Let’s begin with our conclusion: COVID-19 has put a spotlight on domain strategy. Now, here’s why.
The pandemic has increased stress globally, particularly on companies facing new and urgent demands from anxious customers, employees and partners. It has shined a light on the way companies are using domains to their advantage...or not. It has pulled domain strategy to the top of every business to-do list.
As we stayed-at-home, Covid-19 funneled the world online, resulting in an increase in value to a brand’s domain name portfolio. The evolution of a domain strategy from a passive, defensive function to an active, offensive role, is critical. This shift is essential to you and the brands you protect. More than ever, you are waging a virtual war.
The way we engage with customers, market to new ones and maintain relationships that lead to loyalty are all being put to the test. Customers expect brands to protect them from fake accounts, impersonations, phishing and other schemes meant to defraud the customer.
There were over 100,000 Covid-19 related domain names registered in the first quarter of this year. Many have been for a good cause, but too many have sought to leverage public anxiety and a company’s good name.
The best response, the best defence against all of this, is a good offence. To be on the offensive, domain portfolios must be viewed and managed as assets, not just a list of names on a spreadsheet and a drain on company finances.
This fundamentally changes the IP role, allowing a shift in perception of those domains gathering dust on the shelf. How might they be deployed? How can you continually extract additional value through these domain assets? This ability - to move beyond domain strategy as simply brand protection, to think deeply about what products and services you provide, and whom you provide them to, and how you can leverage them, is critical.
Domain portfolios are organic and need to be regularly managed – added to, culled, and used, to maximize value. Sophisticated metrics such as unique visits and redirects allow you to place a monetary value on every domain. You can help monetize your domain portfolio by encouraging partnerships with other departments, like marketing, and providing domains as tools for their endeavours.
Domains create opportunities for deeper customer loyalty, increased revenue, and accelerated innovation. Few have used the power of domains to improve customer service, and still fewer have sought to mine criticism for innovation.
When customer confidence has been shaken, they look for it to be restored. Customers expect to be heard, and if you have not previously invested in channels that give customers this opportunity, then you are starting out behind the eight ball. Some brands have platforms to provide a voice to customers, but many lack the vital feedback loop that allows that voice to be heard.
Because a brand’s reputation online has a direct and significant impact on revenue, brands MUST have a strategy for managing their reputation online.
You must aggressively engage with those who matter...your customers, your employees, your investors, your suppliers. The outcome of this is trust. And when people trust companies, there is more confidence in their products and actions. 95% of customers say they will be loyal to a company they trust. A trusted company hires more efficiently, sells more easily, prices its products at a premium and, most important in the coming months, gains the benefit of the doubt when problems arise - like Covid-19.
This is another reason one of those new domains you deploy ought to be devoted to customer feedback. The good, indeed, but hearing the bad is where there is a real advantage. Still, any initiative will send a clear message to your customers that you are listening, care what they think, and value their opinions.
It might seem counter-intuitive for a company to, in effect, admit that “they suck”. The fact that a brand is openly inviting feedback shows that they genuinely respect their customers. This is an excellent way to subvert brand negativity.
Listening to feedback, and really hearing what your customers want can help your brand innovate and grow. At .SUCKS, we believe that embracing feedback (the good and the bad) is what allows brands to get ahead of trends and connect with their customer’s needs. It is the easiest, most organic version of market research a brand can do.
The combination of living more of our life online, consumers wanting to exert influence, and the low bar to entry for ‘bad actors’ should have all of us jumping out of our defensive crouch. It is time to put domain names – I think the dotSucks domain platform in particular – to work.
As we emerge globally into a ‘new normal’, IP professionals have a new place within corporations. They are in a critical position to identify the right assets and deploy these unique digital assets to inform, admit mistakes, encourage connection, build customer loyalty, strengthen corporate reputations, and increase revenue.
This is undiscovered territory for all of us. But the times demand it.
To learn more watch the World Trademark Review webinar on how COVID-19 has put a spotlight on domain strategy.