Monthly Archives: March 2009

Don't Become a Victim of Domain Name Pirates and Squatters

Arr! Talking like a pirate is fun, but if Corsairs of the Internet take away your domain name, you will be having anything but fun.

People I know have faced the following scenario – one day you go to your browser to look at your organizations’ web site, and it’s not there! In its place is the web page of someone else’s site, or even more aggravating, that of a domain name squatter.

Domain name squatters are people who look for domains that have expired, hoping to resell them to someone else or back to you for an inflated price, or use them for some other purpose. If this happens to you, you will either have to pay the pirate a ransom to get your domain name back, or get a new domain name for your site. Neither of these options are very attractive. In the first case, you’re rewarding unethical behavior which is infuriating not to mention expensive, and in the second case you face having to reprint any collateral that has your web site address on it, go back to square one on any link building you’ve done for your web site, or possibly even change the name of your company. What a nightmare!

How does this happen? Often it’s because the person who has control of the domain name has changed their email address and they didn’t get the reminder message from the registrar with the notice that their domain name is due to expire. I think it’s a good idea for someone in every organization to stop for a moment and think about whether you know the answers to the following questions:

  • Do you know who in your company is in charge of the domain name?
  • Does that person have the current username and password to get into the domain name account?
  • Do you know what registrar your domain name is currently registered with?
  • Is the email address and other contact information on your account current?
  • Do you know when your domain name expires?

I recommend you find out and document the answers to those five questions, then take the following actions. If the contact information with the registrar is not current, fix that immediately. If someone in your organization is not the Administrative Contact, correct that as soon as possible. Make note of the expiration date of your domain and put it on your calendars. Then decide how many trustworthy people in your organization should have access to this information, share it with them, and ask them to store it in a safe place. That way, if there is a domain-related emergency with your web site and the person who usually manages your domain is not available, someone else can step in and help.

Some people don’t want to deal with all the above details, they prefer to let their web hosting company or an outside web developer handle all domain related issues and put the domain registration fee on the bill with their other services – understandable, but I don’t recommend it. If the person you work with at the outside company leaves, there might not be anyone else in the organization who knows the information, and it’s often a bit of a hassle to try to get the registrar to give you access to your account. Not that they don’t have good reasons to make it difficult – they don’t want your domain to get poached by an unauthorized party. Nevertheless, it’s one more hassle you don’t need. If you are certain of the name of your domain name registrar (I’ve run into many clients over the years who did not know that information), you will be protected in case domain name pirates send you a fake renewal notice. The expiration date might be real, that is public information, but the company sending the notice might not really be your registrar – they are just trying to trick you into moving your business to their company. Even worse, if you’re dealing with an unethical hosting or web development company, they might hold your domain information hostage until you give them something they want that they’re not really entitled to. I personally know someone who found herself in just that situation. So please, make sure you’re in control of your own domain name. Share the login information with your web developer or hosting company if they need it, and change the password after they’re done with their work if that makes you feel better, but always maintain control.

If you have already lost your domain name, what should you do then? I recommend getting a new domain name as similar to the old one as you can, and putting your web site there. Then, see what the expiration date is on your former domain name. When that date arrives, check to see if anyone has renewed it, and if not, grab it. It’s possible that if someone was holding your domain name in order to resell it, they were unable to unload it and chose not to renew it. Domain name pirates usually only renew their booty one year at a time – one reason why search engines are said to favor web sites with domain names reserved for longer periods of time. The preceding scenario has happened to someone I know, so it’s possible that you could get lucky and get your former domain name back without having to pay bounty to a pirate. That will leave you with two domain names, which is not necessarily a bad thing. You can redirect one to the other, so that no matter which of the two addresses someone uses to get to your site, they can still reach you. Having two domain names to play with is also an advantage when it comes to Search Engine Optimization – so if you’re in this position don’t get rid of that extra domain name until you’ve talked to a search engine expert about the SEO possibilities available to you.

Pass it on

Everyday we are encountering more social media tools that allow you to quickly share information with others.   Today we launched an email campaign for one of our customers that contained a personalized video for the recipients.   Each customer received a PURL, a personalized URL, that embedded the customer’s name in the video.   It was a pretty slick application.

Using ExactTarget, we launched the email movie clips through personalization strings that contained the PURLs.   This was an effective lead generation process for driving customer acquisition.   Through personalized marketing campaigns, you can capture your reader’s interest and move them to take an action.

We are using Brainshark presentations to personalize on demand presentation content and further honing our abilities to deliver a Webinar for ONE.

Content is Valuable: Repurpose It With Technology: Part V

Blog Posts: It’s not easy to find the time to complete a blog post, and once I’ve done that, I still have to see if my boss will accept it and post it to our Webinar Resources Blog, powered by Compendium Blogware software. Once I get that far, I feel like I’ve really accomplished something. Therefore it’s very satisfying to potentially increase the audience for that blog post by making it also show up in several other places. By clicking the "Share This" chicklet below each blog post, I can instantly add it to my wall on Facebook. Via an application called Blog Link, the new post automatically appears on my LinkedIn Profile. And by taking our RSS feed link, putting it through FeedBurner, and then using some RSS integration code on my web site, it automatically appears there as well.

I also maintain a WordPress blog that I started for an organization that I belong to, the Route 66 Association of Missouri. I use FeedBurner and RSS integration code with this blog as well to make my posts appear on another one of my web sites. It also appears on my LinkedIn profile with the use of the WordPress LinkedIn Application.

