Neustar Joins the Digital Branding Revolution with .neustar Transition
If you’re one of the more than 550 companies that applied for a .brand Top-Level Domain (TLD) a few years ago, then this blog post is designed just for you.
Neustar might be a service provider in this space, but we couldn’t think of a better way to really show how much we believe in the .brand TLD movement than to completely move onto our very own .neustar extension in order to take advantage of everything that owning your own little piece of the Internet provides.
You see, we think this is the future. In fact … we’re certain of it. With the challenges facing digital marketers today, why wouldn’t we aim for a world where we can build better connections with our customers and increase the efficiency of our advertising dollars? And truthfully, we’re pretty excited about the opportunity to take back control of our own data and get visibility on what our customers are looking for once again.
We’re not going to sugarcoat it though – switching to a .brand takes a bit of work. But with the right support from the organization, it isn’t overwhelming. It just takes a well-defined TLD strategy and plan that includes benchmarks, schedules and goals. So in reality, it’s not that different from what you’d do in any other major initiative or project.
We hope our work here helps you. Because once you’ve helped your organization see that your .brand is the way to really secure your company’s digital health for decades to come, the rest kind of takes care of itself. And even better, we’re going to share it all with you so you can learn from our journey – including the triumphs and the little things we wish we’d done differently.
It’s all part of our role in helping shape the Internet of tomorrow.
What exactly did we do?
The first component was education – and yes, it took a while despite us being in the industry because not all of our staff were involved in our domain name registry business. And like most big companies, we had a LOT of opinions to consider.
Some of our clients may not be aware of the depth of Neustar’s broad range of business units. We’re a global company with a variety of different product streams and services, which makes us the same as pretty much every large company.
Once we had discussed the strategy and taken feedback from our senior management, we undertook a multi-pronged approach to rolling out the .neustar TLD across multiple areas of our business – led by a team of talented people that were focused on achieving this success.
We’ll share more about the specific details of ‘how’ we completed our .neustar launch from a technical and strategic perspective soon, but here are the highlights of the specific elements within our rollout:
1. Rebuilt our new website using home.neustar
Our new company homepage, from which you can find anything you need to know about Neustar, has been relocated to home.neustar. This provides an intuitive address to find our homepage, and is rapidly emerging as the standard naming convention of a .brand structure.
2. Dedicated sites for each our business units
Each Neustar primary business unit will, in essence, have its own homepage. This includes sites such as marketing.neustar, security.neustar, risk.neustar, registry.neustar and communications.neustar. We also have created dedicated domains for internal and external functions like careers.neustar and support.neustar for customer service matters. This strategy can be applied to any of your business segments, subsidiaries, sub-brands or even products.
3. Built our own Neustar search engine
OK, truthfully we already had one like almost all organizations. But it was hidden behind a small icon at the top right-hand side of our homepage and no one used it. We know that people are searching for information about Neustar, but we’d prefer it if our customers asked us those questions. So, we’ve created our own search.neustar page where you can search for anything you need that’s related to Neustar — without confusing ads or distractions from non-relevant results.
4. Staff emails – team.neustar
All Neustar employees now have their primary email address under firstname.lastname@example.org, which we think is a super cool way to educate our internal and external stakeholders about .neustar in every email we send. We also retained email@example.com as a secondary email during the transition, ensuring that contacts unaware of the email transition will still be able to successfully send us emails.
5. Moving to a new, branded URL shortener
Most digital teams are well-versed in using bit.ly or similar services to shorten the URL used in posts on social platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Since moving to a TLD, we’ve overhauled the way we think about links – and every post we put on social media now includes a shortened, .neustar link with custom text after the slash to reinforce our brand and message in every post. For example, you can find this piece by clicking or typing this link – t.neustar/brandTLD.
6. Creating additional pathways to our content via redirects
Neustar currently has more than 600 registered domains and counting, the majority of which redirect to existing content and locations on our website. This allows us to quickly create campaigns and intuitive pathways to our content via URLs such as blog.neustar, helping customers find what they’re looking for quickly and reliably.
