Exciting New Choices for Top Level Domains (TDLs) in 2014

Domain Names 2014This year is bringing a major overhaul to the internet as the oldest and most basic form of user online navigation – top level domains (TLDs) – will have exciting new choices. Since the internet’s inception, large companies and small businesses alike relied on extensions like .com, .org, and .net. In just the past few months, a plethora of new generic top level domains like .app, .photo, .shoes, .support and more have launched, and a number of new extensions, such as .expert, .market, .business, .blue, .eat, .health, .DIY, .tour, .wine, .space (and MUCH more) are set to launch, creating a wonderful array of extremely targeted domain names.

Bringing these new extensions to the market is not a simple process. Already years in the making, this process includes a Sunrise and a Landrush period which is designed to make it fair for everyone in the market. ICANN, the organization that governs the internet, has begun this multistep process in order to protect trademark holders as well as give everyone else a fair chance at registering the domain names they desire.

Every new domain extension released must mandate a Sunrise period of at least 30 days, during which trademark holders will be given the chance to claim domain names that are associated with their trademarks. The general public will not be allowed to purchase or register any domain during this time. If multiple trademark holders seek the same domain name, a dispute will be filed & arbitrated OR the domain name will go to auction, ending up with the highest bidder.

The Landrush period is directly following the close of the Sunrise period. Although optional, this step is almost always utilized by new registries. This period is used to offer up premium domains and premium prices. Extremely generic, category specific, or popular terms (think Cars.com or Hotel.com) will be sold, but at prices that could put a dent in even large budgets.

General availability will follow the Landrush period and anyone in the general public will be able to purchase domain names from registrars. These custom domain names will be made available at sites like GoDaddy.com, Register.com, NetworkSolutions.com, and 1and1.com.

Here are a few tips to consider when navigating the influx of new domains:

1. The Early Bird Gets the Worm-

Thousands of new domain extensions could potentially be released in the next year, but not all of them will be relevant to your business, brand, or name. Check out this TLD launch dates link to keep track of when new extensions will be released and when their Sunrise & Landrush periods will take place.

2. Use the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH)-

Instead of committing a huge number of hours working to defend your trademark by registering hundreds of new extension options, use the Trademark Clearing house. Not only is this a mandatory step for participating in the Sunrise period, but it also will provide you with a notification should someone attempt to buy a domain that contains a mark you’re register for under ANY of the new extensions.

3. Utilize the Full Domain Name-

Up until the surge of new domain extensions, names and keywords to the left of the dot were the most important. Now, since the rules have changed, selecting domains requires thinking about both sides of the dot. Domains like Tennis.Shoes, Pittsburgh.Cafe, Health.Careers, and even Pet.Supply will now become available.

4. “Pre-Register” –

New Domain Real EstateMany registrars are offering the ability to pre-register for new domains. While this is a great way to get a jump on the names you want before they are released to the public, it does not guarantee that you will end up with that domain. If another company or person has purchased the domain during the Sunrise or Landrush period, it will not be available by the time public purchase begins. Also, if someone else has “pre-registered’ for the same domain name through a different registrar, you may end up losing out if their registrar wins rights to the name first.

It is still a good idea to pre-register so you can put yourself first in line for the release date. This will also allow you to be informed about important dates or activity on your desired domain.

5. Understand the Value of Your Domain Name-

Although TLDs will not be as expensive as the more popular dotcoms, some generic terms may face extremely high market values, especially during the Sunrise or Landrush auctions. It’s best to determine what a specific domain name would be worth to you and your company should multiple parties become interested in the domain.

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Is Facebook leaving businesses feeling unappreciated?

Facebook MarketingHave you thrown hundreds to thousands of dollars at Facebook Ad & Marketing campaigns only to feel like you’re not seeing any bang for your buck? You are not alone. In a recent report done by Forrester.com, business executives felt that Facebook creates less business value than any other digital marketing opportunity.

