In order to form a registered business entity within the United States, cities and the federal government require a business name, physical address and telephone number. Although a domain name is not required to start a business, some might argue that it should be.
As commerce continues to evolve and customers expect immediate and around-the-clock access to information, products or services, it is easy to see how a website will soon become central to every business’s marketing efforts. And in order for a business to build a website – and its online identity – it needs a domain name.
Late adopters, be warned: 627,200 new employer firms began operations in 2008, according to the Small Business Administration, the organization dedicated to providing support to small businesses in the United States. Competition for good domain names will only get fiercer.
In the following online-business marketing infographic, Mike Blumenthal, local-search expert, points out, “A business name, a phone number and a domain that NEVER change are at the core of a [small or medium business's] online identity. Name, phone and domain; these elements are the glue that allows for both branding, and for the value of that branding to come back to the business. Pick them well and make every effort to retain them forever.”
A Company’s Domain Name Is Its Brand
When users click on a link or enter a domain name into their browser, they can immediately recognize where their browser is taking them. That recognition becomes part of a business’s brand; as any savvy marketing professional knows, building brand is necessary for business success.
In addition to acting like a sign on a store, a business’s domain name serves two other important branding purposes:
- In email communications with potential and existing customers, the firstname.lastname@example.org email address provides consistent and repetitive branding of a business’s domain name.
- When links are shared publicly, branded URLs, such as www.website.com/small-biz-presentation, not only provide valuable information through the link, but also generate referral clicks and visitors to the remainder of the website.
Extend the Domain Name Brand to Social Networks
Branding can easily be extended to Linkedin, Google+, Twitter, Facebook and other social networks using usernames that match a business’s domain name. For example, DomainSherpa can be found on Twitter at http://twitter.com/domainsherpa and on Facebook at http://facebook.com/domainsherpa.
The availability of social-network usernames can be researched at namecheck.com. (DomainSherpa used this service when selecting their company name.)
Third-party social networks allow a business to easily communicate with current or potential customers, gain feedback, and a host of other benefits.
Social Media Should Be Secondary, Not Primary
Given the many benefits of social networks, it might be tempting to set up shop exclusively on a social media site or through a third-party retail site. Doing so, however, comes with potential consequences. Although garnering Facebook fans or Twitter followers may provide social proof that a business is well loved, the business is never in complete control of communications with its customers on social networks like these. Fans might not sign into Facebook or Twitter while at work or during a vacation, for instance, and could easily miss marketing messages and updates.
In addition, when relying exclusively on a social network site, a business is ceding valuable advertising power and brand recognition to the domain name that is left of the dot: Facebook or Twitter. While it might not seem like Facebook or Twitter will ever go away, it was not long ago that many millions of users and investors thought the same thing about MySpace.
A Good Domain Name Leads to Marketing Success
Traditionally, a business is established with a name and a telephone number that do not change. A domain name should be considered an equally essential part of conducting business. Although not a required element of registering a business, a domain name allows a business to establish a website, create its online identity and build its overall brand. All of which lead to marketing success.
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