Author - Pierre Hage

Buying a URL

Knak.io to Knak.com Animation

What to do when it’s time to join the .com club

Having worked with a number of smaller organizations in my career, I can tell you that it’s a huge moment of pride for the company and the marketing department to finally purchase their .com URL. It feels like a right of passage.

I’ve managed this process a few times already, and I’ve learned a thing or two that can make this milestone less stressful and potentially less expensive.

Here’s a look at why Knak decided to move to knak.com, along with some insight into managing the timing, purchase, and transition at your own organization.

Why invest in knak.com?

Purchasing knak.com was one of the largest marketing investments we’ve made to date. So what made us decide to pull the trigger?

It’s all in the timing. The timing was right, and the opportunity to purchase the URL at a reasonable price presented itself.

Some of my fellow Marketers will disagree, but I believe that owning your .com URL gives your business an increased sense of legitimacy. It may be a bit less relevant than it used to be, but it’s certainly still a factor.

A few other key reasons:

  • It makes Knak easier to find – direct traffic makes up an important part of our website’s traffic, and it’s a common assumption that an established company will own their .com URL.
  • It’s the most recognizable and accessible top-level domain (TDL) – even though it’s 2019, the bias toward .com still exists.
  • It keeps the URL out of the hands of the competition.

How do you know when the time is right?

I’m often asked how you know when the time is right to purchase your .com URL. Unfortunately, there’s no magic moment, but I do think that some times are better than others.

Here are some key markers to help you determine if the time is right:

  • Your company is gaining momentum in the market, and you’re consistently winning new business.
  • Your brand is still somewhat flying under the radar compared to your more established competition.
  • You’re profitable – this is key if you’re funding the purchase yourself, less so if you have outside funding.
  • You’ve received a round of funding or are about to announce funding.
  • You’re about to announce a major corporate or product update.

Making a successful URL purchase

The first step here is knowing what your URL is worth.

Like almost everything else, at the end of the day, the value of the URL is what the market is willing to pay, and that value can increase with the visibility of your brand.

If you’re working with a reputable broker (and I would strongly encourage you to use a broker), they’ll likely have developed an evaluation process to help you arrive at a ballpark figure. Make sure you’re comfortable with the range; once you understand the cost, it’s time to talk to the URL owner.

Here’s how to help it go smoothly:

  1. Use a Broker! Unless you’ve done this in the past, you’ll likely need the help of a professional. Yes, there are fees associated with this service, but a properly structured commission plan should help you get a lower overall purchase price and take the stress out of the transaction. Some additional benefits to using a broker:
    • They assure anonymity, which can help with negotiations.
    • They know the ropes and can advise against tactics that may come back to haunt you.
    • They’ll be willing and able to answer your 1,001 questions.
    • They may have an existing relationship with the seller that can expedite the process
  2. Don’t approach the URL owner until you’re willing and able to make the purchase. Putting out feelers now can make your purchase more expensive down the road because it alerts the seller to your organization and allows them to keep tabs on your growth.
  3. Proceed in good faith. Whether you’re dealing with an individual or a business, at the end of the day, you’re looking for a win-win outcome to your negotiations.
  4. Get creative with your financing. Maybe a lump sum purchase isn’t feasible right now. Some companies that specialize in buying and selling URLs will offer a payment plan. Beware, though – the penalties for missing a payment can be grave. You can lose your URL and forfeit the payments you’ve already made.
  5. Use an escrow service (hint: we like escrow.com). An escrow service will manage the contract and money transfers and help protect both parties. It’s well worth the extra investment, and it may be non-negotiable: most reputable sellers will insist on using an escrow service.

If you haven’t already done so, I’d encourage you to consider purchasing other variations of your URL at the same time (.io, .net, .ca, etc). They can usually be picked up on services like GoDaddy for a few dollars a piece.

What not to do

Unless you have a rock-solid case, avoid going through ICANN to forcefully claim the URL. If you fail, there can be some serious consequences, which can come back and cost you from both a brand and a dollars perspective. Remember: you’re dealing with people. People will remember your actions when you’re negotiating with them, and until you own the URL, you’re vulnerable to retaliation.

Case in point:

Once I inherited a situation where, before I joined the organization, management had attempted to forcefully claim the rights to a URL, only to have the request rejected.

As a consequence, the rightful owner decided to retaliate by directing said URL to an adult website.

In the end, the URL was purchased successfully, but the acquisition price was well above what we had anticipated (and budgeted for). A different approach might have yielded a more positive outcome.

We got the URL! Now what?

Once you’ve completed the purchase, make sure you’re ready for the technical transfer of your URL. That means engaging with your IT team or lining up a trusted consultant ahead of time to make the hand-off and implementation as smooth as possible.

