Finessing the Domain Flip

Domain names are big business – they represent our businesses, they relate to the topics and memes we are interested in and passionate about and, with a little knowledge, they serve as an exciting investment opportunity.

In VeriSign’s most recent Domain Name Industry Brief, the registry reported that the global base of Internet domain names grew by more than 3 million in the second quarter of 2010, ending the second quarter with more than 196.3 million domain name registrations across all top-level domains (TLDs).

As it becomes more difficult to find available domains, consumers will ultimately turn to the “aftermarket” to find domain names they can use. As such, Web professionals are poised to generate immense profits from the retooling, or flipping, of websites for profit. If you are skilled at Web design, content development, link building or affiliate marketing, you are far ahead of the game.

But in order to successfully flip a domain you must find one with the potential to turn a few dollars into hundreds or thousands of dollars; separating those with potential from those without.

Locating Low-Value Domains for a High-Value Flip

Finding domain names for sale is the easy part of the flip. Sites such as,,,,,,, BuyDomains. com and GoDaddy Auctions all provide viable opportunities to acquire domains.

Know well before you sign up for these services, however, that you will often encounter domain owners selling their assets for what a reasonable person might consider outlandish prices. In the end, domains are worth what someone is willing to pay for them. Knowing the key qualities that buyers look for in a domain will set you on a course to profit from the flip, and not get burned in the process.

Key Qualities of Domains and How They Affect Price

All domain names (and websites) are not created equal. Outside of being short and memorable, there are several well defined qualities of domain names that present the best possible opportunity when turning an investment into a profit.

■ Keywords in the Domain: It has been proven over the years that using keywords within a domain provides a tremendous advantage for ranking highly for those terms. Both non-hyphenated and hyphenated domains can gain this advantage. More often than not, an exact match keyword domain can claim the top position on Google with very little effort. This is one of the best reasons for owning a generic keyword domain, and what makes them so valuable.

■ Natural Search/Social/Advertising Traffic: The domain names that sell for the most amount of money (outside of single-word domains like, which recently sold for $13 million) have one thing in common — visitors and pageviews. While there are different stages of development for the domains you will find for sale, having some traffic — from natural search, social networks or even advertising — will provide a measure of the site’s potential. The optimal domain to buy is one that receives a modest level of natural search traffic. Selecting domain names with traffic from social networks or advertising requires an investment either in time or money; not necessarily ideal if you need to ensure visitors keep arriving or if managing dozens of domains.

■ Website Earnings/Potential: The domain name aftermarket is flooded with those of low quality and questionable potential. Domains that typically sell on the aftermarket are those with a track record of monetary performance or the ability to develop revenue streams. When a domain name has demonstrated its ability to profit from the traffic received it will ultimately raise the price. The challenge of buying websites with existing revenue, however, is the due diligence that is required. Is there some legacy effect, such as users’ bookmarks who might not respond to new ownership or content? Are existing revenues a result of well-managed PPC campaigns? It is imperative to understand any and all sources of revenues, as well as the cost or upkeep required to maintain them.

These are just a few of the qualities you should look for when purchasing a domain name to flip for a profit. But what domains are right for whom?

Domain Flipping for Design, SEO and PPC Experts

You might be a Web design maven but not be skilled at driving traffic through social media. Or, you might be the PPC guru of your company but couldn’t design a square. The solution is to select domain names aligned with your skill set.

■ Domains for Designers: There are thousands of domain names in the aftermarket begging for a professional Web design to be applied. If you possess skills in template design for WordPress, Joomla or Drupal, you might be surprised how much of an increase in value you can get by applying a more aggressive and compelling layout to existing content. Consider purchasing a few $1 domains on eBay, applying your design expertise then listing them for sale for a quick, inexpensive flip.

■ Domains for Content Developers: If skilled with copywriting and content development then the world of domaining is your digital oyster. Because low-quality content abounds on the Internet, if you are able to develop creative content on a variety of topics related to a domain name, your domains will be in high demand. Consider acquiring a few quality, modestly priced domain names and start writing. Choose content themes wisely by identifying keywords and phrases with the highest commercial intent, and the sites you develop will be positioned for substantial profits.

■ Domains for SEO Masters: Those who specialize in search engine optimization stand to generate the greatest profit from flipping domains. Being able to take a website (or domain) with little or no traffic and securing placement for even long-tail keywords can make almost any domain profitable. SEOs skilled at link building in particular are well suited to flipping domain names as the number of inbound links is a common variable in website valuation.

■ Domains for Affiliates: Affiliates have an inherent edge when it comes to flipping domains. Identifying the best, most relevant offers for a website’s incoming traffic can turn a “no profit” website into a “high profit” one. Domains can then be sold at upwards of 10 times monthly earnings.

Flipping domains is not for the cautious as a great deal of risk is involved. Applying appealing visual themes, writing compelling content, building links and establishing revenue streams is no guarantee that domains will ever sell, even if purchased at a premium. For this reason, it is not uncommon to see domains listed for thousands of dollars, as desperate domainers make an effort to recoup at least some of the funds they have sunk into the domain. However, by using the formal skills you have acquired as a Web professional, domain flipping is a legitimate possibility for added income.

Posted Dec 03 2010, 02:15 PM by Peter A. Prestipino Filed under: , ,

Create a Media Plan and an Engagement Plan

Harry Gold says when it comes to reporting results from online media, even with the purest of branding campaigns, our eyes always head to the far right-hand side of report. We look past impressions, clicks, and cost per click to see the volume and cost of the actions we are getting. And why shouldn’t we? Today, marketers must focus not just reach but engagement, high-value brand interactions, and of course, actual leads and sales. Think of it this way: there are banner impressions and then there are lasting impressions. Engagement helps brands make lasting impressions with target audiences.

