I often get asked if it really matters to a company’s bottom line whether or not they have a better domain name. While there are quite a few intangible (and therefore debatable) reasons why a higher quality domain name is beneficial, such as the company being perceived as having ‘market leadership’ because of their intuitive domain name, here’s a very concrete example of why a better domain will actually save you a lot of money. And for the record, “better” doesn’t necessarily mean a .com domain; this advice applies equally to domains in other TLDS, new or old.
When I’m on a road trip in my car I like to listen to satellite radio. One of my favourite channels, CNN Headline News, features commercials for an eclectic variety of products and services. Almost all of the commercials end with a ‘call-to-action’ of some kind, and usually that call-to-action is to invite listeners to dial a toll-free number or visit a Website.
I’ve heard hundreds of commercials during my road trips, and I’d estimate that one-third of the Website addresses featured in these commercials use problematic domain names that are not intuitive at all and quite literally fail the Radio Test. What’s the Radio Test you ask? It’s a measure of the intuitive nature of a domain name and focuses on whether or not someone who only hears the domain name (versus seeing it) will know how to correctly spell it. So, for example, the domain WritePanda.com (while not a bad name and domain in general) would fail the radio test because people might not know whether to type “Write” or “Right”.
Now keep in mind these are 30-second commercials and the advertisers are paying thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars a week for their commercials to run. In the commercials featuring the problematic domain names, the announcer usually has to spend five or more seconds explaining how to spell the unintuitive domain name. So, using WritePanda.com as our example, the end of the commercial features the announcer saying something like, “To learn more, visit Write Panda dot com, that’s W-R-I-T-E panda dot com.”
Let’s do the math. Five seconds out of a 30-second commercial is 16.7% of the total commercial time wasted explaining an awkward domain name, time that could have been used for something more productive like describing the product or service. If an advertiser is spending $5,000 a month on radio ads, and that’s a modest budget by typical advertising standards, that advertiser is wasting $835 a month explaining their problematic domain name to listeners. That’s over $10,000 a year from their advertising budget that's going up in flames because of someone’s decision to choose and use an awkward domain name.
And you know the craziest part of all of this? Most of the domains these advertisers use are quirky, two and three-word .com domains where the better, radio-friendly version of the domain could probably have been purchased for under $5,000. I honestly get the impression that for many of these advertisers someone in their marketing department had the choice of spending $2,000-3,000 on a better domain name or registering an awkward domain name for $15 and they chose the awkward domain because the better domain name was considered ‘too expensive’.
Well guess what? They might have ‘saved’ three grand on the domain purchase, but their short-sighted decision is actually costing them thousands of dollars (or more) a year in wasted radio airtime.
If you intend to advertise your Website on the radio and you pick a domain name that fails the Radio Test, you’ve just depleted the potential effectiveness of your media budget by nearly 20%. When you think about it that way, that better quality domain name isn’t so ‘expensive’ after all.
Here’s a handy rule of thumb to remember: If you have to explain your domain name to someone when telling it to them in person or over the phone, that’s not a good domain name to use for radio advertising -- and probably not a good domain name in general.
Domain name expert Bill Sweetman is the President & Lead Ninja of Name Ninja, a boutique domain name consulting firm that helps companies acquire, manage, protect, and profit from their domain names. Bill has provided strategic domain name advice to major companies around the world for over 20 years.
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This is so true. My background is finance/accounting so I see how much companies spend on IT costs, legal and other professional fees, marketing/advertising, travel, etc. But when it comes to domain names, they are generally viewed as $xx costs - not brands for marketing products / services - even though the business associated with those products and services may be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Posted by: Leonard Britt | September 23, 2015 at 04:27 PM