It’s not cliche to say that today every dollar counts. Times are tight — for some, times are very tight — and business owners across the country are looking at every dollar they spend to make sure they are getting the return they need from the money they invest.
So why then, in times such as these, would anyone be willing to pay thousands of dollars for a simple domain name? The answer is easy: because those simple domains (often called premium domains) can make a difference.
THE AGE OF THE PREMIUM DOMAIN
A premium domain is a domain that has been registered previously and is back on the market for resale (it’s like a used car lot for domain names but these items have not depreciated in value — in fact, it’s quite the opposite situation).
You see, today there are about 76 million dot com names registered worldwide. That means the chances of finding a very intrinsic dot com (shopping.com , flowers.com ) are slim. These names were snapped up years ago but now, these early domain registrants are increasingly willing to part with their prized domain names for the right price. Some of these sales live in infamy (consider Pizza.com  that sold for $2.6 million in 2008 or Business.com  that sold for $7.5 million in 1999) but the average premium domain price tag ranges from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
SO WHAT CAN A PREMIUM DOMAIN NAME DO FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
- The Impact of the Instant Online Brand: First and foremost, a simple domain name gives your online business an instant brand. Premium domain names are generally easy to remember, easy to type and instantly associated with a product or service (Cars.com , Meat.com , Vodka.com ). A business owner need not invest much to help potential visitors understand what they might expect to find on sites like these. The domain itself creates an instant online brand that continues to define your online business for as long as you have it.
- More Traffic from Direct Navigation: Your instant brand will generate traffic from direct navigation. As surprising as it may seem to those of us who use Google multiple times per day — some internet users simply type what they are looking for into their internet browser address line (Shoes.com ). If your site resides at a no nonsense domain like this, you will reap the benefits of what’s called “direct navigation.” This means customers are coming directly to your site because they typed you domain directly into their web browser. And you’ll do it without spending one dollar on marketing your site.
- Increased SEO ranking: Your domain names do have an impact on your search engine rankings. So the more basic and easily associated your domain name is with the product or service potential customers are searching for, the more likely it is that you’ll rank high in the search results. (Just type hotels into your Google search bar I’ll bet Hotels.com  is one of the first links returned).
About 80% of US adults are online. That’s an audience size that’s hard to reach through traditional offline marketing.
What’s more, the brand you build online can keep working for you long after your most recent flyer has been discarded.
So the bottom line is: what may seem like an extraordinary expense on first glance is actually not so outlandish. Consider the benefits you could reap from the right domain name.
My advice for small businesses is not to count out your domain name when you’re planning your marketing spend. Compare the return you could receive with your other marketing efforts (online and offline). Do a little research to see if the right domain name is available for your business. Domain registrars have search tools to help you understand what domains are available to best represent your brand.
At a time when every dollar counts, a premium domain might just be the best way to put your marketing dollars to work for you.