An ‘Open Letter’ from Your Customer
* This article was originally published on Forbes.com on Dec. 4, 2017
Dear Companies …
I hate going to your website.
Sorry if that sounds harsh, but I think it’s important to be honest with you.
You’ve changed … and it’s not for the better.
You do so much to try to understand me as your customer and I really appreciate it – generally speaking. It’s why I came to have a relationship with you in the first place.
From the products and services that you meticulously analyze to make sure they’re meeting my needs, through to my demographics, media consumption, shopping patterns — all of it is taken into account when you connect with me with via advertising.
I feel like we really know each other and that I’m special, like we have a real relationship.
But the moment I come to your website, that relationship ends. I could be anybody.
You have this huge amount of information that you want to show me, which is ok. But clearly you’ve decided that it’s up to me to use your clunky menus to find what I’m looking for and, more often than not, I can’t even find what inspired me to come there in the first place.
It’s pretty frustrating and feels like I’m walking into a concrete warehouse instead of a cozy store that’s easy to navigate.
I just don’t get it. It actually makes me want to use other tools like search engines to help me find what I want on your site rather than wasting my time clicking around in hope. Sometimes it even drives me so insane that I either give up or go try out the competition.
Here’s the thing: I’m naturally loyal as a customer. You’ve actually got to do a fair bit wrong to lose me.
But your online presence is just so big these days that I’ve lost faith in my ability to find what I want.
Isn’t it time for something better? Something that’s going to make me want to come to your website directly and spend time being your customer?
Here’s my advice: say goodbye to the .com, .net or whatever your outdated, single domain name website is and say hello to .brand.
You may not know this, but over 550 of the world’s biggest companies have just acquired their own branded Top-Level Domain (TLD) – think .google, .apple, .nike – where these organizations can put their product/service/campaign on the left hand side of the dot and their brand to the right which is helping them remove the outdated and unnecessary bits of their web address.
This means that these companies can create simple, memorable web address names that can end my aimless clicking and searching, and instead give me a direct path to the exact information I’m looking for each and every time.
Effectively, these companies are taking control of their online destiny and becoming digital ‘superbrands’.
Think about it — let’s say I’m looking to find information on the new iPhone X.
My options are either to come to apple.com and click around, or find it via search where I’m going to be bombarded with advertisements and information about competing products.
Wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to just tell me to come to iphonex.apple?
Think of the trust you engender and the confidence you inspire by having a short, memorable URL that I can go to directly, knowing that it matches my needs. Plus, you’re reinforcing your brand, product and message every time I hear or see your new URL.
On top of all that, online fraud, impersonation and lost traffic becomes almost a non-issue. Now I know that if the URL doesn’t end with your brand, it isn’t you.
And now that you control your own digital ecosystem, you suddenly have unprecedented insight into my unique customer journey. You can actually measure and optimize campaigns, both online and offline, to appeal separately to each of your key consumer segments. Since you’re no longer dropping everyone on the same landing page, you can also create unique paths for each of your various customer types, corresponding to each of their unique needs and buying preferences. The point of me being there is right there in the URL. It’s true 360° branding, every step of the way.
Since you own your own TLD, you’ll be able to register as many domains for your brand as you need. No more domain squatters, ownership battles, negotiating domain buys, and other costly and time-consuming hassles—your piece of the internet is exclusively yours. You get to spend more time talking to your customers and less time talking to your lawyers.
Many brands have already jumped on board.
From Microsoft to Canon to BMW – these companies are embracing the future of digital navigation and improving their customers’ digital experience by building out custom domains from their branded TLD. Even Google and Amazon are getting in on the action, with branded TLD experiences, such as blog.google and buildon.aws, used as the call-to-action in Amazon’s first foray into advertising for its AWS business.
So, dear brand — that’s my advice to you, as your customer.
I want to love going to your website again.
I want it to be easy to find what I need, and to feel like you’re talking directly to me, and I think a branded TLD would make our relationship much stronger.
It’s time to unleash the power of your .brand and see why we’ve just moved to our own .neustar domain ourselves.
Find out more at www.hello.neustar.