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Most investors sell predominantly on the major domain marketplaces. However, a number of individual investors maintain a website, either for occasional direct sales, or as their main sales channel.

There are a number of large portfolio domain name sellers. In this article, I take a look at four of them to see how these large portfolio sellers approach domain name selling. The four that I studied, HugeDomains, BuyDomains, DomainMarket and NameFind, have all been in business for a number of years and have huge portfolios.

I specifically looked for website ideas and features that could be translated to a much smaller portfolio operated by a single investor. Let’s first look at the history of each site.

BuyDomains

BuyDomains was originally started by Mike Mann in 1999. He subsequently sold BuyDomains, and now BuyDomains is a division of the Endurance International Group.

BuyDomains have a scrolling list of daily sales, that data ending up in NameBio. Over the past year there were more than 5200 sales from BuyDomains reported, with an average price of just under $2300. That corresponds to an annual dollar volume of about $12 million. Sales below $1000 are not publicly disclosed by BuyDomains, so the actual volume is higher.

DomainMarket

After he sold BuyDomains, Mike Mann started a new premium domain company called DomainMarket in 2007. The size of the DomainMarket portfolio is probably several hundred thousand names. DomainMarket only reports a small fraction of select sales, however, so we don’t know how many domains they sell each year.

HugeDomains

HugeDomains was created in 2005, starting with about 8000 domain names. Their portfolio is now estimated at several million names. HugeDomains does not report sales or precise portfolio size.

HugeDomains is a branch of TurnCommerce, with registrar NameBright, and expiring domain catch service DropCatch the other main divisions.

@Robbie outlines a bit of the history of HugeDomains. He estimates that HugeDomains must sell something of the order of $1 million per week in order to have a viable business model.

NameFind

The premium portfolio division of GoDaddy operates as NameFind. Their portfolio has mainly been built through major acquisitions. For example, in 2016 they acquired a 200,000 name portfolio from Marchex for $28.1 million in cash, as well as some other considerations. In 2020 their acquisition of Uniregistry included about 350,000 premium domain names that had been assembled by Frank Schilling.

While NameFind do not provide sales data, Jamie Zoch (@DotWeekly) tracks movement of names from the NameFind portfolio, and reports them on his social media account.

Paul Nicks commented in this thread started by James Iles. Paul indicated that NameFind use Afternic as their main sales vehicle. The buy-it-now Afternic landers were first tried on the NameFind portfolio before being made available to everyone.

My Goal: Find Implementable Ideas

I studied each of the four sites. I specifically was looking for things that could be translated to use with a much smaller portfolio operated by a single investor. Here is what I found.

Building Trust

Many potential customers will be purchasing an aftermarket domain name for the first time, and may well not be familiar with the company. It is important to build trust.

HugeDomains say on page one:
Since 2005, we've helped thousands of people find the perfect domain name.

DomainMarket states
Thousands of entrepreneurs, creative directors, and web developers found the perfect domain through our carefully curated list of premium domains. Go find yours today!

They also make the claim
Our team has successfully completed more premium domain name transactions than any other group.

Some contain examples of sites using domain names purchased from their market, and testimonials from customers. Interestingly, one of the cases shared at BuyDomains was the name Estibot.com.

Contact Us

One challenge a small investor has in competing with giants, is how to staff some sort of responsive contact method. All of these large sites offer phone contact, most have a contact form or email options as well. In addition BuyDomains offers a chat option.

Please share, in the discussion below, methods you use to interact with potential customers.

Use Buy-It-Now Prices

All four businesses use buy-it-now pricing for the vast majority of their listings. It is easy for a buyer to instantly purchase a name. In some cases they use make offer, or a combination.

Variety In Prices

While the vast majority of names for sale were priced between $1000 and $7500, not very different from how individual investors price names, most of the sites offered prices both below and above this range.

Sometimes individual investors price most of their names in a small range above $2000. At least two of these large markets include some names priced well down into the few hundred range. For example, the day I checked Huge Domains offered more than 200 names, admittedly a tiny percentage, at prices below $500, some for as little as $188. BuyDomains offer many thousands of names at prices below $500, some as low as $288.

One advantage in offering domain names with a variety of pricing is that buyers may be attracted by a name they consider in their range, but subsequently decide they really want a better name at a higher price.

Two of the sites are very fond of prices ending in 88, a number associated with luck in some cultures.

Mainly .com

All four markets primarily offer .com domain names.

BuyDomains show a number of extensions, including some country code and new extensions, in their search box, but it seems most names are .com. Over the past year, BuyDomains sales in NameBio include 206 .net and 200 .org among about 5200 sales in total.

DomainMarket has 10 TLDs in their search interface, but, as far as I could tell, their holdings are almost entirely .com. Certainly the wording on their site pushes people to only consider .com.

It is interesting that these large operations don’t seem to have moved into .io in any significant way, even though the extension has been strong for years, nor into .xyz, despite the recent trend in that extension.

Monthly Payment Plans

HugeDomains, in particular, stress that any name can be purchased on a payment plan, and that financing comes with 0% interest.

