Archive for June, 2015

An open letter to all new TLD operators

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

Tony KirschBy Tony Kirsch
17 June 2015

Dear TLD operators,

As many of you will know from my previous posts, I’m pretty passionate about our new TLD industry and genuinely believe we are all working towards a goal that will provide something truly special for future generations to embrace.

However, speaking candidly (as is the Australian way), I think we’d all agree that there is much to do to get new TLDs into the mainstream in a timely manner. And as new TLD applicants, we all have a responsibility to work together to ensure the success of our industry for years to come.

Based upon this view and after 12 months of contemplation and some assistance and support from a few industry leaders, we’ve just launched a webinar for all TLD applicants.

Thus, the TLD Operator Webinar is now scheduled for June 30 and information is available at www.tldoperator.help for those that would like to register or understand more about this initiative.

Since our soft launch last week, we’ve had over 200 applicants register for the webinar and plenty of comments of support from the industry which really demonstrates appetite for this on a global level. With about two weeks to go until the webinar, we’re hoping we can double this number and provide useful information to a large sector of the new TLD applicant base.

The TLD Operator Webinar is designed to provide all new TLD applicants with an opportunity to share their experiences and learn from each other – away from the confines of the typical ICANN discussions on policy and so on. Put simply, it is about TLD Operators helping other TLD Operators learn how to maximise the return on your investment and make your mark on the future of the Internet– whether you’re a generic, geographic or brand TLD.

The webinar is free, lasts only 60 minutes and will provide attendees with unique insight from other TLD Operators based on what has and hasn’t worked for them so far.

I am extremely excited by the quality of speakers we’ve been able to assemble, including

• Donuts (Largest portfolio TLD applicant)
• Monash University (World’s first .brand)
• .club (Highly successful generic TLD)
• .berlin & .sydney (Leading city TLDs)
• .sucks (High profile TLD in the news)

The TLD Operator Webinar is open to all applicants only (and/or nominated advisors) and will not be a forum for industry sales or promotion in any way. I should also reiterate as per recent media reports, that this initiative is not a formal community group in any way, simply an attempt to utilise a webinar for the benefit of all new TLDs.

I welcome you to join us for the TLD Operator Webinar and look forward to sharing some unique insights at this pivotal time in our industry.

Kind Regards

Tony Kirsch
Head of Global Consulting
ARI Registry Services

How to maximise registrations through effective Registrar relationships

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

RyanBakerBy 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.