Does Marketing Require Your Website to End in ‘.Com’? If Not, Here Are 7 Options

There is no definitive answer to the value of TLDs besides .com, but deciding on one is a marketing conversation more than an IT discussion. The value of the myriad other options available will depend on your brand personality, your message, and who you are trying to reach.

Whether you know what “TLD” stands for or not, you’re probably thinking that a discussion about top-level domains is likely to be pretty technical. It can be, but we’re here to talk about TLDs from a marketing perspective.

So stow the eye glaze (you know, for when your IT director really gets going and your eyes glaze over …) and lets dive into what to consider as you assess your domain name options.

First, let’s acknowledge that it’s the web’s enormous growth that has led us to a point where the domain name you’d like — yourcompany.com —  simply may not be available. Certainly, just about every single-word .com domain has already been registered, even if it’s not in use. So what are your choices?

Changing Your Firm’s Name to Get the TLD You Want

If you can’t register the domain you want, you can change your firm’s name. Typically, that’s going to be a pretty radical option, though this is more palatable if you’re just starting out. If you are launching a new venture, you should find (and register) the domain name you want even before you have your attorney do a legal search for the viability of the name you’re considering.

Variations on a Name

You can also choose a variation of your name. For example, the social media management tool Lately arrived on the scene too recently to register lately.com, so they’ve opted for trylately.com. That works exceptionally well as a domain name for a marketing site.

Relocate Away From .Com

Another option, of course, is to select a TLD other than .com.

The options here have exploded over the past few years. Which option you choose should depend on your market and your audience. Some choices will feel more traditional, while others may provide a level of differentiation. Your choice should be based on your brand’s needs.

Once you’ve determined that a TLD other than .com is your best bet, there are still a lot of choices to be made.

Custom TLDs

One option is a custom TLD, as Google has created. (Which it uses for sites like https://sustainability.google/.) The expense of these TLDs — $185,000 — makes them an impossible investment for most companies, other than very large consumer brands.

Restricted TLDs

Sticking with existing TLDs, you’ll find that some are off-limits to anyone outside of the groups they’re meant to serve. These include .gov and .edu addresses, as well as some country-based TLDs, like .com.au. Domains using that TLD are reserved for businesses registered in Australia.

Country Code TLDs

Other country-based domains are open to outside registration. “Co” implies “company” to most folks in the U.S., which is why the .co TLD is quite popular here, even though it is actually Colombia’s TLD. It ranks just above the .us TLD here in the U.S.

We’ve seen an increase in .io sites over the past few years. It’s not 100% clear why this is a popular TLD; though, the fact that it rolls off the tongue nicely and is shorter than .com when most other newer TLDs are longer certainly helps. (In case you were wondering, .io is the TLD assigned to the British Indian Ocean Territory. All of you “Old MacDonald” fans should also note that eie.io is currently available …)

TLDs to Avoid

On the negative side, there does seem to be a growing consensus that .info sites are often home to some of the less savory businesses on the internet. You may want to avoid that TLD, even if your site is purely an informational site.

Defensive Measures

Type the name of your favorite mobile phone provider, airline, or cable company into your browser’s address bar with “.sucks” appended to the end. You’ll see why owning that domain name for your company under the .sucks TLD is a smart defensive move. You don’t want a competitor or disgruntled former employee creating a site ranting about your firm.

Wikipedia’s list of TLDs organized by type can be a great resource to see if you can find a domain name that works with your company name. (We’d love to own andi.go if there was a .go TLD.)

So while there is no definitive answer to the value of TLDs, deciding on one is much more than a conversation for your IT department to have by themselves. It’s tough to argue with .com as a known quantity. You should always register the .com, if it is available. The value of the myriad other options available will depend on your brand personality, your message, and who you are trying to reach.

.com and TLDs

Who Holds the Keys to Your Marketing Kingdom?

Stop for just a minute and run a quick mental audit on the various stakeholders who keep your website alive and healthy. Can you name the company that hosts your website? Where is your domain registered? Do you have links to all of these sites and a list of all the log-in credentials for each of these pieces of the puzzle? I recently met a small business owner who had entrusted the design, build and maintenance of their company’s website to a small 2-man digital agency — and shared a horror story with me.

digital marketingWith our heavy dependence on websites for brand building, lead generation, new product launches and e-commerce, you’d think there would be a set of best practices for maintaining the keys to that kingdom.

If you’re reading this post, then stop for just a minute and run a quick mental audit on the various stakeholders who keep your website alive and healthy. Can you name the company that hosts your website? Where is your domain registered? Who is doing the website maintenance? Who handles your e-commerce payment gateway? Do you have links to all of these sites and a list of all the log-in credentials for each of these pieces of the puzzle?

