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Great domain names sell themselves.

But that does not mean that there is no role to influence the probability of sale, or to add value.

Not Just Speculators

I sometimes hear those outside our field refer to ‘domain speculators’. That always rubs me the wrong way. While I understand there is a speculative side of domain names, I think emphasizing only that does a disservice to our industry.

True, we hold many names, and only a small percentage will sell in a certain time period. Today there are, according to Dofo, about 26,800,000 domains actively for sale, while NameBio recorded 42,900 sales of $500 or more in 2021. Even if 80% of sales above $500 are not in NameBio, only about one out of every 125 domain names actively for sale will sell in one year.

The difference between acquisition cost and selling price is usually substantial. It needs to be, simply because most names will not sell. It is a speculative market, but are we simply speculators?

Do we call emerging artists, who create many pieces of art, only a few of which may ever sell, but will sell at much more than their supplies cost, speculators?

Or for that matter, the small art or antique gallery owner, do we call them art or collectable speculators?

What about those who invest in startups, are they simply startup speculators? Investors are rewarded from the few startups that prosper, and lose on the larger number that fail.

Domainers may create an original name never before imagined.

They may construct a clever word combination that expresses a powerful idea.

They may see the hidden value in a name long neglected.

They may track down the private owner of an unused name, and bring that name to market.

Domain investors present names for sale in an orderly way, and their investments help make the entire aftermarket survive.

Surely we are not simply speculators?

Just as the art gallery can add value to displayed works, are there simple ways for domain investors to add value?

Value-Added Marketing

The concept of value-added marketing is well known in the business world. Investopedia define it this way:
The term ‘value-added’ describes the economic enhancement a company gives its products or services before offering them to customers. Value-added helps explain why companies are able to sell their goods or services for more than they cost to produce.

While value added can refer to product or service features, or simply be dependent on brand perception, it can also be derived from a better purchase experience. For example, the same artistic work may sell for more in a gallery where works are effectively presented, or the same furnishings may sell for more in a store with friendly and helpful staff.

An important aspect is to view the purchase experience from the potential customer’s perspective. As Investopedia explain
Companies constantly struggle to find competitive advantages over each other. Discovering what customers truly value is crucial for what the company produces, packages, markets, and how it delivers its products.

Oksana Tunikova published an instructive article Value-Added Marketing Done Right: Principles to Learn By Heart
We’ve stepped into the new age of marketing, an age where customers are always put first, and added value is considered the new normal.

Simple Ways To Add Value

Consider the experience from the perspective of a potential client for one of your domain names. If it is a startup or a small existing business, odds are they have never purchased a domain name from the aftermarket.

They have probably heard of GoDaddy, but may not be familiar with other marketplaces. Odds are they will feel nervous, not wanting to overpay, or, worse, buy but not receive the name.

They probably have some sense of the importance of a name, but possibly have not valued the worth of the name to their business in a deep or quantitative way.

So what are some simple ways that you can make the transaction experience better? Beyond that, are there ways to help them feel a confident attachment, almost an emotional attachment, that this name is a good fit for them?

