Is Microsoft really trying to protect hotmail users from URL Squatters?

March 18, 2010

NPR revealed (to me) this morning that Microsoft has filed a lawsuit against an exercise equipment firm in CA for buying domains similar to hotmail.com in hopes of catching fat-fingered users. So I’m laughing riding alone in my Volvo at the absurdity of Microsoft pursuing this action against a small firm exploring a very popular tactic for capturing traffic. At least they should be happy it is not (another) porn site.

On a more serious note, registering domains similar to your own is a very smart approach, especially if you have a hard to spell or hard to remember domain. For instance, we have a client named Stien. Every time I try to send him email, I spell his name Stein in the classic way of Ben Stein. It would be a logical choice for this man to register both spellings of his name as a URL just in case folks make an error.

For that matter, Microsoft probably should have had the foresight to register these mispelled names themselves. How often do you fat-finger a site and find yourself redirected to the place you really wanted to go to begin with? Businesses are smart enough to already be taking this approach and if they aren’t, they are learning fast.

The other savvy approach marketers are using is to not only register variations of their own domains but variations of their competition, too. Why not? If it allows you to get the traffic you’re looking for, it is a completely legitimate strategy and one you should explore. It’s no coincidence that GoDaddy.com suggests alternate variations on  domains when you register them. Take advantage of their offers then use some creativity and come up with a few more.

As for the exercise equipment company’s domains, you can bet that Microsoft will probably be buying those shortly anyway.

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AMA Marketing Technology SIG Brings BING, Yahoo! and More to Maggiano’s

July 16, 2009

Event at $35, lunch at Maggiano’s is always an enjoyable thing. Today’s American Marketing Association meeting featured a panel discussion collectively promoted as Clicks to Bricks or how to get more sales out of your on-line presence. Nothing earth shattering about this presentation but I did enjoy the quips of panel member Evan LaPointe of Search Discovery and wanted to elaborate on my favorite.

He pointed out that if performance is 90% what happens after the click then why do so many companies hire and fire based on clicks? The reality is that it’s not enough to bring people to the site if you aren’t equipped to convert them. As a matter of fact, a campaign with a high click through and a low conversion could be down right expensive. So perhaps, as Evan pointed out, a great many people are focusing on the wrong metric.

If you’re hiring a SEM (search engine marketing) firm to help send traffic to your site but aren’t working with them (or your design team) to set up appropriate and reciprocating landing pages then you’re wasting your Google dollars. Sending those dollars to Yahoo! and BING isn’t going to improve things if you don’t provide a welcome reception for the traffic when they get there. 

Time and again we find that a fantastic-looking site can have a high abandonment rate while a really ugly site with rich, up-to-date content will have great stickiness.Regardless of whether you’re talking about search engines or real-live eyeballs, it’s all about the content. If you’re not taking the time to invest in developing quality content that educates your customer on the value of your product or service then you’re wasting your money paying for paid search.