You’re not the only one marketing your brand
Brand awareness, lead or sales generation, retention, and cost per acquisition. Marketing’s objectives haven’t changed substantially over time. However, the methods for reaching customers and prospects have. While events, sales promotion, advertising, and public relations are still important, digital marketing is now central to successful marketing strategies.
It’s important to remember, though, that you’re not the only one marketing your brand. There are others, such as the loyal customer who has infringed on your IP by setting up a fan page that misuses your company logo and inadvertently damages your reputation. Or fraudsters who try to make a quick buck by putting up websites that mimic yours, and it’s working.
Only a comprehensive domain name strategy enables you to manage risks from friends and foes alike. If you don’t fully understand the digital brand portfolio you own, you can’t conquer the online challenges that build or damage your brand.
Reputation is everything. It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.
Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway
The Digital Brand Audit
Effective domain management strategies start with a digital audit. Do your domains point to live sites, or are you sending your registration money down the drain? Search engine optimisation is now a central part of the marketing armoury, but if SEO if going to be worth the time and money, domains have to be operational in the first place. A single domain may only cost a nominal amount a year, but if you have a thousand, that’s a sizeable marketing expense that could usefully be allocated elsewhere. A domain audit will set you on the right path by asking questions like:
- How many domain names does your company own?
- Do they all redirect to appropriate content?
- What high impact/high risk domain names are available?
- Which domains are you paying for that could be lapsed without risk?
- What new gTLDs should you register, either with an eye to future use or to protect your brand from a new round of cybersquatting?
- Do you keep social media and domain credentials—such as usernames and passwords—in a central location?
- Are you ready to register your username on the next big thing to both protect and build the brand?
Before you move on to the next big thing in marketing, it’s time to get your digital house in order. Start with a domain name strategy.
Protect your digital marketing assets
Whatever your digital brand audit uncovers, it is vital to act on the results. Digital assets require continuous nurturing as new products are launched and existing ones move through their product lifecycle. Many companies invest in SEO without first laying the groundwork with domain name strategy. Are the right domains registered? How much traffic actually gets there?
Marketing professionals are eager to gain insight into customer behaviour while taking an interest in what product, technology and operations teams can deliver. But there is a danger in launching marketing campaigns and bypassing the organisation’s overall intellectual property strategy. Larger companies may have well-established protocols for naming new brands, but often decisions are made by simply checking whether a domain is available. This is essential, but not enough. Brands that operate in many markets will need to check availability of country-specific domains as well as top-level ones. Trademarks need to be established. So do usernames for social media platforms. The IP strategy must be clear who does what—and where.
It’s not uncommon for us to come across larger brands with a 1,000 or even 2,000 registered domains that they own or that are infringements. Their own registrations are almost certainly excessive. We recommend companies use domain name management services that also protect a brand’s store of digital marketing assets such as apps, and social media handles and usernames. Having a consolidated overview allows us to instantly see where the trouble lies. If, as Warren Buffett says, it takes only five minutes to ruin your reputation, speed is of the essence.
Domain management is central to everything that follows: eCommerce, social media, and apps. It’s the building block. The core. Getting everything in order allows you to concentrate on doing what you do best—communicating your brand and targeting the right audience.