Here is a checklist of easy things that might gently edge the customer experience in the right direction. Not all will be practical for all sellers and names.
  1. Google Search for Name I once read, perhaps at SquadHelp, that a surprisingly high proportion of those who end up buying a name start from a Google search. While as domainers we would first try the domain name in the URL, that is not how many buyers approach it. That means that if you have a domain say EXAMPLE.TLD if someone types {EXAMPLE domain name}, or something similar, into a Google search, you want your lander to rank somewhere on page one of search results. Try it with some of your domains – I think you will be surprised that more often than you might think you already have high search placement. It depends on the lander type and what description words have been used.
  2. A Functional Attractive Lander First impressions matter, and whether they type the domain name in an URL window or click on a link from Google search, you want a functioning lander that makes a positive first impression.
  3. Make BIN Purchase Easy Generally speaking, when I want to buy anything, I don’t want to go through sales people, or wait for a price quotation. I just want to be able to research the purchase online, and then instantly make the purchase. I think many domain buyers, at least for names below $2000, feel similarly. I see merit in a lander with a price given and a prominent buy it now button. Sure, there are exceptions, including most high-value names.
  4. Support Those Who Want Personal Assistance But some purchasers will either have questions they need answered before they commit, or simply want to be assured by talking or chatting with a real person. Does the lander you use support this personal interaction?
  5. Include A Logo If selling a name intended as a company brand, I think a high-quality logo, even if many purchasers will not use it, adds a little bit of value, and may make the difference. For an overworked startup owner, a domain name that includes a logo means one less thing to worry about right now.
  6. Include a Tagline Some names can be used in many ways, but if the application of your name is fairly obvious, why not invest a bit of time in coming up with a tagline for the name. Brainstorming a tagline may help you better understand your name’s potential, as well as help showcase it for the potential buyer.
  7. Emotional Attachment Reflect on automobile commercials. For the most part, they don’t provide specific information, but rather help create a positive emotional engagement. The goal of the advertisement is to help you imagine yourself with the vehicle. This is not as easy with a domain name, but is there a way with a visual or video to create a captivating experience? Anything you can do to help the potential buyer see the name as a fit to their needs is important.
  8. Trust Probably the most important single factor, is that the buyer feels confident that the transaction will be smooth and trustworthy. When we have the same name listed multiple places, we have all seen purchasers who go somewhere other than the lander or lowest price, presumably for trust reasons.
  9. Information When I make a major purchase, I want detailed information. If there are things the purchaser should know, such as a premium renewal, it is best to provide that up front. Also, links to basic information such as how the transfer will work, or how long a purchase typically takes to complete, can make the difference.
  10. Payment Options A big part of auto sales is making payment options easy. Some startups will not be able to pay the up-front total price on a quality domain name. A payment plan that is easily selected, and with terms clearly and completely described, can make the difference of a sale or not.
  11. Add Some Time When apartment vacancy rates were higher, some years ago, it would not be uncommon for those renting apartments to offer incentives such as first month’s rent free or cash back on signing a lease. A domain name that needs to be renewed in the next month or two can give the potential buyer the wrong vibe. Why not have at least a year plus of prepaid registration? It’s like including a full tank of gasoline with an auto purchase. If in negotiation, you might want to offer even more years to help solidify the deal. The cost is minor compared to the retail price of a quality domain name.
  12. Professional Touch If you have the opportunity to interact directly with the potential purchaser, make sure you are professional, positive and helpful. Think of purchases you have made and felt great about Try to emulate what that sales person did for you. Focus not on the name, but the potential buyer and their objectives.

Other Ways To Add Value

I restricted the above list to relatively simple things, most of which can be accomplished through marketplace and lander choices. For a few names, you may wish to consider additional ways to add value, such as:
  • Include one or more social media handles that will transfer to the domain name purchaser. Note that most social mead terms of service do not permit directly selling accounts, however.
  • Lightly develop the name to begin the process of SEO. I think there can be danger, however, as it may narrow application of the name, or if poorly done can be a negative.
  • Include related names For example, both the plural and singular, British and American spelling, the name in multiple extensions, or matching .com and new extension forms. There are potential negatives, though, as it might seem to complicate the process or shake confidence in the fit offered by the primary name. This article on Holding pairs of related domain names may be helpful.
  • Offer after-purchase support If dealing directly with the purchaser, you could offer 30 days of support to help with things such as choosing a hosting provider, getting the name pointed to web hosting, etc.
  • Money back guarantee A few big sellers offer a 30 day return period on names. While one needs to safeguard your interests, this could help build confidence and trust. A low monthly payment plan can also achieve the same thing.

More Information

In addition to an effective lander and presence in search results, an earlier NamePros Blog article considered the many ways that people might discover your domain name, including being in the registration stream.

A number of aspects covered here are related to domain name presentation. Is Domain Presentation Important? was covered earlier in the NamePros Blog.

