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Complaints & Rumors

Webfusion playing the imitation game

At first it was cute, but now it’s annoying. Web host Webfusion seems to be taking all its cues from the 1&1 Internet business model. It started back in December 2008, when UK’s Webfusion decided to offer its hosting to wider markets, specifically North America. This was in line with another UK web host, 1&1 Internet, which also made the leap across the waters to US in 2003. The “flattery” didn’t stop there. It continued, most recently, when Webfusion introduced its new affiliate program. Just like 1&1, it’s partnered with Commission Junction to provide further customer enticement and drive indirect sales.

Obviously, 1&1’s business model is working for them. They are one of the biggest web hosts in the world. Just last month, 1&1 surpassed Yahoo! as the fourth largest US web host. It’s quite an accomplishment for only 5 years of market presence in an incredibly crowded industry. It appears that inexpensive services and customer incentives, like affiliate moneymakers, have really helped 1&1 carve its name into the industry. In 2008, 1&1 reportedly paid out 40 million dollars in affiliate sales.

Don’t expect Webfusion to compete with those commissions any time soon. The maximum earning potential for Webfusion is $80. Compare that to $300 from 1&1. Of course, it should be pointed out that 1&1 does offer more services at this time, which contributes to a higher commission payout potential.

The saddest part of this story is that Thomas Vollrath is repeating himself. If you’re not familiar, Vollrath is the current CEO of Webfusion, and the former CEO of 1&1. Although the idea of affiliate marketing is a solid one, it’s just tragic to watch a hopeful web host sadly imitate an original. It really makes me wonder why I would choose Webfusion over 1&1, when it’s so obvious that Webfusion wants to be 1&1. Why not just stick with the one that’s already “been there, done that?” Unless Webfusion makes some grand, differentiating gesture, it will continue to spiral deeper into the “poor imitation” box. I’m really hoping that the similarities stop here.

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