The huge variety of gTLDs out there can turn the task of curating a lineup that makes sense for your business into a rather daunting undertaking. Instead of getting bogged down by all the variables that could weigh into your final decision, I suggest you focus on the handful of key considerations that really matter. The questions below will help you better evaluate TLDs and equip you to make smart choices as you expand or refocus your offering. And in case you still feel stuck, we’ve included a list of extensions you might consider.
1. Is the TLD easy to implement?
Most of the new gTLDs fall into the “easy-to-implement” category, free to be registered by anyone, anywhere, much like a .COM. Others have strict registration requirements, such as a local presence in their associated geographic area, or an affiliation with a particular professional group. If you ever need to verify whether an extension you’re considering is restricted, take a quick look at our TLD reference chart.
The TLDs we’ll highlight in this post are all easy to implement, but that’s not to say you should steer clear of those that are restricted. In fact, offering restricted TLDs can be a great way to cater to a niche market. For example, many firms might find the credibility of a .LAW extension advantageous. Similarly, the appeal of geoTLDs like .NYC, .BARCELONA, or .BERLIN among local citizens make them a great choice if you attract a significant volume of customers in any of these cities. If you think you’re likely to sell a high volume of a certain restricted extension, the payoff may well be worth the extra implementation efforts involved. It really comes down to knowing your audience and presenting them with options they are likely to find meaningful.
2. Is there a high level of interest in the TLD?
Unless you’re catering to a highly specific market, you’ll benefit from starting with TLDs that have wide appeal. This appeal can be generated by both the generic nature of the extension (.WEBSITE or .ONLINE), or its specificity (.CLOUD, .BLOG, .SHOP, .STORE or .DESIGN). Note that each of those last five extensions has an unambiguous meaning that resonates with a huge number of potential buyers.
This doesn’t mean a small TLD offering shouldn’t include more niche extensions. Again, the level of interest your customers show for a particular TLD will always depend on who your customers are. I had a musician friend, for example, that was thrilled to launch her new business with a .STUDIO name. And I’m willing to bet there are a lot of artists out there who might be open to a similar departure from the traditional, more corporate-sounding extensions.
3. Does the pricing make sense?
Most potential nTLD buyers compare new possibilities to .COM alternatives. So presenting them with fresh, viable options in a similar price range is smart. There are many solid performers, with broad applications, that fall under the $15 mark, .CLUB, .SPACE, .CLOUD and .XYZ, to name a few. Of course, this isn’t to say that a high price tag should deter you from offering an extension that seems particularly well-suited to your customer base.
It’s also not just the initial purchase price you should be aware of. Simple and predictable pricing structures are an important factor in building an enduring customer base. So while offering TLDs with substantial first-year discounts might translate into increased registrations, you could find yourself unpleasantly surprised by relatively low renewal rates. A customer who purchases a domain for $5 might not be put off by a $10 renewal fee. But there are numerous registries that present enticing first-year TLD price tags in the $10-$20 range, with renewal fees closer to the $100 mark. These kinds of discrepancies not only deter savvy buyers from making the initial purchase, and put a dent in your renewal rates, but also place you at risk of angering customers who are caught totally off guard by the increase. That’s why we’ve historically stayed away from offering crazy first-year promotions.
In short, it’s advantageous to offer first-year promotional prices, as they can be a real incentive to potential buyers. But it’s also important to make sure you’re transparent about the renewal price, displaying it clearly within your purchase flow. For those who sell domains as a part of a larger bundle or package, the renewal price, and the margin it allows for, should be factored into your pricing structure.
4. Is the renewal rate and customer quality fairly high?
It’s been a few years since the launch of the first nTLDs, which means we’re now in a much better position to evaluate their long-term potential. When determining the value of a new extension, look into its renewal rate and whether its registrations are, generally, being used in a meaningful way. Arguably, there’s a link between the two.
That latter point is what I mean by “customer quality”. If you’re a hosting provider or CMS business, you stand to make more money off customers who are actually using their domains. They’re certainly far more likely to show interest in email, SSL and hosting services. They’re also more likely to renew. Not to mention, there’s a case to be made that websites that have valuable content, and employ a new TLD, effectively function as an advertisement for the extension itself. That certainly can’t hurt an extension’s organic growth over time.
In this regard, .BLOG is a standout – according to ntldstats, only 27% of its registrations are “parked”, a term applied to any domain “in use as a parking page [displaying ads], or without any content.” To put this number in perspective, the average parked page percentage for the TLDs we highlight in the chart below is roughly 53%
Still feeling a little lost?
That’s fair! The paradox of choice is a powerful thing. Here are some suggestions that might serve as good place to start. Judging them based on the checklist above, these TLDs don’t necessarily score high across the board, but they are all easy-to-implement and offer the potential to target a sizable audience – some because of their generic nature and global recognizability, and others because of their appeal to a specific, but substantial, market.
To reinforce my early point: while we haven’t focused on geoTLDs in this post, they represent a sizable portion of the nTLD pie, particularly at OpenSRS. Depending on your target market, they can be incredibly profitable.