Innovation requires competition

img_9667Every company needs constant innovation to stay relevant. Even an industry needs innovation to stay relevant.

New business models, new technologies, new opportunities are all leading to better products and services for eventually the end-user.

In the domain industry this is currently not the case. ICANN has become a highly political organization that is governed by so many compliance rules that all competition is effectively killed.

Domain registrants have no idea why they get all these emails from organizations they do not know because they use hosting companies that are not registrars themselves but resellers of domain registrars. Resellers of registrars cannot move their portfolio to new and innovative companies without the consent of the registrant. I totally believe in regulation that prevents criminals to do their criminal actions. But current regulation kills all competition and locks domain portfolio’s at big players that only grow through acquisitions. In my opinion this is unacceptable.

The good news is that innovation brought Openprovider at least closer to the top of the domain world. Based on the amount of tlds implemented Openprovider is number 6 in the world. See It is the main reason why ICANN uses Openprovider to test new gtlds.

Our innovation continues despite external obstacles.
We have built a very advanced white label solution for resellers that want their registrants to get ICANN emails from them instead of a registrar or spammer they do not know.
Another innovation we made is our SSL workflow manager that even allows end-users to understand what needs to be done in every step of the orderproces.
Our sister company Powerpanel has integrated both solutions in their billing software for hosters and it has been very successful.

Lets hope that all rules and regulations do not completely kill the competition like it does today. That is unacceptable and will eventually kill the industry. We already see that upcoming markets do not use domains and websites in the same way as more developed markets. Lack of competition will only increase prices, kill innovation and will lead to the end of the domain industry.

Opportunities for marketeers with new gTLDs and why ICANN uses Openprovider

What have we seen since the launch of the new gTLD program?

The new generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) program is around for almost two years and several hundreds of new gTLDs have been launched. So far the number of registrations have not been spectacular and far less than the industry expected them to be. Does this mean the whole idea was a failure? I don’t think so. The industry does not really have many companies with great marketing and sales power. In order to drive demand it is totally necessary to do some marketing and sales efforts. Many registries expected miracles to happen by simply offering new gTLDs. Unfortunately miracles do not happen a lot. Some registries like .xyz at least made a great effort in marketing their domains. They were able to register almost one million domains and they are a good alternative for a .com domain. Also the Chinese gTLDs do pretty well. Four of those Chinese IDNs are in the top 30 of most successful new gTLDS. I expect that many IDN based domains will do relatively well in the future. For Arabs, Chinese, Japanese, Russian and many other people that do not use Latin letters the new gTLD program is very interesting. For the first time in the history of the internet they are able to use the internet completely in their own language. Some other registries have been very successful with the total amount of domain registrations they have done. Donuts for example has registered almost 25% of all the new domains that are currently available. Although they also expected much more they still have done very well.

The regional new gTLDs like .nyc and .berlin have done an excellent job. And for some registries unexpected successes happened. Afilias never expected .kim to do so well in Turkey. In the Turkish language ‘kim’ means ‘who’.

Marketeers will use a lot of new gTLDs in 2016

I think in 2016 marketeers will really start using the new gTLDs to do marketing campaigns. For SEO and SEA a relevant and specific domain name is very important and in the new gTLD space many of those domains are still available. And Google, Bing, Baidu and Yandex are indexing those new domains very well. We can expect to see very interesting campaigns for certain regions using the new gTLDs as the domain name. If you want to market something in Wales you probably better use a .wales domain name than a or .com and when your target audience is in New York the .nyc domain will be seen more and more in advertising campaigns.
Also in sports there are a lot of opportunities to use a .tennis or .football domain name for promotional activities aimed at specific sports. In the financial sector a short and specific .loan or .credit domain are much more powerful to use in a campaign than a very long .com domain.

If you are interested in ideas you can get an overview per category of domains at Openprovider.

Why did ICANN choose Openprovider?

Many domain registrars have decided not to implement all new gTLDs because the demand is too low and the effort to implement all of them is very high. ICANN wanted to test all new registries and the performance of the new gTLD program. However they found out that going directly to a all registries for registering their own ICANN domains was not very practical and they decided to find a registrar. The shortlist of registrars offering all new gTLDs was also very small. Openprovider is one those registrars and had just passed the first audit that ICANN did on compliance with the contractual obligations. Furthermore ICANN finds our business model where we charge a relatively small yearly subscription fee for our platform and register all new gTLDs at registry cost price plus ICANN fee very interesting. With the help we offered in registering the domains for them it was a win-win situation. ICANN was helped in a very efficient and cost effective way and we got the acknowledgement that our investments in the new gTLD program and our business model are future proof.

16 simple strategies to sell more new gTLDs

Since 2014 more than 700 new gTLDs (generic Top Level Domains) have gone live. In theory that opens up tons of marketing possibilities. However in practice I see that it is not so easy to sell loads of new gTLDs. Customers do not see the forest through the trees (Dutch proverb translated).

But there are some fairly simple strategies that you can implement that with a little effort should pay off.

Strategy 1.