Although small business & brands have reaped the benefits of positive social relationships with consumers on Facebook for years, there has been a lack of real results on the social network. But why is that? Facebook gives businesses access to the largest audience in media history, but more and more businesses & brands are finding that Facebook pages are a bad investment. In fact, in the same Forrestor.com study, it was found that posts on Brand Pages were only seen by 16% of fans. We, as businesses, are running paid ad campaigns to build our fans so that we can engage with them, but Facebook is not delivering the content. Everyone who clicks the “Like” button on a brand’s Facebook page is volunteering to receive that brand’s messages, so it only makes sense that fans should get to see every update.

Instead, Facebook has shifted its focus to promoting posts. To get fuller exposure, businesses now have to spend even more money to promote a single post, photo or video. Many small businesses or new brands are already spending a huge chunk of their Facebook marketing budget on tiny sidebar ads that try to garner “Likes” by potential customers. Does it not seem redundant to first pay for an ad that increases your fans, and then pay again for those very fans to see just a single post on your business/brand page?

Facebook Post PromotionFor the mere sum of $5 – $300, you can “Promote” a post, whether that’s a link to your blog or website or an interesting photo/video/sales ad, with the promise of having your post reach from 500-50,000 people. This actually ends up being close to $6-$10 CPM, which is generally what large brands or corporations pay for premium ad inventory. For a small business, the return could be far too minimal to even consider. Compared to alternatives such as Google Adwords or other options for promoting your ACTUAL website, Facebook ad costs are unreasonably expensive.

Most businesses & brands are under the impression that they pay for an ad to help increase page likes which will create a database of users that can be connected with at will. Instead, Facebook has made it so that businesses are paying to build a list of people which can then be advertised to (at the business’s expense of course).

A few weeks ago, Facebook hammered another nail into the coffin of small business pages by introducing News Feed FYI. The new algorithm that shows relevant & responses on users’ news feed has caused a business’s or brand’s organic reach to decrease on average of about 44%. Some even have seen decreases of up to 88%!

Luckily, with all of the negative aspects of Facebook for businesses, there is no need to give up hope. There are a few ways you can still see success on Facebook, even with their new algorithms, and no, you don’t need to pay.

Brand Advocates, or people who highly recommend brands and products without being paid to do so, are a company’s most engaged, loyal and valuable customers. They act as a volunteer sales and marketing force that will connect with their friends, family & acquaintances to promote your products or services with little to no prodding necessary. In fact, a Brand Advocate’s recommendations are the number one influencer of purchase decisions and brand perceptions in nearly every product category; from electronics, to travel, & consumer goods. While ads can be ignored or skipped, a friend or family member’s recommendation on a product or service is much more likely to be followed.

So, how do we reach these Brand Advocates? Facebook actually has a successful way to do this. Sharing an offer is a great way for companies to get noticed and to stay relevant. These offers will fuel Advocates with the content you want shared, which their friends will be able to see, consume and possibly even act on it. Companies that systematically identify & energize Brand Advocates are seeing at least a 10X ROI in media and sales value, according to an analysis done by imediaconnection.com on the Zuberance-powered advocacy program. That means the ROI is exponentially greater than just focusing on promoting posts or Facebook ads.

Rich Media Ad

An example of a mobile Rich Media Ad – Credit: allfacebook.com

Interactivity also plays a huge role in the success of user engagement. Rich media ads that allow users to interact and then share their results are becoming increasingly popular. For example, a user sees an ad for a new Chevy Spark. By simply interacting with the ad, they can change the color of the car as they please. If they want to then share this personalized ad, the ad will ask permission & then share the personalized ad on the user’s news feed, which is seen by family & friends. These rich media ads combine tailored audience building & premium placement in the news feed with a very rich & engaging ad creative.

The company PointRoll has had some very measurable success with rich media ads.  A large retail brand hired PointRoll to create a rich media ad campaign that would work to drive reach & exposure on Facebook mobile. According to their results, they successfully garnered a reach of more than 8 million users, and the click-through rate was a whopping 17.28 percent.

So while focusing on Facebook Ads & post promoting may not fare well for small businesses or brands, utilizing Brand Advocates and Rich Media Ads has proven to be quite successful.

Tell us how you feel? Have you found much success on Facebook?

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