  • Make a list of what will need to be updated with your new URL:
    • Digital assets – website, landing pages, social media, forms, etc.
    • Digital links & redirects.
    • Martech – marketing automation platform, email creation platforms, chat bots, etc.
    • Corporate email – update to the new URL while making sure you maintain access to old inboxes.
    • Printed materials – business cards, swag, banners, handouts, booths, signage, etc.
  • Let your customers and your broader audience know about the switch. Make an announcement and encourage them to take a few steps to ensure it’s business as usual on their end:
    • Update digital bookmarks to the new .com.
    • Add the new .com to their email safe-sender list.
    • Ask them to click the new .com URL to test accessibility. Instruct them to reach out to their IT team to whitelist the new URL if there are any issues.

I would encourage you to check out this article on SEMrush. I would also suggest downloading their comprehensive “Migration Checklist” to help ensure your bases are covered.

Handle the basics first

Purchasing a .com is a big step for an organization. It helps further your brand, protect your brand identity, and make it easier for prospective clients to find you. But, it’s important to remember that it’s not a magic bullet.

If you’re unable to generate leads, struggling to attract the right audience, or experiencing SEO challenges, a .com isn’t going to solve your problems.

My advice would be to hold off on the purchase, and instead, invest your time and money in fixing the fundamentals.

But if you’re ready to move ahead with your URL purchase, congratulations! You’re about to achieve a major milestone in the life of your organization, and we want to be the first to welcome you to the .com club.

For some helpful advice on naming your URL, check out “How to Choose a Domain Name” on Moz’s blog.

Recap: MarTech East 2019

Knak Team at MarTech East

Top trends and takeaways from Boston

I look forward to any opportunity to connect with fellow Marketers, and MarTech East, which took place in Boston last month, was no exception. After all, if you truly want to know what’s top-of-mind for your peers, the best way to find out is to spend a few days deep-diving into conversation with them. It’s the most direct (and enriching) way to keep a finger on the pulse of an entire profession.

I’m also a big believer in the value of giving your team the opportunity to attend conferences. They get to meet people they might not otherwise interact with and gain valuable insight into the current state of your industry; you get the benefit of extending your organization’s reach and having a greater impact while you’re there.

For this event, we didn’t pull any punches. Our CEO, COO, Lead Email Developer, and I made the trip and spent three days chatting with Marketers from every type of industry, with every variation of job title.

Here are my key takeaways from the event, and why I left with the reminder that we’re all in this together.

What’s Trending?

I came across quite a few trends at the show, but the two that everyone was talking about were Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Are CDPs the next big thing?

CDPs have been buzz-y for the last few years, so it’s no surprise that I saw an abundance of CDP product offerings at the conference.
Unfortunately, lots of my fellow marketers are asking questions that seem to be motivated more by a fear of missing the bandwagon than by an actual understanding of the pros and cons of CDPs.

The fact of the matter here is that most organizations are already collecting and analyzing various types of customer data with the goal of getting a single view of their customers. So are CDPs the next big MarTech trend? The one that will move the needle and improve the bottom line? Or is the buzz simply being created by a few influential MarTech companies looking to create a market for their latest technology? The answer remains to be seen, but for better or worse, I don’t see the CDP hype dying down anytime soon.

What role will AI / Machine Learning play in the future?

AI was another hot topic, with many companies presenting their take on how to best use AI in a MarTech stack. Based on the number of conversations I had about AI, it’s something most Marketers are considering (in fact, Litmus predicted that AI would be one of the top email design trends for 2019).

The general consensus seems to be that it’s too early to make any big bets on AI, but if I were a betting man, I’d wager that it will dominate MarTech offerings in the coming years. The solutions will be similar to what’s available today, but with AI added to enhance performance. I imagine we’re still a few years away from a huge AI-powered MarTech breakthrough, but I don’t think it’s too far off.

Email Creation is a Universal Hang-Up

It’s always a positive feeling when your peer group reinforces your corporate “why.” It’s like checking your compass and seeing that, yes, you’re still moving in the right direction. So while I’m sorry to hear that the email creation process is still as painful as ever, it’s a good reminder to the Knak team that the work we’re doing is vital.

From the conversations I had, it was abundantly clear that most Marketers — Knak customers not included, of course — tackle email marketing the same way they’ve been doing it for years: develop a concept, wait for a designer to build the email, wait for feedback, wait for design changes, wait for approval, wait, wait, wait.

Knak’s goal has always been to simplify life for Marketers, so if we can eliminate one major headache-inducing activity from their day-to-day by simplifying email creation, we’re hitting our mark.

Face Time for the Win

One of my favorite parts of going on the road is the chance to connect with our customers and prospects in real time. In a world full of video conferencing and email, nothing beats face-to-face conversation, so we took the opportunity to host a VIP dinner get everyone together in the same room.

Knak Customer Dinner (Martech East)Our main intention for the dinner was to build relationships with our fellow marketers, but something else great happened: we got to introduce our prospective clients to existing Knak customers.

I truly appreciated the evening for what it was: a chance to put aside the business agenda and connect with some amazing likeminded people who share our passion for marketing.

It’s the People

In addition to the technical insight and great conversations, I left MarTech East with a renewed appreciation for the commonalities that Marketers share.
No matter what technology we add to our stack or what innovations change the game in the next two or three years, Marketing will continue to be a people-driven field, and I’m grateful to be part of a field — and a team — filled with such dedicated, creative people.