At Contact, we’ve been developing websites for over 15 years. We’ve learned plenty of Do’s and Don’ts over the years but the number one lesson we’ve learned is about controlling your domain name. Recently, we spotted a site under development and the holding page wasn’t an advert for the company – but for the agency developing the website. Avoiding situations like these are easy – if your own your domain name.
In this digital age a lot of businesses aren’t aware of what they should have control of, here’s a quick list of some of the main things we come across with regards to domain names.
Don’t let your web or design agency buy your domain name for you.
I understand it might be confusing with all the DNS, Nameservers, A record, SPF records talk, but ultimately your part is to just buy the domain name under the business, so you control that digital asset. Simple.
You can give any agency access with something like LastPass where they won’t ever know the password and you have complete control to revoke their access at any time and – bonus – if you have to change the password due to an internal security policy then you don’t have to tell them – just update LastPass.
I can put my hand up here and say we’ve been guilty of this in the past buying domain names for clients was so easy to do and was never for control – we were always happy to release the domain when asked.
Buying the domain name was mainly for speed -to get a site up or moved or sheer convenience because the client doesn’t want to spend the time going through. We obliged, as it was a 5-minute job for us, and gave us complete control to get things set up.
For the last few years, however, we’ve been getting clients to buy domain names for themselves. We are practising what we preach.
Here are some of the scenarios around not having control of your domain name that we’ve identified that will hopefully make you change your mind and take back control.
Hiring a New Agency
You want to hire a new agency to deal with your site and/or email. Now you have to get the new company to talk to the old company…awkward indeed. We’ve been there (it’s not fun) and that’s assuming you’re still on good terms with them. If you’re in a dispute with your former agency do you think they’ll happily hand over a domain name?
Getting Technical Work Done
You are hiring a company to do something else technical and they need access so, say, something like email or setting up a software system where you need a subdomain (e.g https://subdomian.yourmaindomain.com) and now you have to go through your agency. This might cause delays in getting any work done -especially if they are on holiday. This also causes an issue in trying to time changes/updates to reduce or eliminate any downtime i.e. your website or email doesn’t go down temporarily.
Who Even Bought The Domain?
It’s been so long that you can’t remember who bought the domain name in the first place, do you even still talk to them? What if they are no longer around as a company?
A domain can be purchased for multiple years in advance and, in theory, your site and email could work for years before you ever find out that is the case – you could then lose everything then next day you walk into work. You’ll know because you’ll see the wave of panic in people’s faces as you walk in the office, of course, your phone will likely have many messages left on it.
It could also be a very difficult process to get your domain name back if that happens, so please don’t let it happen.
The worst-case scenario is that your domain name disappears you don’t notice and someone else buys it up, either a competitor or simply someone new trying to start a business with a similar name. You can try to fight for it but unless you have other protection like trademarks etc… you’ll likely be on the losing side of that battle.
Selling Your Business
You’ve worked hard and it’s time for a change or retirement and so you want to act on your exit strategy and sell your business, whoops… you have no control of the domain which runs your email and website. This will be even worse for you if it’s an e-commerce business as your domain could represent a large part of the value in selling your business, especially if it’s the brand as well.
Imagine you’re trying to sell your business, have no access to your domain and the company who bought it no longer exists? You might have to knock off a zero or two from your exit strategy sale all because you didn’t take the 30-60 mins to sort it out and get control of the Domain Name.
Ultimately your business should own the domain name – it’s a digital asset and it’s an integral part of your business, whether that is email or a website it’s part of your branding as well so you really should have full control of it, no excuses.
I’ll leave you with one last point…
Domains Are A Financial Asset
Did you know that domain names can actually hold value like with property, so it can go up in value…in some cases by quite a lot?
Some .com domain names sell for multi-millions of pounds like carinsurance.com went for $49.7 million and a lot of .co.uk’s for tens and hundreds of thousands gold.co.uk in 2015 sold for £600,000.
So do you really want to let someone else control a valuable asset that been built up using your marketing budget? Yeah, didn’t think so.
Now go and find out who controls your domain name and if it’s not you, it’s time to make it you.