What ways have you found to leverage your valuable content? Please feel free to share your discoveries by leaving a comment.

Content is Valuable: Repurpose It With Technology: Part IV

Power Point Presentations and Webinars: If you’ve created a PowerPoint presentation, even if the occasion it was created for is over, it can keep on working for you. Some social media sites include an application that allows you to upload a Power Point presentation to your profile page. If you would like to embed your presentation on your web site, Brainshark can accomplish that for you, plus do a lot more: add narration, music or sounds, questions, polls, guestbooks and more. It will even notify you by email when someone has viewed the presentation.

We have clients for whom we provide webinar services that involve inviting people to the webinar, sending reminder notices out to those who registered, recording the webinar and archiving it as a Brainshark Presentation, and sending out follow up emails that invite attendees to view a replay of the presentation. We are currently working on a proposal which involves making the replays available on a web page. The menu for the replays will have some text describing what the webinar is about, adding valuable keywords to the web page to draw visitors through organic search. In addition, the code that embeds the presentation into the web site will contain a "Share This" link which allows viewers to email the presentation to colleagues. Of course we will include a sign-up form in each presentation for viewers who want to receive invitations to future webinars. Now that is what I call getting the most out of your content!

Driving Acquisition with Press Releases

I have always had success in driving customer acquisition with press releases.   When you post content on "the wire",you get immediate hits.   Your content is picked up by other services – usually search engines. 

However, search engines are always looking for good blog content as well which is what Chris Baggott discovered when he was posting blogs regarding email marketing at ExactTarget.

We submitted a press release for a customer webinar that we are producing to a site called "What They Think".   What They Think is a portal dedicated to supporting the digital printing business.   On the same day of our submission, I received a Google Alert that  content regarding "webinar resources" was posted on the web.   When I selected the Google Alert link in my email, I was delighted to see the press release for our customer webinar posted on the What They Think site.   This has also happened with Brainshark presentation links that we have posted in press releases.

It is truly amazing how fast the web can work.   I know when I post this blog, Google will again send an alert to me and more hits will come to our press release on What They Think.   What do you think about that?

Content is Valuable: Repurpose It With Technology: Part III

Photos: Are you having an open house or exhibiting at a trade show? Those are opportunities to post some photos and allow your contacts to get to know you better. Social media applications such as Facebook can help you get those photos online quickly and in front of an expanded audience.

I upload some of my photos to Facebook. If I want to link to a specific photo album or image from one of my web sites using ordinary HTML links, this is easy to do because Facebook provides a link you can use that is visible to everyone, not just Facebook members. In addition there are several styles of Facebook badge that you can choose from to embed on your web site. I use one that contains a thumbnail image of the last three photos I uploaded. If one of those images grabs the attention of a visitor to my site, they only have to click on the thumbnail to view the whole album it belongs to. Not all businesses have content that lends itself to taking a lot of photos, but many do, such as entertainment, event marketing, or event management.

Go the Extra Mile and get more than Salad!

Like everyone, we have some customers who come and go across our desks a couple times a year, and then we have some who are there a couple times a day to drive lead generation.

Recently we drove customer acquisition for one of our frequent customers for an event through a personalized marketing campaign.  Through a lot of work, the event sold out in two weeks and our customer was thrilled.

Because we work with this customer on an almost daily basis, we decided to go the extra mile and support the event locally, though there’s nothing in our contract that defines our work in that way.  I found myself pulling what props I could from my children’s closets so that I could dress like a pirate and take pictures at the event.

My thoughts were, "OK, just give me a salad at the customer dinner in exchange for these services, and we’ll call it a draw."  What our team got in return was much more than a salad.

Yes, I dressed like a pirate and managed to draw enough smiles from our client’s customers to create a spiffy memory book for the occasion.  We also managed to meet with no less than 9 cricital contacts in the span of 2 business days.  As a result of these meetings- some scheduled, some by chance, we are better positioned across our client’s corporation, and we were able to schedule new business.

So – while the salad and the meal were really good, what was even better was the unexpected developments with existing and new contacts.  It’s definitely worth it to partner with your clients in ways you might not consider "your area"- – it was well worth our while!


Content is Valuable: Repurpose It With Technology: Part II

Text messages: I set up a Twitter account for myself, and linked it both to my cell phone and my Facebook account. This gave me the ability to send a "Tweet" and update my status on Facebook simultaneously. I can send my text message from the Twitter application online, or, if I’m not near a computer, I can even send it from my cell phone. As an added bonus, with some code supplied by Twitter, my "Tweets" now also show up on one of my web sites. That’s a lot of benefit from a very small effort. Would you like to follow me on Twitter?

Music to My Ears

Some of you may know me as the infamous songwriter who penned a song for ExactTarget’s software release a year ago –   It was a fun attempt to mix marketing and music to drive customer acquisition to our website and it worked well.

Years ago I penned a unique tune about a Missouri farmer who raided a grain elevator to retrieve his soybeans after the elevator company went bankrupt.   It was my attempt to make it in the music business in 1981.    I still have a couple of records laying around.   The song never got much air play except for the milking parlors in Southeast Missouri.    I guess the cows liked it.

Enter the web and the power of Google 28 years later.   This evening my son, Zach, informed me that he saw my record on Google.   I thought he was pulling my leg.   However, after searching Google images, the past became the present as I came upon "The Great Soybean Raid of 1981".   What a surprise.   It shows you the power of the web and organic search.

So now I am blogging about a composition I wrote 28 years ago and it is still on someone’s hit list.  Feel free to give a listen –—.html