This is the #ThrowbackThursday edition of the Daily Golden Nugget, but it also has a special tie-in to my ongoing Run-up series of 2015 Holiday Season Marketing Preparedness. The throwback doesn't go back too far, in fact it's a year ago today when I originally wrote about using different domain names to track your offline marketing. I've since written about the technique several times and even included it as part of my 2015 JCK Talk.
Cost of Domain Names
Network Solutions has always been the most expensive registrar through which to get your domain name. The company has been around since the first days of the internet, and from what I can tell from their Wikipedia page, they've had 7 different owners. Yet, with all that money and experience they still have the worst technical support team. I recommend you avoid them; otherwise the cost you pay for a domain name will be far greater than the overpriced fee you pay for them every year.
The other popular registrars include GoDaddy, eNom, Tucows, MelborneIT. Each of them charges from $5 to $15 for a dot-com domain depending if you find a special deal for the domain. I've found GoDaddy to have the best 24/7 technical support team because they are real people who know what they are doing, and best of all, they don't follow a written tech support script. Whenever possible, use GoDaddy or one of their resellers. In fact, you can often get a better deal on packaged services if you purchase through a GoDaddy reseller while still having access to that amazing tech support team.
Domain Name Options
For the cost of 1 domain name from Network Solutions, you can register at least 2 through all the others. Even at $15 per domain per year they are inexpensive enough to register several different dot-com domains.
You don't have to limit yourself to just the dot-com domains anymore because other domain extensions have gained main stream popularity and recognition. Top level domains (TLD) like dot-net, dot-org, and dot-us are very recognizable. There are other specialty domain name available not that you can use, like dot-xyz, dot-jewelry, and even dot-diamond. The registration costs for these other TLDs vary greatly, but they certainly widen your creative options for off-line memorable domains.
Memorable Domain Names
A memorable domain name is the key to your offline ad tracking. An intriguing domain name might even be the incentive someone needs to jump from offline to online. I certainly think I'd be very curious if I saw the website "www.TotowaDiamond.jewelry" as the domain on an offline ad. (Totowa Boro is where my office is in New Jersey.)
Other than town or store related domain names, you can also choose domain name associated with the product you are promoting. For example, you could use "www.ThisSapphireRing.com" or "www.AmazingEarringSet.com." I'm using the "www" for clarity here, but you can feel free to drop it in your ad, especially if you are using a dot-com, dot-net, or dot-org. However, I recommend that you continue to use the "www" part of the website address with any newer TLD that people don't intuitively recognize yet.
Tracking Domain Names
Tracking is a huge topic that I can't possibly cover in this #TBT. If you plan on taking my advice to use alternative domain names then you need to get serious about tracking them. If you skip this step then you are wasting your money paying for those extra domains in the first place.
Here's how to do it:
First, read this Nugget explaining what UTM tracking is. There's no way around it; you have to read that Nugget to get a basic understanding. Back in 2013, I wrote those directions to be a clear as possible, so just give it a try. To date, that page has been visited by 167,480 people since I wrote it. I even refer back to it more often than Google's official directions on the topic. Just do it, don't fear it.
Second, read this illustrated Nugget showing how to add the UTM tracking in GoDaddy. Again, I wrote this to be as easy as pie.
Lastly, read this illustrated Nugget to see how to read the UTM tracking reports in Google Analytics.
Do I have to tell you again how easy this is? Well, it's easy if you have Google Analytics installed on your site.