More narrowly, this article poses 16 questions to ask when selecting a domain name lander, while a visual look at some domain lander options shows you some of the main alternatives.

Is it possible to have too many, or too few, choices on your domain name lander? Are multiple places to buy good? What about both buy-it-now and make-offer?

When discussing a name with a potential purchaser, keep in mind who you are talking to. Think from the perspective of the client’s needs.

The topic of matching social media accounts was covered in this NamePros Blog article.

Many aspects of adding value are really naming as a service, a topic considered in the NamePros Blog in 2020.

The NamePros Blog considered in detail the topic of domain name payment plans in 2019. While the available options have evolved since that article was written, the principles remain relevant.

Last year Eric Lyon commented on the topic of domain development and the value it may add, or subtract, from a domain name.
In short, developing a domain can hurt a domain forever or increase its value and authority. It can be a tightrope walk at times trying not to tip too far to one side and lose balance.

Recently the NamePros Blog looked at ways major sellers optimize the buying process – see how the big sellers do it.

At the end of the day, the quality of your domain name will be the dominant factor in whether it sells or not.

That said, consider the analogy of real estate. If all available real estate was simply on a list with the property location and price, no other information, would property sell as effectively? Domain names can, and do every day, sell by simply being on a marketplace list. That does not mean that we can’t edge up the probability of sale, or the price, through small measures.

I urge readers to add their own ideas for adding value to the domain name purchase experience.
The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
I would like to see domain names including all aspects taught in university business schools. Or perhaps even written about more regularly in the business press.
Hi @ Bob

personally, i disagree.
domaining has thrived for insiders for so long, mainly because of the lack of such, "outside attention" given to it.

sure, there have been features about a domain sale on the news and the conventions that drew outsider attention, but now we deal with competition from registrars and registries for domains, and you want the general public as competitors, too?

you already got
domain academy's, domain graduates, sherpa's, youtube, etc.


The whole domaining sector is failing: it is failing businesses, because the prevailing domaining business model prevents businesses from extracting value from domains.

i never read opinions like that from those who are making money in this game.

time.... gave domains their value in association with events, products or services which contain such keywords.
businesses recognized that you can't have a website without a domain name.

as ecommerce sales increased, then tripled, then quadrupled, so did the need for domains to represent the ideas for products, services, etc. as websites.
that's where registrars and domain resellers come in.

those sites that fail along the way, get renewed/caught/backordered and that cycle continues for all websites with any substance or with no content at all.
that's where registrars and backorder services add value by placing back in rotation
and all that energy in motion creates activity in the speculative market.

so, that's two "value" sets that are perpetual.

I don't wish to debate your point of whether isolation has been good or bad for domain investing as a whole, but did want to clarify what I meant. Sorry if my concise wording lead to misunderstanding.

What I want to see taught in business schools is not as a business field to go into, but rather as a set of knowledge and skills to effectively leverage getting a great name for your business.

What I feel needs to be taught more fully is the role and value of the domain name in the business lifecycle. For eCommerce something akin to the Rosener formula or one of alternatives, or even the DK way of balancing the costs of a physical location in malls to a digital location, as justification for how much a domain name is worth. Part of that would be case studies on the difference a name can make, balanced with cases where rebranding has failed.

Naming agencies and services, processes for naming, things to avoid, what makes a name good, etc. should all be part of it. As should an understanding of the name system, decentralized alternatives, ICANN, registrars, registries, and legal aspects.

While aspects of naming are taught to some degree currently in undergraduate and MBA programs, I think that should be expanded and done in a deeper and more research focussed way. What one names or renames a company is important.

I think it is it good for business owners to know the value of a name in a researched and quantitative way? They will be more prepared to pay what a name is worth, and also to know the ways one can go about finding naming ideas.

So my idea was not to teach it so 100,000 more people enter the field (agree teaching it would mean a few would), but rather so the domain field will be better understood, more efficiently used, and accepted by those outside domain names.

Sorry if my original intention was not clear.

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