7. Cloning existing content to new site
Launching a new website doesn’t mean that your old content just gets thrown away. We’ve spent a lot of time ensuring that our existing content is mapped into our current site through careful link development.
8. Unique and creative staff email addresses
We included the option to identify unique email addresses that go beyond the standard firstname.lastname@example.org. This allows us to set up emails for executives or groups that want to use some creativity in their email addresses. This option also ensures privacy for high-profile individuals whose email address would be easy to figure out by people outside the organization and potentially result in a barrage of unsolicited mail in their inbox.
9. SEO analysis
Despite Google’s public comment that the move to .neustar shouldn’t have any detriment to our ranking, we have partnered with an SEO agency to investigate the impact of the transition on our SEO. Through constant monitoring and testing, we hope to uncover the best approach and provide advice and guidance for other .brands.
10. Integration with existing systems
We have worked diligently to ensure our .neustar domain can be integrated with our content management system (CMS), customer relationship management (CRM), and other systems. We also used the transition of staff emails as an opportunity to re-evaluate our Single Sign-On (SSO) configuration and create more consistency in how we structure login credentials across all our allied systems.
11. Analytics framework
As with our SEO analysis, we’ve partnered with experts to correctly configure our analytics and website tagging in an effort to determine the real impact of our move to .neustar and build data to help all .brand owners with best practices and advice.
Our Corporate Communications and Customer Service teams, together with many others across the organization, meticulously planned our internal and external announcements and communications throughout the entire process. In any major change, communication is key and we’ve gone to significant lengths to make sure all of our stakeholders understand the timing and purpose of our transition.
13. Additional updates
We made changes to numerous systems, processes and collateral to reflect the changes to our email and website addresses, including voicemail messages, business card ordering, email signatures, marketing collateral, social media accounts, product literature and other content.
What’s the big deal?
OK, the above looks like a lot of work. But in reality, it’s really a lot of small project pieces requiring planning and oversight rather than anything super complicated.
So what’s the compelling reason for an organization that has already applied for a .brand TLD to move forward, your inspiration for making the switch? Depending on the size of your brand, the answer could differ. But for large organizations with global brand recognition and a well-established web presence, the idea of moving to a .brand TLD might seem like a lot of resources being devoted to an initiative without a lot of return on investment.
So let us make an argument for you — better Customer Experience and less Paid Search.
How many millions do you spend annually on improving your customer experience and on SEM to ensure you stay at the top of search rankings? And is that marketing budget item increasing every year to keep pace with competitors bidding on the same keywords? What if you could potentially trim that expense, and see it as either savings on your bottom line, or available to invest in other marketing activities? More importantly, what can you learn and how can you build better experiences when your customers are engaging directly with you?
Moving to a .brand TLD just might give you some flexibility and freedom. Maybe it just helps you to be faster and create campaign URLs when you actually need them or perhaps it saves you buying that super expensive .com domain name for that two-week campaign. Either way, using your .brand gives you control over your brand, both before and after the dot.
This is just one of the many arguments for adopting a .brand TLD, but if you really want to understand it all, take a look at this 2-minute video that explains it all.
Sharing our experience
Many of you are likely aware that Neustar is already the largest provider of registry services to .brands around the world, but now we believe we’re also the most advanced. Some call it “eating your own dog food”. We call it being committed to the future.
Now that we have gone through the .brand planning and launch process ourselves, we have a wealth of insights into the dos and don’ts of navigating your .brand TLD transition. And best of all, we’re more than happy to do this for any global .brand in a similar situation.
Stay tuned for an even more detailed guide to launching a TLD that we will make available in the near future. We’ll use our own experience to provide step-by-step instructions for implementing the items listed above, as well as tips for hurdles you might encounter, and the best ways overcome them. This information is the first of its kind and we’re thrilled to share our learnings with other .brands around the world.
Also be sure to check out our leading hub of .brand news, advice and analysis at MakeWay.World, where we share the latest news, showcase examples from around the world, and provide resources and guidance to others looking to take advantage of this unprecedented digital asset.