By Ryan Baker
There are some surefire ways to get channel engagement and drive registrations, but doing what everyone else is doing is not going to cut it in the world of new TLDs.
Successful Registrar engagement requires an investment of time far in advance of what some Registry Operators appear to be expecting, both in terms of ongoing relationship management as well as continually providing tools which make it easier for Registrars to sell your extension over other TLDs.
There are a number of methods that we use to help drive registrations including:
– PR and media activities,
– pre- and post-launch ambassador programs, and
– Registrar co-marketing programs.
In addition, providing collateral or examples of real-world TLD usage to Registrars can simplify their task of reaching out to their client base and converting them to registrations. Examples may include providing case studies of fully developed digital brands based on key domains within your TLD or highlighting relevant media which discusses the benefits of the TLD program generally and your TLD specifically.
Today I would like to expand on ambassador programs which are one area that is typically underutilised by the majority of TLD operators. In addition, I will outline the amount of effort required to deeply engage Registrars which is often misunderstood by those just entering the TLD industry.
Getting the word out
While the sleeping giant of .brand TLDs will eventually catapault new gTLDs to the forefront of global awareness, in the first instance the best way to bring the power of a brand to the attention of your potential registrants is through an effective TLD ambassador program.
At ARI, our strategy has been to engage with high-profile ambassadors prior to and after launch of our clients’ TLDs, providing a boost to marketing activities and a way to kick-start registrations by showcasing some big names already on board.
One of the strongest forms of marketing is third party endorsement and when it comes to promoting TLDs, the easiest way to achieve this is through an ambassador program. For example, when .sydney launched into General Availability, iconic Sydney landmarks such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge (www.bridgeclimb.sydney) and the famous Luna Park amusement park (www.lunapark.sydney) were already part of the .sydney community. The benefit of an effective ambassador program is that prominent businesses are immediately seen to be adopting your extension and demonstrating use. But there is another significant benefit to the Registrar channel if used correctly. A successful ambassador program provides an invaluable resource to your Registrars – making their task of promoting your TLD that much easier and keeping you top-of-mind above your competitors. A Registrar with effective products is much more likely to be a Registrar incentivised to sell your domains.
Keeping Registrars engaged
The balance of power has shifted somewhat with the introduction of so many new gTLDs. Registrars and resellers now have more products to put on their shelves and getting your product placed in the front window can prove difficult.
While it is important to have the broadest range of Registrars accredited to sell your product so no sales are lost, with so much competition for a Registrar’s eye it is often important to prioritise and find the Registrars who are most willing to work with your extension. Identifying Registrars whose existing customer base has a synergy with your target market is an easy choice, as is looking for Registrars who are receptive to your ongoing marketing efforts and focusing on making their job of selling as easy as possible.
To be clear, it’s important to treat all Registrars equally in terms of access to information, but you certainly don’t have to focus your efforts equally in terms of ongoing relationship management.
Cultivating strong working relationships with those Registrars who show they are willing to promote your TLDs and from whom you get the best results will ensure you get best bang for marketing buck.
Managing a Registrar channel is also an exceptionally time consuming process and spending five minutes on the phone daily with 35 Registrars versus deeply engaging with several Registrars who are helping you gain registrations is an easy choice. The reality is that there isn’t enough time in the day to develop the tools you will require and to engage all Registrars in the use of those tools, as well as engaging with your most successful Registrants. Prioritising your efforts is key.
Avoid the balancing act
While the process seems simple – supplying Registrars with the tools they need to sell, then building on success stories to provide additional sales tools and incentive for Registrars, and awareness for the market – the reality is that it’s a complex one.
It takes an innovative marketing plan and a real and continued effort to maintain and build upon Registrar relationships, as well as finding and promoting early adopters.
For many Registry Operators, especially those without a large portfolio of TLDs to manage, balancing these two functions in addition to all the other aspects of running a TLD can be overwhelming. Trying to divide resources and manage both alone could mean not realising the full potential of either strategy.
In these instances, Registry Operators may wish to consider splitting their efforts with a trusted partner: a partner who can help them build these Registrar relationships and allow them to really focus on finding and promoting innovative usage within their TLD.
At ARI, we have years of experience managing the day to day activities of building and maintaining Registrar relationships. There is a lot that goes into this process – whether it’s picking up the phone to make sure you remain top-of-mind, to giving your channel regular updates on your marketing and public relations efforts so they have all the tools they need to promote your TLD.
Many Registrars have trouble determining ‘which horse to back’ in a race whose entrants are multiplying by the day. Building relationships with Registrars, providing dedicated attention when one is showing particular interest or enthusiasm and supplying them with resources to make their job easier all take a necessary time and effort commitment, but it’s not one that every Registry Operator has the capacity to handle in-house.
When it comes to making the most of your relationship with resellers and registrars, an experienced partner means you have one less thing to worry about. Change is coming, but it can be a tricky road to navigate alone.