Sell at high prices. Because higher pricing allows you to invest more in marketing and makes you more profits. Don’t be afraid that you charge too much for now. Most of your customers do not know the prices of new gTLDs yet and therefor have no insight in cost prices, prices of competitors etc etc. Most registries of the new gTLDs charge already fairly high prices compared to gTLDs like .com or many ccTLDs. It means both percentage wise as absolute wise you can charge high prices. 40% or more is what I think is absolutely fair

Strategy 2.

Give huge discounts. If you use Strategy 1 you can afford to give a big discount of like 30% for the first year of registration. Renewals can be charged at your normal price. You still make money in the first year.

Strategy 3.

Make sure one or more new gTLDs show up in the first five results of your whois. Customers buy domains that are free. In the new gTLD space most good domain-names are stil free. Your customer will buy those if you give them the choice. Also make sure your whois has the option to show all the domains you sell. Find a registrar that supports all gTLDs and ccTLDS.

Strategy 4.

Send newsletters to your customers. This sounds like a trivial strategy but I have found out that many companies say they have no demand for new gTLDs. When I ask them if they have let their customers know by sending them a special newsletter on new gTLDs many of them say “no”. Newsletters are very cheap and it is easy to create a professional newsletter with for example Mailchimp.

Strategy 5.

Personalise your newsletters. This strategy is a little more complicated but very effective. Of course your already put the first and last name of your customer in your newsletter. That is standard and simple (I hope..), but you can make your newsletters much more effective if you include a proposal for new gTLDs for the domains the customer already owns. If you are more experienced or can rent a developer to do it for you also add a “Buy Now” button in the newsletter. This is extremely powerful.
So let’s say your customer has your offer could be to register:
etc etc etc

You don’t have to email your whole customer base right away. If you can handle only a limited amount of questions or orders then just send as much emails as you can handle and simply repeat weekly. Combine this strategy with Strategy 2.

Strategy 6.

Make a special landing page that includes the new gTLDs and your offers for them. Advertise this page on your homepage with a banner or try out online advertising.

Strategy 7.

Use the special promotions that most registries offer to sell their new gTLDs. Your registrar should be able to help you with this. There are almost continuously new promotions available and the requirements for them are very mild. Using a specific banner and creating a landing page is normally sufficient. Most of them provide marketing materials for this.

Strategy 8.

Upsell! Use the opportunity to sell hosting, spamfiltering, whois privacy and ssl certificates etc etc with every new domain name. Research shows that churn reduces dramatically when you sell 3 or more services to a customer.

Strategy 9.

Focus. There are many new domains that have a certain target audience. Try to sell your customers from New York a .nyc, those from London a .london. But also .bio can be used to sell to organic farmers or as a biography for people. There are thousands non-governmental organisations that would qualify for a .ngo or .ong and with a .tennis domain you can focus on all tennisplayers. The options are almost unlimited.

Strategy 10.

Bundle. Create packages for certain themes like food and drinks business. For example create a special package that
etc etc

Strategy 11.

Trademarks. Probably a few of your customers have trademarks. You can make sure they are signed up in the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) and let them use the sunrise phases of a new domain launch to protect their domains. You can charge a much higher price for your services in this phase and add real value for your customers.

Strategy 12.

Premium domains. A lot of registries have a premium domain-name program where they sell generic domains at a premium price. You can make a lot of money selling those premium domains. For example will go for over a million Euro. Imagine your margin if you sell this domain.

Strategy 13.

Early Access Program (EAP). The registries Donuts and Rightside who both will launch a few hundred new gTLDs have an EAP program. It simply means that 7 days before the launch of a new gTLD you can already buy it at a premium price. Every day up until the launch date the price will be lower and the chances you can buy it as well. If you provide this service to your customers you would be able to get more revenue and you offer them a great service.

Strategy 14.

Domain Protected Marks List (DPML). This is a service that is available for trademarkholders that have been validated by the TMCH but do not want to register all the domains yet. A few registries like Donuts, Rightside and Minds and Machines offer this service where you simply block the registration of your trademark in al their domains without the need to register the domains. This is cheaper than just registering the domains but since it is still a few thousand dollars it is a great upsell opportunity for you.

Strategy 15.

Ask money for pre-registrations. It is useful to collect pre-registrations before a domain-name goes live with domains your customers would like to register. If this is free a lot of customers will simply let the offer expire when the domain goes live. But if you ask like 1 dollar for a pre-registration you maybe have less pre-registration but you already make 100% margin and the conversion rate will be huge since you customer already paid you. Of course you have to make sure that you manage the lists very well to avoid negative feedback. So have a policy for refunds when the domain-name was take faster by somebody else and how the handle double registrations.

Strategy 16.

Focus on renewals. The easy money is made when your customer renews the domain-name forever. Make sure your renewal process is very efficient and you have done a lot of upsells. The longer the customer stays the better it is for you and the probability is higher that he will buy more from you.

All these strategies are simple to implement and they guarantee you a lot of extra business. You have no excuse to not make more money now!