This is the last post in a series covering the impact the new Top Level Domain (nTLD) program has had on the web domain industry. You can read the previous posts here, here, and here. In this post, I’ll focus on the most important considerations for nTLD Registries.
With the launch of 600 new consumer-viable domain extensions, the marketplace has become crowded and a lot more complex. This growth has resulted in limited shelf space and a customer base just beginning to understand the new domain extensions. Additionally, as I covered in my previous post, Registrars are scrambling to adjust to this bounty of new options that they can use to attract new customers and sell to their existing customers.
Considering these facts, it’s clear that Registries have to be more focused on channel enablement than ever before. Sure, direct brand and awareness marketing are important, but the top Registry priority is to support Registrars in accomplishing the shared goal of selling more domains.
With this in mind, here are my top recommendations for Registries as the nTLD program reaches full speed:
Keep it simple
Name.com is connected to about 100 Registries and most of these have multiple TLDs. In a given month, a Registrar with Name.com’s TLD inventory can expect to be pitched 20 promotions. You can imagine how much of a Registrar’s time is taken up by reviewing Registry reports, emails, and promotion details.
Based on this fact, it’s important that Registries demonstrate a certain amount of empathy as they work with the Registrar channel. Some key aspects of this are:
- Optimize reporting and email: Registrars don’t have time to review data and information that isn’t meaningful and actionable. Reports that are full of numbers but don’t have clear take-aways will eventually be ignored. The same goes for email that doesn’t provide meaningful information.
- Simplify promotions: Rebate programs that have difficult requirements or are overly complex are likely to be ignored by the channel. There simply isn’t enough time to deal with promotions that require too much effort or are too hard to monitor. Also, it’s important to remember that there are multiple other promotions waiting in the wings.
Let’s Complement Each Other
Most new domain extensions aren’t in direct competition, but they all are lacking in customer awareness. While Registries will always be looking out for #1 , there’s a lot of benefit in tying yourself to other TLDs and informing the channel of these complementary offerings. Why? Well, if a Registrar is sending out an email about a competitor’s nTLD and you’ve informed them that your TLD sells well with that nTLD, being included in that email is additional marketing.
Here’s another example that applies to channel partners that are more advanced merchandisers. Registrars that have the ability to bundle TLDs can use this type of complementary information to define bundles that perform well and, thus, get more exposure.
Lastly, Registrars can use this information to power search and upsell experiences, creating additional impressions for the Registry’s TLDs.
All of these examples present ways that you can get the equivalent of free marketing while also helping Registrars provide a better experience to their customers.
Note: There are some interesting ways to identify these complementary relationships. Reach out to me using the contact info at the bottom of this post if you’d like to discuss them.
No Two Are Alike
As I said above, most TLDs are not in direct competition and even the ones that are very similar still differ in important ways whether they be topical, usage, or geographic focus. So, while it’s important for Registries to tell Registrars which TLDs are like theirs, it’s just as important that they tell them what’s unique about them.
At Rightside we do this in a number of ways. The most obvious is to use standard marketing to paint a picture, but we also take a data driven approach. For each of our TLDs, we have compiled a set of keywords using data analysis and editorial insight. We use these keywords internally but we also make them available to the Registry channel and to non-Registrar distribution partners (including services like Domainsbot and Domainr). Additionally, we use them in our name spinner that powers results for eNom and Name.com.
Another important use of these keywords is mining domains under management to identify likely TLD launch and promotion targets by matching text in registered domains to the TLD keywords. We use this approach for both Rightside Registrars and make it available to all of our Registrar partners.
In summary, much like Registrars, Registries must also adjust strategies and tactics in order to make the most out of the nTLD opportunity. A smart first step for every Registry is to do an assessment of how you’re supporting the Registrar channel and whether there is room for improvement in the areas of process, communication, and technical enablement.
If you have comments or questions I’d love to hear from you on Twitter (@sryder), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can also follow me on LinkedIn. The LinkedIn url is a bit cumbersome so I use www.productmanagement.ninja as a shortcut which is more memorable and helps brand my professional web identity.