after budgeting, sponsorship sales, audience and speaker generation and logistics.
As the second core vertical, Peer 1 needed to plan very carefully in order to target companies in content who were in the ascendancy. With challenging business models across Publishing, it was important to understand the business challenges of each target company - their technology landscape and then the levers that could be pulled to drive engagement.
Buyingtime carried out some light market research, tested propositions across our network of contacts in this vertical - then executed a blend of Account Selection, Lead Generation and blended events (using the “Content & Commerce” theme). We leveraged the events brand once again, but applied a very light commercial touch - noting that the target audience was not in a growth phase in the main, but instead were dealing with a transformation agenda.
A successful exit proves a great deal, but Peer 1’s dramatic success in growing their business in EMEA has been partially attributed to the establishment of a vertical approach to sales & marketing, along with a truly effective partner program. Buyingtime initiated many of these projects, ensuring that they delivered a positive ROI, and embedded Peer 1 within the vertical markets that they selected. Peer 1 achieved their ambitions of winning many eCommerce and Content hosting projects, both referred by partners and won through direct engagement. New customers acquired ranged from Selfridges and The White Company through to Racing Post and Shazam. Average order values have been driven up dramatically, with European growth accelerating both through new client wins as well as the organic growth of each client once on board.
To date, more than 5,000 delegates have visited our events - which have been executed across northern Europe and the U.S.A. The blend of theme, sponsor and target audience attracts ‘C’ level directors, Heads of eCommerce and executives involved in strategy and innovation. Conservatively the event initiative alone has generated business exceeding £8m for Peer 1 and its channel partners.