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.
Monte cahn says
Sounds like my old Moniker.com 😉
Paul Nicks says
Or my current GoDaddy.com
Brad Cook says
I signed up for the new Afternic integration and all of my previous premium domain sales history has been wiped out.
Joe Styler says
There is a ticket in to fix this. Good to hear from you.
Brad Cook says
Thanks Joe, Keep up the good work 🙂
Anil Kumar says
I would add API support for end users, and not just resellers, to the list. With GDPR looming, users may want easier access to their own records. We have started adding native support for registrar APIs in Watch My Domains and other software.
Just not many days ago I was using Epik to manage large numbers of domains in a more extensive way than I normally do. Although I have already known how good the user interface is and have said as much since long ago now, when I actually had to engage in these more expansive and involved tasks I was really struck by just how great and useful and **time saving** it was with various features. So much so that I really wanted to mention it again in the blogs, forgot about it until now, but this is the time. Talk about “Swiss Army Knife” of domain management features. I’m still planning to ask about possibly adding something as well, since greatness always has room for additional greatness, 🙂 and they have been quite receptive to such things before. In fact I have found that they are the only ones who really are too. 🙂
As far as making money goes, I know they have free basic WordPress hosting for domains which I almost utilized but didn’t really once. Ironic since I’m primarily a user of domains, but I also sell. They also have parking of course.
But the really “cool” thing that makes Epik stand out when it comes to helping you make money is the free customizable and brandable Marketplace. Talk about spectacular. My own actual personal web dev skills suck compared to the snappy site the Marketplace enables you to get up and running in minutes. It looks professional and is nicely arranged. In fact, the one major domain sale I have had in the past 9 months, which was $xx,xxx for two three word .coms, began with being contacted via my Epik Marketplace first. And Epik doesn’t try to lock you into anything or force you to use their escrow or anything like that just because someone contacted you via your Marketplace, it’s just a great free benefit. Mine is even on an excellent domain if I can say so myself. If you wind up making a deal and using Epik escrow, great, but this particular negotiation, for example, began with being contacted through my custom Marketplace but ended up in a private deal for $xx,xxx worth of Bitcoin in the middle of last year.
And let’s not forget the spectacular normal pricing for .com at $8.49 per year. Perhaps some super high rollers might even do better.
Anyone who hasn’t tried Epik yet is nuts. Anyone who doesn’t make Epik at least one of their main if not their main registrar is also nuts. 🙂 I’m happy to say this because it’s important that we support such enterprises when they do such excellent things for everyone because I have found such offerings simply do not grow on trees. I’ve also noticed that apparently Konstantinos of OnlineDomain.com has recently made Epik his main one in fact. I only discovered Epik after trying them myself when originally I would never have done that because of thinking it was a total hassle to even try yet another registrar. Glad I did though.
Robert Monster says
@John – That is one really awesome endorsement! Wow!
It is true though, anyone not using Epik is really missing out. We have a really solid product, some amazing staff, competitive pricing, great security, no hidden charges. We also have the best platform for domain leasing — truly unmatched and it keeps getting better. However, I think most importantly, and greatly underestimated, we have a culture of doing the right thing even when nobody is looking.
I think we just need Joe Styler to come work for us. He is a super nice guy, who minds the store, and is also a Brother in Christ. Would that be cool or what? After all, I am 50 years old now and lately have my hands full running DigitalTown.com. So, it is a good time to start working on a succession plan.
To be clear, and as people who know Epik already know, I never set out to be the biggest registrar. We set out to be the best and figured domain investors would eventually vote with their domains. So far so good.
My pleasure, Rob. And I hope someone wants to lease one some day so I can make some use of that nifty feature. Love how you can also easily add custom terms to the base agreement. Would hate to ever see you completely leave or sell off any time soon, too, because one thing that seems clear in life is that the most important things often flow from the top down in a very big way.
YES!! This nails it. SOMEONE PLEASE SEND THIS TO EVERY EXEC AT NETWORKSOLUTIONS
Andrew Allemann says
Network Solutions’ target market is not domainers