I recently met a small business owner who had entrusted the design, build and maintenance of the company’s website to a small two-man digital agency — and shared a horror story with me.

It seems she left all the “details” up to the agency. She didn’t know how the website was built — whether it was template or custom code; she had no idea how or where or even who had registered the domain. She didn’t know the details of how the website was maintained — she knew who to call when she had a problem, but trusted that those she paid would take care of her needs. And then one day, that little agency, was gone.

No one answered the phone. No one returned her calls. No one answered her emails for help. She literally had no idea where to turn, and yet she needed her digital storefront maintained or she’d be out of business.

As she told me her story, I realized the same could be true for many other businesses. And, after asking around, it seems her story is not uncommon. When it comes to a website, many business owners entrust an employee, yet don’t ask for a list of service providers, links and log-in credentials so they can maintain a record as back-up. What would they do if one day that employee failed to show up for work?

With all of the digital security risks, it’s a good idea to change passwords regularly. Do you have a system to ensure you get the new password each time it gets reset by your internal or external team?

Don’t get held hostage by an outside partner or internal employee. Don’t risk your brand’s storefront. Stop reading this blog and get the keys to your marketing kingdom before this day is over. You can thank me later.

12 Reasons to Fuse Direct Marketing and Video Marketing Now

Tried and true direct marketing formulas + online video = your next powerful marketing opportunity. Blending direct marketing sales approaches with online video, where 40 billion videos are watched monthly, can showcase your products and services, build trust, close deals, and raise money. Here are reasons to fuse

Tried and true direct marketing formulas + online video = your next powerful marketing opportunity. Blending direct marketing sales approaches with online video, where 40 billion videos are watched monthly, can showcase your products and services, build trust, close deals, and raise money. Here are reasons to fuse together the power of direct marketing with online video. Today we begin with the first 6 reasons.

1. Now is the early stage for the blending of DM disciplines and online video. While DM and video have been around for years, many marketers have yet to blend the methodologies together. The Deep Dive: Early adopters have been using video with streaming words and voice-over, interviews and product demonstrations. But the next stage of successful video uses proven direct marketing copywriting techniques and call-to-action in video script writing, and uses DM design techniques that will move production values to a higher level.

2. Online video use and views are exploding.

  • In just one recent month, 181 million U.S. Internet users watched 43.5 billion videos averaging over 22 hours per viewer.
  • Over 84% of internet users watched an online video.
  • Americans watched over 5.6 billion online video ads. In fact, online video ads are 38% more memorable than TV ads.

The Deep Dive: According to comScore.com, a global source of digital market intelligence, online video viewing was up 43% from Dec. 2010 to Dec. 2011 This video is a summary of comScore’s findings about the explosive increases in online video viewing during the past year. (By the way, we’ll show you, in an upcoming post, how you can drastically improve upon their really distracting audio quality for about $30.)

If you’re not incorporating video in your marketing strategy, you’re out-of-date.

3. Consumers’ attention span is shorter than ever, and it’s not likely to increase. People will give you a few seconds to watch a video. Engage them quickly, and they’ll stick with you long enough to get your message across and prompt enough curiosity to check you out more. The Deep Dive: Does this strategy sound a lot like using a compelling teaser on an outer envelope, or a strong subject line in an email? Of course it does! So, set up your video strategy properly by getting the viewer to opt-in to watch more of your future videos.

4. Websites with video are perceived as having higher importance. When you add videos, you attract more in-linking domains than with plain text. The Deep Dive: Video inclusion on your social media or blog posts has been shown to triple inbound linking. The following chart is from a well-respected seomoz.org blog post that goes more deeply into this topic. http://www.seomoz.org/blog/what-makes-a-link-worthy-post-part-1.

5. An inbound marketing strategy may be a challenge for a traditional direct marketer to accept, but video has the power to draw prospective customers to you. The Deep Dive: Video on blogs and posted YouTube can be shared on social media and will draw traffic to you. This is a far more powerful-and less costly-marketing strategy than pushing your unsolicited message using outbound marketing strategies.

6. Online video analytics are amazing. Post your video on YouTube and over time you’ll see not only how many times your video was viewed, but second-by-second you’ll see retention levels and discover at what point you lost your viewer. You’ll see demographic information. You’ll be smarter so much faster that your head will spin. The Deep Dive: If you’re a traditional direct marketer, you surely love numbers. With video, you get a lot of data to crunch that will make you smarter and your selling more effective.

In our next post, we’ll reveal six more reasons why you should fuse direct marketing and video marketing now. In the meantime, comment below and tell us your video marketing successes or what you’d like to read in future blog posts.