So in parallel to a great Media Plan, one should have a great Engagement Plan. An accompanying document should map not just where your creative will be placed, but what people will be encouraged to do when they see and click on your ads. Especially today, when properties offer an assortment of rich media units and engagement ads, how people respond can vary as much as what people see.

Let’s say you are advertising on LinkedIn. You can enable people participate in a poll and then be redirected to your landing page. Facebook’s Engagement Ads let people become a fan of your company right from the ad. And on all media you place, your clicks go to landing pages that should be help trigger chains of events and engagements.

So as a media planner your plan should show the whole picture: the Media Plan and the Engagement Plan. The Media Plan tells clients where their ads are going to “be,” an Engagement Plan tells the client what you are trying to get people to “do” and what you are going to “measure” from an action standpoint.

So here are 10 quick items that one would map out in a standard Engagement Plan:

Offers and calls to actions: What are the high-value actions and interactions we are trying to encourage?

Rich media functionality: What rich media technologies can we take advantage of to encourage high levels of engagement right in the banner? Consider lead capture, video, social enablement games, etc.

Site specific technical enablement: LinkedIn polls, Facebook Engagement Ads, InfoWorld’s White Paper Library lead capture, etc.

Landing page actions: Lead capture, video plays, coupon and materials/white paper downloads, free trials, free demos, send to friend, call us, talk to an expert, etc.

Thank you page secondary calls to action: Don’t just say “thank you” and end the experience. Keep visitors on your site! Say thank you and offer more highly engaging activities. How about: “Thank you and here is a great 2-minute video” or “Thank you, explore this new product” or “Thank you, would you like to speak with a rep.”

E-mail auto replies: If people fill out a form to get a coupon or white paper, don’t just say, “Thank you. Here is your white paper.” Offer secondary calls to action to continue the dialogue. Like the thank you page opportunity, say “Thank you and here is a great 2-minute video” or “Thank you. Explore this new product.” or “Thank you, would you like to get a quote.”

Viral/social/advocacy calls to action: Turn one impression, click or action into many by weaving viral calls to action and chiclets into the process. That includes things like forward to a friend, post this to my blog, tweet this, post to Facebook.

Lead triaging: If you are doing lead generation, what happens to the leads you generate? Are they being rapidly followed up on, categorized and escalated? What customer-relationship management systems are they being ported into? Siebel, Microsoft Dynamics?

Marketing automation: What are the marketing automation programs and applications being applied to the leads you generate based on their source, demographics or behavior? Are they being ported into Unica, Salesforce, Eloqua or Capterra? Are you triggering specific campaign or offer calls to action and emails when they return to your clients site?

Retargeting: Are you using retargeting technologies via your ad server, the networks, and large portals/sites to reinforce offers and brand impact once a consumer or prospect has visited your client’s site? What is the secondary message you are serving exclusively to people you retarget?

A Good Engagement plans ties everything together. It both bridges media planners with creative and production people, getting them all on the same page, and gives the client a complete picture of what their online campaign looks like.

As always please comment on this column and let me know if I left anything out.

Harry is off today. This column was originally published on Aug. 4, 2009 on ClickZ.

Adding Value To Company Policies, Processes and Proceedures with Video

In recent talks with colleagues about some of their company’s plans and projects, it became obvious to me that enormous  company value  was going undistinguished and as a consequence, impacting profit.  We all know examples of  undistinguished value being the source of many a fortune for those with an eye for spotting it. Think Facebook, or Groupon. In your company, maybe that person is you.

My sister was telling me about some of the projects she was accountable for in a rapidly growing technology company. She had to research, source and contract with human resource vendors for a number of  services – pensions, health care, benefits, etc. Barry Fischer of was telling me that he was hired specifically to document and systemize their processes.

Both are typical projects a business might develop. Identify a result that’s wanted and needed, figure out how to measure it and give it a due date. How would they appear to someone who sorts for undistinguished value?

The first thing is to consider the context a project lives in. In my sister’s company, they’re growing rapidly adding new hires. It’s critical for them to have some policies in place to support all the new relationships, and the inherent expectations around workability and profitability.

In Barry’s company, documenting their processes and procedures is critical to managing multiple project work flows and gives them a framework to begin automating more of their project development and implementation.  In both companies, they must integrate new team members quickly in order to profitably exceed the capacity they’ve just outgrown.

What if each company had a process to tell the ‘back story’ about what they do, how they do it and why they do it that way? What if that back  story included a series of videos documenting the formulation, development and implementation of a policy, process or procedure? What if it told the viewer what they were viewing, why it’s important and what the next steps were? What if one of those next steps was an opportunity for the viewer, the employee or customer to post a video and close the feedback loop?

What opportunities might present themselves out of cataloging all that extremely rich and detailed video feedback about what a company is already doing?  What impact might it have on employee training and development? How many ways could it be utilized for marketing advantages, research, customer acquisition and retention? How might it showcase company values and personality to attract investors or partners?  What if you had video of your customers, the internal ones as well as the ones who buy from you, all declaring the things they love about working for or buying from you?

If you’re beginning to see some of advantages of adding a video component to document and enhance what you’re already doing anyway you’re not alone.  Talk about reality TV!  How about the reality of taking an idea and turning it into something that is urgently wanted and needed, right now, by your target market? The first step is to have pitch conversation about undistinguished value. It sounds like a formula to get green lighted and picked up for renewal. Hollywood here we come!