One night at a domain name conference I bought a domain name for $2000. It changed the direction my business was heading – in a good way.
I was a serial domain name investor, flipping domains and websites for profit. With this new domain I had just purchased, I knew that I’d be able to develop a car loan lead generation machine. Unfortunately, however, the domain name wasn’t a brand that we could wrap an entire business around.
Here I was, fronting as someone who invests in domain names for future resale value and development. This was a real philosophical change: now I needed a name for my fledging car loans business. I already knew the name I had to have: CarLoans.com.au. And – of course – that name was not available.
This is the same for so many Australians every day. The best domain names are often unavailable. CarLoans.com.au was already registered by someone else. So I reached out to the registered owner of CarLoans.com.au and got no response. I emailed a few more times and continued to get no response. I took one positive out of that: I reasoned that if I emailed him and didn’t get a response, neither would any of my competitors.
Somewhat deflated I settled on the business name and purchased the domain name beep.com.au. We started to build a business around the ‘beep’ brand from our lead generation website, and we were going OK. But building a brand takes a long time and costs a lot of money.
I knew there was a shortcut. I simply had to get my hands on CarLoans.com.au. I knew that with this name we’d be seen to be the dominant force in the industry by consumers. I knew it would give us the perceived credibility we needed to grow our start-up into a real industry player. Consumers would be more willing to buy from CarLoans.com.au than ‘beep’, a brand they have never heard of because it was as-yet largely unestablished.
I was telling this story to a good friend of mine who works as a pilot for an American airline. He regularly flew to Sydney. It was the perfect storm. He had just received large praise from a domainer industry publication and so I thought that we might as well give it a shot. He emailed the owner of CarLoans.com.au and he actually got a response. I suppose the owner of CarLoans.com.au had googled his name and discovered his profile. We had found a way to acquire the name, and the rest is history.
By having the best domain name, people naturally assumed we were the biggest and the best, but even I had no idea of the immediate uplift we would experience. Every conversion metric we had increased. We got more website visitors for less, more leads from those visitors and, ultimately, more sales. We no longer had to educate people what ‘beep’ was, as our new domain name CarLoans.com.au was literally descriptive of the business. No explanation was required. Overnight, we became a major player. Turnover went from $60 million to $100 million, allowing us to move from a modest 300 square metre office to a whole floor – 1000 square metres – of a major office block in North Sydney.
The best advice I can give to any new business owner is to invest in the best descriptive domain name you can afford. In time – and not that much time – it will pay for itself handsomely.
We know more and more people are going online to buy, research, relax and otherwise transact and interact. Today, more than ever before, you need a strong web presence to be successful. The best domain name can easily cement you as the market leader.
Shaun McGowan is director at carloans.com.au.