I spend a great deal of my time building IT solutions that help clients be more efficient with their workflow and more secure with their data, but I’m reminded ever so often that some business’ still need to work on the basics when it comes to their IT utilization.
It still amazes me that in a time when everyone is so computer and internet savvy that I come across a small business that doesn’t own a domain name for their business. A domain name is essentially an address on the internet similar to a street address, and just as important. If someone has your domain name they can easily find you or your organization online. Still, too often I meet someone (either a client or a vendor or partner) that is conducting business using an @aol.com, @hotmail.com, @yahoo.com etc e-mail address with a business card that doesn’t include the address of their website (presumably because they don’t have one). If this applies to you, get one. Now!
If you own/manage a small business, there are three (3) things you need to do:
These things are basics, they’re inexpensive, easy and did I mention essential? When I come across a business that doesn’t have their own domain name and e-mail I get the impression that they’re not serious about their business (This may not be the case but that’s the impression it makes, and we know what they say about first impressions). Make a good impression on new contacts, and show them you at least have the basics down.
If you need some guidance on where to buy your domain name? Check out Hover their website is dead simple and helps you get your e-mail setup. For more options and services GoDaddy remains a popular choice though their website is a bit more difficult to navigate.
Want a more custom e-mail solution or have multiple users? Contact us and we can help you figure out what’s best for your business.
Your domain name is more than just a web address for potential clients, vendors and employees to type into an Internet browser. It is also a very important aspect of your brand and is as much of a brand asset as your logo. That being said, it is very important that every organization take the necessary step to ensure their domain name is protected. Here is a cautionary tale.
Recently an attempt to resolve a client’s issue required us to sign into their domain registrar account. Suprisingly once we gained access to the account, we soon discovered that their company domain name was no longer under their control.
The short version to the reason why, was that their domain contact information was directed to an email account of a former employee that no longer existed and the domain name was not setup to be auto renewed. While they went along with business, their domain unknowingly expired and was quickly snapped up by one of their primary competitors (gasp) when it became available for purchase. Now this particular client is left to negotiate with their competitor to repurchase the domain name or fight for it on the grounds of trademark infringement.
This situation could’ve been avoided entirely if more attention was paid to the value of their domain. Here are a few ways to keep your domain in check:
1) Long Term Domain Registration
Registering your domain for 5 or more years into the future is not a bad idea if you’re willing to spend the extra cash now. Not only do search engines look favorably upon domains that have a long term registration, but it also takes that one extra thing to do off your checklist for the next 5 years.
2) Update Your Contact Information
Make maintaining accurate and up to date contact information for your domain’s registration a priority each year. Your domain registrar will send you a reminder notice once a year for you to update your contact information so please take advantage of the opportunity.
3) Use A Distribution List or a Special Contact Email Address
Instead of listing a specific individual’s email address as the contact for your domain registration, use a distribution list or create a special email address for this purpose. This will ensure that things don’t get missed and more than one person at your company has eyes on your domain name.
4) Set Your Domain to Auto Renew
Quite simple, but often overlooked. Configure your domain with the appropriate payment information and set it up for auto-renewal. This will take the hassle out of managing your domain name registration and you’ll have a better chance of noticing if the renewal gets missed.
5) Purchase Extra Domain Protection
Many domain registrars offer what is considered ‘domain protection’, which include additional safeguards to maintain your domain registration. This can include protecting your domain from unauthorized transfers or even placing your domain in purgatory for a longer period of time should it expire. If you are able to stay cautious and attentive to your domain, then the extra protection may not be needed. However, it may still be useful for the scatterbrains among us.
[Update: 7/30/2011] Upon reading this post our attorney, Marlon Hill of delancyhill had this to say “And when all else has been inadvertently overlooked, be sure to trademark the brand of your domain name with a recommended IP attorney or at uspto.gov online filing system during the initial stages of establishing your company and platform. Your brand is a non-negotiable asset. It is everything.”