With hundreds of thousands of companies in the online marketplace, creative domain names are desperately needed in order to stand out. Larger, more established companies typically register their domain name as “.com” to guarantee that no other company with the same name could have that suffix. This is frustrating for smaller, newer companies since the deck is stacked against them in getting their name out to customers.
Well, big news for those smaller companies may be coming down from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, cleverly shortened to ICANN, in the upcoming months. This nonprofit group controls the Internet’s domain name system and they met in Singapore in late June to decide if companies and other organizations could create unique domain suffixes. As you know, the most popular suffixes are “.com” and “.net,” but ICANN is bringing new domain suffixes into play. The proposed decision suggests that companies and organizations could start to use “.anything” domain names to better market themselves against their competitors.
According to Michele Jourdan, a communications manager for ICANN’s new domain program, it would cost a company approximately $185,000 to own a custom domain (such as “.pepsi”). That’s a substantial amount of money for small companies, but when you weigh the benefits with an increase of sales, it’s an investment that many companies will seriously consider.
Why this matters:
Businesses could register a domain name under a specific city to better position themselves with customers nationwide. You could perhaps see “Target.chi” for Target stores in Chicago or “Target.nyc” for Target stores in New York City. This would certainly make posting coupons and other location-sensitive information easier to share. Also, restaurants could post menus based on their different locations and cities instead of posting one menu nationwide.
Businesses could also register a domain name under their specific industry. So, instead of going to “CapitolRecords.com,” you could check out “CaptiolRecords.music” for information about your favorite band or musician. Or instead of checking out “Honda.com,” you could research your next car on “Honda.cars.” Ideally, this would make it easier for the company to better position themselves in consumers’ minds.
What this means for businesses:
Overall, some believe this move could help all sizes of companies. Larger companies could better brand their online presence and smaller businesses could tailor their marketing efforts to local customers in a specific area to attract a larger customer base.
It’s possible that a unique domain name will give small businesses a boost with customers, but not everyone is on board with ICANN’s proposal. There are doubts that a new URL will be a magical fix for increased sales. In a recent Montreal Gazette article, Chris Mulvaney, president of a New-Jersey-based marketing firm (CMDS), urges companies not to stray away from online marketing. “It still requires content development and good optimization, and one search phrase is not going to bring you enough business to run a medium-size company,” he said.
Smaller companies, on the other hand, can become more creative in their marketing. Mulvaney also had this to say: “I believe ICANN is opening this up because the domains are very, very limited now. A lot of search names are being taken. It gives small- and medium-sized companies a little more creativity with their names.”
Successful small businesses already use online marketers and web design firms to increase customer traffic to their sites by using key phrases (or as it’s better known, search engine optimization). So is a custom domain name really a necessary expense?
The cost of having a unique domain name is certainly not to be taken lightly; a new URL could perhaps alienate loyal customers. I know that I’d get frustrated if I was used to typing in one address for my favorite independent retailer and it suddenly changed without my knowledge! I might even move over to one of their competitors. Custom domain names could also greatly affect those who heavily rely on their bookmarks to get to their favorite sites. If a website was saved as “.net” and it changed to “.chi” overnight, then the customer may never realize it and not know how to get to your new site. However, if the benefits for an individual company outweigh the negatives and a new, creative URL could greatly increase sales and customer loyalty, then I say go for it!
What do you think about the amount of available domain names increasing? Do you think it’s a good idea, or will it create more problems? Would you be more willing to visit a site if it were aimed at your geographic location?