Money Back Guarantee

Have you considered offering a ‘no questions asked’ money-back guarantee? That is exactly what HugeDomains promote. You can read the eligibility and terms here. Essentially the guarantee lasts 30 days, the domain name must not have moved registrar, nor been used for anything that would damage it.

Do You Want The Domain This Hour?

When people buy something, they want it quickly. One advantage single-source domain places have, since they own the names, is that there is no reason why a transfer need take more than an hour or two. HugeDomains stress this:
In most cases access to the domain will be available within one to two hours of purchase, however access to domains purchased after business hours will be available within the next business day.
I think this is a feature individual investors could promote, as long as they use a registrar that allows fast approval of transfers. Have you considered a normally two hour delivery time during business hours promotion?

Search – More Like This

I spent time investigating search on each site. In most cases, it is simple contains search, that can be combined with things like price range. HugeDomains allow you to select begins with, ends with or contains.

BuyDomains have a button beside each search result for More Like This. While it gives obvious results, I still like the idea. For example, for the name ShoesRepaired the button would return results that include either the word shoe or repair.

HugeDomains allows you to order search results alphabetically, or by increasing or decreasing price, or length.

DomainMarket advanced search allows you to restrict results by length, included and excluded keywords, price range, TLDs and language. The language option is interesting, and it seems DomainMarket has domain names from many different languages. They offer search in 10 TLDs, but the vast majority of their names are in .com.

Use Categories

On a site with millions of domain names, using categories can help limit search to meaningful results. You can see the categories used by DomainMarket here.

At BuyDomains, a category tab can be used to narrow search results. You can see the full set of BuyDomains categories at this link.

NameFind offers a small set, just six, of categories in the search result window.

Just Sold

The constantly rotating list of names that sold today at BuyDomains leaves an impression. It helps establish that this is a place where others are actively buying, and that the prices being asked are being paid by others.

While most individual sellers would have a modest list, showing names with prices sold this month or year might help build trust.

Downloadable Search Results

What do you think of allowing a user to download your entire portfolio in spreadsheet format? Certainly that could make it easier for a branding committee who wanted to analyze and present options. At DomainMarket search you can download any search results in spreadsheet compatible format. The download just gives the domain name and price.

Featured Domains

The splash page at NameFind highlights a number of domain names that are currently featured, one in a seasonal list and one featured domains in general.

HugeDomains list a small set of featured domains on their home page.

Media

There was not much use of video. BuyDomains do have a video entitled Set Your Business Up For Success on their entry page.

While the sites, for the most part, have social media accounts, they do not seem to employ them in a major way. There is room for an individual investor to do better, in my opinion.

FAQs

Most of the sites have sections for frequently asked questions. See the comprehensive HugeDomains FAQ section here. HugeDomains also offer a visually attractive domain buyer guide.

Including a frequently asked questions section is something any investor can implement, and it will help close sales.

The Case For A Premium Domain Name

Most of the sites make the case for obtaining a premium domain name. For example, on their lead page BuyDomains state.
When you buy a Premium Domain name, you are also buying strong branding potential, high recall, and the ability to attract more traffic to your site. Finding a relevant domain name to your business will provide you a storefront online, allowing your customers the most access to your products as possible. Your domain name is an investment that is easy to map back to success, and the perfect available domain name is just around the corner.

HugeDomains make the case this way.
Your domain is your first impression The URL is the first thing users see and will be the thing they make a point to remember. Good domains provide a positive, lasting experience.
Your domain helps define credibility Good domains support your intention by being relevant and memorable. A unique domain provides credibility, brandability, and authority.

DomainMarket points out that they actually first defined the term premium domain.

I think this is an aspect that small investor sites can, and should, implement.

Targeted Advertising

One of the sites paid for targeted online advertising that popped up when I was later searching on the web, offering me the specific domain name I had searched for at a 10% discount.

Comments

None of the four include logos, visual images, descriptions or information, such as age, in search results.

For the most part, and probably for obvious reasons, the sites do not mention domain name appraisals. DomainMarket does link to their affiliated appraisal site, AccurateAppraisals, that offers human appraisals for $88.

Like it or not, these large players are your main competition when selling domain names. It is worth spending an hour or two on the sites to know your competition.

It would be interesting to similarly analyze the brandable marketplaces in terms of what features and information they offer, and I may do that for a future NamePros Blog article.

I welcome, particularly from those who sell directly from their own site or are considering doing so, comments on features of the site they consider important in helping to turn browsers into buyers.

A Request

I plan to write an early 2022 NamePros Blog post with a selection of opinions on what the year ahead may hold for domain name investing. Whether you have been in domain investing for more than a decade, or are relatively new, I hope you will go over to my What Will 2022 Hold Request thread, vote in the poll, and leave your opinion in the form of a comment. Thank you.

Update: The probable size of the DomainMarket portfolio was updated in a change posted Dec. 13, 2021.
 
The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.

Heisenberg.d

Established Member
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Excellent article, Having a website ( More like identity) for selling online products even for small investors is a must.

I too manage a small wordpress site and an email id just in case, which I will upgrade in future for sure. But putting the whole portfolio (which is still small) into my site is still not preferred, especially if aftermarkets are more reliable from a customer perspective.
 
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