Suppose there’s a coupon that cuts the cost of paid advertising plus gives you more free exposure. And it lasts forever. You’d jump on that deal, right? Well, consider this.
Obviously, ads aren’t 100% efficient. People ignore them, distrust them, forget them. Only a fraction of the time will an ad yield results or create a lasting impression. Therefore if you can tweak the ad’s efficiency, that’s equivalent to a great coupon.
Everybody knows a website needs a domain name to call home. Bare minimum – any domain will do. But smart marketers think several moves ahead. They know the right domain name will boost the efficiency of ALL their marketing efforts. That coupon we mentioned … is the right domain.
How? Think about what your ad is trying to achieve:
– Attract Attention
– Establish Trust
– Build Name Recognition
– Be Remembered
– Bring in Customers
To see why the domain name matters, let’s look at different types of advertising:
Connecting with people is what social media is all about. Not just anybody. People whose names we know. Does your domain feel like a name? Think about it. We interact with many of the biggest brands on a first-name basis: Google, Ebay, Ford, Marvel, Prius, Vanguard, Fidelity, Facebook. Other good brand names can be 2-word phrases like “Fresh Start” and “Open Table”. These are familiar too, as if they’re the names of people we know personally or by reputation: Abraham Lincoln or Marilyn Monroe. So far so good. But if you’re using a clunky domain that doesn’t match your branding or comes with extra baggage, then it ceases to feel like a name at all. RockfishMediaGroupLLC.com is less like “Steve” or “Steve Martin” and more like “that guy to the left with wearing red shorts and flipflops” or “Ebenezer H. Scrooge Junior”. Don’t be that guy! Position your brand with a domain name that’s easy to talk about and say “hello” to.
Word of Mouth
Accurately hearing and spelling out a domain name is crucial. Even if you’ll never advertise on the radio, you will often find yourself telling people how to visit your website. And if you want referrals, then you need a domain name that’s easy for customers to talk about to their acquaintances. In ordinary conversation, we rely entirely on our ears. Don’t get too “Kreativ” with your spelling because wonky names end up so ambiguous that they leak traffic like a sieve. Don’t add obstacles like hyphens or extraneous words or unfamiliar suffixes. Doing so forces you and all your customers to clarify the name with longwinded explanations. This extra friction gets in the way of word-of-mouth growth.
Although people might visit you online or offline right away, partly your ad is an investment in future behavior. Make sure the name is solid enough to be recalled from memory later on when the topic you specialize in becomes suddenly relevant.
Beyond being remembered, you’re being judged. Is your domain as intuitive, as authoritative as the brands consumers already trust? Will they perceive you as the peer of Hulu.com, Hilton.com, HomeDepot.com, and the HumaneSociety.org? Or will they lump you in with BestVidz.xyz, Home-Repairs-San-Diego.com, and AnimalDonationCenter.info? If your domain’s style reminds them of low-grade sites they’ve visited, that’s as bad as bad video production or ugly graphic design. If your ad features a domain name that’s awkward or offputting, then your ad will be inefficient.
Pay-per-click ads are a great way to show up in search results. But how do you attract that coveted first click? A dozen or more website links are competing for attention. Phrasing in the ad itself can help. So can displaying a domain name that looks more authoritative or more familiar than the other ads. How so? Maybe the domain includes the keyword being searched for. Maybe the domain is shorter, which consumers associate with big, established, trustworthy companies. Shorter domains are also more legible. Keep in mind, when you get a higher click-through rate in Google, you get more than just more clicks. Google also interprets this as a sign of relevance. As your “quality score” improves, Google will charge you less per click. Over time, that small boost in ad performance really adds up.
Sure, you can send people to a search engine. Yes, they can find you that way. But this isn’t just inefficient; it’s as risky as running across a minefield! Out of 100 people who google you, how many will get you? If they search for some approximation of your brand name, then they’ll find a bunch of unrelated sites. After clicking on the wrong one, they might try searching for a general description of what you offer. So much for branding! In either case, they’ll see all sorts of distractions … not to mention many of your competitors. Some of the people who began by searching for you specifically will end up in the arms of a rival! Thus your ad pays to market the competition. Why not encourage direct navigation to your website? Consumers are comfortable typing in a short domain. 100% of that gets to you. Display a domain that matches that brand name exactly. Make things easy, and the rest will follow.
This barely scratches the surface. But you get the idea. A clear, short, catchy, or authoritative domain name means more efficient communication. Your domain name isn’t just a reflection of who you are. It’s the quickest and most reliable way for people to reach you. So, whether you’re paying for an ad campaign or banking on free word-of-mouth growth, make sure the domain name is streamlined like an arrow. Then you can cover maximum distance with minimal force. Over time, you can save money, shave time, gain market share, and become a household name … with the right domain name.
Crunch the numbers. If the domain will be used in ad campaigns, then measure against your advertising budget. How much do you plan to spend on advertising this year? Over the next 5 years? If this domain makes those ads even 20% more effective, then it provides a benefit worth 20% of that total budget. That benefit is on top of the domain’s market value. Remember, such intellectual property is an asset. Money spent on ads evaporates. The domain remains.
20% gain is not far-fetched. A more memorable domain means the web address and brand name are remembered accurately long after exposure to the ad. A simpler domain name is easier to talk about, which greases the wheels for customer referrals and social buzz. A more appealing domain name increases the likelihood of clicks and callbacks. Beyond getting more clients, you’ll be taken seriously by bigger clients.
The real question is not how much a domain name costs but how much value the right domain name can bring to your business.