Here’s what domain name registrars need to do if they want to get domain investors as customers.
I get lots of pitches from domain registrars that have added nifty new features or are offering rock-bottom prices. It takes more than this to win domain investors as customers. It takes a complete package. Here’s what domain name registrars can do if they want to win over domain investors.
You can’t win on price, but you can lose on price. I often get pitches from domain name registrars about how they’re great for domain investors because of their low prices. But when it comes to .com domains, you simply can’t win on price. There are many registrars out there that offer essentially break-even pricing on .com domain names. The only way you can beat your competition is by losing money. Even when it comes to short-term discounts below the wholesale cost, I think most domain investors are smart enough to realize that registrars aren’t willing to lose money in the long run. So you’re not going to win on price (at least for .com), but you can lose on it. If you’re charging more than $9.00 or so, it’s going to be hard to win domain investors.
Security is a must. There are many things at play when it comes to security. These days it’s necessary to offer two-factor authentication, ideally through an app instead of SMS. U2F is even better, and Fabulous offers this. One of the better security offerings I’ve seen is from GoDaddy, which lets larger domainers enable call-based security before a domain is transferred out. A GoDaddy representative will call the account owner and ask for a pin number before authorizing an outbound transfer.
Then there is the security that you don’t notice as much. It’s hard for me to evaluate if a registrar has good backend security but if they don’t follow visible best practices, I get worried. An example is sending emails to customers that require action and these emails don’t identify the customer by name or another identifier. That makes it more likely someone will fall for a phishing scam in the future.
Make it simple to manage domains. Domainers want lots of account admin features but they also want a good user interface. If a registrar creates something that looks like a programmer designed the front end, then it’s in trouble. Think about the types of actions domain investors need to perform and make it as easy as possible. Bulk actions are a must. Oh, and if you don’t offer bulk auth code downloads for transferring out, then domainers should be wary about transferring in.
Your business is important to us, but please hold. There are two essential elements of support: a good online knowledgebase and great support. Answer the phone quickly with knowledgeable reps. Promptly respond to email. Make chat support available.
Show me the money! OK, so you can’t win on price. Security is a must but it’s more of a disqualifier than a qualifier. And you need a good baseline domain manager plus good support. So far, there’s nothing that can really separate a registrar from the pack. There’s one key thing that can make a registrar truly stand out: help domainers make more money.
It used to be you could do this with a good domain parking program, but that has basically disappeared. Now you need to help them sell domains. That means integrating with AfternicDLS or SedoMLS (preferably both). Help domainers analyze their portfolios. Provide tools that enable them to make renew/drop decisions.
Helping a domainer make more money will far outweight discounted domain prices in terms of value. It might actually help you turn domainers into profitable customers, too.