Easily the most competitive market I have been involved with was the domain name registration business. Competing not only with standalone registries but website builders and other tools reselling domain names created a crowded space that required thoughtful, creative marketing tactics. Increasing market share was an exciting prospect of achieving KPIs.
Ranking in SERPs for top TLDs with marketing landing pages
To improve market share, I saw an immediate opportunity in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Our domain registry had the benefit of being a long-standing brand with authoritative domain names, however it hadn’t pursued content or similar marketing aggressively. I saw they needed to create content around each unique Top-Level Domain (also known as a TLD, which is your domain name’s extension, such as .com) to begin ranking alongside their competitors.
To market TLDs, I wanted to go after each individual keyphrase, such as “co domain” or “io domain” for customers in the consideration phase as well as including “buy” in the phrase for those already in the decision phase. For anyone in the discovery stage of their journey, I wanted to ensure each landing page had some inspiring ideas for how to use the domain name, as well as describe the history of the extension to add bulk to the content, and include any relevant case studies from customers, if applicable.
There are a couple of immediate challenges going after these keyphrases organically, which had to be considered in this pursuit:
- The keyphrases are highly competitive in organic search results, whether search volume is low, moderate, or high
- Multiple companies are bidding on ads on these keyphrases, pushing organic results down
- The companies who own the TLD are called registries and the registries themselves often rank top for the keyphrase as they have the most content surrounding the keyphrase and have authority around their TLD
- There are Wikipedia articles on nearly all TLDs, which rank top organically
- Nearly every registrar, including long-standing and authoritative domains such as Google, GoDaddy, and others are competing in organic search
- Some registrars provide suggested or mandatory copy of their TLDs, which means navigating duplicate content when crafting a marketing page
Rather than shy away from this pursuit given how competitive it was, I began reimagining the pages alongside our designer and then creating and writing nearly one hundred SEO-focused content pages for the site ultimately led to a 17% increase in organic entrances, a 9% increase in page views, as well as a 5% decrease in bounce rate across those pages in Q1 2019 compared to 2018. The majority of these TLD pages rank on pages 1-2 for their keyphrase targets, right alongside the highly competitive companies' pages. These TLD pages had lasting value not only organically but could be used in advertising and influencer marketing campaigns.
Creating engaging on-page content for hyper-niche markets
Publishing regular blog content was key to targeting a variety of keyphrases and audiences in our space. Covering everything from tips for entrepreneurs, to ideas for using specific TLDs, to case studies with amazing customers, to fun “top expensive domains”-type pieces, to infographics - I was able to create content for endless topics. Between all the content that was produced, organic traffic increased 4.2% in 2019 versus 2018. Leading the social strategy to increase organic and paid social traffic was key, as well and there was an increase in social media traffic by 20+% in 2019 compared to 2018.
It was important that content was published regularly but that it also carried value towards a sale. Page Value is the average value for a page that a user visited before landing on the goal page or completing a transaction. This value is intended to give you an idea of which page in your site contributed more to your site's revenue. Hover’s blog content equaled approximately 13% of total sale for average ecommerce page value.
Building partnerships to craft referral traffic leads through off-page content
Anyone who has worked with me knows that I am a huge fan of off-page content partnerships and content swaps. Working closely with registries (TLD owners) and customers, there was a lot of opportunity to build content that spoke to different audiences and featured a variety of authors. These partnership pursuits enabled the creation of a year-end ebook, which was intended to inspire entrepreneurs to begin their journey in the new year.
Beyond that, crafting content for key publications off-page, such as The History of Domain Names for TechRadar, was an important factor that drove significant referral traffic far after its initial release.
Foray into influencer marketing for tech products
I believe in the value of influencer and community marketing and see it as an evolution of the 2008 post, 1000 True Fans. My incredibly talented colleague led the charge on influencer marketing for our team, as he oversaw demand generation and paid marketing for the brand. This was an important introduction to the impact influencer marketing can have, even on technical products. Through this experience, I learned how a highly engaged audience of a hyper-niche podcast, blog, or YouTube channel can be a far better target to pursue than a channel with a large amount of followers or viewers.
Through this type of influencer marketing I gained a true appreciation for the value of community, as well. The reason these influencers were so successful at converting their audience to a sale was because of the relationship and trust they had with their audience. These influencers would turn down sponsorship or ads from brands they didn’t associate with or wouldn’t accept sponsorship from brands who wouldn’t let them talk honestly about their experience with a product. They didn’t push something they didn’t believe in so their audiences trusted them when they said they had a great experience with a product or service. While I certainly wrote scripts for our podcasts and similar advertisements, we always left space for the host to share their honest experience with the platform.
Measuring ROI on events
Sponsorship of events is a cornerstone of marketing and sales strategies. I became meticulous about tracking the amount of domain registrations attached to an event while measuring the spend of sponsorship, sending team members, swag, and all other associated expenses. Of course, events have a brand awareness value that is not as able to be measured such as enabling relationship- and loyalty-building, word-of-mouth marketing, and brand presence. The return on investment (ROI) tracker was not to pursue profit but rather to allow us to better evaluate events or sponsorship going forward. I am still a big believer in associating predicted meetings and meeting value to an event but am firm that events have lasting impact on a brand and that in-person presence matters, especially in competitive markets.
Domain registry had a lasting impact on how I approach marketing
I have carried many of the lessons on partnerships, case studies, influencer marketing, event value, and SERPs rankings with me into my own startup, Metaranx, as well as the fintech startup when planning the 2022 strategy. I learned a lot about ranking in a competitive space, competing for market share, and pursuing unique avenues in paid marketing. Aside from that, I was fortunate to work alongside one of the best and most supportive teams that I have experienced in the tech industry, so far. The leadership there provided flexibility on budget, complete autonomy, and displayed full trust in their individual contributors to do meaningful and impactful work. Thanks to my experiences and successes there, I tell marketing leaders to get creative, not shy away from what your competition is doing, and when in doubt, go niche!